11 once-in-a-lifetime experiences to add to your travel bucket list

Cappadocia hot air balloon festival needs to be on your travel bucket list
Cappadocia hot air balloon festival needs to be on your travel bucket list Copyright Canva
By Maeve Campbell
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From watching air balloons in Turkey to viewing the Northern Lights through a glass roof in Finland, here are 11 unforgettable trips abroad.

With bookings for ‘bucket list trips’ up by 317 per cent this year, it’s clear we’re all looking for a once in a lifetime adventure after a year of lockdowns.


Knowing what to put on your bucket list can be hard with so much to explore. Whether you are looking for an action-packed escape, beautiful beaches or a unique cultural experience, the options are endless.

From watching hot air balloons in Turkey to viewing the Northern Lights through a glass roof in Finland, here is a list of 11 unforgettable trips.

11. The Netherlands

Attend the once-in-a-decade Floriade Expo, a gardener's dream

A trip to the Floriade Expo should definitely be on your bucket list for 2022. It’s a Dutch horticultural show in the city of Almere, built on land that was reclaimed from the sea.

The visit will open your eyes to what a green city of the future could look like.

Floriade Expo / Facebook
At the Floriade Expo, Heleen Valstar was chosen as chief arranger for the ‘Experiential Greenhouse’ in the greenhouse complex.Floriade Expo / Facebook

Almere is built with environmental sustainability at its core, and each of the destination's three districts feature unique themes - Food, Energy, and Health. It’s a once-in-a-decade experience that will undoubtedly shape how you feel about our world over the next ten years.

Find out more with tour company Trafalgar here.

10. Finland

See the Northern Lights through a glass roof in your bedroom

There's more than one way to see the natural phenomenon that is the Northern Lights.

While most choose to spend their time outside in the elements, one particular glass roofed room will let you view this natural spectacle while tucked up in bed.

The Northern LightsCanva

A trip to the Seaside Glass Villas Kemi hotel gives you an aurora borealis experience you won’t soon forget.

Find out more here.

9. Japan

Visit the Yomatsuri Night-time Festival of floats

Japan offers some of the richest cultural experiences on the planet, and celebrating the changing seasons with the festival floats parade in Takayama is an unmissable event.


The intricately carved Yatai (floats) date back to the 17th century, and feature Karakuri Ningyo (marionettes) which move and dance as their strings are managed by the famous Tsunakata (puppeteers).

The night-time festival of floats, JapanCanva

Appreciating the seasons are a feature of Japanese culture, and when visiting in April you'll see the natural beauty of the cherry blossom too.

While you're there, getting a taste of unique local delicacies is essential. Hida-gyu, beef from a black haired Japanese cattle breed, is renowned as one of the finest cuts of meat in the world.

Find out more here.

8. Australia

See the Field of Light Uluru from a sunrise viewing platform

Australia is home to some of the most stunning landscapes on planet earth. If you rise early you’ll experience the ethereal Field of Light art installation at the sunrise viewing platform in Yulara.


Watching the sun light up Uluru in a golden hue is an unforgettable experience.


Gain insights into the culture, history, art and traditions of the Aboriginal caretakers of the land on a tour of the base of this famous landmark. You’ll be able to walk deep into Walpa Gorge, where you'll hear about the area's distinct geological and cultural history and then toast some sparkling wine over the red domes of Kata Tjuta.

Find out more here.

7. Germany and Austria

Witness a life-changing religious experience in Oberammergau

In Germany, the ‘Passion Play’ in the Bavarian Alps of Oberammergau is one of the most unique religious rituals in the world. The Oberammergau Villagers dramatic depiction of the life and death of Jesus Christ, and the covenant that was made with God in the 17th Century, is something you won’t find anywhere else.

For a sacred experience in Austria, you can dine with the ‘Missionary Sisters of the Precious Blood’ in the Monastery of Kloster.

