With the new year fast approaching, I wanted to put together a post with some unique, off the beaten path destination recommendations for those of you looking for some 2018 bucket list inspiration! Side note: I know I say this every year, but this year feels like it has literally flown by. How is it almost 2018?! I digress.
In order to give you a diverse list of destinations, I reached out to a bunch of my travel blogger friends to see if they’d have any recommendations, and boy, did they deliver! A few of these places are on my own personal travel bucket list too – let me know in the comments if you’d like to see a separate post on that.
As the world continues to shift and evolve and present new challenges (which can feel pretty scary and saddening at times), I strongly believe that continuing to travel and expand our own personal world to include new cultures and experiences is more important than ever. One of my all-time favorite quotes, and one that guides my desire to travel and keep an open mind, comes from famous author Mark Twain:
Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.
If we are to change the world, we must start in our own little corner and work to expand our circles and knowledge using whatever resources we have. Travel is such a valuable tool for doing that. My hope is that this list inspires you to create your own 2018 bucket list and opens your mind to considering some destinations that you may not have in the past.
A huge thanks to all of my travel blogger friends who contributed to this post – I couldn’t have done it without them! Be sure to check out their blogs (linked below) for more inspiration and resources.
37 Unique Destinations To Add To Your 2018 Bucket List
1. Morocco, Africa
Amy Cancryn of This Modern Nomad:
In 2018, I am planning a trip to Tinghir, Morocco for a yoga retreat. I have never been on a yoga retreat and I’ve never been to Morocco. Morocco is on my 2018 bucket list because I want to experience the beautiful cities I’ve only seen in pictures and movies while also relaxing my mind.
Tinghir is a city I’d never heard of until I booked my yoga retreat. It is one of the most beautiful cities in Morocco, located in the southeast region of the country at the foothills of the Atlas Mountains. Tinghir is surrounded by mountains, desert and palm trees. It looks like the perfect atmosphere for reconnecting with myself and nature.
I also want to visit the spice markets and shop at the bazaars of Marrakesh, which is included in the retreat package. I want to experience the colorful and very different culture of Morocco, and I also want an authentic experience. I don’t want to only go to the touristy areas, I want to experience the true culture of Morocco.
On this trip there will be daily yoga and meditation. Full accommodation and food as well as excursions into the cities of Tinghir and Marrakesh are also included. What I’m most excited about is the included overnight trip into the desert. Sleeping under the stars in the desert of Morocco makes me so excited.
I am a working mom of two and a wife. Needless to say, I am always “on” taking care of my family. I rarely get the time or space to think about anything other than my family. In 2018, in Morocco, I am looking forward to connecting with myself again and relaxing my mind, body and soul. Usually, I plan all of our family vacations, and we travel quite often. The planning is usually extensive and it’s generally up to me to organize everything and make sure things go well.
This time, I didn’t want to plan anything! I truly want to escape into the amazing landscape of Morocco while someone else plans my trip for a change. Even though I am new to yoga, I am excited to experience what daily yoga and meditation will feel like in an amazing place like the foothills of the Atlas Mountains. Plus, a trip into the desert has been on my bucket list for longer than I can remember. 2018 cannot come fast enough. Someone pinch me!
2. The Channel Islands, UK
Iris Veldwijk of Mind of a Hitchhiker:
Often referred to as ‘Jersey and Guernsey,’ The Channel Islands have piqued my curiosity for a long time. On the brink of Brexit, nobody knows exactly what is going to happen in terms of the islands’ accessibility. Their situation is complicated as they aren’t officially part of the UK, yet the British are responsible for their defense as ‘Crown dependencies.’ They aren’t a member of the EU either. On top of all that, these islands lie closer to France than the UK, and their inhabitants speak a French dialect called Norman. It is a thoroughly confusing and unique place, and I love that! It’s one of the reasons I’m looking forward to finally hitchhiking there in the coming year.
I plan on taking a ferry from Saint-Malo in France to get to the islands. The history of these islands goes back 250,000 years to prehistoric times when they were still attached to the mainland. In more recent times, the islands were the scene of many shipwrecks and were occupied by Nazis during World War II. For natural attractions, one can go puffin-spotting (a funky bird), hiking, observe the tides, photograph lighthouses like Les Hanois, and listen to the incessant wind that whips around the islands. Foodies will find most sustenance in the form of seafood, nettle soup, ‘Jersey wonders,’ and locally-produced apple cider.
To fully explore the territory, it’s possible to take smaller boats to the tiny inhabited islands surrounding the larger ones, like Sark, Herm, Alderney, and perhaps even tiny Brecqhou. I hope to go camping a lot to fully immerse myself in the remote solitude of the place. I’m betting it’s going to be a ragingly cool experience and I can’t wait to cross it off my 2018 bucket list!
Campbell & Alya of The Stingy Nomads:
Due to our nomadic and unpredictable lifestyle, we never plan too far ahead, but one destination is definitely on our 2018 bucket list! Kyrgyzstan was always a mystery, even for me who was born and grew up in Russia. All I knew about the country (from school geography) was about Issyk-Kul Lake, the tenth largest lake in the world and Lenin (Ibn Sina) Peak, which at 7134m is the highest peak in the region.
The mountain is the main reason we started looking into and planning our Kyrgyzstan trip. In 2017, we did our first real climb to Elbrus mountain in Russia which is considered to be the highest peak in Europe. After that experience, climbing was added to our list of adventures. Though 7134m is quite an impressive altitude, Ibn Sina is one of the easiest peaks over 7000m to ascend, and every year hundreds of people do it.
This fact is encouraging for us since we don’t have much experience in climbing. In addition to climbing, Kyrgyzstan is a great place for other activities such as hiking, horseback riding, mountain biking, skydiving, paragliding and even skiing or snowboarding. To relax after all these activities, you can go to Issyk-Kul lake and soak in its hot springs or just chill on a sandy beach. Also, if you like history, Kyrgyzstan has a lot to offer as it was an important part of the Great Silk Road with three different routes going through its territory. To see and do all of these activities, you need a lot of time! We’ll have about a month there and are planning to spend most of the time in the mountains, hiking and climbing. We can’t wait!
