Don’t Miss These 20 Bucket List Destinations for 2024

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It’s that time of year again; the time to start planning your bucket list travel destinations for the year! 

We believe everyone should have a travel bucket list. Even though we’ve traveled extensively for over 25 years, we still have destinations that are yet to be ticked off ours.

Family getting a photo at the beach
Checking off Exuma Islands bucket list Last year!

A travel bucket list is not just a collection of dream destinations; it manifests our deepest desires, fueling our wanderlust and igniting our adventurous spirit. 

In a recent survey by Viator, we learned the 15 top destinations that Americans are adding to their bucket list for 2024. While many Americans like to stay close to home (New York City, The Grand Canyon) some have added some iconic destinations to their lists that are further afield.

Curious about what the most sought-after destinations are? Here are the top bucket list destinations for 2024…

Top Bucket List Destinations For 2024

Below are the top destinations that Americans have chosen to add to their bucket list according to the Viator survey. They are ranked in order of favorites.

Afterward, we’ll share a few more destinations that we personally think should be added to anyone’s bucket list.

1. New York City, USA

family smiling at camera in times square

According to the survey, 23% of Americans said that New York City tops their travel bucket list for 2024. It’s unsurprising, the Big Apple is the most iconic city in the USA!

It’s home to some of the country’s most notable landmarks such as The Statue of Liberty, The Empire State Building, and Central Park.

With its iconic skyline, vibrant culture, and endless attractions, there are so many things to do in NYC that make it a worthy addition to any travel bucket list. 

From exploring world-class museums like the Metropolitan Museum of Art to feeling the buzz of Times Square and indulging in the city’s foodie scene, there’s a reason why New York City is called the city that never sleeps.

If you’re looking for a unique experience, be sure to visit during the summer months when the city comes alive with outdoor concerts, festivals, and events. It’s the perfect time to immerse yourself in the energy and excitement that NYC offers. 

2. Paris, France

savannah on caroline's back in front of the eiffel tower

Another popular favorite to add to the travel bucket list is Paris, which received 20% of the vote amongst Americans. As the French Capital and the most romantic city in the world, Paris is an enchanting destination that everyone should experience at least once.

From walking along the Avenue des Champs-Élysées to climbing the steps of the Eiffel Tower, to picnics in the park followed by a stroll along the Seine River, and late afternoons spent wandering the halls of the Louvre and admiring its many artistic treasures – there is enough to see and do in Paris to keep you busy for days.

It’s a city that beckons those with a love of the arts, culture, and history. 

Paris is arguably best seen in the spring months when the city blooms with vibrant colors and boasts mild weather. 

3. London, England

Yes, we got the classic phone booth shot in London, England
Yes, we got the classic phone booth shot

London is another city that needs no introduction. For 17.8% of Americans surveyed, it’s the top destination to add to their bucket list for 2024.

It’s a city steeped in rich history and many diverse, cultural attractions. With iconic landmarks like Big Ben, the Tower of London, and Buckingham Palace, there’s an undeniable charm that sets London apart from any other city in the world. 

From exploring world-class museums such as The British Museum and Tate Modern to enjoying scenic London views of the Thames River from The London Eye, there’s so much to see and do here.

Another reason why London ranks high on the bucket list for many people is for its bustling nightlife scene; from stand-up comedy gigs to West End Theatre productions to jazz bars, live music venues, and nightclubs – it’s a city that is as bustling at night as it is in the day.

It’s also the ideal city to get your shopping fix. Shop in vintage, thrift store heaven in Notting Hill or Camden Market, or find high street labels on the bustling Oxford Street, or designer brands at Harrods and Selfridges – those who want to part with some cash will find plenty of places to spend it in London.

If you want a truly bucket list experience on your travels though, you should time your visit to London for the Spring Equinox. The reason is you can take a day trip to the ancient Stonehenge, a prehistoric structure made of stone monoliths that have baffled historians for decades.

During the Spring Equinox, the site is famous for being a spot where pagans and druids celebrate this time of year with chanting, drumming, and dancing. It happens once a year, so don’t miss it!

