48 Creative and Unique Bucket List Ideas for Your Next Vacay

Bucket lists are an amazing way to challenge yourself, and the best, most unique bucket list ideas will take you around the world to see truly great wonders. 

After all, how many people have traveling to South America to visit Machu Picchu or swimming in the Great Barrier Reef on their ultimate bucket list ideas?

From the serious to the fun to the downright silly, no wrong reason exists to book a flight, pack up your bags, and travel the world. Some ideas might seem crazy at first, but that’s half the fun.

So, to help you get started, we put together a bucket list of incredible and unique sights and experiences around the globe to spark some wanderlust in you!

Table of Contents

Learn to Cook Local Delicacies 

Calling all foodies! The unique bucket list ideas you’ve been longing for are right here.

Challenge yourself to prepare and dine on the world’s finest delicacies, one classic dish—and one beautiful city—at a time.

Sushi in Tokyo

Learn about Japanese culture and the history of sushi in the heart of the nation’s bustling capital. This skill will be sure to impress all the folks back home, but more importantly, you’ll know how to make this tasty treat for yourself whenever your cravings hit.

Croissants in Paris

Buttery, flaky croissants are synonymous with France. We’ll be surprised if you can refrain from eating these melt-in-your-mouth pastries right off the pan, but with your newly acquired baking skills, you can happily chew away, knowing you’ll be able to make plenty more.

Dosa in Chennai

Breakfast will be even better munching on these delicious and savory pancakes. For a cool bucket list experience, pay a visit to Chennai and learn how to make this South Indian staple. We guarantee your mornings will never be the same

Butter Tarts in Ontario

This sweet, crunchy tart is a classic Canadian treat. From its crunchy topping to its syrupy filling, you’ll find a lot to love packed into these tiny morsels. And while you’re in Ontario perfecting the art of this tasty pastry, you can’t miss any of the several butter tart festivals held there, the biggest of which is in Midland every summer. Knock out two unique bucket list ideas at once!

Massaman Curry in Bangkok

What do you get when you combine popular Persian ingredients with native Thai staples? The answer is Massaman Curry. 

If knowing Thailand is one of the cheapest destinations in the world doesn’t get your feet moving, perhaps this dish will sweeten the deal—literally. This spice-infused dish is the sweetest among Thai curries, thanks in part to the combination of coconut and lemongrass. Once you’ve learned the basics of this famous dish, it’s sure to make a recurring appearance on your dinner schedule.

Chilaquiles in Mexico City

This traditional and downright delicious dish will have you looking forward to breakfasts, even on a workday.

Become an expert in Mexican cuisine and history in the heart of the country: Mexico City. Your taste buds will thank you.

Dance the Night Away

Telling a story with one’s body is an art you can learn at any age. 

Waltz, Samba, and Belly Dance your way around the world by working through these unique bucket list ideas.

Pick up dance moves in the same cities and countries where they first originated and see some spectacular sights along the way.

The Flamenco in Spain

Pack your bags and head to the south of Spain to learn the intricate steps and fluid movements of the Flamenco dance while in a cave—how’s that for cool bucket list ideas? 

Though the dance initially took a back seat to the music when Flamenco was originally performed, that changed in the mid-1800s when dancing cafes started to pop up in Seville and other Spanish cities. 

Today, you can practice your hand at the contemporary Flamenco, a fluid dance that follows the rhythm of the music.

The Samba in Brazil

Move your hips to the beat and shake it like Shakira while dancing the Samba in beautiful Brazil. 

Originating from the rhythm and movement of African slave dances, it seems only fitting that the Samba is now synonymous with carefree, wild exuberance.

The Samba covers it all, from ballroom dancing to carnival street performances and not to mention killer cardio routines. 

Dancing the Samba at Carnival has to be up there among our best bucket list ideas, but we’ll get to Carnival in a minute. 

The Haka in New Zealand

Flying double-digit hours over the Pacific Ocean to New Zealand might seem a bit daunting, so why not sweeten the pot and do it to cross dancing the Haka off your list of unique bucket list items?

This foot-stomping and body-slapping ceremonial dance is famous around the world as part of Māori culture. Originally performed when two groups met or fought, it’s now primarily performed for special occasions. Though some dances are male-only, you’ll find both men and women participating in others.

