Planet Earth is a magnificent place—it is rich in natural wonder, man-made masterpiece, and captivating wildlife. There is so much to see and do, that it can be difficult to know what is most worth your precious time and money.

Worry not, however! We've picked the very best the world has to offer and ranked the top 23 absolutely must-see destinations. What are you waiting for? A lifetime of fulfillment awaits!

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23. The Taj Mahal

Agra, India

Perhaps the most romantic monument ever built—and certainly one of the world’s greatest architectural masterpieces—the Taj Majal was commissioned 400 years ago by emperor Shah Jahan to hold the body of his beloved third wife.

Construction of this magnificent mausoleum required over 20,000 workers and took over two decades to complete. To ensure perfection, skilled artisans were brought in from all over the world and the highest quality materials were sourced from all across Asia. The majestic beauty of the Taj Mahal is second to none and must be witnessed firsthand on your next trip to India.

The Taj Mahal is one of the Seven New Wonders Of The World and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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22. The Galapagos Islands

Ecuadorian Island, Pacific Ocean

"A living museum and showcase of evolution", the Galapagos Islands are one of the most magnificent natural environments on the planet. Formed millions of years ago by a series of volcanic explosions, the islands emerged from the waters of the Pacific Ocean. The isolated location of the islands, paired with their unique creation, lead to the development of incredibly unusual animal and marine life that can be found nowhere else on Earth.

The Galapagos are so mystifying that even the famous Charles Darwin used them as an inspiration to write his Theory of Evolution. The islands' popularity has skyrocketed in recent decades, with over 200,000 visitors coming to see the walking birds, swimming lizards, giant tortoises, and much more. If you're an animal lover, then there is no place more magical than the Galapagos.


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21. New York City

New York, United States

Although New York is a city with a thousand nicknames, none is more fitting than the Capital of the World. A cultural melting pot, New York is filled with visitors from around the globe who converge to enjoy the city’s famous attractions, top-class restaurants, world famous museums, high-end shopping, and seemingly infinite entertainment options. There are so many things to do in New York—regardless of taste, age, or budget—that it’s easy to understand why people say the city never sleeps.

You’ll need more than one trip (or at least a one long trip) to get a true taste of New York City. Your first time will likely be spent visiting famous sites like the Statue of Liberty, Empire State Building, Brooklyn Bridge, 9/11 Memorial, Bronx Zoo, Times Square, Broadway, and Central Park. But oh there is so much more! The unique and distinctive neighborhoods will charm you, the relentless energy of the city will engulf you, and the delicious food will have you craving for more. Once you visit New York City, you might never want to leave…

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20. Bora Bora

French Polynesia Island, South Pacific Ocean

Paradise exists, and it sits on the crystal clear aquamarine waters of the South Pacific Ocean. Rising from the far-away sea is Bora Bora, a small volcanic island covered in lush jungle, wrapped with sandy white beaches, and offering exquisite views as far as the eye can see. 

Bora Bora has been revered for centuries; dating back to hundreds of years ago when British explorers would admire its beauty as they sailed by it. Today, honeymooners and jetsetters are just as awe-struck by the island’s alluring charm. If you can afford to stay at one of Bora Bora’s luxurious and photo-worthy resorts, then prepare for a getaway of relaxation filled delight.

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19. Antarctica

Southernmost Continent

From lush jungles to scorching deserts, and from remote tropical islands to mountain peaks, mankind has colonized the planet and made every corner easily accessible to the adventurous traveler. Well…  every corner except Antarctica. The frozen continent is yet to be fully tamed—its frozen temperatures, dangerous and exotic wildlife, and erratic climate and terrain makes it both an impossible and incredible place. No place on Earth compares to this vast white icy land.

As challenging as Antarctica is—there are no permanent residents on the continent—tourism has found its way in recent years. Although travel is only allowed (and safe) from November through March, cruise ships departing from the southern tip of South America now offer passage to the frozen continent. The voyage can be both rough and pricey, but you’ll be one of the first people on the planet to step foot on the world’s last unconquered land.


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18. The Amazon Rainforest

South America, mainly in Brazil, Peru, and Colombia

The heartbeat of the planet, the Amazon Rainforest is the most biodiverse place on Earth and one that is as mythical as its name. Spanning over 3.3 million square miles, the Amazon is packed with lush, thick jungles, endlessly winding rivers, millions of different animal and plant species, and even tribes of indigenous people.

Although it’s bubbling with natural beauty year-round, there are two main times you’ll want to consider visiting the Amazon. The dry season (typically from June to December) is very hot and humid; during this season, water levels recede and trails open up, making it perfect for those who wish to hike into the rainforest. Conversely, the wet season (from December to June) comes with torrential rains, creating river paths to areas deep in the forest where wildlife can be seen up close. Regardless of when you go, it will be one of the most surreal travel experiences of your life.

