50 Must-Have Destinations On Every Single Travel Bucket List

Everybody has a list of adventures he or she wants to embark on, and some places are certainly better than others based on every person's criteria for having a good time. Making vacation plans and getting ready to stoke your wanderlust have been scientifically proven to improve health. So go ahead and go through this list. Pick your next adventure and start preparing for it. The following selection, in no particular order, is a fascinating collection of old and new world wonders, marvelous architecture, natural phenomena, and mysterious places located all over the world.

1. Lake Atitlan, Guatemala

Considered to be one of the most beautiful lakes in the world, Lake Atitlan in Guatemala formed after a volcanic eruption 84,000 years ago. The lake is bordered by three volcanoes, including the active Volcano Atitlan. Volcan San Pedro is dormant but, it's the most popular for climbing. The trek to the top passes through lush jungles lined with avocado and coffee trees and ends with a spectacular view of the lake. Villages and towns dot the lake's shoreline, each with sights like Mayan markets, coffee plantations and restaurants that offer views of sunset over the lake.

2. The Cliffs of Moher, Ireland

A five-mile stretch of cliffs along the Irish coast are the island's most visited site. Europe's westernmost point, the Cliffs of Moher in County Clare are a famous filming location, appearing in "The Princess Bride" as the Cliffs of Insanity as well as "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince." Aside from their cinematic cameos, the cliffs are famous all on their own for their staggering height, ancient, striated rock face and jaw-dropping views. The Emerald Isle is home to other geological wonders, including the Giant's Causeway.

3. Cappadocia, Turkey

This small Turkish region is famous for its tall, conical rock formations that seem straight out of a fairy tale. This has earned them the nickname "fairy chimneys." One way to take in this fantastical geological phenomenon is a sunrise hot air balloon ride. The area is an excellent place to hike among valleys, caves, rock-cut churches and underground cities, which were made by Christians fleeing persecution in Roman times. These dwellings date back centuries, but visitors can also experience modern subterranean living by staying in a Cappadocia cave hotel.

4. Serengeti National Park, Tanzania

Serengeti National Park is one of the most popular destinations in Africa because it's home to some of the most majestic creatures on the planet. All five big game animals — lions, leopards, elephants, buffalos and black rhinos — roam the park. The game reserve is famous for a front-row seat to the Great Migration of millions of wildebeest and zebras from Tanzania to Kenya's Maasai Mara Game Reserve. Stay at lodges and camps on both parks' grounds or on nearby private conservancies in order to watch the wildlife while sipping your morning coffee.

5. Great Pyramid of Giza, Egypt

The only one of the seven wonders of the ancient world that's still intact is the Great Pyramid of Giza. This feat of engineering is part of a complex of three pyramids which lies along the west bank of the Nile near the Great Sphinx. There are more than 100 pyramids in Egypt, but the Pyramids of Giza are the largest and most technically exceptional. The Great Pyramid is comprised of more than two million blocks of stone, some of which are so large and heavy that scholars still debate how exactly the ancient Egyptians were able to build the structure by hand.

6. Ashikaga Flower Park, Japan

A couple hours outside of Tokyo is Ashikaga Flower Park, where floral lovers can explore 23 acres of vibrant flower displays. The park has eight rotating arrangements of flowers based on the seasons, but by far the most popular time to visit the park is when the Japanese wisterias are in bloom. About 350 of the plants in blue, white, pink, and purple form tunnels, sculptures and ceilings of blooms. The centerpiece of the park is the 140-year-old "Great Miracle Wisteria," which creates a marvelous cascade of flowers overhead.

7. Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda

Mountain gorillas are the rarest primate in the world, with only a few hundred living in the wild. Their population is spread in troops across the Congo, Uganda and Rwanda, with the majority of the population living in Rwanda's Volcanoes National Park. This area is also where gorilla researcher Dian Fossey of "Gorillas in the Mist" fame lived and was buried after her death. Gorilla trekking in Rwanda requires buying a permit and hiking in high altitudes through thick jungles, but the reward of encountering these gorillas in their family units in the wild is worth it.

