Looking for unique bucket list ideas that will help you live your best life? This article has got you covered!
I’ve always been a fan of bucket lists because they motivate me to push my limits and broaden my horizons. It’s one thing to dream about everything I’d like to achieve, but writing things down holds me accountable and makes these goals real and tangible. I’ve visited 43 countries so far, yet my bucket list continues to grow every day (much faster than I’m able to cross things off!).
Compiling a unique bucket list is all about dreaming and yearning, and it’s perfectly fine if you don’t hit the mark by your 20th, 30th, or 50th birthday, etc.! I’d prefer to shoot for the stars, and at the very least, try to land on the moon!
The bucket lists you often see on the internet are filled with clichés, so I’ve done my best to create a list of specific and unique bucket list-worthy experiences. Here are 38 unique bucket list ideas about travel, life, and personal advancement. Hopefully, these ideas will give you some inspiration for your own bucket list!
Unique Bucket List Ideas about Travel
1. Live, study, or work abroad
This bucket list idea is truly life-changing.
Back when I was in college, I studied abroad in Barcelona. It was my first time living in a foreign country and going anywhere outside of the country without my parents. This was the single most important experience in my life (after getting married, of course). Later, I taught English over a summer in Valencia, Spain, and that was also a tremendous growth opportunity. Each of these experiences pushed me outside of my comfort zone and further sparked my passion for traveling and learning about other cultures.
It’s important to recognize that when moving abroad—even on a temporary basis— you will encounter obstacles. Whether it’s learning the local language, understanding the customs/traditions, or even being uncomfortable with the unfamiliar, you will face challenges while living abroad. But it’s 100% worth it, and it will change your life for the better.
In the words of J.D. Andrews, “It’s a big world out there. It would be a shame not to experience it.”
Read next: Top Inspirational Travel Quotes
2. See the Egyptian Pyramids
Built in 2,500 B.C., the Pyramids of Giza are among the most spectacular wonders of the ancient world. Today, these Egyptian pyramids are a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a must-see if you enjoy ancient history!
Read next: Top UNESCO Sites in the World
3. Visit the vineyards of Tuscany
Located in the heart of Italy, Tuscany is one of the world’s top wine regions. It’s home to beautiful cities like Florence and Siena, as well as rural towns and gently rolling hills filled with grape vines.
Be sure to spend ample time visiting the many lush vineyards and wineries that Tuscany is known for. Learn about Tuscany’s wine heritage amid a beautiful backdrop of vineyards as far as the eye can see. There’s no place quite like it!
After exploring Tuscany, I recommend making your way north to Italy’s Emilia-Romagna region, which boasts the best food in the entire country!
Read next: Top Wine Regions in the World
4. Go on a road trip around the US
With cheap gas, wide open roads, and lots of epic landscapes, the US is arguable the best country for road trips. There are so many to choose from, but here’s what I recommend:
New England Fall Foliage Road Trip: I’m a New Englander, so I may be a bit biased here. But if you genuinely want to see some of the most vibrant fall colors and maple trees imaginable, come up to New England and do a trip through Massachusetts, Vermont, and New Hampshire. You won’t regret it!
Pacific Coast Highway: a coastal drive through California, Oregon, and Washington.
US Route 66: A cross country road trip from Chicago to Los Angeles
Southwest Road Trip: Hit national parks like the Grand Canyon, Bryce, Arches, and Zion. Along the way, don’t miss Monument Valley, Horseshoe Bend, Antelope Canyon, and Sedona. Each of these geological wonders deserve a spot on your bucket list.
The Overseas Highway: a scenic highway that takes you through the Florida Keys all the way to Key West.
Though not on the mainland, I also recommend doing a road trip on the Road to Hana in Maui. It will take you past bamboo forests, dramatic coastlines lined with black, white, and red sand beaches, and lots of winding, narrow roads. I’ve done road trips on three continents, and this was unlike anything I’ve done before.
Read next: The Ultimate New England Road Trip
5. Fly in a hot air balloon in Cappadocia, Turkey
I think the act of flying in a hot air balloon is already worthy of a spot on your bucket list. But if there’s one place to do it, I think it should be Cappadocia. Look at the fairy chimney formations below, and I think you will agree!
6. See the Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights)
Seeing the Northern Lights is about as otherworldly as it gets.
I witnessed this spectacle in Iceland twice, and thinking about it still sends shivers down my spine. I can’t quite describe it, but it felt like these colorful formations were dancing in the midnight sky, swaying in a deliberate yet unforeseen way that really makes you believe in a higher power. Perhaps the Vikings—who unfortunately did not write any books—would have agreed!
7. Go on a safari in Africa – A top bucket list idea for animal lovers
If you are captivated by wildlife, this should be at the top of your bucket list.