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17. The Greek Islands

Greece

The home of legendary heroes and gods, visiting the Greek Islands is a celestial journey into the mythical past. Over 1,400 islands adorn the Greek coast, each with something unique and remarkable to offer, letting each visitor curate a trip that crafts their ideal paradise.

The most romantic place on the planet, the islands of Santorini are so spectacular that it's as if they were designed for lovers, for honeymooners, for the hopeless romantics. Mykonos—the perfect island for anyone looking to explore their wild side—offers a decadent nightlife on par with the world’s best. The foodies will find heaven in Crete, famous for having some of Greece’s best food and wine. Milos is the beach lover’s paradise, where it’s easy to spend a lazy day (or week) on the island’s colorful beaches. And for those looking to turn back time a few millennia, a day-trip to Delos—the alleged birthplace of the god Apollo—will offer one of the most spectacular history lessons you’ll ever find. With so many wonderful islands to choose from, you could spend a lifetime exploring the magic of Ancient Greece.

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16. Northern Lights

Iceland

The Northern Lights (or Aurora Borealis) are one of nature’s most spectacular phenomena. As if performing a dance, the green, pink, and blue lights shimmer and undulate throughout the night in perfect harmony. There’s no nature show on Earth that feels more extraterrestrial, no chase more rewarding, than seeing the Northern Lights in person.

Although the lights can be seen from several locations around the Arctic Circle, Iceland shines above all thanks to everything else it has to offer. From hiking mighty glaciers to warming up in geothermal lagoons, and from entering volcanoes to exploring legendary waterfalls, Iceland was tailor-made for the adventure-seeker. And given the beauty of the Icelandic countryside, you’ll have some of the best photography opportunities you’ll ever find.

The Northern Lights are one of the Seven Natural Wonders Of The World.


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15. The Grand Canyon

Arizona, United States

Possibly the most jaw-dropping natural wonder on the planet, there is nothing that can prepare you for your first sight of the Grand Canyon. You will be delightfully overwhelmed by its massive size and striking colors as you view it from above or explore it from within.

Although the canyon is an astounding 2 billion years old, you shouldn’t wait another minute to start planning your trip to Arizona—it will be a view you’ll never forget.

The Grand Canyon is one of the Seven Natural Wonders Of The World and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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14. Salar de Uyuni

Potosí Department, Bolivia

There are no words that can describe standing on the world’s largest mirror. As flooding season begins on Salar de Uyuni, a thin layer of water covers the salt flats, resulting in one of the most remarkable views you’ll ever witness: an endless sea of reflection.

Uyuni is by far the planet’s largest salt flat, stretching over 4,000 square miles across the Bolivian Altiplano. It was formed as prehistoric lakes evaporated under the Andean sun, leaving behind a thick crust of salt remains that, when covered with a thin sheet of water, create the reflection that has become a top priority on every traveler and photographer’s bucket list. Getting there will be tough (you’re in a desert, after all), but it will be worth all the effort in the world once you’ve arrived.  

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13. Easter Island

Chilean Island, South Pacific Ocean

One of mankind’s greatest unsolved mysteries, nobody is yet to figure out how or why the massive statues of Easter Island were built. There are 887 giant statues, known as “moai”, that the Rapa Nui (Easter Island’s native people) placed throughout the island. The statues are most famous for their iconic heads, but they have full bodies underground and some stand up to 33 feet tall!

Visiting Easter Island will boggle your mind with delightful curiosity. You’ll find yourself wondering all sorts of things about the mystical, remote island. Where did the first settlers come from? Where did the heads come from? How did they transport them? And why did they go through such trouble? Adventure awaits you in the South Pacific!


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12. Japan

There is no country in the world where the ancient tradition of the past dances so seamlessly in sync with the modern advancement of the present. Japan is deep rooted in honor and tradition; in your travels you’ll be inspired by the pride and devout dedication each person has for their craft—it will be evident in every interaction you have, every meal you enjoy, and every garden you walk by. But Japan’s eminence isn’t limited to long-running ritual; the country is one of the world leaders in technology and innovation, visually manifested through its sprawling metropolises, hyper developed transport networks, and world-class electronics.

Whether you’re eating sushi and singing karaoke in Tokyo, visiting the temples and bamboo forests of Kyoto, skiing on Mt. Fuji, or seeing the Snow Monkeys in Jigokudani Monkey Park, Japan will fascinate you at every turn. And don’t forget the beautiful pink cherry blossoms that cover the countryside in the spring! There might be no better blossom spectacle on Earth.

