Everyone has a bucket list. For some it’s a much longer list than for others. Mine is certainly one of the lengthier ones, and it is really just a list of places I’d love to visit. However, in life, you have to prioritize. So, after a painstaking selection process, here are just the top 15 places I would like to visit (grouped by area), in no particular order.
Ireland/Scotland: I want to visit Ireland and Scotland for the incredible scenery, but also because a number of my ancestors came over from these countries. I’ve been able to track my mother’s side back to the Scottish Highlands, and am working to find the area where my Irish ancestors lived in the 1800s and earlier.
Main attraction: the Inverness/Ross-shire area, two of the places I know my Scottish ancestors lived before they immigrated to the U.S.
Chile/Argentina – For the ten years or so I studied Spanish in school, I received an exhaustive education on the history of Spanish-speaking countries. Through this and my own research, I’ve placed these Chile and Argentina at the top of my list to visit in South America. Between the rugged coast, the mountains, and the wine (I love Malbecs, an Argentinean speciality), this exciting region of South America looks too incredible to pass up.
Main attraction: Patagonia, one of the wildest places left on the planet to explore.
Australia/New Zealand: From the beautiful beaches of Australia, to the Great Barrier Reef, and the green mountains of New Zealand, I’ve always been fascinated by this section of the world, which sits nearly on the opposite side of the globe from my home.
Main attraction: The beautiful watercolor of white sand and turquoise sea that appears in every photo of the Whitsunday Islands is enchanting. Just look for yourself.
French Polynesia: As an avid reader of Islands Magazine, I’ve been fascinated with the color and clarity of the water in the South Pacific since I was a kid. I adore perhaps nothing more than falling asleep to the sound of crashing waves or lapping tides, I can only imagine what waking up on a tiny island, completely surrounded by water must feel like.
Main attraction: One of my main life goals is to stay in a overwater cabana like the one below. Heaven in one photo.
Iceland/Greenland: It was the movie The Secret Life of Walter Mitty that first exposed me the rugged beauty of the northern Atlantic. The sheer solitude so easily achieved here has a certain allure for me, perhaps a result of living in a busy city. Plus, Reykjavik looks like a city to love.
Main attraction: Hot springs in Iceland
Nepal/Tibet: In another region filled with striking scenery, the idea of visiting Nepal and seeing the Himalayas (though probably not climbing them, alas) has always fascinated me. Aside from that, Nepalese and Tibetan are two of my favorite cuisines, featuring mostly vegetarian, but warm, and hearty ingredients. So comforting for cold environments.
Main attraction: The Himalayas
Italy/Greece: Between the incredible food, views, and culture, Italy and Greece have always tempted me. Inspired by A Year in the World by Frances Mayes, I would love to do a small cruise through the Greek Isles. There seems to be no bluer blue than that found off the shores of Greece. And inspired by her book Under the Tuscan Sun, I also want to eat and drink my way through the towns of Italy.
Main attraction: Santorini
Morocco/Canary Islands: Morocco has always sounded like the most unique of destinations, from its deserts, to its coast, and to Chefchaouen, the city I recently discovered is painted entirely blue. Off its coast, the Canary Islands look too beautiful not to visit while there.
Main attraction: Seriously, Chefchaouen is ALL BLUE.
Portugal/Azores: While I will have the chance to visit Spain this year, I sadly won’t have time to travel Portugal as well; I feel it merits its own trip, combined with a dash to the Azores. I learned Portuguese in college, and have never had a chance to use it. Here’s hoping I get the opportunity soon.
Main attraction: The Azores. Just look at this idyllic town.
France/Monaco: Ah, Paris. And also France. And yes, please, Monaco, while we’re at it. The charm and the allure of everything French is irresistible, particularly to me, with my unending obsession with cheese, wine, cafes, fashion, and beautiful but ancient towns. If I ever tire of France, I’d like to see Monaco as well, prices be damned.
Main attraction: Paris, duh.
Sweden/Norway: I am also part-Swedish, and perhaps it’s that part of me that is drawn to the dramatic beauty of northern Europe. The fjords of Norway that line the coasts here look too regal and untouched to never see in person. I’d particularly love to take a cruise along the outside of the coast and perhaps down the two countries’ rivers, to see places that you can’t see otherwise. Or, perhaps, kayak them.
Main attraction: the fjords of Norway
Aruba/Bonaire/Curacao Simply put, these Caribbean islands look so appealingly Caribbean, I simply have to see them for myself. Between the pink and orange buildings that dot the coast of Curacao and the teal water that surrounds all three islands, I don’t believe I could forgive myself missing such pretty, and close-by, places.
Main attraction: Willemstad
Brazil: Brazil gets its own entry, as it is such a huge country. Particularly high on my list are the beaches of Brazil. I still want to learn to surf, and Brazil seems like the place to do it. Plus, caipirinhas.
Main attraction: ALL the beaches
Denmark/Belgium/Netherlands: It is likely that my last name is Dutch, so I feel a visit to the Netherlands and its neighbors is definitely in order, and soon. I want to see the old world towns that could have been home to my ancestors. Plus, the area has some of the most beautiful flowers, the most delicious chocolate, and the most outstanding beer around. How could I not stop?
Main attraction: Amsterdam
I know I’ve missed other incredible destinations, but don’t worry: this isn’t my entire list. If you’ve been to any of the above destinations, let me know what cities, restaurants, or attractions I can’t miss!