The world is full of interesting and beautiful places to visit, but some just leave you speechless. We’ve compiled a list of our absolute favorite fun or simply jaw-dropping venues and experiences. These cool places to visit belong on everyone’s bucket list.

Ha Long Bay

Ha Long Bay Vietnam is a cool place to visit
Ha Long Bay, Vietnam

Stunning Ha Long Bay in northern Vietnam is renowned for its emerald waters and thousands of colossal limestone islands covered in lush greenery. On our trip in 2018, we started with Sung Sot Cave, trekking through its massive chambers and marveling at the stalactites and stalagmiteson display in an array of colors. Afterward, we boated to Ti Top Island, where we strolled on the white crescent beach, then climbed the 450 steps to the top of the mountain for the gorgeous panoramic views of Ha Long Bay. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Gardens by the Bay

Gardens by the Bay, Singapore
Supertree Grove, Gardens by the Bay, Singapore

The Gardens by the Bay is a nature park spanning 250 acres in the Central Region of Singapore, adjacent to the Marina Reservoir. The park consists of three waterfront gardens, but the attractions will blow you away. They include the Cloud Forest, a glass-domed conservatory and Cloud Walk featuring a 115-foot-tall mountain covered in lush vegetation and one of the world’s tallest indoor waterfalls; the Flower Dome, an enormous glass biodome featuring plants from the Mediterranean and other semi-arid subtropical regions; and the Supertree Grove of 18 “supertrees” with aerial platform for exploring. At night the supertrees put on a massive musical light show, visible around the marina area and simply spectacular.

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Lupita Island

Lupita Island, Tanzania
View of Lake Tanganyika from Lupita Island, Kipili, Tanzania

Undoubtedly the most remote place we’ve ever been, Lupita Island is a private island on Lake Tanganyika in western Tanzania. Previously deserted, it is now home to a massive thatched lodge and bar, a shimmering pool, a spa, and open-air cottages built into the hillside. The cottages have expansive views of the lake, the second-oldest, second-largest and second-deepest freshwater lake in the world (after Lake Baikal in Siberia). It was a thrill to launch ourselves into the 4,820-ft deep waters, then return to the boat for a sundowner and a sublime sunset.

 Morskie Oko

Poland Morskie Oko is a cool place to visit
Morskie Oko, Tatra National Park, Poland

Lake “Eye of the Sea” is the largest lake in the Tatra Mountains and one of its most popular destinations. Located within Tatra National Park in southern Poland, you can reach Morskie Oko by foot from the nearest road in about two hours, but it’s a beautiful hike and the view is well worth it. In 2014, The Wall Street Journal recognized Morskie Oko as one of the five most beautiful lakes in the world.

Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
Grand Prismatic Spring, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Yellowstone is the first and oldest national park in the world. Ringed by jagged mountains, it sits on top of an ancient super volcano and is home to half the world’s geysers, including Old Faithful, the most famous. I had heard of Yellowstone my whole life, but when I went in 2020, it blew me away. I was astounded by the enormous array of geothermal features here. Yellowstone’s self-sufficient ecosystem is home to a huge variety of free-ranging wild animals including bison, elk, wolves, moose and bears (both black and grizzly). It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Gullfoss Waterfall

Gullfoss, Iceland
Gullfoss, southwest Iceland

In a country known for its raw scenic beauty and natural wonders, Gullfoss (“Golden Falls”) in southwest Iceland is one of its most popular attractions. Located in a massive canyon on the Hvitá River, it actually consists of two falls that stairstep down, then plunge into a 105 ft crevice. It’s one of the really cool places to visit to feel the massive and relentless power of water.

Burj Khalifa

Dubai and Burj Khalifa
Dubai and the Burj Khalifa

Dubai is a city of superlatives, but perhaps none exemplified more than the Burj Khalifa. From the base of the building to the very top—which includes a spire and antenna—it is 2,722 feet, or a little over a half of a mile, making it the tallest building in the world. Its observation deck on the 148th floor was the highest in the world at its open. Stepping out onto the platform is a heart-stopping thrill—one I enjoyed as quickly as possible.

Lake Bled

Lake Bled, Slovenia
Bled Island on Lake Bled, Slovenia

This picturesque island popped up repeatedly in my Facebook feed and was quickly added to our travel list. Situated on Slovenia’s Lake Bled, just 34 miles north of Ljubljana, the verdant island features a church with Gothic frescoes and a Baroque stairway with 99 stone steps. Accessible by small boats, the church hosts frequent weddings. It’s a tradition for the groom to carry the bride up the steps to ring the bell and make a wish before entering the church. After you’ve enjoyed the island, hike up to Bled Castle for a magnificent view over the lake and the island.

