From the Maldives to Machu Picchu, the Amalfi Coast to Antartica, check out my top bucket list holidays to inspire your next big trip.
In most cases bucket list holidays are down to personal taste – as the saying goes, one man’s pleasure is another man’s pain. They can also depend on the type of holiday you are looking for at the time. Right now I would love to be lying on a beach in Bora Bora, but if I was planning a bucket list family holiday for next year, I would probably choose a road trip across Western Canada, or a tour of Vietnam.
One of my life long dreams is to see the gorillas in their natural habitat in Uganda. Hopefully I will get to see them one day, I will never give up hope anyway! This is my own personal list of bucket list holidays, so hopefully one of these will inspire you to plan a trip of a lifetime.
1. Bora Bora
Bora Bora has been on my bucket list for years. Many celebrities have holidayed here and if you can afford it, it really is one of the world’s top bucket list holidays. As well as incredible beaches and secluded lagoons, you can swim with turtles and even climb its two mountain peaks.
It is also one of the few destinations, other than the Maldives, that have over water bungalows – check out the Four Seasons Resort for the ultimate bucket list experience! Located in French Polynesia, most combine Bora Bora with a trip to either Australasia or California.
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I finally published my post on the #maldives 🙌 If you want to know all about one of the best places I have ever been – grab a coffee cos it’s a long one ☕️- Link in bio / profile . . . . . . . . maldivesresorts #maldivesislands #paradiseisland #paradisecove #irishtravelblogger #travelbloggerlife #lovemyjob #wearetravelgirls #travelpics #travelgram #beautifuldestinations #beachgirl #centaragrandmaldives @holidayshopdub @centaragrandmaldives #iphonepic #igersmaldives #beachlife🌴 #Seaview #views #maldivesisland #maldivesview #seacolours #viewsofinstagram #luxurylifestyle #luxurylife #luxurytravel #luxuryhotel #beachesofinstagram #beaches
Our trip to the Maldives was one of my favourite holidays – no pictures or words can actually do it justice. Each resort is on its own island, so you have to arrive at your hotel by seaplane or speed boat. The laid back atmosphere means that even in deluxe hotels, the dress code is casual.
We stayed in the all-inclusive Centara Grand Maldives. As well having romantic over water bungalows and deluxe beach villas, there was a large amount of families and couples who were there to enjoy the activities. We loved chatting to fellow islanders about what fish they had seen that day, or activities they had tried. The Maldives is not only for honeymooners…
3. Galapagos Islands
In the age of sustainable tourism, the Galápagos Islands is the holy grail. Some of its creatures are found nowhere else in the world and visitor numbers are restricted, giving it even more appeal.
Located off the coast of Equador, the best way to visit is by cruise ship. Many cruise companies have expedition ships, including luxury cruise line, Celebrity Cruises. Small group tour specialists G Adventures have introduced a new ship to their portfolio this year. The Reina Silva Voyager holds a maximum of 16, allowing you get up close and personal with the flora and fauna of these incredible islands.
This multicultural paradise is vastly different from the paradise islands of the Indian Ccean or South Pacific. You will see college students on gap years, mingling with honeymoon couples in five-star resorts. There are six main islands, each offering something different.
Touring the Battleships of World War II in Pearl Harbour is a popular attraction, while the rugged landscapes, superb beaches, and relaxed vibe, ensures a holiday in Hawaii will leave you wanting to come back for more.
