If you’re dreaming of exotic, sun-drenched beaches and awe-inspiring landscapes, indulge your wanderlust with our pick of the ultimate travel destinations, from deep sea diving in the Great Barrier Reef to American road tripping across Route 66. With majestic sites spanning every corner of the globe, these are the places that should be on everyone’s bucket list…
With glorious views of snow peaked mountaintops, Nepal’s rugged terrain is a mecca for mountain trekkers and thrill seekers alike. Wedged between the high Himalaya and the muggy Indian plains, there are few others places in the world where you can trek for days on end against a backdrop of dramatic landscapes. Join the Tibetan Buddhist pilgrims on a spiritual stroll, or get your adrenaline fix rafting along the roaring Nepali river or bungee jumping into the bottomless Himalayan gorge. An absolute must is watching the procession of dusty elephants as they make their way to the Rapti River, on the edge of Chitwan National Park, to enjoy a good scrub down. And the best part? They are more than happy for inquisitive travellers to come and help them out.
There are plenty of delights to discover in Iceland – notable mentions here are, of course, Reykjavik and the Blue Lagoon – but to indulge your ultimate wanderlust, head to the Icelandic glaciers – just a short mini bus ride from the capital – to explore the endless crevices and perilous ridges of the country’s enormous glaciers. If a trek into the icy oblivion isn’t your thing, stay on dry land instead and discover Reykjavik’s stunning stretch of lava fields and trickling waterfalls.
One of nature’s mysterious spectacles, the Northern Lights’ magical multicoloured light show is an elusive, ethereal sight. Travellers flock in their droves to catch the shape-shifting, transcendental dance of vivid colours illuminate the dark Nordic skies in a glorious, majestic glow. Few natural wonders have the power to beguile quite like the aurora borealis, and those who have seen it firsthand, will never forget its haunting spectrum of deep blues, moody indigos and radiant, glowing greens. The Northern Lights are visible from various points across the globe, although the best place to catch them year-round in all their glory is Norway, this spectacle will prove one of the most profound and uplifting travel experiences you’ll ever witness.
Grand Canyon, US
As one of the world’s seven natural wonders, nothing can prepare you for the vastness and beauty of this mind-blowing spectacle, until you soak up the incredible view yourself. More than one mile deep, it’s an inconceivable abyss, an enormous array of jagged cliff tops with intense beams of sunlight bursting through the crevices of the bumpy, exposed rocks. Whilst the bewildering view will leave you breathless, there are other activities to indulge in too. Take a hike through the National Park, raft along the Colorado River and spot local wildlife, which includes the likes of black bears and elk.
One of the most remote and enchanting destinations on the planet, the Galápagos Islands are a hotpot of mesmerising wildlife and lush landscapes. The place that inspired Charles Darwin’s revolutionary theory of natural selection, this remote group of volcanic islands is a land of barren lava formations, arid cactus forests, lush highlands and glistening azure bays with magnificent tropical beaches. Bursting with wildlife at every turn, you’ll come face-to-face with some of the most curious animals in the world. To soak up the views, visit the islands by boat, then explore by foot to witness the landscapes and wildlife in all their glory.
Great Barrier Reef, Australia
Stretching across 2,300 kilometres of the Queensland coast, the Great Barrier Reef is another of the world’s seven natural wonders, and with its infinite expanse of crystal clear seas, swarms of rich, fantastical wildlife and immense coral reef, it’s not heard to see why snorkelers and divers come here year after year. As one of the largest coral reef ecosystems in the world, it’s also the largest protected marine area, providing a habitat for 400 types of coral, 1,500 species of fish and 4,000 types of mollusk. As well as hordes of tropical fish, the reef is also home to whales, turtles, reef sharks, dolphins and a variety of exotic birds. Scuba diving is the best way to explore, but you can still get glorious views of the marine life if you’d prefer to snorkel.
Machu Picchu, Peru
For many, Peru's awe-inspiring Machu Picchu Inca trail is the long-anticipated highlight of their South American trip. This enigmatic lost ancient city attracts over 2,500 visitors per day, who flock in their droves to soak up the ancient history and culture. But despite the swarms of tourists, it still retains a unique sense of mystery and grandeur. Truly enchanting, this one of the most magnificent ancient wonders of the world, and it’s top of the list if you’re visiting Peru.
