18 cities to visit before you're 30
Get these on your bucket list, stat
The world is a big old place, with a plethora - yes, plethora - of destinations just begging to be explored - so much so that it can be hard to know where to begin when planning your next trip. With that in mind, here’s 18 cities to get on your ‘before I’m 30’ bucket list. Enjoy. (And start saving.) (Sorry.)
Galápagos Islands, Ecuador
Considered one of the world's foremost destinations for wildlife-viewing, this province of Ecuador is a chain of 19 islands and dozens of islets - and it’s one of the best places on Earth for viewing wildlife. From marine iguanas and giant tortoises to sea lions and all kinds of seabirds, this place will amaze, delight, and inspire.
In many ways, Vegas is for the young. From clubs that go all night to pool parties that go all day… Sin City is not for the faint-hearted - especially when it comes to taking risks at the gambling tables. Boy oh boy, it’s a lot of fun though.
Melbourne is a buzzing hub of galleries, boutique shops, markets, culinary hotspots and sporting venues. Watch the Australian sunset from a rooftop bar, wander the cobbled laneways, and get yo spend on at the giant open-air Queen Victoria Markets. Bonza.
Arguably Japan’s most famous city, Tokyo is popular for a reason - there’s nowhere else quite like it. From robot cafes and Harajuku girls to cherry blossom trees and karaoke bars, this place has got it all, and more.
Chiang Mai, Thailand
Located in the North of the country, this spot is as lush as it is laid back. With delicious food on every corner, an Elephant Sanctuary, famous Night Bazaar and cooking classes galore, it’s one for the bucket list of any wanderluster.
New York City, USA
Ah, The Big Apple. The City That Never Sleeps. Concrete Jungle That Dreams Are Made Of. It’s a traveller’s playground, with endless sights (The Empire State Building, Times Square, Ellis Island, The Guggenheim, Central Park) and exciting neighbourhoods (Greenwich Village, SoHo, The Meatpacking District, Brooklyn, Little Italy) to explore. Take in a show on Broadway, eat bagels, drink coffee (cawfee) and walk until your little feet are aching but your heart is full.
No global bucket list is complete without the capital city of love, sweet Pari’. Saunter along the banks of the River Seine, stuff your face with cheese and freshly-baked baguette, practice your Mona Lisa smile in front of the real thing at the Louvre, climb the Eiffel Tower, and explore the back streets of Montmartre. Oh, and then eat more cheese. The possibilities are endless, non?
A mountain town filled with friendly locals, an abundance of unique bars, and some seriously good hostels, Cuzco is a special destination in its own right - but it’s also the starting point for the Inca trail, leading to ancient Inca city and gap year staple, Machu Picchu. Those vieeeeews.
Often overlooked in favour of its North American neighbour, the USA, Canada has some serious travel chops - and Vancouver is a gem in its crown. Ski, snowshoe, and sledge in the winter (there’s 3 local mountains, or world-famous Whistler is just a 90 minute drive away), sunbathe, swim, and paddle board in the summer. This place is a prime destination in any season.
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Nothing says ‘I’m young and fabulous’ than partying it up in Brazil’s carnival city. Strut yo stuff on Copacabana Beach, take in some seriously insta-worthy views from the top of Sugarloaf Mountain, and get up close to Jesus courtesy of the Christ the Redeemer statue.
Bursting with colour and culture, the capital of Cuba is all cobbled streets, music-filled bars, amazing churches, and of course - vintage cars. Sit on the Malecon (sea wall) and watch the world go by, tuck into an authentic Cuban sandwich, and visit the many squares and plazas of Old Havana.
Budapest is rife with things to do, from hot thermal baths, hidden ruin bars, and outdoor markets. In the summer the banks of the river Danube are perfect for long, sun-drenched walks - and you can even take a boat out for some aqua-based relaxation.
Parque Nacional Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica
There are so many amazing ‘must-visit’ spots in Costa Rica, but this one is top of the list, thanks to its palm-fringed shores, gorgeous forests, and abundance of natural wildlife. Think postcard, think screensaver, think never wanting to leave.
Often overlooked in favour of better-known cities like Fez, Marrakech and Casablanca, Essaouira is somewhat of a hidden gem when it comes to music. Head here for the Gnaoua Music Festival - dedicated to the Gnaoua, or Gnawa, genre: African spiritual religious songs and rhythms that combine poetry with traditional music and dancing.
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Wine. Steak. A weekly flea market bursting with vintage clothing, jewelry and art. Evita’s grave. Winding, tree-lined streets opening up onto delightful plazas just begging you to stop for a coffee. Buenos Aires is a city that feels truly alive.
Aside from the obvious, Amsterdam is a super fun city for all kinds of reasons - including, but not limited to, it’s unique architecture, amazing canals, numerous breweries, historical monuments, well-connected bike paths and more. Visit during Grachtenfestival for extra entertainment - it’s an annual music festival held at special locations on or beside the Amsterdam canals - and it’s epic.
Pacific Coast Highway, California
OK so it’s not technically a city, but road tripping the Pacific Coast Highway should 100% be on your ‘before I’m 30’ list. Resplendent in history, beauty, and pop culture references, you can hit Los Angeles, San Francisco, Big Sur, Monterey (where ma Big Little Lies fans at?) and more - all in one trip. Yes please.
Auckland, New Zealand
Sometimes called the adventure capital of the world, Auckland is New Zealand’s most populated city - and it’s a gem. It also allows easy access to all kinds of awe-inspiring natural beauty - from the vineyards of Waiheke Island (you can zipline there, too), to the black sand of Piha Beach.
By Lizzie Cox