Are you up for the trip of a lifetime? Here are 20 of the best things to see and do around the world! The list features a mix of beaches, sights, activities, festivals and more.

Papakolea Beach

Location: Big Island, Hawai’i

Best time to go: Weekday mornings

Visitors flock to Papakolea for the beautiful green sand of its beach. The beach is very secluded. There aren’t any amenities and the parking lot is a 2.5 mile hike away. The walk to the beach, along the oceanside and down a lava cliff, is definitely worth the effort. The waters are rough – don’t plan on swimming.

Bowling Ball Beach

bowling ball beach - 20 best things to see and do around the world

Location: Point Arena, California

Best time to go: Low tide

This beach gets its name from the large, round rocks that litter the shore. When the tide is out, visitors can enjoy tidepooling and exploring the various rocky features. Bowling Ball Beach is located between the sandier Schooner Gulch State Beach and Whiskey Shoals, a popular surfing area, so beachgoers have a range of activities in the area.

Etretat, Normandy

Location: France

Best time to go: June to September

The dramatic white cliffs of Etretat are as beguiling today as they were to the Impressionists who painted them. There’s much more to see and do in Etretat, though. Stroll down the beach at night and visit the old town centre with its wooden covered market to round out an unforgettable weekend.

Jeita Grotto, Lebanon

Location: Central Lebanon

Best time to go: April to May; September to November

Jeita grotto is a massive cave system over 9 kilometres long. A cable-car ride leads to the spectacularly lit limestone formations of the Upper Grotto, which can be explored by foot. You can marvel at the otherworldly quiet of the Lower Grotto with a boatride over its subterranean lake.

Skiing in Dubai

ski dubai - 20 best things to see and do around the world

Location: United Arab Emirates

Best time to go: Weekday mornings

The first indoor ski resort in the Middle East, Ski Dubai is the third-largest indoor ski slope in the world. It offers skiing, snowboarding, tubing and many more wintertime activities. There’s even a chalet where you can enjoy a hot drink. Be sure to see the Snow Penguins (a colony of Gentoo and King penguins)!

Angkor Wat

Location: Siem Reap, Cambodia

Best time to go: November to March

Built in the 12th century for King Suryavarman II, Angkor Wat is a true wonder. The vastness of the temple complex, the intricacy of the carvings and the beauty of the architecture must be seen to be fully appreciated. Angkor Wat is the best preserved, but not the only, archaeological significant feature of Angkor Archaeological Park, which is worth a visit in its entirety.

Holi Festival

woman blowing pink powder - 20 best things to see and do around the world

Location: India

Best time to go: March, exact dates vary by year

Holi Festival, the “Festival of Colours,” is a spring festival best known for the incredible colours participants cover their clothes and faces in. Be prepared to celebrate with music, dancing, parties and sometimes fire walking, which is sacred to the festival. Visitors should consider heading to Pushkar and Jaipur to celebrate – these are popular festival destinations for tourists.

Hidden Beach Mexico

Location: Marieta Islands

Best time to go: November to May

Hidden Beach is actually a wide hole near the edge of an uninhabited island and is accessible only by water. Visitors must kayak or swim through a tunnel to reach its pristine white sands. The Marieta islands are part of a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve – to go, you must reserve a spot on a scheduled excursion and wear a wristband.

Table Mountain

table mountain with harbour - 20 best things to see and do around the world

Location: Cape Town, South Africa

Best time to go: October to March

Enjoy a range of beautiful hikes and incredible views of Cape Town on this unmistakeable mountain. Table Mountain is located within Table Mountain National Park, an area rich in biodiversity and featuring varied landscapes from forest valleys to beaches. Highlights include the dramatic Cape Point and the excellent Kirstenboch Botanical Gardens.

Banaue Rice Terraces, Philippines

Location: Ifugao Province

Best time to go: April to May; October to November

Climbing thousands of feet up the sides of the Cordillera mountain range, the Banaue rice terraces, with their contoured stone and earth walls, are a spectacular vision of a sustainable way of life set amidst some spectacular mountain scenery. Be mindful that they are still working rice fields, especially if you go at harvest time.

