These tried and tested travel destinations are handpicked for you by independent, experienced, and trusted travellers.
From exotic Japan to peaceful Oman, from white sand beaches in Greece to glaciers in Antarctica, we have a list of incredible places to keep you inspired all year long!
So, read on and decide which of these amazing places you are going to include in your travel bucket list!
In no particular order, let’s look at these top travel destinations around the world and get super excited about your next trip.
1. Exotic and Bewildering Japan
By Erin and Simon at neverendingvoyage.com
We highly recommend visiting Japan. Tourism there has been growing rapidly and with the Olympics due to take place in Tokyo in 2020 the trend will only continue. Japan is unlike anywhere else in the world, a country that’s exotic and bewildering but also extremely efficient, safe, and easy to travel with kind locals who will always help you out of any confusion.
Some experiences not to miss in Japan include driving a go-kart around Tokyo dressed as a Mario character (yes, on the real roads!), temple-hopping in Kyoto, spending the night in a Zen Buddhist temple at Koya-san and joining the monks for a fire ritual and chanting ceremony, staying in a tatami mat room in a ryokan (traditional inn), soaking in an onsen bath, seeing Mount Fuji and wandering the outdoor sculpture museum at Hakone, and exploring the cute town of Takayama with its historic wooden buildings.
And of course, you can’t miss the amazing Japanese food from simple ramen to 12-course kaiseki feasts. It’s even great for vegetarians if you plan ahead – look out for restaurants serving shojin ryori, Zen Buddhist vegan cuisine.
For more tips see our Japan 2 week itinerary.
2. See the Fascinating Pyramids of Egypt
By Darren and Shelley at findingbeyond.com
Egypt is our recommendation for your next travel destination. For most tourists, travelling to Egypt still comes with its safety concerns. It’s fair to say that Egypt has had a rough ride in recent years and this has put off a lot of tourists visiting the country. But nearly all of Egypt is now deemed safe to travel by the UK Government. There is just one area (North Sinai) that it’s recommended not to go to because of terrorist activity.
In 2017 we spent 6 weeks travelling Egypt and felt as safe as any other country we have travelled to. Egypt is a fascinating country full of captivating history, ancient architecture, stunning desert landscapes, clear blue seas and some of the friendliest people you could come across.
We started in Cairo to explore the chaotic city and the Pyramids of Giza, then followed the River Nile on their reliable and comfortable trains to the ancient cities of Luxor and Aswan. Luxor and Aswan provide a treasure trove of epic temples, world-famous tombs, old Nubian villages, desserts with enchanting mirages and the most beautiful sections of the shimmering River Nile where you can watch the sunset onboard a traditional felucca.
Egypt is also a haven for snorkelers and divers. Our favourite spot was a small town called Dahab. It might be only an hours drive from brash Sharm but Dahab could not be more different – laidback, hammock swinging vibes are what spring to mind when we think of Dahab. The main attraction to Dahab is its location on the Red Sea with dozens of world-renowned snorkelling and diving sites that cost just a few bucks to explore.
3. Travel to the Arabian Jewel Oman
By Danielle and John at twofortheworld.com
For travellers and road trippers seeking a destination with a difference, our top tip is Oman, an Arabian jewel hiding in plain view.
Oman is an ancient land of rugged mountains, vast plains, and deep canyons with inviting, natural turquoise pools. A place where Bedouins live among burnt orange dunes, and traditional wooden boats called dhows skim coastal waters teeming with marine life.
While the UAE hubs of Dubai and Abu Dhabi next door attract visitors from around the world to their upmarket resorts and crafted cityscapes, Oman is still largely under the tourist radar, maintaining a rich and authentic local culture and hospitality that’s been millennia in the making.
In our experience, the best way to explore Oman is to hire a 4WD and head off into the great outdoors of the Arabian Peninsula: the spectacular landscapes are gold for the outdoor adventurer. You can off-road on sand dunes, pitch a tent on a mountainside, hike through canyons, explore historic fortresses and ancient tombs, cool off in deep wadi pools, dive with sea turtles, and watch the night sky light up with a million stars from a Bedouin desert camp.
Oman is serene, safe and strikingly beautiful. The best time to visit is November to March, so start planning now, and get there before the word gets out.
4. Head to Scuba Diver’s Paradise Roatan
By Amanda at amandawalkins.com
If winter weather has you daydreaming about tropical sunshine on your skin and palm fronds swaying overhead, you need to head to the island of Roatan.