Jessica Norah of Independent Travel Cats:
Iceland is such a scenic destination and I’m sure it is on a lot of peoples’ bucket lists for the coming year! Iceland is appealing to us because of its gorgeous natural scenery, wildlife, and culture. There’s also a stark beauty about a country with so few people (it is the most sparsely populated country in Europe). My husband Laurence is a photographer and loves the landscape photography opportunities here. It is also a short and relatively cheap flight away for us, since we are currently based in Scotland. We are hoping to visit Iceland this spring to be able to explore Iceland’s northern coast, see the wildlife, drive the full Ring Road, and see some of the spots we missed on our first trip to Iceland last year.
Last year we did a week long Iceland road trip in winter which was a lot of fun! We got to see a lot of the country’s major highlights, including Reykjavík (the capital), the Blue Lagoon, the beautiful Icelandic horses, and the Golden Circle sites (waterfalls, geysers, and national parks). But because we were there in winter, we were a bit restricted in where we could safely go as many roads were closed. We are excited to return during the summer to see some sites that were inaccessible during the winter months. This year we are excited to see Iceland’s wildlife (nesting birds, seals, and whales), do a boat tour, explore an ice cave, and check out the villages and waterfalls of northern Iceland. Most travelers visit the southern part of Iceland, but a much smaller percentage visit northern Iceland which we think will make for a great second trip to the Land of Fire and Ice!
Scott and Hayley of International Hot Dish:
Antarctica may be kind of a strange destination to want to travel to, but it’s on my bucket list in 2018 for good reason. My wife and I have quit our jobs and are traveling around, visiting all the places we’ve ever wanted, so now would be the time to go there, if ever.
So what makes Antarctica so interesting? First of all, no one lives there permanently. It’s as close to visiting another planet as is possible. People go there to explore and study the terrain, but no one stays there. The majority of the world has agreed to keep their greedy hands off of it.
Secondly, it is the setting for my favorite horror movie: The Thing. This movie starring Kurt Russell, is a chilling, suspenseful ride through a science station in Antarctica. The setting makes it terrifying in that there is no escape. It’s fight or die. I always loved the menacing atmosphere the arctic tundra provided. Also, the ice there is OLD. It’s been around for hundreds of thousands of years, which makes it feel like you’re stepping back in time.
Finally, I’m a big fan of Black Metal music, and a lot of it highlights the desolate and barren nature of vast landscapes, void of life. The openness of Antarctica is appealing because of how it realigns my own personal place in the world. It’s like being out in the middle of a desert or alone in space. The vastness is entrancing.
6. Medellín, Colombia
Taiss Nowrouzi of Together To Wherever:
Our top bucket list destination for 2018 is Medellín, Colombia. We hope to make it there by the last half of the year and check out what it has to offer. What we’ve heard about Medellín: great coffee shops (good places to take your laptop and get a couple hours of focused work done), lots of expats (good community you can go to for support), great food and culture, and friendly locals you can make great connections with. Considering that the cost of living seems to be low when compared to places like the U.S. or Europe, it seems like a good quality of life could be enjoyed there.
Additionally, the pleasant weather and green, mountainous landscape surrounding the city have us dreaming about a visit soon. Once we make it to Medellín, it will also provide a nice base in South America for us from which we can make short trips to some of the other amazing cities nearby. While in Medellín, one of the top places we hope to see is Guatape, which is only a day trip from the city.
As bloggers whose main focus is on living abroad and traveling with an expat mindset, Medellín has been on our radar for the last couple of years. We’ve lived in Chiang Mai, Thailand as well as Bali, Indonesia and have been able to provide a comparison of life as expats in each of these cities. Medellín has come up in our conversations with many digital nomads and long-term travelers, so it has always intrigued us. We’re particularly curious to know how it could compare to living in Chiang Mai. We’ve heard so many great things about Medellín that gave us the impression that it would be a great place to live for 3-6 months or maybe even a year!
James of Worldwide Shopping Guide:
Andorra is a country that I’ve wanted to visit for a very long time, and it’s at the top of my 2018 bucket list! Andorra is so small and inconspicuous that it’s possible to go months or even years without hearing the country mentioned in the news, whereas I hear stories about neighbouring Spain and France on an almost daily basis.
I’ve driven between France and Spain several times, but always there’s been a reason that I haven’t visited Andorra – it was always just a little bit too far out of the way. Not next year, though! I’m going to be “in the area” so I’ve planned a little detour to visit the country that got away for so long.
As well as simply satisfying my curiosity and just seeing Andorra, I’m visiting this tiny landlocked country for its walking paths. From what I’ve read, Andorra is a walker’s paradise with lush green valleys, beautiful flowers, and the sound of cowbells ringing all around. The terrain is varied, made up of mountainous peaks, remote valleys, and clear mountain lakes, which keeps things interesting. From reading about it, I think Andorra sounds like the perfect destination to go and just get away from it all.
Of course, a trip to Andorra wouldn’t be complete without a little retail therapy as well. Andorra has some of the lowest taxes in the European Union and, particularly during sales, it can be a great destination to pick up clothes and perfume at reduced prices. If I can have a walking holiday and do all of my Christmas shopping at the same time, I’d consider that an extremely successful trip!
8. Óbidos, Portugal
Petro Marais of World Mission 196:
This year I was lucky enough to meet my aunt in Italy. We stayed in a small village called Monte Carlo. She kept raving about this town in Portugal called Óbidos. She has shown me some photos and artwork that she purchased there, and it literally looks like a fairytale village.
I am traveling to 100 countries before I turn 30, and have planned to visit about 40 different countries in 2018! Portugal is one I am looking forward to visiting over summer 2018! I will make sure to visit this fairytale village my aunt told me about.
