25 Places You Need To Visit In Your Lifetime

When planning a vacation, it's important to pick the right destination. You don't want to end up in a disappointing place that lacks fantastic photo opportunities, interesting historical sites, delicious cuisine, or breathtaking landscapes.

Throughout the United States and around the world, you'll find islands, cities, and entire countries that are definitely worth the trip. Some are worth checking out for their beaches, whereas others are world-renowned for their nightlife, world-class museums, or iconic landmarks. No matter what you're looking to do, you'll definitely make some fabulous memories at these 25 places you need to visit in your lifetime.

1. Athens, Greece

Even if you're not a history buff, a visit to the city known as the "birthplace of democracy" and the "cradle of Western civilization" is sure to be a fun and fascinating learning experience. The heart of Ancient Greece and today the modern nation's capital and largest city, Athens is home to many historically significant sites such as the Parthenon, the Acropolis, the Temple of Olympian Zeus, the Agora, and the Erechtheion. 

2. The Bahamas

Bask in the Caribbean sun among clear blue waters and white sand beaches in the Bahamas, a top destination on an island bucket list. Stay at one of the many amazing hotels and resorts and try out the island's famous rum on a rum distillery tour. Also known for its stunning sunsets and rising food scene, the Bahamas hosts an amazing street festival known as Junkanoo on Boxing Day and New Year's Day. 

3. Bali, Indonesia

Renowned for its beauty, the island of Bali is one of Indonesia's 33 provinces and home to more than 4 million people. Bali's beautiful beaches, gorgeously green jungles, stunning ancient temples, and delicious cuisine have been drawing tourists from around the world since the 1980s. Relax at a world-class spa, peruse one of the island's bustling street markets or enjoy the Balinese arts scene, which includes notably unique traditional and modern dance as well as sculpture, painting, music, and metalworking.

4. Bangkok, Thailand

You can find the best of Thailand's world-famous cuisine, palaces, massage spas, and cultural performances in its capital, Bangkok. Explore the city with one of its many bicycle or tuk tuk (Thailand's version of the rickshaw) tours, take Muay Thai lessons, or visit one of the city's many unbelievable temples.

5. Beijing, China

The cultural, political, and educational center of China, Beijing is home to more than 21 million people, as well as the largest number of Fortune Global 500 companies in the world and the world's four biggest financial institutions. In addition to 91 universities and a growing skyline and technological scene, the city has multiple attractions of historic and cultural importance, such as the Forbidden City, Summer Palace, Temple of Heaven, Ming Tombs, and the Great Wall of China itself.

6. Buenos Aires, Argentina

Buenos Aires is the perfect South American destination for any art lover. Known for its design, galleries, and tango dancing, the Argentinian capital is filled with fantastic Latin American arts and culture. Check out the La Boca neighborhood, known for its artistic pedestrian-only street, or Boedo, home to many tango houses. The Feria de Mataderos cultural market is another great experience where you can shop and enjoy dancers, musicians, and gaucho demonstrations.

7. Costa Rica

Costa Rica's beauty and biodiversity makes it the ultimate ecotourism destination. National parks and protected areas make up more than 23 percent of the country, and while Costa Rica accounts for only 0.03 percent of the Earth's landmass, it is home to 5 % of its biodiversity. Its natural wonders can be enjoyed with breathtaking ziplining tours, intense hikes through its forests, or by taking to its gorgeous shores. In addition, the Central American nation is also home to delicious (and cheap) food, great coffee, and a lively Latin culture.

8. Egypt

Cruising down the Nile is a life-changing travel experience that should definitely be on your bucket list. Visit the iconic Great Sphinx and the Pyramids of Giza, and take a trip to the Grand Egyptian Museum, where you can see more than 100,000 artifacts from the time of ancient Egyptian pharaohs, including the mummy and funeral mask of King Tutankhamun. Outside of Cairo, it's worth taking a trip to historical Alexandria, cosmopolitan Port Said, ancient Luxor, or the resorts of the enchanting Siwa Oasis or Sharm el-Shaikh.

