Are you looking for the best and most unforgettable travel experiences in the world? Then you’re in the right place. This list of travel experiences is curated by professional travelers with 10+ years of travel experience.
As a travel blogger of almost a decade, people always ask me; what’s your number one travel experience to date? And while that is, of course, incredibly hard to answer, I do have a few memories that stick out.
Sometimes it’s the simplest of joys that makes the most impact, you don’t always have to travel far or break the bank to have incredible experiences.
And what makes an experience unforgettable will always differ from person to person. We all see the world differently through the lens of our programming. That’s why I also asked 19 fellow female travel bloggers to write about their most unforgettable travel experiences.
From sleeping in a cave in Matera to kayaking among icebergs in Nunavut, these bucket list experiences are sure to leave you with memories that will last a lifetime.
🌟 Pro tip >> Be sure to check out Tripaneer, my favorite and the world’s leading marketplace to explore and book unforgettable travel experiences.
- 1. Experience the Geisha in Japan
- 2. Join a wellness retreat in Ubud
- 3. Sunrise over Haleakala Volcano in Maui
- 4. Hiking the Stairway to Heaven (legally)
- 5. Kayaking among icebergs in Nunavut
- 6. Hiking Mount Sinai in Egypt
- 7. Hiking the Congo Nile Trail in Rwanda
- 8. Everest Base Camp Trek
- 9. Fly over Victoria, BC in a seaplane
- 10. Hiking Half Dome in Yosemite National Park
- 11. Explore Altyn Emel National Park
- 12. Swim in the wadis of Oman
- 13. Drive across Salar de Uyuni
- 14. Carnival in the Caribbean
- 15. Spelunking in Waitomo Glowworm Caves
- 16. Exploring Antarctica
- 17. Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro
- 18. Hot air ballooning in Cappadocia
- 19. Climbing the Great Wall of China
- 20. Lunch in a traditional Balinese family compound
- 21. Snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef
- 22. Witnessing the Northern Lights
- 23. Paddleboarding with wild dolphins
- 24. See the Taj Mahal at sunrise
- 25. Sleep in a cave in Matera
- 26. See the sunrise over Pinggan Village
- 27. Visiting a cultural village in South Africa
- 28. Go castle hunting in Poland
- 29. Experience Floracion de Cieza
- FAQs: World’s best travel experiences
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- Do unforgettable travel experiences have to be expensive?
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- Looking for more travel inspiration?
1. Experience the Geisha in Japan
If you close your eyes and think of Japan, what do you see? Come on, try this experiment! Before I went there, I used to see Mount Fuji, cherry tree blossoms, and Sailor Moon (this was my childhood hero, don’t laugh!). But now, a few months after the trip, I can only see a geisha or maiko performing and dancing. It’s definitely one of the world’s most unforgettable travel experiences.
This is so traditionally Japanese that you won’t believe it’s still happening today, in the digital era. The Geisha still wear hand-painted kimono, they still have the specific updo hairstyle that makes them easy to recognize, and they still perform the same arts as they used to centuries ago.
If you ever get to experience the geisha culture in Japan you’ll feel like you have traveled through time. It is definitely unique, you cannot find anything similar anywhere else in the world. And it is memorable, even if you don’t speak the language. In the end, art goes beyond words, beyond nations and ethnicity, beyond basic understanding. Art must be felt, and you will feel it once you’re there.
The geisha experience that we chose was to go to a geisha theater in Kyoto in November for an annual representation, but there are many other options you can choose. But something is clear: you have to choose one. If you didn’t enjoy a geisha experience while in Japan, were you even there?
2. Join a wellness retreat in Ubud
Many of my favorite travel experiences have happened in Indonesia, a country I fell in love with 14 years ago. Before Bali skyrocketed in popularity among Instagrammers and digital nomads. One of these experiences was a personalized wellness retreat in Ubud.
Ubud, Bali is known as one of the spiritual centers of the world, and for good reason. Nestled between lush rice fields and ancient temples, Ubud is a haven for those seeking peace, relaxation, and spiritual growth.
Booking this retreat is single-handedly the best decision and the best money I’ve ever spent on myself. I was a little unsure whether or not to spend money on a retreat in Ubud since I’ve been there so many times and I usually like to plan my own itineraries. But I’m so glad I did!
I spent my days doing yoga, exploring hidden gems, eating the most delicious food (even if you’re not vegan, I’m not), learning new skills and joining in on sacred Balinese rituals. Oksana tailors your retreat to your preferences and will give you experiences you didn’t even realize you were looking for.
It was exactly the reset I needed after a few hard years in life. I’m almost crying writing this, just because of how much I needed this healing experience. If you ever feel stuck or like you need to reset, head to Ubud.
🌟 Check price and availability here >> 4-Day Personalized Wellness Retreat in Ubud
3. Sunrise over Haleakala Volcano in Maui
Haleakala volcano may be dormant, but that doesn’t make the 10,032-foot colossus any less imposing. Standing up amongst the clouds to watch the sun peak over the crest of a blanket of fluffy clouds takes pride of place on my ultimate travel bucket list.
