/ Travel & Leisure

Which countries are on your bucket list?

I could spend hours every day dreaming about the places I’d like to travel to and the places I’ve been – but what are the top destinations on your bucket list?

The European City Survey in September’s issue of Which? Travel made me take stock of where I’d been and the destinations that remain on my own travel bucket list.

People travel for different reasons; some seek a sense of exploration and adventure, while others go on holidays to relax and escape.

I fall into the former category and like to visit as many different locations as possible for the thrill of experiencing new places and things.

With this in mind, my colleagues and I recently chatted about how many countries we’ve been to – and what impressed us most about each one.

I heard many exciting stories from my colleagues, but they were a little taken aback at the number of places I’d been to. After some time spent recollecting, I put the figure at 33 countries. But here’s what I thought of the last three I visited:


Though expensive to visit, Japan left me with the richest, most diverse memories: the lights of busy Tokyo at night, crowded Shibuya crossing, gaming districts full robots, bullet trains, geishas, shrines, trying on a kimono, having tea ceremonies.

And all of this in just one incredibly diverse country. Japan’s beautiful culture and powerful history left me speechless and astonished.


A cold but charming country, Iceland gave me an unforgettable sense of adventure in some truly awe-inspiring wilderness.

Though food and accommodation are expensive, it’s a price worth paying for Iceland’s unique wild landscapes.

My highlight had to be going on a Glacier expedition – I felt blessed seeing such amazing beauty on our planet.


With its discount shopping and affordable hotels, Dubai is famous for marketing itself as ‘affordably luxurious’.

Personally, I didn’t do much shopping, but I enjoyed getting lost in The Rub’ al Khali desert and exploring a Bedouin camp.

In the middle of the desert, miles away from the skyscrapers of Dubai, among the endless sands, the camp showed me a different side of UAE: more mysterious and unique.

So, how many countries have you been to – and which ones have been special and unforgettable? Are there any on your bucket list you’d love to visit? Let me know if you’ve been to as many (or more!) than I have.

kevin says:
21 October 2018

Not sure why the UEA would feature in a list of 3 destinations when you can be locked up for months or years without due process and many normal holiday activities are actually illegal. Oh, and don’t be a woman either.

My take is that if you go to a foreign country it is very likely you are going there because it is different and that includes culture and laws. I do not think it is polite to suggest that tourists can ignore the laws that they do not approve of and expect different treatment.

It may seem harsh but there is a strong whiff of cultural imperialism being involved aggravated by the media.

I agree with kevin,it beats me why anyone would go on holiday to places that dominate its subjects in such a horrid fashion with laws and customs that most likely looked modern, in ,say, 1300.And absolutley,dont be a woman.

Over the years I have set foot in about 35-40 countries and spent significant time in about 25-30 of them I suppose, but I have never been east of Aden. I no longer have much desire to do so, although if a good reason to visit Australia and New Zealand came up I would seize it, probably going by sea so I could see some other places en route.

I still haven’t managed to see some parts of the UK. I seem to have skirted around the area known as Cleveland with Middlesbrough, Stockton-on-Tees, Hartlepool and Redcar and never visited any of those towns or the countryside and coast. I should also like to see more of Scotland since I haven’t strayed far outside the central belt and the Borders.

It all depends when the bucket arrives; it seems to be approaching faster each year.

John I agree with you about Australia/New Zealand. I ‘d love to go but it’s so far I would need a good reason, although Koalas do tempt me. It’s such a long flight, I also think I would go by sea for the same reason if I could. I doubt I would be able to get the time while I’m working, and doubt I’d have the money once I retire (unless I start saving now 😉 ) .

I’m trying to see more of the UK – I’ve never been to Scotland 🙁 I visited Torquay last year and it was beautiful. Definitely reminded me that the UK has great sites to visit. Do you have a favourite place you like to visit?

