Skip to content

Listen to The Perfect Scam Podcast and Nominate It for a People’s Choice Podcast Award! Find Out More

 

World Travel Bucket List

  • Dallas and John Heaton/Getty Images

    Australia

    En español | First-time visitors typically head southeast to Sydney or Melbourne. But on Australia’s west coast, Perth is turning heads with a reimagined historic heart, a robust culinary scene and some fetching new hotels. About 750 miles north of the city lies Ningaloo Reef, one of the world’s best places to swim with whale sharks. (No worries; they don’t bite.) And in the country’s stark interior, Uluru (Ayers Rock) appears in a dramatic new light through March 2018: From dusk to dawn, the monolith will be illuminated by 50,000 dazzling lights in an art installation dubbed Field of Light.

    1 of 12
  • Francesco Iacobelli/Getty Images

    Italy

    Rome’s ancient ruins, Florence’s art museums and Venice’s Grand Canal may dominate our mental image of Italy. But the country’s considerable charms are best experienced in its rural villages and glorious countryside. Once you’ve visited the iconic headliners, consider calmer, quieter spots such as Perugia or Puglia. Tucked into Italy’s southern, sun-drenched boot heel, the latter region is renowned for its long, languid stretches of Mediterranean coastline, whitewashed hill towns, baroque cities and stone-walled farms harboring centuries-old olive trees.  

    2 of 12
  • Steve Goacher/Istock

    United Kingdom

    Once you’ve crossed pulsating London off your bucket list, head north to the considerably quieter town of Kingston upon Hull, chosen the “U.K. City of Culture” for 2017. Hull (as it’s commonly abbreviated) promises nonstop arts and cultural programming in its historic old town and beyond. Several new and revamped theaters and galleries debut this year, and you won’t want to miss the city’s landmark aquarium, dubbed the Deep. Given its perch on the North Sea 150 miles north of the capital, Hull also makes an ideal base for exploring Northern England, including Yorkshire, Manchester, Liverpool and the Lake District.

    3 of 12
  • Jeronimo Alba/Alamy

    France

    Want to experience France beyond Paris? Bordeaux gets easier to reach this summer, when a high-speed rail line lops an hour off the trip from Paris. Bordeaux’s new Cité du Vin, a contemporary riverfront museum, is a splendid homage to international wine cultures; the mayor calls it a “Guggenheim to wine.” 2017 also marks the centennial of the U.S. entry into World War I. In northern France — scene of some of the bloodiest fighting on the Western Front — they haven’t forgotten: The four-year commemoration that began in 2014 continues with Great War remembrance trails and more.

    4 of 12
  • Tan Yilmaz/Getty Images

    Caribbean

    The azure skies, aqua waters and laid-back attitudes of this region are a given. But how do you decide which of its truly diverse two-dozen-plus nations and dependencies to visit? If a check-in-and-never-leave all-inclusive resort suits your fancy, consider the Dominican Republic. Nature lovers swoon over the lush rainforests of Dominica. Sailors swear by the British Virgin Islands. Bird-watchers head for the hills of Trinidad. Or perhaps you’re a seeker of chic? In that case, make the scene on St. Barths. On almost any island, of course, you’re bound to find a patch of feather-soft sand to spread out your beach towel. 

    5 of 12
  • Frans Lanting/Mint Images via Getty Images

    Africa

    If a big-game safari is on your bucket list, look no further than Tanzania. The east African nation is home to eight major parks and game reserves offering scenery straight from Out of Africa. In two reserves — Serengeti National Park and the Ngorongoro Conservation Area — the odds are excellent of spying Africa’s “big five” animals: elephants, lions, Cape buffalo, leopards and rhinoceros. For a vacation twofer, tack on a Mount Kilimanjaro trek or a Zanzibar beach getaway.

    6 of 12
  • AARP Offer: Explore Your World

    Explore the ends of the earth with expert advice, tips for vacations and fantastic images.
    Sign up for the Travel Newsletter today. Help save for your next dream trip by joining AARP. 

    7 of 12
  • Bill Gozansky/Alamy

    Canada

    Canada celebrates 150 years of confederation in 2017 with a gift to all comers: yearlong free admission to its 200-plus national parks and historic sites. Still, this massive country — the world’s second-largest, by area — is best sampled in manageable bites. One possible starting point: New Brunswick, just across the Maine border. The Atlantic province wows visitors with coastal drives that lead to picturesque, locked-in-time villages. At the Hopewell Rocks on the Bay of Fundy (site of the world’s highest tides), take a surreal stroll on the ocean floor, with tide-sculpted rock formations soaring skyward on either side. 

    8 of 12
  • Kristin Piljay/Getty Images

    South America

    Imagine a world of extremes, from the lush Amazon rainforest in the continent’s north to the windswept fjords of Tierra del Fuego in the south. To visit one of South America’s most physically remarkable spots, head for northern Chile’s Atacama Desert — the planet’s highest and driest nonpolar desert. Place names like Valley of the Moon only hint at the otherworldliness of this expanse of geyser fields, volcanoes and salt flats. Try sandboarding in Death Valley by day and stargazing by night. Some lodgings, such as Alto Atacama near the village of San Pedro de Atacama, boast their own high-powered telescopes. 

    9 of 12
  • Fabian Wentzel/Getty Images

    Germany

    Whether you cycle through Rhine River vineyards, marvel at Bavarian castles or hoist a stein in a local biergarten, Germany abounds with signature experiences. In the 27 years since reunification, a transformed Berlin has become a vibrant hub of culture and innovation. The 1743 Staatsoper unter den Linden, home of the Berlin State Opera, reopens in October 2017 after a seven-year, $316 million makeover. And don’t rule out Germany’s second-largest city, Hamburg; its newfound bragging rights stem from the January opening of the $800 million Elbphilharmonie concert hall — the crown jewel in the city’s stylish, reimagined Elbe riverfront. 

    10 of 12
  • Botond Horvath/Getty Images

    Spain

    From Barcelona’s ethereal Sagrada Familia Basilica to Seville’s expansive Plaza de España, Spain offers a tantalizing array of classic sights. For a single locale that encapsulates the country’s most endearing attributes, consider San Sebastian, on the Atlantic’s Bay of Biscay. More than just another pretty seaside resort, this Basque enclave blends culture (famous jazz and film festivals), mouth-watering cuisine (small-plates pintxo bars) and architecture both old and new (from Belle Époque beauties to prize-winning contemporary creations). 

    11 of 12
  • Also of Interest

     

    12 of 12

Join the Discussion

0 | Add Yours

Please leave your comment below.

You must be logged in to leave a comment.