UPDATE: Discover the best places on earth and receive personalised travel recommendations with HomeAway’s new microsite Places to See Before You Die, your guide to the world’s once in a lifetime destinations.
From great architectural feats to breathtaking natural beauty, the world is full of fascinating places to see before you die. Thanks to films such as The Bucket List, starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman, making life lists of things to do before you kick the bucket has become popular with those determined to embrace all the world has to offer while they are still alive. So if you want to enrich your life by visiting diverse and outrageously beautiful places, then here is a list of ten places to see before you die.
The Taj Mahal, India
Located in Agra, India, the magnificent Taj Mahal is a UNESCO World Heritage site and probably the most recognizable monument in the world. Mughal emperor Shah Jahan built the Taj Mahal as a symbol of eternal love after the death of his third wife, Mumtaz Mahal. Built between 1632 and 1648, the mausoleum perfectly combines Indian, Persian and Islamic architectural styles and is surrounded by an elaborate garden with reflecting pools. It may be one of the world’s most popular tourist attractions, but it is certainly worth a visit. If the Taj Mahal is on your list of places to see before you die then the best time of year to visit is during the cooler months of October and November.
Antelope Canyon, Arizona
The world is full of fascinating natural wonders that display the power of nature and Antelope Canyon is one of these. Antelope Canyon is located near Page, Arizona, on the Navajo Native American reservation, and includes two canyons, Upper Antelope Canyon or The Crack; and Lower Antelope Canyon or The Corkscrew. Flash flooding over the years has eroded the sandstone and created passageways and corridors where shafts of light radiate down from openings at the top of the canyon. The effect is something that seems quite unreal. Antelope Canyon is accessible through permits and is visited only through guided tours due to the danger of flash flooding.
Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia
With quiet pools, small cascades, tall waterfalls, colourful lakes and lush vegetation it’s no wonder over one million tourists visit Plitvice Lakes National Park each year. Located in Croatia, the protected area is perfect for nature lovers who can enjoy walks along the pathways and wooden footbridges that wind their way between lakes. One of the most fascinating things about this spectacular area is that the colour of the water constantly changes, depending on the quantity of minerals or organisms in the water, and the time of day. Visiting Croatia’s Dalmatian Coast gives you the perfect opportunity to explore Central Croatia and Plitvice Lakes National Park. While you’re there you can enjoy outdoor activities like hiking, cycling, boating and even taking a train ride.
The Great Wall of China
The Great Wall of China is one of the most fascinating World Heritage sites. Like a serpent the wall winds its way across grasslands, mountains and plateaus for approximately 8,852km and can be seen from space. The architectural feat and historical significance of the wall has made it an intriguing attraction for tourists visiting China. So if you find yourself in Beijing, although the city has plenty of fantastic attractions like Ming Tombs, the Forbidden City and the Summer Palace, be sure to take a trip one of the greatest man-made wonders of the world.
The Great Barrier Reef, Australia
One of the best places to enjoy the beauty of the ocean is the Great Barrier Reef off the east coast of Australia. The coral reef is one of the world’s most famous scuba diving sites and is comprised of 900 islands and over 2,900 individual reefs. The popular tourist regions of the Great Barrier Reef are the areas surrounding Cairns and the Whitsunday Islands. Here the crystal clear waters give visitors a glimpse of a wide diversity of marine life from the endangered sea turtle and dugong to schools of clown fish that swim through colourful coral. Blessed with amazing natural beauty and sun-soaked white sandy beaches, the Great Barrier Reef is the perfect place for scuba diving, snorkelling and swimming.
Milford Sound, New Zealand
Located in the southwest of New Zealand’s South Island, Milford Sound is an extraordinarily beautiful fjord. It was voted the world’s top travel destination in TripAdvisor’s 2008 Travelers’ Choice Destinations Awards. According to Maori legend, Tu Te Raki Whanoa carved the fjords of Milford Sound (Piopiotahi) with a magical adze. The waterway is surrounded by lush vegetation that clings precariously to majestic peaks. Milford Sound welcomes thousands of visitors each year. Trekking, canoeing or enjoying an overnight cruise is the perfect way to experience this breathtakingly beautiful region.
Victoria Falls, Zambia
There are plenty of beautiful waterfalls in the world, but there is something quite magical about standing on the viewing point near Knife-edge Bridge, watching the thundering water of Victoria Falls. Located on the Zambezi River in southern Africa, between Zambia and Zimbabwe, the falls stand at 355 feet. The indigenous name for the falls is ‘Mosi-oa-Tunya’ which means ‘Smoke that Thunders’. There is no shortage of exciting activities from bungee jumping off the Victoria Falls Bridge, going a safari drive in the untamed African wilderness, or taking a hot air balloon ride over the spectacular falls.
The Islands of French Polynesia
The islands of French Polynesia are the things dreams are made of. Crystal clear waters lap at palm fringed beaches, and soft white sand is bathed in sunshine. French Polynesia is comprised of 5 groups of islands: the Society Islands, the Tuamotus, the Marquesas, the Australs and the Gambier Archipelago. Two of the most popular French Polynesian islands are Tahiti and Bora Bora. These islands are so beautiful it’s hard to believe they really exist. You can be pampered on Bora Bora, visit Maupiti for legendary old-fashioned French hospitality, visit a pearl farm on the island of Tahaa, scuba dive around the stunning coral reefs, take an outrigger canoe or take a boat trip. There is plenty to see and do in this paradise.
The Incan city of Machu Picchu, Peru
It is one of the most easily recognizable landmarks, and is located in an extraordinarily beautiful place. Machu Picchu is 2,430m above sea-level and surrounded by towering mountains and lush forest of the eastern Andes. The dry-stone walls, terraces and ramps give visitors a glimpse into the 15th century Incan Empire. A visit to Peru just wouldn’t be complete without taking some time out to visit these incredible ruins.
Masai Mara and the Serengeti, Kenya and Tanzania
The stretch of untamed African plains from the southern tip of the Serengeti in Tanzania, to the northern edge of the Masai Mara National Reserve in Kenya, is one of the most spectacular regions for a photographic safari. Each year wildebeest, zebra and Thomson’s gazelles follow a clockwise migration route, creating the world’s largest mammal migration, known as The Great Migration. It is one of Nature’s great events and a wildlife spectacle that should be on everybody’s bucket list.
These are just some of the places we recommend visiting before you die. So what is on your bucket list?