I always love going off the beaten path and escaping the majority of the tourists. Óbidos is a quick day trip from Lisbon, and if you stay overnight all the daytime tourists will disappear. The town is enclosed by walls and you are able to walk on the walls around the entire town. You are also able to stay in the castle there overnight since it has been converted into a hotel! I’m seriously looking forward to my 2018 bucket list!
9. Galicia, Spain
Talek Nantes of Travels With Talek:
Galicia, Spain is on my 2018 bucket list for some unique and personal reasons! Bordering Spain’s rugged northwest coast, Galicia is particularly special to me, due to the fact that my ancestors came from there. What strikes a first-time visitor to Galicia, Spain is the wild landscape. The North Atlantic Ocean batters the coast and the waves pound the lighthouses and rocky beaches. With an average rainfall much higher than the rest of Spain, the northern coast is lush with thick foliage and rushing brooks. With its country churches and bucolic pastoral scenes, Galicia is an ideal place to kick back and relax during the day. Ah, and night time is a different story! This is when Galicians pour into their streets to sample some of the best tapas in the country and enjoy rich Galician wine that rivals the best in Europe.
My grandfather boarded a ship from Galicia to what he called The Americas with his three brothers in 1906, when he was 12. They were on their way to Argentina. The ship docked in Havana, Cuba to pick up provisions. Desperate to touch dry land after so many weeks at sea (and having an adventurous spirit), the curious 12-year old decided to disembark and explore the dock while the ship took on provisions. He wandered too far and the ship sailed on without him, carrying his three brothers. He never saw them again.
My grandfather then stayed in Havana sleeping on sacks of flour in warehouses and doing odd jobs for food. Eventually he got a steady job in a warehouse, where he rose to manager. He married and had two kids, one of which was my father. Whenever I return to Galicia, I imagine what life must have been like for my grandfather while he lived there, which only increases my desire to visit again!
10. Livingston, Guatemala
Michele Peterson of A Taste for Travel:
Livingston is on my 2018 bucket list because this small beach town on the Caribbean coast offers a completely different vibe than any other region of Guatemala. Unlike the Mayan highlands, Livingston is home to the Garifuna people, descendants of West African, Arawak, Carib and European ancestors.
Their Afro-Caribbean culture features drum-based punta dance music, a distinct Garifuna language and a rich culinary tradition. Garifuna dishes I’m looking forward to tasting include tapado (a coconut-infused seafood soup), ereba (cassava bread) and dharasa, the local tamale.
Livingston is also a jumping off point for exploring natural wonders such as Rio Dulce, beautiful Playa Blanca beach, Siete Altares (Seven Altars), a series of cascading waterfalls set in the rainforest and the Bay of Amatique known for its sightings of wild dolphins. I can’t wait to visit in 2018!
11. Amalfi Coast, Italy
Nicole Arnott of Wee Gypsy Girl:
The Amalfi Coast is no stranger to bucket lists worldwide. With its enviable seaside location and dramatic cliff side vantage points, this little gem on Italy’s Sorrentine Peninsula receives its fair share of visitors every year.
I’ve always wanted to visit the Amalfi Coast – especially for the food! However, this year, I got the perfect excuse to finally visit. One of my best friends is getting married there in August 2018 and she couldn’t have chosen a better location for her wedding. Temperatures are going to be sky high so I’m sure that all us Scottish guests will be taking full advantage of the region’s beaches!
I’ve visited Italy once before but it was a flying visit so I’d love to spend some time before or after the wedding, road-tripping around. I’m especially excited to see some of the vineyards because wine and travelling are two of my favourite things. When you combine them, you can hardly go wrong. Pompeii is also going to be on the itinerary because it’s not far away and is another place many people dream of visiting.
And, of course, no trip to Italy is complete without a good few meals. From pizza to seafood to tiramisu and limoncello, I’m already excited to experience the local cuisine of the Amalfi Coast.
Here’s to destination weddings and all the amazing places that they allow us to visit!
12. Kenya, Africa
Thais Saito of World Trip Diaries:
After a year traveling the Americas, we want to conquer the rest of the world in 2018. On the top of our family’s 2018 bucket list is Kenya. Even though it may not be considered the most ‘safe’ or family-friendly destination, we can’t wait to go visit! I mean, all the wildlife? Going on a safari and seeing elephants, rhinos, lions, and giraffes doing their things? Yes, please! Even better if we can see Mount Kilimanjaro in the background!
I really want my kids to see the big five alive and in their natural habitat instead of in a zoo or only in photos! My oldest wants to learn PADI so she can try to see sea bunnies – and they live there, in the Indian Ocean. They are adorable and I want to see them too. We also want to visit the Marine Reserves. After learning snorkel in Cartagena, my kids are in the mood and it’s going to be one awesome experience to swim amongst coral reefs. Plus, there’s nothing wrong in seeing dolphins and turtles again, right?
If all that wasn’t enough, there are forests, beaches, canyons, and ruins! Quite a lot to fill up a few weeks, isn’t it? Of course, we also want to learn more about their culture, try their food, get to know the locals, and, I’m sure, fall in love with yet another incredible country!
13. Quebec City, Quebec, Canada
Amy Stark of A Traveling Broad:
I LOVE to travel and my travel bucket list is seemingly endless. However, Quebec City is on the top of that list. Why? Because it’s like taking a trip to France…without the 7-hour flight! Situated along the St. Laurence River, Quebec City is the only remaining walled city in North America.
When I visit a new destination, my favorite way of getting to know it is by exploring on foot. From everything I’ve read, historic Old Quebec is a very walkable city with several charming historic neighborhoods complete with cobblestone streets and stone buildings. Through my travels, I’ve found that the most interesting part of any new place to me is its historic district. As a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site, historic Old Quebec has a lot to offer a history and architecture lover like me.
After doing some research, I’ve come up with a list of must-see attractions when I finally visit: 125-year-old Chateau Frontenac, the most photographed hotel in the world; and the Parliament Building, a stunning four-quadrant structure that houses Quebec’s center of government. Photographing churches around the world is a favorite activity of mine and Quebec City has 2 gorgeous churches just waiting for me: Notre-Dame-des-Victoire’s, one of the oldest churches in North America, and Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré Shrine, a site visited by religious pilgrims for over 350 years.
