Looking for a once-in-a-lifetime destination for your next vacation? Who isn’t?
With only limited time off per year, we all want to make the best out of our travels. It can be hard to choose the perfect bucket list experiences, when there is so much out there. I was lucky enough to have visited quite a few truly impressive destinations myself.
For some more inspo, I have collaborated with some of the best travel bloggers out there to leave no stone unturned. Ultimately, I was able to create the most in depth bucket list out there.
Some of them are truly classics, some others will surprise you as a hidden gem! Find in this post the most amazing leisure and adventure bucket list experiences to the most impressive once-in-a-lifetime destinations!
Here are the 30 best bucket list trips for a lifetime!
Table of contents
- 1. Swim in a Bio-Luminescent Bay in Puerto Rico
- 2. See the Flamingos of Aruba
- 3. Fiji
- 4. Antarctica
- 5. Road Trip through New Zealand
- 6. See the Sunset in Santorini
- 7. Machu Picchu
- 8. Petra, Jordan
- 9. Netherlands During Tulip Season
- 10. Iguazu Falls, Argentina
- 11. Sahara Desert Luxury Camping
- 12. Praia Banana, Sao Tome and Principe
- 13. Hiking in Iceland
- 14. The Pink Salt Lakes of Bonaire
- 15. US Virgin Islands
- 16. Bacalar, Mexico
- 17. Patagonia
- 18. Cusco
- 19. Soussusvlei, Namibia
- 20. Visit the White Sands National Park in New Mexico
- 21. Christmas Island
- 22. Algarve
- 23. Living With Nomads in Mongolia
- 24. Acatenango Volcano in Guatemala
- 25. Wadi Rum
- 26. Cordoba
- 27. Kangaroo Island
- 28. Atacama Desert
- 29. Mount Pilatus in Switzerland
- 30. Sunrise at Volcan Baru
- Bonus: White & Black Desert, Egypt
- Conclusion: 30 Best Bucket List Trips For a Lifetime!
1. Swim in a Bio-Luminescent Bay in Puerto Rico
Imagine immersing yourself in a shimmering sea of light. Around the world, microscopic plankton are sending off bursts of light at night. This bio-luminescence covers beaches, lights up the wake behind boats, and in a few special spots around the world, accumulates in bays for a truly magical bucket list experience in a once-in-a-lifetime destination.
Kayaking or swimming in a bio-luminescent bay is a true adventure bucket list experience. There are 5 bays around the world known for an abundance of bio-luminescence and 3 of these bays are found in Puerto Rico. Book a kayak tour at night out on the water to experience these underwater bursts of light, or visit the bay in Parguera where you can swim in the bio-luminescence. This protected bay is full of plankton and everytime you swim or move, the water comes alive with light. This is definitely a once in a lifetime destination!
You can book a tour of the Parguera bio-luminescent bay right along the docks in town or in advance online. Most of these tours begin at sunset and include a visit to one of the local islands. Book your tour during a new moon when it’s the darkest to get the best experience. It’s also possible to do the tour as a day trip from San Juan or stop by during a trip around the island.
Located in the southwestern portion of Puerto Rico, the small town of Parguera offers other incredible water activities as well including diving, snorkeling, and boating. Enjoy the calm waters along the coast and through the mangroves or visit the Western coast of Puerto Rico for a more dramatic coastline and surfing. You can find many places to stay right in town such as the Parador Villa Parguera.
This is my number 1 of the 30 best bucket list trips for a lifetime!
2. See the Flamingos of Aruba
Aruba is one of the few places in the world where you can experience flamingos up close. Usually, they live in nature reserves and are quite protected from intruders. However, in Aruba they live on a beach on Renaissance Island, and you can come extremely close. For more info on how to reach them, head over here.
In reality, it is quite difficult to get to that beach, because it is privately owned by the Renaissance hotel. However, if you do make it there, it is worth it. The beach is amazingly beautiful and hanging out with the flamingos is so much fun. As an added bonus there are also many other animals on Renaissance Island, such as baby sharks and iguanas.
Aruba is not only Renaissance Beach. There is no much more to discover on this beautiful Caribbean paradise. From instagrammable colonial houses to stunning sunset trips – Aruba is priceless. That’s also a big reason why Aruba is big on cruise ship guests.
And don’t forget all these cute beachfront restaurants!
The tropical island paradise of Fiji should definitely be high on your bucket list of lifetime destinations to visit in 2023! You’ll be spoiled with choices for fun things to do on Fiji’s 333 islands, but one activity you absolutely must do is to go swimming with manta rays in Fiji! This experience should be on every adventure bucket list.
Swimming with manta rays is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Swimming with the giant gentle creatures (that have an average wingspan of 4 meters!) as they get so close to you is incredible! If you want to swim with the manta rays to your heart’s content, stay overnight at the Mantaray Island Resort – right next to where the manta rays swim!
For a bucket list sailboat experience in Fiji, check out South Sea Sailing where you can sail off to a beautiful paradise sandbank. Slide down the waterslide straight into the crystal clear sea and swim to the sandbank where there’ll be beach chairs and beers waiting for you!
