19 “I Can Die Happy Now” Travel Experiences to Strive For in Your Lifetime

Looking for bucket list inspiration? Here are 21 awe-inspiring experiences that will showcase the world’s beauty and deliver unforgettable memories.

Every travel enthusiast I’ve met has a bucket list overflowing with places, sights, activities, and attractions they’re desperate to see or do before they die.

But there are always more things to add! From geological marvels and iconic landscapes to unbelievable ancient ruins, we’re incredibly fortunate to live in a world with so many epic travel opportunities. If you had to narrow them down to a manageable list, though, which ones would make the cut?

Today, I’m siphoning through the options to establish a list of 19 awe-inspiring experiences that travel enthusiasts could “die happy” having done.

It isn’t going to be exhaustive. Nor will everyone agree with the selection! Hopefully, though, you’ll come away with new ideas for your bucket list that will help you turn life into a long and unforgettable adventure.

1. Exploring Ancient Ruins in Rome

Colosseum on first day of 3 Days in Rome
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No matter how many days you spend in Rome, exploring places like the Colosseum and Roman Forum is every bit as spectacular as it sounds. Italy’s capital city is insanely busy, but the history on display is second to none. The past is no longer an abstract concept confined to your imagination. It’s right there in front of you.

2. Snorkeling at the Great Barrier Reef

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Australia’s Great Barrier Reef is one of the world’s most important marine ecosystems. It’s immense both in terms of its scale and beauty. Whether you snorkel or scuba dive here, seeing it with your own eyes is something you’ll never forget.

3. Touring Medieval Towns in Europe

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One of the joys of exploring Europe is strolling along the cobbled streets of its enchanting medieval towns. Whether it’s Carcassonne in France, Florence in Italy, or Dubrovnik in Croatia, these places transport you back in time. Expect amazing architecture and evocative fairytale vibes.

4. Catching Sunrise at the Taj Mahal

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Located in Agra, India, the Taj Mahal is an infamous marble mausoleum that is considered one of the most beautiful buildings on earth. Watching a sunrise coat its incredible arches, domes, and intricate façade in golden light is something people travel from around the world to see.

5. Seeing the Northern Lights in Iceland

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Iceland is a bucket-list destination world-renowned for its natural beauty. Its northerly location also makes it one of the best places to see the Aurora Borealis (AKA the northern lights). These swirling ribbons of green and yellow light can be elusive. If you’re lucky enough to see them, you’ll talk about the experience forevermore.

6. Doing a Wildlife Safari in Africa

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Seeing wild lions, rhinos, giraffes, leopards, elephants, cheetahs, hyenas, gazelles, and so many other incredible animals in the flesh is a dream come true for many travelers. Head to places like Botswana, Tanzania, Kenya, South Africa, and Zimbabwe to make it happen.

7. Visiting Norway’s Incredible Fjords

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Norway is a Scandinavian country notorious for its natural beauty, which is best embodied in its immense fjords. Whether you stay on dry land, go on a cruise, or hire a kayak, seeing these mighty cliffs strewn with waterfalls rise dramatically from the calm waters below is breathtaking.

8. Seeing the Ruins of Machu Picchu

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Machu Picchu is one of South America’s most iconic landmarks. A veritable lost world built by an ancient civilization atop a mountain with spectacular views, it has an air of mystery and majesty.

9. Going Dog Sledding in Lapland

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Few landscapes are as magical as Lapland, in Finland. A snow-covered winter wonderland for much of the year, one of the most memorable things to do there is dog sledding. Bucket-list experiences don’t get much more unique than being pulled by a pack of huskies across frozen lakes and through pristine forests.

10. Spending Nights Under Starlight in the Desert

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The world’s great deserts are arid, alien, and everchanging. Yet there’s no denying their beauty. For many people, getting a chance to join an overnight desert tour to immerse themselves in the shifting sands and spend the night under starlight will be unmissable.

11. Kayaking Through Ice in Antarctica

Penguins on Danko Island, Antartic Peninsula in Antarctica
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Antarctica is a spectacular, ice-covered, and otherworldly place that’s as raw and remote as destinations get. Imagine kayaking through its wild and freezing waters, past icebergs and glacial bays, and watching penguins and other beautiful wildlife in their daily battle for survival.

12. Seeing the Monster Waves at Nazare

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While Nazare doesn’t feature often on people’s bucket lists, this gorgeous coastal town in Portugal is home to one of Mother Nature’s greatest displays. The enormous waves that crash against the shore on stormy days beggar belief – and you’ll watch people surfing them.

13. Road-Tripping America’s Iconic Route 66

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Sections may be more rundown and less tourist-friendly than they were in the Mother Road’s heyday, but Route 66 remains the most famous road trip in the United States. From the beautiful scenery to the historic sights, you’ll pass through some fascinating places and come home with amazing memories.

14. Witnessing the Majesty of Nepal’s Mountains

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Nepal is the sort of place that humbles you with the scale of its natural beauty. The mountains there are so vast you can’t help but feel small. From going to Everest Base Camp to hiking the Annapurna Circuit and visiting high-altitude villages like Namche Bazaar, this country deserves a spot on any nature lover’s bucket list.

15. Playing with Perspective on Bolivia’s Salt Flats

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Bolivia is the cheapest country in South America. It’s also one of its most beautiful. One of the many Bolivian experiences travel enthusiasts daydream about is visiting the Salar de Uyuni – a staggering prehistoric lakebed encrusted with salt that stretches as far as you can see.

16. Hopping Between Sun-Kissed Greek Islands

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With its history, glorious weather, pristine beaches, and delicious food, Greece is one of Europe’s most popular destinations. Catching ferries between sun-kissed Greek islands dotted with ancient ruins, olive groves, and sun-kissed coves is hard to beat.

17. Catching the Solstice at Stonehenge

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The UK is full of prehistoric sites, but none are as iconic as Stonehenge. This immense ring of giant monoliths has captivated visitors for millennia. Visiting it at any time is worthy of your bucket list. However, it’s particularly special at the winter or summer solstice.

18. Exploring Ancient Temple Complexes in Southeast Asia

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From the Temples of Angkor in Cambodia to the ancient city of Bagan in Myanmar, Southeast Asia is home to beautiful age-old temple complexes that let visitors sift through the pages of history. Visiting these places at sunrise is hard to beat.

19. Gawping and Hiking at the Grand Canyon

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Neither words nor pictures do justice to the Grand Canyon. It’s the sort of place you run out of superlatives. Expect to stand in silent reverie at the scale of the beauty on display.

What other experiences do you have on your bucket list? What have I missed out? Drop a comment with your thoughts.


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Author: Danny Newman

Title: Writer and Content Creator

Expertise: Travel, Digital Nomadry, Outdoors, Blogging

Danny Newman is a writer, content creator, and digital nomad from the UK. He founded the travel and lifestyle blog What’s Danny Doing, a popular resource for people seeking more adventure, self-discovery, and purpose. A nationally syndicated writer, Danny’s work features in dozens of online publications, including MSN.com and news sites across the US.