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11. Paris

France

Ahh Paris… the City of Love. One of the world’s most beautiful cities, Paris is a timeless classic rich in culture, exquisite cuisine, invaluable art, and a magnetic sense of style. Paris will never disappoint you, it will lure you in like a siren’s song and immerse you in its 2,000 year old wonder. Visiting the French capital will be like stepping into a dream, a dream you’ll never want to wake up from.

Paris is regularly ranked as one of the most visited cities in the world, with millions of tourists traveling to the city every year to discover all it has to offer. Although you might come to Paris eager to climb the Eiffel Tower, take a selfie next to the Arc De Triomphe, tour the Louvre and Notre Dame, or explore the catacombs, it’s the little things that will make you fall in love with the city. A leisurely stroll down Paris’s beautiful cobblestone streets, or an afternoon spent people-watching at a café, might be all you’ll ever need to hold a special place in your heart for Paris.

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10. The Great Wall of China

China

One of mankind’s greatest architectural accomplishments, the Great Wall of China is the longest man-made structure ever constructed and the only one visible from space. The wall was originally built as a fortification to protect the Chinese Empire’s borders from invading Mongols, with construction beginning almost 2,500 years ago.

Often compared to a giant dragon, the wall majestically winds up and down across mountains, forests, deserts, and even crosses rivers. There is beauty in visiting at all times of the year, but we recommend skipping the summer crowds and visiting in the spring when gorgeous pink cherry blossoms adorn the landscape surrounding the walls.

The Great Wall of China is one of the Seven New Wonders Of The World and a UNESCO World Heritage site.


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9. Temples of Bagan

Bagan, Myanmar (Also known as Burma)

Over 10,000 temples (yes, you read that correctly) once stood in the magnificent ancient city of Bagan, the capital of the Kingdom of Pagan. Although earthquakes and Mongol invasions destroyed much of the city and brought an end to the kingdom, over 2,200 temples still imposingly stand their ground.

The Temples of Bagan make up one of the world’s greatest archeological sites. The sight is truly remarkable—26 square miles of green canopy, flowing rivers, and of course, the thousands of regal temples that are so beautifully positioned throughout. It's only a matter of time before the rising popularity of Bagan leads to an explosion in tourism, so beat the crowds and visit as soon as you can.

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8. The Pyramids of Egypt

Giza, Egypt

Still standing tall 4,500 years after they were constructed, the astounding Pyramids of Giza are the last remaining of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World and perhaps the most recognizable monuments on Earth. The pyramids are guarded by the nearby Sphinx of Giza, a giant resting statue with the body of a lion and the head of a human. 

The Pyramids of Giza are the subject of one of history’s great mysteries. The sheer geometric perfection and enormous scale of the pyramids have led to centuries-long debate on how the pyramids were built, and who built them. While most claim that it was the Ancient Egyptians who built the pyramids, others have claimed that no human could have successfully created such perfect structures—claiming they were the work of aliens. As crazy as some theories may sound, once you stand up close to the majestic monuments you might start believing them too. 

The Pyramids of Giza are the only one of the Seven Wonders Of The World that is still standing, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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7. Africa’s Great Migration

Tanzania's Serengeti National Park to Kenya's Masai Mara National Reserve

Dubbed ‘the greatest wildlife show on Earth’, the Great Migration is the annual journey made by millions of wildebeest, zebra, and other antelope as they chase the rain in search of greener pastures. Danger for these animals awaits, however, as the movement of so much prey lures in predators of all shapes and sizes—setting up the perfect stage for unmatched wildlife encounters on both river crossings and open plains.

The migration is a yearlong event as the rains move around the region, but you’ll want to plan your visit in July and August when the wildebeest gather and prepare to cross the Grumeti River. As mankind’s reach continues to shrink mother natures kingdom, few places remain that can give you a true glimpse into a world without humans—and none is more impressive than Africa’s Great Migration.


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6. Australia

The vastness of Australia makes it one of the planet’s most biodiverse countries. The opportunities are infinite, catering to so many diverse activities and interests that you’ll need several trips to take it all in. Don’t fear the length of travel required to get there, once you’ve arrived you’ll be having too much fun to remember how you got there in the first place.

At Australia’s center is the famous Outback, an expansive desert offering exhilarating adventure and showcasing the colossal Uluru rock (also known as Ayers Rock). Although the Outback takes up 70% of Australia, it’s what circles it that may entice you. Australia’s beautiful coastline is packed with arguably the best diving on the planet in the Great Barrier Reef and Ningaloo Reef, heavenly beaches like the Whitsundays, Bondi, and Shell Beach, unbelievable (and underrated) rainforests, and several of the world’s best cities. Melbourne is a regular atop ‘Best Cities’ rankings, with Sydney—the home of the iconic Sydney Opera House—not far behind. The flawless mixture of natural wonder and unique culture make Australia a must-visit destination for all.

