I recently sat down and listed 42 sensational countries I had visited in the last three decades. The last thirty years have passed quickly; children have become adults, jobs have changed, and loved ones have gone, but travel has been consistent.
If we are honest, travel gets us through life and gives us something to focus on. It removes us from our daily routine and firmly transports us to new adventures, sometimes out of our comfort zone, pushing us to achieve new goals.
Whether it be a beach, a city or even a jungle, we develop ourselves as individuals because of travel and our experiences.
The destinations I have visited over the last decade have left memories imprinted in my mind and soul and have shaped who I am today. Here’s to the next decade of travel!
I thought it might be fun to share the sensational countries I have visited, along with a short description of the lasting memories I took from each trip and a link to some of the blogs I have written for some destinations.
I hope to inspire you to travel more in the next decade and visit some of the sensational countries I have been to!
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Africa Country Count – 3
A country with a history leading back to biblical times. Its culture, landmarks and fabulous ocean are like nowhere else on Earth.
My memory: Snorkelling in the Red Sea in a living aquarium and visiting Luxor to see the ancient Egyptian temples.
Steeped in a rich history, Tunisia offers visitors a mix of beach and cultural interests. Head to Sidi Bou Said to see the blue and white village or swim in the warm waters of Sousse.
My memory: Riding a camel for the first time through the desert – quite a memory.
If you adore wildlife and stunning landscapes, South Africa is the place to go.
You’ll find it all here, from the iconic Table Mountain to the penguins on Boulders Beach and the fantastic Cape wineries.
But to see the best of South Africa, hire a car and take a Garden Route road trip through this magnificent country.
Stop off at an elephant sanctuary, hike Storm’s River, and go on a safari. It’s a bucket list experience that can’t be beaten.
My memory: Going on safari and being in the middle of a pack of lions after a kill. What a thrilling but scary experience.
Asia Country Count – 7
Cambodia is a destination where you can travel back in time to see temples set in jungles, navigate the streets in tuk-tuks and eat delicious Cambodian food.
My memory: Walking into Bayon temple in Angkor and not moving or speaking for a couple of minutes because it took my breath away.
A fascinating culture that is a mix of the old and new. Explore the markets, parks, and landmarks and cruise across Victoria Harbour. Hong Kong is an ascent on the senses.
My memory: Visiting Lantau Island and the Big Buddha was very spiritual.
At the top of my list of sensational countries is The Maldives, and in 2015, I finally made it to the island resort of Baros.
My memory: Snorkelling around the reef and bumping heads with a turtle. I don’t know who was more startled, the turtle or me. Oh, and looking next to me and realising two blacktip sharks had been swimming beside me (don’t worry, they don’t eat humans!)
I travelled to Penang and wasn’t sure what to expect.
I found a treasure trove of temples, jungles, street art, clan houses and trendy cafes just waiting to be discovered.
There are many other sensational things to do in Malaysia, from exploring cities, relaxing on beautiful islands, and having once-in-a-lifetime animal encounters.
My memory: Exploring the street art trail in Penang at night with my son and drinking the best mojito slush!
Thailand is the country of a million smiles, which is so true. The people are so friendly, and the history of Thailand, with its temples and religion, is fascinating. It is a definite must to add to your travel wish list.
My memory: I participated in Songkran (Thai New Year) and joined the water fights that were cleansing Thailand’s people, ready for their new lunar year.
The locals in Koi Samui included us in their festivities as if we were old friends, and it was a fantastic experience.
Singapore is a country to visit in its own right and not just a stop-over on your way to another far-flung Southeast Asia destination.
It offers impressive architectural landmarks like Marina Bay Sands, the famous Singapore Zoo and botanical gardens, cultural neighbourhoods, Sentosa Island with its golden beaches and, of course, the Singapore Sling!
My memory: Walking around the Gardens of the Bay at 1 a.m. (we couldn’t sleep) and having the place to ourselves. Imagine that, no crowds!!