Well Alex, living in Norwich, we have so much on our doorstep in terms of coastal and inland scenery, history, art, culture, and nature in many different forms, that going away is not really necessary. What we lack in brickworks, chemical factories, s**g heaps, motorways and mountains we make up for with some of the most diverse and richest wildlife habitats in Europe. From The Brecks to the Broads, and with the finest climate in the UK, it’s hard to beat. The natives are friendly too. Friends who like to get out a lot and explore the villages say it can take all day just to drive round the coast from sunrise in the east at Gorleston to sunset at Hunstanton in the west and I can believe them – we had a car like that once.

It may still be true that CMV route their ships so you can have quite some time in Oz/NZ before completing a round the world trip. And relatively cheap travel by sea.

Travel can be very broadening – provided of course that one does not include drunken stag parties to Prague etc under the heading. I like physical geography, food, history and travel so I believe I get a lot from my travels.

I have lived in a couple of big countries and visited around a third. I am not sure if I have any burning desires to fulfil as most scenery is not unique. The more you travel I think the more you realise that you cannot possibly “do” the world physically.

I have come across Geoguessr.com which in a preverse way drops you into unnamed countries and expects you to locate where you are by travelling in Streetview until you are ready to guess by placing a dot on your zoomed map. Five attempts and up to 5000 points for precision.

What I have learned form it is how featureless central USA and Russia can be – these areas no one travels to as a tourist. How very similar terrain exists in many countries. How by using your wits you can appreciate the different street signs and architectures that provide clues as to climate and construction materials.

Cheap travel indeed : )

Prague is beautiful though, but I’ve never been there on a stag do 😂The more I visit central Europe the more I love it. Next on my list has to be Austria, although that is another expensive one.

I can recommend Croatia and Montenegro for scenery.

(Is there something wrong with avatars or is it my browser?)

There is something about rivers I find magical. I remember seeing the Mississippi for the first time, the Danube, and crossing the Nile. What would Paris be without the Seine, especially now that they have pedestrianised its banks. Say Tigris and Euphrates, Yangtze, or Ganges and I’m away.

The most astounding sight I have seen is a boat that looked like it was in the middle of the desert, but it was on the Suez Canal.

On my bucket list? Crossing Canada, Russia and America by rail. Mythical, again.

It’s not your browser Sophie. Avatars are misbehaving. They appear when you post a comment and they appear in the Latest Comments list but they have been turned into ghosts when you want to look at a comment.

It seems to me that every time one thing gets fixed something else goes wrong.

I would love to spend some time on the Trans-Siberian railway – that would be a great experience.

I am curious to know why you consider it would be a great experience. Crossing the steppes and the vast expanses of Russia must be almost devoid of any excitement. Various celebrities have done it for TV but I can’t remember any highlights.

If you want a nice train trip, take the Venice-Simplon Orient Express [or first class on the 10:30 from London Liverpool Street comes close – except it misses the stretch through the Dolomites].

I’ve always wanted to travel on a sleeper train (I’m not a first-class kind of travelling) and I think it would be great to watch the changing scenery.

I would also like the Orient Express but Agatha Christie may have put me off that one 👀👀

I might have misled you, Alex. The 10:30 from Liverpool Street only goes to Norwich and as well as dodging the Dolomites it does not call at Paris, skirt Lake Lucerne, or traverse an alpine pass. But like the Venetian destination, it is only a short walk from the terminus to the waterfront and your boat for the onward journey.

Alex Whittle says Today 15:59

I’ve always wanted to travel on a sleeper train (I’m not a first-class kind of travelling) and I think it would be great to watch the changing scenery.

Couple of points, Alex: as it’s a sleeper train, there’s not a lot of changing scenery to watch. It’s dark outside. Second, the only half-decent sleeper compartments are first class and most of those are pretty dire. Ideally, you need two: one for your and the bedclothes, the other for the suitcases. Thirdly, sleeper trains are slow trains and do a lot of stopping – at stations, so you- always have to keep the blinds down. On the plus side, the rhythm of the train’s movements is extremely relaxing.

We tried what we thought would be a romantic sleeper-train trip a couple of years ago, through Germany and on to Switzerland. The compartments make sardine cans look positively roomy, so best to do it with someone you really like. The ‘shower’ is pitiful and they don’t provide towels or soaps. There is a decent sleeper train that does South Africa, I believe, but having done it in Europe in future we’ll lug the luggage to a hotel.

