As international travel has been off the cards lately, we’ve been talking a lot about our favourite places to visit – even more so as we start a new year and we can start dreaming about travel in 2021.
While the borders may currently be closed, our wanderlust is growing daily! We can’t wait for our beautiful world to open up again and be able to explore more wonderful places.
Until we are able to continue ticking off destinations from our global travel bucket list, we have been looking back at the trips we’ve been fortunate enough to take over the years spanning 40+ countries across all 7 continents.
This list features our favorite “dream destinations” to visit once the world opens up for travel again! We hope it’ll provide you with a bit of inspiration for your travel bucket list, or at the very least, a brief escape from the current reality.
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101 Dream Places to Visit
We have put together our favourite 101 dream destinations from all over the world, grouped by continent. These are all places we’ve actually visited and LOVED! Honestly, it was even hard to narrow it down to 101!
At the end, you’ll also find our personal travel bucket list of places we still haven’t made it to – but plan to as soon as possible! Hopefully, this will give you all the travel inspiration you need to plan your ultimate dream vacation.
For some quick travel inspiration, you can find our top 10 favourite countries in the video below:
Dream Destinations in Europe
Despite being one of the smaller continents, Europe offers a melting pot of culture and history. Add to this a seemingly endless supply of striking landscapes, from luxurious beaches to epic mountainscapes, ancient forests, and vast plains, plus a sprinkling of cosmopolitan cities and quaint villages.
It should come as no surprise that Europe is home to some of the best places to visit in the world!
As a Londoner I’m biased, but no trip to England would be complete without a visit to its cosmopolitan capital. Take a stroll through London’s famous streets to discover everything from colourful houses to globally-iconic bucket list places such as Big Ben and the Tower of London, as well as quirky hidden gems, that include secret bars and enchanting gardens.
One thing is for sure – you won’t be short of things to do in London! Plan to spend at least a couple of days in London, if not a lot longer!
The Cotswolds, England
The Cotswolds are home to some of the prettiest English villages. They provide the perfect destination for a quintessentially British experience. After a refreshing walk through the countryside, be sure to stop into any little tea room for a traditional afternoon tea, or perhaps a local pub for a cheeky pint.
The White Cliffs of Dover, England
The White Cliffs of Dover are one of England’s most astounding natural features. The stories these cliffs could tell!
Take a walk atop these iconic white chalk giants and admire breathtaking views across the azure water of the English Channel to the French coast.
With a history dating back to 5000BC, Stonehenge has awed and puzzled people for millennia. It is still unknown how or why this grand Neolithic stone circle was built. Today, it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and continues to enamour and amaze visitors.
St. Michael’s Mount, England
St Michaels Mount is perhaps the most famous landmark in Cornwall. The impressive medieval castles sit gloriously atop the tidal island, providing an impressive view from the nearby coastal village of Marazion. During low tide, it is possible to walk across to St Michael’s Mount and visit the castle.
Isle of Skye, Scotland
Alright, the WHOLE of Scotland is a dream-worthy destination. However, in the interest of keeping it (somewhat) succinct, we’ve selected our top 3 favourite places to visit in Scotland.
The Isle of Skye is the largest of the Inner Hebrides islands in Scotland. This breathtaking island is home to marvellous scenery from enchanting waterfalls to a dramatic rugged coastline, jagged mountainscapes, idyllic lochs and historic castles.
Situated in the Scottish Highlands, Glencoe Valley is one of the most picturesque areas in Scotland. A drive through Glencoe will have you stopping every few minutes to admire the awe-inspiring views over lochs, mountains and waterfalls. The area is also renowned for its many trails, climbing peaks such as Buachaille Etive Mor and Bidean nam Bian.
Eilean Donan Castle, Scotland
Eilean Donan Castle is the most photographed castle in Scotland. Dating back to the 13 century, this Scottish icon sits atop a tidal island surrounded by three lochs. It is one of the most popular destinations in the Scottish Highlands and it’s easy to see why!
While this is one of our favourites, there are many other incredible Scottish castles also worthy of a place on your travel bucket list! And did you know you can even live out your fairytale dreams by spending the night in a real Scottish castle?!
Snowdonia, located in North Wales, is full of amazing hikes, tumbling waterfalls, beautiful lakes, quaint towns, and picturesque landscapes. Mt Snowdon is the highest peak in Wales at 1,085 metres (3,560 ft). Snowdonia National Park is a dream destination for nature lovers. It offers a variety of outdoor activities that include hiking, cycling, climbing, horse riding, caving, watersports and of course, photography.
Giants Causeway, Northern Ireland
Lava and water collaborate to create the intricate patterns of the Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland. This is one of those destinations you have to see to believe!
Perfectly columnar rock create a natural staircase where lava and ocean meet. Though this attraction gets quite busy, the crowds tend to drift off by sunset, which is when the real magic happens anyway!
If you are able to tick this one off the bucket list, you will want to tie it in with a trip to the Dark Hedges as well. Leave plenty of time to just wander about this amazing location.
Dark Hedges, Northern Ireland
The Dark Hedges became a viral sensation following a Game of Thrones appearance. It was a popular spot for photographers long before, but is now nearly impossible to photograph without people.
Still, it is one of those places that merits the hype. This avenue of beech trees is actually a busy road, and was never intended to be a destination. However, the haunting aesthetic it creates is just too irresistible for most.
We advise making a trip at NIGHT. This will be your only chance to have it to yourself and provides some extra spooky feels.
Cliffs of Moher, Ireland
When I say the Cliffs of Moher are “breathtaking”, I really mean it! These sheer cliff walls plummet 700 feet straight down into the Atlantic Ocean.
Standing atop while the sea breeze blows, one may be reminded of how small we are compared to the forces of nature.
The Cliffs of Moher offer miles of easy hiking and are best enjoyed on a day trip.