Vietnam must be on everyone’s list of sensational countries to visit as it is simply amazing.
The people, culture, landscapes, and food offer everything you want on a trip to Asia!
Visit the ancient ruins in Hue and its incredible imperial city.
Laze on sandy beaches in Danang and feel the buzz of city life in Hanoi.
My memory: Trying to kayak in Bai Tu Long Bay and not realising that I was making us go around in circles.
I had to be told to stop by my son and that he would take control unless I wanted us to float into the South China Sea. Sometimes, you have to listen to your kids!
Caribbean Country Count – 5
More American than in other Caribbean countries I have visited, and a completely different feel to places such as Jamaica and Barbados.
My memory: The endless talcum-powder sand and the Dutch capital Oranjestad. Not what I expected to find on a Caribbean Island.
My favourite of all the Caribbean Islands I have been to, as Barbados has so much to see and do. Hire a car and drive yourself around this beautiful island to understand the vibe!
My memory: My husband went down with a fever, meaning I arrived with him, but no one saw him again for a week.
One of the holiday staff asked me what I had done with him. A local brown sludge was the remedy, and we were able to spend the second week together!
Antigua offers 365 beaches – one for every day of the year – but if you need more to keep you entertained, check out the island’s history, starting at English Harbour. It is also one of the best islands in the Caribbean to travel solo.
My memory: Swimming with stingrays, looking under the water, and seeing hundreds of them all lying on the bottom of the sand.
Bob Marley, Reggae, Rum Punch, Beaches, and Blue Oceans are all waiting to be explored in Jamaica, a beautiful island in the Caribbean Ocean.
My memory: Insisting that my 20-year-old son was not going to be diving off the rocks at Rick’s Cafe and then doing precisely that myself (after a few rum punches for courage)
Turks and Caicos
With sandy beaches and azure waters, this is an island to chill out and relax on. With many fantastic beach resorts like Beaches, you will indeed have a top-class holiday in the Turks and Caicos islands.
My memory: Hiring a car and taking it back after 4 hours as we had seen everything. The island is tiny!
Europe Country Count – 21
Bruges is a charming city full of canals and interesting buildings. Try the chocolate, beer and waffles for a real taste of Bruges.
My memory: Sitting in a canal-side bar in Bruges, trying a “beer flight”, a selection of beers to taste. I thought I’d hate it as I don’t drink beer, but I returned a second time!!
I loved the history of Croatia, the beautiful scenery and the friendly people. This is on my list of sensational countries for a repeat visit in the next decade.
My memory: Sitting on Kolocep island, watching the sun go down with a crisp glass of Croatian wine. Simple but perfect.
Prague is probably my favourite Eastern European city as it offers much to see and do on a trip.
Exploring Prague’s Jewish Quarter and learning about the sacrifices that Jews made is very humbling.
I have also visited the town of Cesky Krumlov in Bohemia, which wouldn’t look out of place in a fairytale book.
Away from the centre of Prague are some fantastic options for day trips. I have visited a unique church in Kutna Hora whose interior is created from bones, from the chandeliers to the candlestick holders.
The four main islands of Lanzarote, Tenerife, Gran Canaria and Fuerteventura are packed with fabulous beaches and interesting sights. Lanzarote is my favourite island and is the first place I visited abroad when I was 19. Happy memories.
My memory: Visiting Timanfaya National Park and seeing meat being cooked over a grate heated by the volcano’s power!
A trip to Denmark will give you an understanding of the Scandinavian term Hygge. Cosy restaurants, charming buildings and a wealth of sightseeing make Copenhagen a perfect city break.
My memory: A pre-Christmas trip to Copenhagen’s Christmas markets put us in the mood for the festive season.
My memory: As this is my home, there are too many memories to list, but if you have never been, then it is time you did. The United Kingdom is a beautiful and diverse country to visit.