Cloud 9 Fiji is also a must – it’s a floating pizzeria in the middle of the ocean! Complete with a bar, DJ and a jumping platform, Cloud 9 is a really fun place! Tivua Island is another great day out, where you can swim with baby reef sharks in the shallows and plant coral reef with the Marine Biologist!
Another bucket list day trip is Malamala Beach Club – the world’s first island beach club! Sip cocktails out of coconuts in the infinity pool and kayak around the whole island in 7 minutes. The best way to experience Fiji’s Yasawa and Mamanuca Islands is to stay onboard the Captain Cook Reef Endeavor ship, where you can visit stunning uninhabited beaches (such as the one in the Tom Hanks ‘Castaway’ movie) every day and swim in famous caves. What an amazing bucket list experience! Perfect!
One adventure bucket list lifetime destination that is an absolute must-visit is the incredible continent Antarctica. This continent is unlike any other place on our planet. It is definitely a once in a lifetime destination.
Most people visit Antarctica via cruise ship from Argentina or Chile but there are options via helicopter or plane from Australia. A cruise allows you to get up close to the breathtaking scenery and the curious penguins. Ensure that you get to go on land by choosing a cruise line that takes under 500 passengers, like Hurtigruten. Only 100 people are allowed on land at any given time, so the larger ships do not make landings. There are no hotels on the continent, so your ship is your home the entire trip. Hurtigruten specializes in polar travel and helped us plan an amazing trip.
The untouched landscape of Antarctica is stunning, but there are plenty of things to do in Antarctica! You can kayak past icebergs alongside penguins and seals or even hike up a dormant volcano. Learn about the unique geology of the continent from one of the knowledgeable guides. For the truly brave (or crazy), you can take a polar plunge or even go camping in Antarctica! No matter what you decide to do, the beauty and strength of Antarctica will inspire you.
Only about 75,000 people visit Antarctica every year. So tick off your dream of the bucket list this year and head to the ice continent – you won’t be disappointed!
5. Road Trip through New Zealand
There are some epic once in a lifetime destinations that should be experienced by road trip! And New Zealand’s South Island is one of these! A road trip through the South Island of New Zealand is an experience like no other – from cruising along winding roads alongside glaciers and mountains, to exploring stunning coastal towns and turquoise lakes, this adventure bucket list destination has it all!
Whether you take your time and stretch the journey out over several days or over several weeks, there is no shortage of things to see and do. In fact, we spent 16 days exploring the South Island by campervan and still have so many places we have yet to see and experience.
Whether you start your journey in Christchurch or Queenstown, there are some places that simply cannot be missed! Lake Tekapo is quite possibly one of the most beautiful places in the world and it is also one of the best places for stargazing or the chance to see the Southern Lights – Aurora Australis, due to it being recognized as one of the darkest skies in the world. Visiting in winter is your best chance of seeing this phenomenon.
Queenstown is the perfect place for winter sports, close to some incredible ski resorts and mountain ranges. And of course, Fiordland National Park and the famous Milford Sound should not be missed. You can find plenty of accommodation along the way if you choose to drive and stay, but exploring New Zealand by camper-van is definitely the best way to do it! There are loads of options from budget to luxury, to suit solo, couple or family travel. These are definitely some amazing adventure bucket list experiences in a once in a lifetime destination!
6. See the Sunset in Santorini
Santorini is a small island located in the Aegean sea, off the coast of Greece. Santorini is famous for its villages on the cliffs, made up entirely from white houses. There is truly nothing more enchanting as seeing the sunset behind all these cute little houses.
But to be honest, Santorini is more than just the sunsets. From cute little restaurants to charming boutique hotels with infinity pools – and of course wine tastings – Santorini has something to offer for everyone.
7. Machu Picchu
Machu Picchu in Peru, South America is one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. A title and accolade it more than deserves for the stunning scenery and impressively preserved ruins high up in the Andes mountain range. This is a great once in a lifetime destination for your adventure bucket list.
The citadel was built by the Incas in a fairly recent – by ancient ruins standard – 1450 AD, making it a little shy of 600 years old. However, the architecture and design are well beyond their years adding to the beauty and wonder of the site.
As well as visiting the large complex of ruins you can also climb one of the nearby mountains that overlook Machu Picchu. The most famous of which is Huayna Picchu. Although you may not know the name, you’ll know it from being the iconic peak that is photographed behind Machu Picchu.
A second option is the taller Machu Picchu Mountain, which sits behind the ruins if you imagine you were looking at the iconic photo spot. A further 630+ metres in elevation above the citadel, Machu Picchu Mountain is really where you’ll get bird’s eye views of the site and surrounding mountains.
Additionally, the best time to visit Machu Picchu is early in the morning before the crowds have started to form. And, to do this, you’ll need to stay overnight in the nearby town of Aguas Calientes. Here, you’ll be able to choose from a range of budget hostels to high-end hotels, and everything in between.
From Aguas Calientes, you can take the shuttle bus to the entrance to Machu Picchu. It takes about 30 minutes to travel the 10 km along winding roads on the mountainside. Alternatively, you can walk the 1600 steps up to Machu Picchu on foot. The choice is all yours! Only one thing is for sure, that this is an amazing bucket list experience!