I also look forward to exploring the Petit Champlain district with its Old World charm. This historic neighborhood boasts Place Royal, a historic square along the Rue de Petit. The Plains of Abraham, Quebec City’s version of Central Park, is also on my list. Last but not least, I can’t wait to see Montmorency Falls, which is even bigger than Niagara Falls.
With so much to see, I am sure I will return from my trip to Quebec City with hundreds of photos and enough memories to last me a lifetime!
Editor’s Note: If you’re heading to another city (New York City!) check out my insider’s guide here.
Laurence Norah of Finding the Universe:
The Seychelles are on my bucket list for 2018 because whilst I’m actually from the Seychelles, I haven’t visited for a long time! In particular, my wife Jessica has never been, and I’m super excited to be able to share my home country with her, as well as have her meet some of my Seychellois family. Some of the highlights I’m looking forward to are her experiencing all the fantastic white sand beaches and the warm, tropical water.
We’re planning on spending some time island-hopping as well! The Seychelles are a collection of over 100 islands spanning a million square miles, and you can visit many of the islands on one single trip. Islands that we will definitely visit include the main island of Mahe, where I have family, as well as the laid back island of La Digue, and the privately run and owned Bird Island, which is where I grew up.
I’m also really excited to have the opportunity to eat local food again. Food in the Seychelles is an interesting mix of fresh seafood and hot spicy curries, with some of my favourite dishes including salt fish and the local sausage casserole. I’m hoping my wife Jess is going to like it too! We’re really excited to be heading to the Seychelles for a relaxing holiday. Many of our trips are more work-focused, and whilst I’ll obviously be taking a lot of photos, we’re definitely going to be having some downtime on our visit as well!
15. Dominican Republic
Sky Fisher of Sky vs World:
16. Sikkim, India
Daniele and Elena of Cycloscope:
After cycling through Eastern Europe and all over Central, Eastern, and Southeast Asia, we feel ready for the biggest challenge yet, the Indian Himalayas, and can’t wait to cross them off our 2018 bucket list! Among the several mountainous regions of India, Sikkim is the one that fascinates us the most.
Nestled between Tibet, Bhutan, Nepal, and the Siliguri Corridor (near Bangladesh), Sikkim is the least populous and second smallest among the Indian states. Despite that, it’s one of the most diverse, both in natural beauty and cultural heritage. Subtropical jungles, tea plantations, and alpine peaks, including the highest mountain in India (and third highest in the world), Kanchenjunga. With all of that natural beauty, I don’t think it will be hard to find some of the best views ever!
All that being said, the cultural heritage is what really drives our interest in visiting. Sikkim is home to 11 different languages, a lot of diverse ethnic groups with their own special (and sometimes very seemingly odd) customs. We can’t wait to go there!
Natasha and Cameron of The World Pursuit:
Tahiti, a small island in French Polynesia, has long been on my travel bucket list. In 2018, I think I am finally going to make it there! So why is this beautiful island so high up on my travel list? Well for one it’s surrounded by volcanic mountain ranges and black beaches. The surf is also fantastic, as well as the scuba diving, deep sea fishing and snorkeling in the crystal clear water.
It’s also where you’ll find those beautiful romantic bungalows over the water that I’m sure you’ve seen in images all over the internet. Besides relaxing on the beach, you can also go hiking around the jungle, take jet skis out on the water or practice meditation and yoga on the beach. It really is the dream destination for me and so many others. We can’t wait to get to Tahiti in 2018 and cross this gorgeous island off of our bucket list!
Priya Vin of Outside Suburbia:
The big, jagged mountaintop glaciers of Los Glaciares National Park, the towering Fitz Roy massif and the turquoise-colored Lago Argentino are places that I have been dreaming of visiting lately. Patagonia is high on our travel bucket list for 2018. This vast area covers almost 400,000 square miles! Wilderness still rules which means it is not as easy to get to as the mountains of Europe or North America. This trip requires some serious planning.
While established tourism is found in the northern lake districts of Argentina and Chile (around Los Glaciares National Park in the Argentina and Torres del Paine National Park in the Chile), most other parts are mainly empty spaces and ranching country. However, you can find some amazing hotels and views that will make the trip worthwhile. There will be plenty of wildlife to look for as well from the rhea that hide in the grasses and spiny bushes to the eagles, condors and vultures in the sky.
We also want to plan a trip to the Valdés Peninsula, where you can take boats that allow visitors to get extremely close to the teeming marine life of the South Atlantic. You can see pods of orcas, as well as elephant seals, sea lions and fur seals from the peninsula’s coast year round. I’m hoping to see some cute Magellanic penguins that live South of Madryn, at Punta Tombo. There are over 200,000 breeding pairs of Magellanic penguins, which is one of the largest colony in the world. We can’t wait to visit Patagonia in 2018!
Arzo of Arzo Travels:
My bucket list for 2018 is long – however, one country is very high on my list and this country is….Oman! You may have seen a lot of pictures on Instagram or in blog posts about this country that borders the United Arab Emirates (UAE). However, despite the fact that Oman is getting more and more popular amongst travelers, I don’t think it is so well-known yet that it is overly crowded. This might change in a few years, but for now, I think Oman is still a somewhat hidden gem and that is why it is at the top of my 2018 bucket list.
Places I am crazy to see in Oman include:
- Wadis will probably be one of the first places I will be heading, for example the Wadi Shab and Wadi Bani Khalid.
- Deserts tend not to be crowded but I can imagine the Wahiba Sand will also be popular in a few years, so it will be great to visit soon.
- Though I am not a religious person, I always enjoy visiting religious places and Oman has quite a few great mosques I would like to see. One of the mosques I added on my Oman itinerary is the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque.
- Oman is also home to some amazing beaches that I cannot wait to visit, one of those beaches is Qurum Beach.
- Oman has also some fjords which I think are worth checking out.