4. Yellowstone National Park, USA

family standing in boiling river, yellowstone
Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park is perhaps the most famous national park in the USA, famous for its hot springs and geothermal sites, as well as America’s largest buffalo herd and grizzly bear population.

What makes Yellowstone National Park unique is that it has 10,000 hydrothermal sites, which equates to almost half the world’s active geysers.

Be mesmerized by geysers, such as the iconic Old Faithful, and visit over 290 waterfalls in the park – it’s a haven for nature lovers everywhere. 

The park’s diverse landscapes, including canyons, forests, and meadows, provide endless opportunities for adventure. No matter where you’re from, Yellowstone promises to leave you with memories that will last a lifetime.

The great thing about Yellowstone is that you can visit any time of the year, meaning you can add it to your bucket list any time of the year. Arguably, the best time to visit Yellowstone is from April and May and September and October, when the crowds are fewer and the weather is fine.

5. Hawaii, USA

girl standing on Lanikai Beach, Oahu, Hawaii
Lanikai Beach, Oahu

According to 15% of Americans, the tropical paradise of Hawaii is an absolute must-add to your travel bucket list. 

With its breathtaking scenery, warm aloha spirit, and stunning beaches, Hawaii offers a truly magical experience. 

Some of the top things to do in Hawaii are to visit Pearl Harbour and learn about Hawaii’s involvement in WWII, drive the road to Hana, witness volcanoes erupting in Volcanoes National Park, snorkel with Manta Rays, and experience an authentic Hawaiian Luau.

Hawaii is best visited between March and April when the weather is fine and it’s still whale season, which runs from November until April. This is the perfect time to catch humpback whales and their baby calves on their annual migration off the shores of Maui, Oahu, and Kauai

6. Rome, Italy

caz and savannah looking at the trevi fountain
Trevi Fountain

Another top European city to add to your bucket list is the ancient capital of the Western Empire, Rome. Also known as the Eternal City, Rome is a captivating destination that offers a unique blend of ancient history and unique experiences. 

From exploring the awe-inspiring Colosseum, one of the Seven Wonders of the World, to marveling at the intricate architecture of the Vatican, Rome is a treasure trove for history enthusiasts. 

But it’s not just about the past; Rome also delights with its bustling piazzas, trendy boutiques, and delectable cuisine. One of our favorite things to do in Rome is to embark on a food tour, where you can indulge in mouthwatering pastas, and creamy gelato, and sample a rich espresso as you wander the streets of this enchanting city. 

With its timeless beauty and irresistible allure, Rome promises an unforgettable journey through the ages.

7. Great Barrier Reef, Australia

family posing in front of swirling white sand and blue waters of Whitehaven Beach
The stunning Whitehaven Beach

When it comes to iconic nature sites, it’s no wonder the Great Barrier Reef is regarded as one of the top destinations to add to your travel bucket list. 

This natural wonder, located off the East Coast of Australia, is the largest coral reef in the world and is known as one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. 

While the Great Barrier Reef extends for 1,429 miles, most people travel to Cairns to access the reef on snorkeling and diving tours. 

For a more idyllic getaway, consider heading South in Queensland to the Whitsunday Islands, where true paradise can be found. Be dazzled by the beauty of Whitehaven Beach before you head out to explore the vibrant underwater realm of the reef.

From encountering majestic sea turtles to witnessing the balletic movements of graceful manta rays, the Great Barrier Reef is a destination that will leave you in awe of the wonders of our planet.

The best time to visit The Great Barrier Reef is from May to October when the weather is at its best and the waters are calm and clear.

P.S. We’re Australian, and have traveled the country in-depth, including an 18 month lap around the country in a travel trailer. Search our site or click for our top Australia travel tips.

8. Tokyo, Japan

Sensoji Temple Tokyo wiyh cherry blossoms outfront
Sensoji Temple’s Hozomon Gate in the Asakusa District

Arguably the most unique and diverse city in the world is Tokyo, a city where technology vastly overtakes every other city on the planet, and where ancient traditions and modernity collide.

This vibrant metropolis should be on everyone’s travel bucket list, as there are few places in the world where you can explore ancient temples and serene gardens by day, and have your food served to you by a robot at night.