8. Petra, Jordan
Petra, located in Jordan in the Middle East, is a holiday and lifetime destination like no other. Made famous by the 1989 movie Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, this dazzling ancient city includes a series of dwellings carved into the earthy red cliff faces. This should be on everyone’s adventure bucket list.
Being one of the seven wonders of the world, this area is truly special. The moment that you enter this ancient civilization is unforgettable, as you walk the narrow rocky passage towering around you, it expands to reveal the first jaw-dropping glimpses of these meticulously carved structures. To complete the Indiana Jones movie-set vibe, dotted around the area are local men accompanied by their camels, offering guided tours to visitors.
You will want to give yourself the freedom of several days to visit all of the different areas of Petra to have the ultimate bucket list experiences. The trails vary from expansive Romanesque ruins to steep goat tracks, dotted with mules, leading to hidden cliff-top temples. Stop for a cup of tea along the way and enjoy it just as the locals do.
Stay within walking distance of Petra, so that you can hit the trails when it suits you. And a final tip for planning your trip – check the seasonal weather before you plan your trip as it’s a little known fact that snow falls in this region despite being located in the desert!
9. Netherlands During Tulip Season
One bucket list experience everyone should have on their list is visiting the Netherlands during tulip season. Between roughly mid-March to mid-May is when tulips bloom in the Netherlands, and it’s a breathtaking sight to take in! What a once in a lifetime experience!
Start with a visit to Keukenhof, known as “the garden of Europe.” This 79-acre garden is filled with the most beautiful display of tulips and other flowers you could imagine. You’ll be blown away as you walk the garden paths and take in the colorful arrangements of flower beds, fields, and planter boxes. Plan to spend about 2-4 hours here as the gardens are HUGE and there’s a lot to see!
Plan to go back to Keukenhof the next day, but not to go *inside* the garden. In the parking lot, you’ll find a small building with bicycles for rent. Rent a bike for the day, grab a map, and enjoy cycling around the incredible tulip fields surrounding Keukenhof.
Keukenhof is easily accessible by car and public bus. If you are traveling by bus there are direct shuttles from both the airport and Amsterdam city center. So plan to stay at any accommodation with easy access to either of these places. Enjoy the most beautiful time in the Netherlands!
10. Iguazu Falls, Argentina
The Iguazu Falls make up the biggest waterfall system in the world – it is truly the ultimate bucket list experience. Iguazu Falls are located on the border between Brazil and Argentina so you can visit the falls from both countries! This is a lifetime destination you should visit!
Iguazu falls is in the middle of dense, untouched jungle, so the falls themselves have a beautiful backdrop. There are lots of rainbows and animals to spot while visiting, it is a magical experience.
Visiting the Argentinian side of the falls gets you up close and personal with the falls and there are many spots to get a waterfall shower. Visiting the Argentinian side of the falls takes 1 full day. The Brazilian side of the falls gives a great overall view of the waterfalls and it takes a half day to visit.
If you want to do something extra exciting, you can get a helicopter flight over the falls or a boat trip within the rapids which is an adrenaline rush! This is an amazing item for your adventure bucket list.
2 towns are the easiest to stay in next to the falls: Puerto Iguazu in Argentina or Foz do Iguacu in Brazil. Puerto Iguazu tends to be cheaper and it is a smaller town that has more of a laid-back feeling to it. If you are looking for an extra special night’s stay, there are 2 hotels within the grounds of the falls. Hotel das Cataratas in Brazil or Gran Meliá Iguazú in Argentina. They provide extra special stays but come with a price tag.
The border between the 2 countries is easy to pass, some buses and taxis do the journey throughout the day. Just make sure you have all of the correct documents and of course, your passport to cross. What a once in a lifetime destination!
11. Sahara Desert Luxury Camping
Far away from any major cities in Morocco, on the very eastern edge of the country, lies the beginning of the Sahara Desert. You can have a bucket list experience by doing a Sahara Desert tour and staying in a luxury desert camp in these sand dunes (known as Erg Chebbi). The whole experience feels like something out of an Arabian night’s dream and will for sure be one of the most memorable days of your life. What a once in a lifetime destination.
When you arrive in Merzouga (the town at the edge of the dunes), you’ll meet your Berber tour guide. The Berbers are an ethnic group in Morocco who live in the mountains and deserts, and who used to be nomads.
Your Berber guide will introduce you to your camel. It’s such a cool moment, when you first mount the camel, rocking back and forth as it climbs to its feet. Then it’s off into the Sahara desert, climbing through the undulating orange peaks of sand as the sun dips towards the horizon. An hour and a half later, you’ll arrive at your Sahara desert campsite, where you’ll be welcomed to a private, spacious tent with a real bed, heavy carpets, electricity, running water, and Wifi.
You’ll enjoy a sumptuous dinner, then gather around the campfire while the Berber men in camp play drums and sing while the flames dance and the stars twinkle overhead. Before bed, you’ll definitely want to go into the dunes and watch the stars.
