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50 Cities to See Before You Die According to a Random Stranger

The Huffington Post had an article titled “The Top 50 Cities to See in Your Lifetime” that made the rounds on Facebook.  Of course the link makes you curious and you click over to see how many of these cities-you-must-see that you’ve been to. (I’ve made it to 12.)  And then you lament that you haven’t made it to a large chunk of the list.  Which makes you depressed enough to eat an entire carton of butter pecan ice cream.

Yet with the spoon midway between the container and your mouth, you suddenly remember that marveling is all in the eye of the beholder and there are plenty of places that didn’t make this list that deserve to be seen and experienced.

For instance, if you came to America and only saw the cities that made the list: San Francisco, Las Vegas, and New York, you would have a fairly limited view of life in the states.  Where I live has nothing in common with San Francisco, Las Vegas, or New York.  Don’t you think someone visiting the US should see some farmland?  Or a small town?  Or a beach town?  Head into the mountains?  Tour the Bayou?  While all are nice cities, they’re a somewhat depressing landing ground to experience America.  It reminds me of my cousins’ friends who knew America via 90210 and assumed that was an accurate portrayal of American teens.

And then I started realizing that while Florence was fine, I really loved picking a random town like San Gimignano and taking two buses to get there in order to get a better sense of Tuscany.  Because, sure, Florence is part of that, but if I had stopped at Florence rather than heading out to Poggibonsi, I’m not sure I would have seen the most interesting parts of the area.  I would have just seen the most popular.  And popular and interesting aren’t usually the same thing.

Which makes me guess that the rest of Huffington Post’s list is a bunch of bullshit too.  Just big, popular places that are common tourist destinations.  Not that there is anything wrong with tourist destinations — I mean, Washington, D.C. is a tourist destination — but I would hate to let someone else construct my travel bucket list.

So what is my bucket list?  I mean, where do I want to go?  Because it feels like I should have a personal travel bucket list.

This is what I have so far, though I made it countries or large areas for the most part instead of cities since I would need to do more research to figure out where I want to go specifically:

I seem to be heavy on islands.  I like water.

What is on your personal travel bucket list?


1 Nicole { 07.14.14 at 8:26 am }

Despite having been to 43 of the states and on 3 continents I think I’ve only been to a handful of places on the list which seems very Europe focused. I guess cities aren’t our thing. We loved Phuket, Thailand, Alaska, everywhere in Hawaii. Las Vegas not so much. I feel despite not having been to many places on the list that I am more well traveled than most people my age.

2 Serenity { 07.14.14 at 8:30 am }

New Zealand and Australia, hands down. Seychelles is on my list too, as is Iceland. I also really, really, REALLY want to hike to Macchu Picchu and see the Taj Mahal and swim in the Dead Sea. And the Galapagos Islands, too. I also just finished an amazing book (“They Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society”) and now I want to go to England’s Channel Islands as well.

3 ANDMom { 07.14.14 at 8:41 am }

Tahiti/Bora Bora was my main goal, and we did that one. (See Moorea while you’re there.) Ireland and Melbourne are on the list, maybe an Alaskan cruise. I’m trying to not set my sights too high because I know we’re not likely to see much more than that!

4 Rebecca { 07.14.14 at 8:54 am }

We are off to Europe for Christmas and are spending time in some of the smaller cities like Strausborg, Mainz and Cologne. All my friends are confused about why we aren’t doing the capital cities, like they are the only places worth visiting!

5 a { 07.14.14 at 9:06 am }

I want to see everywhere. But I’m not willing to put myself in danger or do without my basic necessities (properly working indoor plumbing!), so I’m somewhat limited. I really need to visit some islands, though. The Florida Keys are as close as I’ve gotten to an island.

6 Ana { 07.14.14 at 10:09 am }

Definitely Iceland. Alaska, Hawaii. One of those tropical Islands in the pacific (not the caribbean). And somewhere in south america, I’ve never been. I’ve been to Austrailia and it was SO AMAZING I want to absolutely 100% take my family one day. I used to be into the “big cities” but honestly that is less exciting to me now, I’d prefer to go a bit off the beaten path. I also am eager to re-explore places i’ve already been—now that I’m older & wiser. Its no longer about crossing things of the list, but just enjoying it, you know?

7 Megan { 07.14.14 at 10:31 am }

I always have that problem with articles like that. I was just reading one about the best places to live, where they put Hawaii on the top, “because, enough said!” Except the price of goods and the distance from anything that’s not Hawaii and the heat and humidity. Those articles never jive with my interests.

