For many, retirement provides the perfect opportunity to put their feet up and enjoy some well-earned time off. However, for others, retirement is the perfect time to explore the world and enjoy a whole planet’s worth of unique experiences. Here we list 50 of the places you must visit when you retire, helpfully organised by continent.
The Belgian Venice, without the incessant throngs of tourists and smell; Bruges is a beautiful city to explore over a weekend. With centuries of architecture still standing strong, a walk through Bruges is a walk through time.
Pick up a brochure advertising the Greek Islands, and you’ll undoubtedly be awash with images of Santorini. In a sea of beautiful islands, Santorini’s blue and white paradise still manages to stand out.
Not for the first time in this list will I describe a place as paradise on Earth, but Plitvice Lakes National Park makes up an absolutely stunning landscape. With an abundance of waterfalls, lush greenery and rolling hills; the lakes are pretty majestic.
The Icelandic capital is a quaint, charming slice of normality in a country made up of volatile volcanoes, geysers, waterfalls and geothermal activity. It provides a perfect base for an action-packed holiday to one of the world’s wildest countries.
Bordering Genoa and Pisa, Manarola is made up of a cluster of brightly coloured houses perched on a cascading cliff. Slowly leading down to a small bay for boats, Manarola is a beautiful sleepy town – perfect for enjoying a bottle of red and bowl of rich pasta.
With a backdrop of the Alps, Zurich’s mixture of cutting edge enterprises and beautiful waterways makes a stunning setting for a weekend away. As the largest city of opulent Switzerland, you may need to pack a few extra Swiss Francs to enjoy a fancy meal and a bottle of fizz.
A small Spanish town in the community of Aragon, Albarracin is a picturesque town with many of its ancient border walls still intact. Surrounded by hills, the town retains a sleepy Spanish sensibility.
Crossing a Norwegian Fjord, the Hardanger Bridge is one of the world’s longest suspension bridges. Offering beautiful panoramic views across the Fjords, the bridge can be crossed by car or foot, and we’d recommend the latter to ensure you get longer to enjoy the moment.
The largest town on Skye in the Inner Hebrides of Scotland, Portree is absolutely dripping with beauty and history. The town’s Aros Centre celebrates the island’s Gaelic roots, and the Royal Hotel is located on the site of the last meeting between Flora MacDonald and Bonnie Prince Charlie in 1746.
Evidently the inspiration for pretty much every Disney castle ever; the Neauschwanstein Castle in Bavaria is a truly stunning spectacle for visitors. Perched above the tree line with a mountainous backdrop – the castle simply beggars belief.
One of the New Wonders of the World, Petra in Jordan was kept hidden for hundreds of years, until it was discovered by Swiss explorer Johann Ludwig Burckhardt in 1812. A city built into rock faces, Petra is unlike anything else on Earth.
Leshan Giant Buddha
Putting your living room Buddha ornament to shame, the Leshan Giant Buddha is a 233ft statue carved out of the cliffs of Mount Emei. Dating back to year 713, the Buddha was carved by Chinese monk, Haitong, who hoped its presence would calm turbulent waters threatening shipping vessels.
Fuji Five Lakes
Created by volcanic eruptions from Mount Fuji, the Fuji Five Lakes area combines stunning stretches of natural water with the backdrop of Mount Fuji. The backdrop of Mount Fuji never gets old, and the area is renowned for its delicious udon noodles.
The historical capital of the Khmer empire, Angkor Thom is located in modern day Cambodia and the detailed stone and wooden structures have been well preserved for modern visitors. Dating back to the 12th century, Angkor Thom was abandoned sometime in the early 1600s.
The Great Wall of China
Whilst we’re not asking you to journey from one end to the other, we reckon everyone should gaze upon the glory and splendour of the Great Wall of China at least once in their life.
Baatara Gorge Waterfall
The Baatara gorge waterfall in Lebanon is in fact a sinkhole which cascades into a Jurassic limestone cave. Located on the Lebanon Mountain Trail, the stunning waterfall drops 837ft, and was first introduced to the western world in 1952 by French bio-speleologist, Henri Coiffait.
We could make a list of 50 waterfalls in Asia you simply have to visit, but we’re trying to restrict ourselves to just a few highlights. The Dudhsagar Falls in Goa certainly ticks that box – a four tiered waterfall which descends a total of 1,017ft.