Indulge in mouthwatering Japanese cuisine, from sushi to ramen, and discover hidden gems among the backstreets of the Harajuku district. Cross the world’s busiest crossing, see where anime and manga were born, or get back into nature with a visit to Hakone National Park for a dip in an onsen before catching views of Mount Fuji.

There are so many things to do in Tokyo, it’s no wonder 13.9% of Americans added it to the top of their bucket list for 2024.

The best time to visit Tokyo is in the Spring for the enchanting cherry blossom season. For just 10-14 days, the cherry blossoms bloom across the city, creating a sight that’s utterly mesmerizing.

9. Grand Canyon, USA

mother and two daughters posing for selfie in front of grand canyon views
Grand Canyon South Rim

This next landmark needs no introduction; it’s possibly one of the most famous natural wonders of the world and a top bucket list attraction for 13.1% of Americans.

The Grand Canyon, carved over millions of years by the mighty Colorado River, extends for 227 miles and is around 4,000 feet deep. 

For the adventurous, embark on a thrilling white-water rafting expedition through the canyon, immersing yourself in its raw power. 

As the sun sets, witness the canyon transformed into a canvas of vibrant hues, creating a captivating spectacle that will leave you speechless.

For a bucket list experience, be sure to check out the Canyon Skywalk, where you can walk along a horse-shoe-shaped bridge with a glass floor, allowing you to see into the depths of the canyon.

We personally find visiting the Grand Canyon a bit overrated and overrun with tourists, so if you want to visit somewhere equally as enormous and beautiful, consider heading to Horseshoe Bend, which is just an hour’s drive from the main Grand Canyon viewing area.

Or, escape the crowds and head to the quieter just as beautiful North Rim of the Grand Canyon. And consider visiting Grand Canyon in the winter for a unique perspective.

The best time to visit The Grand Canyon is in March-May when the weather is at its finest and there aren’t as many tourists as there are in the summer months.

10. Santorini, Greece

Oia Santorini Greece in the evening during sunset
Source: Yay Images

Over the past few years, the Greek Island of Santorini has grown massively in popularity. Those traveling here are seeking to witness the iconic sunsets as they cast their orange glow on the whitewashed walls and blue domed ceilings of the buildings that make this island famous.

Santorini is a destination for relaxation and serenity, which is why it’s one of the top destinations for honeymooners and couples alike. 

Made up of small and charming villages perched on volcanic cliffs, where narrow cobblestone streets lead to breathtaking views of the Aegean Sea, Santorini is a place where you can kick back and unwind. 

The best time to visit Santorini is from April until October when the weather is dry and warm. The summer months do tend to be crowded with tourists, but since it’s a popular bucket list destination, it’s unlikely you’ll find a quiet period of time here in 2024!

For other places to visit in Greece consider Crete, Zakynthos Island, or the Peloponnese peninsula.

11. Machu Picchu, Peru

Machu Picchu panorama. of ancient city
Source: Yay Images

For 12.6% of Americans, the ancient settlement of Machu Picchu hits the top spot of their bucket list. 

Nestled high in the Andes Mountains of Peru, this mystical Incan citadel is one of the most sought-after travel destinations in South America.

There are many ways to reach Machu Picchu, but the most popular way to get there is to trek through lush jungles and rugged terrain of the Inca Trail, a ten-day hike that the Incas used to walk to reach this awe-inspiring UNESCO World Heritage Site. 

After a long hike, the reward of a breathtaking panorama above the sacred ruins with craggy mountains and clouds in the background will be sure to leave you in awe. 

Machu Picchu is a place of wonder, where nature and human ingenuity intertwine to create an unforgettable experience.

The best time to visit for a bucket list experience is the Spring and Autumn Equinox when at noon, the Intihuatana stone casts no shadow. This happens only twice a year, so be sure to time your visit well to witness this unique phenomenon.

Don’t miss this exciting 10 Day Itinerary for Peru

12. Niagara Falls, USA/Canada

niagara falls rushing over the side
Source: Deposit Photos

Another natural landmark in the USA that lands on top of 12.3% of Americans’s bucket list this year is Niagara Falls.

Located on the border of Canada and the United States, this majestic waterfall will leave you in awe of the sheer power of the cascading water as it plunges up to 57 meters into the misty abyss below. 