We were awake in the car at 3:30 am for our drive to the summit to see the sunrise at Haleakala. You’ll want to bring a couple of warm jackets, and maybe even nab a blanket from your hotel, because the temperatures before sunrise are chilly to say the very least. But once the first slivers of sun begin to appear at the horizon, the gathered crowd hushes and everyone takes in the beauty of the experience.
The arid landscape of the volcano is juxtaposed with beautiful, downy white clouds, as fingers of red, orange, and yellow spread across the horizon. We were lucky enough to have two Maui natives sing the Mele Oli chant – the traditional greeting of the sun. It’s a travel experience that I’d repeat again in a heartbeat, despite spending a good 40 minutes hopping from one foot, to the other, to stay warm.
Remember that watching the sunrise over Haleakala requires reservations in advance for those who want to watch the sunrise.
4. Hiking the Stairway to Heaven (legally)
There are a lot of incredible places to visit around the world, but there’s one unforgettable travel experience I just can’t stop thinking about. It’s one you should put on your bucket list – hiking the Stairway to Heaven in Oahu, Hawaii!
The Stairway to Heaven hike, also known as Haiku Stairs, is not an easy hike – it could even be quite dangerous, so be sure you’re prepared and used to hiking. In addition to that, it’s illegal to hike up the actual stairs, you’ll risk getting a fine if you do so. Instead, take the magical legal way via the Moanalua Valley Trail.
In the beginning, the hike is mainly flat. However, it will soon get steeper – if it’s not a completely clear day, you’ll feel like you’re on your way up among the clouds! I’d recommend bringing crampons for the steeper part of the hike. Remember to bring plenty of water and sunscreen as well. It’s Hawaii, it gets hot!
The view you’ll get from the summit is incredible. You honestly don’t need another reason to put this hike on your bucket list, but if you’re into hiking and adventure you’ll enjoy the challenge of the hike itself as well. As you come up the back way, you’ll also get several views of the valley and the beautiful ridge!
The Arctic Archipelago is Canada’s best-kept secret. Far off the tourist radar, few travelers make their way north of the Arctic Circle into the vast and sprawling territory of Nunavut. Canada’s largest and least populated region, traveling to Nunavut is worthy of any bucket list. And for those who find themselves under the midnight sun, one of the most incredible experiences you could have is kayaking among icebergs.
I remember gliding through the salty seawater in an inflatable kayak. I was covered head to toe – dry suit, waterproof gloves, and hat – just in case I found myself capsized and in an unintended polar bear dip. Until I was paddling so close to icebergs, I’d never appreciated just how much of the ice was below water. Looking down, I could see the curves of ice run so deep they disappeared from view.
Nor had I appreciated their colossal size; being so close to Greenland, the icebergs had recently calved off ancient glaciers. They would eventually decrease in size as they meandered south to Newfoundland, but at this moment I had to crane my neck upright to see the top. Some were so enormous they had their own waterfalls. Melting ice near the top would run down and spill over the edge, falling into the ocean.
Later a guide chipped off some pieces of an iceberg and we drank our cocktails with glacial ice. As my group sipped our deliciously cold beverages, we all agreed. Kayaking in the Canadian Arctic was a truly memorable experience.
6. Hiking Mount Sinai in Egypt
One of the very first travel experiences I checked off my bucket list, and one that really deserves to be on yours as well, is the Mount Sinai hike in Egypt. Also known as “Jebel Moussa” in Arabic, the mountain, located in Saint Catherine in South Sinai, is the second-highest in the country after Mount Catherine.
Apart from the friendly Jebeliya tribe that lives there, the mesmerizing nature of the mountain, and its challenging elevation of 2,285 m, it also has high religious value. You see, this is the mountain where it’s believed that Moses spoke to God and received the 10 commandments. And Saint Catherine’s Monastery, built at the foot of the mountain, is supposedly where Moses had seen the burning bush.
Hiking Mount Sinai is one of the most spiritual and empowering adventures you can ever embark on. Once you reach the summit and marvel at the mountainous, vast desert as you watch the sunrise from within the clouds, you’ll reach an indescribable state of euphoria that you’ll remember forever. And if you decide to do this in winter, you might be lucky enough to witness snow. Yes, Saint Catherine is the only place in Egypt where it snows!
7. Hiking the Congo Nile Trail in Rwanda
On the far western edge of Rwanda, snaking along the green shore of gorgeous blue Lake Kivu, lies a unique adventure for outdoorsy travelers: the Congo Nile Trail. Stretching roughly 120km from Gisenyi to Kibuye, this patchwork route of local trails and dirt roads can be walked in 4-5 days, with nights spent camping or sleeping in small guesthouses.
Along the way you’ll pass through villages and farmland, never far from a curious group of kids or an enthusiastic “helloooo” shouted from a grove of banana trees. The trail is safe and well enough developed for hiking independently (I hiked it solo) but still adventurous enough to be interesting.
