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Fantastic Travel Destinations for 2024 Bucket Lists

6 June 2023

Sure, you have heard of a bucket list, but have you heard of a travel bucket list? These lists are a way to organize your dreams and make sure none of your vacation ideas get forgotten. You can be broad in your additions, writing down the countries you hope to visit or specific, including cities and the sites within them. You do not have to include the most popular, world-class holiday destinations; your travel bucket list should reflect your interests and the places that pique them. Allow us to help you get started. Here are our picks for the best travel destinations in 2024, all of which have wide-ranging appeals that make them perfect additions to any list. 

The Best Places to Visit in the United States

White Pass Train Alaska


Traveling to Alaska is an incredible experience in any season. Its natural beauty shines year-round through its untouched terrain, stunning national parks, and abundant indigenous heritage. Traveling to Alaska in the summer showcases the "Land of the Midnight Sun," where you have long days to explore places like Seward, Anchorage, Denali, Talkeetna, Fairbanks, or Denali National Park. Explore the highlights of Alaska aboard the Alaska Railroad's scenic rail lines or head into Alaska's wilderness for wildlife spotting. Cruising Glacier Bay and stunning Kenai Fjords National Park present views you must see to believe.

Wintertime travels are also spectacular, with the long hours of darkness providing a perfect canvas for aurora borealis viewing in remote destinations like Bettles Lodge or Chena Hot Springs. Experience dog sledding in the Alaskan outback or hiking atop glaciers surrounded by snowy views. Regardless of the season you travel, indigenous heritage and waterside wonders await in Alaska.

Cumbres And Toltec Narrow Gauge Railroad


Beautiful Colorado, with its dramatic Rocky Mountains and rich mining history, is one of the best places for adventurous travelers to visit in the United States. Colorado's rugged terrain is made accessible by heritage and scenic trains, making it a fantastic location for a rail experience to remember. Ride through remarkable landscapes on lines like the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad, and Royal Gorge Route Railroad, or climb to the summit of America's peak on the Manitou and Pikes Peak Railway. Rail enthusiasts looking for luxury can also join America's newest luxury train in Colorado, traveling through the Rockies and into the Red Rocks of Utah on the Rocky Mountaineer. Making this a summer travel destination on your bucket list means you can enjoy all these things, hike beautiful trails, marvel at Garden of the Gods, explore old mining boomtowns like historic Durango, and enjoy the amenities of eclectic cities like Denver, Colorado Springs, and Alamosa without the burden of snow. 

Fall Foliage Vermont

New England

Few travel destinations for 2024 capture the United States' seaside charms and melting pot essence like the East Coast. New England is a place where colonial history abounds, yet modern life is evident around every turn. New England is a showcase of tradition and the ambitious spirit of Americans. Visit big cities like New York and Washington D.C. to explore iconic places like Central Park, Fifth Avenue, and Capitol Hill. Lose yourself in the rich history of Boston while touring the highlights of New England.

Exploring New England's sleepy seaside towns offers another glimpse at the local culture and food scenes, and if your bucket list includes fall foliage viewing, few places compare. Embark on an autumn tour of New England to see some of the most magnificent displays in the United States while driving Kancamagus Highway and riding scenic trains like the Conway Scenic Railroad, the Mount Washington Cog Railway, and the Cape Cod Central Railroad. You can make New England a destination in its own right or use it as the starting point for your coast-to-coast rail journey this travel season.

Vacation Destinations in Canada

Ottawa City Skyline At Sunrise


A distinct French Canadian allure flows through the veins of the world-class cities and small countryside villages of Canada's largest province, Quebec. This holiday destination's compelling mixture of old and new caters to travelers of all backgrounds, making Quebec a fantastic place for history buffs, the epicurious, and nature lovers alike. Get a taste of Quebec and its offerings while exploring Montreal, an exciting hub of culture and heritage, and Quebec City, a place whose charms are apparent around every corner. Its fortified Old Quebec, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, makes it hard to believe you are still in Canada. Use VIA Rail's Corridor Service to connect both cities and get a feel for their distinct flavors.

Whether you hope to spend your trip whale watching on the St. Lawrence or in awe of nature at Montmorency Falls, the province's offerings are as vast as the land itself. Beyond the bounds of urban Quebec, the Laurentian Mountains make a perfect backdrop for outdoor adventures, and the Charlevoix countryside is truly idyllic. Use Quebec as the starting point for a rail journey to Maritime Canada or as a stopping point while exploring Eastern Canada to create a rail vacation you treasure for years to come.