In the morning, you can watch the sunrise (highly recommend!), eat a delicious breakfast spread, go sand-boarding on the dunes, go ATV-ing through the desert, visit an oasis, or just relax and enjoy the scenery. The Desert Heart Luxury Camp offers a truly fantastic experience for going glamping in the Sahara!
12. Praia Banana, Sao Tome and Principe
Everyone loves a beach, especially when it’s tropical, deserted, and photogenic. There are heaps of beaches in the world to choose from for your adventure bucket list, but one that stands out is Praia Banana on the tiny island of Principe. It’s shaped like a crescent moon (or a banana!) and is surrounded by pristine rainforest and volcanic shorelines. It’s so beautiful that it was once used in an advert for Bacardi back in the 1990s.
You’ll find Sao Tome and Principe off the coast of West Africa. Few people visit this tiny island country as it’s so remote, but it’s pretty easy to travel there on a flight direct from Lisbon. You’ll arrive in Sao Tome, then it’s a short hop by domestic plane over to Principe, which is the smaller of the two islands. There are some stunning places to stay in Sao Tome and Principe, and many are within easy reach of Praia Banana. Bom Bom Resort and Sundy Praia are good options.
The best way to experience Banana Beach is on a boat tour around Principe Island. You’ll be able to stop off at other hidden coves for some picture-postcard Robinson Crusoe moments. Snorkeling, swimming, and sunbathing are all on the cards. Yours will likely be the only footprints in the sand. You can visit the bay on a road trip too – a 4X4 is recommended as the jungle track down to the shore is steep. If you book a tour through your accommodation, your guide might even set up a picnic on the beach for you, using leaves and sticks to make a table!
13. Hiking in Iceland
If you’re looking for an adventure of a lifetime, look no further than glacier hiking in Iceland. This incredible country is home to some of the most stunning glaciers in the world, and a glacier hike is a perfect way to experience them up close and personal. This item should be super high on your adventure bucket list.
The first thing you’ll need to do before embarking on a glacier hike is to make sure you have the right equipment. You shouldn’t try to do this alone if you don’t have experience – it can be extremely dangerous! You should book a guided tour and have a piece of mind. Glacier hikes require special equipment like crampons, ice axes, and ropes, so make sure you have all of the necessary gear before you set out.
Once you’re all set, you can begin your journey. Your glacier hike will take you through some of the most breathtaking scenery in Iceland. As you explore the glaciers, you’ll be able to witness some of the most unique and amazing formations in the world. In addition, there are a few different ice caves in Iceland (they’re just stunningly beautiful!) which are usually part of most glacier hikes. The best time to do a glacier hike in Iceland is in autumn, winter, or spring – it’s not possible in the summer.
The best part of a glacier hike is the feeling of accomplishment you’ll get when you reach the high point. Standing atop the glacier, you’ll be able to take in the majestic views and the feeling of accomplishment that comes with conquering such a feat. You should make this a part of your Iceland itinerary for 10 days.
14. The Pink Salt Lakes of Bonaire
Bonaire is a small, Caribbean island and forms together with Aruba and Curacao the ABC-island chain. Visiting the pink salt lakes in Bonaire is something that should be on everyone’s adventure bucket list.
The pink lakes by the salt mines, called the Gotomeer, is technically a saltwater lagoon in the northern part of the island. There are several other saltwater basins in the southern part of the island. The lakes are pink as a result of the salt mining, because of the seawater evaporating. This is definitely a must-do thing on Bonaire, since you will not get the chance more often to see beautiful pink water.
Make sure to also go snorkeling while in Bonaire – the marine life is incredibly pristine. Whether you only stay one day in Bonaire or for a longer vacation – it is an absolutely incredible destination.
15. US Virgin Islands
The US Virgin Islands are the perfect Caribbean once in a lifetime destination to visit in 2023. With gorgeous beaches, a national park, and hilltop sunset views, a visit to these islands is like entering a dream. Plus, Americans can visit without needing a passport. The three main islands to visit in the US Virgin Islands are St. Thomas, St. John and St. Croix. While all three islands have idyllic white sand beaches, they all bring completely different vibes.
St. Thomas and St. Croix are the easiest islands to access, as they each have an airport. They also have cruise ports and many resort options. St. Thomas offers the dreamy gentle waters of its most famous beach, Magens Bay. Bolongo Bay Beach Resort is the place to stay for the best all-inclusive amenities. Otherwise, Margaritaville Vacation Club by Wyndham makes a great casual option near Coki and Lindquist beaches.
St. Croix is the largest of the US Virgin Islands, but is more laid back than St. Thomas with less population density. A day trip to Buck Island is essential to see one of the most pristine white sand beaches in the territory and snorkel around Buck Island Reef National Monument. Stay at The Buccaneer Hotel for easiest access to Mermaid Beach, one of the prettiest beaches on the island.
Finally, for the ultimate remote feel in natural, untouched surroundings, consider St. John. This is where Virgin Islands National Park is located, which offers over twenty hiking trails and a stretch of aqua blue beaches along North Shore Road. Reach St. John by flying into St. Thomas and taking a ferry to St. John’s Cruz Bay. What a once in a lifetime adventure bucket list experience.