You’ll piece together directions from the hand gestures of helpful locals and likely pass some miles with Rwandans excited to practice their English or French. At the end of a long hot day, you’ll probably manage to find a place where you can kick back with a cold(ish) Turbo King beer and a view of Lake Kivu.
The Congo Nile Trail isn’t easy; it can be hot and hilly, and the frequent attention from locals can sometimes feel draining. It’s important to travel mindfully and try to minimize impact – both environmental and cultural – on this fragile area. But for travelers with some experience in Africa who are looking for an adventure rich in both scenic beauty and cultural learning opportunities, I highly recommend it.
8. Everest Base Camp Trek
By Emma Adventures
The Everest Base Camp trek in Nepal should be on everyone’s bucket list. It is certainly one of the most unforgettable travel experiences I have had. Situated in the Himalayas in Nepal, Mount Everest is the highest mountain in the world, and trekking to its base camp is one of the most beautiful journeys in the world.
Stay in teahouses in the mountains for 10-14 days and as you journey through beautiful scenery and experience local life in Nepal. Although a tough trek, it’s certainly doable with the right training and well worth the effort.
It’s a great feeling waking up in a lovely teahouse surrounded by mountains every day, to a home-cooked meal and only having to worry about how far you have to hike that day.
Along with reaching Everest Base Camp, which is the ultimate goal, you’ll get to take an amazing scenic flight from Kathmandu to Lukla, the starting point of the trek, as well as explore the crazy, bustling capital city of Nepal, Kathmandu.
The people in Nepal are extremely welcoming and friendly, which makes the experience even better. I’d truly recommend adding Everest Base Camp to your bucket list, I guarantee it’s an experience you will treasure forever!
9. Fly over Victoria, BC in a seaplane
Did you know that Victoria, British Columbia has the only official sea-airport in the world? I found out from the guide on a whale watching tour off Vancouver Island, Canada.
There are two “runways” on the water, smack in the middle of the harbor. You can buy tickets to domestic or US destinations, like Seattle just down the Pacific coast. And: you can book sightseeing trips.
I went on the Victoria Classic Panorama Tour and it was a unique experience for me. It was the first time I took off in a plane from the water and landed on the water. Admittedly, the landing is somewhat bumpier than on a runway. But the views of BC’s capital and the ocean were so worth it!
I only went for the 20-minute tour, but personally, I thought it was plenty of time to get a first impression of water aviation. And I took a ton of pictures and videos from the air. If it is just about the experience, that tour is perfect. The seaplane flies at a lower altitude than a normal plane, so you can see much more of what is happening on the ground.
Even though I went during high season, in June, there were only 5 people on the plane with me. And I was able to book a cheap ticket on the day, as I was flexible with timing.
🐋 My top pick >> Popular combined Seaplane Flight and Whale-Watching Cruise
10. Hiking Half Dome in Yosemite National Park
Standing at the top of Half Dome in Yosemite National Park at sunset is a truly epic place to be, and the moments I have spent up there make for one of my favorite travel memories. The awe-inspiring views of the grandeur and granite of Yosemite reach another level when bathed in the fiery glow of the setting sun.
Hiking Half Dome is no easy feat either, and the first time I did it, I felt empowered in the outdoors in a way that truly changed my life. Half Dome proved to me that I am strong, brave, and capable of so much more than I ever thought was possible.
The Half Dome hike requires a long, uphill trek just to get to the base of the dome, a total of about 14 miles round trip with 5,000 feet of elevation gain. Then you have to ascend the steep granite face while clinging tightly to the steel cables – which is definitely not for the faint of heart or scared of heights!
Making it to the summit of Half Dome is such a proud accomplishment that adds to the exceptional experience of standing on top. I have explored the outdoors and hiked all over the world, yet Yosemite’s iconic Half Dome continues to hold a special place in my heart.
11. Explore Altyn Emel National Park
Few people have Kazakhstan on their bucket list, yet in my mind, it is one of the most underrated places in the world. It is where I had my most unforgettable travel experience to date.
Most think Kazakhstan is nothing more than steppes, but this is far from the truth. A visit to Altyn Emel National Park is proof of Kazakhstan’s spectacular nature which is incredibly diverse.
Altyn Emel National Park has singing sand dunes, volcanic rocks, rainbow mountain ranges and vast steppes. The views are really out of this world with Martian and lunar-like landscapes everywhere you go. I kept taking pictures of all the different colors in the hills ranging from red to yellow to brown to grey and white.
Altyn Emel is also Kazakhstan’s prime Safari destination. It is one of the last places in this world to see wild horses and wild donkeys and even though it might be from far away you have a good chance of spotting them as well as the Persian gazelle or Bukhara deer.
Nature and wildlife are more than enough reasons to visit Altyn Emel, but there is history too. Traces of Scythian tribes that lived in the area around the first millennium BC are everywhere. From mysterious stone steles to ancient petroglyphs and burial mounds that fit perfectly in the remote sceneries of Altyn Emel.