8. The Himalayas

About 1,200 people try to climb Mt. Everest, the highest mountain in the world, every year, with only about half succeeding at reaching the summit. The achievement is costly and requires extreme fitness and endurance, but the Himalayan mountain range offers countless other breathtaking and less intense treks and hikes. A trip to the Himalayas also allows you to explore a variety of local cultures and cuisines, spot wildlife such as snow leopards, jumping spiders and red pandas, and visit Buddhist monasteries.  

9. Douro Valley, Portugal

The Duoro Valley is the birthplace and exclusive home of Portugal's Port wine production. Winemaking in the region dates back more than 2,000 years, and it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2001. For Port novices and experts alike, a pilgrimage here is a must. Many vineyards offer tours, winemaking demonstrations and the chance to pick and crush the grapes yourself during harvest-time.  

10. The Great Barrier Reef, Australia

Encompassing 3,000 individual reefs along 900 islands, Australia's Great Barrier Reef is the largest coral reef in the world and the only living thing that's visible from space. See the barrier from afar by skydiving above it or taking a helicopter tour. Then get up close and personal to the reefs and the thousands of animal species that call it home by exploring some of the best scuba diving and snorkeling sites in the world. This natural wonder of the world is best explored sooner rather than later as large chunks of the reef are being lost to coral bleaching.

11. The Catskills, New York

A haven made famous as a rural escape for harried New Yorkers, the Catskills are a region of the Appalachian Mountains in southeast New York State. The Catskills are considered the birthplace of American fly fishing, and anglers from around the world come here to experience an ideal spot for the sport. The locale is a haven for many other outdoor pursuits, including hiking, mountain biking, camping and kayaking as well as snow tubing, ice skating and skiing in the winter.

12. The Amazon River

The Amazon River is a mighty body of water. It's the largest river in the world based on the volume of water it moves (1/5 off all the running water on earth) and the second-longest river in the world. It would stretch the length from New York City to Rome. The majority of the Amazon Basin is in Brazil, but it also winds through seven other countries. Instead of visiting a town near the river, the best way to experience the river is on it. Traveling the river by boat, you'll experience the wilds of a rainforest that's home to a third of the world's animal species.

13. Dragon's Backbone Rice Terraces, China

Also called the Longsheng or Longji Rice Terraces, the Dragon's Backbone are stacked ribbons of rice paddies that look like the ridges of a mythical creature. The layers change colors with the seasons: green in the summer, gold in the fall, white with snow in the winter, and blue with pools of irrigation water in the spring. Started in the 13th century, they took hundreds of years to complete. The terraces span three villages, each which their own unique ethnic minority customs, that are also worth exploring.

14. Napa Valley, California

The core of California wine country, Napa Valley is home to 400 wineries. Besides Michelin-star decorated dining and tastings, visitors can have amazing experiences, including grape stomping at harvest-time as well as winemaking and wine pairing classes. The verdant vineyards are perfect for taking in by train, bike, horse, gondola, cable car or hot air balloon. Napa is also known for its spas, hot springs and mud baths for those who want some R&R with their vino.

15. Angkor Wat, Cambodia

The largest religious complex in the world is Cambodia's Angkor, a series of 1,000 temples with the famous Angkor Wat as the highlight. Originally a Hindu temple constructed for the Khmer Empire, Angkor Wat has been in continuous use since it was built almost 1,000 years ago. The well-preserved temple's architecture is complex, distinct and majestic as it's meant to be an earthly model of the cosmic world.

16. Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

The Galapagos Islands are a bucket list destination because they are home to a spectacular, diverse array of wildlife with animals that can't be seen anywhere else in the world. The remote volcanic islands, which are part of Ecuador, are located in the Pacific Ocean. They are all part of a national park and are considered by UNESCO to be a "living museum and showcase of evolution." Visitors can experience the island's biodiversity up close as most animals are unafraid of humans snorkeling, scuba diving or hiking nearby.