5. Whitsunday Islands, Australia
My trips around Australia led me to some pretty spectacular places, but the one place that stands out in my mind is Whitehaven Beach in the Whitsunday Islands. It is still probably the best beach I have ever seen. The sand is amongst the purest in the world, it is so fine, it is used to polish jewellery! Sailing boats leave from Airlie Beach, the gateway to the Whitsunday Islands, and you can fly there directly from most Australian cities.Search flights here
6. Sri Lanka
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We met this friendly #elephant on the way to Yala National Park, we got so close I could have touched him! Love the pic of me taking his photo – thanks to @cathyburketcireland for taking it. Swipe right to see more and check out my stories 👆 . . . . . . #srilanka #safari #safaripark #elephant #elephants #elephantsofinstagram #elephantphotography #animalcrossing #upcloseandpersonal #travelblogger #travelphotography #travelgram #instatravel #insatagood #instadaily #picoftheday #photooftheday #trafficjam #wearetravelgirls #travelbloggerlife #tcexperience #widenyourworld @turkishairlines @travelcounsellorsireland @instasrilanka @srilankadaily @destination_srilanka @srilanka
Sri Lanka was one big surprise! I was seduced by Sri Lanka when I visited a few years ago, and have vowed to go back with my family to show them why. Although located in the Indian Ocean, Sri Lanka offers so much more than white sandy beaches and year round sunshine.
There are a staggering eight UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Sri Lanka. I climbed the 660-feet tall rock fortress of Sigiriya and it was incredible. Sri Lanka has great wildlife too. It is home to the highest concentration of leopards in the world and it is one of the best places to see elephants – there are almost 6,000 of them in Sri Lanka.
I also stayed in the Ceylon Tea Trails Hotel – that is one of the world’s top bucket list holidays in its own right! Sri Lanka is the perfect destination if you want to mix adventure, culture and precious beach time.Search flights here
7. Amalfi Coast / Capri
When we think of bucket list holidays, we usually think of far flung destinations. However, sometimes what we are looking for is right on our doorstep. The Amalfi Coast is one of Europe’s most stunning coastlines. Each resort is nicer than the next and the views across the Bay of Naples are breathtaking.
Sorrento is the liveliest of the resorts and also less expensive than some of its neighbours. However for the ultimate bucket list holiday choose Positano or Ravello. And if budget is not a concern, stay in the Caruso Hotel, Ravello or the Il San Pietro de Positano. Alternatively combine it with a few days on the Isle of Capri.
8. New Orleans & The Deep South
New Orleans is the hometown of American music, whether it is Jazz, Soul, Blues or old fashioned Rock n Roll. There is a festival on every other week, and it is one of the world’s best party cities. Mardi Gras is the ultimate bucket list festival, but regardless of when you visit you are sure to experience a party atmosphere. If eat, drink and be merry was a city, it would be New Orleans.
Of course its close proximity to Graceland, Elvis hometown, and the towns of Memphis and Nashville make it a great stop on a Deep South Road Trip. I haven’t had the chance to visit New Orleans yet, but it is firmly on my bucket list.
9. Machu Picchu, Peru
Watching the sunrise over Machu Picchu is on every travel bucket list I see, and it is also on mine. I would love to trek the Inca Trail, visit the Sacred Valley and see Lake Titicaca. However, you don’t have to take the strenuous trek, there is a train that brings you right to the magical city.
An escorted tour is probably the best way to ensure you see all the highlights. Wendy Wu tours, Insight Vacations and G Adventures organise tours to Peru. Personally I think a stay in an eco lodge in the Amazon jungle would be the perfect ending to this trip…
10. The Garden Route, South Africa
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Our ‘tent’ – if you can call it that, at @amakhala ❤️ There are a few different lodges within the reserve, this one is Bush Lodge and as you can see it’s pretty spectacular! Two bedrooms, two bathrooms, outdoor showers and a free standing bath! Not exactly a tent as we are used to in Ireland! . . . . . #instatravel #travelblogger #travelpic #beautifuldestinations #travelgram #southafrica @ilovesouthafrica @meetsouthafrica @southafrica #tia #irishtravelblogger #thetravelexpert @amakhalasafari #safari #luxurysafari #luxuryhotels #familyhotel #smalluxuryhotelsoftheworld #gamereserve #gamereservesouthafrica #bath #luxurysafari #luxurytents #glamping #tents #tentselfie #luxury #luxurytravel #familytravel #familysafari #memories #lifetimememories @gohop_ie #drone #dronestagram #dronephotography
South Africa is one of my favourite holiday destinations. I love the city of Cape Town, the Garden Route drive, and the numerous safari options that are available. I went on my honeymoon (a long time ago) and returned last year on a family holiday. I can honestly say that a holiday in South Africa is ideal for either situation.