Kylemore Abbey, Ireland
The Kylemore Abbey feels like it has been borrowed from a fairytale. You will find this treasure nestled in amidst a lush green forest in Connemara National Park.
This monastery was built in the 1800s, so it’s history is not quite as storied as most of the castles you will find in Ireland. Of course, what it lacks in history is made up for in pure good looks!
Despite being Spain’s 4th largest city and the Andalusian capital, Seville maintains all the charm, culture and authenticity of a small town. With its rich complex history, resplendent palaces, exotic gardens, impressive food scene and intoxicating flamenco, it’s easy to understand why the hottest city in Europe is such a dream destination.
Barcelona is perhaps most well known for being home to many of Gaudí’s magnificent architectural feats and UNESCO sites including La Sagrada Família, Park Güell, Milà, Casa Vicens, and Palau de la Música Catalana.
However, this charming seaside city also offers beautiful sandy beaches, mouth-watering tapas and perfect Mediterranean weather. As the capital of Catalonia, it maintains a distinct culture different from other Spanish cities making it a unique place to visit.
Tucked away in Italy’s northern Lombardy region, Milan is an economic powerhouse and global fashion capital. Home to Da Vinci’s “Last Supper” and the mighty Duomo di Milano, as well as contemporary architecture including the Unicredit Tower, Milan provides a harmonious blend of traditional and modern.
Discover historical art and architecture, modern skyscrapers, green spaces, high-end fashion and mouthwatering Italian cuisine all within this delightful city.
Lake Como, Italy
Lake Como is one of the dreamiest places in Italy. Nestled into the foothills of the Alps, this region is home to colourful, picturesque villages surrounding Italy’s third-largest lake. Meander through pretty streets and botanical gardens, take in dramatic mountain vistas, cruise past luxurious villas, indulge in Italian cuisine and relax at a lakeside bar in this stunning region.
Known as the city of love, this romantic city is a dream getaway for many couples. However, it has plenty to offer for everyone. From viewing the city from atop the Eiffel Tower to a stroll along the Seine, exploring its wealth of art and architecture, or taking part in its famous cafe culture, you’ll find plenty to do in Paris.
You cannot say the words “Swiss Alps” without daydreaming of exotic ski trips and unspeakable natural beauty. This is a reputation well-deserved!
Winter sport enthusiasts all pine for a bucket-list adventure to the Alps, but nature lovers and landscape photographers should consider any time of year a good time to visit. Even in the summer, the expanse of majestic mountains are striking.
Whether you are packing skis, a camera, or just a credit card (Switzerland is NOT cheap), you will not be disappointed by this idyllic country.
Many people fail to realize that the Alps run through much of Austria as well. The city of Innsbruck was one I thought little of before visiting, but would become my favorite city of all in Western Europe!
Set against the inspiring mountain ranges, Innsbruck has the charm of a small town with the pulse of a big city. Couple that with the picturesque mountain setting in which it resides and you will understand what makes this a location worthy of being a dream destination.
In the year 2000, the historic city centre of Bruges became a UNESCO world heritage site. This distinction was earned due to the incredible preservation of its medieval architecture.
Bruges is often referred to as the “Venice of the North” due to its many canals. Walking through Bruges is like stepping back in time.
You do not have to be an architecture buff or a photographer to enjoy this time-capsule… but it helps!
Much like Bruges, also in Belgium, Ghent is a well-preserved city with a historic feeling. However, the architecture and vibe of Ghent are both a bit more gothic.
The other thing I noticed on a visit to Ghent is that they have allowed far more modern chains and commerce to buy up the city centre, forcing them to maintain the exterior facades that meet the ethos of the rest of the city.
The city is an aesthetically pleasing place to take a stroll, but it feels a bit more touristic than Bruges. Expect to be constantly tempted by many of Belgium’s famous treats such as beer, stroopwafels, pomme frits, and Belgian waffles.
Of course, Amsterdam is on the list of dream destinations; the question is “why?”. There is something for everyone to love, and likely to dislike, in Amsterdam. The trick is to focus on the aspects that appeal to you.
There is the obvious novelty sector, including marijuana cafes, the red light district, and the thriving nightlife. However, I enjoyed just walking the canals at night and photographing one of the prettiest cities in Europe.
Regardless of your why, there is something for everyone to enjoy in the vibrant city of Amsterdam!
Vestrahorn on the Stokkness Peninsula of Iceland provides a dramatic otherworldly landscape like no other. Jagged peaks rise up out of windswept black sand and as the ocean recedes, a perfect mirror reflection appears in the wet sand. It is also a dream place to visit to photograph the northern lights, providing the perfect scene for such a magical experience.
Ice Caves, Iceland
While ice caves may not be unique to Iceland, they surely are spectacular here in the land of ice and fire. The caves here are formed entirely from ice and are unique each year as new ice melts, carving out the caves and freezes. Therefore, you could visit every year and never visit the same ice cave twice!
Dream Destinations in North America
North America offers a hugely diverse range of climates, landscapes, activities and destinations. From frozen winter wonderlands to tropical sand beaches, ancient rainforests, active volcanoes, cosmopolitan cities, a plethora of wildlife, and so much more! Here you’ll find something for every style of traveller and every type of vacation.
In reality, North America has too many dream-worthy destinations to list them all! Every National Park is worth a visit! However, for this list we’ve picked our absolute favourites that we think everyone should visit at least once in their life!
Olympic National Park, Washington, USA
Encompassing nearly a million acres, Olympic National Park is considered one of the most biodiverse national parks in the US. It is truly a paradise for photographers and nature lovers alike with everything from glaciated mountains to rugged coastline, sandy beaches, ancient rainforests, crashing waterfalls, enchanting hot springs and an abundance of wildlife.
Central Oregon, USA
Oregon is the prettiest of the 50 states when it comes to natural beauty – that may seem a big claim, but as a native, I feel like I am allowed to make it.