12. Swim in the wadis of Oman
One of the most unforgettable travel experiences I’ve had was swimming in the beautiful wadis of Oman. Oman is filled with natural wonders; if you spend 10 days on this peninsula, you’ll see plenty of gorgeous waterfalls, mountains, valleys, deserts and my favorite of them all — wadis.
The most famous wadi in the country is Wadi Shab, and it totally lives up to its hype. This attraction consists of 3 natural pools you can swim in, and one of them also leads you to a mystical cave with a waterfall inside it. I’ve always enjoyed swimming, but swimming inside a wadi with a breathtaking view of canyons all around you and fishes cozying up to your feet was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. It also felt incredibly fun; like being inside a natural waterpark all day!
Wadi Shab is suitable for all travelers. The first of the three pools is very shallow and perfect for non-swimmers, beginners and children. You can simply relax in this pool if you don’t feel comfortable in deeper water. The second and third pools are quite deep, so I’d only recommend them for excellent swimmers. If you enjoy adventures and are great at swimming, you’d also love swimming inside the cave at the end of the third pool!
For this experience, I highly recommend bringing a waterproof dry bag and waterproof phone case so that you can keep your belongings with you as you swim. The dry bag can also act as a floatie if you ever feel tired from swimming! You can find more tips for visiting Wadi Shab in my Oman itinerary here.
13. Drive across Salar de Uyuni
Traveling to the vast Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia has got to be one of the most epic adventures I’ve crossed off my bucket list. The Salar de Uyuni, or the Uyuni Salt Flat, is the largest salt desert in the world, composed of 11,000 square kilometers of glistening white salt. It’s an otherworldly landscape that allows for surreal, perspective-shifting photos—but the journey there is just as exciting.
The most popular way to visit the Salar de Uyuni is by group tour. I chose to go on a tour starting in San Pedro de Atacama in Chile. The tour involved a three-day road trip through Bolivia’s wildest landscapes in a 4×4 truck shared by seven strangers. On this tour, I visited volcanoes towering 5,000 meters above sea level. I ate lunch at local villages so small and quiet it was difficult to imagine that anyone lived there.
I took a dip in a thermal bath overlooking a vast desert scene, followed by a walk through a rocky landscape that mimics the one on Mars. I encountered every kind of weather possible, from sunshine to rain to snow flurries while crossing the mountains at dusk. For three days, we were completely off the grid—traveling to remote corners of the country where llamas and alpacas largely outnumbered humans.
This adventurous journey ended at the Salar de Uyuni, where I witnessed the sunrise over the endless sea of salt. It was truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and a travel memory I’ll never forget!
14. Carnival in the Caribbean
Attending a Caribbean carnival in Trinidad and Tobago, was something I had been dreaming about for years. In Trinidad, the carnival takes place annually on the Monday and Tuesday before Ash Wednesday, intended as a sort of last hoorah before “giving up the ways of the flesh” for Lent.
However, the festivities begin weeks and months before. Like deciding which costume I wanted to wear in the parade on Carnival Tuesday and which fetes and events to attend.
Starting just after Christmas, the Trinidad event calendar is filled with fetes, with the number increasing the closer you get to the carnival. Events also include culturally significant demonstrations such as the Re-enactment of the Canboulay Riots. There are also various competitions including the Junior and Senior Carnival King and Queen competitions and Panorama, the steelpan competition.
I went to Trinidad for about 10 days and spent most of my time hopping from fete to fete. When Carnival Monday and Tuesday finally rolled around, I was but still so pumped to participate in the parades through the streets of Port of Spain to the beautiful sounds of soca music.
Months of anticipation and planning ended in a week that just flew by, lodged in my memory the most unforgettable travel experience to date.
15. Spelunking in Waitomo Glowworm Caves
In Waitomo, New Zealand, you’ll find a glowworm species that is exclusively found in New Zealand! These glowworms live deep in an underground cave system that is only accessible through a guided tour on the North Island. My most memorable travel experience was spelunking in these caves first on foot, then in a small inflatable raft!
When you first see the glowworms, they don’t look like more than the average worm, but as you descend into the caves away from sunlight, your eyes start to adjust and you begin to see a faint turquoise glow all around you. Soon enough your eyes are perfectly adjusted to the dark and you can see millions of speckles of turquoise-like stars around you.
The most amazing part of this tour was that the cave we entered had water flowing through it so after a short trek, we boarded an inflatable raft that was on the underground river. My boyfriend and I sat in the front row. The raft was guided by a rope attached to the cave ceiling so no paddling was needed. We floated along.
No cameras. No phones. No external lights at all. Just the sound of water flowing and the sparkle of turquoise all around us. It was beautiful and breathtaking. I highly recommend touring the Waitomo Glowworm Caves if you find yourself on the North Island of New Zealand!
16. Exploring Antarctica
Due to its remoteness, visiting Antarctica is often thought of as a near-impossible dream by many travelers. However, it is worth the long flights, the adventure of crossing the Drake Passage, and even every hard-earned penny. Upon arrival at the ice continent, Antarctica welcomes you with open arms and a vastness of beauty rarely seen on Earth.
