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  • shannastewart4443

Top 10 Bucket List Countries

Updated: Mar 19

"I haven't been everywhere, but it's on my list!"

I have been to 18 countries, which is a small amount compared to my husband (he's from the UK and travels for work). Many of my friends have been to many more, but I do plan on travelling a lot more frequently in the future (my husband will retire in a few years and I plan on taking this travel job remotely). I have curated a list of ten places I would love to explore in the future. Maybe, it can give you a few ideas too. It was difficult to pare down to this small list, so I will follow up with another post of more fantastic places to visit on a later date. I am also including hotels that I have researched, some of which are voted the top hotels in the world (this is a dream list after all). I hope you will get to visit some of these amazing places. Cheers to all of your future adventures!

1) Greece - I have always wanted to go to Greece for its gorgeous turquoise waters, it's dynamic architecture and its unique culture. Greece has over 2,000 islands, so there is so much to see and do.

*Ideal time to visit - May/June

Best Hotels:

Katikies Santorini - Crisp and clean rooms and suites set in Oia overlooking the vast blue sea. This luxury hotel beholds the essence of Greek ambience.

Andronis Boutique Hotel - This gorgeous hotel is built upon a cliffside in Oia with breathtaking sea views. Andronis rooms/suites feature plunge pools, cave dwellings, a beautiful spa and a gastronomic experience overlooking the sea.

Grace Hotel - This amazing hotel is perched on the stunning Aegean Sea. With an infinity pool overlooking the ocean, one of the world's best bars and luxurious rooms/suites, you may never want to leave.

Things to do in Greece:

  • Explore the island via car/jeep

  • Try the various Greek specialties such as Moussaka, Stuffed Eggplant, Gyros and Greek Lasagne

  • Shop the quaint villages

  • Bask on the breathtaking beaches

Day trip: Take a boat trip to explore Mykonos

2) Indonesia -- Another must see country on my list is Indonesia, particularly Bali. When I think of Bali, I envision a tropical paradise with waterfalls, beautiful beaches, spectacular temples and a vibrant culture.

*Ideal time to visit - April/May

Best Hotels:

Andaz Bali - Blending old and new Balinese style, this eclectic resort offers a lovely beachfront setting with a gorgeous pool, spa, fitness center and a fantastic dining experience. Cultural influences of Bali abound in this Hyatt owned resort.

Allila Manggis - This 4 star hotel is set between the sea and nearby Mount Agung and offers a nearby spa, a charming pool set amidst the swaying palm trees. Guests will stay in traditional two-story thatched pavilions with clear views across the straits to the Nusa Penida.

Mandapa - 111 Overfront suites (each with a balcony and jacuzzi) encompass this beautiful retreat in Nusa Dua, Bali. Enjoy delicious cuisine at the restaurant, laze in the huge infinity pool (or one of the other many pools) or take a spa day.

Things to do in Thailand:

  • Explore the Water Gardens at Tirta Gangga

  • Visit the waterfalls (you can even slide down some of them) or jump off a cliff

  • Visit the historic temples (there are over 20,000 in Bali)

  • Visit the Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary

  • Experience the scenic rice terraces

  • Enjoy a swing with a view (there are many in various locations around Bali)

  • Relax beachside (Blue Point Beach even has a restaurant of local eats and cocktails)

Day Trip: Visit Ubud

3) Tanzania - I dream of an adventure in Africa exploring the Serengeti, immersed in a culture far different from my own. Tazania offers exceptional wildlife safaris, views of Mt. Kilimanjaro, and romantic lodges overlooking the wild expanses of the African landscape.

*Ideal time to visit - July

Best Hotels:

Elewana Serengeti Migration Camp - This traditional safari camp is known for some of the best animal habitat viewing in the world. Located on the banks of the Grumeti River where hippos wallow freely, this camp also is the starting point for the Migration. Each of the 20 above ground tents offers a scenic verandah to observe the landscape and the wildlife that flourishes below. The main tent offers a swimming pool, restaurant and lounge area for guests.

