person in red coat standing on an iceberg

18 Bucket List Adventures You Need to Experience in 2021

A new year comes with new travel goals, so we’ve taken it upon ourselves to help you find some worthy bucket list adventures!   

There are few things in life more exciting than planning where to go for your next trip. From researching when to go to considering what exciting adventures you’ll undertake, there is nothing better than dreaming up the next great travel experience.

It goes without saying that a new year comes with new travel goals, so we’ve taken it upon ourselves to help you create the ultimate bucket list for 2021. We guarantee you won’t want to miss out on crossing off these epic experiences from your bucket list.                    

1. Embark on an incredible coast-to-coast road trip in the USA

What better way to see multiple destinations than with an epic cross-country road trip? From New York to San Francisco, the Grand Canyon or Big Sur and beyond, this trip will be one for the books. It’s time to live out your Jack Kerouac dreams from state to state this year.

Best time to go: All year-round, though summer and fall are best if you’re hoping for warmer temperatures.   

A highway in the USA leading to the vast landscape
Drive along some of USA’s historic routes and famous highways

2. Kayak past massive icebergs in Disko Bay, Greenland

The name alone should be reason enough to add this once-in-a-lifetime experience to your list of must-do things in 2021. Located on Greenland’s west coast is the Ilulissat ice fjord and Jakobshavn Glacier. Picture paddling through a sea of icebergs that are probably older than most civilizations. Incredible, right? You might even spot a whale during your travels!     

Best time to go: You can feel like a Greenland pioneer at the coolest place on earth (pun intended) all year round. Go! Go! Go!

An iceberg in Greenland
Discover Greenland’s natural wonders

3. Make furry friends in Churchill, Manitoba

Churchill, Manitoba is known for it’s adorable (albeit somewhat dangerous) population of polar bears. Located in northern Manitoba, Canada, this small community’s furry residents are the talk of the globe. The chances are that you’ve come across a photo of them in the past few months, relaxing in the snow, exuding what can only be described as chilled vibes. So, why not pack some extra layers and start exploring Manitoba? 

Best time to go: The polar bear season is from July to November and changes due to migration patterns.

Two polar bears in a brown field, one of them is an adult the other one is a child
Observe Churchill’s iconic polar bears in the wild | ⓒ em_j_bishop/

4. Hike Hawaii’s breathtaking Na Pali Coast

Whether you consider yourself a seasoned trekker or if you’re more of the enjoy-the-view-from-the-comfort-of-the-shore type of traveller, you need to hike along the Kalalau trail along the Na Pali coast. Standing tall at an astounding 4,000 feet, this picturesque peak in Kaua’i, Hawaii is equal parts challenging and rewarding. If you thought the view from below was impressive, you will be stunned by it from above.

Best time to go: Opt to go during the low season from April to June when there will be fewer crowds, and you will practically have the trail to yourself.

a stunning shot of the Na Pali Coast
The legendary Na Pali Coast | © Garden State Hiker/Flickr

5. Go snorkelling in Ambergris Caye, Belize

If the first thought that enters your mind when you think of Belize is snorkelling, then you’re already on the right track. Home to the second largest barrier reef in the world (that’s right, there is more than one), Belize is truly a snorkeller’s dream. The country’s white sand beaches make it one of the best places in the world to go snorkelling. Situated a mere mile away from the reef is the tiny island of Ambergris Caye – a popular starting spot for snorkellers who want to take a closer look at what lies beneath the surface. So get your swimming gear, dive in and get ready to come face to face with nurse sharks, stingrays, colourful coral.                        

Best time to go: The best time to visit Belize is during November and April.   

A beach shack on sticks known as Turtleman's House sits in the shallows
Turtleman’s House, Ambergris Caye, Belize | © Cloud2013/Flickr

6. Get your steps in at Patagonia

When it comes to impressive mountain ranges, Patagonia takes the cake. Stretching from Chile to Argentina, this rugged region is best known for challenging hikes and incredible views. Depending on your skill level, you can opt to complete a day hike or a longer trek in one of the many national parks and trails in the region. Take your pick from one of these iconic trails including Torres del Paine National Park, El Chaltén, El Chatén to Villa O’Higgins, Cabo Froward or Dientes de Navarino.

Best time to go: The best times to discover Patagonia is between November and March.

