I am not someone who has ever created a bucket list – there are so many incredible countries that it is hard to know where to start! That said, it is something I would like to create one day.

That being said, there are plenty of places that I have felt drawn to for a long time and, therefore, I would describe them as being top of my mental bucket list.

Quck disclaimer: I have never been to any of these places and so photographs are not my own. All images used are labelled for reuse.

Here are my top 5 bucket-list countries that I cannot wait to go to:

JAPAN

Being based in the UK, it is not cheap to get to Japan yet it is one of the places I want to visit most in the world. For this reason it is probably at the very top of my bucket list!

I have been obsessed with Japan since I was about 12. Yes, it started as the typical anime obsession however, as I looked more into the culture, tried my hand at, unsuccessfully, learning the language and looked at photos and videos I fell more and more in love with it.

A pagoda in the country of Japan

There are a few main reasons for my desire to visit which include:

The Food

Japanese food looks so incredibly appetising. Sushi is already one of my favourite foods and it holds a special place in my heart as it is the meal my boyfriend and I eat on special occasions.

I also love noodles so soba, ramen, and udon all sounds yummy to me. I’m also interested in visiting the cup noodles museum in Yokohama.

Mount Fuji

I have recently taken up an interest in travel photography and Mount Fuji is, in my opinion, one of the most beautiful mountains in the world.

Mount Fuji in one of the countries on my bucket list, Japan

I would love to see Mount Fuji in person and, who knows, maybe I will be able to post my own stunning photos of it.

Beauty

A pagoda in the country of Japan

It feels a bit cheeky to have a separate heading called beauty that Mount Fuji is not a part of, but I didn’t know how else to sum up the beauty that is Japan.

I love temples from all around the world and Japanese temples and pagodas are among the most beautiful in my opinion. I would love to be able to visit some in real life and take in the culture that resides within them.

As well as this, the sakura blossoms look so magical and I would love to be able to see them in person in the spring.

There is so much beauty in Japan and I would love to be able to get lost, exploring the parks and streets for myself.

A pagoda with some cherry blossoms in the country of Japan

Vending Machines

My final, slightly more fun, reason for wanting to visit Japan is to try out the many vending machines they have.

I think the concept of being able to get almost anything out of a vending machine is so unique and fun, especially as vending machines are not super common in the UK. I’ve seen everything from canned bread to actual puppies in these machines and I would love to be able to go and test some of the more unusual ones out.

I won’t be buying any puppies though.

Some Japanese vending machines

BRAZIL

The next country that I would love to visit is Brazil. It is actually on my bucket list to live in Brazil for at least a few months but I would gladly just visit until that is possible.

My reasons for wanting to visit Brazil are a bit more unique than for anywhere else I want to visit. My boyfriends family is from Brazil and so I would love to visit to see where his relatives are from.

There are however other reasons that Brazil is on my bucket list, and it was actually somewhere that I wanted to go to even before we started dating.

Some reasons that I would like to visit Brazil are:

Carnaval

One of the biggest items on my mental bucket list is Carnaval.

Everything I have seen and heard about Carnaval makes it look like one of the most exciting and upbeat festivals in the world. Everything from the people to the costumes and the music draws me to the event and it is something that I would like to experience for myself.

Scenery

Brazil is home to some absolutely magical views and nature.

From the stunning beaches of Bahia and Florianopolis, which boast white sand against azure blue waters, to the greenery and mountain landscapes of the incredible national parks, there is so much natural beauty I want to experience. And, of course, I can’t forget the incredible Christ the Redeemer statue.

I am trying to get into hiking, a difficult feat when you live in the Midlands, and Brazil seems to have to absolutely amazing ones. I cannot wait to be able to go exploring in a country with so many stunning treks.

COLOMBIA

Colombia is probably the newest addition to my must travel list however it has rapidly become one of the countries I want to visit the most. It is such a diverse country with cities that are relaxed and calm and others built for adventure.

Some of the reasons I would love to visit Colombia are:

Adventure Travel

Adventure Travel is something that I am trying to get more into as the majority of my travels thus far have been city breaks. This means I am adding more and more adventurous countries to my bucket list.

Colombia is one of the most diverse countries I have looked into, meaning that it lends itself really well to adventure travel. From diving to rafting, hiking to mountaineering, Colombia has it all.

