Whilst the worldwide shut down of travel during the COVID-19 pandemic has forced us to keep the adventure at home, it hasn’t dampened our adventurous spirits – one little bit.
It simply means we have (much) more time to plan. To dream, and then plan on making our travel dreams a reality in 2021, once the world has reopened.
Some of you may already have the perfect adventure in your sights – but, to those who haven’t yet decided, we got you. Use this fresh list of 21 bucket list ideas to serve as inspiration for your next adventure. Build your ideal bucket list, feed your wanderlust, set your imagination free, and look forward to next year.
So here they are: 21 bucket list ideas for 2021, your ultimate list. Let’s get into it.
1. Abseil Table Mountain, South Africa
Towering over Cape Town at 1,086 metres, majestic Table Mountain is one of South Africa’s most iconic landmarks. Aptly named after its flat top summit, the trek to up is a steep challenge but the views that unfold, as you make that final crest, are truly breathtaking. Of course, the way down might take your breath away a little more – step right off the edge and grit your teeth, as you abseil down its sheer cliff face to the city below. This one is an adrenaline-fuelled bucket list activity that’ll leave you pumped with a sense of achievement for, well, ever.
2. Wild swimming, Oman
After an hour’s trek through date plantations and palm groves, come across an oasis in the searing heat and Oman’s best-loved beauty spot: Wadi Shab. At its summit lies a hidden grotto that you can only access by swimming through a narrow ravine. It’s here that you’ll wild swim in green pools of shimmering water, an utter paradise in the middle of a baking desert. Coined ‘the Gulf’s undiscovered gem’ by Condé Nast Traveller, Oman has a beating Nomadic soul and there’s plenty to explore after your dip, from a Bedouin camp in the Wahiba Sands desert to dune-bashing in a convoy of 4x4s.
3. Mountain hiking in Patagonia, Chile
Patagonia, put simply, is utterly breathtaking – a hike here, no matter what the distance, goes by in a flash, as you pass a dramatic natural landscape filled with snow-capped mountains, sparkling waterfalls and thick swathes of forestland. The Torres del Paine National Park is the chilled lakeside hub known as the gateway to the Great Outdoors, sitting within a canvas of glaciers and fjords. It’s the panorama at Base Las Torres that most make the long 8-hour hike for – gaze up at three immense Andean rock towers rising jaggedly into the sky, with a bright turquoise lake shimmering beneath. It’s certainly Insta-worthy, but nothing can capture the raw beauty this scene lays out before you.
4. Sunbathe on a Dhow boat, Zanzibar
Tropical shores like they on the postcards – this is Zanzibar. Hop aboard a traditional dhow boat to set sail along its northern coast and stop at Mnemba Atoll, a marine conservation site boasting magnificent coral reefs and vibrant wildlife. Snorkel through the reefs alongside turtles and shoals of fish, before climbing back aboard and enjoying the beating heat radiating across your shoulders. Watch for inquisitive dolphins too, as you lazily make your way through rich coral. The perfect end? Dock at Muyuni Beach for a seafood barbecue on the white sands, sea salt in your hair and the smell of the ocean at your fingertips.
5. Sunrise volcano trekking, Bali
This one is a hiking experience unlike any other – for starters, you rise early at 2am. It’s for good reason though, as you’ll reach the summit on Mount Batur just in time to see the sky alight with orange, pink and lavender streaks as the sun rises. One of Bali’s most sacred mountains, this pre-dawn walk is a special experience, with cool mountain air dancing through your hair and starlit skies guiding the way above. Back down on ground level, head for a prosecco breakfast to celebrate the morning’s achievement and bask in the glory of having conquered Mount Batur.
6. Hike the Everest trail, Nepal
Escape to the stunning Khumbu Valley for the thrill of high-altitude hiking along the Everest trail, tackling spectacular snow-capped peaks whilst staying in cosy lodges with hot water, comfy beds and seasonal food. You’ll ramble across hanging bridges and rugged river ravines, in the shadow of Everest and Lhotse. Made possible with the support of an experienced porter crew, this is a remote and beautiful area beyond the reach of most hikers, with a climb to the Farak Ri viewpoint at 5,000 metres at its peak. Ancient Sherpa culture and wild terrain make this hike an unforgettable bucket list moment, filled with mountain dogs, adrenaline and breathtaking beauty.