I was always advised to take care, ‘cos trains run over sleepers… 😉

That said, I did once take the sleeper from Newcastle upon Tyne to Kings Cross. I guess, as a rising young executive, I’d have been first class too, but even so it was definitely work not pleasure.

Must dig out the ‘groan’ smiley…

I looked but didn’t find one here:


Perhaps alfa can advise us on the correct one to use…. 😉

🤗 🚊 😴 🛌 😱 💥 💫 🤯

I use emojione that was an add-on with Opera internet browser. Some of the newer ones don’t display here properly.

@carneades you do make some good points maybe I need to re-think. I watched an episode of Inside No.9 which was set on a sleeper train and although it was a comedy it did put me off a little bit. Still, an experience is an experience…I guess.

Sometimes I use this for a groan: 😑or 😒. I would like to visit wherever emojis are designed, I’ll need to add that on to my bucket list.

You miss a lot if you sleep while travelling, or going by air. Years ago I drove to a conference in Barcelona instead of flying; 3 days of pleasure there and 3 days back seeing the real country, food and people. Daylight rail travel is interesting, in the UK as well as elsewhere. I’d stick with a proper bed at night.

Thanks alfa 👍🙌

I’ve recently discovered that Chrome on a Chromebook gives access to a suite of emoji keyboards, with just a right click to bring up the editing options.

I wonder if they post properly here…❓❓❓❓

Do we need emojis? The only place they might be useful is possibly Hansard.

Alex – just guessing, but your bucket moment must be so far off in the distance that all your plans [and the world itself] could change dramatically in the mean time, and emojis could be as obsolete as yo-yo’s, spud guns and scooby-do now are to my generation.

🐦 🐦 🐦 These are blue birds, not sure why Which? makes them red 😲

Emoji can vary by device/browser/site plugins – I wrote a convo on it last year 🙂 https://conversation.which.co.uk/technology/world-emoji-day/

How about Venezuela? Beautiful country but hard to leave the hotel due to real security risks (and that was 4 years ago). Kuwait? People nicer than I anticipated. Ditto for Equatorial Guinea and Angola.

My wife and I also like exploration holidays. In out early 70’s, we are up to 41 counties and about to add Vietnam and Cambodia. (We are not counting cruise stops!). We have been to all 7 continents at least twice and camped overnight on Antartica as one of our coldest highlights for our 70th birthdays. Watching a pod of Orcas hunting and killing a Minke Whale was an amazing experience as well as walking the last section of Shackleton’s trek across South Georgia. The moment we reached the last crest to see the whaling station at Stromness in the distance will stay with us for ever. Recent trips have included a travel through Uruguay which is a very friendly and interesting country with very little commercialism . Buenos Aries remains one of our favourite cities with a wonderful variety of architecture and history together with excellent food.
Visiting the base of the Sirius Patrol in the Northeast Greenland National Park gave us our most memorable safety instruction. ” If the Polar Bear alarm sounds then go straight into the husky dog compounds”.
We enjoyed the UAE by traveling away from Dubai to stay in Al Ain. Here we experienced much more of the local life in this oasis town and my wife felt no intimidation whatsoever other than at a camel market where I was offered a trade!!
Travel is an amazing experience and we still have an endless list of places we wish to see. The North-West passage is our dream but we will need to win the lottery first!

Well done to keep on travelling. Uruguay is indeed an interesting country and politically a very good example of referendum being used to make important decisions such as not selling-off the water supply.

Out of curiosity do you research heavily ahead of booking, before going, or hardly at all? And do you have favourite tour companies?

We do research quite a lot before planning our trips. I favour Lonely Planet guidebooks and use TripAdvisor with care for selecting accommodation. We choose accommodation mainly on the basis of position, value for money and traditional buildings.
Mostly we book flights, hotels and internal transport ourselves such as our Uraguay trip. In this way for example, we took a small but modern ferry from Carmelo to Tigre, which was a great way to cross to Argentina rather than the alternative offered by travel companies.
In Buenos Aries we then joined our Hurtigruten Antartica trip. We have really enjoyed Hurtigruten explorer voyages to both the Antarctic and Arctic. They have great itineries, very informative lectures and comfortable small ships.