16. Bacalar, Mexico
While Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula has been a prime tourist destination for years, be sure to add the sleepy town of Bacalar to your list of once in a lifetime destinations.
Located in the southern portion of the Yucatan, near the Belizean border, Bacalar is known for its stunning Lagoon of Seven Colors, offering crystal clear water of shocking shades of blue. In fact, Bacalar is frequently called the Maldives of Mexico!
There’s plenty of things to do in Bacalar, thanks to the gorgeous lagoon. For example, take a boat tour out on the water to go snorkeling or visit the Canal de los Pirates, which, true to its name, was used by pirates in the 1700s to quietly sneak into the lagoon to attack the town. Alternatively, you can get out on the water on your own by renting a paddleboard or kayak- be sure to paddle over to Cenote Negro, named for the incredibly dark blue color of its water, thanks to its depths of up to 90 meters.
One of the most unique ways to enjoy the lagoon is to head over to Los Rapidos Bacalar. This is a beach club built along a very narrow section of the lagoon with a gentle current, where you can walk along a boardwalk upstream, hop in the river, and let the current carry you right back to where you started- basically, Mother Nature’s very own version of a lazy river! Along the way, you can take in the unique formations lining the walls of the lagoon, called stromatolites. While these may look like regular rocks, they’re actually living creatures, similar in nature to coral, and are considered the oldest living organism on the planet!
Rugged mountains, emerald lagoons, and majestic glaciers: Patagonia is a true paradise for anybody who’s into nature, adventure, and photography. It really is extraordinarily beautiful and a perfect place for anyone’s adventure bucket list, but especially for those who like hiking.
There are many national parks and areas to visit in Patagonia, but if you only have a short vacation available, Los Glaciares and Torres del Paine are the two most accessible and can be done in 10 days.
They offer incredible views from pretty much any spot, as well as quite a lot of interesting things to do. Some Patagonia highlights include visiting an island full of penguins, having a whiskey with ice straight from a glacier on Perito Moreno (or kayaking near it), hiking some of the most beautiful hikes in the world near El Chalte. The list can go on and on.
The best hiking is definitely in Torres del Paine and from El Chalten town; the penguin tour departs from Punta Arenas, and the rest of the activities can be done in either of the parks. But always make sure to have alternatives planned, as the weather in Patagonia is rather unpredictable and can disrupt your plans.
As for where to stay, accommodation is a bit tricky in Torres del Paine National Park. The hotels are few and book out quite quickly so should be reserved in advance. We enjoyed our stay in Hotel del Paine and definitely recommend it. The other places where it makes sense to stay a night or a few (Punta Arenas, El Calafate, and El Chalten) have plenty of choices available for every budget.
All in all, Patagonia is one of the most incredible places to visit in the world and definitely a once in a lifetime destination for your adventure bucket list.
Travelers that love natural beauty, adventure, and ancient civilizations should definitely add Cusco Peru to their 2023 adventure bucket-list. The Imperial City of Cusco boasts a rich culinary scene, fascinating museums, hip neighborhoods, colorful markets, and impressive Inca ruins found in the hillsides above the city. Nestled in the Andes Mountains, Cusco is the base to endless multi-day treks. If is definitely a once in a lifetime destination.
Cusco is also the gateway to the stunning Lost City of Machu Picchu, one of the seven Modern Wonders of the World. An adventurous way to reach Machu Picchu is by setting out on a multi-day trek. The Classic Inca Trail is the most popular Machu Picchu trek, but there are plenty of alternatives, like the Salkantay trek.
Those who want to discover more Inca ruins can take the two day trek to the Lost City of Choquequirao, which sees less than 20 visitors each day. For a truly unique experience, visit the sacred site of Waqrapukara, which is double the elevation of Machu Picchu!
Those trekkers interested in culture should experience the Lares trek that includes chances to visit traditional weaving villages and soaking in local hot springs. Adventure seekers will love the intrepid Ausangate trek that also includes a trip to the stunning Rainbow Mountain.
Cusco offers plenty of guided tours, making it an ideal place to base. The city is very tourist friendly, so there are lots of hostels, guesthouses, high-end hotels, and places to stay in Cusco. With frequent flight connections to Lima and many bus terminals, Cusco is easy to reach.
19. Soussusvlei, Namibia
The spectacular red sand dunes of Sossusvlei in Namibia are one of the most beautiful sights in Africa and a once in a lifetime destination. Sunrise over the Namib from Dune 45 is definitely a bucket list experience. At sunrise and sunset shadows over the unique red dunes result in spectacular images and is a photographer’s dream.
Sossusvlei is a salt and clay pan surrounded by massive red sand dunes in the Namib-Naukluft National Park in the south of the Namib Desert. The name “Sossusvlei” usually refers to all the surrounding marshes and sand dunes in the area that are visited together. There are several well known sights to visit in the park. Dune 45, an 80 metre high sand dune is composed of 5-million-year-old sands and is probably the most famous dune in the Namib desert.
To get to Sossusvlei you enter the Namib-Naukluft National Park at the Sesriem gate. The famous salt pan is located about 66 km past the gate and the last part can only be travelled by 4×4 vehicle. Most visitors camp at Sesriem campsite, but there are several luxury resorts to stay in surrounding the park. Day tours to Sossusvlei are popular from Windhoek.