There are plenty of romantic hideaways and wine estates for couples, but also plenty to keep the kids amused too. I have lots of posts on South Africa put this one connects them all together.
11. Alaska Cruise
An Alaska cruise seemed like a pipe dream for most of us a few years ago, but recently it has become much more affordable. With the introduction of direct flights from Dublin to Seattle, and the increase of cruise companies now cruising Alaska, this dream can now become a reality.
You will witness some of the world’s most dramatic scenery as well as some stunning wildlife, massive glaciers and National Parks. The race to see Alaska is on, it is melting at an extraordinary rate. Add it to your list of bucket list holidays and go see it before its too late.
12. Kenya, Tanzania Safari & Zanzibar Multi-Centre
Combining safaris in Tanzania and Kenya with a stay in Zanzibar is the perfect multi-centre holiday. Myself and Cormac went on a similar holiday about 18 years ago and we still talk about it. We stayed in three different National Parks over a one week period, Amboseli, Ngorongoro Crater and Serengeti. Why not add on a few nights in Giraffe Manor too, and experience the ultimate bucket list breakfast?
The game viewing was incredible and each reserve gave us a unique experience. The highlight was our stay in Ngorongoro Crater Lodge – an experience I will never forget. We rounded off a fabulous time in Tanzania with a short flight over to Zanzibar for a relaxing week on the beach.
The picture postcard image of Santorini is a great advertisement for Greece – how could you not want to go there? Every time I see it, I picture myself sipping a cocktail in a small Greek taverna, watching one of the most amazing sunsets. Is Santorini one of the world’s top bucket list holidays? Absolutely. However, try to avoid peak summer months – as the crowds might ruin the romance…Search flights here
14. West Canada road trip with the Rocky Mountaineer
This is another trip that is high on list of bucket list holidays. A few years ago we drove from San Francisco to San Diego on a family road trip, and ever since I have wanted to go back and drive in the opposite direction.
With direct flights from Dublin to Seattle, I would choose to fly to Seattle and drive to Alaska, taking in the Rocky Mountains, Banff National Park, Lake Louse and Vancouver. Depending on your budget, a two-day trip on the Rocky Mountaineer would finish off this bucket list holiday nicely!
15. Las Vegas with a helicopter ride over the Grand Canyon
I was supposed to be visiting Las Vegas for the first time in April, but unfortunately it had to be cancelled 😔 Hopefully I will get to see the City of Lights and one of the seven natural wonders of the world another time. Everyone I speak to who has seen the Grand Canyon say the same thing – the photos or social media images don’t prepare you for its beauty, or its immense size. Formed by millions of years of erosion, it is 227 miles long and averages over ten miles wide.
A helicopter ride offers you the best chance of seeing as much as possible, however I am told the South Rim offers the most dramatic views. The Sky Walk is located on the West Rim though, so maybe Ill have to visit both! I also love that the Grand Canyon looks completely different at various times during the day – to see it at sunrise or sunset is probably the ultimate bucket list experience.
While this may not be everyone’s cup of tea, it certainly is mine. Wouldn’t it be nice to follow in Tom Crean’s footsteps and see glaciers, icebergs and incredible wildlife in one of the world’s most unspoilt destinations? National Geographic have expedition ships that leave from Ushuaia in Argentina, another country that is worthy of a place on this list of bucket list holidays.
17. Milford Sound, New Zealand
Often described as the 8th wonder of the world, Milford Sound in New Zealand’s South Island is home to stunning mountain peaks, cascading waterfalls and magnificent fjords. Carved by glaciers, it is breathtaking at any time of year. Combine it with a visit to Christchurch and the adventure capital of New Zealand, Queenstown, for the ultimate bucket list experience.Search flights here
18. The Orient Express
The legendary Venice Simplon-Orient-Express is the most famous train journey in the world. Step back in time to the 1920’s and enjoy top quality dining and superb service in a unique setting. London to Venice is the most iconic journey, but there are also plenty of one-night journeys available if you just want to live the dream for a day!
