While my top 20 most amazing travel experiences will inevitably change in the future I have put together a countdown of the current highlights to date. Narrowing down 5 continents, 45 countries and over 100 cities and towns in total to 20 places was a tough process and there were lots of destinations that strongly rivalled the ones that made it onto this list! However, after lots of refining I hope you enjoy the final result 😀
20. Road Tripping through Snowdonia, Wales.
Snowdonia is located in north Wales and is a 4.5 hour drive from central London. There are lots of hostels and hotels scattered throughout the National Park and there are information centres to help plan hikes. The landscapes exceeded all of my expectations and the region was absolutely stunning!
19. Looking down over Cesky Krumlov, Czech Republic.
If there is one town in Europe that looks like it came straight out of a fairytale it is Cesky Krumlov. This town literally has a castle moat and bears that guard the castle gates. Cesky Krumlov is UNESCO World Heritage listed for its immaculate medieval preservation. This quaint town was ridiculously charming and the views looking down from the castle were breathtaking.
18. Exploring Plitvice Lakes, Croatia.
While bustling with tourists, the crowds cannot take away from the magic of Plitvice lakes and waterfalls. I would recommend visiting the lakes independently and not with a tour group to maximise your experience. I caught the earliest departing bus from Zagreb to Plitvice lakes and began my trek at Entrance 2 instead of Entrance 1. This meant that even in peak summer season (when I was visiting) it was hours before I saw other tourists. It wasn’t until I reached the end (at Entrance 1) that I realised how absolutely packed it was! A full article on how to visit Plitvice Lakes independently and which hikes to complete will be up on the site soon!
17. Hiking in Algonquin National Park, Canada.
For an Aussie the first time experiencing a “real winter” is a shock to the system but also absolutely mindblowing. I had never seen that much snow before and I still have no idea how it can be -22 degrees celsius but also sunny?! While visiting I fed some of the local birds, saw wildlife like squirrels and raccoons and witnessed amazing landscapes.
16. Hiking in Wildschonau Valley, Austria.
In summer the Markbachjoch cable car takes you up to the initial starting point of several hikes of different difficulties. The benefit of this cable car is that you start your hike from an elevated position, this means from the very beginning you have spectacular views of the countryside. I completed a three hour hike during my time in Wildschonau and the view from the peak did not disappoint!
15. Walking around Lake Bled, Slovenia.
Probably the most picturesque lake I have ever visited, Lake Bled is located an hour away from Slovenia’s capital by bus. There are an array of hiking, rafting, watersports and other activities available here in summer. However, simply walking around the lake and enjoying the views and friendly locals is also a day well spent! It will take about 1.5 hours to do a full lap of the lake.
14. Hiking the Meteora Monasteries, Greece.
I absolutely love visiting places that are out of the ordinary and Meteora is extremely unique both in terms of its striking landscape and the alarming monasteries that are built upon the cliffs and rock formations of its surface. The large valleys and monasteries suspended in the sky by rock pillars are unreal.
Article: SAI Guide: Meteora Monasteries, Greece.
13. Exploring the coastline of Lagos, Portugal.
Secluded sandy beaches, bright blue oceans and unique rock formations – The Algarve Coast is an amazing getaway destination and being based in Lagos meant I was walking distance away from some of Portugal’s most famous beaches.
Article: SAI Guide to Lagos, Portugal
12. Sailing the French Riviera, France.
Spontaneous decisions can turn out to be some of the best! While travelling with Busabout through Europe over summer, sailing the French Riviera was offered as an optional activity. We had not originally planned to do this activity but we rearranged our itinerary and it ended up being my favourite part of France 🙂 We sailed past Cannes, Billionaires Bay (where we got the opportunity to jump off the boat while surrounded by the mansions), St Tropez and enjoy sunset over Nice from the water.
11. Riding the Real Life Hogwarts Express, Scotland.
The Jacobite Steam Train is not only regarded as one of the most scenic train routes in the world but has a special place in the hearts of Harry Potter fans. I embarked on this train during my time on Haggis Adventures: Highland Fling Tour. You can read a detailed article about this tour, its costs, booking information, location, photos and much more right here.
Article: Riding The Real Life Hogwarts Express!.