The prettiest region in the prettiest state is the high desert of Central Oregon. The city at the heart of the region is Bend, surrounded by mountains, rivers, waterfalls, volcanoes, lava tubes, and plenty more geologic marvels.
A photo from Smith Rock State Park is featured above and ranked #6 on our 15 Best Places to Visit in Oregon guide.
Painted Hills, Oregon, USA
It is hard to explain what makes the Painted Hills of Oregon so amazing. When you see them, you get it.
Striped hillsides of varying color tumble through this enchanted section of John Day National Monument. The Painted Hills are located in a remote region of Eastern Oregon.
While most popular by day, the night skies of the Painted Hills are something to behold as well.
Umpqua Hot Springs, Oregon, USA
Umpqua Hot Springs, also referred to as Toketee Hot Springs, provide a relaxing slice of paradise tucked away in the Umpqua National Forest. One of the best places to visit in Oregon, these impressive hot springs are carved into the rock face in multiple layers offering pools of different temperatures.
Oregon is truly a treasure trove of dream destinations and the Umpqua Hot Springs make for the perfect end to the day after exploring the many nearby waterfalls in Southern Oregon.
Crater Lake, Oregon, USA
Despite Oregon containing an unbelievable amount of natural beauty, Crater Lake is the only national park within the state. However, anyone who has visited this magical place will appreciate how well-deserved this distinction is.
Crater Lake is home to the deepest lake in the USA, created over 7000 years ago from volcanic activity. Fed entirely by rain and snow, the impossibly blue lake is one of the purest in the world. It is also one of the snowiest places in the USA, receiving 43ft of snow per year, transforming it into a winter wonderland and one of the most entrancing Southern Oregon photography locations.
Samuel H. Boardman, Oregon, USA
The most popular of the Oregon dream destinations on this list will likely be Crater Lake National Park. However, photographers, nature lovers, and seascapers may want to move Samuel H Boardman Scenic Corridor ahead on that travel bucket list.
As landscape and destination photographers, we have had the unique joy in exploring a lot of various coastlines in a lot of countries. The 11-mile stretch of Samuel Boardman is my favorite coastline in all of the world… especially for those willing and able to explore some unmarked trails!
Read more about this idyllic coastal region in our guide to the Southern Oregon coast.
Yosemite National Park, California, USA
Yosemite National Park covers an enormous area of 1,169 square miles (3,029 km2), almost 95% of which is designated wilderness. Its vast landscape comprised of dramatic waterfalls, tumbling waterfalls, extensive meadows and forests, and some of the largest trees in the USA attract around 4 million visitors per year! Visit at the right time of year and you can even witness the natural phenomenon of Yosemite Firefall.
While most visitors remain within the 7 square miles (18 km2) of the stunning Yosemite Valley, there is so much more to see beyond that, with hundreds of spectacular hiking trails.
Shasta-Trinity, California, USA
The most beautiful mountain in North America is the twin-peaked Mt Shasta of Northern California. A volcanic region of indescribable beauty surrounds its twin-peaked majesty.
While most of the dream destination bucket list-worthy hikes somehow include Mt Shasta, at least as a backdrop, there are also an assortment of other natural wonders worth exploring. These include impressive waterfalls, natural hot springs, and some incredible caves.
You can (and should!) read more about exploring the region in our full guide to Shasta-Trinity National Forest.
Mono Lake, California, USA
In addition to being one of the oldest lakes in North America, what makes the saline waters of Mono Lake so impressive is the natural phenomenon known as tufas that populate it.
A “tufa” is formed when the superheated waters from underground hot springs that are calcium-dense meet the carbonates of the lake water. The result is a “tufa tower” that you have to see to believe!
You can read more about Mono Lake and plan a Northern California Road Trip in our travel guide.
Redwoods, California, USA
Tickling the sky at over 350 feet (107 m), Redwoods are the tallest trees in the world. Located along the coast of northern California, Redwood National and State Parks are a must-see in the USA. Being immersed within a forest of these giants is an experience like no other! There you can even drive through three live redwood trees – that should give you an idea of just how enormous these trees are!
San Francisco, California, USA
Located on the central Californian coast, San Francisco may be small in size but it makes up for it in character and attractions. With iconic sights including The Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, Fishermans Wharf, Lombard Street and its cable cars, there’s lots to do in this eclectic city.
Los Angeles, California, USA
The City of Angels is known for being the home of Hollywood, the center of the US film and television industry. But you’ll find plenty more things to do in Los Angeles beyond Hollywood. Sandwiched between the Pacific Ocean caressing golden sand beaches on one side and the mighty San Gabriel mountains on the other, LA has more nature than you may first imagine for the 2nd largest city in the US.
Death Valley National Park, California, USA
At first glance, this semi-barren region appears flat, dull, and uninteresting. However, explorers will soon discover how wrong this is and why Death Valley is a dream destination for any nature lover.
Death Valley National Park is home to a plethora of unique desert landscapes, many of which you will not find anywhere else on Earth! Those who are willing to look will find a bit of extra magic at sunset and after dark, when much of the desert actually comes alive.
Sequoia National Park, California, USA
Walk amongst GIANTS at Sequoia National Park. These are the largest trees in the world, and this national park is home to the biggest of the big in General Sherman.
Standing at a whopping 275 feet high with a base diameter of 36 feet, scientists estimate that General Sherman weighs nearly 650 tons and dates back about 2500 years!
A stroll through the enchanted groves of Sequoia NP is like walking through a dream!
Valley of Fire, Nevada, USA
While much of Nevada is a barren desert, there are some diamonds hidden amongst the sand and red rocks. The Valley of Fire is, perhaps, the most special of them all!
This striped, colorful landscape is one of the most unusual regions we have ever explored. Swirling patterns of mostly reds and oranges blend into cotton candy pinks, sky blues, and seemingly every other color in nature’s palette.