Learning the Haka is a beautiful way to discover more about Māori traditions and culture.

The Viennese Waltz in Austria

Learn the graceful, neverending twirl of the Viennese Waltz where it first began. One of the simplest forms of the waltz, the difficulty you’ll find with the Viennese waltz is all in the pacing, as it’s two to four times the speed of a typical waltz.

After you get the hang of it, with the glitz and glamor of Vienna behind you, you’ll feel as if you’ve stepped into a Disney movie as you fly expertly across the floor.

And if you’re searching for exceedingly fun bucket list ideas, you can’t miss testing out your new dance skills during the Vienna ball season, which kicks off annually in November!

The Belly Dance in Egypt 

No simple bucket list ideas here. Belly dancing’s roots have a long and fascinating history, and for a one-of-a-kind experience, plan a trip to learn this striking art in Egypt, where it all began. 

From the traveling dancers known as ghawazee to the classic Egyptian style known as raqs sharqi and its more modern intonations, you’ll have plenty of fun with this distinctive style of dance. Though make no mistake, your core will be screaming. 

Still, it’ll be worth it to knock this incredible experience off of your unique bucket list ideas.

The Hula in Hawaii

Travel to Hawaii’s islands and learn the Hawaiian people’s storytelling dance: the hula. 

Today, two forms of hula exist, the ancient hula (hula kahiko) and the modern hula (hula auana). The first is performed during ceremonies, while the latter is far less formal and performed without ceremony.

Appreciate all the nuances and history of Hawaiian culture as you make your own Leia, learn the fluid steps and hand movements, and perform this powerful dance.

Tour the Top 10 Museums in the World

Visiting some of the world’s most prized treasures? That sounds like some ultimate bucket list ideas stuff right there. 

Prepare to gallivant around Europe and the US  as art and history await among some of the most fascinating cities around the world. So, get ready to hop on a flight and explore.

Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.

Travel to the US capital and plan a day trip to the Smithsonian where Dorothy’s red slippers are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what you’ll find. 

Consisting of 19 separate museums and research centers, the Smithsonian clocks in as the largest museum complex in the world. With more than 135 million objects on display, you’re bound to learn some interesting facts about American history.

The Louvre, Paris

Hop a plane to Paris, where the very walls of the famous Louvre make up a part of this museum’s past. 

Once the palace of French monarchs, the Louvre opened as a museum over two centuries ago and received a facelift in 1989 with the new glass pyramid, which has since become a landmark feature. 

Inside, a similar story of history and modernity unfolds, and you’ll find everything from antiquity to the 19th century housed within, including its most famous resident: Mona Lisa.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City

Does one ever need an excuse to visit New York City? Well, in case you do, then the Met is your answer. 

Housing 5,000 years of art within its walls and over two million pieces total, it’s easily the largest museum in the US. 

Even those who aren’t interested in art will find something to appreciate here, whether it’s captivatingly life-like sculptures, intricately-made fashion pieces, or pastel-colored impressionist paintings.

The British Museum, London

In a country with famous landmarks such as Somerset House, Stonehenge, and Edinburgh Castle, you might not think the most visited attraction would be a museum. 

But that’s precisely the case with the British Museum of London. 

Prior to 2020, it attracted almost 6 million visitors annually. So, why not mark a visit to London off your tally of unique bucket list ideas and see for yourself just what all the fuss is about?

Vatican Museums, Vatican City

Be one of the millions of visitors that grace the smallest nation in the world. 

The city itself is full of history, but you’ll find its most revered pieces within the Vatican Museums. Truly, gazing upon Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel and the Raphael Rooms deserve their own spots on any worthwhile account of unique bucket list ideas. But you can add them to your own and mark off all three at once for an especially satisfying moment. 

Still, we’re pretty sure it won’t even come close to experiencing firsthand why these works have continued to draw crowds for over 500 years.

In a country brimming with famous works of history, it seems impossible there could be room for more. 

That is until you enter the Uffizi Gallery, which the greatest works of Italian Renaissance artists now call home. The building itself was designed by Italian artist Giorgio Vasari, who was himself born during the renaissance. 

From Michelangelo to Botticelli and Da Vinci, you’ll find works from the greats and so much more inside.

The Acropolis Museum, Athens

In the Acropolis, walk over history. Literally. 