Gibbs Farm - Just beyond the Ngorongoro Crater lies Gibbs Farm, an 80 acre coffee plantation. This organic coffee farm houses 17 quaint cottages each with a lovely view from the balcony. The farm offers tours, a farm to table restaurant, and many safari options to choose from.

andBeyond Ngorongoro Crater Lodge - Known as the game lodge on top of the world, the Ngorongoro Crater Lodge overlooks the magnificent caldera. It houses 33 suites with grass roofs and banana leaf ceilings. These grand suites feature elegant chandeliers, African treasures and gorgeous antiques. Floor to ceiling windows give guests a spectacular view to the world below. The lodge offers a beautiful dining area, an expansive deck and lawn on which to lounge, a wine cellar and delicious meals included with your stay.

Things to do in Tanzania:

  • Safari Game Drives

  • Guided hikes

  • Cultural Visits

  • Spa Indulgence

Day trip: Ruboundo Island National Park

4) Iceland - With icebergs, glaciers, volcanos, and amazing waterfalls, Iceland is unparalleled in terms of natural wonders. You can view the Northern Lights in all of their glorious splendor or luxuriate in the Blue Lagoon.

*Ideal time to visit - September/October

Best Hotels:

Silica Hotel - Set overlooking the Blue Lagoon, this extraordinary retreat offers a wonderful spa, culinary delights, and a guest only private lagoon.

The Retreat - This 60-room hotel offers Michelin star dining, a relaxing subterranean spa and a private lagoon that heals with the waters of the Blue Lagoon.

Fosshotel Glacier Lagoon - Set between Skaftafell National Park and Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon, this 125-room hotel offers a spa, restaurant and gym. The restaurant features Icelandic fusion cuisine. And there is plenty of spectacular scenery to explore including the Svínafellsjökull Glacier, the Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon and the Skaftafell waterfall.

Things to do in Iceland:

  • Luxuriate in the geothermal baths and spas

  • Hike an active volcano

  • Adventure through Iceland's caves

  • View the mesmerizing Northern Lights

  • Hike or bike and view the waterfalls

Day trip: Reykjavik

5) Sydney, New South Wales, Australia - Sydney, Australia offers so much to see and do including excellent beaches, a vibrant shopping and nightlife scene and the famous opera houses. Known for its spectacular harbor, Sydney offers fine dining, trendy areas like The Rocks and Circular Quay, museums, Luna amusement park, and a beautiful botanical garden.

*Ideal time to visit - January/February

Best Hotels:

Park Hyatt Sydney - On the edge of the harbor overlooking the Opera House, this hotel offers 155 rooms/suites with luxurious bedding, stunning views and a lovely dining room specializing in regional coastal cuisine.

Four Seasons Hotel Sydney - Sitting on the doorstep of the Harbor, with The Rocks and Circular Quay areas a short walk away, this hotel is all about the location. Stylish rooms, artistic culinary delights, and an exceptional whiskey bar add to your Sydney experience.

Shangri-La Sydney - This extraordinary hotel sits above the harbor with unparalleled views. It boasts 564 rooms/suites. The hotel houses an award-winning restaurant overlooking the Opera House, a bar with an equally incredible view, as well as a glorious spa in which to indulge.

Things to do in Sydney:

  • Attend the Opera at the famous Opera House

  • Admire the beauty at the Royal Botanic Garden

  • Ride the roller coasters at Luna Park

  • Shop and pub hop at The Rocks and Circular Quay

  • Peruse the beautiful art at the galleries and museums

  • Go up in the Sydney Tower and observe the view from the observation deck

  • Haggle with the locals in the bustling Paddy's Markets

Day trip: Blue Mountains

6) Scotland - Scotland is known for its whiskey, tartan kilts, incredible castles and the Loch Ness Monster. It's lovely rolling hills and stunning landscape make for a fantastic road trip. And with great cities like Edinburgh and Glasglow, there is plenty to see and do.