7. Husky sledding, Finland
Nothing can quite prepare you for the awe-inspiring moment a pack of huskies begin to pull you across the pillowy snow and through silent forests for the first time – it’s a bucket list moment that truly takes your breath away. You’ll glide across the icy tundra on a nine-kilometre husky safari, as your pack race their way through Finland’s wild winter playground. Back at base, your guide will invite you to say hello to all the dogs, and thank them for their hard work. You’ll even meet a few husky puppies…
8. Waterfall kayaking, Croatia
Majestic waterfalls. Serene kayaking. Both incredible in their own right. Put them together, in Croatia, and you’ve got an afternoon packed with the adrenaline of white-water rafting and the tranquil of being on water. To take on this bucket list idea, you’ll venture into Mrežnica, with its emerald rivers and secluded forests, and spend hours paddling down the river. Along the way, you’ll wild swim in natural pools and leap from white cliffs, as well as navigating your raft down small (but goosebump-inducing) waterfalls, of course.
9. Summit Rainbow Mountain, Peru
Aptly named for its kaleidoscope of colours, Rainbow Mountain is one of Peru’s recently discovered natural beauties and offers rewarding views and sheer elation at the top. Passing herds of mountain mules and muleteers, tackle about six kilometres of high-altitude trekking to base camp, with glaciers and snow-capped peaks rising in every direction. You’ll spend the night here, under a sky alive with stars and zero light pollution. You’ll begin your final ascent early in the morning, admiring the spectacular beauty of the mountains as you go, with streaks of turquoise, maroon and gold painting the landscape in rainbow hues. From Vinicunca Pass, located at 5,020 metres, it’s a short hike to the summit. At the top, savour a quiet moment of triumph with your group, surrounded by breathtaking views of the sierra.
10. Explore the Salt flats, Bolivia
Head to Uyuni, where you’ll come face-to-face with the largest salt flats in the world – a vast dreamlike landscape, with shimmering white plains stretching out to the horizon. Though wildlife in this huge and bleak desert landscape is rare, you might spot bright pink flamingos, which only add to its otherworldly character. A prehistoric lake that went dry, the area still undergoes modern salt extraction processes. Head onto Incahuasi Island, a rocky, cacti-studded land mass located in the heart of the salt flats, to get the full 360 view of this incredible bucket list location.
11. Have coffee in Paris, France
Sometimes it’s the simplest of things that can leave a lasting impression – take coffee, in Paris, for example. There’s something about finding a quaint, cute Parisian coffee shop, on the corner of a cobbled street, that stirs the soul. Experience all the charm this romantic city has to offer, under the shadow of the Eiffel Tower, and dip your croissant in your coffee like a true local. Then try heading out to Montmartre and grab a glass of champagne by the stairs of Sacre Coeur, with panoramic views of Paris unfolding before you.
12. Discover wildlife off-grid, Galapagos Islands
From Sierra Negra to Santa Cruz, the rich wildlife of the Galapagos Islands is something spectacular to remember. Journeying to a remote archipelago celebrated for its unique wildlife, this is the very place that inspired Charles Darwin to develop his groundbreaking theory of natural selection. These lush islands are home to an abundance of species that can’t be found anywhere else in the world: giant tortoises, sea lions and marine iguanas, surrounded by a landscape of volcanic islands and mountains.
13. See the Cherry blossom, Japan
Though difficult to predict, Japan is best known for its magnificent display of cherry blossom – a true bucket list spectacle to admire. It tends to hit full bloom (mankai) in early April in Tokyo. You’ll find Tokyo’s residents gathering for cherry blossom viewings – there are over 1,000 of them – and you’ll find celebrations in full swing in Ueno Park. If that’s not your thing though, take a local’s approach – head to the quieter Asukayama Park for peace, quiet and natural beauty. You might also hear about the trees’ ‘sakura snow’: a splendid display as the trees shed their blossom over the reflection of a large pond in Inokashira Park.
14. SUP on Lake Bled, Slovenia
Seen in many an Insta post, Lake Bled and the picturesque island in the middle of it, is a European bucket list location on its own. Add to that some stand-up paddleboarding on the lake, and it’s unforgettable. With a turreted church peeking out from its central island and the vast mountainscape unfolding around you, Lake Bled is a region of old-world beauty. Reach the island and you’ll climb 99 steps to see the ancient church and clock tower (legend has it if you ring the bell three times, you’ll be granted one wish).
