Travel is the best gift you can give anyone in my book. Get me on the next plane out of here and let me see the world. People always ask me, “If you could travel to any place right now where would it be?” and my answer always is “I don’t know, but is everywhere an option?” It definitely is a goal of mine to see as many places as I can in my lifetime.
It’s always amazing to see how different each culture is from the next; what we consider the norm, someone else might not. I know it is a cliché to say, but we all smile in the same language. Celebrate that bond by traveling as often as you can and meeting tons of unique individuals.
Here are 10 places you must see in your lifetime!
1. The Great Wall of China
One of the New 7 Wonders of the World. A wall that is over a thousand miles long and stretches from Shanhaiguan in the east, to Lop Lake in the west. This wall took over 200 hundred years to construct, mainly throughout the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). The part of the wall that is best known and well-preserved is the portion that was built during this dynasty. The wall was built to prevent barbarians from entering the Chinese Empire, which it wasn’t the most successful in doing. But, this powerful wall does represent the country’s past and present strength. The best times to visit the wall would be either the fall or spring (less costly and more bearable temperatures). In late-March you will be able to see the famous cherry blossoms, and in mid-October, the trees will be covered with beautiful red leaves.
2. Taj Mahal, India
Another member of the oh so elite New 7 Wonders of the World. This is one of the most well known structures in the world. Why was this structure built, might you ask? Well, in the 17th century, Mughal emperor Shah Jahan called for this unbelievable building to be built for his wife when she passed away (take notes my future husband, I want something just like this to be built for me). It now holds the body of himself and his wife. But, the extravagance does not end there. Materials for the Taj Mahal needed to be brought all the way from Istanbul along with artisans as well. Over 1,000 elephants were used to transport materials to the building site. To keep this structure pure and untouched, they limit the amount of pollution at the Taj Mahal by preventing vehicles from driving within a one mile radius of the structure. So be prepared to do a lot of walking or take a battery-operated vehicle they call a Tuk Tuk.
3. Machu Picchu, Peru
Machu Picchu is not considered one of the New 7 Wonders of the World for no reason. Think about this: an ancient Incan city built 8,000 feet above sea level with not even close to the amount of knowledge we have today. How is this possible? This site was discovered in 1911 by a Yale professor Hiram Bingham, and he deemed it “the lost city.” Before this discovery, not even the locals knew this city existed. There are two ways you can experience Machu Picchu. The first would be to take the train and stay over night at the base of Machu Picchu, then take a bus halfway up the mountain the next morning and hike the rest of the way. This way would be the least exhausting. Option number two would be for the more adventurous crowd: The Inca Trail. This is a four day hike where you do not take a train or a bus, but you hike up the entire mountain and camp outside along the way. You can’t even imagine the feeling of finally reaching the top of Machu Picchu. There is nothing like it.
4. Galapagos Islands
Located off the coast of South America (approximately 600 miles off the coast) lies a set of islands with a vast array of wildlife. Ever since Charles Darwin explored the islands in 1835, nature lovers have been coming here to see the exotic features that the islands have to offer. Now we view the galapagos as a home to all of this wildlife, but what most people don’t know is that this was once a place for pirates and prisoners. You can see many species that are only found in the Galapagos such as the Galápagos giant tortoise and marine iguana. 97% of the island is considered a national park which is a great way to protect and preserve the unique wildlife. If you are ready for an adventure and (i.e. get face-to-face with the wildlife), then this should be your next destination.
5. Pyramids of Giza, Egypt
The most special part about this place tucked away in Egypt is the mystery that surrounds it. One of the 7 Ancient Wonders of the World, it was completed around 2,560 BC, at which time it was used as a mausoleum. The pyramids were considered the tallest structures in the world for 38 centuries: now, that’s a long time. It is unreal how even with all of the technology and knowledge we have today, it’s impossible for us to replicate these structures. How did they get here without the tools and manpower that they would have needed to lift the materials weighing up to 88 tons? Aliens? No one knows. Explore the grounds on top of a camel and see for yourself! (This would make a great hump day insta).
6. Grand Canyon, Arizona
It’s amazing how people assume that you need to travel to other countries in order to see and experience beautiful sights. For us Americans, we are fortunate enough to have this breathtaking view right in our home. Right here in Arizona we have a beautiful sight that most people consider to be one of the 7 wonders of the natural world. The Grand Canyon is 277 miles long and 6,000 feet deep. This is nowhere near the dimensions of the longest or deepest canyon in the world, but since it is so beautiful, over 5 million tourists come to celebrate it every year. The first expedition was led in 1869 by John Wesley Powell, and in 1919, it became the 17th National Park in the United States.
Tip: See The Grand Canyon by helicopter!
7. Sagrada Familia, Barcelona
A Church that has been under construction since 1882 and still not completed… what? Our Spanish friends might be taking too many siestas but regardless of that, this church is definitely one of the most beautiful in the world. It would probably take your entire lifetime to thoroughly inspect each and every statue. This church was originally commissioned for Francisco Del Vilar, but after many disagreements, he passed it over to Gaudí. For those of you not familiar with Gaudí , he was not a fan of straight lines and had a more abstract style which was not conventional for his time. Most people were upset with the fact that it didn’t fit the stereotypical church look. Today, famous sculptures continue to replicate the work of Gaudí and hopefully will ultimately fulfill his image of the church. One can only hope that the church will be done by its estimated year, 2026.
8. Colosseum, Rome
Another member of the New 7 Wonders of the World. This at one point was the largest amphitheater holding 50,000 people. All people, rich and poor, would gather here to watch gladiator fights, executions, and animals hunts. There were also records that show that the floor would be flooded to recreate naval battles. Unfortunately, it is estimated that over 1 million animals were killed fighting here. You would get a ticket upon entrance (made of pottery, not paper of course) and it would correspond with your seat and section. Senators would be at the lower level closest to the “show” and women, poorer men, and slaves would find themselves all the way up at the top.
9. Serengeti National Park
There is absolutely nothing like seeing such majestic creatures in their natural habitat. The term Serengeti means “endless plains” in the Maasi Language. It spans 12,000 miles so of course it seems as though it is endless! This park is home to the largest mammal migration. It is amazing to think that in 1 million years not much has changed here, most waterways and plants have been untouched. People come from all over to view the migration of over 1 million wildebeests that cross the Mara River. It is unbelievable to see the way that different species interact and survive in their natural environment.
10. Santorini Island, Greece
It is absolutely breathtaking to see these whitewashed houses with blue roofs overlooking the water… Unfortunately, Santorini was not all beauty because in the ’50s, its active volcano erupted and destroyed a lot of the city. This island strives on tourism and its soil exports — over 2 million tons each year! Most travelers stay where the red and black sand beaches are in Kamari and Perissa. If you want to see the more traditional side of town, stay in Fira, Oia, or Imerovigli. In these cliffside towns, you will find the cutest cafés, the best food, and a lot of locals. No matter where you stay though — on the beach or cliffside– you will get to experience the indescribable sunsets each night.
Victoria is a student at The University of Delaware studying Marketing and International Business. She likes to consider herself an avocado connoisseur and will eat them on anything.