I’m not saying that I’m going to be able to get the most out of all Colombia has to offer, I am actually currently working to overcome a fear of water in order to be able to face diving and snorkelling, which is a dream of mine to someday experience, so white water rafting and other similar sports may be a bit out of my comfort zone.

The bucket list adventures that I am most excited to undertake in Colombia are paragliding, hiking, zip lining and bungee jumping

Coffee

I am a huge coffee drinker. I cannot function in a day without at least one cup of coffee!

Colombia is so known for its coffee and I would love to be able to visit some coffee farms, learn more about how it is made, and just drink some delicious, you guessed it, coffee.

I have heard amazing things about Coffee Tours in Colombia, specifically from this culture trip article and this video by Backpacking Bananas, that make me really want to experience them myself. The coffee tours I most want to do are the Flavours of Bogota Experience, which visits multiple cafes around the city to learn the best way to prepare coffee, and the Las Acacias Coffee Farm tour in Salento.

I would also really like to visit Parque National del Cafe – a coffee theme park!

Hiking and National Parks

Hiking is one of the things I want to do so badly in Colombia.

Colombia is home to some absolutely stunning national parks that I would love to wander around in, seeing the sights and exploring the trails.

The national parks I want to visit most are:

  • Parque Nacional Natural de Los Nevados to visit Valle del Cocora
  • Parque Nacional Natural Tayrona to explore its beautiful beaches
  • Manglares de Old Point National Park to watch some wildlife

It is also a dream of mine to do the Lost City Trek in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Maria as it looks so interesting and beautiful. This would be the longest trek I would have ever done and so would be a fun challenge!

ECUADOR

Ecuador is another more recent addition to my top 5 countries however, upon seeing the beauty of the Galapagos in this series of vlogs by Kara and Nate, I knew I had to go for myself.

The main reasons I want to go to Ecuador are:

The Galapagos Islands

As I already said, I think the Galapagos Islands are the main reason I want to visit Ecuador! My friend and fellow travel blogger Fizz from On The Fly visited as part of her gap year and her blogpost really cemented any desire I had to go!

From the wildlife to the diving, there is so much to see and do amongst the many islands of the Galapagos and it seems like such a magical place. The manner in which the island has been conserved is so stunning and means that, for the most part, it is truly unspoilt by tourists.

I’ve also heard good things about the islands coffee…

Hiking (and the Quilotoa Loop)

There are some gorgeous treks in Ecuador, including the famous Quilotoa loop, that I would just love to experience for myself.

The Quilotoa loop is actually the thing that originally put Ecuador on the map for me! I saw some stunning pictures online that made the lake look so tranquil and gorgeous I couldn’t help but long to be there in person.

Some other hikes that I would love to take are:

  • Avenue of the Volcanos for some traditional villages and rainforests (plus volcanos)
  • Cotopaxi to gaze down into a 800m wide crater
  • Rucu Pichincha for some truly magical views of Quito

CUBA

Cuba has been at the top of my bucket list for years; when I finished my A-levels in 2018 I intended to take a gap year, get off-grid, and spend as long as a visa would allow learning Spanish. Unfortunately, I ended up not taking a gap year and instead going straight on to university.

This is still a huge goal of mine!

I have heard very good things about Spanish schools in Cuba and would really like to try my hand at learning a language in one of the countries it is spoken in, where it is necessary to use it if you want to have any interactions with locals. They say there is no better way to become fluent than to be thrown in at the deep end after all.

I think that Cuba is such an underrated country and something about it draws me towards it.

Some of the reasons Cuba stands out to me are:

The Local Experience

In Cuba, the most popular place to stay as a tourist is in a ‘Casa Particular’ or, essentially, a private home.

As someone who travels with the goal of seeing the real side of the country and having the most authentic experience possible, the concept of Casa Particular’s is incredibly appealing.

As well as this, the fact that Cuba is still a very authentic country, unspoilt by mass tourism, makes me want to visit is as soon as possible. There are very little chain corporations and locals are genuinely pleased to see tourists. Overall, it sounds like a magical place to visit to get a real slice of life.

If you like interesting places to stay then you should check out my post on 11 hotels to add to your bucket list!

History

Cuba’s history is fascinating and, from what I’ve seen, roaming the streets of Havana is like walking into a museum. From the classic cars to the architecture and cuban goods, the city is like a history textbook in real life.