Bucket-List Holiday Locales in Europe & Beyond

Glenfinnan Viaduct And The Jacobite Steam Train


One of the best travel destinations for 2023, 2024, and beyond, Scotland's ancient traditions and legendary landscapes leave travelers enchanted. Scotland is a country where beautiful storytelling brings history to life, and tales are woven into the purple heather covering its rolling mountains. Take a Highland adventure aboard iconic trains, such as the Jacobite Steam Train, the Kyle Line, the West Highland Line, and the Highland Railroad, and watch as iconic landmarks, including the Glenfinnan Viaduct, come to life. Cruise across lochs that may or may not be home to mythical creatures and venture out to Scotland's gorgeous islands, such as the Isle of Skye, where pictorial views abound. Scotland's colorful history is brought to life as you tour places like Culloden Battlefield and venture to centuries-old castles, including Edinburgh Castle, Eilean Donan Castle, and Urquhart Castle. Rounded out by world-class Scotch whisky tastings and visits to ancient locales, Scotland speaks to holidaymakers near and far.

Coast Of Sorrento Italy


A globally-renowned food scene - check. Some of the world's best wine - check. Art, thousands of years of history, Roman artifacts, and vibrant cities where old and new meet - there is plenty of that, too, in the one and only Italy. Explore "the Boot" from top to toe by train to find yourself immersed in a beautiful mixture of quaint seaside villages, such as Lucca, fashionable modern metropolises like Milan, and places whose history is presented through tours of Roman sites and religious meccas, like Rome.

When considering the best of Italy's summer travel destinations, the sun-kissed Amalfi Coast leaves visitors spellbound. Hop between the villages of the Cinque Terre, and explore thousands of years of history in nearby places like Pompeii and Herculaneum. Elsewhere in the country, dive into culture and cuisine in places like Rome, Florence, and Venice with wine tastings, or experience the highlights of Tuscany, including its farm-fresh cuisine and undeniable romance. An intoxicating mixture of timeless cities and captivating experiences awaits in Italy.

Blue Train

South Africa

A truly wild destination beckons when you travel deep into Africa to its southern tip. South Africa is a land of contrasts - a place where the world's largest animals roam freely, and luxurious trains and beautiful cities provide the utmost comfort. You can explore all this and everything that lies in between while steeped in absolute luxury on the iconic Blue Train or the elegant Pride of Africa - likened to a five-star hotel on the rails. Regardless of your chariot, your time in South Africa presents this nation in all its untamed grandeur.

Spend time discovering the dynamic elements of cities like Johannesburg, Pretoria, Capetown, and Kimberly. Find yourself enraptured with the fruits of South Africa's wine country while visiting Stellenbosch Vineyards and in awe of the big five and Africa's wildlife while touring Kruger National Park, Hluhluwe Game Reserve, and Addo Elephant Park. Combine this with opportunities to visit bucket-list locales like the Cape of Good Hope and Table Mountain, and it is easy to see why South Africa is one of the world's best places to travel.

Fujinomiya Shizuoka Japan


Immerse yourself in deep-rooted traditions and peaceful landscapes in the Land of the Rising Sun, Japan. This island nation's cultural influences have been revered for centuries, and while hints of them can be seen around the globe, there is nothing quite like discovering Japan in person. Sleepy coastal fishing villages and remote mountain towns nestled in the lush landscape somehow sit harmoniously with the energy and technology found in cultural epicenters like Tokyo, Osaka, Hiroshima, and Kyoto. Japan's serene gardens and age-old temples, including Asakusa Kannon Temple, Kodaiji Temple, and Toda-ji Temple, paint the landscape with tangible serenity, even in the most modern locales. The country's abundant UNESCO World Heritage Sites and ancient practices add an undertone of history everywhere you travel.
But you do not have to be a bystander to its distinctive culture; instead, joining a Japanese vacation allows you to take part in tea ceremonies and taste authentic Nikka whiskey. Experience the nation's most iconic landmark, Mount Fuji, in person, and visit famous places, such as the Hakodate fish market and Kyoto's Geisha District. Whether you embark on a grand tour of Japan featuring many cities or focus your visit on one region, you are sure to be inspired by Japan.

Need more inspiration for your travel bucket list? Peruse our most popular independent tour packages and escorted rail vacations and see how Vacations By Rail can open the world to you in 2024.