Plitvice Lakes

plitvice lakes - 20 best things to see and do around the world

Location: Central Croatia

Best time to go: May to June; September to October

Sixteen turquoise lakes, linked by waterfalls, make up the star attraction of Plitvice Lakes National Park. This stunning forest landscape takes about 6 hours to explore via the Park’s paths and wooden walkways, although the Park also offers free tours by boat. Visitors might catch a glimpse of wildlife such as bears, deer, boar and even wolves.

Great Blue Hole

Location: Belize

Best time to go: April to June

The Great Blue Hole is the earth’s largest underwater sinkhole, drawing scuba divers from all over the world. The hole forms part of the Barrier Reef Reserve System and its crystal clear waters offer snorkellers and experienced divers an incredible place to see turtles, sharks, tropical fish, coral reefs and the hole’s fascinating geological formations.

Robot Restaurant

robot restaurant actors - 20 best things to see and do around the world

Location: Tokyo, Japan

Best time to go: Check showtimes

An energetic, over-the-top theatre experience. Expect intense lighting, performers dressed as everything and combinations of colours that do not have a name yet. The show takes about 90 minutes. Wear ear plugs if you don’t like it loud. Note that despite the name, there’s no real sit-down food, just snacks.

Fly Geyser, Nevada

Location: Gerlach, Nevada

Best time to go: May to June; September to October

Until recently, you had to trespass to see this rainbow-coloured geyser. Now, 3-hour guided walks take you through an ecosystem of hot springs, tall grass and playa before reaching this uniquely beautiful geological formation. The tour is device-free, so be prepared to leave your cell phones and cameras off until you reach the geyser.

Golden Gate Bridge

golden gate bridge - 20 best things to see and do around the world

Location: San Francisco, California

Best time to go: September to November

The iconic Golden Gate Bridge straddles the mouth of San Francisco Bay. A bike ride across the impressive 1.7-mile span lets travellers see the best of the city and then explore the surrounding Marin County countryside. Take the paths down to Fort Point for a bit of history and a unique view of the bridge’s massive architecture.

Valley of Flowers, Himalayas

Location: Uttarakhand, India

Best time to go: July to August

The name of this national park says it all. It’s home to around 300 species of alpine flower which bloom against the backdrop of the spectacular Himalayan mountains. Treks through the valley take 6 to 8 hours and are rewarded by unforgettable views. Mind the time as you must reach the first checkpoint before 2 p.m. or you won’t be allowed through.

Bora Bora

palm trees on bora bora - 20 best things to see and do around the world

Location: Tahiti

Best time to go: April to October

Bora Bora’s fame as a jewel of the South Seas rests mostly on its clear waters and private island getaway feel. If you feel the need to leave the beachfront or overwater resort accommodation you’re in, Bora Bora offers exquisite snorkelling, water sports and adventure travel to Mount Otemanu, Mount Pahia and beyond.

Banpo Bridge, Seoul, South Korea

Location: Banpo-dong vicinity, Seocho-gu, Seoul

Best time to go: April to October

People flock to Banpo Bridge to see the Moonlight Rainbow Fountain, the longest bridge fountain in the world. At night the jets are choreographed to music and aglow with multicoloured lights. The full show lasts about 15-20 minutes. Don’t miss the night markets and the “Moonlight Square Cultural Weekends” for their Saturday music events.

Meteora, Greece

meteora - 20 best things to see and do around the world

Location: Central Mainland

Best time to go: May to June

The big draws to Meteora are the monasteries, impossibly perched atop massive rock formations. People and supplies used to be hoisted up to them in baskets. Many are now approachable by road, giving visitors a chance to see the rich murals, frescoes and collections of religious art. Appropriate attire is necessary.

Nubra Valley, Ladakh

Location: Jammu & Kashmir, India

Best time to go: June to September

Once part of the prosperous Silk Road, Nubra Valley is now most famous for its breathtaking mountain scenery. Highlights include monasteries like Diskit Gompa, incredible drives and hikes and of course, the views themselves. Be aware that Nubra is a part of the contested Jammu and Kashmir region – you’ll need a permit to go.

featured image: David J Laporte; image 1: Bob Dass; image 2: Curtis Palmer; image 3: Jakob; image 4: Pixabay; image 5: Miroslav Vajdic; image 6: Marco Verch; image 7: Tae Fuller; image 8: Michael Stout; image 10: Giuseppi Milo