Only 40,000 people visit Antarctica every year (compared to the 5 million people who visit Rome), making it one of the most special and unforgettable travel experiences in the world.
Walking on land surrounded by penguins and elephant seals was a surreal experience. Since Antarctica isn’t a country or claimed by any specific country, there are strict restrictions to protect nature. That doesn’t mean you can’t fully experience it though.
We were able to get up close to humpback whales while they were feeding in a zodiac boat. Kayaking with a leopard seal, doing two polar plunges with penguins, and even camping on land overnight were awesome experiences to really appreciate our Earth.
Spending two weeks on an expedition ship was more than just looking at nature. Onboard, the staff had daily programming that covered the various species we’d see (hopefully), photography tips, and the history of the first explorers of Antarctica. Their knowledge, friendliness, and experience helped to round out the trip to make it the best trip of my life.
I’ve visited seven continents and over 35 countries, and none of them have impacted me like Antarctica.
17. Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro
Reaching the highest peak in Africa had been on my Life List for a while & turning 50 was my motivation for tackling it sooner rather than later. The morning after celebrating my birthday, I set off on my big adventure.
The summit of Mount Kilimanjaro lies at 5895m above sea level & is the tallest free-standing mountain in the world. Where Kilimanjaro is unique among the other highest continental peaks (Seven Summits), is that it’s possible to climb without any specialist equipment or expertise.
I had chosen to take the 8-day Lemosho route. For me, the priority was to give myself the best chance of reaching the summit. The altitude is the biggest unknown factor. You can train as much as you like but, in the end, you don’t know until you are there how it will affect you.
Throughout the climb, I struggled with the altitude & was full of trepidation about how I would cope when it finally came to Summit Night. As we began our final journey at midnight, I was wearing so many layers to protect myself from the cold that I could barely bend my legs!
After 6 hours of walking very slowly uphill, battling the cold & my mental demons, I finally reached the peak. Standing on the roof of Africa as I witnessed the sunrise is a moment I will never forget. It was worth every step, every doubt and every struggle along the way.
Mount Kilimanjaro will test you both mentally & physically, but you will come out with a new understanding of what you are capable of. I can honestly say that it is one of my best travel experiences to date.
18. Hot air ballooning in Cappadocia
By Tayara Muse
Only a handful of things can give you an adrenaline rush so strong, that you remember it forever. In some ways my most memorable travel experience was cliché; in other ways, it was a sacred, liberating moment. I gifted myself a hot air balloon ride over Cappadocia, Turkey for my birthday a couple of years ago – yes, a very social media-influenced adventure.
There’s so much power to doing something unique, completely solo and in a foreign place. The day started off rather early, the tour pick-up was at 4:30 am (yikes) and the ascent into the morning sky was right at 6:00 am. I joined a group of strangers below the balloon and watched it light up. As the warm air filled it, we started boarding.
What a feeling it was to float in the air, overlooking a historical region, and be surrounded by hundreds of colorful balloons – 3000 feet above the ground. The view took the breath right out of me! So, yes, it’s cliché, yes it’s been overdone, but listen up, nothing has compared to soaring in the sky and feeling invincible for a straight hour!
19. Climbing the Great Wall of China
One of the most unforgettable travel experiences I’ve ticked off my bucket list was climbing the Great Wall of China. I spent 10 days exploring Shanghai, Xi’an, and Beijing before visiting the Great Wall on the last day.
I visited the Mutianyu section of the wall. This area is one of the most scenic and best-preserved, yet there are fewer tourists here than at the Badaling section. You can either hike from the base to the Wall for approximately an hour or take a cable car. I highly recommend the cable car – the journey up is scenic and you’ll need all your energy for hiking the actual Wall!
The Mutianyu section of the Great Wall is about 1.5 hours from Beijing. You can get to the wall from Beijing by taking public transportation, but I recommend taking one of the many tours offered from Beijing. Several Beijing hotels and hostels offer very affordable tours, you can also book online in advance.
Make sure to wear sturdy shoes, cool and comfortable clothing, and bring water for your hike. It can get really hot and the steps on the wall are very steep and uneven. At the end of your hike, treat yourself to an ice cream from the vendor at the cable car stop and then take the toboggan down for more fun!
Seeing the Great Wall in person was one of the best experiences during my travels and is worth a spot on everyone’s bucket list.
20. Lunch in a traditional Balinese family compound
There’s no secret that I’m obsessed with Indonesia, and I have been for over a decade. So while this might not be the most spectacular experience ever, it is certainly one of my most unforgettable travel experiences.
A few years ago, I decided to book a bike tour in Ubud to hopefully see a side of Bali we wouldn’t be able to on our own. After a lot of research, we ended up with Jegeg Bali Cycling. A family-run business that focuses on small groups and truly puts their guests’ experience above everything.
