Experts say spending your money on experiences rather than things will make you happier. And what better experience is there than travel? So start adding these trips to your bucket list — from swimming with pigs in the Bahamas, to eating like Italian royalty and ancient temple-hopping in Southeast Asia, here are 20 must do’s before you die.
This human-free island in the Bahamas, Big Major Cay, has sandy white beaches and is home to world-famous, loud, snorting and utterly adorable pigs. Though the pigs are wild, you can feed and swim with them. Pig Beach (as it’s often referred to) is about 50 miles northwest of George Town, 82 miles southeast of Nassau, and can be reached via boat tour or private charter.
Seeing the Northern Lights is a bucket-item alone, but there’s one way to experience it that is completely unique: from a glass igloo tucked into the snow at the Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort in Finland. Book a classic igloo or a log cabin with an igloo attached. Aurora Borealis-spotting is best from August through late April.
The Danes are an impressively optimistic bunch. During long, dark winters, the Danish create light, warmth and comfort and call it “Hygge” (pronounced “hoo-guh”). Derived from a 16th century Norwegian term, “hugga,” meaning “to comfort” you can experience it via spiced, warm wine, candle-lit dinners, decadent deserts and plenty of laughs.
Find it at restaurants like Høst (pictured above), Amass or Baest, or walking down the city’s cobble streets line with colorful buildings and quaint shops.
Few contest that Napoli, Italy is the birthplace of pizza. Legend has it that, inspired by the colors of the Italian flag, a cook named Raffaele Esposito made a “Pizza Margherita,” to honor Italian queen Margherita of Savoy in 1889.
Whatever the real deal, one thing will always hold true — no pizza on earth compares to the pies you’ll find in this capital city. L’Antica Pizzeria da Michele and Pizzeria Brandi (pictured) are two of many delicious options.
As one of the most popular family vacation destinations in the United States, about 6 million visitors per year come to feast their eyes upon the canyon’s otherworldly landscapes in northern Arizona. Hike, gawk and photograph the day away from stunning sunrise to breathtaking sunset.
Swim with penguins, hear adorable seals play and snap pictures of stunning giant tortoises on these magical islands off the coast of Ecuador. Spot one of the many species that inspired Darwin on the volcanic archipelago, where sea iguanas and white-tipped sharks swim in the area’s crystal clear waters.
An authentic cup of the spicy, milky tea (nothing like the Starbucks version) is almost worth the voyage itself, but pair it with an excursion to one of world’s most impressive works of architecture and it’s a no-brainer. Located in India’s popular Golden Triangle, the white monument and mausoleum is found in the city of Agra, which is easy to get to by rail. The best time to visit is from November to February.
Located in Banff, this clear blue body of water is one of many glacial lakes in the area but perhaps the most Instagram-worthy. Brave the frigid waters and hike the Big Beehive trail (though it’s not for the faint of heart), which houses a tea house with chai tea lattes and fresh scones to help you warm up after your big dip.
Cappadocia, Turkey is home to beautifully colored geo-formations, vast cave systems and subterranean towns. The towering “fairy chimneys” are carved-out of rock formations created millions of years ago. Geology nerds will stand in awe of the landscape, which can be explored underground, above ground or in the air, thanks to the region’s famous hot air balloons.
Thanks to short, cheap flights, country-hopping in this part of the world is easy and affordable. While sites like the White Temple in Chiang Rai, Thailand and Angkor Wat in Cambodia are must-sees, once you’ve explored the grounds and snapped photos, you can easily move on. Choose your top three to four in the area and create a week-long temple-touring itinerary that will make your Instagram feed the envy of all your friends.
While locals steer clear of the congested midtown tourist destination, your first time standing in Times Square is overwhelmingly awesome.
Go when it’s dark and position yourself smack in the middle of the lit-up billboards, neon signs and gigantic video screens for an iconic snapshot and a surreal city experience unlike any other. While you’re there, catch a Broadway show.
Known for its lush tropical landscape and postcard-like scenery, Kauai is the oldest island in Hawaii. Also referred to as the Garden Isle, viewing its majestic 3,000-foot-high cliffs along the Napali Coast, is best done by boat. Cruise the deep blue waters and watch the sun come down over the unspoiled scenery, which has served as a backdrop for movies like “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides” and “Jurassic World.”
Cliche? Maybe. But there’s no denying the wonder of this Parisian monument — especially when lit up at night. The structure is arguably the most iconic monument on earth. Simply gaze at it’s splendor, or book dinner with a view. Les Ombres located on the rooftop terrace of Musée du Quai Branly has one of the best views of the tower and great food. Or go for a cruise with Bateaux Parisiens.
The Ngorongoro conservation area is surrounded by mile after mile of acacia thorn trees. But it’s crown jewel, a nearly 2,000-foot-deep, 2 million-year-old volcanic crater, sits amid the plains and includes every East African ecosystem: grasslands, forests, lakes — all teeming with wildlife. Witness nature’s wonder as elephants, rhinos, water buffalo, lions, leopards and so many more pass you by.
Just 30 minutes from Lisbon, a visit to this UNESCO Heritage Site is like walking onto the set of a movie about medieval times. The main attractions include the Moorish Castle and the National Palace of Sintra, but dedicate some time to wandering through the windy limestone streets, lined with quaint shops and cafes.
Most people think of Australia when they hear ‘barrier reef’ but savvy divers think Belize, which is home to the world’s second largest one. It’s an aquatic dream, even if you only snorkel.
Get up close and personal with brightly colored fish, coral and sea creatures (including nurse sharks) off the coast of the county’s largest island, Ambergris Caye at Hol Chan Marine Reserve. You’ll also want to hit up the Great Blue Hole (pictured), which Jacques Cousteau named one of the top 10 scuba diving sites in the world.
You can get tickets to wander around the centuries old ruins or climb nearby Huayna Picchu to get a stunning view of Peru’s Lost City of the Incas. Once atop, take in the panoramic canvas of lush greenery and mountain peaks.
This ancient rose-red colored city in Southern Jordan is a UNESCO world heritage site that welcomes thousands of tourists each year. It lies half-hidden in the wind-blown landscape in the southern part of the country, which makes “discovering” it even more appealing. You may remember the locale from scenes in “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.”
The area is famous for its seafood, and harvesting shellfish yourself can be even more fun than ordering it up in a restaurant. You’ll need a permit and some gear (think boots, rake and a wire basket), then head to Herring River in Wellfleet, known for its oysters and steamers, to start searching.
Malaysia’s luxurious island paradise is a nature lover’s dream. From Mangrove eco-tours led by top naturalists to coral-reef transplantation, few island getaways offer five-star accommodations paired with wildlife adventures. The family-friendly Andaman offers private, guided coral snorkeling, coral nursery feeding, transplantation, clearing and more, while the Four Seasons Langkawi houses the area’s only Geocenter, which gives daily Mangrove Safari Tours.