Located off the north coast of Honduras, Roatan has long been known as a scuba diver’s paradise. Even though cruise ships now visit the island and direct flights arrive from multiple U.S. and Canadian cities, you can still revel in the natural beauty and quiet pirate’s hideaway that is Roatan.
Head underwater to explore the second largest barrier reef on Earth, complete with vibrant coral formations and plenty of interesting marine life. Stay on the beach all day with your toes in the powder soft white sand or spot sunbathing iguanas in the trees as you zipline through the lush hillside jungle.
Roatan offers all the fun you might want in an island vacation, without the crazy prices or crowds you’ll find elsewhere in the Caribbean.
If you go, stay in the West End for a relaxed, bohemian vibe. West Bay Beach boasts resorts and every water-based activity you could want. The East End is much more rural and offers truly pristine island vistas…you can even stay in a boat-access-only rental!
West End offers the best nightlife options, but this isn’t a huge party island. Roatan is ideal for a laidback beach vacation with lots of friendly people to meet.
But, be warned, we call Roatan “The Vortex” for good reason. Many a well-meaning visitor has found it entirely too difficult to leave. I can vouch for that… my 5-day visit turned into 3 years, a fiancé, and a dog!
5. Experience the Nomadic Culture in Kyrgyzstan
By Dan & Audrey at uncorneredmarket.com
Our recommendation for a top place to visit is Kyrgyzstan with its endless opportunities for trekking and outdoor adventure (over 90% of the country is mountainous) combined with its nomadic culture.
In the last year over 2,500km of trekking trails have been marked throughout the country, making more treks accessible to independent travellers and also opening up more remote mountain regions to travellers.
Many of these mountain regions are used by local shepherds and their families in the summer months, so it’s common to be invited into a yurt for tea or engage with local families as you are high up in the mountains.
In addition, cities like Karakol and Osh have started offering some great food tours that highlight cultural diversity through local food specialities. And, in September 2018 Kyrgyzstan will host the World Nomad Games, which is essentially the Olympics of nomadic sports such as wrestling on horseback, goat carcass polo, hunting with golden eagles, and much more.
6. Camp and Hike in New Zealand
By Ale and Chris at ecobackpacking.net
New Zealand has been on our list of top destinations for a while. We both love the outdoors, especially camping and hiking so New Zealand seemed just the place to be for us and we were not disappointed.
One of our favourite areas was The Catlins, with its mix of desolated green countryside and coastline with sharp cliffs. We felt like we were in the real New Zealand with foggy and rainy weather and very few tourists.
From there we made our way to the Fiordland, famous for its Great Walks and Milford Sound. If you are in the country you can’t miss out on this area. We especially enjoyed the boat trip on Lake Te Anau to the Glow Worm caves, a cheaper alternative to Milford Sound and the Waitomo Caves.
With the mountains around Queenstown, Lake Wanaka, the Fox and the Franz-Josef Glacier we were in hikers paradise. An absolute highlight was the track up Roys Peak at Lake Wanaka. At the end of our visit to the South Island we enjoyed camping and hiking in the Abel Tasman National Park, however, one of our favourite places was the Tennyson Inlet, especially the Archer Track and Elaine Bay.
After Wellington, we headed to the Tongariro National Park for one of the best day hikes we’ve ever had. Although the weather was not great, the landscape makes this hike a unique experience.
The Bay of Plenty surprised us with its beautiful beaches. Our favourite was a morning walk in the dark to Cathedral Cave for some great sunrise pictures.
The Bay of Islands with its turquoise waters and white sand beaches was perfect to round up our visit. The best way to get to know the area is by sailboat. The water is crystal clear so enjoy snorkelling or sea kayaking and look out for whales and dolphins.
7. Enjoy Indonesia’s Off the Beaten Path Experiences
By Nikki and Michelle at cheekypassports.com
After spending four months travelling around Indonesia in 2017, we feel that it’s one of the most versatile and enigmatic countries we have ever travelled to, one which caters not only to those looking for a relaxing vacation in a tropical resort but also to more intrepid travellers looking for more “off the beaten path” experiences.
From the jungles in Sumatra, historic temples around Yogyakarta, several national parks, deserted beaches on Kei Islands and Raja Ampat, fantastic diving in Alor, little-known tribal villages on Sumba and West Timor, as well as the villas, trendy restaurants and spa hotels in Bali, there’s something exciting going on for almost everyone in Indonesia.
We tend to prefer travelling to islands with few tourists, so we fell deeply in love with the eastern side of Indonesia, as well as the islands of Sumba and Alor, where locals are still incredibly surprised when they see foreigners exploring their islands.