The museum’s ground floor is transparent, allowing you to look over years of archaeological excavation. That’s the kind of stuff that’s right up our alley of unique bucket list ideas. As you walk, the ground also slopes upward to imitate the journey of Athenians ascending the Acropolis Rock.

The building’s modern design and the shifting natural light coming through the glass walls make each experience truly singular, beautifully highlighting the nation’s ancient history.

The Prado, Madrid

Travel to Madrid and experience the country’s most beloved museum. 

Part of the Golden Triangle of Art that also includes Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum and Museo Reina Sofia, the Prado houses the country’s largest and most impressive classical pieces. 

The Spanish kings and queens spared no expense in curating their collection, and now, hundreds of years later, enjoying the benefits is a must when you travel to Madrid.

The State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg

Visit another once-palace at the State Hermitage in Russia. 

What looks like a building straight out of a Disney fairytale was once the Winter Palace of Russian Tsars and Tsarinas. Without a doubt, it looks the part. 

The stunning rococo architecture is more than enough to lure in travelers, but the museum also boasts western European art the likes of Rembrandt and Picasso and other stunning pieces like The Rothschild Fabergé Egg and the Peacock Clock.

Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

Go Dutch on your next foreign trip. Okay, so we don’t mean splitting the bill here, though you can certainly do that. No, this idea will take you to the land of the Dutch itself! Travel to Amsterdam to take a look at the most extensive collection of history and art in the Netherlands. 

Inside, await many curious things, from a road and one of the city’s oldest traffic signs to a display of armor missing the leg. 

And if you’re curious about what happened to the leg, you can pop into the largest art library in the Netherlands to look him up!

Take in a Holiday or Festival 

Who doesn’t love a good party? 

From religious celebrations to wild beer keggers, we don’t need much of a reason to throw a party. So, choose a day, pick a country, and let the festivities commence with any one of these bucket list-worthy holidays!

Day of the Dead, Janitzio, Mexico

Día de Los Muertos is a time of reunion between the living and the dead, and you’ll find the most authentic and auspicious celebration of this holiday on Janitzio Island. 

Every event is packed with meaning and joy, from the preparations held days before to the night of Día de Los Muertos. Even the small graveyard on the island you’ll find packed with color, with Mexican Marigolds laid everywhere. 

If you’ve been meaning to travel to Mexico, consider this your sign to knock it off of your bucket list on the next Día de Los Muertos.

Carnival, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Remember we mentioned Samba and Carnival? Well, this is one for the list of fun bucket list ideas. This annual festival is held every year in Rio and is the biggest carnival in the world, with two million people crowding the streets to be a part of the action.

Floats and parades showcase Samba schools, flashy dance performances are everywhere you look, and colorful street festivals number in the hundreds.

It’s a jamboree unlike any other, and the kind everyone should experience at least once, which is why we recommend it for your unique bucket list ideas! However, don’t be surprised if it draws you back in for a second, or even a third visit.

Mardi Gras, New Orleans

If Carnival is the greatest show on earth, then Mardi Gras is its little sister. 

If you can’t swing a visit out to Brazil, try traveling down to New Orleans, where you can experience similar magic amid the boisterous bonanza of extravagant floats, exuberant colors and costumes, and all the beads you could ever want that make up this epic party. 

Festival of Lanterns, Nagasaki, Japan

Japan’s biggest lantern festival for a reason—this bright, colorful festival lasts 15 days, during which over 15,000 lights and lanterns set the city aglow! 

Celebrating the Chinese New Year, the Nagasaki Lantern festival started in Nagasaki Shinchi Chinatown and eventually grew into the major winter festival it is today. 

This will surely be a highlight among your own bucket list ideas as you experience the vibrant splendor of the painted lanterns, ship processions, lion dances, and Chinese acrobatics.

Oktoberfest, Munich, Germany

If we’re talking about bucket list festivals, we have to add Oktoberfest to the board. After all, no ultimate bucket list of ideas would be complete without one of the greatest festivals in the world taking up space on that list. 

Drink your weight in beer, try out traditional foods like roast chicken and sausages, and wander the fairgrounds, taking in all the sights, from the Bavarian lederhosen to the views from atop the Ferris Wheel.

Albuquerque International Balloon Festival, New Mexico

Float away into the clouds during this enchanting festival in Albuquerque. Easily one of the best places in the world for a hot air balloon ride, you’re in for a magical treat during this festival.