American South West, USA
Is it a cop-out to list the ENTIRE American South West as a dream destination? It may feel that way… until you’ve been there.
The Wave, Antelope Canyons, Horseshoe Bend, Grand Canyon, Hoodoos of Bryce Canyon, Zion, “Goblins”, White Sands and so much more… suffice to say, you could make a list of dream destinations from this region alone!
Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, USA
Look, a case could be made for each and every US National Park to make the dream destinations list, but there is only one that HAS to be on that list… Yellowstone National Park!
Having been to nearly every NP in the US, I can confidently state that Yellowstone is the best of the best. It is realistically 4 national parks, separated into distinct regions that offer different opportunities for travel, landscape, and nature photographers alike.
Teeming with a diverse mix of wildlife, waterfalls, thermal activity, and so much more, Yellowstone National Park just has it all.
Grand Tetons, Wyoming, USA
On your way to Yellowstone, you may drive past a mountain range that seems like something straight out of a painting. These are the Grand Tetons, and they are fantastic!
The father of landscape photography, Ansel Adams himself, spent a lot of time here capturing the impressive vistas and scenery. To this day, the Snake River Bend lookout point remains an iconic lookout for that postcard-perfect photo.
Badlands National Park, South Dakota, USA
The Badlands was the first national park I visited, and to this day remains near the top of my list of favorites. The sweeping plains and rolling striped hills were unlike anything I had ever seen, and remain fixated in my mind’s eye.
Spend a day hanging out with bison, exploring lost-in-time nearby towns, and hiking around a landscape carved out over thousands of years.
Glacier National Park, Montana, USA
The final National Park we felt obligated to include is Glacier. While it is still a stunning destination, the glaciers for which it is named are rapidly disappearing. What’s worse, wildfires have ravaged much of the park.
While the fate of Glacier National Park remains somewhat unknown, that is just more reason to cross this off the bucket list before it’s too late!
New York City, USA
New York is a city that truly has it all. It really is the city that never sleeps, with a constant buzz of energy and an endless stream of entertainment. There is no denying that NYC is one of the most iconic and exciting cities in the world.
From towering skyscrapers to world-class museums and art galleries, expansive parks, a wealth of restaurants, unlimited attractions and vibrant cultures, a visit to NYC is a dream destination for millions.
Hanging Lake, Colorado, USA
This once-hidden treasure has become a very popular destination. Hanging Lake is so-called as the large lake is suspended high in the Colorado mountains.
While beautiful any time of year, this place is particularly dreamy following heavy rains and in the autumn as leaves change.
New Orleans, Louisiana, USA
What make New Orleans and much of Louisiana so special is the unique culture that is only found here. The Cajun influence is seen, tasted, smelled and heard everywhere in the city.
There is a pulse in “Nola” that just isn’t felt elsewhere. It’s something about the zydeco music… it’s something about the southern seasoning… it’s hard to describe, but impossible to ignore.
Red Sand Beach, Maui, USA
Tucked away on the remote shores of Maui is a sight like few others on this planet… a red sand beach. The deep crimson colour of Kaihalulu Beach is a remarkable natural wonder. Add this to the captivating shades of aqua, green and blue surrounding it and you have easily one of the most photogenic places in Maui, perhaps even the world.
Black Sand Beach, Hawaii, USA
While black sand beaches may not be quite as rare as red sand, the depth and contrast that black sand provides are equally impressive. The lava forged sand at Punalu’u Beach on the Big Island, Hawaii contrasts brilliantly against the vibrant, tropical greens of the palm trees and local vegetation, while azure waters wash in and out to add the final touch to an already bewitching scene.
And if all that wasn’t enough, you are almost sure to see one of the adorable resident honu (green sea turtles) relaxing peacefully on the shore.
Na Pali Coast, Kauai, USA
Kauai is the proud home to the unspeakably beautiful Na Pali Coast. Here, the splintered, jagged cliffs along the coast appear to have been carved by dragons themselves. Meanwhile, secret golden-sand beaches dot a shoreline that is inaccessible by anything but boat, keeping their utopian beauty pristine. Sea caves create hidden homes for waterfalls that tumble into the tropical blue waters of the Pacific… The Na Pali Coast truly is a dream place to visit.
Lanikai Beach, Oahu, USA
If we asked you to close your eyes and dream of the most perfect, tropical beach in the world… this is what you would imagine. Lanikai Beach is everything you’d imagine from a pristine tropical paradise. Pure white sand meets the clearest, warm water you can imagine, while palm trees sway gently overhead, providing a postcard-perfect scene in Oahu.
Hoomaluhia Gardens, Oahu, USA
Hoʻomaluhia Botanical Gardens feel like you’ve taken a trip into Jurassic Park. Unlike many other botanical parks around the world, Hoʻomaluhia feels more like a national park than a manicured garden. Their collection of plants from tropical regions worldwide fit seamlessly together creating a slice of heaven.
The grand, palm-lined entrance provides one of the most scenic views and photography opportunities on Oahu. But this is just the gateway to 400-acres of lush landscapes that make you feel like you’ve transcended Earth.
Niagara Falls, USA/Canada
An undeniable world wonder for our dream destinations list, Niagara Falls is worth all the hype. This massive waterfall is one of the most impressive you will find anywhere in the world.
There is no bad time to visit, but the scene is a bit extra special at night as the waters are illuminated in various colors and the crowds thin out.
Vancouver Island, Canada
With vibrant green forests, massive waterfalls, cascading mountains, secluded beaches and abundance of wildlife, Vancouver Island should definitely be on your travel dream list. Take a Vancouver Island road trip to discover winding roads leading you through a multitude of landscapes and the beginning of many multi-day hikes to immerse yourself in Canada’s natural wonders.
