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42 Sensational Countries You Must See In Your Lifetime

42 Sensational Countries You Must See In Your Lifetime

I recently sat down and listed 42 sensational countries I had visited in the last two decades. The last twenty years have gone by quickly; children have become adults, jobs have changed, and loved ones have passed, but travel has been consistent throughout.

Let’s be honest travel gets us through life and gives us something to focus on. It removes us from our normal 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 the experiences we encounter. I know that 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 memory 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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Total Number of Sensational Countries I Visited in Two Decades: 42, including repeat visits.

Countries visited in Africa – 3

Egypt

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. Visiting Luxor and seeing the ancient Egyptian temples.

Availability and Rates for Accommodation in Sharm El Sheikh
View of temple ruins and obelisk in Karnak

Tunisia

Steeped in a rich history Tunisia offers the visitor 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.

Availability and Rates for Accommodation in Sousse
blue and white building in Sidi Bou Said tunisia

South Africa

South Africa is a place like no other. If you love wildlife, amazing landscapes, wine and great food, you will love a Garden Route road trip through this magnificent country.

My memory: Going on safari and being in the middle of a pack of lions after a kill. What a thrilling but scary experience.

Availability and Rates for Accommodation in Cape Town
Two lions feeding on a zebra carcass

Countries visited in Asia – 7

Cambodia

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 Bayan temple in Angkor and not moving or speaking for a couple of minutes because it took my breath away.

Availability and Rates for Accommodation in Siem Reap
A temple with tree roots growing over it

Hong Kong

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.

Availability and Rates for Accommodation in Hong Kong
Bodhivista statues on Lantau

Maldives

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!)

Availability and Rates for Accommodation in the Maldives
Overwater villas

Malaysia

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!

Availability and Rates for Accommodation in George Town, Penang

Thailand

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. 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.

Availability and Rates for Accommodation in Koi Samui
Temples and Statue in Thailand

Singapore

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 amazing architectural landmarks, 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 am (we couldn’t sleep) and having the place to ourselves. Imagine that, no crowds!!

Availability and Rates for Accommodation in Singapore
A view of the Singapore cityscape at night

Vietnam

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! Spend time visiting ancient ruins in Hue, 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 off into the South China Sea. Sometimes you have to listen to your kids!

Availability and Rates for Accommodation in Hanoi

Countries visited in the Caribbean – 5

Aruba

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.

Availability and Rates for Accommodation in Aruba
a lady sitting on a colourful chair

Barbados

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!

Availability and Rates for Accommodation in St James, Barbados

Antigua

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.

Availability and Rates for Accommodation in St Johns, Antigua

Jamaica

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 exactly that myself (after a few rum punches for courage)

Availability and Rates for Accommodation in Negril, Jamaica

Turks and Caicos

With sandy beaches and azure waters, this is an island to chill out and relax on. With a wealth of amazing beach resorts like Beaches, you will surely 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!

Availability and Rates for Accommodation in Turks and Caicos

A-D Countries visited in Europe – 9

Belgium

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!!

Availability and Rates for Accommodation in Bruges
colourful buildings in a town square

 Croatia

I loved the history of Croatia, the beautiful scenery and the friendly people. This is back on my list of sensational countries to 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.

Availability and Rates for Accommodation in Dubrovnik

Czech Republic

Prague is probably my favourite Eastern European city as it offers so much to see and do on a trip.

My memory: Exploring Prague’s Jewish Quarter and learning about the sacrifices that Jews made.

Availability and Rates for Accommodation in Prague
view of the Vltava River in Prage

Canary Islands

The four main islands of Lanzarote, Tenerife, Gran Canaria and Fuerteventura are packed with fabulous beaches and interesting sights.

My memory is visiting Timanfaya National Park and seeing meat being cooked over a grate heated by the volcano’s power!

Availability and Rates for Accommodation in Lanzarote
Timanfaya volcano Lanzarote

Denmark

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.

Availability and Rates for Accommodation in Copenhagen
Barges along a Danish canal

England

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 wonderful and diverse country to visit.

Availability and Rates for Accommodation in London
London Eye and County Hall on London's Southbank

Estonia

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 finding out just how haunted Tallinn is!

Availability and Rates for Accommodation in Tallinn
Tallinn Aerial View

France (many times)

Every part of France deserves a visit.

From its coastal cities in Northern France to its countryside in Eastern France, and not forgetting the beautiful French Riviera. You will be spoilt for choice.

My memory: Visiting the French Riviera and exploring fairytale villages and ancient landmarks on a fantastic 3-night break.

Availability and Rates for Accommodation in Nice
An aerial view of the promenade and coastline in Nice

Germany

A history with a diverse history waiting to be discovered. Check out its busy cities and head to its forests for a back-to-nature experience.

My memory: Visiting the German Christmas markets to get a real festive feeling.

Availability and Rates for Accommodation in Cologne

H -Z Countries visited in Europe – 11

Hungary

With a communist past, this Eastern European city offers the visitor 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. Not the greatest memory, but I still fell in love with Budapest.

Availability and Rates for Accommodation in Budapest

Iceland

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.

Availability and Rates for Accommodation in Reykjavik

Italy (many times)

La Dolce Vita is such an apt saying to describe Italy. The historical sights, towns, villages, lakes and countryside.