19. Turks & Caicos
I must confess, I knew little about Turks and Caicos until recently. I posed a question on my Facebook page asking followers to name their favourite bucket list destinations, and I was surprised at the number of people who named Turks and Caicos, a British Overseas Territory located close to the Bahamas.
It turns out that it is a huge celebrity hang out. Many celebrities have homes here, and Oprah, Brad Pitt, Bill Gates and The Kardashians visit regularly. It is one of the safest islands in the Caribbean, with some of the world’s best beaches, I think I might have to go and check it out for myself….
20. Chase the Northern Lights in Iceland
There are many ways to see the Northern Lights, they have even been seen in the west of Ireland. However, Norway, Finland and Iceland probably offer some of the best opportunities to see them.
We were fortunate to see them in Iceland a few years ago. There is so much to see and do in Iceland, but a tour around The Golden Circle and a swim in the Blue Lagoon are are must. Iceland deserves its place on this list of bucket list holidays, even if you are not lucky enough to see the aurora borealis.
Another resort that promises the ultimate bucket list experience is Kakslauttanen in Finland, where you can see the Northern Lights through your own glass igloo!Search flights here
21. California Road Trip
California offers so much for every type of traveller and is full of bucket list opportunities. You can drive the Pacific Coast highway in a convertible, bike the Golden Gate bridge in San Francisco, sip wine in Napa Valley, or bring the kids to Universal Studios and DisneyWorld. It really is one of those rare holiday destinations that appeals to everyone – so add it to your list of bucket list holidays if you haven’t already visited.
22. Round the World Cruise
While I don’t think this would be my personal choice at this stage of my life, it is something that I might like to do when I retire. To travel the world in a luxury cruise ship, stopping off in some of the world’s greatest cities, with delicious food and world class entertainment every night, sounds pretty good to me!
Many mainstream cruise lines including MSC and Princess Cruises offer round the world cruises but you if you are looking for the ultra luxury experience, check out Regent Seven Seas, or Silversea for a more intimate cruise. Make sure you speak to a cruise specialist before booking, as they will advise you on the best ship to suit your needs.
23. Vietnam and Cambodia Twin Centre
Both of these countries deserve a place on this list of bucket list holidays on their own, however, when combined I think they are a great two-centre holiday. I have planned this itinerary in my head many times, although I think it is probably best to ask a specialist tour operator or travel agent to book this for you.
I would fly to Vietnam first, spend a few nights in Hanoi and cruise Halong Bay. I would then fly to Da Nang and visit the riverside town of Hoi An and Ho Chi Minh City, before flying direct to Siem Reap in Cambodia to see Angkor Wat. Considered the world’s top attraction by Lonely Planet and Tripadvisor, it simply has to be included on this list of bucket list holidays.
24. Moscow & St. Petersburg, Russia
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Visiting Moscow and St. Petersburg is the ultimate city break. Red Square, St Basil’s Cathedral, The Kremlin and the Winter Palace are all bucket list experiences, but I believe simply setting foot on Russian soil must be quite fascinating. I have never been to Russia, but can only imagine that seeing its communist society, retro cafes and iconic buildings would certainly be a holiday to remember.
25. See the Gorillas in Uganda
I’m saving the best for last! This has been my dream trip ever since I went on my first safari in South Africa over twenty years ago. I loved the experience of being close to wildlife in their natural habitat. I told myself I would see the gorillas in Uganda for my 30th birthday. This then turned into my dream for my 40th, but never materialised. I am hoping that I might just make it for my 50th!
There are only 900 mountain gorillas in existence, so to see them up close has to be one of the ultimate bucket list holidays. Uganda and Rwanda provide the best viewing experiences but I think I would like to add on a side trip to Victoria Falls to round off my trip of a lifetime.
I hope you liked my post on bucket list holidays and it has inspired you to get planning your next big trip! Let me know if there are any destinations that you think I should include, by commenting below.