The best time of the year to visit Sossusvlei is in autumn from March until May or spring from August to October. For amazing photos try to get out there with sunrise or sunset when the shadows result in beautiful images. Walking on these amazing dunes at sunrise is a bucket list experience.
20. Visit the White Sands National Park in New Mexico
Located in the Tularosa Basin in New Mexico you can find one of the most magnificent, yet underrated natural wonders of the world – the White Sands National Park. The glistering white desert in New Mexico is consisting of 275 square miles of gypsum sand. This is truly a once-in-a-lifetime destination.
The White Sands National Park in New Mexico should be on everyone’s adventure bucket list. You can hike through the white desert or explore it on horseback. Some people prefer to go sledding, while others are touring the white desert during full moon. There is something for everyone in the White Sands National Park, a truly magnificent lifetime destination.
21. Christmas Island
If you are a nature lover with a bucket list of travel lifetime destinations, make sure you include Christmas Island. This tiny volcanic peak is in the northern Indian Ocean. It is nearest to Indonesia but is part of the Australian territory. Flights to the island leave from Australia, some 2000 km away.
Christmas Island has a unique collection of wildlife. It is most famous for the 50 million red crabs that migrate from the rainforest to the coast to spawn. The carpet of creeping red brings the island to a standstill is one of the great wildlife sights in the world. The migration can occur from October to January and is dependent on the timing of monsoonal rains and the lunar cycle.
Described as the Galapagos of the Indian Ocean, Christmas Island is home to a variety of other land crabs including the giant robber crabs and brightly coloured blue crabs that also live in the rainforest. The island is also a haven for birdwatchers. The skies are full of spectacular pterodactyl-like frigatebirds, booby birds and the stunning golden bosun.
Christmas island is also one of the best scuba diving locations in the world. With steep drop offs within 50 meters of shore, divers can encounter anything from a myriad of tropical fish to turtles, manta rays, dolphins and whale sharks. Two thirds of the island is national park, and the rain-forests and beaches are beautiful places to explore. One of the best walks on the island is to Dolly Beach where turtles nest year-round.
It is hard to think of a better adventure bucket list destination than the enchanting southern Portugal coastline. Lined with sun-kissed, rugged cliffs, remote beaches, amazing rock formations, and hidden caves, it is the perfect place for a road trip.
There are so many places to see on your Algarve itinerary that you should spend at least 7-10 days. Then you get a good overview of the western Algarve’s rough coastline, surf culture, and mesmerizing beaches, central Algarve’s enchanting towns, and eastern Algarve’s natural park areas, serene beaches, and barrier islands.
Among the best places in Algarve to stay are Albufeira for party animals, Lagos for surfing enthusiasts, and Faro for nature lovers and bird watchers to see Ria Formosa Natural Park. You should not miss out on Benagil Cave, the most famous sea cave, large enough to receive a high number of tourists daily docking their paddle-boards and kayaks on the beach inside to look through the massive sink hole in the ceiling that slips in a spotlight of sunlight. You can also take surf classes or diving trips if you like to be active. If you prefer bobbing on the top of the water, go snorkeling to explore the impressive underwater world.
23. Living With Nomads in Mongolia
Mongolia is unlike any other place in the world. More than 20% of the population still lives in yurts (or gers as we call them in Mongolian) and immersing yourself in this way of living is something everyone – especially true adventurers – needs to experience at least once in their lifetime.
Living with the nomads means learning the herding techniques they’ve used for thousands of years, wearing a deel – the traditional robes they still wear daily, riding horses and camels across parts of the old Silk Road routes, eating traditional Mongolian food, and experiencing some of the best places to visit in Mongolia in the most authentic way possible.
Just imagine waking up in one of these famous felt tents with a view of the Altai Mountains and semi-wild horses roaming the grasslands in front of you, and all before eating your morning fill of buzz and washing it down with a glass of steaming salty milk tea.
For the best experience, we recommend booking a tour. Mongolia can be tricky to navigate and having a local team that you trust, plus translators to help you learn more about your host, are essential. This is truly an amazing adventure bucket list experience in a once in a lifetime destination.
24. Acatenango Volcano in Guatemala
If you’re looking for a once-in-a-lifetime bucket list experience, then you shouldn’t miss hiking Acatenango Volcano in Guatemala. While I cannot deny that the Acatenango hike is exhausting, the rewarding view from the top is simply priceless. That’s the reason Acatenango is the most popular volcano hike among the many volcanoes in Guatemala.
This adventure will take you two days with one night in a base camp. After a tough 4-5 hours climb to the base camp, you’re already rewarded with an incredible view of the surrounding volcanoes. Already the climb up with a guide and other tour members will be a unique experience. During the 4-5 hour hike up, you pass through completely different landscapes – first mossy forests followed by dry, dusty paths.
Once you’ve reached the base camp, the most spectacular sight is Acatenango’s active neighbor, El Fuego. Every few minutes, there are small eruptions, during which you hear a loud roar and see smoke and lava flying high in the sky. The most spectacular sight is after dark and at sunrise. During these times, you can watch the red lava flying high into the air and flowing down the mountain.