9. Florence, Italy

Florence — or Firenze in Italian — is unmatched as a destination for Western art and architecture. Considered the birthplace of the European Renaissance, the city's historic center as a whole is a UNESCO-designated World Heritage Site. Explore numerous art galleries and museums, the most notable of which are the Uffizi Gallery and the Palazzo Pitti. Climb the 463 steps of the stunning Santa Maria del Fiore cathedral for a breathtaking view of the city from its famous dome built by Filippo Brunelleschi, see Michelangelo's statue of David, and if you have the time, visit the nearby city of Pisa.

10. Istanbul, Turkey

Istanbul may not be the official capital of Turkey, but it's definitely the cultural one. Delicious Turkish kebabs and teas await you, as well as gorgeous handcrafted jewelry and ceramics at the Grand Bazaar. Istanbul also has some of the most gorgeous mosques in the world, most notably the Hagia Sophia and the iconic Blue Mosque. Make sure you also stop by the Topkapı Palace, which houses relics that are said to have belonged to several figures important to the Abrahamic religions, including Abraham, Moses, and David, among others.

11. Jamaica

A Caribbean island characterized by beaches with reefs, lush mountains, and rainforests, lively music and friendly locals, Jamaica is the ultimate destination for relaxation. Stay at a top all-inclusive Caribbean resort, soak in some sun on one of the island's pristine beaches, and enjoy some live music and Jamaican jerk chicken or curry.

12. Jordan

The ancient city of Petra, possibly established as early as the fourth century B.C., is a site to marvel at with its gorgeous, rock-cut architecture and impressive water conduit system. Jordan is also home to both the Dead Sea and Red Sea, as well as Wadi Rum, an impressive, Martian-like red desert, and many Bedouin camps where you can experience true native Jordanian cuisine and culture.

13. Las Vegas, Nevada

Since the 1930s, legalized gambling has made Las Vegas one of the most popular tourist destinations in America. While you could definitely spend an entire weekend trying your luck at the city's many impressive casinos, Las Vegas is so much more than "Sin City." You can invest your money in fine dining instead of gaming, or you can drive a race car on an actual race track, go indoor skydiving, or learn some risqué moves from local exotic dancers. The Adventuredome at Circus Circus is the country's largest theme park, and the city also has a huge aquarium, an impressive classic car showroom in the form of the Auto Collections, multiple gardens, and museums dedicated to art, neon signs, and even the mob.

14. Lisbon, Portugal

Portugal's capital has a rich culture and history, as can be seen in its many cathedrals, monuments, and museums full of art and artifacts chronicling Portugal's ancient history, as well as its rise and fall as a colonial superpower. Travelers are finally starting to give this old European city the attention it deserves, particularly thanks to its food and drink scene, which is influenced by Moorish, African, South Asian, South American, and East Asian flavors.

15. Madrid, Spain

A trip to Spain definitely has to include a trip to its capital; Madrid is known for its architecture and, of course, its Spanish cuisine. Visit the Palacio Real, or Royal Palace, the official residence of the king, or catch a flamenco show for some amazing Spanish history and culture.

16. Morocco

Morocco is a seriously hot destination — figuratively as well as literally. Offering the best of Middle Eastern beauty in terms of architecture and natural scenery, this country has plenty of must-visit stops. The city of Marrakesh is full of palaces and street markets to explore, and it's home to the Yves Saint Laurent Museum, where fashion lovers can visit the famous designer's Marrakesh studio and home. Less than a mile from there lie the Atlas Mountains, perfect for hiking and taking on Kasbah Toubkal, the country's highest peak. Visit Tétouan, known for its carpets and World Heritage Site medina. It's also the site of a burgeoning modern Moroccan art movement and the colorful streets of Chefchaouen, or Essaouira, a resort town with great beaches for windsurfing and kitesurfing.