Estonia is one of Eastern Europe’s most sensational countries to explore. Churches on every corner, artisan shops, charming cafes and plenty of historical landmarks complete a visit to Tallinn.
My memory: Going on a ghost tour and discovering how haunted Tallinn is!
France (many times)
Every part of France deserves a visit, especially the South of France with its beautiful towns and villages.
But let’s not forget the French coastal cities in the north, each with a distinct character and rich history. Northern France is home to the D-Day landings, the Bayeaux tapestry, dreamy fishing villages, and sandy beaches.
And the Alsatian route in Eastern France is perfect for a road trip. Discover charming fairytale villages and mountain resorts like Chamonix, an ideal place to visit all year round
My memory: Visiting the French Riviera and exploring fairytale villages and ancient landmarks on a fantastic 3-night break.
A history with a diverse history waiting to be discovered. Check out its busy cities like Cologne and head to its forests for a back-to-nature experience.
My memory: Visiting the German Christmas markets to celebrate the festive season.
From the capital, Athens, with its historical gems, to the Greek islands full of colour, beautiful beaches and a friendly welcome, a trip to Greece is fantastic.
My memory: sitting on the balcony of my hotel in Santorini and watching the sun go down over the caldera. Magical!
With a communist past, this Eastern European city offers visitors a wealth of history to uncover.
Visit the spa baths for which the city is famous, a tour of parliament or maybe a trip to the Jewish Quarter. And don’t forget to check out the New York Cafe, named the world’s best cafe.
My memory: Getting heatstroke on an April afternoon and then having to sit through a 7-course tasting dinner at Budapest’s most exclusive restaurant while shivering and feeling ill. It’s not the greatest memory, but I still fell in love with Budapest.
The land of Ice and Fire has some of the most dramatic landscapes I have ever seen. Powerful waterfalls, geysers and glaciers offer visitors a true sense of power and adventure.
My memory: Visiting Pingvillir – the first-ever government seat – and feeling something immensely calming about it.
Italy (many times)
La Dolce Vita is such an apt saying to describe Italy, with its historical sights, beautiful towns, and charming villages.
And of course its stunning lakes and countryside.
Food, beaches and the Italian people make this a country that should be on everyone’s bucket lists.
My memory: I went to Venice after waiting 29 years for my husband to “surprise” me with a trip. Ultimately, I booked it myself, and it was worth the wait. It’s one of the loveliest destinations I have ever been to.
Monaco is the second-smallest country in the world and certainly packs a punch. Go on a day trip from Nice or stay for the weekend and absorb the wealth and power in this tiny principality country.
My memory: Gambling on the slots in Monte Carlo and feeling like I was on a James Bond movie set.
Fjords, mountains, countryside, and fishing villages make Norway an incredible place to visit. Oh, and watch out for those Trolls!!
My memory: Visiting the Lofoten Islands was such a fantastic experience.
Also, I spent three nights in Tromso under the midnight sun.
There are some fantastic places to visit in Portugal. Visit traditional villages, relax on stunning beaches, walk in the countryside, and taste great food.
My memory: Port wine tasting and eating dinner in Porto with new friends we had made on our tour. I love to travel and meet new people.
Russia is one of the most sensational countries that must feature on your bucket list as it is so different from anywhere else. Golden church spires glitter from every angle, Russian palaces wait to blow your mind, and Red Square has to be visited to hear about its turbulent history.
My memory: Standing in torrential rain in the middle of Red Square and realising that this summed up exactly how we had envisaged Moscow to be. Cold, grey and wet but perfect. And seeing the Russian ballet was thrilling.
A road trip to Scotland is a favourite for visitors to the United Kingdom.
My memory: Driving around Skye and feeling so small compared to the mountains and landscape.
Spain (many times)
Spain has beaches, countryside, cities, history, tradition, good food and wine. Book that flight right now!