Food, beaches and the Italian people make this a country that should be on everyone’s bucket lists.

My memory: Going to Venice after waiting 29 years for my husband to “surprise” me with a trip. In the end, I booked it myself, and it was worth the wait. One of the nicest destinations I have ever been to.

Availability and Rates for Accommodation in Venice
venice

Monaco

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.

Availability and Rates for Accommodation in Monte Carlo
Aerial View of Monaco

Norway

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, spending three nights in Tromso under the midnight sun.

Nusfjord Arctic Resort

Portugal

There are some amazing 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.

Availability and Rates for Accommodation in Porto
view back to Ribeira from Vila Nova

Russia

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.

Availability and Rates for Accommodation in Moscow
Availability and Rates for Accommodation in St Petersburg
A russia palace

Scotland

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.

Availability and Rates for Accommodation in the Scottish Highlands
a Scottish Loch

Spain (many times)

Spain has it all – Beaches, Countryside, Cities, history, tradition and 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.

Availability and Rates for Accommodation in Seville

Switzerland

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.

Availability and Rates for Accommodation in Interlaken
Ferris wheel and river Aare, Thun

Slovenia

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!

Availability and Rates for Accommodation in Ljubljana

Countries Visited in the Middle East – 3

Abu Dhabi

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.

Availability and Rates for Accommodation in Abu Dhabi
Abu Dhabi Mosque

Dubai (many times)

Dubai is one of the sensational countries in the UAE and a firm favourite for travellers from all over the world. It oozes luxury and great service, and of course, Dubai’s hotels and beaches are the best in the world. Dubai offers the traveller a diverse range of things to see and do during a trip.

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.

Availability and Rates for Accommodation in Dubai

Oman

Luxury Hotels, beaches, diving and trips into the mountains 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!

Availability and Rates for Accommodation in Muscat
Camels in the Egyptian Desert

Countries visited in Oceania – 2

Australia

Australia’s vast size means you can find about anything you could ever want to do and see all in one country.

Take a road trip around Oz, and the memories will stay with you forever. Hop over to Tasmania and find an unspoilt island full of natural diversity.

My memory: Visiting Kangaroo Island was such a wonderful experience. Being able to get so close to all the animals was a dream. Travelling around the country for six weeks on a road trip with my son was the best thing ever.

Availability and Rates for Accommodation in Adelaide
kangaroos feeding

New Zealand

Without a doubt, New Zealand has it all as 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 North Island a chance to experience the most amazing landmarks.

My memory: Staying with my best friends and visiting Hobbiton. I had to keep reminding myself it was a film set.

Availability and Rates for Accommodation in Auckland

Countries visited in North America – 2

California (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. An area of extremes and 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!

Availability and Rates for Accommodation in Yosemite

Florida (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.

Availability and Rates for Accommodation in St Pete’s Beach

I hope you have enjoyed learning about the sensational countries I have visited. Let me know which ones you are have visited and which are on your bucket list.

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Linda Gerbec

Tuesday 27th of October 2020

I really enjoyed this post. You summed up so many places so well it makes me want to visit all of them. My husband and I (from the U.S.) are in our third year of full-time travel and have been waiting out the pandemic in Budapest. Can’t wait to get going again and your list will help.

WhereAngieWanders

Tuesday 27th of October 2020

Thank you for your comment, Linda. I am so pleased that the post has inspired you to visit some of the best countries in the world. It sounds as though you were having an amazing adventure before the pandemic hit, I hope you can continue on your way again soon. Take Care, Angie

Nancy Hann

Tuesday 23rd of June 2020

Lots of great destinations in your list! Some of my favorites too. Thanks for sharing the extensive list.

Alison

Monday 22nd of June 2020

This is an amazing list Angie, that includes so many places I'd love to go to, chiefly in eastern Europe. I've not been to any of the Caribbean Islands you mentioned, only Cuba, but I've been to pretty much everywhere else. But yeah, eastern Europe has been on my list for a long time. I'm not sure it will ever happen now, but that's okay. I think we're in for a whole new way of travelling, if at all, so we can be nourished instead by our memories, and by armchair travel.

WhereAngieWanders

Monday 22nd of June 2020

Glad you enjoyed my list Alison. Eastern Europe is wonderful and I am looking forward to discovering some new places when it is safe to do so. Until then as you say we have precious memories and of course some great blogs to read 😃

Wendy Werneth (The Nomadic Vegan)

Monday 22nd of June 2020

Looks like I've been to most of these! The ones I'm missing are the Maldives, the Canary Islands, and all of the Caribbean countries. I guess you can tell I'm not much of a beach person LOL. Oh, and I still have been to New Zealand either, which is definitely on my list!

Lynnette

Sunday 21st of June 2020

What an epic travel journal. You have been so fortunate to visit so many amazing places. The Maldives are on our bucket list for sure. Being divers, it's one of those places, alike Bali, that we dream of getting to at some point. Thanks for taking us on your journey, it was so much fun.

WhereAngieWanders

Sunday 21st of June 2020

Glad you enjoyed it Lynnette. Both my sons are divers so many of the places we chose to visit were with them in mind. The Red Sea in Egypt was probably their favourite place for diving.