A church in OberammergauCanva

While on your trip, join a local specialist and discover the city's highlights including Getreidegasse, the Salzburg Cathedral, Mozart's birthplace and many of the locations used in the film 'The Sound of Music'.

Leave Salzburg behind for lakeside Mondsee, where you'll visit Mondsee Abbey, the Benedictine monastery that served as the church where Captain Von Trapp and Maria were married in the film.

Find out more here.

6. Tanzania

Go on safari in the Serengeti during the Great Migration

The Serengeti's reputation for wildlife viewing is second to none. This is the home of the greatest annual wildlife spectacle on earth - the Great Migration, which takes place between July and November.

Listen to local stories of how over a million wildebeest cross the Mara River annually in search of green pastures and enjoy Swahili cuisine.

Go on safari in the SerengetiCanva

A walking tour through farmlands, local markets and schools of Mto wa Umbu is an amazing way to soak up the culture and community spirit. Witness how local banana beer is made and taste it for yourself. An afternoon drive through the Lake Manyara National Park to spot the tree-climbing Lions is also a must.

Find out more here.

5. Costa Rica

A spot to watch baby turtles hatching for the first time

Watching baby green turtles hatching on the beaches of Costa Rica doesn't have to be something reserved for TV documentaries, you can experience it in real life.

Connect with turtles in Costa RicaCanva

Head to Costa Rica between July and September to witness this incredible moment and then embark on a river journey to Siquirres to visit the Sea Turtle Conservancy Tortuguero Visitor Centre.

Find out more here.

4. Canada

Ride the Rocky Mountaineer Goldleaf

The Canadian Rockies are home to some of the most stunning views in the world, but there's much more to experience than just the views.

Jump aboard the Rocky Mountaineer Goldleaf, a world-renowned train known for its finest service, and meet a First Nations member in Kamloops and a retired Mountie in Banff.

The train track runs through the mountains in CanadaCanva

Immerse yourself in the First Nations traditions and culture, with sounds of Shuswap melodies, and storytelling over dinner with a First Nations member.

Find out more here.

3. Turkey

Watch the Cappadocia Air Balloon Spectacle

Just visiting the Cappadocia Festival in April, and witnessing the sky filled with floating colourful hot air balloons is enough. But soaring higher, as part of the festival, and riding in one of the hot air balloons yourself is bucket list material.

YASIN AKGUL/AFP or licensors
Cappadocia hot air balloonsYASIN AKGUL/AFP or licensors

Gain an appreciation for the unique history of Cappadocia, with its rocky spire providing the perfect backdrop for a visit to the underground city of Saratli on the ancient Silk Road.

Indulging in the flavours of Turkey is a must, so enjoy a traditional pottery kebab in a local restaurant before retiring to your hotel room carved from rock, which offers extensive views of the region.

Find out more here.

2. Canada

See polar bears and learn about dog sledding

Roam the Great Canadian North on a safari through tundra landscapes to discover the home of the polar bears.

If you embark on a full-day safari through the Churchill Wildlife Management Area you will see the arctic fox, ptarmigan, and other sub-arctic animals in their natural habitat.

Polar bears are a sight to behold in CanadaCanva

The icy region is also home to the Indigenous Inuit.

Get a taste for local delicacies in this remote part of the world at the Tundra Buggy Lodge. You can then join a local specialist dog-sledding expert to learn about this tradition and the modern Métis lifestyle - before feeling the sub-zero breeze on your face with a dog-sled ride yourself.

Find out more here.

1. Antarctica

Become an explorer and visit the 7th continent

If you want to travel like an explorer, sail through the icy waters of the Drake Passage and into the surreal landscapes of Antarctica.

You can retrace the ocean trail of Charles Darwin as you glide through the Beagle Channel before reaching the rugged southern coastline of South America.


You will gain a deeper understanding of this untouched continent through briefings, lectures and orientations from experts along the way. Stretch your legs, and embark on Zodiac excursions to experience the wilderness first hand, kayak the icy waters, and spot whales, penguins and other species of birds.

Find out more here.

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