The world is full of wonderful places, but some are so remarkable, that a trip to that place will remain in your heart forever. The trips of a lifetime. Whether it’s jaw-dropping scenery, unique locations at the edge of the world, or a journey that sets you on the course of adventure, there are so many reasons for a destination to be considered exceptional. Here are five lifetime trips that you simply cannot miss:
Cruise in Alaska
Coined ‘The Last Frontier’, Alaska is unlike any other state. Its immense landscape is awe-inspiring and evokes an unparalleled, and immersive experience for both body and soul. With so much to see, discovery by cruise may be one of the best ways to do so. With the promise of cinematic scenery, unusual ports of call, and ocean adventures, it is no wonder it is one of the most popular cruise destinations.
From small-boutique ships that can venture into the most remote ports to glamourous vessels with a plethora of facilities, and everything in between, the cruise is yours to choose. I recommend going small, for optimal off-ship exploration.
Let your heart grow full and your eyes grow wide as you are met with lush green islands, astonishing fjords, scenic bays, and plenty of marine wildlife. One of the most exceptional stops is Juneau. Only accessible by boat or plane, this unique city is where you’ll find the impressive Medenhall Glacier, and the beautiful Tongass National Forest.
Dining and accommodation options will depend on your cruise. Many of the larger cruises offer award-winning restaurants alongside Vegas-Style shows. The smaller cruises offer the option to dine on land or enjoy a more casual affair on deck. Rooms range from state room cabins to lavish and opulent suites. The state rooms on Norwegian Cruise Line’s Bliss offer sleek décor, walk in wardrobes, and marbled bathrooms, alongside a bottle of champagne on arrival.
Also known as The Forbidden City, and literally translated as The Place of the Gods, Lhasa is the former home of the Dalai Lama, and a centre of Tibetan Buddhist Life. Marvel at the red and white Potala Palace towering above the Holy City, in this serene and stunning location.
Experience traditional Tibetan Life in the old town. Here, whitewashed buildings and authentic stalls make it distinct from the newer urban area. Visit the Jokhang Temple and the busting circular neighbourhood of Barkhour Street where the scent of Mulberry smoke will fill your lungs and clear your mind.
There are many small monasteries and temples in the old town to explore. Find your way to Cemenlin Temple hidden in the old folk houses! Burn incense at Cibalakang Temple or visit Lhasa’s tallest monastery Xiamiyuan.
Let your mind and spirit be enlightened in this incredible place.
For an authentic Tibetan dining experience, try Kyaka Shak Kitchen. Sit on wooden benches in this stone walled restaurant, and taste Tibetan dishes and Nepalese-style curries. The menu does not come in English, so arrive with your guide or leave it to the chefs! Snowland is a popular spot, serving amazing continental and Nepali food in a gorgeous setting. Try the giant naan bread or their locally famous cakes.
Stay in the Lhasa St Regis and enjoy jaw-dropping views of the Potala Palace, alongside timeless elegance in the ancient Barkhor area.
The ancient symbol of the Incan Empire, Machu Picchu is one of the wonders of the world. Perched more than 2,000 metres above sea level in the Andes Mountains, hidden from the Spanish conquest, this historic city is an archaeological gem.
There are a number of excursions to embark on to trek to Machu Picchu. The Inca Trail is the most famous route and the sacred path of the Incas. This is an exhilarating trail, where long hikes are rewarded with incredible views. For those who are after a bit more adrenaline, the Inca Jungle Trek offers downhill mountain biking, zip trekking and white water rafting as well as trekking on this five-day hike. This lesser-known trail takes on part of the Inca Trail too, so you can still see that iconic route on a more affordable and action-packed adventure.
Along the trail, trekkers will stay in hostels and local accommodations, or for those taking on the Salkantay Trail, there are camping sights to pitch your tent. Enjoy nourishing Peruvian dishes each evening provided by your tour and, sip on a cold Cusquena beer as you celebrate each day’s achievements.
For a more civilised option, stay in the base town of Aguas Calientes where you will find plenty of luxury hotels and restaurants. Casa Del Sol is a fantastic choice, set in a prime location on the banks of the Vilcanota River, with views of Machu Picchu.
Nabatean Sites, Saudi Arabia
Visit the recently opened Nabatean Sites, in Hegra, Saudi Arabia, for a trip back in ancient times. Step closer to these giant boulders in the radiant desert and see beautiful carvings, columns, and entrances that reveal clues about life in the Nabatean Empire.
These intricate architectural designs carved into the desert rocks are a magnificent sight. Most of these sites are tombs, preserved by natural water pipes built around them to protect them from erosion. This has kept them preserved for thousands of years while the rest of the city has been lost to the sands of time.
These constructions are similar to those in the ancient city of Petra in Jordan, Hegra’s sister
When exploring leaves you hungry, there are plenty of restaurants to try in Al Ula. Enjoy charcoal grilled meats and fish, alongside stunning desert vistas at SKLT. For something special, Myazu serves high end Japanese cuisine in an exquisite setting.
Sustainability meets luxury in the Habitas Al Ula Resort. Book your stay here and enjoy incredible views of sandstone cliffs and palm tree groves in this desert oasis.
Reykjavik is Iceland’s capital of cool, and a top contender for many travellers’ lifetime trips. The city is full of culture, creativity, and intriguing architecture, whilst the surrounding landscape offers serene natural beauty.
Venture out to Þingvellir National Park and walk between two continents in the incredible rift valley. Here Iceland’s stark geological structure plays out before your eyes. One of the most popular attractions in this other-worldly location is snorkelling and diving in the ravines. The water comes from melted glaciers, and after travelling through porous lava rock, it is so well-filtered that it is astonishingly clean.
Take the plunge and dive in the famous Silfra ravine, but be careful, the water is so clear, you might not know which way is up. For an on-land excursion that is sure to take your breath away, explore the Volcanic Springs, where a backdrop of erupting volcanoes will make you tremble with excitement.
After a day of exploring, treat yourself to a sensational seafood dinner at Kopar where the excellent nine-course menu is sure to leave you satisfied.
If brunch and lunch are more your style, try Mathús Garðabæjar. This homely local restaurant serves delicious dishes at affordable prices.
Stay at the super chic eco-friendly boutique Eyja Guldsmeden Hotel, with rooms offering views of Mt Esja. Run by an Icelandic couple, and featuring a stylish bar and restaurant, it’s a perfect choice.
Each of these destinations offers something distinctly extraordinary and are sure to leave you filled with joy and wonder. From surreal and spiritual beauty to striking landscapes, these destinations highlight the splendour of the world. Wherever you go next, I am sure it will be the trip of a lifetime.