A beautiful lake in a valley
Patagonia’s raw beauty is a hiker’s dream

7. Trek up Namibia’s Dune 45 in Sossusvlei, Namibia

You’ve likely already seen the stunning images of striking red sand reaching upward to meet vibrant blue skies and thought to yourself that Namibia looks incredible – and you wouldn’t be wrong. Located in the southern part of the Namib Desert, Namibia’s breathtaking Sossusvlei National Park is truly a sight to be admired. But no visit is complete without trekking up the park’s impressive 170-metre tall dune, Dune 45. Aptly named after its proximity to the park entrance, this dune definitely deserves a spot on your 2021 bucket list. Though the journey up may be a bit challenging, running down the dune will make up for it.

Best time to go: Discover Namibia from June to October.

Namibia’s red sand Dune 45 in Sossusvlei
Dune 45 in Sossusvlei

8. Take a ride on the Nine Arch Bridge in Sri Lanka

Part of the allure of visiting Sri Lanka is taking a ride on the iconic Nine Arch bridge. Built in the early 20th century using only rocks, brick and cement, the Nine Arch bridge is not only a unique architectural phenomenon but also a rather visually compelling piece of history too. Located in Ella, between the Ella and Damodara train stations, the bridge spans over 90-metres and stands at the height of 24-metres. The sun-bleached brick juxtaposed against the lush jungle backdrop is the reason thousands of visitors flock to the bridge each year, and why you should too. 

Best time to go: You can explore this picturesque bridge all-year round.

A blue train steams along Nine Arch Bridge in Sri Lanka
Ride the famous train route along Nine Arch Bridge in Sri Lanka

9. Go whale watching in Iceland

When you think of Iceland, what images pop up in your mind first? Is it the Game of Thrones-esque landscape? Or perhaps is it the powerful waterfalls that dot the country? Or maybe you instantly think of the northern lights dancing across the night sky? Whatever your first thought was, it probably wasn’t of our favourite sea creatures, whales. But if you’re planning a trip to Iceland, or just generally looking for an incredible experience to have, whale watching is the way to go. Picture coming face-to-face with one of nature’s most magnificent creatures in their natural habitat. Even if you plan on skipping all of Iceland’s other iconic sites, this one is sure to make up for it.   

Best time to go: You can spot our mammal friends all-year round!            

A group of people looking out at the sea in hopes of seeing a whale
See one of the animal’s kingdom majestic beasts in Iceland

10. Jump out of a plane in Mauritius

When it comes to bucket list adventures, few things are more exhilarating than jumping out of a moving plane. Though certainly not an activity for the faint of heart, skydiving is a rewarding experience. Where better to let go and float down from above than in Mauritius? Located in the Indian Ocean, this tiny island nation is the perfect place to discover the thrill of free falling thousands of feet. Not to mention, the view of crystal clear turquoise water that stretches out as far as the eye can see will have you feeling like you’ve just conquered the world.

Best time to go: Plan your adventure between May and December.

The shores of Mauritius will hypnotize you | ⓒ Jörg Angeli/Unsplash

11. Catch some waves in Indonesia     

Home to over 54,716 kilometres of coastline, this island paradise is more than just a great place to sunbathe. Known best for its lush jungles, white sand beaches and the various active volcanoes that dot the island, travellers often overlook the country’s hidden gem – epic waves. Coveted by surfers around the world, you definitely don’t have to be a pro to enjoy these world-class waves.       

Best time to go: Plan your trip between April and October for the best waves.

surfing in bali
Catch some waves on the beaches of Bali | ⓒ Marcus Löfvenberg

12. Fall for Morocco’s Ouzoud Falls

From Iceland to New Zealand, 2021 is the perfect year to get back out there and go chase waterfalls. But forget Iguazu Falls or the equally breathtaking Victoria Falls and turn your head instead to the Ouzoud Falls in Morocco. Located in the middle of the Sahara desert, no trip to Morocco is complete without feasting your eyes on the stunning 360-foot tall Ouzoud falls.  

Best time to go: You can discover this breathtaking natural wonder all year-round.

