“Travel is never a matter of money but of courage”

― Paulo Coelho, Aleph

This post is my Top 12 Places I’ve Been That I Recommend For You to visit at some point in your life.  I could have readily made it 24 or 36 or 120 places, but a dozen seemed good.  All these places have 3 things in common:

  • I have been there!
  • They are wonderful (culturally, historically, gifts of nature, all of these)!
  • They are all reasonably accessible.

And here is the list, in no particular order, with a brief commentary next to each:

  1. Yosemite National Park, California, United States – Yosemite Valley, Glacier Point, the Giant Sequoias of Wawona, climbing to the top of Half Dome, or spending a few days in the back country of the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne River.
  2. Old City Jerusalem – a meeting point of cultures, religions, and history.   For the faithful especially, Jerusalem is powerful.  See my Stations of the Cross post.  Day trips to places such as Galilee and the Dead Sea are easy.
  3. Great Barrier Reef, Australia – the long term sustainability of this World Heritage Site is in a critical state because of global warming. Take some scuba lessons and be ready to be amazed.   Your perspective on human impact on the planet will rise to a new level.
  4. Sintra, Portugal – Move over Walt Disney because Sintra has the real deal with the Pena Palace (another World Heritage Site).  And this greater-Lisbon area offers a great deal.  Really anywhere in Portugal is worth visiting as Portugal has retained its cultural heritage far more than many other European countries.   And the food, wow the food.  Go there and you will understand what I mean about the food.
  5. Mindo, Ecuador – this town sits at altitude in the cloud-forest of Ecuador, close to the equator.   See the “plant to bar” chocolate making, do a night hike (called a frog concert) to experience the after-dark bio-diversity, and take a cable car to visit an striking series of cloud-forest cascades.   Ecuadorian food is consistently fresh, homemade, tasty, and inexpensive.
  6. Jungfraujoch, Bernase Oberland, Switzerland – this is probably the most touristy, crowded, and high-price(for a single day) thing on this list, but the cogwheel train taking you up to a visitors center and alpine adventure above 11,000 ft (3450 m) is worth it.  Try to pick a day that might stay sunny, go early to beat crowds (yes there will be crowds), and once at the summit, go outside.
  7. Okavango Delta, Botswana – an amazing wildlife habitat of lions, leopards, giraffes, rhinos, elephants, and much more.  See my previous series of posts for much more.
  8. Rotorua to the Tongariro National Park, North Island, New Zealand – this region offers rugged, volcanic landscape with single and multi day tracks (hikes), Maori culture, and a temperate rain forest.  Many activities for all.
  9. St Peter’s Basilica, Vatican City – amazing history and amazing architecture.  Highlight is to go to the top of the cupola (the dome).  If you are there on a Wednesday, you might be lucky and see Pope Francis.
  10. Sites around Luxor, Egypt – Rent a bike and go see the Temple of Hatshepsut, the Temple of Karnak, the Valley of the Kings, the Colossi of Memnon, and much more. Fascinating.
  11. Any glacier.  See a glacier before they all melt.  Two very “accessible” glaciers I have been to are Mendenhall in Alaska (documented on this site) and Franz Josef in New Zealand.  Plus see #6 on this list.
  12. Bohemia region of Czech Republic.  This is old Europe! My favorite outside of Prague was Karlovy Vary.

Everyone Let’s See the World!!!  What is on your list?