Dream Places to Visit in the Caribbean and Central America
The first thing that will spring to mind for dream destinations in Central America are likely to be gorgeous beaches. Yes, there are no shortage of those, but you can find beaches anywhere.
In addition to the countless beach resorts, we have listed and described some of the rare and hidden gems, in addition to some better-known items for every travel bucket list.
While Americans may have some trouble legally visiting Cuba, that forbidden nature just makes it all the more enticing!
Havana has a lot to offer that you will not find anywhere else; classic cars kept running for 50+ years, colorful fashion, vibrant and exciting night life, rum, cigars, beaches, and plenty of natural beauty.
I also found my visit to be extremely eye-opening to the complexities and impact of government. The communist regime is certainly a very sharp, double-edged sword, and provides valuable perspective for those who take the time to consider it.
Yucutan Peninsula, Mexico
The Mexican Yucután Peninsula boasts tropical white sand beaches, ancient Mayan ruins, colonial cities and jungle swimming holes. It is also one of the most ecologically rich regions in the world with a vast array of flora and fauna finding a home in the area. So whether you want to kick back on a beach, cocktail in hand, or seek out a thrilling adventure, the Yucután is the perfect place to visit.
There is so much to love about this country that its hard to know where to begin. The “Pura Vida” culture is not just something they put on for tourists, but a true way of life.
The people are friendly, the wildlife is INCREDIBLE, the beaches are first class, and the jungles are lush. Waterfalls, volcanoes, wildlife, and add in a bit of salsa… well, let’s just say it’s hard to not be impressed by Costa Rica.
Volcán de Fuego, Guatemala
This was my absolute top choice for the dream destinations list, and remains my favorite natural experience of all time!
Near Antigua, Guatemala, is a highly active volcano that erupts frequently. Those willing can hike to the peak of the adjacent Volcan Acatenango to watch Volcan Fuego spew smoke and lava.
Technically, you make camp at the top to sleep, but who can sleep when a volcano is erupting nearby?!
Walk in the footsteps of ancient civilizations and explore the incredibly preserved ruins of Tikal!
While Chichen Itza in Mexico received the “Wonder of the World” nomination, Tikal is considered by many to be the more impressive site.
Semuc Champey, Guatemala
Stair-stepping pools of emerald waters tumble through the lush forest at Semuc Champey. Swim in their pools and try to remember this Garden of Eden is right here on Earth.
The easiest way to visit is to take a local tour, but you will be stuck on their schedule if you elect this option. Instead, consider hiring a local driver and doing a solo visit.
Bocas del Toro, Panama
This archipelago of Bocas del Toro boasts thousands of islands and some of the best beaches anywhere in the world.
Each island has a different vibe, but the developed ones all have one thing in common; pristine beaches and coconut-rich palms.
My particular favorite island was Red Frog Beach. I spent a month living on the beach, sustaining life on fresh coconut and salt water. Talk about a dream!
Dream Destinations in South America
A continent comprised of breathtaking natural beauty from the spectacular mountain peaks of the Andes to the glaciers of Patagonia, the vast Amazon jungle, white-sand beaches and lush waterfalls.
As well as man-made treasures from Incan ruins to colonial towns, buzzing markets, cosmopolitan cities and a dizzying nightlife.
Whether you’re backpacking in South America or taking a well-deserved vacation, a wealth of bucket list worthy adventures awaits you.
Rio de Siete Colores, Colombia
One of the most impressive, relatively unknown natural miracles in the world is the “River of Seven Colors,” hidden deep in the jungle of Colombia.
Seasonally, algae blooms in the rivers, transitioning through shades of pinks, reds, oranges, and yellows.
In order to access this destination, you must fly into the small village nearby and be guided by a local. Due to guerilla activity nearby and in surrounding areas, tourists are not allowed to visit by land!
Tatacoa Desert, Colombia
The Tatacoa Desert in Colombia is one of very few dark sky reserves, making it a dream destination by day OR night.
Sadly, I had no idea how to photograph at night on my visit, but I still found the landscape to be extremely impressive by the light of sunrise and sunset as well.
If the Badlands and the American Southwest had a scenic-lovechild, it would be the Tatacoa Desert.
Cocora Valley, Colombia
Known for rolling hills covered in the tall, unmistakable wax palms, the Cocora Valley is a must-see dream destination located in Colombia’s famous coffee triangle.
Access the trails from the nearby town of Salento, catching the “colectivo” from town for a small fee and exploring by foot at your own pace.
If possible, try to get there with early or late light. The greens glow rich in color with angled sunlight and the whole scene takes on new magic!
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
There are few cities on Earth as vibrant and captivating as Rio de Janeiro. Its unique charm and vibe took my breath away, and it remains one of my favourite cities.
The colourful cityscape nestled between sublime long, sandy beaches and impressive granite mountains, makes for a truly impressive scene. Spend the day exploring Ipanema and Copacabana beaches before taking in the views from the base of Christ the Redeemer statue or taking a cable car to the peak of Sugarloaf Mountain. Don’t miss Rio Carnival, which takes place each year before Lent, and is the largest street party in the world!
Lençóis Maranhenses, Brazil
The undulating, windswept sand dunes and blue lagoons of Lençóis Maranhenses National Park require you to get further off the beaten path – but it’s definitely worthwhile.
Endless stretches of striking scenery await you and you’re likely to have the place to yourself. The deep blue freshwater pools are seasonal, therefore for the best experience, plan to visit after the rainy season to really appreciate nature at its finest.
Iguazu Falls, Brazil/Argentina
It would be impossible to create a list of dream destinations without including the world’s largest waterfall system! Comprised of around 275 separate waterfalls, the impressive Iguazu Falls lie along the Brazilian/Argentine border and can be accessed from both countries. Having visited both sides (twice!), I can’t pick a favourite – they’re both beautiful in different ways and it’s well worth visiting the falls from both sides.