*Ideal time to visit - September

Best Hotels:

Nira Caledonia - This quaint boutique hotel sits tucked away down a cobbled street in New Town (part of Edinburgh's Unesco World Heritage site). It offers a relaxing break from the city, yet is close to the bars, restaurants and shops of Stockbridge.

Virgin Hotel Glasglow - Stay in this ultra-modern boutique hotel situated on the River Clyde. Or you can dine in the Highyard restaurant or enjoy some libations in the swanky Commons Club.

Cuillion Hills Hotel - This fantastic hotel boasts spectacular views of the Portree Bay and Cuillion Mountain Range. Guests can take a boat from the Portree Port, only a short walk away.

Things to do in Scotland

  • Visit the castles (there are many that you can tour and some abandoned ones to explore, as well)

  • Enjoy a tour of the Scotch distilleries

  • Take a train or car ride through the Scottish Highlands

  • Shop, visit museums, enjoy the local food/drink

  • Take a hike (there are many great trails throughout Scotland)

  • Hop on a Sightseeing bus

Day trip: Inverness or Shawlands in Glasgow

6) Costa Rica - This lush and tropical Central American country has both the jungle feel of the rainforest, as well as beautiful beaches. There is plenty of fora and fauna to take in and lots of activities to pursue.

Ideas time to visit: Winter

Best Hotels:

Arenas del Mar Beachfront and Rainforest Resort- This luxury resort has two beaches and also resides in the rainforest. Bask in nature as you plunge in the Infinity pool. Guests can also enjoy a beachside bbq, Costa Rican cuisine and exquisite beachside dining.

Nayara Tented Camp - Nestled in the rainforest, Nayara offers tented homes on stilts each with their own private oasis (a hot springs pool) and views of the volcano. Guests can indulge in one of the many Nayara restaurants including fine dining, tapas, Asian/Latin America fusion and even Italian. There is also an award-winning spa.

Rio Celeste Hideaway Hotel - Sitting next to the Tenorio Volcano National Park and just an hour away from the Miravalles Volcano, this 26 casita resort offers comfort and amenities galore. Exotic animals abound in this tropical wonderland. Fine dining is included, as well as a swim up bar and cafe.

Things to do in Costa Rica:

  • Surf, Sunbathe, Tube and Whitewater Raft

  • Relax at the Spa

  • Explore the Exotic Wildlife in the rainforest

  • Hike the Rainforest

  • See the waterfalls

  • Zipline through the jungle

  • Visit the Sloth Sanctuary

Day trip: visit La Paz Waterfall Gardens or explore Ubud

7) Marrakech, Morocco - Exotic sights, sounds and smells abound in this Arabian jewel box. Discover a world of vibrant, bustling markets, colorful artwork, and intricate architecture.

Best time to visit - Spring or Fall

Best hotels:

Four Seasons Marrakech - A peaceful sanctuary in the heart of the city offers a magnificent pool area, Moorish gardens, a refreshing spa and three different restaurants.

La Mamounia - This historical palace offers beautiful suites/rooms with zouac ceilings and mashrabiya openings (a Moorish traditional architectual feature). Several restaurants and bars, a spa and tea rooms are on site.

Kasbah Tamadot - Situated in the Atlas Mountains, this stunning resort features 29 rooms/suites Moorish architecture and magnificent surroundings. Dine on Morroccan and international delights whether al fresco on the terrace by the pool bar, on the rooftop terrace underneath the stars, or in the Kanoun restaurant. Retreat to the spa for some treasured relaxation.

Things to do in Morrocco:

  • Hot Air Balloon Ride or Camel Ride

  • Tour of Bahia & Badi Palaces & the Saadian Tombs

  • Visit the Koutoubia Mosque

  • Overwhelm your senses at Jemaa el-Fnaa Market

  • Shop in the Souks and taste the Moroccan foods

  • Visit the Atlas Mountains

  • Watch the sun set in the desert

Day trip: Ouzoud Falls

8) Rio De Janeiro, Brazil - Known for having one of the Seven Wonders of the World, Rio de Janeiro has amazing beaches, mountain views and a vibrant energy like no other. The famous Carnival will delight your senses with its colorful, musical spectacle. Or go for New Year's Eve and witness the largest fireworks display in the world.