A true paradise resort, Baros is a tiny tree-lined resort with a selection of villas propped above the water on stilts. Whilst it may not be the most adventurous entry on this list, Baros is what you’ve earned after a long career of working hard.
Voted the best city in the world by the Travel + Leisure magazine in 2009, Udaipur is a stunning location in the Indian state of Rajasthan. With an eclectic mix of history, culture, scenery and decadent palaces; Udaipur provides a luxurious stay in India.
North and Central America
Golden Gate Bridge
One of the most iconic sights in San Francisco, the bridge spans 8,980ft across the Golden Gate strait. If you’re enjoying a stay in San Francisco, it’s definitely worth driving over this bridge a couple of times, at least.
One of the most famous and most filmed locations in the world, New York’s Central Park is an amazing inner-city park which offers respite from the hustle and bustle of the Big Apple. More than 150 years old, the park features fountains, terraces, lakes, dairies, lawns and courts for various sports.
The White House
The most famous house in the world, in which some defining moments in history have been made and continue to be made; the White House is a slice of ongoing history. You might even get a cheeky sighting of Barack going about his daily business.
Unlike anywhere else on the planet - Las Vegas truly is the Entertainment Capital of the World. Whether you want to try your luck in the world famous casinos, watch Britney Spears live, ride the highest rollercoasters in the world or enjoy a Top Gun experience, you can do it all in Vegas.
Nicknamed the Big Easy, New Orleans has a completely unique atmosphere thanks to its vibrant live music scene, incredible creole cuisine and mixture of French, African and American cultures. The city is perfect if you want to take in a little jazz in the French Quarter.
The Grand Canyon
Pictures cannot do the Grand Canyon justice, the sheer size and magnitude of the formation staggers first time visitors. More than 275 miles long and more than a mile deep, the canyon is much more than a big hole – it also offers great hiking routes, white water rafting and truly unparalleled views.
Westin Maui Resort
After the excitement of Vegas, enthrallment of New Orleans and the adventures of the Grand Canyon – you might need a little relaxation on our North America tour. And where better than the premier resort and spa on the Hawaiian island of Maui? Located right on the beach, the resort offers a huge array of spa treatments, in a beautifully relaxing setting.
Another of the New Wonders of the World, Chichen Itza is a pre-Columbian city built by the Mayans in Mexico. The city is best recognised for its stunning Mayan pyramid, known as El Castillo. The site gives a stunning insight into one of the history’s most interesting civilisations.
Bang on the border of the USA and Canada, Niagara Falls is perhaps the most famous group of waterfalls in the world. As well as providing a stunning destination for visitors, the falls are also a priceless source of hydroelectric power.
The Marble Cathedral of Carrera Lake is like something out of a fantasy novel. Marble caves have been worn back by the waters to create an open air cathedral of turquoise, aquamarine and azure walls arching over the peaceful waters of the lake.
An ancient Incan city built in the peaks of the Andes Mountains of Peru, Machu Picchu sat undiscovered and undisturbed for hundreds of years until it was found again just over 100 years ago. Restoration of the city continues to this day to give visitors a more accurate impression of the 15th century civilisation.
A million miles from the peaceful culture of Machu Picchu and beautiful serenity of the Marble Cathedral; Rio’s Copacabana Beach is perhaps the most famous beach in the world. Stretching for a couple of miles, the beach is famed as a gathering point for Brazil’s most beautiful people.
Straddling Venezuela, Guyana and Brazil; Mount Roraima is central to many myths and legends of South America. The sheer faces of the mountain provide a stunning backdrop and an almost daunting prospect right up to the peak of the highest point, the brilliantly named Maverick Rock.
Thanks to Charles Darwin, the Galapagos Islands (belonging to Ecuador) have a special place on Earth – contributing heavily to the theory of evolution. With 97% of the island group reserved as a national park, the Galapagos are unspoiled and provide a beautiful view of the natural world.
There are few places on Earth which provide a more staggering panorama than the Iguazu Falls on the border of Brazil and Argentina. Almost countless waterfalls simultaneously descend into the Iguazu River below, rolling above trees and underneath an almost constant supply of rainbows.
Uyuni Salt Flats
The largest salt flat on Earth, the Sala de Uyuni in Bolivia is a startling spectacle – more than 4,000 square miles of minerals crusted over lakes. The area is also renowned for its unique wildlife, including the James’ flamingo, culpeo (an indigenous fox) and the vizcacha (a curly tailed hare).
