There is no doubt that the earth is a beautiful place – we’ve seen pictures of every corner of the planet, and yet without actually visiting destinations away from your hometown you’ll never be able to experience the majesty of enormous mountain ranges, the sheer volume of the oceans and seas or the vast wilderness that still exists on every continent.
From rain forests to deserts, hills to the wide plains, bustling cities to the quiet inside caverns and caves. There is a great deal to see in our world – the products of man, and the products of nature, often side-by-side.
The real question for most of us is where to start the journey? Here are fifty places that would make an ideal starting point.
The most popular of the Hawaiian Islands, Maui shows off the very best of what this state does so well. Enjoy amazing beaches, take in impressive surf and spend the night in comfort and deluxe accommodations in one of the many resorts. Of course, if deluxe accommodations aren’t your style, you can find plenty of more reasonably priced hotels as well – unlike many of the other islands.
With impressive sports and amazing festivals, you’ll enjoy a wide variety of food, culture and history as you tour Barcelona. The Barri Gotic and Sagrada Familia are impressive in their own right, and the ambiance and culture rival any other European City.
3. New York City
America’s largest city by far holds not just the hopes and dreams of so many looking for their own slice of the American dream, but it also holds just about any other cultural experience you could be looking for – Broadway, Central Park, the Empire State Building and the Statue of Liberty are just the precursor to fine dining and shopping expeditions.
Who doesn’t want to go to Paris? The city of lights draws crowds from around the world for world-class cuisine, couture and scenery. Take in amazing art exhibits in the Louvre, sample fine dining and stroll along in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower in the heart of this amazing city.
With eclectic neighborhoods and plenty of history to absorb, the capitol of Great Britain is a world of its own. Check out the Tower of London and the many palaces, markets and shops while you’re there as well as the scenery left behind the latest Olympic Games.
6. Puerto Rico
On the island of Puerto Rico, you can have just about anything you’re looking for in terms of a vacation. Enjoy exploring old towns complete with cobblestones and fascinating relics or relax in a modern resort complete with white sand beaches and stunning vistas – it’s a full range of experiences in a single location.
If misty mornings, sunny afternoons and island adventures in the cool breezes of the Pacific excite your spirit of adventure, there is much to see and explore in Vancouver and the surrounding area. Explore the city of Vancouver and then travel just outside of the city to the Canadian coastline to experience the cool water adventures that the rocky beaches have to offer.
Scotland has long fascinated travelers, so it’s no surprise to find the most famous Scottish city on this list. Visit in the late summer months to take advantage of the Edinburg Festival in August or come any time to explore the moors and lochs at your own pace. Be sure to adventure through Edinburgh Castle for a true glimpse back in time as well.
Popular in both the winter and the summer months, Zurich offers amazing Alpine adventures as only the Swiss can. Enjoy the cuisine of the Swiss and revel in the chocolate and delicacies that can be found on every corner. Test your skills in the mountains nearby or just poke around in the luxury shops in classy Bahnofstrasse.
The country of Greece holds a tremendous amount of ancient history and modern culture as well. Visit Crete to absorb ruins that date back more than 3,000 years and see where much of our modern civilization developed. When you run out ruins to explore, you’ll still have the beaches to enjoy and some serious hiking and shopping to work through as well.
The undeclared capital of Eastern Europe, Prague has surged in popularity over the last year. Long hidden behind a veil of communism, Prague has been renewed and many of the city’s treasures stand ready for tourists to enjoy including the Charles Bridge and St. Vitus Cathedral. Gothic design and a complex history make Prague especially fascinating for tourists to enjoy.
The peaks of the opera house may be the most famous sight along the skyline of Sydney, Australia, but it is certainly not the only attraction of note within the city itself. Visit Sydney and enjoy a bustling major city complete with an enticing fish market, and energetic night life and plenty of other tourist attractions like the Coogee and Bondi beaches as well as the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
13. Rio De Janeiro
Head south of the equator when the weather turns cool back home and you can enjoy summer all winter long. Rio de Janeiro is home to amazing weather, stunning beaches and a lifestyle that makes everyone want to dance and sing with enthusiasm. Embrace samba, delicious food and the excitement of Carnival when you visit this Brazilian city.
A highlight of central Europe, Budapest has a luxury feel that caters to those of all price points. Experience a great deal of history and culture in the streets and buildings of the city before you relax in the thermal baths. Gear back up at the end of each day to enjoy the wild nightlife as only Hungary can deliver.
A collection of tiny islands, the Bahamas have a wild range of tropical adventures to offer visitors. The best experiences on the Bahamas are true tourist ones – stay in the deluxe, all-inclusive resorts and enjoy water sports, delicious food and plenty of relaxation on supreme beaches as well.
