Chosen by readers of USA TODAY and 10Best
Travelers looking for dramatic natural scenery will find it in spades in the alpine mountains of Switzerland. In summer, lush green meadows dotted with cows and colorful wildflowers gradually give way to snow-covered peaks, while winter time transforms the Swiss Alps into a wonderland that sports enthusiasts from around the world come to experience.
Photo courtesy of swiss-image.ch/Christoph Sonderegger
9thPyramids of Egypt
The ancient pyramids of Egypt are one of the world's greatest mysteries. Instantly recognizable, they fall into the category of "must see to believe" when it comes to scale. Rising up from the desert floor, these tombs of the Pharoahs have a story which is still evolving. Well over 100 were discovered in 2008.
Photo courtesy of sculpies/iStock
Considered by many the most beautiful country in the world, New Zealand - where mountains meet the sea - is hard to reach but impossible to forget. The setting for The Hobbit trilogy offers visitors adventure, unique cultures, beaches, skiing, and a panoply of nature-based entertainment. Photographers think they've died and gone to heaven when visiting New Zealand.
Photo courtesy of nadlyaizat/iStock
Those of Irish heritage naturally gravitate to this oh-so-green island of pubs, dramatic views and Celtic music. But the appeal of Ireland goes far beyond genetics. Some would argue the whiskey alone makes it worth a visit, while countless historic villages and friendly locals make any trip memorable.
Photo courtesy of Mustang_79/iStock
Greece's appeal as a bucket list destination is broad, with students of Western history attracted to the ancient sites of Athens and Delphi, beach lovers to the sun-kissed sands and azure waters of the Greek Isles and foodies to the scrumptious cuisine. It's hard to resist this land of mythology, history, natural beauty and good food. Some visitors also connect to their heritage here.
Photo courtesy of travnikovstudio/iStock
Despite ever-present hype, Italy's many charms simply cannot be overstated. Travelers who come here do so to indulge: in the country's art, in its food, in unending beauty, and bella vita -- the beautiful life. Bordered on three sides by the Mediterranean, Italy is amazingly diverse, and motivates its visitors to return, or spend a lifetime dreaming of doing so.
Photo courtesy of Andriy Kravchenko/iStock
4thSouth Pacific Islands
Lush mountain islands surrounded by dazzling turquoise lagoons. Beautiful natives. Long, lazy days. Tropical fruit. And private bungalows which sit right in the sea. The islands of the South Pacific offer this and more, part of the reason they soar to the top of many couples' bucket list. There may be no more romantic place on earth.
Photo courtesy of VV-pics/iStock
Wildlife enthusiasts often place Africa near the top of their bucket lists, mostly because it's the only place in the world where you can see the "Big Five" in the wild. On safari in East Africa, Kenya or Tanzania, it's possible to spot elephants, rhinos, lions, leopards and Cape buffalo. Luxurious safari camps -- equipped with nearly every convenience of a traditional hotel -- heighten the experience.
Photo courtesy of David De Lossy/Digital Vision
Alaska -- the United States' last great frontier -- attracts visitors to the wonders of Mother Nature. Whether cruising the Inside Passage in search of killer whales or glaciers calving ice bergs, or hiking the trails of Denali National Park, those lucky enough to visit the nation's biggest state get to see a destination at once wild, rugged, jaw-dropping beautiful and always unexpected.
Photo courtesy of Purestock
Naturalists, old and new, who head off the Pacific coast of Ecuador to visit the isolated archipelago known as Galapagos find a microcosm of evolution. They experience some of the best up-close-and-personal wildlife encounters there are. Island-hopping adventurers snorkel with sea lions and turtles, watch the mating rituals of blue footed boobies, ponder the significance of Darwin's finches and walk across desolate lava fields.
Photo courtesy of BlueOrange Studio/iStock
Alaska, Africa, South Pacific, Pyramids and Europe also favorites
It's official - our readers dream big! The top ten finishers in our latest contest category - Best Bucket List Trip - are all pretty exotic, and wildlife figures heavily into the mix.
The beautiful Galapagos Islands took top honors, followed by Alaska and an African Safari. (See what we mean about wildlife?). Destinations in the South Pacific, Europe and a lone Middle East spot received the most votes.
All 10 winners in the 'Best Bucket List Trip' contest category for 10Best Readers' Choice are as follows:
Is your dream destination on this list? We'll be featuring slideshows of each of these bucket list destinations in the weeks to come. Congratulations to them all, and we're cheering you on in checking them off your own must-see list.
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