Prepare to be met with magnificent, thunderous waterfalls, and keep your eyes out for a variety of wildlife that calls this beautiful place home.
Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia
Encompassing an enormous 4,086 sq mi (10,582 km²), Salar de Uyuni is the world’s largest salt flat. When the surface of this fascinating terrain is dry, you’ll find yourself surrounded by an expanse of pure white comprised of a mosaic of irregular polygonal shapes.
However, this landscape takes on a new dimension with a little water. During the rainy season, a thin layer of water across the salt flats transforms the ground into a mirror. The perfect reflection creates a surreal effect, making it feel as though you are walking through the clouds.
Unfortunately, I only got to witness the salt flats during the dry season – so this experience is still on my travel bucket list!
San Pedro de Atacama, Chile
A visit to San Pedro de Atacama feels like travelling to an entirely different planet. With its beguiling landscapes comprised of unusual, otherworldly rock formations, sand dunes, the country’s largest salt flats, saline lagoons, softly smoking volcanoes and fields of steaming geysers, the Atacama Desert is a destination like no other.
Some of the highlights include Valle de la Luna (Moon Valley), Valle de Marte (Mars Valley), the Salt Mountains, El Tatio Geysers and the Puritama Hot Springs.
Patagonia encompasses an enormous 400,000 square miles across Argentina and Chile and its splendour is hard to put into words. It is contained within Los Glaciares national park in Argentina and Torres del Paine national park in Chile. Patagonia should be on every outdoor enthusiast and hikers travel bucket list, with innumerable trails to explore.
Around each new corner, you’ll discover more awe-inspiring views. Imagine enormous dazzling glaciers, jagged mountain peaks, turquoise glacial lakes and the wonderful wildlife, and you can start to picture the beauty of Patagonia.
Patagonia is also home to the southernmost city in the world; Ushuaia. From here you can also reach the ULTIMATE dream destination…
The ULTIMATE Dream Destination: Antarctica
Visiting Antarctica was long a dream destination for me and when I got to visit in 2016, it far surpassed every expectation. It is worth noting that it is only possible to visit Antarctica by cruise, but it is a cruise unlike any other.
As you leave the dock, you’ll soon find yourself accompanied by penguins, whales and seals splashing alongside the boat. Then as you lose sight of the land behind you, icebergs start to float by, increasing into enormous natural ice sculptures size as you near the southernmost continent.
Antarctica is a wilderness like no other. Experience untouched landscapes, sharing the destination with only the immense wildlife. Waddle alongside some of the many different (but all seemingly equally clumsy) types of penguin in Antarctica. Kayak amongst floating ice sculptures and even spend the night camping on the ice. No matter what, you’re guaranteed a once-in-a-lifetime experience!
Dream Destinations in Australia and New Zealand
Australia is a unique destination: it is an island, country and continent! This vast country with some of the most varied landscapes on Earth. Home to everything from snow-capped mountains (albeit smaller ones than its southern neighbour) to arid dusty desserts, ancient tropical rainforests, pure white sand beaches and the largest coral reef system on Earth.
New Zealand or Aotearoa, as it’s known in Maori, is renowned for being the capital of adventure and outdoor activities. If you’re a nature lover then New Zealand would be the perfect holiday bucket list destination for you! For photographers, New Zealand landscapes are some of the best in the world, with a range of geographical features including volcanoes, geothermal springs, snowy mountains, alpine lakes, forest, sounds and beaches!
Mackenzie Region, New Zealand
The Mackenzie region of New Zealand includes the mighty Southern Alps, home to the two tallest mountains in New Zealand; Aoraki/Mt Cook and Mt Tasman. The area is also famed for its impossibly crystal-blue glacial lakes; Lake Tekapo, Lake Pukaki and Lake Ohau.
Mt Cook National Park is also an International Dark Sky Reserve, making it the perfect place for astrophotography. One of our all-time favourite night sky photos was taken at Hooker Lake and was even featured on the cover of the Mackenzie Tourism brochure!
Fiordland National Park, New Zealand
Tucked into the southwest corner of New Zealand’s South Island is the expansive Fiordland National Park. This majestic, unspoilt wilderness is dominated by thousand-foot high cliffs with cascading waterfalls surrounding tranquil waters. It is also home to unique wildlife including the Fiordland crested penguin, found nowhere else in the world.
Queenstown, New Zealand
Queenstown in New Zealand is one of the best destinations out there for adventure sports! Set against the backdrop of the aptly-named Remarkables mountain range, Queenstown provides year-round fun from bungee jumping to skiing, snowboarding, white water rafting, mountain biking, hiking, jet-boating and parasailing, to name just a few!
Wanaka, New Zealand
Whether you’re campervanning New Zealand or on a well-deserved vacation, you shouldn’t miss a stop at Wanaka. With incredible day hikes such as Roy’s Peak and Rocky Mountain, as well as the NZ landscape photography favourite “that Wanaka tree”, there’s plenty of beauty in this small town.
McClaren Park (Glow Worms), New Zealand
There is a miraculous little creature found natively in one place on Earth. The bioluminescent “glow worms” shine in the dark like fallen stars and are incredible.
There are a number of places you can see glow worms in varying magnitudes, most of which are caves, but there is one place where you can see them at home next to a waterfall! That place is McLaren Park in New Zealand’s North Island.
Turn off the flashlight and wait as the blue dots begin to pop up all around you while a small waterfall rumbles softly and try to remember that this is real life!
Wai-o-Tapo, New Zealand
Part of the Taupo Volcanic Zone, Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland is an area of world-famous geothermal elements. A number of short trails traverse a collection of hot springs, spouting geysers, bubbling mud and surreally coloured mineral pools, from orange to fluorescent green!
It’s a popular place to visit in New Zealand and it’s of no surprise when you marvel at the surreal landscape here that has been sculpted by millennia of volcanic activity
Melbourne is the perfect destination to start your Australian adventure. The city has plenty to do, with incredible food, coffee, theatre, art and sport cultures plus lots of hidden gems!