17. Athens, Greece

Athens is one of the world's oldest cities and a must-visit for history buffs. As the heart of Ancient Greece, Athens is home to significant sites such as the Acropolis, the Parthenon, the Temple of Olympian Zeus, the Agora and the Erechtheion. For athletes and sports buffs, another site in particular is worth visiting. The Panathenaic Stadium is an all-marble reconstruction of the ancient stadium that was the birthplace of the Olympic Games. The modern Panathenaic Stadium also hosted the opening and closing ceremonies of the first contemporary Olympics in 1896.

18. Machu Picchu, Peru

Machu Picchu is an impressive man-made creation that was constructed by the Incan Empire in the 15th century. Though it was abandoned after the Spanish conquest, it was reintroduced to the world in 1911. While the exact significance of the site to the Incas is a mystery, the complex is beautifully integrated into its surroundings. The series of terraces are connected by more than 3,000 stone steps. If climbing those steps seems undaunting, more athletic thrill-seekers can reach Machu Picchu by hiking the iconic Inca Trail, a 26-mile, four-day, high-altitude journey.

19. Iguazu Falls, Argentina and Brazil

Waterfalls stretch as far as the eye can see along the border between Argentina and Brazil formed by the Iguazu River. The system of 275 waterfalls is almost 1.7 miles long, with the tallest waterfall standing twice as high as Niagara Falls. You can hike close to the falls or ride on a speedboat that will take you right underneath. The trip to get to this cascading curtain of water is also part of the adventure. It's located within a verdant rainforest teeming with wildlife such as spotted jaguars, toucans and capuchin monkeys.

20. St. Petersburg, Russia

Don't make the mistake of only visiting Moscow if you travel to Russia. Founded in 1703 by Peter the Great, St. Petersburg was the capital of Imperial Russia until 1918. The city is a living monument to Imperial and Soviet history and has remained largely unchanged since the 19th century. Built around the city's network of canals, the historic city center is filled with architecturally significant landmarks that are altogether considered a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Notable sights include the Peterhof Grand Palace, the Bronze Horseman, the Church of Our Savior on the Spilled Blood and the Hermitage Museum, the second-largest art museum in the world.

21. Grand Canyon, Arizona

Almost six million people every year come from around the world to visit the Grand Canyon, which is considered one of the seven wonders of the natural world. It's one of the deepest canyons in the world, with many amazing hiking trails to choose from. Intrepid explorers can also traverse the canyon by white-water rafting or tackle the dangerous Bright Angel Trail by mule. Marveling at the majesty of the canyon along the rim is a must, and the Desert View Watchtower offers 360-degree views for visitors.

22. Na Pali Coast, Hawaii

This 17-mile stretch of coast on the island of Kauai, the oldest Hawaiian island, is a national park with remote beauty and sheer cliffs. The caves and waterfalls around the cliffs can be explored via kayak, catamaran or raft, while the formidable 11-mile Kalalau foot trail allows for expeditions inland. The trek has been rated a 9 out of 10 in degree of difficulty by the Sierra Club, but the reward is unparalleled views of isolated waterfalls, beaches and lush river valleys. Some describe it as one of the best hikes in the world.

23. Lapland, Finland

With its abundance of evergreen trees, reindeer and white, powdery snow, the northernmost region of Finland has become synonymous with Christmas and Santa Claus. This winter wonderland also offers plenty of adventure and awe-inspiring sights. On top of activities like cross-country skiing and dog-sled safaris, visitors to Lapland can experience two natural phenomenon: the midnight sun around the summer solstice, and the Northern Lights. Visitors can even book a night in a glass igloo to sleep underneath the aurora borealis.