And though I highly doubt it, in case I am not a fan of Oman I can still head over to Dubai which is just around the corner from Oman! These are just a few reasons why I’ve added Oman to my bucket list for 2018.
20. Seoul, South Korea
Kavita Favelle of Kavey Eats:
My bucket list grows faster than I’m able to cross things off it, not least because sometimes a single visit isn’t enough — we’ve already been to Japan three times and yet I don’t feel I’m even nearly done with the country. I suspect it may be like that when I finally make it to Seoul and the rest of South Korea.
I’ve been keen to visit Seoul for a long time, but that’s been amplified in the last few years by my day job – my current client is located in New Malden aka Little Korea. This small suburb of Surrey is home to the largest population of Koreans in Europe and that is reflected in the local businesses. For me, the ones of interest are the many Korean restaurants, many within a few minutes walk of my office. The more I eat my way through their Korean menus (at least three times a week), the more interested I am in the country and culture that created the cuisine.
I’ve also been watching a TV series recently of a British chef exploring the food of Korea during an extended visit. Every single episode is taking me one step closer to booking flights!
When I travel, I love to deep-dive into the history and culture of a place, to understand what has shaped its past and what continues to shape it today and going forward. I love to explore the different landscapes and architecture, the old and the new, and all of the everyday things that are different from my life at home. Seoul seems to offer so much to the curious traveller: of course there are historic sites and attractions such as the Gyeongbokgung Palace, the National Museum and the War Memorial, but there are also neighbourhoods full of traditional Korean hanok (houses) with wonderful shops and tea houses to browse. There is a modern city to admire, with striking architecture worthy of the capital – and of course Korea is very much a leader in global technology! Seoul also has many Buddhist temples to explore where you can learn about local customs and beliefs. As if that weren’t enough, there are so many wonderful markets! I suspect I could spend a week visiting nothing but markets and still find more of them to see! I aim to eat every different dish I can find!
Outside of Seoul, I’d love to do a drive out to the rural areas. Just a short distance from the city and you can be deep in verdant countryside, mountains and valleys, forests and fields, where a slower pace of life still exists.
Read on for more amazing destinations to add to your 2018 bucket list!
21. The Galapagos Islands and Ecuador
Laura and Lance of Travel Addicts:
When it comes to travel, one destination is near the top of many peoples’ 2018 bucket list: The Galapagos Islands. We were fortunate enough to visit several years ago, caught the bug, and will be going back in 2018. The Galapagos is one of the world’s top ecotourism destinations. By being both geologically unique and geographically remote, this remote archipelago has spawned numerous voyages of discovery. While much has been made of Charles Darwin’s observations on the Islands, the Galapagos has been the subject of focus for generations. These days, travelers can retrace Darwin’s footsteps while engaging in the best wildlife viewing anywhere in the world. It’s no small wonder that the Galapagos was named the world’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site.
However, there’s so much more to Ecuador than these islands. Any trip to Ecuador should also include time on the mainland. The Andes Mountains are a series of volcanoes that are meant to be explored. One of our best experiences ever was horseback riding up the sides of the rocky Rumiñahui volcano. From near the summit, the adventurous can look out across the valley at Cotopaxi, the world’s highest active volcano. Above your head, the Andean Condor, the largest bird in the world, circles effortlessly watching your every move. You can even turn your view to the mountain range known as the Avenue of the Volcanos. Ecuador is hands down our top bucket list destination for 2018!
Tom Grond of Travel Tom Tom:
Who the hell wants to go to Pakistan? Well, me! A lot of people get seriously scared when they hear the name Pakistan, but there’s no need to avoid traveling to it entirely. Yes, the country still has its fair share of security and political concerns, but many areas are perfectly safe, and the Northern region where the Himalayas are is especially worth a visit. There are tons of +5,000m mountains which are great to travel around and above all, utterly beautiful.
I like to go to places off the beaten track since after five years of continuous traveling around the world I have seen the standard “holiday” sights too many times. In 2018, I am going on an overland trip from Europe to Asia trying to explore all of the countries in Central Asia.
Pakistan is towards the top of my bucket list because I really want to catch a glimpse of the second highest mountain in the world, the K2, and would love to travel on the Karakoram Highway, one of the most dangerous roads in the world. Another reason why Pakistan is topping my bucket list is the fact that it is really hard to get in due to their visa policy. It is doable to get a visa for Pakistan, but the restriction is that you have to apply from your home country, making it super hard for me as a frequent traveler. The difficulty of getting in makes it all the more exciting and I hope to make it to Pakistan to explore its beauty in 2018!
23. Prague, Czech Republic
Sierra Dehmler (yep, that’s me!) of Passport Voyager:
Prague has long been on my list of destinations to travel to, but only in the past year or so have I officially added the Czech Republic capital to my 2018 bucket list! Partly due to seeing gorgeous photos of Prague splashed across social media, my desire to visit is heightened by the fact that I’ve never really been to any part of Eastern Europe.
According to Condé Nast Traveler, Prague is consistently rated one of the top cities in the world to visit, and for good reason! It’s beautiful, full of old architecture and history, and seems incredibly enjoyable to wander around and explore. Old Town Prague is even listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, as it features some of the world’s most notable examples of Gothic and Baroque architecture.
Prague’s Charles Bridge also entices me, because after all the magical-looking photos and videos I’ve seen that feature the bridge, all I want is to go visit it alone some early morning and experience it for myself! I’m not exactly sure how or when I’ll make it to Prague in 2018, but it’s certainly top of my bucket list and I can’t wait to czech it off. (See what I did there? Yeah. I know. I’m a dad joke pro.) Side note: this awesome Rick Steves Eastern Europe itinerary is only making me want to visit more!
Clemens Sehi of Travellers Archive:
Lebanon, a country that lies somewhere between glitter and war history, is not well-known for being the perfect travel destination. However, it is definitely on my 2018 bucket list. Why? Let’s start in Beirut. The capital is supposed to be a mix of Istanbul’s oriental touch, Berlin’s edgy bits, but also Paris’ glamorous corners and that is something I would like to see. I would love to wander through the streets, visit mosques and churches alike, get to know more about the young war history of the country, but also relax at the beach and watch the fishermen spending their days in the sun.