Explore the city’s alleyways to find vibrant street art and cafes, where you’ll discover, hands down, the best coffee in the world. Then spend the afternoon at the beach with a shoreline dotted with bright, colourful beach huts.
Or take an amazing day trip to Phillip Island, Mornington Peninsula, Yarra Valley, Wilsons Promontory or the Great Ocean Road to get out in nature and discover Australian wildlife.
Great Ocean Road, Australia
Taking a drive along the Great Ocean Road is an absolute must while in Australia. Beginning 90 minutes from Melbourne and spanning 249 miles (400km) along the southwest coast, it is easily one of the most scenic coastal drives in the world. Enjoy nature in all its splendour with rugged coast, sandy beaches, lush waterfalls, temperate rainforest and plentiful wildlife.
Sydney is the largest city in Australia and provides an invigorating blend of bustling city life and laid-back beach vibes. Take in iconic sites such as the Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge then head to world-famous beaches such as Bondi and Manly for some seaside relaxation. You’ll find plenty of places to visit in and around Sydney to suit every type of traveller!
Blue Mountains, Australia
The Blue Mountains National Park is located a couple hours from Sydney. In just that time, you can escape the big city bustle and become completely immersed in lush green eucalyptus forest, explore countless waterfalls, and enjoy the magical natural world.
While the Blue Mountains NP would be a dream destination without context, it’s local-yet-remote nature certainly adds to the appeal.
Close your eyes and imagine swirls of heavenly white sands encompassed by turquoise waters… what you’re picturing is Whitehaven Beach, just one of many paradisiacal beaches in the Whitsundays.
The Whitsundays is an archipelago of 74 tropical islands next to the Great Barrier Reef, just off the Queensland coast. Best explored by boat, the islands are perfect for swimming, snorkelling and just relaxing on secluded beaches and hidden bays.
Tropical North Queensland, Australia
In the northeast corner of Australia sits Tropical North Queensland, offering an intoxicating mix of idyllic beaches, pristine islands, warm waters and lush tropical rainforest.
Whether you’re looking for adventure or relaxation, this dream destination has it all. From its main hub, Cairns, you can dive into the kaleidoscopic underwater world of the Great Barrier Reef, explore enchanting waterfalls, or take a road trip to the ancient Daintree rainforest and discover the indigenous culture.
Dream Destinations in Asia
Asia is not only the largest continent by landmass, but also by population. It’s therefore no surprise that it provides a wealth of diverse experiences to travellers. Almost every climate on Earth can be found in Asia, along with the landscapes they shape. From unspoiled beaches to arid deserts, snow-capped mountains, impenetrable jungles and smoking volcanoes.
It’s not just the landscapes that are diverse. Within Asia, there are countless cultures and a plethora of man-made wonders. From sleepy villages to mega metropolises with towering skyscrapers to ancient religious relics and extraordinary temples. Not to mention, some of the best cuisines on the planet!
Bali has become one of the most popular travel destinations and is a firm favourite of ours. Surrounded by turquoise waters lapping against sandy beaches, it’s the ideal location for a beach holiday. However, the island also offers so much more!
It has a rich and diverse culture of smiling and friendly people, with over 20,000 temples to explore on the small island. Add to this thunderous waterfalls, forested volcanic mountains and iconic rice paddies and you’ll find plenty on offer on this paradise island.
Nusa Islands, Indonesia
Just a short boat trip from Bali are the three Nusa Islands; Nusa Ceningan, Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Penida. While they are becoming increasingly popular, they still see fewer visitors than Bali. A visit to these islands allows you to experience some of the finest slices of paradise at a slower pace without the crowds, making it ideal for a dream vacation.
Gili Islands, Indonesia
Another tropical trio, the Gili Islands are located off the northwest coast of Lombok. The three islands, Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno and Gili Air, each have their own unique charm. However, all of these small coral isles contain powdery white sand beaches and coconut palms surrounded by crystal clear waters with some of the best diving and snorkelling on offer.
Gardens by the Bay, Singapore
Located in the heart of Singapore, covering over 101 hectares, is the surreal Gardens by the Bay. Lush green scenery, kaleidoscopic flowers and Avatar-like super trees make this a place like no other. Each evening this exotic wonderland comes alive in a whole new way with the Supertree Grove light show, a free spectacle of light and music.
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
The capital city of Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur boasts an eclectic mix of glittering skyscrapers, colonial architecture, historic monuments, bustling street markets and lush green parks. Some of its highlights include the Petronas Twin Towers (the world’s tallest twin skyscrapers), Petaling Street flea market, and the Batu Caves, which are over 400 million years old!
Gulf Islands, Thailand
It’s hard to resist the tropical vibes of the dreamy Gulf Islands in Thailand. This archipelago contains hundreds of islands, including the more popular and larger Koh Samui, Koh Phangan and Koh Tao, each a vision of paradise.
Whether you’re looking to party the night away, kick back in 5-star luxury, hike secluded jungle trails, learn how to scuba dive, or just enjoy the simple island life on sun-kissed beaches… these islands need to be on your travel bucket list!
Huay Mae Khamin Falls, Thailand
Despite being perhaps the best waterfall in Thailand, Huay Mae Khamin Waterfall is one that you have likely never heard of! Just an hour from its more famous neighbour, Erawan Waterfall, Huay Mae Khamin Waterfall is a local secret and hidden gem. Seven tiers of cascading beauty are nestled amidst a jungle landscape that makes this a must-see spot on any dream destination list!
Chiang Rai, Thailand
Chiang Rai is home to some of the most unique and photogenic temples in all of Thailand, perhaps even the world! While Chiang Rai is an increasingly popular tourist destination and one that has been firmly on the backpacker trail for years, it is still less explored than Chiang Mai and many other big cities in Thailand.