24. Lake Louise, Canada

Lake Louise is located in Banff National Park in the Canadian Rockies. Three hours away from the nearest major city, the Lake Louise area is considered the hiking capital of Canada during the summer and a downhill skiing destination in the winter. There are almost 125 miles of trails, many of which start at high elevations, guaranteeing spectacular panoramic views. The lake itself was formed from a melted glacier and its striking, clear blue waters are contrasted by its surroundings of snow-capped mountains and glaciers.

25. Taj Mahal, India

The Taj Mahal is an international treasure and a romantic testament to enduring love. The embellished white marble building is a tomb that emperor Shah Jahan commissioned for his wife in 1632. The mausoleum complex is considered a masterpiece of Mughal architecture and is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Despite the crowds of tourists that flock there every day, taking in the building's story while basking in its radiance is a spiritual experience that can't be missed.

26. Cinque Terra, Italy

The colorful village is one of the most beautiful places on the planet. It provides a vibrant backdrop for travelers who are after truly stunning snapshots. It's a great destination for cycling and hiking. Go now before there is a cap on how many people can visit. About 2.5 million tourists poured into the tiny Cinque Terre National Park in 2015. The villages nearby say they can't handle the flow. Day-trippers from cruise ships docking at nearby ports are simply too many.

27. Petra, Jordan

The famous archaeological site in Jordan's southwestern desert is one of the official New 7 Wonders of the World. The prehistoric city was "lost" for centuries. Petra, carved into red, white, pink, and sandstone cliff faces, was the flourishing capital of the Nabataean empire between 400 B.C. and A.D. 106, according to National Geographic. Walk through the historical Siq canyon and see thousand-year old cobblestones and a curvy rock face in mind blowing colors. Go on a hike through mountains and view spectacular scenery on the High Palace of Sacrifice.

28. Denali National Park, Alaska

With its more than 6 million acres of Alaskan wilderness, this national park will reward every kind if traveler with an adventure of a lifetime. See the magnificent Denali peak, the continent's highest peak at 20,320 feet up close. The park is actually covered in snow for many months, but there is a lot more in the winter as rivers and lakes form an unbreakable ice cover. The lucky visitors may even get to see the Northern Lights. Go in February for the Winterfest and you will see some remarkable snow sculptures and ice carvings.

29. Tofo, Mozambique

It has been called "the next Goa." Tofo has definitely become a traveler's focus on the Eastern coast of Africa for some time now. The spectacular 5-mile stretch of sandy beach offers gorgeous grassy dunes, rolling surf, sunshine every day, and delicious food. Make time to go scuba diving because you'll be doing it in some of the best diving spots in the world. Go horse riding through the dunes and villages and try fly fishing.

30. Chefchaouen, Morocco

Morocco's stunning blue city is breathtaking. The surrounding Rif Mountains enhance the splendor of the unique palette of blue and white buildings, providing a striking contrast. Adventurers won't be bored – hikes along the hills are strenuous, bathing in the mountain streams is refreshing; and indulging in delicious local food is unforgettable. Valleys, ravines and scenic summits are plenty.

31. Alajuela, Costa Rica

This is Costa Rica's second largest city. Spend time in the Parque Central, a lush and green ideal place to hang out and mingle with the locals, who often come here in the afternoons, according to Go Visit Costa Rica. West of the park is Alajuela's central market, which takes up an entire city block and is a great place to shop. Another tourist attraction is the Juan Santamaria Cultural Historical Museum which houses many historical maps, artifacts and portraits from the battle of the Hacienda Santa Rosa, in 1856.

32. Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia

This gorgeous national park is open year-round. It is known all over the world for its stunning lakes, waterfalls and caves. Go on a panoramic train tour, take an electric boat ride or go for a hike on one of their numerous hiking trails. Also, look out for wolves, bears and rare bird species. Walk on foot or ride in one of the park's free boats to the incredible waterfalls, where you will see 16 lakes falling into one another creating a series of waterfalls and cascades.

33. Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia

Formed as a result of transformations between many prehistoric lakes, Salar de Uyuni is the world's largest salt flat. Because of the large, flat area and clear skies, it is often used for calibrating altimeters of Earth observation satellites. It also creates a dream-like reflection off of the crust. Stay at Palacio de Sal, a hotel made of ice. Even the furniture in the hotel is made of salt. The rooms look like igloos built with salt blocks.

34. Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Yellowstone national park is one of the most famous recreational areas in the U.S. The 3,500 miles stretching from Wyoming to Montana and Idaho are also among the most visited. It was the very first national park established in the world. Founded to preserve the magnificent geysers and other geothermal wonders abundant in the area, the park is also heaven for threatened and endangered species. Watch geysers erupt, see grizzly bears in their natural habitat, go rafting, and be a cowboy for a day.

35. Dubai, UAE

Dubai is one of the most fun-filled places in the world. Other than the fact that Dubai has one of the most spectacular skylines in the world, it is also a common tourist destination and filled with cultural diversity. From 5-star hotels to delicious cuisine and unique activities, there is always something to do and always new adventures to embark on. Bonus, Dubai is a surprising surf spot.

36. Milford Sounds, New Zealand

Mildford Sound has a ton of fall inspirational activities to embark on. Visit the Fiordland National Park to see incredible ice-carved fiords, lakes, rugged mountain tops, and valleys. Go hiking on diverse terrain and explore the incredible wilderness. Other things to do in Milford Sound include kayaking and navigating your way through the beautiful water – make sure to look out for penguins, dolphins, whales and waterfalls. Experience the magnificent wonders of a glacier-carved fjord. You'll cruise by hanging spear waterfalls and watch the sunset from the deck

37. Scottish Highlands

Scottish Highlands is often used as a synonym with Scotland, even though there is a Lowlands region. That's how famous the mountain range, one of the most beautiful on Earth, is. Explore the spectacular unspoiled nature with rugged massifs, deep blue creeks and empty valleys where Red Deer rule the hills, and see what the fuss is all about. Also, the Northern Highlands are among the best places to see the stunning Northern Lights. After all, Northern Scotland lies at the same latitude as Stavanger in Norway and Nunivak Island in Alaska.

38. Patagonia, Argentina and Chile

A trip to Patagonia will have adventurous paddlers cruising past gigantic glaciers and some of the most stunningly beautiful landscapes on the planet. The Marble Caves out in in the turquoise waters of General Carrera Lake sit 5,000 million tons of marble, elegantly shaped by nature into caves. Viewing the caves in person is a far more beautiful experience than looking at any photo.

39. Easter Island, Chile

This is one of the most secluded adventure destinations in the world. This World Heritage Site is the southeasternmost point of the Polynesian Triangle. The now-barren island was once populated by the Rapa Nui civilization (and many trees) and is home to around 6,000 permanent residents. It's famous for its 887 giant statues that were created by the Rapa Nui people. The figures are some of the strongest remaining evidence of the thriving civilization.

40. The Rainbow Mountains, China

The Danxia landforms, located in the Zhangye Danxia National Geological Park, are the known as the eye candy of Zhangye. The rocks and cliffs come in a variety of formations — smooth, sharp, vibrant and extremely tall. The colorful rocks and rainbow ridges are absolutely awe-inspiring. These 24-million-year old deposits of sandstone and other minerals are similar to a layer cake.

41. Sagano Bamboo Forest, Japan

Japan's Sagano Bamboo Forest is without a doubt one of the most beautiful groves on the planet. The soaring green stalks move with the wind, colliding and twisting. Hike along the Bamboo Forest's paths, which are more than 1,640 feet long. You can also rent a bike for a relaxing ride through the majestic place. Going there is an adventurous experience worthy of a bucket list. The forest's exquisiteness is also in its sounds – distinct rustling hums that have become their own attraction.