Go up for a hot air balloon ride of your own or attend lift-off events like the Mass Ascension, where you’ll score plenty of photos of the hot air balloons taking off and filling the skies. 

Everywhere you look, you’re guaranteed to see one colorful hot air balloon after another, taking to the air.

Diwali, Jaipur, India

This festival of lights is the biggest holiday in India. The stories behind the celebration differ from region to region but share the common thread of good triumphing over evil and light conquering darkness. 

The celebrations are a sight to behold with vibrant, rangoli patterns made of colored sand on the floor, lit candles outside homes, and of course, fireworks lighting up the night sky. 

You’ll find plenty of fun things to do no matter where you choose to celebrate, but the beautiful city of Jaipur is truly ablaze with the magic of Diwali, making it the perfect place to enjoy the holiday.

Perahera Festival, Kandy, Sri Lanka

Also called the Festival of the Tooth, this festival centers around a grand procession paying homage to the Sacred Tooth Relic of Buddha. 

But the grand parade doesn’t occur till the final day of the five-day festival. Before that, the five main temples are decorated, and each temple plays host to a party and fun events leading up to the last night when the grand procession makes its way to the Temple of the Tooth.

Expect cannons and torch-bearers, dancers and acrobats, and a grand finale of priests accompanied by richly painted and adorned elephants. This event is absolutely worth the trip to experience in person.

Harbin Ice and Snow Festival, Harbin, China

Fancy running away from everything and retreating to a snowy fortress? You don’t have to be an ice queen like Elsa to do it. You just need to buy your tickets to the Ice and Snow Festival in Harbin, China. 

Every year, a city of ice is built inside the actual city of Harbin, and for around three months, depending on the weather, visitors can step into this magical kingdom.

You’ll find everything from lifesize castles to snow sculptures and ice lanterns, and that’s not even mentioning the ice slides for kids, super slides for adults, and countless snow sports.

This one has to go down among our top unique bucket list ideas!

Semana Santa, Antigua, Guatemala

This religious holiday is celebrated in Spanish-speaking countries worldwide, making for the perfect opportunity to travel south and observe these celebrations in the beautiful city of Antigua. 

First brought over by the Spaniards, you’ll find a fascinating mix of religious tradition and Guatemalan heritage in one of the most extravagant Santa Semana celebrations in the world. 

Admire the intricately beautiful alfombras covering the streets, watch the splendid processions parading through town, and gape at the elaborate floats held aloft on the shoulders of purple-robed cucuruchos.  

Being a part of this celebration will undoubtedly move you. 

Learn a Local Craft

Looking for a bit of rest and relaxation? Sometimes, the perfect way to calm the nerves is crafting.

If you’re looking for a fun excuse to jet off around the world, how about learning a new craft? Of course, we have to make it a bit more fun than that, so here are some unique bucket lists ideas to help you learn a new skill while seeing the world.

Paint Pottery in Greece

Ancient Greek pottery is famous for its skilled craftsmanship and painting. Of course, you don’t have to be an expert painter to put brush to clay, just willing to do something a little out of the ordinary on your next trip to Greece. And it’ll make the perfect memento for your travels!

Fold Origami in Japan

Put your fingers to the test and see just how good you are at origami. From a classic crane to a detailed dragon, you can join a class or go it solo. It sounds like an excellent way to spend a sunny day in one of Japan’s beautiful parks. 

Perhaps one of the best parts about this souvenir is how easy it is to bring it home with you!

Make Watches in Switzerland

Switzerland. The land of snowy alps, decadent chocolate, and of course, luxury watches. What better way to visit than attending a watchmaking workshop and leaving with your own hand-made watch? A functional and beautiful souvenir you can admire for years after. 

Mold Ceramics in China

Sure, you could do this right in your own backyard, but if you want to place this among your unique bucket list ideas, try traveling to China instead, which holds a unique distinction: pottery here dates back as far as 19,000 years ago. 

A pretty crazy fact we’re sure you’ll think about more than once as you mold your clay.  

Create Shoes in Italy

How’s this for crazy bucket list ideas?

In a country known for bespoke shoes and fine leather-making craft, you won’t find an idea more unique than walking home in a pair of shoes you made yourself. 

