5 Places to Add to Your Travel Bucket List

There is a whole world out there just waiting to be explored, but where to start? Everyone has their opinions on where the best place to visit is, but we’ve come up with a few of the most iconic destinations people should visit at least once in their lives. These places are known for their breathtaking landscapes, rich culture, and once in a lifetime experiences.

Northern Lights

Northern Lights

 

The Northern Lights are one of nature’s greatest shows. The lights come at night and color the sky in green, pink, and/or purple. There have been many different legends throughout the years to explain the Northern Lights but it really comes down to science. During solar flares and explosions, large amounts of particles are thrown from the sun into deep space. When these particles meet Earth’s magnetic shield, they are directed to the magnetic North Pole. Here they interact with the upper layers of the atmosphere and release energy. The released energy is what we see as the Northern Lights.

 

When you go to see the Northern Lights, make sure to plan several days of watching. The lights come and go as they please–sometimes within minutes so you’ll need to be prepared. Unlike any other show, this show can’t be scheduled, you’re on Mother Nature’s clock.

 

One of the best places to see the lights is in Lofoten, Norway. The Lofoten Islands are beautiful all year round, but to see the best light show it is recommended you visit sometime between December and February.

 
machu picchu in peru

Machu Picchu

 

7,970 feet above sea level, this majestic peak stands as evidence of the height of the Inca empire. Machu Picchu is a complex of palaces, plazas, temples, and homes built by the Incas for unknown purposes. Although we do not know its precise purpose, scholars speculate that it might have been built as a ceremonial site, a military stronghold, or a retreat for ruling elites.

 

Today you can reach Machu Picchu in two different ways: first a four hour train ride and then a few miles along a winding mountain road, or by a three to six day hike along the Inca Trail.

 

The best times to visit Machu Picchu are sometime between April-June or August-October. These months are usually dry and have beautiful weather for hikers to enjoy.

 
Taj Mahal

Taj Mahal

 

Built as a monument to his late wife, the Taj Mahal is a landmark of love by Mughal emperor Shah Jehan to his wife and queen, Mumtaz Mahal. They were known for their great love and inseparable ways. The two refused to be parted, and Mumtaz would often travel with her husband even into war. Mumtaz died in 1631, after giving birth to their 14th child.

 

The Taj Mahal took 14 years to complete and was created by the empire’s best architects, builders, and craftsmen. The architecture of the Taj Mahal is a remarkable vision of white marble, and precious and semi-precious stones sourced from all over Asia.

 

The best time to visit the Taj Mahal and avoid the large crowds is to arrive soon after dawn, when the East and West gates first open. From 10 am until sunset tourists come in large tour groups and the Taj Mahal can become extremely crowded.

 
Great Wall of China in Autumn

Great Wall of China

 

The Great Wall is a series of fortifications from Shanhaiguan to Lop Lake in the Gobi Desert. It marks the general southern edge of Inner Mongolia. The Great Wall took hundred of years to build and multiple emperors to complete. Made from brick, stone, tamped earth, and wood, the Great Wall measures a precise 13,170.69 miles across the mountainsides of northern China.

 

The best time to visit northern China is the Spring. The landscape is extremely green and temperatures are pleasant. In the winter and summer, temperatures can be freezing cold or sweltering hot. Visit the wall early in the morning or late in the afternoon to avoid large crowds.

 
The Galapagos Islands

Galapagos Islands

 

The Galapagos Islands are well known because of Darwin and his scientific exploration there. The island chain is 600 miles from Ecuador, and is most often visited for its incredible biodiversity. Today, there are more Galapagos penguins than ever and the chances of seeing one of the rarest penguins in the world when you visit are very likely.

 

The Galapagos Islands have often been referred to as a “living museum and showcase of evolution.” With its unique location, centered at the confluence of three ocean currents, the Galapagos have a very diverse marine species. In addition to seeing unique animals and surroundings, you can also hike volcanic formations, snorkel in clear blue water, and kayak with sea lions.

 

There is never a bad time to visit the Galapagos. The islands are beautiful year round and tourism is regulated so there are never too many people overwhelming the ecosystem. Peak seasons are typically from mid June to early September, and from mid December to mid January.