After an incredible day on the backroads of Ubud, we were brought to Putu’s family compound for lunch. His mother and aunts had put together the most amazing feast with all my favorite Indonesian dishes. It was one of the best meals I’ve ever had, and being able to come inside their family home, where four generations live, felt so incredibly special.
We sat around the table for a while, just enjoying the food and listening to Putu talk about everyday life in Bali. And as if that wasn’t enough, we also got a shirt made in the neighboring village as a parting gift. Because they earned money from us, they wanted to give back to their community and also back to us. How awesome is that!?
21. Snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef
Snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef is another one of my most unforgettable travel experiences. The Great Barrier Reef is the largest coral reef system in the world, stretching over 2,300 kilometers along the coast of Australia. Fitzroy Island is the getaway to the reef.
It’s home to an incredible array of marine life, including colorful fish, sea turtles, sharks, and dolphins. Snorkeling in the crystal-clear waters of the reef is a truly magical experience that will leave you in awe of the beauty and diversity of the underwater world.
As you snorkel through the coral gardens of the Great Barrier Reef, you’ll be surrounded by a kaleidoscope of colors and shapes. You might spot a school of vibrant fish darting through the coral, a graceful sea turtle gliding past, or even a majestic manta ray soaring through the water.
The peaceful silence of the underwater world is broken only by the sound of your own breathing, adding to the sense of tranquility and wonder. Snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef is an experience that will stay with you for a lifetime, and is a must-do for any nature lover or adventure seeker.
22. Witnessing the Northern Lights
Witnessing the Northern Lights in Norway is an incredible travel experience that is often described as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Even though I am Norwegian, I have only seen the Northern Lights once as I live in the south.
The Northern Lights, or Aurora Borealis, are a natural phenomenon that occurs when charged particles from the sun collide with atoms in the Earth’s atmosphere, creating a stunning display of colorful lights in the night sky.
Norway is one of the best places in the world to witness this awe-inspiring spectacle, as the country is located in the “Aurora Zone” and experiences frequent Northern Lights activity.
As you stand under the starry night sky in Norway, watching the Northern Lights dance and swirl above you, you’ll feel a sense of wonder and awe that is hard to describe. The colors of the lights can range from green to pink to purple, and the movement of the lights can be slow and graceful or fast and frenzied.
The experience is truly mesmerizing and will leave you feeling humbled by the beauty and power of nature. It is definitely one of the top things to do in Norway.
23. Paddleboarding with wild dolphins
Seeing wild dolphins while paddleboarding on Nusa Lembongan is one of those pinch-me travel experiences. Actually, it was one of the last items on my original bucket list.
Nusa Lembongan is a small island off the coast of Bali, Indonesia, and is known for its crystal-clear waters and abundant marine life.
While paddleboarding just off Jungut Batu Beach, I suddenly spotted a pod of wild dolphins swimming and playing in the waves right in front of me. The sight of these beautiful creatures in their natural habitat was truly awe-inspiring and left you feeling humbled by the beauty and power of nature.
I remember sitting down on the board and just thinking how lucky I was to be right there right then. I wish I had a photo to look back on, but I’m also glad that I just focused on being in the moment.
24. See the Taj Mahal at sunrise
Visiting the Taj Mahal at sunrise is a travel experience that is sure to take your breath away. The Taj Mahal is a stunning white marble mausoleum located in Agra, India, and is widely considered to be one of the most beautiful buildings in the world.
Seeing this iconic monument bathed in the soft light of the rising sun is a truly unforgettable experience. As someone who loves history and architecture, finally getting to visit the Taj Mahal was a dream come true.
As you approach the Taj Mahal at sunrise, you’ll be struck by the sheer beauty and grandeur of the building. The white marble shimmers in the early morning light and the intricate details of the carvings and inlays become even more pronounced.
Be sure to get there while it’s still dark out, to be able to get some photos without people in them. A pro tip is to also visit Mehtab Bagh, a garden complex on the opposite bank, which in my mind is the best place to view the Taj Mahal.
25. Sleep in a cave in Matera
Staying in a cave in Matera is a unique and unforgettable travel experience that will transport you back in time. Matera is a city in southern Italy that is famous for its ancient cave dwellings. These caves were carved into the rock by hand and were once used as homes, churches, and even prisons.
Today, many of these caves have been converted into stylish and comfortable accommodations, offering visitors a chance to experience the history and culture of Matera in a truly unique way.
I ran away to Matera last year after two horrible years with a death, break up and the sale of my dream home. I spent several nights in a cave with only one window framing the church towering above the city.
One night I stood there thinking about my next step in life when the church bells started ringing right before sunset. The whole valley became silent except for this music, and all the lights turned on one by one. I started crying and felt like I was supposed to be right there at that moment.
That night I planned out my entire next year as I felt a new energy flow through my body. It is one of the most profound experiences in my life so far and I can not recommend Matera enough.
26. See the sunrise over Pinggan Village
Located in the central highlands of Bali, Pinggan Village is known for its stunning views of the surrounding rice paddies and valleys. As the sun rises over the horizon, the landscape is bathed in a soft, golden light and white mist that creates a truly magical atmosphere.
