After spending decades in the workforce, retirement is the perfect time to start ticking off those exotic destinations from your bucket list. It’s the time for you to discover and explore new places and cultures, allowing you to take in the sights and experiences the world offers at your own pace. Here are the top 15 destinations you should consider traveling to as soon as you retire.
While in Tuscany, step back in time with a visit to the medieval city of Siena. Delight in a stroll through its Gothic streets, visit the famous Duomo, and don’t miss the horse race known as Il Palio. A drive through the rolling hills of Val d’Orcia is also highly recommended. To taste the coastal life, visit the striking cliffs of Cinque Terre.
Pay a visit to Kinkaku-ji, also known as the Golden Pavilion, a stunning Zen Buddhist temple covered in gold leaf. Walk along the Philosopher’s Path during cherry blossom season for unforgettable views. The traditional district of Gion is a beautiful place to spot Geishas, explore wooden machiya houses, and visit cultural shops and restaurants.
Great Barrier Reef, Australia
Explore the reef from a different perspective with a scenic helicopter ride, giving you a spectacular aerial view of this natural wonder. Spend time on Lady Elliot Island, one of the best places to encounter manta rays and sea turtles. If you’re a birdwatcher, the Great Barrier Reef also offers a unique birdwatching experience.
- Visit the ancient Minoan city of Akrotiri, preserved under volcanic ash, and the Archaeological Museum to learn about the island’s long history.
- Consider a sailing trip around the island to visit the volcano, hot springs, and secluded beaches.
- Don’t forget to try the unique volcanic wines at a local winery.
Banff National Park, Canada
This breathtaking destination, Banff National Park in Canada, is famed for its stunning natural beauty. Spend time at Lake Louise, a locale renowned for its turquoise waters, and indulge in canoeing or ice-skating, depending on the season. The park offers adventure-rich experiences, like the Plain of Six Glaciers hike. In winter, you can engage in exhilarating activities such as dog-sledding or snowshoeing through the snowy landscapes, providing an unforgettable winter wonderland experience.
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Explore the city’s rich literary history by visiting El Ateneo Grand Splendid, one of the most beautiful bookshops in the world. Try the traditional Argentine experience of a parrilla or barbecue, and taste the famous Argentine Malbec wine. Visit the eclectic Palermo neighborhood for trendy boutiques and vibrant nightlife.
Discover the wonder of New Zealand, an adventure-packed destination known for its unique geothermal activity. In Rotorua, experience a spectacle complete with hot springs and geysers. Further south, on the South Island, stand in awe at the natural grandeur of Franz Josef Glacier, where you can hike or take a helicopter ride onto the glacier itself. For Lord of the Rings fans, a visit to Wellington’s Weta Workshop is an absolute must-do, offering a fascinating glimpse into the movie magic, as you see firsthand where many of the film's iconic props were created.
The Cotswolds, England
Visit the historic Blenheim Palace, a UNESCO World Heritage site and the birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill. Make a trip to the ancient Roman Baths in the nearby city of Bath. If you are a fan of Downton Abbey, you can visit Highclere Castle, located nearby.
Please spend some time in Aix-en-Provence, the hometown of artist Paul Cézanne, and discover its lively markets and charming old town. Visit the Camargue region to see the famous wild horses, flamingos, and bulls. The International Theatre Festival in Avignon is a must-see if you’re visiting in the summer.
Explore the local culture of this destination by visiting Malé, the bustling capital, with its mosque and vibrant markets. Visit a local island to experience Maldivian life, or take a fishing trip on a traditional dhoni boat. You can also experience a unique underwater spa or dine at an underwater restaurant.
Cape Town, South Africa
Take the cable car to the top of Table Mountain for panoramic city views. Visit the Cape of Good Hope, a scenic headland known as the meeting point of the Atlantic and Indian Oceans. A trip to Boulders Beach to see the African penguin colony is also necessary.
Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
Each island offers a unique environment; visit Española Island to see waved albatrosses or Fernandina Island for its sizeable marine iguana population. Take a multi-day cruise for a comprehensive tour of the islands. And don’t forget to try snorkeling in the clear, biodiverse waters.
Explore Thimphu, the capital city, and visit the weekend market. Drive to Punakha via Dochula Pass for magnificent Himalayan views. Experience a homestay to immerse yourself in the local culture fully. The traditional hot stone bath, Dotsho, is a relaxing experience you shouldn’t miss.
Don’t miss the changing of the guard ceremony at Amalienborg Palace. Visit the National Museum of Denmark to learn about the country’s history. The district of Christiania, known for its alternative lifestyle, is also worth a visit. Copenhagen is also home to Tivoli Gardens, the second-oldest operating amusement park in the world.
If you’re a fishing enthusiast, try your hand at salmon fishing. Visit Skagway's old gold rush town, and ride the historic White Pass & Yukon Route railroad. To taste native culture, visit the Alaska Native Heritage Center in Anchorage. If you are a fan of flying, take a floatplane sightseeing trip over the wilderness.
Retirement is a golden period to explore the world and broaden your horizons. These 15 destinations promise diverse experiences, from cultural and historical exploration to nature expeditions and culinary journeys. The world is your oyster, so start planning and embrace the adventures that await.