Best time to visit: February for Carnival or January for a quieter time

Emiliano Rio - Located on Copa Cabana Beach, this modern hotel has 90 spacious apartments, some with sea views. Delight your tastebuds with the culinary cuisine at Emile Restaurant. Or take an invigorating bath at the Santapele Spa.

Grand Hyatt Rio De Janeiro - Overlooking a natural lagoon on one side and the ocean on the other, this 90 room hotel has a two pools, a spa and fitness center and 5 restaurants.

Fasano - Sixty spacious apartments overlook the sea and countryside at this dynamic hotel. It offers spa wellness, sports courts, a fitness center, and two restaurants.

Things to do in Rio:

  • Experience Carnival

  • Shop

  • Sail

  • Hike trails

  • Explore architectural wonders (Christ the Redeemer)

  • Golf

  • Paddle Board through the canals

  • Experience Brazilian nightlife

Day trip: Arraial do Cabo or Tijuca National Park

9) Porto, Portugal - Porto is known for its Old World charm, beautiful azuelo tiles, historical churches, incredible wines and delicious Portuguese cuisine.

Best time to visit: Spring

Best Hotels:

Intercontinental Hotel Porto - This landmark 5-star hotel resides in the historic center of Porto. Guests will be delighted with the luxurious rooms, an international restaurant and views of the Patio das Cardosas.

Villa Foz - This 5-star hotel and spa faces the Atlantic and features a Michelin star restaurant, elegant rooms overlooking the sea, and a spa sanctuary.

Hospes Infante Sangres Porto - A blend of old and new, this hotel houses the Scarlett Brasserie and Wine Bar, which features sharing boards and grilled meats. The Bodyna Spa is also available for guest relaxation.

Things to do in Porto:

  • Stroll down the Ribiera

  • Try the Pastel de Nata at Mar at Manteigaria or enjoy a food tour

  • Visit the Mercado bom Sucesso

  • Enjoy a live Fado performance

  • Take in the beauty of the Igreja de Santo Ildefonso

  • Explore the ghostly catacombs at Igreja de São Francisco

  • Bask in the beauty of Igreja de Carmo and Capela das Almas

  • Get inspired at the Livraria Lello

  • Traverse the Dom Luis Bridge

  • Ride the cable car and see the panoramic views

Day trip: Cruise down the Douro River and enjoy wines from the Douro Valley

10) Dominica - This gorgeous island is known for amazing beaches, captivating waterfalls, and idyllic surroundings. It's a paradise where guests can relax, unwind and become part of the island life for a while.

Best time to visit: Winter

Best Hotels:

Secret Bay - This 6-star resort set in the beautiful rainforest of Dominica houses clifftop dwellings. These villas offer ocean/jungle views with their own private pools. Additionally, an idyllic spa retreat, an infinity pool, and yoga/fitness classes make this dreamy oceanfront haven an enriching experience for guests. There is a restaurant with views of the ocean specializing in farm to table delights or you can have an a la carte dining experience in your own bungalow.

Intercontinental Cabrits Resort and Spa - This resort is built within Cabrits National Park overlooking the Caribbean Sea. Guests can grab a bite to eat at one of the two restaurants or relax in the serenity of the nature-inspired spa. These lovely rooms have sea, volcano or garden views.

Things to do in Dominica:

  • Snorkeling and Scuba Diving

  • Waterfall Canyoning

  • Sunbathing

  • Cooking classes

  • Horseback riding

  • Rainforest, Volcano and River excursions

  • Whale watching

Day Trip: Middleham Falls & Titou Gorge

What's next on your bucketlist?


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