I don’t really have a bucket list either. I’d like to go to several places in Europe, maybe Iceland, but I also know that the US has tons of places that I’ve never been to, that would be awesome to see, so I tend to do that instead since it’s cheaper. 🙂

8 Elizabeth { 07.14.14 at 11:08 am }

I do have a bucket list for countries – I want to see Japan because my grandfather was from there and I’ve never been. I want to see Moscow because I’ve read so much Russian literature. I want to see all of Eastern Europe because we were so close, but I’ve never been. I’ve been to 20-some countries and my husband is almost at 60. And yet I’ve never been to Seattle.

9 It Is What It Is { 07.14.14 at 12:23 pm }

Fear of flying notwithstanding, here are some on my bucket list of travel:

10 Sharon { 07.14.14 at 12:49 pm }

I saw the article you reference and had similar thoughts. I hardly think San Francisco, Las Vegas, and New York–all of which I have visited and like–are representative of the USA.

My personal bucket list includes Ireland, Hawaii, Key West, and London (which I have visited) and Cornwall, England, Italy, France, Spain Australia and Alaska, which I have not (yet).

11 Valery Valentina { 07.14.14 at 2:58 pm }

When my contract finished in New Zealand and my brother suggested we meet up in Argentina I realised that was the best opportunity for me for a long time to go to Easter Island. With those big stone face statues. But. That was SO expensive it was ridiculous. So I skipped.
I would love to scuba dive in the Maldives to see Manta Rays. Also $$$.
I´ve always wanted to go hike through the Andes, but every time I think it is safe a backpacker disappears. Those Dutch girls recently? They found a foot.
I loved the pyramids, the Taj Mahal, the Great Barrier Reef, Petra in Jordan, I’ve been to most west european countries, travelled through many north western usa states. Middle East, not such a good time now.
Off to Oslo in two weeks! East east still on the wish list, and many wonders and marvels of the world still to go…
(Depending on your point of view, yes, many years of infertility brought me many years of long distance travel to help heal the hole in my soul)

12 fifi { 07.14.14 at 3:53 pm }

I’ve been to 20 on that list but that’s cos I live in Europe in a time of low plane fares.
Out of those that are left, Petra is the only one on my bucket list. My other dream destinations are Cuba, Prince Edward Island, Vietnam, and the transiberian railway to Lake Baikal and China.

13 GeekChic { 07.14.14 at 4:09 pm }

I’ve been to so many countries / continents as a child and while in the service that travel doesn’t do much for me. Travel just makes me tired. :/

That said, I would like to see New Zealand if I get the chance and if I scrape together the funds to fly first class (not flying 10+ hours in the cheap seats). Other than that – nothing else.

14 Ann Z { 07.14.14 at 5:50 pm }

Antarctica has long been at the top of my bucket list. In library school, we had to write a fictional library management plan, so I wrote one for McMurdo station. I would love to work there for a summer.

I’d also love to see Iceland and New Zealand and India and Mongolia. I’ve managed to have dinner with my brother on an island off of Australia and Europe, so it could be fun to continue that theme – hit an island off of each continent. I want to take my family to see where I lived in Germany, and also to Australia and China. Is it weird that my personal travel bucket list is different from my bucket list for myself?

15 Persnickety { 07.14.14 at 5:57 pm }

Antarctica. Top of the list and has been for a while- although ideally I want to have a job there- go for one season. I struggle with those lists- neither Australia or Japan was ever on my list and look at me now. Chile, Peru, Argentina are all there ( although safety is an issue) – I have been to Brazil, but many years ago.

My travel goals are place plus( or avoid) specific event- Sendai at Tanabata time is amazing, and it is mostly locals celebrating the festival so there is community behind the crowds . Venice at carnival- no thank you. Major US city at graduation time-never again( which is a pity as it’s nice weather, but $400/night for a highway motel!)

I want to go to Rome, but I have zero desire to go during Easter, I would prefer to be in a small Italian town then.

16 Mrs T (missohkay) { 07.14.14 at 6:13 pm }

I read that article and was annoyed that they’d listed so many popular places, as well as four in Italy and three in the U.S. – do we have a monopoly on cool places? (And really, VEGAS is one of them?!) My personal list includes Copenhagen and Reykjavik (going to both in October, though Reykjavik only gets 24 hours!), Dubrovnik, St Petersburg, Manchu Picchu, San Francisco, Hawaii, Palau, the pyramids of Giza, and the city where Miss E was born… I guess that’ll do for now!