You can even climb up all the way to the summit, or closer to Volcán El Fuego, in case you’re craving even more adventure. Those views will be something you won’t forget. This makes hiking Acatenango Volcano while backpacking in Guatemala a truly unique adventure bucket list experience.
25. Wadi Rum
Have you ever dreamt of walking on another planet? While extra-terrestrial tourism is still in the working process, there is a place on our beloved Earth that will give you Martian vibes. That place is the Wadi Rum desert and it is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. It’s not a case that some of the most famous sci-fi movies, like “The Martian” were filmed here. The red sand and dark granite rocks are simply evocative of the few images we have of our “red neighbor”. This is a once in a lifetime destination.
Besides its natural beauty, Wadi Rum is a location of historical interest. Many different people have crossed its dusty roads for centuries, leaving also marks of their passages, such as Alamaleh inscriptions that are more than 3000 years old. Until our modern years where the desert started to attract tourists.
Nowadays home to the Bedouins, there are many exciting activities to do while visiting. Starting from the 4WD tour of the most beautiful natural arches and sightseeing. You can choose among different options, from the day tours to the short 2 hours excursions that ends with admiring the sunset from one of the panoramic points.
Another activity not to miss is a camel ride at dawn. It’s one of the most magical experiences, and the tea tastes differently when the golden hour enlightens the sky. If you are spending more then one day (and you absolutely should!), try the magical experience of sleeping in one of the Bedouin tents. It could be a luxurious bubble, or why not one of their typical tents.
What makes Wadi Rum desert a great destination is also its proximity to another magical location: the wonderful city of Petra. Make sure to check off your bucket list both locations when visiting Jordan. Would you like to know more about Wadi Rum? Check out this complete travel guide.
Cordoba, situated in the south of Spain, is a city full of history and impressive buildings that showcases past Moorish influences. A Spanish bucket list experience in Cordoba is to visit the Mosque-Cathedral, known as La Mezquita among locals.
This 8th-century historic building is a UNESCO World Heritage Site which represents the coexistence of two religions and cultures: Islam and Christianity. Inside the cathedral, you can appreciate several types of architectural styles and walk through its beautiful arches.
It is easy to spend a few hours exploring this beautiful mosque-cathedral, but it is also worth wandering its central square surrounded by orange trees. The square is a place to relax and admire the views of the buildings and take photos from a different perspective.
Once you have visited the mosque-cathedral, there are other fantastic things to do in Cordoba in a day. For example, exploring its Jewish Quarter, visiting the Alcazar of the Christian Monarchs and tasting the local cuisine. If you opt for the latter, some of the traditional delicacies you might want to try are rabo de toro (oxtail stew), arroz cordobés (cordoba-style rice) and flamenquines (pork loin filled with ham and cheese and deep fried).
When it comes to accommodation, Hotel NH Collection Amistad Córdoba is an excellent choice. Not only is it in a great central location, but it has beautiful rooms. It also has a lovely swimming pool and an Andalusian patio. This is a truly beautiful bucket list experience in a once in a lifetime destination.
27. Kangaroo Island
Kangaroo Island is a laid-back island off the mainland of South Australia. Known for its expansive nature reserves, impressive coastal rock formations and sprawling beaches, Kangaroo Island is one of Australia’s most underrated destinations that should be on your adventure bucket list.
The island is home to unique wildlife, including sea lions, little penguins, koalas, and diverse bird species. And, of course, kangaroos for which the island gets its name. But there’s one activity that will be sure to put Kangaroo Island on your 2023 bucket list. By taking an eco-certified boat tour, you can actually get into the blue waters and swim with wild bottlenose dolphins.
Two companies give you the chance to snorkel with dolphins as part of a wildlife watching boat trip. They are called Kangaroo Island Marine Adventures and Kangaroo Island Ocean Safari. All your gear is provided, and the activity is well-regulated to protect the species. Between May and October, you may even spot migrating whales too.
If you can’t get enough of nature, you can spend your nights camping under the stars. While those looking for a little more luxury should consider staying in Hamilton & Dune’s exclusive lodges. And there’s plenty for foodies to enjoy too. Kangaroo Island is renowned for its homegrown produce with independent businesses offering a variety of artisan goods, including Ligurian bee honey, oysters, beer, wine and gin.
Kangaroo Island is easily accessible by car via the SeaLink Ferry, which departs from Cape Jervis. Day trips are available, with most tours leaving from Adelaide, while flights can also be booked to Kingscote Airport. This is truly a once in a lifetime destination!
28. Atacama Desert
The Atacama Desert is one of the most stunning places in the world to experience. Its vast, colourful landscape stretches across northern Chile and is home to some of the world’s driest areas. With its unique geography and wildlife, the Atacama Desert offers travelers an unforgettable bucket list experience.
The Atacama Desert is famous for its beautiful and unique landscape, with volcanoes and valleys, salt flats and sand dunes, all providing breathtaking views as far as the eye can see. The awe-inspiring landscapes of the Valle de la Luna and the salt flats are something to be seen. The Atacama Desert is also home to some of the clearest skies in the world, making it a great place to stargaze.
