I’ve been fortunate to check off many of the countries on my travel wishlist in recent years, but I’ve still only scratched the surface of what the world has to offer.
I can’t wait to snorkel in Australia, see wild animals in Sweden, and eat authentic cuisine in Italy, to name just a few experiences on my bucket list.
For me, the best reasons to visit a country are art, culture, history, food, wildlife, natural sights, and city life.
For years, something about the frigid island nation of Iceland was calling me. The Northern Lights, the hot springs, the quirky culture, the scenic countryside, the waterfalls, and the glaciers all created a sort of mystical quality about Iceland, and I couldn’t wait to experience it for myself.
Everyone I knew who had visited Iceland raves about the place, so it was always on my radar and I was so excited to finally make it there.
My Travel Wishlist: Australia
Anyone who’s been reading this site for a while knows that I’m a huge fan of road trips. Few countries lend themselves to the road trip as well as Australia. Sure, the island is big, hot, and sparsely populated in some areas.
But those minor negatives are outweighed by the opportunity to see things like kangaroos and barrier reefs. I hope to spend several weeks in Australia to explore all the major regions.
Even if it didn’t have a rich history of architecture and art, Italy has food worth traveling for. I can’t imagine a better vacation than a week spent downing Italian cuisine like pizzas and pastas while visiting the Colosseum and the Roman Forum.
Venice has welcomed massive numbers of tourists lately as well, so I’ll want to visit there before it gets even more crowded. I’m especially curious about the Venice Lagoon Islands, a group of 118 islands including Torcello, Murano, and Burano, which can be visited by vaporetto.
I didn’t truly appreciate the beauty of Indonesia until a friend visited recently and lit up my Instagram feed with gorgeous photos.
Although the rice fields of Ubud look amazing, my number one reason for visiting will be Komodo National Park. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is where tourists can view thousands of the giant komodo dragons on their home soil.
Few European countries can match the number of historic attractions that Greece has. I’ll be going off the beaten path to see some small towns before heading to some of the popular beaches.
I’ll most certainly be hitting up the famous tourist spots in Athens as well, including the Parthenon, the Acropolis, and the Temple of Olympian Zeus.
There’s nothing better than a country that has both man-made attractions and natural beauty. With its ancient structures and world-class beaches, Greece fits both categories. I will definitely want to see the landscapes and beaches of Santorini and Mykonos as well.
I’ve been obsessed with Andorra since I had to give a middle-school presentation on it. This tiny mountainous country nestled between Spain and France is known for skiing, shopping, and food.
The appeal of visiting here has to do with its tiny size. Less than one-eighth the size of Rhode Island, Andorra has no train stations or airports, so the only way in is by vehicle.
I’m always curious to visit destinations that create major players in the world of pop culture, and Sweden’s status as an unlikely producer of pop music stars (Robyn, Avicii, Tove Lo, Lykke Li) is very intriguing.
Stockholm is especially beautiful in the summer, I hear, when its cobblestone streets are fun to explore. And Sweden has some of the best wildlife watching on the continent, with moose, elk, bears, and wolves.
With its museums, art, and vibrant nightlife, Berlin is one of the cultural capitals of the world. History is everywhere, from the Berlin Wall Memorial to Checkpoint Charlie.
Although my trip to Germany will definitely be Berlin-focused, Munich, Hamburg, and Dusseldorf would be great to visit if I have time. There’s so much to see, and fortunately getting around the country is easy.
Countries That Were On My Wishlist Which I’ve Since Visited
Since this article was first published, I’ve made it to a few of the countries on my wishlist! I’m keeping them listed below, along with my thoughts and expectations that I posted before visiting.
UPDATE: Since this post was published, I took a long-awaited overland African safari through multiple countries, including Tanzania!
There was such a wide variety of activities there, from the island fun of Zanzibar (and Freddie Mercury’s birth house) to the epic heights of Mount Kilimanjaro to the “big five” wildlife sightings in the Serengeti.
I didn’t have enough time to summit Kilimanjaro, but just seeing the mountain was a cool experience.
The appeal of Belgium goes way beyond waffles, chocolate, and craft beers, although I will absolutely enjoy those delights while I’m in the country.
Belgium has sites that aren’t found in most places, like preserved trenches from World War I at Ypres and the stunning architecture of Grand Place in Antwerp. I will probably try to visit Belgium in August to coincide with the annual Pukkelpop music festival.
UPDATE: I visited Belgium as well after publishing this article. My main stop was the Atomium, the futuristic attraction in Brussels.
This one’s a no-brainer. Most Americans who travel to Europe will spend some time in London at some point, and with good reason.
I imagine it will be much like visiting Canada — while the language is the same, the culture and history have some notable differences. As a Beatles nut, I will be sure to visit Abbey Road and every other location of note in Beatles lore, in addition to the typical tourist spots like Big Ben and Stonehenge.
UPDATE: I visited England on my way home from Africa, and put together a guide for what to do on a layover at Heathrow Airport in London.
Unlike single-car American road trips, most visits to Europe will require traveling via trains, buses, and planes. Getting around is not difficult with some basic research about public transit and the train system!
Those are the places I can’t wait to visit. Which countries are on your vacation travel wishlist?