The 13 Best Bucket List Destinations, According to Travel + Leisure's Expert Travel Advisors
Tallying the destinations you’d like to travel to someday is a task that’s both fun and never-ending.
If you’re like us, your bucket list is never truly complete. Tallying the destinations you’d like to travel to someday is a task that’s both fun and never-ending — and one that’s made infinitely more enjoyable by receiving recommendations from others.
That’s why we took to asking Travel + Leisure’s A-List — our collection of the world’s top travel advisors — to see where they think we should go. Collectively, they cover every inch of the globe, helping to craft one-of-a-kind itineraries for passionate travelers.
From kicking back in an overwater bungalow in Bora Bora to glimpsing the out-of-this-world sands of Chile’s Atacama desert, here are 13 destinations T+L A-List advisors think you should add to your bucket list.
“Moscow, Russia in the winter. Nothing takes your breath away like fresh snow at night on Red Square, the ruby red stars of the Kremlin lighting the horizon and the lights of GUM department store lighting the entire square.” —Greg Tepper, Exeter International
“The paradox of travel is wanting an isolated experience, but being partly responsible for why they are increasingly rare. Providencia remains one of the few pure locations, unspoiled by mass tourism. Reaching this uncharted island by small propeller plane is not a journey many are willing to make, almost ensuring the place to yourself. Colombia isn’t known for white sand or pristine beaches but Providencia is the exception. A sanctuary of vibrant marine life sets this “Sea of Seven Colors” ablaze. Colombian hospitality with an undercurrent of Caribbean ease gives this charming island a well-deserved place on our Amakuma-approved bucket list.” —Marc Beale, Amakuna
“Yunnan should be on every travelers' bucket list — and foodies in particular will love this part of China. Yunnan is a landlocked province in the country's southwest that sits on the border near Laos, Myanmar, and Vietnam. Yunnan cuisine is a fusion of the famously spicy Sichuan food of the north, the light and seafood-oriented cooking of the east, and the fresh Thai flavors of the south. In Yunnan, farm-to-table is not an Alice Waters creation, it’s what millions of people do every day. Truffles, chanterelles, and porcini are just common summer mushrooms that farmers forage in the mountains and bring to market. A Yunnan truffle chicken soup demands a pound of truffle alone! Yes. You heard me right, a pound.” —Mei Zhang, WildChina
“Definitely Marrakech. Go for the Yves-Saint Laurent Museum, which recently opened. Check out the design and artisanship in the unchangeable old souks and hip Sidi Ghanem. Be surprised by the nascent contemporary art scene. Marrakech is just about to host the second edition I:54 Contemporary African Art Fair. Don’t forget to visit MACAAL, the Museum of African Contemporary Art Al Maaden, and check out the newest exhibits. —Michael Diamond, Cobblestone Private Travel
“In the world, there are destinations that everyone should see once — Egypt’s pyramids and Machu Picchu, for example. But then there are the places that make you want to return over and over. The kind of place where you feel like buying a house and moving there. Provence is one of those places. The quality of light captured by artists such as Van Gogh and Cezanne is truly special. Visiting the places that inspired them, Arles and St Remy offer insight into the landscape and architecture that inspired them. The scents of lavender and thyme waft past when you are hiking and biking to stunning hilltop towns like Gordes and Les Baux. It is an experience that will keep you coming back. —Kathy Stewart, Butterfield & Robinson
“Amankora, Bhutan. Going there is a spiritual and cultural safari where you can walk through ancient rhododendron forests, glimpse endangered black necked cranes in the wild, soak in a hot stone bath, interact with saffron-robed monks, and dine in a rustic stone potato shed. Where else can you do all of that on the same trip?” —Chad Clark, Chad Clark Travel Ventures
“Primate treks are an unforgettable activity worthy of any travel bucket list. Embark on a gorilla trek in Rwanda or Uganda to witness endangered mountain gorillas in the wild, or be entertained by social chimps at a camp like Greystoke Mahale in Tanzania. For a unique safari activity in Africa, I love recommending fly camping with Kichaka Expeditions in Ruaha National Park, Tanzania. Here, travelers walk miles through the African bush with two armed guides to find a private mobile camp awaiting their arrival, offering one of the most remote places in ‘safari Africa.’” —Craig Beal, Travel Beyond
“I think the Atacama desert in northern Chile has to be part of any sensible bucket list. Sandwiched between the Andes and the Pacific Ocean is this strip of desert which, according to NASA, is the driest in the world. They test their equipment here before they send it to Mars, and when you come here you’ll see why. It’s positively extra-terrestrial! One valley is red and looks just like Mars, while another is cratered like the moon. That’s all before you get to the bubbling hot geysers, the volcanoes, or the vast white salt flats scattered with bright pink flamingos. All this from the comfort of a world class lodge? Put it on the list!” —Paul Irvine, Dehouche
“Boarding the Magellan Explorer in Antarctica is like James Bond on ice. This is my kind of expedition — a mind-blowing ship that’s part ice breaker, part epic contemporary design haven. There is nothing about this ship that doesn't scream 'Let’s head south into the most uncharted landscapes on earth.' It makes me hold my breath. Going to Antarctica is one of those once-in-a-lifetime trips, and the Magellan Explorer is how to do it in style.” —Sandy Cunningham, Outside Go
“Staying in an overwater bungalow in the turquoise blue waters of French Polynesia is a must. I have been fortunate enough to spend time in this magical destination for the past 20 years and it never gets old. Combine the island of Bora Bora with one of the Tuamotu islands and you will experience the best of French Polynesia. The majestic Mount Otemanu in Bora Bora and the lagoon of a “sunken volcano” in Rangiroa, paired with some of the best marine life in the world, can’t be matched. —Susanne Hamer, TravelStore
“Of the world’s greatest island destinations, I recommend Maldives. Located just four degrees above the equator — way out there in the middle of the Indian Ocean — the atolls that make up this tiny nation are an exquisite natural wonder. The finely ground coral that makes the sand so eye-poppingly mesmerizing is soft underfoot, and makes a great seat for witnessing the place’s glowing red sunsets. The crystal clear waters are so clean that all kinds of life can be seen from outside the water. It’s also one of the most pristine places on earth to go snorkeling — colorful life in all forms: fish, reptiles, and mammals abound. Being in the water with 70 to 100 manta rays or a whale shark will leave an indelible mark on a traveler’s soul. It’s magical. The atolls are small and most often have only one resort or property on them, which translates to an peaceful, uncrowded environment. Who wouldn’t want to stay in an overwater bungalow?” —Malaka Hilton, Admiral Travel
“Santiago de Cuba is, for me, an absolute must. It’s especially great for those who've already seen Havana and the more heavily visited parts of eastern Cuba. The town is rich in history and a heart of Afro-Cuban culture and music — you can easily spend three days here or extend to hit Baracoa and explore eastern Cuba's beautiful nature. This all gets a lot more accessible when American Airlines begins nonstop service from Miami this May — just in time for the steamy Carnaval at the end of July.” —Joe Sandillo, Almaz Journeys
“Consider Naxos, where old world Cycladic architecture meets white-sand beaches infused with local cuisine. The shorts-and-flip flop feel of the Greek Islands comes alive, walking through picturesque villages like Halki where the local artisans showcase their work. Put simply, visiting Naxos takes your breath away.” —Petros Zissimos, Hellenic Holidays