15. Stay on a secret island, Philippines
Who wouldn’t want to stay in luxury on their own secret island? This is bucket list adventure at its finest. Board a private boat and explore the islands of Northern Palawan, setting sail through a series of limestone karsts, caves and lagoons along the coast of Northern Palawan. Later in the afternoon, you’ll arrive at a secret island, where you’ll camp for the next two nights in unique mesh tents – ideal for long evenings spent stargazing. To top it off, a private chef will be at hand to conjure up a beach barbecue by the waves.
16. Desert glamping in the Sahara, Morocco
From a secret tropical island to remote desert glamping under starry skies, this one is another major contender. Drive out into the Sahara, as the scenic Atlas Mountains flatten out into sand dunes over a five-hour cruise until you hit your bed for the night at Sahara Luxury Camp. Bringing together the raw beauty of the Sahara with home comforts like plush beds, hot water bottles, modern showers and plenty of furniture to lounge around on, this is desert glamping in style. Desert hikes, quad biking, yoga and camel rides are all on offer but you’ll be equally happy under canvas, sampling the chefs’ authentic Moroccan dishes, and then venturing out at nightfall for a spot of stargazing.
17. Watch the Northern lights, Finland
An essential on many an adventurer’s bucket list, catching a glimpse of Mother Nature’s spectacular Aurora Borealis is as magical as it is phenomenal. The trouble is, you never know when they might appear. So – based in Finland’s remote area of Kitilla, you might spot the ethereal Northern Lights whilst exploring the twilight wilderness on a fleet of snowmobiles. Perhaps you’ll be chilling lakeside in a luxury private sauna, looking out to majestic forests and locals dipping into the ice. Or you might just be in a glamping pod of your own – boutique, luxury igloos, with a floor-to-ceiling window gazing out at the night sky. Wherever you are, bathe in their beauty and feel the magic.
18. Big game safari, Tanzania
Another big bucket list moment, spotting the big 5 on a big game safari in Tanzania HAS to get a mention. Head out into the wilderness of Serengeti National Park, stopping by the historic Olduvai Gorge in the Great Rift Valley, where the earliest evidence of human activity is found. Then arrive in one of the most spectacular safari destinations in the region – and, depending on the season, you’ll experience either the sun-parched beauty of the dry months, or the lush abundance following rainfall. Watch the terrain transform from open plains to forested scrubs, passing sunbathing lions and roaming wildebeest. As the sun sets over the grasslands, head back to your camp for a night under the stars.
19. Hike the back door to Petra, Jordan
The Rose City of Petra – one of the New Seven Wonders of the World – was carved into a sheer rock face over 2,000 years ago, and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that was rediscovered in the 19th century (and propelled to 21st-century fame by Indiana Jones). In the evening, watch the ancient sandstone city flicker in the light of a thousand candles to the sound of live Bedouin music. The very next morning, hike into Petra via its secret back door. Ascend a steep stairway over the rocks, before exploring the labyrinth of caves, temples and tombs chiseled out of the dusty-pink cliffs. Enjoy a picnic lunch at the Monastery, before uncovering the Theatre, the Street of Facades and the spectacular Treasury. After an action-packed day in the Rose City, sink into a restorative Turkish bath. Then, gather for a Bedouin feast under the twinkling lights of Little Petra.
20. Take a helicopter over Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe
Take to the air above one of the Seven Wonders of the World: Victoria Falls. Known locally as Mosi-oa-Tunya – the smoke that thunders – these waterfalls stand at over 100 metres tall, bathing the rainforest in an ethereal mist. Admire the sight of this natural wonder from the sky, with the Zambezi flowing beneath you, before touching back down and heading to the Victoria Falls River Brewing Company to sample local craft ales.
21. Watch the sunrise over the Taj Mahal, India
If there’s one thing worth getting up early for, it’s the sunrise at the Taj Mahal – a bucket list location too good to leave out for fear of tourist crowds. This white marble mausoleum was built in the 17th century on the orders of Mughal emperor Shah Jahan, in tribute to his favourite wife. It changes colour throughout the day and in the pre-dawn light, you can see the ornate minarets glow a pearly pink. As the night mist clears and the sun begins to rise, watch the sky turn fiery red as you take in one of the New Seven Wonders of the World.