Thanks for the reply.

Another resource is Wikitravel. It exists but is patchy; here is a sample on the accessible, nice, but little visited Azores.

I do believe that independent travelling is a good thing though I have to admit we have done little of that in the last decade or so. Retirment does provide the time and flexibility normally only open to gap-year students.

Do either of you speak Spanish or is it easy to get by in most areas? I think of driving from BA to Valparaiso one of our all-time favourite towns. However there is so much of the world left to see : (. I do fancy Iran and around the Black Sea for both geography and culture.

An Arte programme on tourism in Laos has reminded me of the destruction/change of culture with Western tourism. I understand some Laotians are concerned with mass Chinese tourism on completion of the railway,

I realised there are 16 proper European countries I have not yet visited. Mulling further made me think!

Which brings to the point on does the Vatican count as a country …ditto Andorra, Lichenstein, Monaco, and San Marino. I think they don’t. Particularly if you include only members of the UN. Amazingly the first two ARE members. Does one count Scotland as a country?!. Or Wales?

I have travelled a bit in seven of the eight largest countries that cover around a third of the earth. Russia ,were I have not travelled, is 11% of the world’s land surface!

” When 11.5 percent of all the land in the entire world is claimed by just one country, it’s not surprising to learn that the tenth largest country (Algeria) could fit into the largest (Russia) seven times over. When all 10 of the world’s largest countries are taken together, they total 49% of the earth’s entire 149 million square kilometres of land. ”

I haven’t looked up where the UK features in the land mass league tables but in terms of geographical diversity, history, and civilisation it must rank very highly per square kilometre. It is a compact microcosm that ought to attract more visitors bringing in foreign currency. Lack of deserts, of course, probably marks it down.

The usual definition of a country is a sovereign state that is recognised by the majority of the world’s sovereign states as being a sovereign state. So all Europe’s recognised microstates are countries, i.e. Andorra, Liechtenstein, Monaco, San Marino and Vatican City. The size of a country is irrelevant to whether or not it is a country.

England, Scotland and Wales are not countries based on this most common definition of a country. They are not sovereign states but component parts of the United Kingdom, which is a sovereign state. Unfortunately, many British people’s definition of a country is based on representation in international sport, particularly football, which conflicts with the usual meaning used in the rest of the world.

A useful list of sovereign states is at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_sovereign_states which also lists unrecognised and minority-recognised states such as Northern Cyprus and Abkhazia.

Thank you NFH.

It seems that I have been to three more countries than I had realised.

Useful link. I think Wikipedia has rather fallen over on this list as the Wikipedia definition of sovereignty would actually exclude several.

To whit: It is also normally understood that a sovereign state is neither dependent on nor subjected to any other power or state.[2]

Andorra, ruled by a Spanish Bishopric and the head of the French government, would hardly qualify.

Interesting point about Andorra. Although the two heads of state that you correctly quote do not in practice govern Andorra. I believe that France and Spain have no control over the government of Andorra.

As co-princes of Andorra, the President of France and the Bishop of Urgell maintain supreme authority in approval of all international treaties with France and Spain, as well as all those that deal with internal security, defense, Andorran territory, diplomatic representation, and judicial or penal cooperation. Although the institution of the co-princes is viewed by some as an anachronism, the majority sees them as both a link with Andorra’s traditions and a way to balance the power of Andorra’s two much larger neighbors.

San Marino

“The Mouse that Roared” seems entirely likely now!

And not yet a UN member ….
Meaning ‘beyond the river’ in Lithuanian, Užupis is separated from the rest of the city by the Vilnele River. The republic celebrates its independence annually on 1 April, known locally as Užupis Day. On this day, travellers can get their passports stamped as they cross the bridge into the republic (every other day, the border is not guarded), use the local (unofficial) currency and treat themselves to the beer that flows from the water spout in the main square (yes, really).