To witness the sunrise over Pinggan Village, you’ll need to wake up early and make your way to one of the many viewpoints in the area. As you wait for the sun to rise, you’ll be surrounded by the sounds of nature and the peacefulness of the early morning.
As the first rays of sunlight begin to peek over the horizon, the colors of the landscape begin to change, creating a stunning display of light and shadow.
27. Visiting a cultural village in South Africa
Traveling has been a way of life as I love wandering in new destinations and meeting new cultures and people! If you are looking for your next travel destination consider Africa!
What can you do on a vacation in Africa? One of the most memorable travel experiences I had while on the road was to visit a cultural village in South Africa. A day well spent in an African ancient tribe village in Gauteng located one hour’s drive north of Johanessburg.
Have you heard of the Zulu tribe? On my first trip to Africa, I visited a village of five traditional dwellings inhabited by Zulu, Xhosa, Pedi, Basotho and Ndebele tribes. The Zulu is the largest ethnic group in South Africa inhabiting KwaZulu Natal and Gauteng. The whole experience is fun and informative!
You will be welcomed by the head of the village and watch a short documentary film presenting the history of the village and the tribes. Then you head out on a guided tour of the beautiful community coming across the village’s warriors. Mingle with the welcoming people, learn their traditional dance and sit down for a delicious feast. Definitely an unforgettable experience!
28. Go castle hunting in Poland
You might not think of Poland as one of the main castle destinations in the world. But let me tell you, it should be! Going castle hunting in Poland is an unforgettable travel experience that will transport you back in time to a world of knights, kings, and queens.
Poland is home to over 500 castles, each with its own unique history and architectural style. Exploring these castles is like stepping into a fairy tale, and is a must-do for any traveler interested in history, culture, and architecture.
As you travel through Poland, you’ll have the chance to visit some of the most impressive castles in Europe. From the towering Wawel Castle in Krakow to the romantic Malbork Castle on the banks of the Vistula River, each castle offers a glimpse into a different era of Polish history.
I went castle hunting in Poland several times during my time living in Krakow, and my absolute favorite experience was visiting the beautiful pink Książ Castle on the first sunny and warm day of spring. I stood on the viewpoint by myself and pictured what it would be like to be alive when the castle was rebuilt in the 16th century.
29. Experience Floracion de Cieza
You might have heard about Sakura in Japan and the cherry blossoming in London or DC, but did you know that Spain has its very own floral happening?
Experiencing Floracion de Cieza, the blossoming of almond and fruit trees, is an unforgettable travel experience. It was something I had been looking forward to for years.
The phenomenon occurs every year in Cieza in the region of Murcia, usually in late February or early March. During this time, the hillsides and valleys of the region are covered in a blanket of pink and white blossoms, creating a stunning display of color and fragrance.
My parents and I went for a drive through the countryside, stopping at various viewpoints to admire the stunning views of the almond trees in bloom. You can also participate in guided tours, which will take you through the orchards and explain the history and cultural significance of the almond blossoms in the region.
FAQs: World’s best travel experiences
What makes a travel experience unforgettable?
An unforgettable travel experience is one that leaves a lasting impression on you and creates memories that you will cherish for a lifetime. It could be a beautiful natural scenery, a unique cultural experience, an adventure that pushes you out of your comfort zone, or simply a moment of pure joy and happiness.
It will of course be different for everyone, but in my eyes, an unforgettable travel experience is the top two or three experiences that come to mind when asked.
How can I make sure I have an unforgettable travel experience?
Here’s my step-by-step guide to making any travel experience as good as possible:
- Plan ahead: Research your destination and create a travel itinerary that includes activities and experiences that align with your interests. This will help you make the most of your time and ensure that you don’t miss out on any must-see attractions.
- Be open to new experiences: Travel is an opportunity to step out of your comfort zone and try new things. Be open to new experiences, whether it’s trying new food, participating in a local festival, or exploring a hidden gem.
- Embrace the local culture: Immerse yourself in the local culture by learning about the customs, traditions, and history of the destination. This will help you gain a deeper understanding and appreciation of the place you’re visiting.
- Engage with locals: Interact with locals to get a sense of their daily lives and perspectives. This can be as simple as striking up a conversation with a shopkeeper or taking a guided tour with a local guide.
- Stay flexible: Travel plans can change unexpectedly, so it’s important to stay flexible and adapt to new situations. This will help you avoid stress and frustration and make the most of your travel experience.
- Take care of yourself: Travel can be exhausting, so it’s important to take care of yourself by staying hydrated, getting enough rest, and taking breaks when needed. This will help you stay energized and enjoy your travel experience to the fullest.
- Be present: Finally, be present in the moment and take time to appreciate the beauty and wonder of your surroundings. Put away your phone and camera, and take in the sights, sounds, and smells of the place you’re visiting. This will help you create lasting memories and make your travel experience truly unforgettable.
Where do you book tours and excursions?