The Great Barrier Reef is one of the Seven Natural Wonders Of The World and a UNESCO World Heritage site.

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5. The Temples of Angkor

Siem Reap, Cambodia

The Temples of Angkor are one of the most important and magnificent landmarks in all of Southeast Asia. Spanning over 150 square miles, Angkor consists of a massive network of temples, waterways, and jungle. The most iconic temple—Angkor Wat—is the crown jewel of Angkor and the world’s largest religious monument.

As you explore Angkor, you will be immediately mesmerized by the grandeur and stunning detail that the Khmer empire devoted to building their sacred temples 1,000 years ago. Angkor won’t just be the highlight of your trip; it might be one of the greatest experiences of your life.

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4. New Zealand

New Zealand is the new age traveler’s dream destination. Its been voted the world’s best country for four years in a row by the Telegraph Travel Awards, its cities are regularly ranked among the top cities in the world, it holds the crown as the adventure capital of the world, and the Milford Sound—which famous author Rudyard Kipling called the “8th Wonder of the World” when he visited in 1891--was recently named the most beautiful place on Earth.

There is no shortage of amazing things to do in New Zealand. While it’s reputation as an adventure-filled country lives up to expectations (bungee jumping, skydiving, jet boating, whitewater rafting, you name it!), it also caters to the more low-key traveler with its sandy beaches and islands, world-class wineries, and stunning landscapes. As tourism to New Zealand rapidly rises (and for good reason), you’d be well advised to visit sooner than later to beat the crowds that will want to visit this incredible country.


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3. Machu Picchu

Cusco Region, Peru

Standing above the clouds in the middle of an Andean mountain forest, the lost city of Machu Picchu is not just an Incan masterpiece but also the crown jewel of the South American continent. The Inca Empire built this architectural wonder 8,000 feet above sea level, constructing over 200 buildings used for agriculture, astronomy, religious ritual, and residential quarters. Although Spanish invaders conquered the Incas 100 years after the construction of Machu Picchu, the city’s existence was kept secret and virtually forgotten for 400 years until its rediscovery in 1911.

Machu Picchu is as iconic as they come, a stunning combination of man-made brilliance and surrounding natural beauty… and the Incas will make you earn it. To reach Machu Picchu you’ll have to hike or take a train up the mountains—which explains just why the lost city was forgotten for so many centuries.

Machu Picchu is one of the Seven New Wonders Of The World and a UNESCO World Heritage site.

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2. The Lost City Of Petra

Petra, Jordan

Resembling tales of fantasy and myth, the Lost City of Petra can only be reached by trekking through a narrow, mile-long gorge burrowed between towering rock cliffs. As you exit the gorge, the ancient city gradually emerges into view—revealing majestic buildings carved into the pink rock cliffs of the surrounding desert.

Two thousand years ago, Petra stood at the crossroads of the world’s caravan trade, with a population of over 20,000 living in the prosperous city. Although earthquakes ultimately led to the city’s demise—leaving it abandoned and forgotten for hundreds of years—much of the city has stood the test of time. Petra was once forgotten, but your trip to the Lost City will be one you’ll remember forever. 

Petra is one of the Seven New Wonders Of The World and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.


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1. Italy

How can you top the country that has it all? The forever favorite, Italy is everything you've always dreamed of—it is rich in history, culture, beauty, paradise, romance, inspiration, and to top it all… the world’s best food and wine to keep you delighted throughout.

Rome will mesmerize you with the Ancient Roman Empire’s architectural masterpieces, such as the iconic Colosseum, the ageless Pantheon, and the Forum. In Venice, you’ll be awestruck by the spectacle of an enchanting city seemingly built on water. You’ll eat and drink like royalty in Tuscany, gazing at the picturesque rolling hills that adorn the birthplace of the Renaissance. The Amalfi Coast will leave you speechless, with its multi-color towns and aquamarine waters that blend so beautifully together. And don’t forget about Florence, Sicily, Milan, and more! There is so much to see in Italy, that you might make visiting this remarkable country an annual tradition.

The Roman Colosseum is one of the Seven New Wonders Of The World and a UNESCO World Heritage site.




Photo Credit

 
Galapagos Islands: p.j.k. via Visual hunt / CC BY
 
New York City: beltz6 via VisualHunt.com / CC BY
 
 
Salar De Uyuni: maufs1966 via VisualHunt.com / CC BY-SA
 
The Pyramids of Egypt: Trodel via Visualhunt.com / CC BY-SA
 
Africa's Great Migration: Thomson Safaris via VisualHunt / CC BY
 
The Temples of Angkor: saritravels via Visualhunt.com / CC BY
 
New Zealand: Jocey K via VisualHunt.com / CC BY-SA