With the new year underway, we’ve rounded up a few recommendations from our favorite trips over the last couple of years. From Alpine wonderland towns to tropical islands, here are the best bucket list adventures to take this year!
10 Best Bucket List Adventures To Take This Year
1. Lake Como & Cinque Terre (Italy)
Resting in the spectacular shadow of the nearby Rhaetian Alps with rich, green forests growing on its shores, Lake Como is a rare mix of warm, Milanese/Alpine luxury and enchanting history.
The villas scattered around the shoreline are wonderful to stay in if you want to wake up to gorgeous views of the lake each morning, or simply a pleasure to visit if you want to marvel at the historical buildings. Don’t miss out on seeing the exquisite Duomo of Como, in the town of Como itself.
A few hours south of Lake Como, you’ll find the impossibly beautiful, pastel-hue perfection region of Cinque Terre, which, if you’re in Italy, is a must visit. Lose yourself in the clusters of brightly colored villages built into the rugged, windswept cliffs and enjoy a once-in-a-lifetime sunset or two!
2. The Ring Road (Iceland)
One of the most convenient ways to explore the otherworldly sights Iceland has to offer is to rent yourself a car and traverse the Ring Road that winds around some of the most spectacular natural formations imaginable. Think rainbows set against majestic waterfalls, dramatic plains of basalt tubes littered with diamond-blue icebergs and coastal headlands made of shiny black rock.
One or two absolute must-see sights are the hidden Seljalandsfoss Waterfall, where there’s no shortage of photo opportunities and of course the renowned Blue Lagoon where you can get your soak on in warm, natural, mineral rich waters.
3. The Dalmatian Coast (Croatia)
The Croatian Coast is dotted with a seemingly limitless number of enchanting islands, some miniature and unpopulated and others enormous, majestic and home to charming ancient settlements. With so much to see, there’s a lot on offer when it comes to finding your way around the islands.
We recommend island-hopping to get a bit of variety on your trip. Hvar, for example is the most luxurious island, complete with verdant lavender and rosemary fields and full of charm. The Kornati Islands on the other hand are made up of uninhabited, wild islands and reefs where you can enjoy beautifully untouched nature and solitude.
4. Jungfrau (Switzerland)
For us, the Jungfrau region is the ultimate Alpine destination that is hands-down one of the best bucket list adventures. Home to grand hotels and nature activities in equal number and both of exceptionally high quality, this beautiful region of Switzerland has something for everyone!
In between glacial lakes and snow capped mountains, the Jungfrau region offers everything from mouth-watering Swiss chocolate and dining in castles, to paragliding at 4000m or hiking through unimaginably perfect Alpine scenery.
Where to stay: Hotel Silberhorn is budget friendly and in THE perfect location!
5. Utah’s National and State Parks
If anywhere was to give Iceland’s surreal scenery a run for its money, it’d be the dramatic, majestic landscapes of Utah’s National and State Parks. Literally millions of years in the making, the expanses of rugged, red rock and dusty plains have been the backdrop to some of the USA’s most interesting history and some of Hollywood’s most famous Westerns!
Be sure to stop by Arches National Park, home to the highest concentrations of arches in the world and don’t miss out on Monument Valley, located in the middle of Navajo heartland and so perfectly Western it’ll have you feeling like a pioneer.
Where to stay: complete guide to Utah’s National ParksSee my to get my recommendations on where to stay!
6. The Na Pali Coast (Kauai)
Stunning Kauai is especially known for its impressive mountain scenery and tropical jungle heart. However, on the North coast of the island, you’ll find the dramatically huge and grand Na Pali coastline, a fantastic formation of towering cliffs looming over the ocean that is truly a wonder to see.
One of our favorite activities of the entire trip was embarking on a Na pali Coast boat ride along the rugged and beautiful cliffs. The Na Pali Coast is a photographers paradise and one of National Geographic’s best destinations to shoot.
Where to stay: If you’re looking to stay close to the Na Pali Coast, St. Regis Princeville is always a good choice. For more budget-friendly options, I loved Aston Islander on the Beach and Koloa Landing. Keep in mind these last two options will require an hour to two hour drive to the Na Pali Coast.
7. Baja’s Sea of Cortez
From whale sharks, to sea lions to Pacific bird colonies, the coastline of the Sea of Cortez is home to picture perfect coves, rugged rock landscapes and endless activities in between.
One of our favorite trips was heading out on an Un-Cruise island hopping experience where we had the opportunity to kayak, snorkel and paddle board in the crystal clear waters surrounding the many beautiful islands around Baja Sur. On land, we were taken on guided hikes, rode mules to desert oases or just kicked back with a cocktail on the pristine beaches!
8. Scuba Dive in Bonaire
A lesser known spot amongst the scuba diving destinations in the Caribbean, Bonaire is known for its abundant marine life below the surface of the warm, clear water. There are 86 different dive sites in total!
What I loved about Bonaire was that there was a little something for all different abilities and interests. Besides the diving and snorkeling options, there are also a number of sandy and stony beaches to explore, mountain hiking and windsurfing.
9. New Zealand
Another one for the photography lovers, New Zealand is best explored by road with the freedom to stop as you please and get those unforgettable pictures along the way. You could start with the Thermal Explorer Highway, a much-loved route that begins in Auckland and takes you past the island’s largest lake and the impressive Haka Falls.
Or for a change of scenery, try the drive between Queenstown and Glenorchy where you’ll be treated to towering, Lord of the Rings-esque mountainscapes and snow peaks.
Home to the best mojitos on the planet and sizzling hot salsa dancing, Cuba is one of those places that can steal your heart within the first day of arriving. If you’re travelling from the USA, we highly recommend booking a place on the newly approved Holland America Cuba cruise, where you’ll get treated to the best bits of Cuba.
With two days on the island — in two different ports — you’ll get to experience the buzzing culture of Havana as well as the history of Cienfuegos and its surrounding towns.