17. Mumbai, India

Also known by its earlier colonial name of Bombay, Mumbai is the largest city in India. A melting pot of the nation's many different cultures and ethnicities, you'll find all kinds of restaurants to represent those cultures, serving delicious South Asian cuisine from across the subcontinent as well as around the world. The city is also home to all sorts of religious sites important to all of India's religious minorities, as well as its majority Hindu population. Catch a movie in the hometown of Bollywood— or even see if you can watch one being shot in its streets.

18. Paris, France

One of the most romantic cities in the world, Paris is home to some of Europe's most famous landmarks such as the Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe, Notre-Dame Cathedral, and the nearby, breathtakingly opulent Versailles. Visit the largest art museum in the world in the Louvre Palace, home to iconic works such as the Mona Lisa, the Code of Hammurabi, and the Winged Victory of Samothrace, and enjoy fine dining unlike anywhere else in the world.

19. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Known for its party culture and world-renowned beaches, Rio de Janeiro is a nonstop celebration. Catch a game at Maracanã Stadium, once the world's largest (and still currently South America's) stadium, and take on the nightlife for some great samba. Visit in late winter, usually February, to take part in the phenomenon that is Rio's Carnival, probably the world's most famous of its kind.

20. Rome, Italy

The capital of Italy is an absolute must-see for any traveler. Home of the Colosseum, Trevi Fountain, and Pantheon, it's just asking to be on your Instagram feed. Make sure you get a taste of the local gelato (outside of the main tourist spots, so you don't get overcharged) and a slice of thin-crusted Roman pizza before you leave. Rome also holds Vatican City within its borders, where you can find St. Peter's Basilica and some of the greatest art in the Vatican Museums.

21. Santorini, Greece

Repeatedly ranked the world's top island over the years, the Greek island of Santorini welcomes approximately two million tourists annually. Its fame as a breathtakingly romantic getaway is largely thanks to Oia, a town with gorgeous sunsets that are only more stunning when serving as a backdrop for the white buildings and blue domes perched on its seaside cliffs. Lava from the island's volcanoes makes up the sands of its renowned beaches, many of which are varying colors, such as the Black Beach, Red Beach, and White Beach.

22. Singapore

The city-state of Singapore is a leading East Asian destination and the second most densely populated country in the world with 5.6 million people packed into only 300 square miles of land. A lot of those people are workers and expats from around the globe, which makes for an impressive culture and cuisine, with influences from the Chinese, Malay, and Indian communities that have thrived here. It's also one of the safest countries on the planet, although that doesn't make it boring; Singapore has some of the best food, shopping, and nightlife along with many beaches and tourist resorts.

23. South Africa

South Africa offers everything from safaris to cosmopolitan city life to beaches to historical sites. Enjoy iconic street food like bunny chow, hit world-class beaches like Camps Bay Beach, and stay in affluent hotels in the Western Cape. Hotel rates aren't bad at all, particularly in the summer when it's wintertime here, and safaris and tours won't drain your wallet either.

24. Tokyo, Japan

The Japanese capital boasts a population of over 13 million people and 23 separate wards, each with its own distinct personality, so a single visit here will barely scratch the surface of what this great city has to offer. Don't leave without trying some of the best sushi in the world or exploring Tokyo's shops full of funky fashions, anime paraphernalia, the latest electronics, and snacks in literally every flavor you can imagine (and some you can't). In addition to the city's many quirky attractions, Tokyo also offers the best of traditional Japanese culture — the city is full of Shinto shrines, Buddhist temples, and opportunities to participate in or observe tea ceremonies, martial arts, or calligraphy lessons.

25. Vietnam

Vietnam is a vastly overlooked and fascinating destination, with a tumultuous history and beautiful East Asian culture with French influences. Check out the museums and monuments, many of which chronicle the Vietnam War, in Ho Chi Minh City, and catch a cultural show, especially at the Saigon Opera House. Hanoi is growing fast as a top destination, and it also has great museums, as well as gorgeous parks and temples plus street food that you can check out with a guided tour. In the northeastern part of the country, the stunning limestone islands of Ha Long Bay are a sight to see, perfect for kayaking past.