Although we did not speak the different dialects used on the various islands, we were immediately made to feel welcome wherever we went, with many villagers grinning at us whilst offering us food and water and kids jumping around us, and running behind us as we left their villages on our motorbike.
Despite being on the tenth month of our full-time travels, during which we visited ten countries, Indonesia was the place which really captivated us. We recommend it to anyone looking for an exciting place to travel!
8. Is it Safe to Travel in Mexico?
By James and Sarah at thewholeworldornothing.com
Okay, first off let’s tackle Mexico’s reputation for being dangerous, violent and drug-ridden. We’re just finishing up what will be nearly 8 months travelling around 8 different states and can confidently tell you that the reality couldn’t be any more different.
Of course, Mexico has its problems, as do many other countries, but tourists are definitely not targets and we have never once felt unsafe or had anything stolen.
Now that’s out of the way, let’s get to the really good stuff. Mexico has some seriously epic scenery and it’s so diverse. Places that should be at the top of your list are the incredible Copper Canyon, Tulum’s cenotes, sleepy beach town Mazunte, the seven colours lagoon in Bacalar, colonial San Cristobal, trendy Guadalajara and of course larger than life Mexico City.
Stay away from the big resort towns like Cancun and Los Cabos and experience the real Mexico.
Then there’s the food. O.M.G. The food. Spicy chocolate mole sauce, tostadas piled high with fresh seafood, delicious tamales with gooey fillings, the list goes on. And on. And it’s everywhere.
Throughout Mexico, you can’t go a few steps without being drawn in by a delicious smelling treat. Cost of living is very affordable and the people of Mexico are just so wonderfully kind and welcoming. Seriously what more could you want?
We’ll be leaving Mexico with our hearts full of love for the country. You should go and experience the same.
9. Include Greece in Your Travel Itinerary
By Nick and Dariece at goatsontheroad.com
We’ve been to Greece 2 times now and I expect we’ll visit for the third time in the very near future. It’s a place that we could return to again and again! If you’re planning a trip, consider putting Greece on your list.
This country is filled with ancient history, welcoming people, delicious food and beautiful scenery. The beaches in Greece are absolutely stunning, and are incredibly diverse – you’ll find red, white, pink or black sand and many with white pebbles.
The Mediterranean Sea is impossibly clear and during the summer months, going for a swim is the perfect way to cool off. On top of everything I’ve just listed, Greece offers incredible value for money.
During the shoulder season, you can find apartments for $20 / night, plates of food for $5, bottles of wine for $2 at the shop, car rentals for around $10 / day. Don’t miss this beautiful island nation.
10. Where to Travel? How About… Antarctica!
By Jarryd and Alesha at nomadasaurus.com
By far the best place we have ever been, and a destination we’re excited to return to, is Antarctica! The white continent only receives 30’000 visitors a year, making it as off the beaten track as it comes.
The scenery is honestly out of this world, and the contrasts between hues of blues and whites create a visual delight. Icebergs float majestically past snow-capped peaks, glaciers tumble into glistening, turquoise seas and the wildlife is as abundant as they are varied.
Antarctica is a place where penguins wander past elephant seals, humpback whales breach next to kayakers and huge birds circle around your ship continuously.
If you’re looking for a real adventure and an epic destination to visit, you cannot beat Antarctica!
11. Trek to the Everest Base Camp in Nepal
By Brian and Noelle at wanderingon.com
For anyone looking for real adventure this year, we recommend taking a trip to Nepal. Immerse yourself in the fascinating local culture, enjoy the delicious food on offer and hit the trails in the mind-blowing Himalayan Mountains.
Completing the Everest Base Camp trek independently, without any guides or porters, is still one of our favourite travel experiences to date. Walking alongside huge glaciers, passing yaks on the narrow trails, taking in jaw-dropping views at every corner and experiencing a completely different way of life make this a challenging and incredibly rewarding experience.
Carrying your own gear, following your own path and deciding where to stay each night make completing the trek even more rewarding. It’s also very affordable, especially if you go without a guide and take on the trek yourself, costing us a grand total of about €20 per person per day.
For great value, memories that will last you a lifetime and exposure to a new culture, consider adding Nepal to your travel itinerary, you definitely won’t regret it!
12. Have an Adventure in Norway’s Lofoten Islands
By Jane and Stephen at myfiveacres.com
About 15 years ago, we visited the spectacular Lofoten Islands, high in the Arctic Circle of northern Norway. The spectacular beauty of the steep mountains rising straight out of icy-cold fjords has to be seen to be believed. Lofoten is an ideal destination for adventure-seekers, with kayaking, hiking, horseback riding, and even scuba diving on the activities list.