42. The Blue Lagoon, Iceland

The Blue Lagoon is one of the planet's best and most famous hot springs. Easily one of the most famous attractions in all of Iceland, the baby blue waters of the Blue Lagoon hover between 98 and 104 degrees. Dip into their steamy hot springs and enjoy their luxurious amenities. Some of them include the Silica Mud Mask, the man-made waterfall, sauna, steam rooms, and their relaxation area with soothing music and comfortable seating.

43. Cerro Negro, Nicaragua

Racing down an active volcano at 25-30 miles per hour is a thrill like few others. You and your wooden board can literally crash into sharp volcanic rocks. Although this can leave a few marks, the experience is worth the bragging rights. Going up to Cerro Negro is just a bonus adventure as you'll have to hike for an hour or so, according to VolcanoBoard. The surf down starts at 2,388 feet and can last for just 3-4 minutes, depending on how fast you're going. 

44. Death Valley National Park, California

Don't to go to the hottest place on the planet in the summer when temperatures can easily reach 120 degrees Fahrenheit. The spring is the best time to visit Death Valley Park because it's comfortably warm. You can enjoy the beautiful borders and out-of-this-world sand dunes and peaks without having to worry about heat stroke. This is a favorite place for hikers. Most routes in the park are cross-country, up canyons, or along ridges. Camping is another favorite because you have a lot of choices – more than 3 million acres of wilderness and almost 700 miles of backcountry dirt roads.

45. Antarctica

Home to more than 90 percent of the earth's ice, Antarctica is a place to see while you still can. Major ices shelves along the Antarctic Peninsula have broken apart, retreated, or lost volume in recent decades. You can go on a cruise with Adventure Life and use the ship as your base as you explore the peninsula on kayaking, hiking, snowshoeing, mountaineering, camping and Zodiac excursions. Running the Antarctica Ice Marathon is a one-of-a-kind adventure.

46. Lofoten Islands, Norway

This group of islands within the Arctic Circle is a postcard-perfectfisherman's little paradise on Earth. Reine, for example, is one of the most isolated small communities in Europe. The beautiful village will take your breath away with its natural splendor.  About 300 people live there and they take very good care of their homes. Camping under the stars on beaches is another favorite activity.

47. Tofino, British Columbia

British Columbia has more than one season and it offers some of the best skiing in the world, surfing too. The quality of the waves in Tofino, on the west coast of Vancouver Island, is world-class. In addition to the shores, the pastoral structures and streets are worth to see. Watch hockey where the locals do, at the bar at Shelter Restaurant. Go camping in the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve, enjoy the hot springs in the Maquinna Marie Provincial Park, go on a boat tour for dolphin and whale watching, and try Tofino Brewing's selection of delicious brews.

48. Madagascar

This huge island nation off the southeast coast of Africa is home to thousands of animal species, such as lemurs that are found nowhere else, plus rainforests, beaches and reefs. With such an alluring shoreline, it's easy to forget that about 70 percent of Madagascar's land surface sits well above sea level, Lonely Planet notes. There are superb mountains, extinct volcanoes and dramatic peaks for the hiking enthusiast.

49. Lake Hillier, Australia

Lake Hillier is perhaps the most spectacular pink lake in the world. While it appears bubble gum-colored from above, the water shows a less dramatic pink hue when viewed from the shore. No one is sure where the color comes from, but scientists have several good guesses. The color could originate from the organisms Dunaliella salina and Halobacteria. Alternatively, its color could be due to halophilic bacteria's that live in Hillier's salt crusts. Either way, the lake is safe for swimming.

50. Havana, Cuba

You can start planning your vacation to explore the beauty that lies in Cuba. It is becoming a hot spot so go now before prices skyrocket. Stay at the historic, and renovated, Hotel Saratoga on the outskirts of Old Havana. Don't miss a chance to enjoy the rooftop pool from which you can see the entire city and its classic beauty.