I’m getting more and more into guided tours, especially for the first few days of a trip. That way you can ask a local guide all your questions and get tips on hidden gems and local favorites you might otherwise have missed.
For multi-day trips and retreats, I always check Tripaneer, the world’s leading marketplace to explore and book unforgettable travel experiences. They offer any type of holiday you can imagine including mindful yoga retreats, adventurous safaris, epic surf camps, and more.
What are the most unforgettable travel experiences in the world for 2024?
There are countless unforgettable travel experiences in this beautiful world, it all depends on the person who experiences them.
But here’s a list of what I consider to be the most incredible travel experiences in the world:
- Visiting the remote Svalbard archipelago in Norway to see polar bears and Northern Lights
- Exploring the ancient ruins of Machu Picchu in Peru
- Going on a safari in the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania
- Walking on the Great Wall of China
- Swimming with whale sharks in the Philippines
- Taking a hot air balloon ride over Cappadocia in Turkey
- Seeing gorillas in the Virunga Mountains on the border of Rwanda, Uganda and Congo
- Cruising through the Galapagos Islands in Ecuador
- Scuba diving in the Great Barrier Reef in Australia
- Exploring the ancient ruins of Petra in Jordan
What are considered unique experiences?
Unique experiences are travel activities or experiences that are not commonly found in typical tourist itineraries. They are often off-the-beaten-path and provide travelers with a chance to engage with the local culture and environment in a more authentic way.
Some examples of unique experiences include:
- Staying in a treehouse or igloo
- Participating in a traditional ceremony or festival
- Volunteering with a local community or conservation project
- Taking a cooking class with a local chef
- Exploring a hidden gem or lesser-known attraction
- Going on a wildlife safari or nature hike
- Visiting a remote village or island
- Learning a new skill or craft from a local artisan
- Trying a unique mode of transportation, such as a hot air balloon or camel ride
- Going on a cultural tour or immersive experience, such as a homestay or language exchange program.
What is the most unique experience you’ve had?
I’m asked this question a lot, and while I would love to have this crazy story about when I rode across the steppes of Mongolia on horseback, it is yet another experience from Bali. I took this silversmith class in Ubud and absolutely loved it.
It might not be the most unique experience in the world, but it’s the one that constantly pops into my head. My mom and I made silver rings that we still use today. You can read more about the experience in my guide to the most unusual things to do in Bali.
Do unforgettable travel experiences have to be expensive?
No, unforgettable travel experiences do not have to be expensive. While some experiences may require a larger budget, there are many affordable travel experiences that can be just as unforgettable.
For example, hiking to a beautiful viewpoint, exploring a local market, or trying a new cuisine can all create unforgettable memories without breaking the bank.
What are some ideas for new experiences?
Here are my top ideas for new experiences yo can have without traveling far or spending much money:
- Take a cooking class: -you don’t have to travel far to attend a cooking class. Many local cooking schools and community centers offer affordable cooking classes where you can learn how to make new dishes and cuisines.
- Visit a local museum or art gallery: Most museums and art galleries offer free admission or discounted rates on certain days of the week. This is a great way to learn about local history and culture, so be sure to take advantage of it. I lived in Krakow for 5 years and never went to the museums, something I regret today.
- Go on a nature hike: Most of us live near at least some kind of green space, whether it’s a city park, mountain, coastal hike or national park. Try to find a new natural area you have yet to explore, pack some snacks and head out. It’s a great way to get some exercise and enjoy the natural beauty of your area.
- Attend a free concert or festival: Many cities and towns host free concerts and festivals throughout the year. Check your local events calendar to see what’s happening in your area.
- Take a bike ride: Rent a bike or use a bike-sharing service to explore your city or town. This is a fun and affordable way to get some exercise and see new sights.
- Volunteer with a local organization: Many nonprofits and community organizations rely on volunteers to help with their work. This is a great way to give back to your community and meet new people.
- Visit a farmer’s market: Some communities have weekly farmer’s markets where you can buy fresh produce, baked goods, and other local products. I just went to one the other day and got lots of different vegetables and pastries. Definitely one of my favorite ways to support local businesses and discover new foods.
- Take a dance class: Many dance studios offer affordable classes in a variety of styles, from salsa to ballroom to hip-hop. This is a fun way to learn new moves and meet new people.
- Go on a scavenger hunt: Create your own scavenger hunt or participate in one organized by a local group or business. This is a fun way to explore your city or town and discover new sights and hidden gems.
- Attend a local sporting event: Most places have minor league or amateur sports teams that offer affordable tickets. This is a fun way to support local athletes and enjoy a day out with friends or family.
Looking for more travel inspiration?
- 16 incredible islands you probably haven’t heard of but need to visit!
- 12 Cities That Aren’t on Your Bucket List (But Should Be)
- The ultimate Spain bucket list: 101+ awesome things to do & places to see
- The ultimate Norway bucket list: top 200 awesome things to do!
- The ultimate Denmark bucket list: 101+ awesome things to do