10. Finding my ‘home’ in London, UK.
London is my favourite city in the whole world and I cannot wait to move back there once I graduate. The thing that made London so special for me was its ability to make me feel at home, despite being on the opposite side of the globe to Australia. In all my travels I have never been to a place that made me feel so at ease, excited to be there and constantly yearning to see and experience more of what it has to offer.
It wasn’t until I returned to Brisbane (and having only been in back for a week) that I felt the pang of homesickness, there is just so much about London I miss! For some people, the notion that ‘there is no place like home‘ is synonymous with family, childhood friends, nostalgic places and memories from the past – for me, home is the place where I realised what the world had to offer and how much of it I still had to explore.
9. Exploring Cinque Terre, Italy.
The five seaside towns of Cinque Terre (Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore) were one of my absolute highlights of Italy. There was an utter uniqueness to the rainbow of buildings perched along the cliffs of the Italian coastline. I only spent a day wandering the five towns but it was a place that I can see myself going back to in the future to thoroughly explore.
Article: SAI Guide: Visiting Cinque Terre
8. Visiting St Petersburg, Russia.
Colourful, opulent and rich with history St Petersburg is in my opinion the crown of Russia. Three days was barely enough time to scratch the surface of all this city had to offer. Visiting the Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood was particularly memorable as I had seen it depicted so many times. It was consequently really strange to actually stand there in front of such an iconic building.
7. Watching sunrise from a rooftop in Istanbul, Turkey.
Now that this location has been posted on accounts like @instagram and @passionpassport I am not sure if this spot can be fully classified as ‘secret’ anymore. However, finding your way through the winding streets of Istanbul with relatively vague location information certainly adds to the ‘local’ vibe of in my opinion, the best view in Istanbul. You can find a detailed post on the location here – How To Find Istanbul’s Secret Rooftop.
6. Sunrise over Oia, Greece.
Everyone talks about sunset in Oia being the most beautiful sunset in the world, and don’t get me wrong I agree it is up there. Be prepared however for mass crowds, congested streets and having to get there hours in advance for prime seats. That’s why for me, sunrise in Oia was so ridiculously special. Hopping up at 4:30am I literally had the streets of Oia to myself, which was breathtaking! I was able to walk around all the ‘prime spots’ and have unobstructed, uncrowded views.
5. Sunset over NYC, USA.
Other than London, NYC has been the only place I have visited that made go “Wow, I want to live here one day.” Watching the sunset over Manhattan in particular was one of the most beautiful sunsets I have ever witnessed.
4. Visiting Abu Simbel, Egypt.
Egypt is a place I have wanted to visit since Primary School so actually standing in front of some of the monuments I had studied was absolutely surreal. Abu Simbel was probably my favourite place we visited in Egypt (rivaled by the amazing pyramids of course!).
3. Hiking Storjord I Tysfjord, Norway.
Camping around Scandinavia was one of the most picturesque experiences I have ever had. Norway in particular I would put in my top three most beautiful countries I have visited. ‘Storjord I Tysfjord’ takes the crown for my highlight of Norway however, I didn’t want to leave the peak it was that amazing! On a side note this photo was taken at 8pm (I was travelling in summer when the sun never sets!).
2. Camping in the Sahara Desert, Morocco.
There are so many amazing things to do in Morocco that it was hard to choose just one. However, my favourite part of Travel Talk Tours: Adventure Morocco was camping in the Sahara Desert. This was a breathtaking experience that I will never forget.
Article: Camping in the Sahara Desert.
1. Watching the Northern Lights, Iceland.
Without a doubt witnessing the Northern Lights on my roadtrip around Iceland is the most memorable travel experience I have had to date. The northern lights are utterly mesmerising and because there can never be a guarantee of actually viewing them, when the sky lights up it is even more exciting. When we finally made our way around the mountain and got to see the lights for the first time my iPhone shuffle started to play ‘King and Cross – Asgeir.’ This is not only one of my favourite songs, but an Icelandic artist – a pretty cool coincidence. We ended up sitting in the car for about 2.5 hours just watching and photographing the lights. My guide to finding and photographing the Northern Lights is now online!
Article: Roadtripping Around Iceland In Winter.
So there you have it, my top 20 most amazing travel experiences. I cannot wait to change and add to this list in the future as my travels continue 😀 How many of these places have you visited?
Suitcase And I was not commissioned to write this article and as always, the opinions in this review are my own.