Climb aboard a boat tour to feel the refreshing spray on your face as you sail to the base of the thundering Horseshoe Falls and American Falls. 

The best time to visit Niagara Falls is September after the summer crowds have dispersed and the weather remains warm.

13. Barcelona, Spain

Aerial view of La Rambla of Barcelona, Spain
La Rambla of Barcelona, Spain

The cosmopolitan city of Barcelona is the Catalan Capital one of the most influential cities in Spain and a bucket list place for 12.1% of Americans this year.

It’s a treasure trove of cultural delights and architectural wonders, from the whimsical creations of Antoni Gaudí, including the iconic Sagrada Familia and enchanting Park Güell, to the narrow medieval streets of the Gothic Quarter. There is no shortage of attractions in Barcelona to keep anyone busy. 

Indulge your taste buds in delectable tapas and sip on refreshing sangria at charming local taverns, or soak up the sun on the beautiful beaches of Barceloneta or take a stroll along the bustling La Rambla. 

The best time to visit Barcelona for a bucket list experience is in September for La Mercè, the largest street party in Europe.

Barcelona seamlessly merges tradition and modernity, offering an unforgettable experience for every traveler.

14. Reykjavik, Iceland

view of Reykjavik city with snowcapped mountains behind
Source: Deposit Photos

For many, a chance to see the Aurora (Northern Lights) is a bucket list experience not to miss. For 12.1% of Americans, it’s their number one bucket list moment for 2024!

Iceland is the land of fire and ice and is the place to go if you want to witness the mesmerizing phenomenon of the dancing Northern Lights or be captivated by the Midnight Sun, where daylight stretches endlessly. 

Immerse yourself in the rejuvenating geothermal baths, where you can soak in the healing powers of Iceland’s natural hot springs, or explore stunning landscapes dotted with glaciers, volcanoes, waterfalls, and black lava beaches. 

From glacier trekking to whale watching, Iceland offers a unique blend of natural beauty far beyond the wonders of the night sky.

The best time to visit Iceland for the Northern Lights is in the winter, from September to April when the skies are darker for longer.

Reykjavik, Iceland is one place we’re considering to visit this year since there are direct flights from Raleigh!

15. Bora Bora, French Polynesia

white sandy island with over water bungalows in background
Source: Yay Images

Finally, for 11.8% of Americans, the tropical island of Bora Bora in French Polynesia takes the top spot on their bucket list.

Known as the jewel of the South Pacific, this island paradise is a sublime blend of natural beauty, luxury, and tranquility. 

From its stunning turquoise lagoons to its powdery white sand beaches, Bora Bora exudes an irresistible allure. 

Marvel at the legendary Mount Otemanu, a majestic volcanic peak that dominates the landscape, or head out on a snorkel tour to marvel at the marine life, or if you’re really adventurous, head out for a thrilling shark encounter. 

Stay in an overwater bungalow and be enveloped in the warm embrace of Polynesian hospitality – it’s one of the top honeymoon destinations for a reason.

The best time to visit Bora Bora is between May and October, which is the dry season on the island.

More Bucket List Destinations For 2024

group of people sitting in the back of a pickup driving through Wadi Rum
Getting around Wadi Rum in a pick up is fun

The above destinations are what Americans have voted to be their top bucket list destinations, but we feel there are some other gems that have been missed from this list.

Here are some other bucket list destinations you might want to consider.

16. Taj Mahal, India

taj mahal in front of water
Source: Deposit Photos

We believe the Taj Mahal is one of those places you must visit before you die. A timeless masterpiece located in Agra, India, the Taj Mahal is an architectural marvel that is a testament to love and craftsmanship. 

Said to have been built as a funerary monument to remember the late wife of Shah Jahan, Mumtaz Mahal, the ethereal beauty of the ivory-white marble adorned with intricate carvings will take your breath away. 

Witness the play of light on its surface, transforming it from soft pink hues at sunrise to golden tones at sunset. 

The Taj Mahal’s history and symbolism make it a pilgrimage for romantics and seekers of beauty all over the world, which is why it deserves a spot on everyone’s bucket list.

You will find the best time to visit the Taj Mahal is in the winter months from October to March when the weather is dry but not unbearably hot.