I did a 12 day trek around the Annapurna mountains in Nepal. The beauty and sheer power of the landscape definitely left a strong impression – but then again I was exhausted and suffering altitude sickness by the end. If you like walking holidays I’d strongly recommend it.

I have loads – I am one of those people who say ‘I’d love to travel the world’.

Top of my list is Madagascar. I would love to see Lemurs in the wild. I also want to explore more of USA and then on to South America. Particularly Bolivia and Chile.

I think we’re incredibly lucky to be so close to mainland Europe, there are so many countries with so much history, I could spend a lifetime exploring it. Plus – our own history. Next on my UK list is York.

That should keep me busy for a while, and I haven’t even mentioned my love for India.

The question we self-indulgent tourists must ask ourselves is – Do the lemurs want to see us? Probably not, would be my guess.

Yes you’re probably right, John. I like that we can see them in their natural habitat though and not behind glass.

@kristina-sarkisyan Devon is nice!

I like to look at them behind glass on the television. They are still in their natural habitat, of course. The close-ups are better, especially when they leap.

I chose Madagascar for a geography project at school and thought I would like to go there one day.

I’ve occasionally thought a round-the-world cruise would deal with 28 countries at a (long) stroke. But then I see out of 120 days, 74 are at sea (not surprising) where you eat, drink, read and sleep like at home. And then a short day in many destinations where you’ll do touristy things. So I’ve abandoned ship.

Some of the most interesting overseas visits have been on business, where you see more of the real country and its everyday life. An illicit visit to Medina in Saudi, the fish market in Kuwait, Damascus and Palmyra in Syria, up-country in Nigeria.

I agree with others about seeing the UK – so much not yet explored. John’s Norfolk was a real experience when, still at school, we hired a sailing boat at Potter Heigham and navigated the waterways for a couple of weeks.Seemingly cut off from the world. Except outside the Smiths crisp factory when the tide was going out and we were going the opposite way; a couple of hours tacking to and fro getting absolutely nowhere, much to the amusement of the staff.

A few days exploring narrow gauge railways in Wales takes you into countryside you would never see by road. Something always intended, but never (yet) achieved, is a narrow boat trip to see Britain “behind the scenes” – places and views missed by most normal tourists and with the bonus of travel at walking speed, without the walking.

So I think more exploring Britain is top of the list.

It’s interesting which Conversations bring out the Which? staffers to comment. I am obviously pursuing the wrong interests and asking questions in the wrong places.

Nice pictures of Alex, but everyone else have disappeared. Yet we all appear in recent activity. Sinister.

Indeed; everyone else has gone, AFAICS. This is the first post since we returned from a few days active debauchery and slovenliness and nothing seems to have changed. Except Alex is still in situ – face-wise, at any rate.

Peru has been on my bucket list ever since younger me read an Anthony Horowitz novel that was set there. I’ve been to Poland a couple of times and would love to explore more of Eastern Europe. Closer to home I’ve only ever driven through Wales on my way to and from Ireland, so I think it deserves a proper trip sometime!

Try Uzbekistan for amazing history – Khiva, Tashkent, Bukhara and Samarkand – and wonderful sights and sites. It filled in a ‘hole in the map’ for us lying, as it does, at the junction of the silk routes in Central Asia.

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Brexit has been like voting to jump out of a high window without first looking to see what’s on the other side.

If we leave the EU without a deal I think that roaming charges for mobile phones will be the least of our worries. It could be cheaper to use the hotel landline than a mobile phone if a call is absolutely necessary. I cannot remember the last time I had to make a phone call when I was on holiday – it’s become a convenience to make frequent phone calls but hardly essential nine days out of ten. I think the mobile telecom operators will offer something acceptable to avoid losing a lot of traffic. The tourist industries in southern Europe might have something to say about anything that deters the Brits from going abroad.

I’m rather concerned that Europe is reverting to an earlier stage in its development – the latest example of this being the Italy – France row taking place.

The dangerous vote to leave the EU in this country could become the spark that ignites the flames of Europe-wide discontent. Based on previous years it won’t take a lot to fan the flames.