A ban on US imports in Cuba meant that the Cuban people had to make their own goods. Despite this having lessened, Cuban goods are still used in the majority of situations, to my understanding, making Cuba a truly unique place to visit.

There are so many more countries that I would love to visit than just these – I am trying to visit at least 100 after all – but these are probably the top 5 that I have wanted to visit for the longest time!

What are your top bucket-list countries?

Have you been to any of my top bucket-list countries?

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65 Comments

  1. Wow, I love everything about this post! I also had a go at learning Japanese when I was younger – the Young Samurai series by Chris Bradford got me obsessed with all things Japanese! depthofmind.com is an awesome travel blog with some great posts about Colombia and Ecuador!

  2. I’ve never considered Colombia before reading this, but I might need to consider it more for my own list.
    Also, I agree with you that Cuba is really underrated. People need to give it a lot more credit!

    1. Cuba has been a dream of mine for years now! Definitely a high priority trip for me! In terms of Colombia it wasn’t huge on my list until recently but backpacking bananas on YouTube has a great vlog series about her time there and it looks incredible!

  3. I’ve been to Japan and Cuba and loved them. The other three are on my list too 🙂
    I look forward to reading about your travels!

  4. We visited Colombia 2 years ago and we absolutely loved the country! The cocora valley is breathtaking and definitely worth a couple of days at least.
    One stop we loved in Colombia as well: the Guajira peninsula in the north east. It is a desert near the ocean and you can visit it as a road trip with or without a guide! The dessert is stunning you sleep in hammoc and the views are gorgeous!

    Good list too! Cuba and Ecuador are on our list for next year 😃

    1. Australia is definitely up there for me! I’m currently focusing on South America however I think that I would want to spend a longer period in Australia, potentially on a working holiday!

  5. Nice!! I should also write mine soon. It is completely different from yours. I have been to Brazil and Japan. Loved Rio!!

  6. What a great bucket list with some fabulous places to visit. I do hope you get round to seeing them all. Japan does look an amazing country to visit I would love to go there one day too.

  7. Lovely choices! I second the Japan choice. I’ve always wanted to go there. I think it has so much to offer and see!!

    Casey Anne

    1. Yes it has such a different culture to the UK! I don’t think it’s possible to fully explore it no mater how long you’re there for but I would love to spend an extended period of time in Japan!

  8. Ahhh, Japan is the only one on your list I’ve been to, though some of the others are in my bucket list too! Japan is gorgeous and the people are so lovely. I’ve been there a few times now and would love to go back again. Last time we spent 6 days up in Hokkaido for a road trip in Autumn. It was so gorgeous and well off the beaten tourist path (or at least, the foreign tourist path anyway). Hopefully we can go back again soon. If it’s helpful, here is our 6-day Hokkaido road trip itinerary: https://stillaslife.com/autumn-6-day-hokkaido-central-and-eastern-road-trip-itinerary/

    1. Thank you so much! Japan is definitely up there at the top of my list as soon as I can afford to visit! I want to go on an extended trip to really be able to experience what it has to offer!

      1. It’s absolutely worth doing! We’ve been a few times now. Different places and different times of year, and each part is so uniquely beautiful. I need to do some more articles from our travels there.

  9. I haven’t been to any of your top 5, but i love to visit South America someday. Here’s my top 5 bucketlist: Israel, Spain, Malta, Italy and Ireland ❤

  10. Japan is truly awesome! Clean streets and disciplined people. I love going there, especially during the cherry blossoms season!

  11. Japan is amazing ! (Shameless plug; I’ve just done some posts on it!) The accommodation can be expensive, especially for the tiny rooms, and getting there also can be expensive, but it’s so worth it! The country is Rich with history, amazing temples and shrines and houses from long ago! I miss it so much and would go back in a heart beat! The vending machines are cool. I unfortunately missed the pizza one (I think in Horishima?) But we saw all sorts! We were surprised to see many selling alcohol and cigarettes!

    I haven’t been to the other places too mention but they sound amazing! I used to be against going to places in South America but as I grow older and read more travel blog’s, I realize those country’s aren’t terribly bad like movies may portray them and they all look like worthwhile travel destinations!

    1. I will definitely have to check out some of your Japan posts before I go! Sounds like you have a lot of useful information on there 😅 I’m glad your opinions of South America have changed a bit! I think there is so much beauty in those countries!!

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