Lebanon is not big and is therefore supposed to be really easy and quick to travel through. I heard from friends that Lebanon is one of the few countries where you can go skiing and swimming within one day and that is something I would like to try. Renting a car and driving through the mountains, getting an idea of spending the winter holidays in Lebanon and then ending up taking a dip into the sea – is there anything nicer to do?
Also, the country is full if historic sights that, according to locals, are very worth visiting. Hence, I put going on a road trip in Lebanon already on my list! I plan to start in Beirut and make my way up to the very Northern point, where not only one of the most bustling and chaotic cities in Lebanon lies (Tripoli), but also where many ancient sights are located. Despite everything the country is still going through, I simply think that Lebanon is a truly fascinating country. It is one of those places that really suffers from the neighboring countries and their political turmoil. Often, Lebanon is called a war country, but it is not. Lebanon is a young, modern and developing place that needs tourists to come and explore it!
25. The Philippines
Inma and Jose of A World to Travel:
- New Zealand. Spain’s antipodes country, I can only dream how great would it be to make it down there and explore the two main islands at our own – slow – pace. The fact that they feature the ‘Alps of the South’ helps too since I am a snowboarding addict.
- The Southern tip of South America. Vast landscapes and, once again, snow-capped mountains. Bring it on!
- The Philippines. After 6 trips to Asia, I guess it is about time that we get to explore The Philippines too. Can’t wait to go diving and explore there!
All of these destinations have been on my bucket list for a while, but this year we simply could not make them happen. The trips we took were to other great places, but not these yet! However, if we had to pick just one location to visit in 2018, The Philippines would be it.
Many things have delayed our trip to this paradise, including the high cost of plane tickets and the unstable situation right now there. However, the main reason why we have not yet traveled to The Philippines is that we want to have enough time to enjoy the country and we are well aware that if you want to check out different islands, it is advisable to be there for at least three or four weeks. Fingers crossed we can make The Philippines happen in 2018!
26. Split, Croatia
Karen Warren of WorldWideWriter:
One place I’m determined to get to in 2018 in Split in Croatia. Partly because I’ve been promising myself a return visit to Croatia ever since I stayed in Cavtat (close to Dubrovnik) a few years ago. I was bowled over by the countryside, the historic towns and the Mediterranean food, and I wanted to discover more of the country. I knew I had to add to my 2018 bucket list!
But the main reason for going to Split is that I want to explore Diocletian’s Palace. In recent years I’ve seen some impressive Roman ruins, like Hadrian’s Wall in England or the aqueduct in Segovia, Spain. But Diocletian’s Palace is a must-see for any Roman history enthusiast. It is a massive complex, built by the Roman emperor Diocletian in the 4th century and occupying around half of the old city of Split. And it is the most complete Roman palace in the world. However, what makes is remarkable about Diocletian’s Palace is that it is still inhabited today. There are shops, restaurants and apartments within the walls and it is home to around 3,000 people.
As if that isn’t enough, the whole area is crammed full with historic sites. There’s another important Roman site – Salona – just a few kilometres away. And there’s the UNESCO World Heritage town of Trogir, which dates back to the Greek occupation in the 3rd century BC. Then there are boat trips to islands, and the wonderful Croatian countryside. And I’m told the restaurants round here are pretty good too. I can’t wait to get to Split!
Sara of Travel Continuum:
Even as a child I was fascinated by the stars, and in another life I might have become a professional astronomer (but not an astronaut – I was never that brave). In this life, I often blend my love of all things cosmic with my travel writing at Travel Continuum, and in 2018 I plan to do just that by visiting some very special habitats – the three Dark Sky places in Hungary.
Dark Sky places are specially designated regions around the world which are committed to preserving natural night-sky environments, and Hungary is the only country in mainland Europe – so far – with three of these protected zones. Hortobágy National Park, nestled within the vast expanse of the Great Hungarian Plain, will be my first port-of-call. Not only does it have some of the darkest skies in Europe, but its ancient grasslands provide a unique ecosystem for many species of wildlife. I’ll then head north, past the city of Eger (perhaps stopping off briefly to try some of the region’s famous wines!) to the karstic peaks of Bükk National Park, the latest addition to the Dark Sky places family.
My final stop will be the pretty woodlands of Zselic Starry Sky Park, which lies just an hour from Lake Balaton’s southern shore. The area has an abundance of thermal baths and I’m bound to take advantage of that. Stars and spas – my kind of twin break!
As if all that wasn’t enough, I just happen to have family near Hortobágy, so I’ll get to see them too. This trip promises to be a feast of varied landscapes, wildlife, fine wines, thermal spas, family reunions and pristine starry skies, and I can’t wait to get started and check this one off my 2018 bucket list.
28. The Balkans
Kate Storm of Our Escape Clause:
In 2015, we set foot in one of the countries in the Balkan region for the first time: Croatia. We were immediately enamored. The stunning Adriatic coastline, beautiful architecture in the coastal towns, and the mind-blowing beauty that makes up Plitvice Lakes National Park had us clamoring to get back as soon as possible.
It didn’t take long for us to visit the Balkans again: in 2016, we not only returned to Croatia, but visited two of its neighbors, Slovenia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. That was when we learned that it wasn’t just Croatia we were obsessed with, it was the Balkan region itself. Slovenia’s stunning Julian Alps and adorable seaside town of Piran quickly charmed us, as did the scarred but beautiful cities of Mostar and Sarajevo in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Despite our best intentions, we didn’t make it to any of the Balkan countries in 2017. In 2018, we are determined to change that. Our 2018 bucket list includes several more countries in the Balkan region, as well as a return trip to Croatia (I don’t think we’ll ever stop wanting to go back there).