17. Petra, Jordan

the treasury and siq petra jordan
Visiting Petra in the off-season was wonderful!

Another top place to visit before you die is Petra, an ancient archeological site in the Jordan desert.

Carved into rose-hued sandstone cliffs, this ancient city takes you back to a time of a lost civilization. 

Traverse the narrow Siq, a mesmerizing gorge that leads you to the iconic Treasury, its intricate façade a testament to the architectural brilliance of the Nabateans. 

Explore the vast expanse of tombs, temples, and dwellings carved into the rock, each with its own story to tell. 

The best time of year to visit Petra is in Spring and Autumn when the weather is dry but not too hot.

I visited Petra (via a 9 mile hike) on a fantastic Jordan Globus Escape tour. Don’t miss these things to know before visiting Jordan and use our discount below if you want to join a Globus tour!

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18. The Pyramids of Giza, Egypt

Cairo egypt camels and pyramids
Source: Deposit Photos

Another ancient wonder of the world that should be on everyone’s bucket list is the Pyramids of Giza in Egypt. 

These ancient marvels simply cannot be overlooked as masters of engineering, determination, and craftsmanship. 

As you stand in awe before these towering structures, you can’t help but feel the weight of history on your shoulders. Built as tombs for Egyptian pharaohs, each pyramid carries with it a tale of grandeur and mystery. 

The sheer magnitude and enigma surrounding the Pyramids of Giza are what make them a bucket list destination not to be missed. 

Be sure to check out the nearby Sphinx monument, especially during the Spring and Autumn equinox when the sun sets on the shoulder of the Sphinx, causing a light spectacle that photographers will revel in.

I’ve seen six of my Australian friends visit Egypt this past two months – a promising sign that it’s a hot spot for 2024.

Here are some other reasons to visit Egypt and best things to do in Cairo.

19. Serengeti, Kenya

The Great Migration Serengeti Tanzania
Source: Yay Images

For animal lovers, a chance to see wildlife roam in their natural habitat should be at the top of their bucket list. Of course, one of the best ways to see wildlife is on a safari, and where better to discover the untamed beauty of the wild than from the Serengeti in Kenya?

As you venture across vast plains and golden savannahs, prepare to witness the breathtaking spectacle of one of nature’s greatest shows – the Great Migration. This is when millions of wildebeest and zebras traverse the land in search of greener pastures, pursued by predators in a thrilling dance of life and death. 

Look out for animals on the hunt, from ferocious lions to elusive leopards. You may also see graceful giraffes grazing in the trees, and herds of elephants as they migrate vast distances.

The Serengeti is an African Nature Reserve that promises an unforgettable wildlife experience and a chance to connect with nature in its purest form.

The best time to visit the Serengeti is July – October which is when the Great Migration takes place and is also when the weather is at its best.

On the other side of the Kenyan border is the Masai Mara National Reserve, which together with the Serengeti forms the Serengeti-Mara Ecosystem (aka the Serengeti Ecosystem). Technically the same park, just divided by a border, a name change, and different government control!

We have visited the Masai and loved it. We also took a train through the Serengeti. Nothing like seeing giraffes through a train window!

Don’t miss these other awe-inspiring things to do in East and South Africa. Don’t miss these safety tips for travel in Africa and the best tips for wildlife viewing.

20. Antarctica

Two penguins dreaming sitting on a rock, mountains in the background
Source: Deposit Photos

Finally, for the true traveler and adventurer, a bucket list destination to consider is the wild and remote land of Antarctica.

An expedition to the frozen frontier is no ordinary journey. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for most, offering a chance to see the pristine continent that’s untouched by human civilization and complete with otherworldly landscapes of ice and snow. 

Witness towering glaciers calving into the sea, encounter incredible wildlife such as penguins, seals, and whales, and experience the power of the harsh yet fragile ecosystem here.

Antarctica offers a humbling experience. It reminds us of nature’s grandeur and the importance of preserving our planet. 

The best time to visit Antarctica is November to March when the wildlife is thriving and the weather is at its best.

Comment: What’s on your bucket list for 2024? How many of these destinations have you already visited? (I have visited 12)

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