Step into an ancient history and experience what China has to offer tourists. Home of the 2008 Olympic Games, Beijing showcases its modern attractions and features while also offering visitors glances into the most sacred of pasts in the Forbidden City and near the Great Wall of China just a bit north of the city.
While a political hot spot, there is much to see and experience in Jerusalem outside of religious debates. Spend your time in the city seeking out the older elements of the many religions that are celebrated here. The Holy City for Christianity, Judaism and Islam, the Old City in Jerusalem is especially poignant and filled with reminders of a collective past.
Experience the best of Egypt in Cairo. The capitol of the country, Cairo has all that you can imagine in an ancient desert city. The best attraction of all, of course, is just outside the city in the form of the impressive pyramids. Tour the pyramids, see the ongoing excavations and rifle through the markets in search of one-of-a-kind collectables.
The moodiest of the Italian cities, Venice is one of the most popular cities in Italy, and contains an exotic blend of history. The majority of the buildings in Venice date back to the middle ages or renaissance periods, and the piazzas, cathedrals and, of course, canals are all to be explored in high fashion as well.
20. Cape Town
The tip of South Africa is home to Cape Town, a temperate city surrounded by impressive natural wonders. Enjoy the mountains in the distance as you settle into deluxe accommodations. Use this as a jumping off point for more adventures into the surrounding countryside or just enjoy the luxury and adventure the city can offer to tourists.
With 87 exclusive resorts on the islands, the Maldives caters to travelers in a dramatic fashion. The beaches on the islands are described as “perfect” and are surrounded by palm trees, gentle hills and, of course, five star resorts. Shallow lagoons and coral reefs make this an excellent location for diving and swimming as well.
A truly impressive city of the future, Dubai is home to many of the world’s most futuristic buildings as well as an enormous stretch of beautiful, crystal clear beaches. Wealthy citizens and interesting tourists make this cosmopolitan city even more interesting and enriching to visit.
Lush green hills and water views are found on the outskirts of Auckland, which is easily the largest cosmopolitan center in the New Zealand. Enjoy the water sports offered in the city before setting off on an adventure in the wilds of the region using Auckland as a natural jumping off point.
A fascinating city of paradoxes, Singapore is a study of complexity and fascination. The city is pristine, in part thanks to strict rules, but it is also an excellent location for cheap shopping and adventure sports. Water sports are popular in Singapore as is cultural dining and fun nightlife as well.
Just north of Madagascar, the Seychelles juts out into the Indian Ocean. This piece of land is home to stunning turquoise waters, power soft beaches of white sands and stunning coral reefs. Explore the rain forests or enjoy the romance of a leisurely stroll along the beach in this, the most romantic destination in Africa.
A rich cultural experience, Bali is surrounded by bright blue seas and is populated with warm, friendly people. Travel through the green lush jungle or enjoy a hike up the active volcano on the island before you relax and spend your afternoon and evening reclining on the white sand beaches.
The hustle and bustle of Bangkok can’t be denied, but the cultural wonders of the city are amazing. Ride along the canals that bisect the city on your way to the Grand Palace or the Wat Phra Kaeo. Then, spend the evening out enjoying the wonders of the city’s nightlight – which is unparalleled, naturally.
You may imagine a large iceberg, but Iceland has much more to offer visitors than just snowy conditions. In fact, much of the small island nation is free of Ice throughout much of the year – including fertile, rich coastline. Stand amazed at the midnight sun and when you do feel the urge, Iceland has plenty of glaciers you can enjoy exploring.
29. Costa del Sol
An immensely popular resort location along the beaches of Spain, Costa del Sol includes miles of beaches and more than 320 days of sunshine every year. There are bustling resort towns for those who enjoy plenty of action and slower paced villages down the coastline as well.
Part of the Leeward Islands, Antigua has the distinction of being the home of 365 beaches – one for every day of the year. In fact, it is on one of these beaches that Queen Elizabeth of England entered the sea for the first time. Presumably she enjoyed her stay on the white sand beaches as much as the many tourists who visit this resort destination every year.
If you’re looking for a vacation destination favored by people for well over three thousand years, look no further. The Algarve stretch of shoreline falls on the southern stretch of Portugal and is immensely popular for the stunning cliff vistas, white sand beaches that offer seclusion and beautiful surf and excellent golf courses as well.
32. Victoria Falls
One of the most amazing natural sights in the world, Victoria Falls has been declared a World Heritage Site, and it’s not just the immense waterfall that is so fascinating. Just upriver are calm pools of tranquil water where giant crocodiles and hippopotamuses live as well.
33. Masai Mara
The most famous “park” in the world, the Masai Mara is the quintessential African landscape for safaris in Africa. Kenya’s most famous wildlife reserve is home to an enormous variety of wildlife including lions, hippos, zebras and rhinos – among many more.