My memory: Watching an authentic flamenco dance whilst enjoying tapas in Seville. Being absorbed in the culture and music was fantastic.
Stunning mountainside vistas will have you wanting more and more of Switzerland. Chocolate-box villages, amazing hikes and cheese fondues are all activities you need to try on your next visit.
My memory: Driving around Lake Thun and visiting the beautiful castles on the shoreline.
Eastern Europe has a lot of hidden gems, and Ljubljana in Slovenia is one of them. Head away from the towns and cities and discover the countryside’s beauty with hikes and lakes to explore.
My memory: Climbing the hill to Ljubljana castle and realising a funicular train runs from the bottom to the top!
Middle East Country Count – 3
A quieter neighbour to Dubai, Abu Dhabi offers the same luxury levels but on a much smaller scale.
My memory: Visiting the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque and witnessing the sun setting over this stunning piece of architecture.
Dubai (many times)
Dubai has many things to do and see, making it one of the UAE’s most sensational countries and a favourite for travellers worldwide.
It oozes luxury and excellent service, with Dubai’s hotels and beaches being some of the best in the world.
My memory: So many memories from Dubai, but seeing my son scuba dive with sharks in the Dubai Mall Aquarium whilst all the shoppers gathered around to watch was pretty special.
Luxury Hotels, beaches, diving and mountain trips make Oman a place for culture and adventure.
My memory: Being taken to an Irish pub in Muscat where all the Arab gentlemen were sitting with tourists drinking Guinness. It was very surreal, to say the least, and just to let you know, it would not have been my choice to go to the pub, but the person we were with insisted!
Oceania Country Count – 2
Australia’s vast size means you can find anything you want to do and see all in one country.
Take a road trip around Oz; memories will stay with you forever.
Mainland Australia is fabulous, but don’t miss a road trip around Tasmania to find an unspoilt island full of natural diversity.
My memory: Travelling around the country for six weeks on a road trip with my son was the best thing ever. And visiting Kangaroo Island was such a wonderful experience. Being able to get so close to all the animals was a dream.
Without a doubt, New Zealand is one of the most sensational countries in the world.
The saying ‘the great outdoors’ must have been hatched in NZ as it is the most beautiful country I have ever visited.
Day trips from Auckland give visitors to the North Island a chance to experience the most remarkable landmarks. These include visiting sublime beaches, hiking volcanic mountain trails and seeing some of New Zealand’s natural attractions like Waitomo Caves. This is also where you will find Hobbiton (for Lord of the Rings fans!)
In the South Island, see the contrast by visiting Mount Cook and the icy Fox glacier before cruising the fjords in Milford Sound.
My memory: I spent the day on Waiheke Island and enjoyed visiting all the wineries that the island is associated with.
North America Country Count – 1
California, USA (2 times)
The west coast of the United States offers a diverse range of activities and locations, from the wilderness in Yosemite National Park to Las Vegas’s glitz. This continent of extremes is a definite contender for your bucket list countries.
My memory: Camping in Yosemite and asking my son to make sure all his food was put away in the bear-proof lockers, only to discover the next day that he had kept half a sandwich under his bed as he wanted to see a bear!
Florida, USA (3 times)
Let’s talk Mickey Mouse, space launches, beaches, burgers, and animal encounters. Florida offers everything for all generations, including alligator spotting in the Everglades National Park.
My memory: Taking my children back to where my husband and I went on our honeymoon and watching the most amazing sunsets over St Petersburg Beach.
South America Country Count – 1
Mexico was my first venture into South America and one I thoroughly enjoyed. It was a fun-packed trip, from visiting the ruins of Tulum to swimming in the cenotes and snorkelling with the Akumal turtles.
My Memory: Watching the footage of my two sons diving with bull sharks in Playa Del Carmen. A once-in-a-lifetime experience!
I hope you have enjoyed learning about the sensational countries I have visited. Let me know in the comments which ones you have visited and which are on your bucket list.
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