Kuang Si Falls, Laos
Few experiences compare to that first breathless moment when you encounter the staggering beauty of Kuang Si Waterfalls in Laos. To date, Kuang Si Falls remains one of my favourite waterfalls in the world, so it had to be included in this list of dream destinations!
Here you’ll discover a multitude of tiers of turquoise water tumbling over limestone steps. Stop for a refreshing dip at several of the pools and get a free pedicure from the fish here that’ll happily nibble on your toes!
Vang Vieng, Laos
Vang Vieng is a small town in Northern Laos, located between Luang Prabang and Vientiane. Nestled along the Nam Song River with dramatic limestone mountain scenery as its backdrop, Vang Vieng is absolutely breathtaking.
It’s a top travel destination for adventure seekers and photographers. Don’t miss the terrific views from Nam Xay viewpoint – the most Instagrammable spot in Vang Vieng.
Angkor Wat, Cambodia
With over 1000 temples within a 400 square kilometre area, Angkor Wat is considered the largest religious monument in the world. Here you’ll discover one of the most enchanting travel destinations. Walking through the captivating ruins of this UNESCO World Heritage Site feels as though you’ve been transformed to another world.
Hội An, Vietnam
The delightful town of Hội An exudes a dreamy atmosphere. Its pretty lanterns decorate the streets, casting warm light over the narrow alleys and reflecting in the river as night falls.
Once a major port, it has maintained its authentic charm, having escaped modern development. It is this preservation that has lent to Hội An being classified a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Hạ Long Bay, Vietnam
Another of Vietnam’s UNESCO sites, Hạ Long Bay is a true natural treasure. Thousands of towering limestone islands, topped with green rainforest, protrude from emerald waters. Sail through this magical landscape to discover why it remains Vietnam’s top travel destination year after year.
Taroko National Park, Taiwan
Hands down the most exciting place for landscape photographers and nature lovers in Taiwan is Taroko National Park.
In this pristine gorge, you will discover aqua flowing rivers, misty mountains, and just the right touch of culture in the isolated temples and pagodas.
Grab a scooter and enjoy a self-tour of this impressive park.
Taj Mahal, India
Often regarded as the most beautiful building in the world, the immense white marble mausoleum in Agra is a sight to behold. Built in the 17th century by the emperor in memory of his favourite wife, the Taj Mahal is an enduring monument to love.
Today, it is considered one of the new 7 wonders of the world and is visited by 7-8 million people per year. It is truly a magnificent destination to visit, particularly at sunrise when the brilliant white marble twinkles in the rising sun.
Mt Everest, Nepal
Standing at a mighty 29,029 feet (8,848 meters), Mount Everest is the tallest mountain in the world. While climbing the summit of Mt Everest is a dangerous task undertaken by few, hiking to base camp is a dream achieved by many each year. To date, reaching Everest base camp is still one of the most incredible personal achievements of mine.
The mere mention of Mount Everest evokes thoughts of adventure. Whether you reach the pinnacle of Earth or hike the foothills amongst the giants, Mt Everest is guaranteed to provide you with memories you’ll never forget. Awe-inspiring views surround you as you traverse through the majestic Himalayan mountains.
Dream Places to Visit in Africa
Africa is the continent we’ve explored the least by far. However, those countries we have visited definitely make it onto our dream destinations list. In the future, when we can safely travel again, we hope to explore more of this vast continent and experience the many different cultures, wildlife and landscapes it has to offer.
With the warm Indian Ocean lapping against palm-tree lined white-sand beaches, Zanzibar is a paradise destination. Located just off the coast of Tanzania, it has its own unique heritage and culture, despite being a semi-autonomous Tanzanian territory. Spend your days relaxing on the beach, toes dug into the powdery white sand or exploring the delights of historical Stone Town.
Red Sea, Egypt
As a scuba diver, the Red Sea was a big dream destination for me. Few underwater locations compare to the immense biodiversity and colour found in the Red Sea. If you prefer more land based activities, the coastline is full of beautiful beaches and resorts, or head into the desert for more adventurous activities such as quad biking!
Dream Destinations Still on Our Travel Bucket List
There are still many places we’d love to visit and plenty left on our travel bucket list to check off! Realistically, there are few places we don’t want to go to. We live in such a beautiful world and each country offers something so unique that we’d love to visit them all. However, we have chosen our top 5 destinations that neither of us has visited and we’re still dreaming about getting to! We hope this will give you even more inspiration to create your perfect list of dream destinations:
- Safari in Africa: Yes I know this is vague and Africa is huge… but I can’t pick just one park when there are so many incredible options… Serengeti, Masai Mara, Kruger, Chobe, South Luangwa, Etosha etc.etc.! From impressive, vast landscapes to spectacular wildlife, a safari somewhere in Africa is the BIGGEST adventure left on my bucket list.
- Galápagos Islands, Ecuador: Renowned for being one of the best places to see wildlife, I can’t wait to visit this beautiful archipelago one day.
- Macchu Picchu, Peru: Considered one of the new 7 wonders of the world, marvelling at this famous icon of the Inca world is still an experience we’ve yet to have.
- Bagan, Myanmar: This ancient city and UNESCO site has long been a dream destination for us, to watch the hot air balloons rise over the ancient kingdom.
- Rockies, Canada: We both love the mountains and can’t wait to be immersed in the brilliance of the Canadian Rockies… one day!
Final thoughts on our Dream Destinations list
We really hope you’ve found some inspiration or a brief digital escape from life’s current craziness!
Are there any places on your travel bucket list that we’ve missed and you think we should add? Leave us a comment and let us know!
You can find more travel inspiration through our various Travel Quotes blogs as well as many different Destination Guides to help you plan your next trip. And if you’re an aspiring photographer or wanting to take your editing to the next level, check out our Learn Photography section!