And you get bragging rights on telling everyone where you got your newest stunning set of footwear.

Other Cool Bucket List Ideas to Travel the World 

If you’re still hungry for ideas, here are some of our best bucket list ideas to inspire your next adventure away from home.

Get a Tattoo

You read that right. We’re talking about packing your bags and flying around the world to get some permanent ink to commemorate your journey. You can find a tattoo artist in advance or pick anywhere on the globe to fly out and get a tattoo from the first shop you stumble across.

This could either wind up on your worst or best bucket list ideas. We wish you luck.

Attend the Olympics

Sports events are one thing but watching people push the limits of what is and isn’t possible is another experience entirely. 

So, while athletes are breaking and making new world records, how about setting your own world record by visiting a new city, country, you name it, to attend the most famous games in the world. 

Finish a Novel in the Place It Was Set

From classic novels like Wuthering Heights to modern romantic comedies like Filthy Rich Asians, take one of your favorite books and finish the story in the place where it was set. 

Whether that setting happens to be the windy cliffs of northern England or the blazing lights of Singapore, this is sure to make you experience your favorite story in a whole new light. 

Ride a Bullet Train

You won’t find any bullet trains in the US just yet, so you can get creative with your destinations for this one. 

You’ll find plenty of options, from Europe to Asia and the Middle East to Africa. For a crazy bucket list idea, try marking off riding a bullet train in every continent with one available! 

That’ll surely make for some fun travels.

Stand on a Frozen Lake

From bubbles of gas caught under the water’s surface to waterfalls frozen in action and even the occasional and spectacular sight of ice flowers formed above the lake’s surface, you’ll find yourself falling in love with winter wonderlands across the globe.

Swim the Seven Seas 

Speaking of impressive bodies of water, try your hand—or foot—at dipping your toes in all Seven Seas: the Mediterranean, Adriatic, Aegean, Black, Red, Arabian, and North. 

You’ll likely find yourself crossing off other fun bucket list ideas as you make your way from northern Europe to the Middle East.

Sleep in a Castle

Fulfill a childhood dream and enjoy a stay in a fancy castle.

From medieval fortresses in Ireland to fashionable chateaux in France and summer palaces in India, you’ll be feeling like a Disney prince or princess.

Treat yourself to a bit of the high life. We guarantee you’ll have so much fun living like royalty for a few days.

Watch a Chinese Dragon Dance in the New Year 

This unique bucket list idea is a bit more simple, if only for the fact it doesn’t necessarily require a passport to complete. Whether you travel to San Francisco, New York, or China to watch this spectacle, you’ll be captivated by the dance, the fireworks, and the well-wishes in the air as people send off lanterns full of hopes and dreams for the new year!

Such an amazing experience to cap off the new year and a great way to cross a unique idea off your bucket list!

Volunteer Abroad

Volunteering in a foreign country is a great way to travel the world and enrich your experience by connecting with the local communities and experiencing their culture firsthand. 

You can volunteer for any reason and for as little or as much as you want. Plan a whole trip around volunteering or take a few hours from your sightseeing to put in some work. 

We guarantee you’ll make memories you’ll never forget.

Go to a Murder Mystery Dinner in the UK

Don your best hat, grab your magnifying glass, and try out your best Sherlock Holmes impression. See if you can follow the clues to solve a murder abroad! At least, a staged one. 

This crazy bucket list idea will amount to crazy fun during your tour to the UK.

Visit a National Park

From the Grand Canyon National Park in the US to the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania, thousands of parks await.

To make this worthy of gracing your unique bucket list ideas, try visiting the same number of national parks as your age. That should keep you—and your passport—fairly busy!

Check “Find Cheap Airfare” Off Your Bucket List with Next Vacay

Having this many items on your travel bucket list can quickly eat a massive hole in your savings. 

But it doesn’t have to, with Next Vacay!

With weekly deals to destinations all over the world, Next Vacay will save you hundreds of dollars per flight, so you can focus on the things that matter most. Having unique experiences around the globe and creating memories—and souvenirs—that you’ll keep for a lifetime.

Wherever your bucket list dreams may take you, let Next Vacay help you find the best flight deals to get you there.

So here’s your final bucket list challenge: sign up for Next Vacay and take the first step toward the rest of your best bucket list ideas!

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