17 Mali { 07.14.14 at 7:31 pm }

I guess the thing is that the list is 50 cities, not 50 places or countries or towns or sights/sites. Because I am absolutely with you on the San Gimignano/Florence thing. Florence is okay, but we stayed in San Gimignano for several days, and loved the little hill towns of Tuscany and Umbria. I also prefer DC over San Francisco – but then I’ve been to DC many times, and feel comfortable there. It is indeed subjective – my husband, for example, would be very happy if he never went to Paris again, but I certainly hope to go back again. I’ve been to 26 of the cities on the list, and loved most of them. But I love most places I’ve been. And let’s face it – big tourist places are big tourist places precisely because there are usually fabulous things to see/do.

My bucket list is dwindling, because I’m lucky enough to have been to most of my must-sees already. Left on my list though are Machu Picchu, Beijing and Shanghai, India (again, but as a tourist this time), a safari in Tanzania or Kenya followed by a beach holiday on Zanzibar, Patagonia, Rio, Mexico, Japan, and Egypt. Oh, and the northern lights somewhere Scandinavian. St Petersburg too. Bagan, Myanmar is definitely on the list too, though I might have trouble dragging my husband there as he’s already been. Sigh. And then there are all the lesser known/smaller towns/cities where I have friends. I’d better stop now or I’ll keep listing destinations, and will never stop.

Finally – all those who want to visit NZ? C’mon down! (10 hours is not that long … dinner, a movie, a nap, and breakfast.)

18 Justine { 07.14.14 at 10:26 pm }

My bucket list also includes countries. India, Scotland (highlands), Paris (with my son), Kyoto, Nepal, Macchu Picchu, Ireland (by bike), Cyprus, Portugal … and so many others. 🙂

19 Tiara { 07.15.14 at 8:28 am }

I have to write off this list soley because it doesn’t include a single Canadian city.

As for my bucket list, I’d like to see a lot more of my own country plus the US but also Denmark, New Zealand, Iceland, Russia, China, Japan, Greece, Spain, Portugal & Argentina just to name my top 10.

20 loribeth { 07.15.14 at 4:03 pm }

In some respects, I am not that well travelled. The only city on the list I have been to is New York. I have never been outside of North America, & I’ve never been further south of the border than Iowa. At the same time, though, I spent a lot of time on road trips as a kid, travelling to visit family. I’ve been to seven of the 10 Canadian provinces (& hope to get to the other three soon — New Brunswick, PEI & Newfoundland) — and I know lots of people who have been to Mexico, to Cuba, to Florida, Las Vegas, etc. — all the usual tourist hotspots — but have never been outside of Ontario within their own country. When I tell people I grew up in Saskatchewan & Manitoba, I tend to get a lot of disparaging jokes from people who have never actually been there. :p And there are some pretty breathtaking (in their own way) and pretty cool places to visit in both those provinces. Their loss.

So I am with Tiara . 😉 Besides seeing more of my own country, I would like to see a little more of the States. Boston/Cape Cod, Washington & San Francisco are all on my bucket list, as is Cleveland (yes, Cleveland — the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, lol). I would go anywhere in Europe in a heartbeat, particularly England/Scotland/Ireland (do some ancestor hunting), Sweden (ditto), and Italy. NZ/Australia would be cool, & I have people there I could visit. 😉 And as for sunspots, I have a hankering to visit the Turks & Caicos Islands. The beach photos I have seen look amazing.

21 Lori Lavender Luz { 07.15.14 at 7:11 pm }

In the same way that I once wanted to read every book in the library, I still harbor a dream (unattainable though it may be) of living every where once.

I’d best get crackin’.

22 Delenn { 07.16.14 at 11:34 am }

I think I would like to take a cross country trip around the USA…and see all those things that make America. I am from the midwest, so I have been to Detroit and Chicago, live in Boston, been to D.C. But I think it would be nice to spend 2 weeks going from coast to coast.

I would also like to go on a tour of Europe and Japan. I guess what I am saying–is I am a buffet tourist–I want a little bit of everything!

23 Aerotropolitan Comitissa { 07.17.14 at 6:57 am }

I prefer the smaller places too (San Gimignano should be seen if only so you have an excuse to say it out loud every time you talk about your travels for the rest of your life. Gmig nana. Beautiful word).

But if you ever go to Iceland let me know so I can tag along.

(c) 2006 Melissa S. Ford
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