Highest on the list? Montenegro, Kosovo, and Albania: small, affordable, often overlooked, and bursting at the seams with gorgeous nature, we can’t wait to get there and explore as much of those countries as we can. From hiking in Durmitor National Park to white water rafting in the Tara River Canyon, and from admiring the views in Kotor to relaxing on the Albanian Riviera, we know that the Balkan region is home to so many amazing spots we still need to visit – not to mention dozens of amazing places we’re dying to return to!
Meg Frost of Frost + Sun:
Cuba is on my 2018 bucket list for many reasons!
First, traveling to Cuba as an American has been nearly impossible for the past few decades due to confusing rules and restrictions that prevented most American travelers from visiting.
After President Obama eased some of the Cuba travel restrictions in 2014, my dream to visit Cuba finally became possible. While the restrictions were tightened by President Trump in 2017, it is still far easier for Americans to visit than in decades past. I’m determined to make 2018 the year I visit Cuba just in case those restrictions are further tightened.
Another reason why I’m drawn to Cuba as a bucket list destination is its delicious food and drink. I used to live in Miami, FL, where there is a massive Cuban-American community. I’ve been fortunate enough to have my fill of authentic Cuban food and drink during those years, but not so much since moving to Boston, MA, over 10 years ago. I can’t wait to fill up with a massive plate of arroz con pollo with black beans or cool off with a Cuba Libre or minty Mojito cocktail!
Cuba’s vibrant culture and beautiful landscapes are two more reasons why I’m looking forward to visiting. I’d love to learn how to Salsa dance, roll a cigar, and see Cuba’s famed brightly colored vintage cars up close. I also like to incorporate outdoor and adventure activities into my travels, so Cuba’s lush Viñales Valley and sunny beaches seem right up my alley.
30. Laya, Bhutan
Jub of Tiki Touring Kiwi:
Laya, Bhutan has only recently been added to my 2018 bucket list after hearing about the Royal Highlander Festival which is an annual event held in October. Bhutan is one of those mystical countries, where tourism is limited for a number of reasons, including two that have prevented me from going thus far (the cost and that you need to book with a travel agent to go on a tour).
Now, tours aren’t my thing. But if I had took a tour to see a sporting event few people know about (yet) like the Royal Highlander Games? That’s appealing (I just need to work on the expense part). The games were held in Laya in 2017, and the venue is the same in 2018. Laya has elevated levels of 4,000+ metres which is absolutely crazy. Having never experienced being that high without oxygen, the stamina of the athletes must be insane.
And to top it all off, there is the Snowman run. I ran my first marathon in 2017, and that was tough enough at sea level. The snowman run is a ultra marathon held in the region around Laya in the days prior to the Festival. The race is 200 km, with elevation reaching 5000 metres. We humans are pretty crazy.
Who wins and loses isn’t a major focus of the games, it’s more about bring people from the villages together to celebrate life and have fun together. For me, immersing yourself in a culture through sport is awesome. And this is so off the beaten track, a rarity today. I hope to make it to Bhutan in 2018 to witness it for myself!
31. Titicaca, Peru
Vibeke J of The Viking Abroad:
Titicaca is a lake on the border of Peru and Bolivia. All of the islands have something unique about them. On the Peruvian side, you can visit The Uros floating islands, Amantani and Taquile. Here is why you should add these islands to your 2018 bucket list.
Uros Floating Islands
Uros floating islands might be one of the most known islands of Lake Titicaca. These floating island are handmade out of totora and was anciently used as a defense mechanism where they can move the islands at any time. Legends say that the Uros people originated in the Amazon during the pre-Colombian era. The Uros Islands are close to Puno on the Peruvian border. Many of the islands are not open for tourists. If you are planning on doing a guided day trip on Titicaca from Puno you won’t be able to get a proper authentic experience, you might just see one floating island for an hour. Therefore it is recommended to stay a night on one of the islands. Some of the most interesting ones is Khantati Island where you can stay the night for a very unique experience.
Amantani is an island that is over two hours from Puno. There are no cars and no hotels on Amantani. If you want to stay the night you can alike do a homestay, which you can easily find on booking.com. Their homes does not have any addresses so your host would need to pick you up when you arrive on the boat. Staying the night is very magical, you can hike up to the two mountain peaks: Pachamama (Mother Earth) and Pachapapa (Father Earth) to see the sunset. You can also get a view of Bolivia on a good day. In the evening, the host will lend you traditional Amantani clothes and take you to a traditional party where you will dance with locals and tourists.
Taquile Island is known for its handicraft. The locals on the island were previously not allowed to marry people outside of the island. The males start knitting at the age of 8 where they use specific hats in terms of their relationship status. Taquile is open for homestays, but can easily be visited the morning after staying at Amantani before going back to Puno. Titicaca is certainly full of unique places and culture to be explored, making it the perfect addition to any 2018 bucket list!
32. The Azores
Brianna Simmons of The Casual Travelist:
Flipping through the pages of National Geographic Traveler, the image immediately stopped me in my tracks: a ridgetop hiking trail, impossibly steep green valleys to the right, a volcanic crater lake to the left and just a hint of the sapphire blue ocean beyond both. Surely this stunning place had to be half a world away, requiring at least three flights and a cargo ship to get there. To my delight, I learned that this paradise wasn’t on some remote island in the South Pacific, it was somewhere much closer and much more accessible.
It was in this moment that the Azores found a home on my 2018 bucket list. After falling in love with the wild nature of Iceland and all things Portuguese in Lisbon, it’s only fitting that the Azores immediately appealed to me. Often called the Hawaii of the Atlantic, this tiny archipelago of nine islands is only four hours from the East Coast of the US but amazingly enough, isn’t a popular vacation destination for Americans (though with recently added flights from New York, I have a feeling that will change soon).
The Azores packs a lot of stunning landscapes into each island, from thermal hot springs and gorgeous emerald-colored calderas to dormant volcanoes and splendid ocean views. The adventurer in me is longing to spend my days repelling down waterfalls, hiking up volcanoes and scuba diving while my epicurean side hungers for the impossibly fresh seafood, creamy cheeses and the tiny Azorean pineapples that the islands are known for.