Benagil Cave

Cool places to visit - Benagil Cave in Portugal
Benagil Cave in the Algarve, Portugal

The most famous rock formation found on the southern coast of Portugal, near Lagoa, is Benagil Cave. Carved by wind and water over millions of years, it is cavernous with a hole in the roof, and it has a no-longer-secret sandy beach. Spectacular Benagil is best accessed by boat tour. Kayaks and paddle boards are no longer allowed. A local boat tour will also include many other amazing caves along this dramatic coastline.

Bryce Canyon National Park

Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah
Amphitheatre, Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah

Bryce Canyon was unlike any place I’d ever seen. It features thousands of orange hoodoos – spire-shaped sandstone pinnacles carved over millions of years – as well as caves, cliffs, arches and other rock formations, all of which change from gold to pink to orange, depending on the time of day. The most iconic hoodoo is Thor’s Hammer, which stands 150 ft tall. The park offers 50 miles of hiking trails and 13 viewpoints, so bring water and a camera.

Crater Lake

Crater Lake, Oregon
Crater Lake, Oregon

Another amazing photo in my Facebook feed… Crater Lake National Park is Oregon’s only national park. Located in the southern part of the state, it is a volcanic crater lake characterized by its mineral-rich blue water and surrounded by cliffs nearly 2,000 ft high. At 1,949 ft, it is the deepest lake in the United States. Summer or winter, it is a beyond cool place to visit for its spectacular scenery.

Galápagos Islands 

Sea lions in the Galapagos Islands Ecuador

In 2017 we did a weeklong expedition cruise in the Galápagos Islands onboard Silversea’s Silver Galápagos and it was such an amazing experience. We visited a different island every day, typically exploring with morning and afternoon activities like hiking or snorkeling. Since many animals lack natural predators, they didn’t flee, allowing us to get close enough for observation and great photos. Highlights included snorkeling with sea lions and hammerheads (the docile scalloped kind), seeing the world’s only marine iguanas, and watching flying fish being hunted by sharks off the side of the boat at night. With only around 100 passengers, it was easy, informal and intimate.

Cenotes in Mexico: Literally Cool Places to Visit

A cenote is a natural sinkhole caused by the erosion and collapse of limestone bedrock. They are typically connected to subterranean bodies of water. The Yucatán Peninsula alone has around 10,000 cenotes. Some are completely collapsed open-water pools, while others are partially collapsed and covered with a rock ceiling, often with a hole through which a shard of light penetrates. Many, like Río Secreto, allow for swimming and it is a lovely experience to ply through the cool mineral-rich waters. Cenote Saamal is one of the most beautiful cenotes in the Yucatán.

The Giants Causeway 

Giant's Causeway, Northern Ireland cool places to visit
The Giants Causeway, Northern Ireland

We finally made it here in September 2023 and it did not disappoint. Located on the north coast of Northern Ireland, the Giant’s Causeway is an area of about 40,000 interlocking hexagonal basalt columns. The tallest are about 39 ft high, the result of an ancient volcanic eruption 60 million years ago. According to a legend, it is the remains of a causeway built between Ireland and Scotland by a giant. Just prove it’s not. The Giant’s Causeway is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

African Safari

Leopard on African Safari - cool places to visit
A leopard on safari, South Africa

We’ve been fortunate enough to have gone on several African safaris in Tanzania, Zimbabwe and South Africa. Each experience has been among our absolute favorites. The wild, beautiful natural setting of the bush camps is stunning enough, but then to drive around with a guide for hours looking for wild animals – or to sit back with a cocktail and watch them roam through the front yard – is just almost too exciting to handle.

Plitvice Lake National Park

Plitvice Lake National Park, Croatia cool places to visit
Plitvice Lake National Park, Croatia

Croatia’s largest national park consists of a massive system of crystal-clear lakes. Over thousands of years, the streams that flowed over the limestone and chalk deposited travertine barriers, creating natural dams that in turn produced a number of stunning lakes, caves, and waterfalls. Even now, these geological processes are ongoing. Bears, wolves, and numerous endangered bird species can be found in the park’s woodlands. Plitvice Lake National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Victoria Falls

Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe is a really cool place to visit
Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe

Nestled between Zimbabwe and Zambia, Victoria Falls is the largest waterfall in the world.  The falls reach a height of 355 feet and stretch across 5,604 feet, creating the largest single sheet of falling water. Located on the Zambezi River, it is one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World as well as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Conclusion: Don’t Miss these Cool Places to Visit

Sometimes you already expect something really extraordinary, but other times they take you by surprise. There is nothing like coming across one of these bespoke cool places to visit during your travels. They are the icing atop an already gorgeous cake.

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