Life is short. Too much of life is spent grinding through monotonous daily obligations, and too little time is spent on things that count like family, friends, and making valuable memories. As esteemed author and businessman Harvey Mackay put it: “Life is too short to wake up with regrets… If you get a chance, take it. If it changes your life, let it.”
What better way to make the most of life then travel? The world’s wonders are too vast to see everything in one lifetime, but if you are looking to spice things up and see some of earth’s finest landmarks, you can start by knocking a couple off this list. Spanning the globe from Italy to Oregon, these 10 places will slow your heart-rate, reduce your stress, and most importantly, put a smile on your face. Here are 10 places you must see before you die, because life is just too dang short not to live.
10 Rio De Janeiro, Brazil
Quite possibly the most beautiful metropolis in the world, Rio De Janeiro intertwines the beauty of the natural world with the tempo of an urban metropolis, housing more than 6.3 million people. Here, you take in one of South America’s finest beauties on the crest of Guanabara Bay and the South Atlantic Ocean, while still embracing the festive and vibrant nightlife of Brazil’s second-largest city. If you plan on visiting this beautiful location, make sure to time your stay with Rio’s annual Carnival, the world famous festival that drapes the city with lights, music, dancing and joy. Also, don’t miss the “Christ the Redeemer” statue perched 700 meters atop Corcovado Mountain looking out over the city. If you’re planning a trip to Rio in June this year, you’ll also want to check out a soccer match in one of the 2014 World Cup’s host cities.
9 Mount Hood National Forest, Oregon
If you live in America, chances are you don’t have to travel very far for a beautiful getaway. Take the Pacific Northwest for example, where mountains, ocean, and lush forests all collide. Nothing illustrates the beauty of the Pacific Northwest than the verdant surroundings of Mount Hood National Forest in Oregon. Experience the beauty and serenity of Mount Hood – one of the highest peaks in the Cascade Mountain Range. Take a hike through majestic pines and scenic trails to Mirror Lake, pitch a tent, and relax in one of nature’s finest displays.
8 Blue Lagoon, Iceland
Nothing says relaxation like a natural spa. Located in the remote city of Girdavik, Iceland, the Blue Lagoon is both a feat of nature and of man. After originally acting as an overflow pool for the nearby Svartsengi geothermal power station, the six million liters of seawater are heated naturally over a lava bed located 2,000 meters underneath. As one of the world’s most popular hot springs, Blue Lagoon offers visitors an otherworldly spa experience with its mineral-rich mud and 100-degree enriched waters. Set on a serene backdrop of rolling hills and even the Northern Lights on some occasions, Blue Lagoon has proven its worth as one of the most relaxing and revitalizing destinations on Earth.
7 Cairo, Egypt
Prepare to be truly struck by awe if you make the trip to Cairo, Egypt. As the 18th largest city in the world, Cairo is both a standing artifact of a past world, while still embracing a modern aura. Cairo’s main attraction is – of course – the Great Pyramids of Giza and Sphinx, the lone survivor of the original Seven Wonders of the World. Book a hotel on the bed of the Nile River – the same place where the earliest civilizations first settled. Also, travelers are welcome to take a tour of Cairo’s surroundings by way of camel; the same means of travel used thousands of years ago.
While Cairo is a must-see location, you may want to wait a while before booking that flight. The U.S. State Department has issued a travel alert for several regions in Egypt due to high conflict in the area.
6 Key West, Florida
Key West, Florida is truly paradise on Earth. As the southern-most point of the continental U.S, nothing but crystal-clear water surrounds this beautiful city on the Gulf of Mexico. Key West is a place where worries and stress are as distant as 40-degree weather. Visitors can go snorkeling with dolphins, ride the surf, or simply hang out and enjoy the ivory white sand on the miles of beach. Oh, and while you’re at it, make sure you grab an extra large margarita in this utopic city. It is, after all, the inspiration for Jimmy Buffet’s famous song, “Margaritaville.”
5 Cinque Terre, Italy
Located in northern Italy – inconspicuously tucked between Pisa and Genoa – Cinque Terre is the crown jewel of Italy’s many charming, picturesque towns. Perched atop cliffs looking over the Mediterranean, this town is – as traveler Rick Stevens puts it – “pure, unadulterated Italy.”
With no cars or traffic to speak of, this tourist hot spot is now technically a park in order to preserve its charm. Visitors must pay a small fee to walk the trails that weave in and out of Cinque Terra’s unique and vibrant houses strung along narrow, windy paths. Grab a glass of Cinque Terra’s finest dessert wine while enjoying a sunset over the Mediterranean Sea and feel your cares vanish in this quintessential Italian town.
4 Mount Fuji, Japan
Mount Fuji is Japan’s highest peak, and also one of its most sacred locations. The popular spot for artists, tourists, and locals alike makes for an incredible spectacle. The perfectly symmetrical snow-topped volcano is perched before Lake Kawaguchi, making up one of the world’s most recognizable natural destinations. Embrace the culture and cuisine of Japan in the country’s most traveled region. Just a short trip away from Tokyo, Mount Fuji encompasses appeal for nature seekers and city travelers alike. There may be no prettier time to visit Mount Fuji than in the springtime, when cherry blossom trees are in full bloom around the Fuji Five Lakes. Also, make sure to check out one of the many surrounding shrines to experience amazing architecture and a sacred cultural experience.
3 Santorini, Greece
Take a trip back in time to Santorini, Greece – one of the most beautiful and unique towns in the world. Perched along a cliff of volcanic rock, Santorini is what remains of one of the largest volcanic eruptions on record – occurring some 3,600 years ago. The cube-like houses are whitewashed with volcanic ash and limestone, giving them a distinct pearly color. The beauty of Santorini lies within its simplicity. It is just that: simply beautiful. When in Santorini, sample some of the Europe’s finest wines and breathe in the salty air while enjoying the view of the vast Aegean Sea and its surrounding islands.
2 Wengen, Switzerland
Tired of the hustle and bustle of urban living? Tired of hour-long commutes into work? Want to just get away from it all? Wengen, Switzerland is the place for you.
Firstly, cars of any kind have been banned for more than 100 years. The town is tucked away between alpine mountains and lush, grassy hills in every direction, while the air is crisp and clean, un-polluted by the diesel and muck of a city. Perched in the heart of the Alps, the popular tourist spot also has some of the world’s finest ski slopes.
1 Kauai, Hawaii
If there were a heaven on Earth, you’d be hard-pressed to find a more beautiful location than Kauai, Hawaii. Nicknamed the Garden Island, Kauai is literally covered in green. While each of Hawaii’s eight islands is stunning, Kauai takes the cake. It is the oldest of Hawaii’s islands, and also it’s most north most island. Along with the scenic tropical coastline, Kauai also houses geologic spectacles like the cliffs along the Napali and the Waimea Canyon in the heart of the island. If simply relaxing in the tropical Hawaiian sun isn’t enough, travel through the high hills of Kauai in style. Travelers can take a hike to see the Kauai’s highest peak, zip-line through the trees, or even go mountain tubing down the scenic Wailua River. Also, make sure to grab a snorkel and explore the crystal clear waters surrounding the island and teeming with tropical fish.