A view of the Ouzoud Falls water cascading through brick red slopes
Ouzoud Falls | © Thomas Woodtli/Flickr

13. Hit the slopes in Tyrol, Austria

Austria has long been a country for bucket list adventures. From the quaint village of Hallstatt to the bustling capital of Vienna, this European nation has can steal the hearts of travellers all over the world. Whether you’re new to the world of skiing, or you have already conquered some pretty impressive mountains (and hills alike), Tyrol deserves a spot on your growing bucket list. Home to over 2,000 kilometres of scenic routes suitable for all skill levels, Tyrol will turn even the most skeptical of skiers into winter sports enthusiasts.

Best time to go: Generally speaking, the ski season in Austria begins in December, and ends in March. Depending on the kind of ski experience you’re looking for, January and March are the best times to go. In January, the snow gods will bless you with fresh fluffy snow to ski through, though the days will be shorter and colder. If you’re looking for longer ski days and a somewhat warmer climate, head to Tyrol in March.  

Cable cars journey across Tyrol's snowy landscape
Tyrol’s pristine alpine scenery | ⓒ Pixabay

14. Get above the clouds at Monteverde, Costa Rica

You may have already seen the stunning photos of a single green bridge suspended mid-air surrounded by fluffy clouds and lush green trees. If you did, you would have been taking in one of the many epic views at the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve. Located in Monteverde, Costa Rica, the region’s diverse landscape and high elevation make it any traveller’s dream trip. From hiking, bird watching and breathtaking butterfly farms, to zip-lining and canyoning, the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve is the perfectly picturesque destination for families and solo travellers alike. Grab your camera and become one with nature in Costa Rica.       

Best time to go: You can hang with nature whenever you want!  

Monte Verde, Costa Rica

15. Find tranquillity on a sailing adventure in Milford Sound, New Zealand

If the Internet taught us anything, it’s that there really is no better way to discover New Zealand’s incredible beauty than by sailing through it. And where better to sit back and take it all in than at Milford Sound? Located in New Zealand’s South Island, Milford Sound is the natural wonder you need to see for yourself. Sail along the waters reflective surface and find inner peace knowing that there really is no place on earth quite like it.

Best time to go: Milford Sound is incredible in every season. However, if you’re hoping to head over in the summer months, book a trip between November and March.       

16. Find yourself in the Lost City of Petra, Jordan

Carved directly into the colourful sand cliff faces in the Wadi Musa desert in Jordan lies the ancient city of Petra (Al Batra in Arabic). Once a thriving capital, the city was abandoned and left empty for centuries only to be re-discovered in the early 1800s. Since it’s rediscovery, this wonder has inspired thousands of explorers to explore this desert treasure each year. If you’re looking for exciting (and deeply historical) bucket list adventures, getting lost in the lost city is the way to go.               

Best time to go: Save yourself from heat stroke and plan your trip during Spring (March to May) or Autumn (September to November) when temperatures will be a lot more bearable.

Shot of the pale orange ancient architecture of Petra
Lose yourself in Petra’s majesty

17. Chase the northern lights in Norway

There’s no doubt that experiencing the spectacular aurora borealis is on every must-see list. Seen from a handful of northern countries across the globe, this highly sought-after natural phenomenon is actually a lot harder to spot than you’d think. Though very much a case of right-place-right-time, these dancing lights are best seen from the northernmost reaches of Norway. Hop on a flight to Svalbard, the town rumoured to have the best view and, well, wait for Mother Nature to do her thing.

Best time to go: Optimal northern lights viewing periods generally range from October to mid-March, so plan ahead to get the best deals.  

18. Experience Cherry Blossom Season In Japan       

Sakura season in Japan is like nothing else you’ll ever experience. The streets are filled with rows of blossoming cherry trees, they paint the city in a whimsical shade of light pink that is hard to resist falling in love with. Experience the Japanese custom of Hanami (flower viewing) first hand and find out why the cherry blossom season is the best season.

Best time to go: Cherry blossom season is typical in April, though on it can last until May in the north.

Blooming cherry blossom hangs in front of a building
See cherry blossom season in all its glory in Japan

Are you ready to explore new places? Comment below and tell us about your bucket list adventures.

Psst…If you’re wondering where our feature image is located, it was taken in the Caucasus Mountains. You can find out more about this destination here

Sama is the Social Media Coordinator at TourRadar. She strongly believes in the power of narratives, because story matters. In her spare time, you can find this proud Aquarius reading Dan Brown novels, binge watching shows on Netflix, taking her camera on scenic walks, or discussing world issues over a slice of warm cheese pizza.

A woman reading while laying in a tent in Vietnam
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