The Great Pyramids
No list of places to visit in the world would be complete without a trip to Giza. The Great Pyramids of Egypt are home to everyone’s favourite school history class subjects, the Pharaohs. The three pyramids in Giza have been troubling historians for years, uncertain how they were constructed using techniques commonly found 4,500 years ago.
The highest mountain in Africa, Mount Kilimanjaro is a 20,000ft high dormant stratovolcano. Central to many of the legends and myths of Tanzania and surrounding countries, Mount Kilimanjaro is hugely important for the culture and economy of the surrounding area.
More waterfalls, we’re absolutely determined to get you to some of the planet’s best waterfalls. Bordering Zambia and Zimbabwe, Victoria Falls is a 355ft waterfall which drops into the Zambezi River – an ever popular route for the world’s most intrepid white water rafters.
Fish River Canyons
Africa’s answer to the Grand Canyon, Fish River Canyon is a 100 mile long ravine which twists through Namibia (and will not be jam-packed with tourists like its American brethren). Thanks to the mild temperatures and conditions down in the ravine, it has become a hugely popular hiking trail.
The Serengeti National Park
For a chance to catch a glimpse of some of the world’s most beautiful and endangered animals, the Serengeti National Park is an absolute must-see if you would rather see these magnificent creatures in their natural environment rather than caged up in a zoo. Wildebeests, lions, giraffes, zebras and gazelles are just a few of the animals who call the Serengeti home.
Alternatively a visit to the Okavango Delta in Botswana gives you a chance to spot some 20,000 large mammals alongside 71 species of rare fish and the indigenous lechwe antelope. Additionally, the delta is home to five ethnic groups of people – all with their distinct customs and languages.
Immerse yourself in one of the most incredible movements of our lifetime in South Africa’s Apartheid Museum. Recognised as the world’s leading museum exploring 20th century South Africa, the institute celebrates Nelson Mandela and the other individuals and communities who fought against the segregation of the apartheid.
Volcanoes National Park
Although the Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda is located in a small village called Musanze – it has emerged as one of the world’s leading places to spot gorillas. The gorilla treks give you the chance to watch these wonderful giants in their natural habitat.
Australasia and the South Pacific
The Great Barrier Reef
With more than 3,000 natural reefs, the Great Barrier Reef can be seen from outer space and is the world’s biggest single structure made by living organisms. Whether you plan on getting up close and personal with a snorkel, or wish to catch a glimpse from a distance, the Great Barrier Reef is definitely worth travelling the length of the planet to see.
The South Pacific is jam-packed with paradise islands, but Bora Bora takes some beating. The beautiful white beaches, over-the-water bungalows and aquamarine waters provide the perfect setting for a relaxing stay. Plus if you wish to combine relaxation with a little culture and history, you can venture inland to visit the WWII cannons.
Sydney Opera House
You don’t even need to take in a show to enjoy the splendour of the Sydney Opera House, one of the world’s most recognisable buildings. Immediately identifiable thanks to its large sail designs, the Opera House is best glimpsed from across the water at Mrs Macquarie’s Point – surrounded by a grassy area which is perfect for a sunny picnic.
One of the last remaining habitats for pure bred dingos, Fraser Island has long been heavily protected by the Australian government. Fraser Island is the world’s largest sand island – offering plenty of beach space to lay down the towel and have a quick dip in the seas.
If you can approach Whitehaven Beach by the air, do so. The swirling inlets of the sea dancing with the sand create a stunning spectacle. And when you land, the beach is a beautiful place to while away the hours with the lush, green background and lovely white sands.
Tongariro National Park
The oldest national park in New Zealand, this awe-inspiring landscape includes volcanoes, rivers, breath-taking panoramas and a selection of indigenous animals. Between June and November, the snows of the season lend the mountainous region perfectly to a spot of skiing.
Another South Pacific island which manages to just edge ahead of the competition is Aitutaki, a you-have-to-see-it-to-believe-it slice of paradise. At just 6.97sq miles, the island resembles a triangle with the majority of the centre of the land making way a turquoise lagoon – perfect for swimming.
If you are considering releasing equity from your home to fund a world tour upon retirement, Age Partnership can help you determine whether this process will benefit you and what impact it may have to the size of your estate and your entitlement to means-tested benefits. Equity release is only suited to certain parties and situations, so visit the Age partnership homepage or call the helpful team on 08080 555 222 for more information and guidance.
Equity release may involve a lifetime mortgage or a home reversion plan. To understand the features and risks, ask for a personalised illustration.