The Atacama Desert also has plenty of unique activities to enjoy. From hiking in the Valle de la Muerte or sandboarding on the desert’s dunes to soaking in the hot springs or taking a dip in the salt lagoons, there are plenty of ways to explore this stunning place.
It’s also home to unique wildlife such as flamingos, rheas, and vicunas. Birds such as the Andean condor and the Chilean flamingo are often seen in the area, providing an unforgettable experience for nature lovers.
And not to be missed is the Hand of the Desert, a giant sculpture of a hand emerging from the desert sand. It’s an impressive sight and an iconic landmark that travellers can visit during their journey in the Atacama Desert.
The Atacama Desert is a unique and unforgettable place. Its incredible landscapes, unique wildlife and exciting activities will leave you speechless. Whether you’re looking for adventure or just want to admire the stunning views, the Atacama Desert is sure to provide an unforgettable experience worthy of any adeventure bucket list. This is definitely a once in a lifetime destination.
29. Mount Pilatus in Switzerland
Visiting Mount Pilatus in Switzerland is a perfect bucket list experience. Better yet, paragliding OFF Mount Pilatus is a once-in-a-lifetime adventure you really need to put on your adventure bucket list!
Do yourself a favor and take the Dragon Ride gondola to the top of Mount Pilatus and plan to stay the night. You can stay at either Hotel Bellevue or Hotel Pilatus Kulm. Whether you are planning for a romantic couples getaway, a friend’s trip, or a family excursion, Mount Pilatus is the perfect adventurous destination
Plan to arrive early to allow yourself time to explore, hike to Mt. Tomlishorn for expansive and stunning views of the Swiss Alps, enjoy dinner in the dining room, and hike to the top of Oberhaupt to watch the sunset.Be sure to schedule your paragliding adventure in advance. One option is to schedule with Freeminds.ch. They will give you the ride of your life in a once in a lifetime destination.
Arrive at your designated jumping off point. Your tandem guide will help you get suited up. Tips to remember:
- Wear closed-toed shoes and long pants
- Even if it is the middle of summer, wear a warm jacket
- Avoid alcohol and drugs before your flight
- Follow the instructions from your guide on the take off, in mid-flight, and on the landing.
- Enjoy the ride
30. Sunrise at Volcan Baru
High up in the Panamanian mountains is the town of Boquete, home to the potentially active volcano known as Volcan Baru. This beautiful small town has some of the top adventure activities in Panama, including the popular sunrise Volcan Baru tour. This experience should definitely be on any adventure bucket list.
The tour will take you to Volcan Baru National Park in the middle of the night, where you will jeep or hike up to the peak: standing at 3,474 m (11,389 ft). The views from the top of the volcano are stunning, and watching the sunrise over the highest point in Panama is a wow moment. You are so high up that on a clear day, it is possible to see both the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean off in the distance. Nowhere else can you see these two oceans at the same time.
Because you need to be ready at nighttime, plan to stay in Boquete along the main strip of highway 41 or at accommodations along the roads leading to Volcan Baru National Park.
And when you finish your tour in the late morning, if you aren’t ready for a nap, check out some of the other activities in Boquete, including coffee tours, waterfalls, bird-watching, and plenty of hiking. All this makes Boquete a bucket list destination you want to visit in 2023, so find that flight deal and start planning a trip to Panama today. This is definitely a once in a lifetime destination.
Bonus: White & Black Desert, Egypt
There’s more to Egypt than just pyramids. The White & Black Desert in Egypt is one of them!
Think unreal snow-white rocky formations due to sea erosions carved from thousands and thousands of years ago.. And secluded hills and plains are covered with black rocky dunes due to old volcanic activity.
This Egyptian destination should be one of your 2023 Bucket List Destinations because it is simply surreal due to its remoteness. Plus, no connection to the digital world does not mean you’ll be bored staying in the White and Black Desert!
Instead, you’ll be fully present with once-in-a-lifetime experiences like camping under the stars, sand boarding in the Agabat Valley, seeing sparkling crystals in their raw form in Crystal Mountain, and spotting footsteps of animals like desert foxes. Plus, depending on the tour guide you go with, you may even be serenaded by a Bedouin song!
The White and Black Desert is available to be visited in a day trip from Cairo, but it would be best if you could make a 2-in-1 Desert Tour & Camping trip as this will not rush you in experiencing the best of what the destination has to offer.
Conclusion: 30 Best Bucket List Trips For a Lifetime!
If you are looking for the 30 best bucket list trips for a lifetime – then this post surely got you covered!
From the beautiful desert of the White Sands National Park to the Black Desert in Egypt – there are many stunning natural wonders waiting for you.
The Christmas Islands and the Bioluminescent Bay in Puerto Rico are things everyone needs to see at least once in their life.
About the Author
Sabrina is a passionate travel blogger and content creator, based in the Netherlands. She spends about half of the year traveling to various destinations together with her husband.
She provides slow-paced itineraries that focus on quality over quantity. Sabrina wants to help her readers to get more out of their travel experiences – while doing less. Read more.