33. Dresden, Germany
Ron and Michele Legge of Legging It Travel:
We have wanted to visit Dresden, Germany for many years, after seeing a YouTube video of the Kunsthofpassage (Music House), when we became fascinated and added it to our bucket list. The blue Kunsthofpassage building is an art piece and the water drainage system plays music when it rains, so it is both beautiful and quirky.
Once we decided to visit Dresden in February 2018, we also discovered a few other interesting places to explore while we are there. One of them is Pfunds Molkeri, where the local women used to buy their milk before refrigeration was widely available. The inside of the building is covered with intricately decorated porcelain tiles. You can still purchase milk goods there today and they have a cafe to enjoy the produce as well.
We also want to see the rebuilt Frankenkirche which was constructed in the 1700’s but was destroyed along with most of Dresden during WWII. It is set in a rebuilt Baroque market square. It is based on the original structure and is supposed to be stunning. The final place on our list of places to explore in Dresden is wölbe (Green Vault), a museum featuring 3000 European treasures from a variety of eras. Of course no visit anywhere is complete without trying local food, and Dresden’s specialities include Dresdener Stollen (a bread filled with fruit and covered with icing sugar), Dresdener Eierschnecke (a yeast cake filled with apples, quark and poppy seeds), and Kartoffelsuppe (a potato soup with shrimp). Dresden certainly has a lot to offer and we are looking forward to our visit in 2018!
Tom Stevenson of The Travelling Tom:
There is one particular place that I really want to visit in 2018 and that is Albania! It has been a country that has fascinated me for a while now. I was drawn to it after seeing numerous blog posts and pictures detailing how abundant Albania was in natural beauty.
I think the reason Albania appeals to me so much is because I know very little about the country. I like the idea of going to a country I know next to nothing about. I can approach it with fresh eyes and take everything in without any preconceived notions or expectations!
Another reason is the combination of natural beauty and history that is spread throughout the country. One place in particular that I want to visit is Lake Ohrid. I’ve seen numerous photos and it looks like an incredible spot. As a historian, I would to check out the historical sites across the country and learn more about the culture too! I’m hoping I get to finally make my dream a reality in 2018 and visit Albania!
The number one place on my 2018 bucket list is Greenland. I have long been captivated by the icy shores and colorful homes of this massive island but I never really considered traveling there to be practical or accessible. After conquering other destinations that I assumed to be impractical this year (with ease and affordability, nonetheless!) such as the Azores and Faroes, I decided that I want to make a conscious effort to finally get to Greenland next year.
I have been to every single other country in the Nordics and even lived in Norway for four years so my passion for the region is deep. I hope to check it out during the summer so I have maximum daylight hours and plenty of ‘decent’ weather to do nature hikes, kayaking, meeting with locals, and just enjoying such a pristine and untouched scenery. I would love to explore a few cafes and also their beer scene. Logistically speaking, I need to do my research, but hopefully, at the end of next year, someone will ask me what my favorite trip of 2018 was and I can confidently say ‘Greenland.’
36. Sierra Leone, West Africa
Nina Zara of Safari Junkie:
I am always fascinated by less popular destinations and my dream trip for 2018 is backpacking in Sierra Leone, West Africa. The country was once devastated by civil war and Ebola outbreak, and still has its fair share of struggles, but it is also home to some of the rarest wildlife on planet, lush jungles and empty beaches. These are just a few of the reasons I want to visit and explore Sierra Leone. I have a feeling it will be one of those raw trips that will take a lot of effort and reward me at the end with some of the best memories of my life.
37. Everest Base Camp, Nepal
Mary Talbott of The Lifelong Adventures:
All of my life I have dreamt of going to Nepal and trekking up to Everest Base Camp. I knew I had to go and see Everest in person, but every year there was a reason why I couldn’t – the cost was too great, the amount of time needed for the trek was too long, I wasn’t fit enough – the list of excuses goes on and on. I never made the leap.
Last year, I took another big leap and went to Africa for the first time. I was nervous and it turned out to be one of the most wonderful experiences of my life. Suddenly, all the excuses were just that and I was ready to go live my dream. 2018 is the year I will go to Everest Base Camp. My tickets are booked!
Why is Everest Base Camp on my bucket list? I love the thought of walking for days surrounded by some of the tallest peaks in the world. The Everest Region of the Himalayas is home to four of the world’s tallest mountains. I want to meet the Sherpa people and experience their culture. All along the trail to Everest there are Sherpa villages, the most famous of which is Namche Bazaar. Nights in the villages are spent in tea houses warmed by yak-dung-fueled stoves.
I want to experience what it is like to live in a truly remote part of the world. Everything consumed in this region has to be carried in by person or by yak. The last point with actual regular transportation is the Lukla Airport which is more than 65 km from Everest Base Camp. Mostly I want to experience those quiet moments that always occur on a long trek…that moment when the crisp air catches in the back of your throat and the vastness of nature becomes overwhelming.
Bonus bucket list addition!
38. Georgetown, Guyana
Samantha Applewhaite of Expat and the City:
There are so many places on my bucket list for 2018 – but there’s one in particular that has been on my list for quite some time: Guyana. For those who don’t have a map close by, Guyana is an English-speaking country in the northern part of South America, next to Venezuela. Guyana has a special place in my heart, despite never have been there before. This is where my father’s side of the family is from.
My dad grew up in Guyana until he moved to Canada for a ‘new life’ in his adult age. Georgetown, the capital of Guyana, is on my bucket list for 2018 because it’s time I learn about my history and culture and see where my father once lived. I’ll see where he went to school, the house he grew up in, and the places he most frequented around Georgetown.
But the thing I’m looking forward to most is meeting my grandfather – for the first time! It was difficult for him to ever fly to Canada so for twenty-nine years, I only knew about him through stories my father and aunts and uncles would tell me. But now – in 2018 – I’m finally putting it on my travel priority list and making my way to see my grandfather and all of Guyana’s beauty! I would say I’m both very nervous and excited but I know it will be an incredible experience that will stay with me forever. P.S. Did you know Guyana is home to the highest waterfall in the world?!