Taj Mahal, India
Often regarded as the most beautiful building in the world, the Taj Mahal's grandiose stature and intricate, artistic detailing is truly a spectacle to see first-hand. With glistening white marble and thousands of exquisite semi-precious stones, the opulence and splendour of this stunning building is all part of the Taj Mahal's unique, mesmerising charm. Visiting at dawn means you'll escape the throngs of tourists, plus the atmosphere is sublime as the glorious golden sun rises above the towering steeples.
Tokyo, Niseko & Okinawa Islands, Japan
Japan is a hugely diverse country, particularly when it comes to the thousands of islands – 6,800 in fact – that form part of the country’s rich, varied terrain. From north to south, Japan is a destination set to beguile, with everything from watercolour-like landscapes and beautiful beaches to snow-covered mountains and bustling cities that never sleep, Japan is place to indulge your ultimate wanderlust. Sample sushi in Tokyo, hit the snowy slopes in Niseko then take flight to the white-sand beaches of the Okinawa islands – ‘Japan’s Hawaii’ – a tropical paradise promising pure relaxation.
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Seductive and cultured with an air of sophistication, exploring the beautiful city of Buenos Aires’ is a South American sojourn guaranteed to impress. With influences strongly rooted in European traditions, the lively city is earthy and eclectic, rich with music, art and culture – a place that promises to captivate with every corner that you turn. A city that seldom sleeps, streets are laden with glamorous bars, elegant restaurants, historic cafés and heaving, buzzing nightclubs, not to mention the countless theatres, avant-garde galleries and world-class opera. Walk the cobbled streets of buzzy Palermo Viejo, sample some of the best steaks and red wines in the world, then head down to El Calafate and explore the Perito Moreno Glacier at Los Glaciers National Park.
Route 66 Road Trip, America
Driving across America’s iconic highway is the trip of a lifetime. Nicknamed the ‘Mother Road’, no other road has captured the imagination and raw essence of the true American spirit. Inspiring countless musicians, filmmakers and writers from all corners of the globe, the infinite stretch crosses eight states and three time zones, giving road trippers to the chance to explore the natural beauty and vastness of America’s diverse landscapes. From Chicago to Oklahoma, then Arizona to California, set out to discover some of America’s most iconic destinations.
An enchanting, captivating city, Havana has a turbulent yet compelling history that’s reflected by the rich diversity of its architecture and kaleidoscope of citizens. Walk the cobbled plazas of Habana Vieja (Old Havana) to soak up the stunning ancient architecture then explore Malecón – the oceanfront promenade – in gritty Centro Habana, where streets come alive with crowds of people and an orchestra of street vendors sell their wares. For a spot of culture, head to Vedado in the heart of the city, which boasts theatres, cabarets and buzzing nightclubs, and from here, you can walk a couple of kilometres to the infamous Plaza de la Revolución, with giant monuments to two icons of the Cuban struggle for independence, Camilo Cienfuegos and Che Guevara.
Bali, Lombok & Gili Islands, Indonesia
Bali – an island lover’s dream. A surfer’s paradise and tropical state of mind that boasts incredible stretches of white or black sands, sapphire waters and burning orange sunsets. With a host of different landscapes, there are jungles, rice paddies, and ancient temples to explore as well as incredible food, shopping, nightlife and yoga retreats. And it’s not just Bali that promises exotic climes, you can hop on a boat to explore the majestic coasts of Lombok and the Gili Islands in all their tropical splendour.
Nestled on the southern shore of Guanabara Bay, Rio boasts one of the most stunning settings in the world. With golden beaches set between an azure sea of forest-clad mountains, the city has everything from awe-inspiring landscapes to bustling street parties fuelled by the sounds of Brazilian samba. The aerial views over Rio are breathtaking – even the concrete skyscrapers that dominate the city’s skyline add to the allure. With some of the most spectacular beaches on the planet, you won’t be short of places to bask in the sun, but Rio also has a rich architectural heritage as well as some of the country’s best museums and galleries, fantastic restaurants and a vibrant nightlife waiting to be explored.