But the reason we really want to return to Lofoten is to experience the midnight sun again.
On our last trip to the area, we arrived a few days before midsummer, when the weather was relatively warm and the midnight sun was reaching its peak. We were visiting friends who invited us out onto the fjord for a midnight fishing trip.
We watched in awe as the sinking sun lit the clouds with dazzling shades of pink and purple. As the sun dipped down towards the water, our sleepy eyelids followed. Then, for just a moment, the sun disappeared out of sight. A minute later, it popped back into view.
As the sun came up, our energy rose as well, although we’d just woken up from a full night’s sleep. It was one of the most amazing experiences of our lives, and one that made us feel completely connected to the power of nature. We’re heading back to Norway soon and we can’t wait — which is why it’s our pick of the best places to visit any time!
If you need more inspiration for your adventures, you’ll find it in our top 20 travel experiences from 20 years of travel.
13. Visit Malta and its European Capital of Culture (2018)
By Charlie and Kristina at maptrotting.com
While thinking about where to travel, imagine a tiny island in the Mediterranean, surrounded by the blue clear waters and blessed with everlasting sunshine.
Proudly bearing the title of the European Capital of Culture 2018, Valletta and the whole island is brimming with activities not only in summer but also during spring and even winter.
There are trekking paths on all three islands, Malta, Gozo and Comino that are best explored outside the season. History buffs can snoop around the Maltese temples, some of the oldest man-made structures on earth.
Malta is naturally a family orientated island so travelling with children will come easy here. There are many restaurants that are child-friendly and let’s not forget the famous theme park and the original set of the 1980’s Popeye’s Village musical.
As soon as the heat kicks in, cool yourself down with a relaxing swim in the sea, snorkel in the Blue Lagoon or dive in the Blue Hole in Gozo.
The locals love a good party and the Maltese Festa season in summer is something you should try experiencing while visiting Malta. It might be a religious festival, but it’s a fierce competition between the local villages. Filled with fireworks, fairy lights, music and processions it’s a unique way to experience Maltese culture at its best.
14. Travel to Wondrous Chile
By Matthias & Mieke at packtolife.com
Mountains and glaciers in the South and desert and moonlike landscapes in the North. It is more than true to say Chile’s landscape is diverse. And that is probably one of the reasons why Chile is a top destination to visit.
Although mostly visited for Patagonia in the South or San Pedro de Atacama in the North, the country has equally beauty in-between these two spots. Several national parks like Laguna de Laja and Pan de Azucar are ready to show you places where cacti almost touch the ocean and lakes surrounded by impressive volcanoes.
In addition, cities like Santiago de Chile and Valparaiso offer you culture as a perfect counterpart. In Valparaiso, it is almost impossible to find a wall that is not touched by the hand of a street artist and Cerro San Cristobal offers you amazing views over the urban jungle called Santiago. If you escape the bustle of these cities, you will find cosy little towns like Pisco Elqui. No better way to relax by enjoying a Pisco Sour on one of the many terraces.
Chile is definitely a place full of wonders. And this can be taken quite literally as every now and then, a natural wonder takes place in the Atacama desert. Although considered as one of the driest deserts on this planet, when there is exceptional rainfall, a desert bloom between September and November occurs and dust turns into flowers. Definitely one of the many reasons why Chile should be on your must-visit list.
15. Diverse, Warm and Welcoming Colombia
By Kelly & Adam at destinationaddict.com
Colombia is our favourite of all the countries we visited. Boasting 3 mountain ranges and being the 2nd most biodiverse country on the planet Colombia not only has its fair share of stunning scenery but is also packed full of culture & colour.
We spent 2 months exploring there & barely even scratched the surface. From the chaos, history & street art in the big cities, sampling some of Colombia’s finest in their coffee region, chilling on Caribbean islands, wandering around beautifully restored UNESCO towns & cities, hiking through the jungle to ancient ruins and spending tons of time in the mountains completely surrounded by nature. Colombia for us changed everywhere we went & that’s exactly what we loved most about it, the diversity.
It’s not only the scenery to love in Colombia, but the people are also so genuinely warm & welcoming. It’s colourful & vibrant, there’s music playing almost everywhere. The climate’s great if you like it hot or if not it’s an easy escape to the mountains to cool off. It’s affordable & if you are anything like us you’ll get totally addicted to its vibe.
We’ve heard that it will all change in the future with more & more tourists visiting but for now it’s all still pretty untouched. Now would be the perfect time to go see for yourself what all the Colombia hype is about!
So where are you going to travel next? Let us know in the comments below!