When you head out on a long-term trip, every single person you meet will ask you what your favorite experience has been. We have been asked this question hundreds if not thousands of times, and for several months it was very hard to answer as we have had just too many great experiences to pick the very best.
As a way to share our favorite experiences and give you inspirations for activities to do on your own long-term trip, we decided to put together a ranked list of our Top 100 experiences, destinations, restaurants, and moments from around the world.
When reading, keep in mind that we haven’t been everywhere. This list represents our favorite experiences as of now, from all of the destinations we’ve been to (500+ cities in 67 countries), and will be updated as we travel more and find great experiences that make the Top 100.
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#40 – Panorama Trains in Switzerland
Slowly moving through the Alps with a near 180-degree view, Switzerland’spanorama trains are the only way to experience the beauty of this country. During our travels we were lucky enough to enjoy the GoldenPass train in Switzerland (on our way to Lauterbrunnen) and the Glacier Express from Zermatt to Chur (on our way to Zurich). The eight-plus hours spent on these trains were one of our favorite experiences in the country as the unobstructed view and slow moving trains made us feel like we were truly in the middle of it all. This is one experience we must do again in the future, as our cabin attendant swore to me that the best time to take these trains is not in the summer, but is in fact in the winter to see the countryside covered in pristine snow untouched by man. Sign me up.
#39 – Christmas on a Beach
Growing up in the northern USA, our Christmas memories were often full of dreary weather. We always dreamed of a white Christmas, but were almost always guaranteed freezing rain and never got that pristine white snowfall like you see in the movies. As our fifteen month adventure around the world had a “chasing summer” theme, we knew that we had to be on a beach for Christmas. When we realized we were going to be in India, we immediately picked several beaches in India to visit for Christmas. By the time we were out for the morning on Christmas the sun was shining, the temperature was hot, and the beach was only a few steps away which allowed us to play the day away. With the occasional passerby wearing a santa hat, a seafood lunch, and a shared coconut at sunset, you could easily say this was one of the most beautiful Christmases we’ve ever had.
#38 – Italian Espresso
Being coffee fanatics (Angie more so than Jeremy), we love to observe how people in other countries do coffee. Unfortunately, more often than not, we found people dumping instant Nescafe into hot water instead of drinking the real deal. Italy was one country in which we were not disappointed, however: we stumbled into many a corner bar and found hefty espresso machines and people who knew how to use them. We realized that pretty much anywhere you went, you were guaranteed at least a moderately good espresso (and most of the time an amazing one) with balanced acidity and perfectly smooth, abundant crema. We also just loved the whole culture surrounding coffee in Italy- from iconic shops like Caffe del Doge in Venice to Caffe Cibreo in Florence to Sant’Eustachio Caffe in Rome, there’s no denying the importance of coffee here.
#37 – Etosha National Park
We often describe Etosha National Park as our “Lion King” moment from our African safari. At one watering hole we witnessed just about every species of animal in the park coming through for a drink. Minutes later, they were all scared away by a large elephant who joined the party late. Once the elephant began to give itself a bath in the water all the animals realized things were okay and returned as well. Later that night at the watering hole near our campsite, we witnessed two elephants drinking at the watering hole before eight rhinos showed up- including one fearless baby rhino that taunted the elephants before hiding behind its mom when the elephants showed aggression in return. There were numerous wildlife encounters worth writing about from our safari in Africa, but these in Etosha National Park were definitely our favorites. And yes, we were listening to The Lion King soundtrack during these experiences, too.
#36 – Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia
Plitvice Lakes National Park is often considered to be one of the highlights of the country. With numerous hiking trails and plenty of waterfalls to see at every turn, this destination did not disappoint. To make things even more impressive, if you visit in the fall like we did you’ll be surrounded with the colors of the changing leaves which shine in this beautiful setting. We recommend staying at one of the Plitvice hotels located inside the park. While they are more expensive (the cheapest is around $100 night in the fall), they save you the headache of figuring out the limited transportation options from the nearby hotels and also re-validate your ticket for free if you want to visit the park on more than one day (you’ll want to). It may not save you money in the end, but after a long day hiking you’ll certainly appreciate the convenience!