34. Bora Bora
If the name isn’t enough to clinch it for you, Bora Bora is worth a visit for its stunning turquoise waters and vacation resorts. The beauty of the island is astounding and with many of the huts and resorts located over the shallow waters, you can truly feel as if you are part of nature in this tropical paradise.
Home of the Taj Mahal, Agra is a popular day trip from other cities in India. The Taj Mahal, the most impressive and famous monuments in the world draws in visitors from all over the world and other nearby sights include the Agra Fort and Fatehpur Sikri in the city as well.
While it may be less than a square mile in size, Monaco is rich with experiences and culture. Monaco is a popular destination for its sunny people and climate as well as the opportunity for gambling and nice tax breaks as well. It is often considered a playground for the well-to-do.
The most popular resort location in all of Mexico, Cancun is a tourism destination designed for the comforts of travelers. Enjoy the resorts and the luxury offered right on the extensive white sand beaches, and then visit the ancient Mayan site of Chichén Itzá which is located not too far from the section of land dedicated to resorts and comforts.
38. Machu Picchu
Hidden away in the jungles of Peru, Machu Picchu remained hidden from the eyes of European newcomers for hundreds of years. Only 100 years ago were the remains of this huge city found – what remained of the Inca civilization suspended from the clouds across the top of the mountains.
Located in the center of the Pacific, Guam is one of the most popular tourist locations in the Western Pacific thanks to its lush tropical paradise. Rolling hills and cliffs reach hundreds of feet above sea level and hiking through the island reveals waterfalls, rivers and stunning beaches alongside resorts and world class golf courses.
Explore the city of Dublin with its ancient roots and laid back culture before venturing into the Wicklow mountains just outside the city. Tour ancient castles and cathedrals, walk along cobbled streets and view the sea from the rolling green hills of Ireland – all within a short trip of this capitol city.
41. Cayman Islands
A tropical island situated in the Gulf of Mexico, the Cayman Islands are friendly and safe for tourists who are interested in lounging about on white sand beaches near crystal clear waters. The main Islands includes beaches and jungle as well as animal sanctuaries and other interesting tourist destinations.
The largest island in the Caribbean, Cuba offers a great deal to visitors. It is not only a sunny beach destination, but it is home to its own ruins of early Spanish colonization and plantations as well as rich culture in the cities and music. No matter where you stay on the large island, you can expect to enjoy a weekly party as each city celebrates the weekend with an outdoor party.
43. Galapagos Islands
One of the most untouched locations on the planet, the Galapagos Islands are home to pristine beaches and wildlife that is free to live and thrive without much human interaction. While located off Ecuador, the weather conditions along the islands are as fascinating as the animals thanks to a strong polar current bringing cooler water and mist to the region.
44. Isle of Man
Located between Ireland and Scotland, the Isle of Man has had a rich and varied history as well as a calm and comfortable pace of life today. Moody weather and stunning vistas make this a travel location far removed from sunny beaches, but just as fascinating with so much to discover with the rocks, green hills and friendly people.
The largest city in Germany has a history that is both ancient and modern thanks to the conflicts over time in Europe. Berlin was separated by the cold war and has interesting redevelopment of the old and new architecture styles. Nightlife, museums and day trips from the city into the countryside are all popular reasons for visiting this European city.
46. Iguasse Falls
Located directly on the border between Argentina and Brazil, Iguasse Falls is one of the most impressive waterfalls in the world with a distinct horseshoe shape and sheets of water falling from tremendous heights. The waterfalls are surrounded by tropical greenery and rock, making them a scenic wonder visited by millions of visitors every year.
Some of the world’s most ancient ruins are located in this tiny nation of five islands. Stories of knights, Norman cathedrals and dazzling palaces all contribute to the rich culture of the country. That’s not even mentioning the pristine surroundings in the Mediterranean Sea.
One of the most famous “party” cities in Europe, Amsterdam is a city built on water. Houseboats, ferries and dams seem to make up most of the city, but historical monuments abound. Fortunately for those looking for a good time, the historical buildings often house brothels, bars and smoke shops.
49. Vatican City
Located within Rome, the capital city of Italy, the Vatican City contains some of the most impressive artwork in the world as it has been collected by the Popes throughout history. Visit the Vatican Museums and be sure to stop in the Sistine Chapel as well as St. Peter’s Basilica.
50. St. Petersburg
Russia’s Window the West was built on swampland with European flair, but it is still most certainly Russian. The arts are celebrated in St. Petersburg inside richly decorated buildings and museums. Enjoy the long evenings of the “white nights” and see the remnants of communist rule alongside the emerging cultures of the 21st century.
Visiting locations around the world does not just provide an opportunity to see beautiful sights, but travel also gives you a chance to explore other cultures and enjoy a new way of life – even if just for a bit of time.
In an increasingly global society, travel has moved beyond pleasure to almost a necessity. Granted, it is one of the most enjoyable “necessities” of a modern age.