#35 – Bush Camping in Africa
Bush camping seems like a great idea, right? Heading out into the wilderness, away from the fences and relative safety of a lodge, to camp with a small group and not another soul for miles- sounds great! We got to experience a bush camp on our African safari in the Okavango Delta of Botswana. Our group met up with local guides who transported us in mokoros (canoes carved whole out of a tree) deep into the delta where we witnessed hippos and other animals as we made our way to our overnight camp. With no amenities, no electricity, and a hole in the ground as our toilet, it was truly just us and nature. At nightfall this became even more apparent as the sounds of animals were very, very close.
#34 – Budapest
Budapest is our favorite city in Europe that we’ve been to thus far. This city is full of all of the features we look for in a large destination: great food, easy public transportation, numerous sight seeing opportunities, affordable prices, and overall unique vibe. Budapest hit all of these marks while also having a certain familiarity to us- at times the city reminded us of our old home of Pittsburgh. Both cities have a funicular that leads to an overlook with gorgeous views of the river and city below. This comparison may just be in our heads, but the feeling that Budapest gave us while we were there is a feeling that most cities do not give us, and we’re happy to have visited this European gem during our travels.
#33 – Middleham Falls, Dominica
Our favorite island in the Caribbean is not famous for its beaches and resorts. In fact, there are very few of these on the island at all. Instead, Dominica is better known by its nickname of the Nature Island thanks to its lush rainforests, 365 rivers, and numerous waterfalls. During our brief stop on our Caribbean cruise we had the chance to hike to one of the most beautiful waterfalls on the island, Middleham Falls. This trek is not for the faint of heart. Although the hike is short in duration, you do have to climb up and over a rather large hill in the heat and humidity which made it quite intense. But reaching the waterfall is worth it as Middleham Falls is one of the most beautiful waterfalls you’ll ever see. That we can guarantee.
#32 – Machu Picchu
After being robbed in Puno, Peru, just a few days earlier, we were in no mood to be visiting Machu Picchu- let alone visiting over our anniversary weekend. Although Cusco was a unique city and the Sacred Valley was incredibly gorgeous, we really weren’t having any of it because the cloud of anger still hung over us. It wasn’t until we reached Machu Picchu after taking the panorama train in and bus up to the famous site that our emotions turned around. The first glimpse of the iconic ruins simply took our breath away and the subsequent two days of exploring the grounds were exactly what we needed to turn ourselves around and carry on our travels.
#31 – Greek Gyros
Our all time favorite international food would have to be the Greek gyro. I never thought that this food would end up anywhere near our Top 100, let alone come in at #31, judging from the quality of gyros in the USA. Luckily I am happy to report that gyros in Greece are infinitely better than those made from the pre-formed meat skewers that are found in most restaurants in the US. Starting with our favorite meat, pork, perfectly cooked on a vertical rotisserie, you then add creamy tzatziki sauce, heaps of fresh veggies, a huge mound of french fries, and wrap it all up in a pillow-soft pita. The best part is that most shops make gyros absolutely monstrous and at $3-$5 each, you truly get a huge bang for your buck. Now I’m hungry for a gyro.
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How We Came Up With This List
- Angie and I each put together Top 100 lists based on our favorite experiences both together and separately.
- We then compared our two lists and averaged out items that appeared on both lists.
- Example: An experience ranking #12 on Jeremy’s and #20 on Angie’s list was re-ranked at #16
- Roughly 50 items appeared on both lists.
- We then critiqued experiences which only appeared on one list.
- For experiences that we both had, the one who did not list it originally assigned their own rank and we averaged them out like above.
- For experiences that only one of us had from traveling solo, we accepted the listing as ranked and promised to take the other one day.
- Roughly 20 of Angie’s items and 30 of Jeremy’s unique items made the final cut.
- We then came up with a final Top 100 list based on these adjustments and then tweaked placements together as needed to fix any unusual averaging errors.
- Destinations visited by staff members were not considered.
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