See the Big Five (Leopards, lions, buffalos, elephants, and rhinos) while on a safari in Africa. Some of the best safari destinations include Serengeti in Tanzania, Kruger in South Africa, and Masai Mara in Kenya. You also may come across crocodiles, hippos, cheetahs, hyenas, and a variety of other wildlife.
Depending on where you live, it can be pricey to get to some of these African countries, but it’s well worth it!
8. Learn how to surf in Hawaii
There are lots of great places around the world where you can go surfing, but I can’t imagine a better place than Hawaii!
In particular, Oahu is known for its perfect waves and friendly people. They would be happy to show you how it’s done!
Waikiki Beach is a great spot for beginners, and those who are a bit more confident in their abilities should head over to Oahu’s North Shore. You’ll find many of the world’s best surfers here, so if you’re intimidated by the massive waves, at least you can enjoy surfing as a spectator sport!
Read next: 10 Things Locals do on Oahu
9. Go to the Carnival Celebration in Rio de Janeiro
Each year, many cities across the world host Carnival celebrations, but none is more famous than the festivities in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil! It makes Mardi Gras in New Orleans look like a small and quiet gathering (slight exaggeration, but you get the point!).
10. See a glacier up close (make this bucket list idea a priority!)
Glaciers are beautiful, unique, and fleeting. With these large ice formations receding at a rapid rate, there’s no guarantee that we’ll be able to see them in the coming decades. As such, this is one of the unique bucket list ideas that you’ll want to prioritize and see sooner rather than later.
I’ve visited glaciers in Europe and the US, and my favorites are Jökulsárlón in Iceland and Grinnell Glacier in Glacier National Park (Montana). Of course, there are many other amazing glaciers out there, so take your pick and make this a priority!
Read next: Most Beautiful Places in the USA
11. Go scuba diving or snorkeling
This is one of the best bucket list ideas out there.
It’s always fascinated me that over two-thirds of our planet is made up of oceans, and there are so many aquatic species that we’ve yet to discover! Go snorkeling in the Caribbean or scuba diving in the Great Barrier Reef, and you’ll get a taste of the beauty that lies beneath us.
While many people may fear the ocean and all the strange and exotic fish in its depths, this is a fear that must be conquered. The ocean is filled with beautiful fish and coral reefs that deserve to be seen up close rather than just on TV and social media.
By scuba diving or snorkeling, not only will this help you conquer their fears, but you’ll also learn about our beautiful marine world!
12. Walk along the Great Wall of China – a bucket list attraction for culture and history lovers
China is home to so many natural, cultural, and historic wonders, but the Great Wall of China tops the list. I’ve been to China twice, visiting a range of modern sights and cultural attractions, but this bucket list idea has eluded me so far. I will definitely report back when I do get a chance to walk along the Great Wall.
As you can imagine, parts of the wall can get quite busy. So be sure to hire a local guide and hike to a spot with fewer tourists!
Read next: Yangtze River Cruise Itinerary
13. Float in the Dead Sea
Located in Israel and Jordan, the Dead Sea is one of the most unique places on Earth, and certainly worthy of a spot on your bucket list.
Contrary to popular belief, the Dead Sea is a lake rather than a sea. It’s made up of 30% salt, which makes it nearly 10 times saltier than typical sea water. As such, this salty water makes it easy to float. It’s truly a surreal feeling to take a dip and not have to tread water.
The Dead Sea also has healing properties, treating skin conditions like psoriasis. This makes it one of the best free spas on the planet!
For this bucket list idea, I was going to write “Swim in the Dead Sea,” but quickly realized you don’t have to swim to stay afloat here. This is definitely something that you’ll want to experience in your lifetime!
14. Spend a weekend at Oktoberfest in Munich
If you love beer, you must add this unique experience to your bucket list!
Oktoberfest is a Bavarian beer celebration that’s been held in Munich for over 200 years. It typically occurs between late-September and early-October, attracting over 6 million people from around the world.
I went to Oktoberfest back in 2014, and though I will drink that much beer again, it was a great experience!
So, go out and buy a lederhosen and dirndl and celebrate your love for beer at Oktoberfest!
15. See a Komodo Dragon in Indonesia
Ever dreamt of seeing a dinosaur? The Komodo dragon, which is only found on 5 islands in southeastern Indonesia, is the closest you’ll get of seeing one.
Komodo Dragons grow up to 10-ft. long and weigh over 300 lbs, making them the world’s largest lizard. You can see them in zoos around the world, but it’s more interesting and authentic to see them in the wild.
Watch Komodo dragons in their natural habitat on Komodo Island and you’ll feel like you’re looking at an ancient beast, or even a dragon!
16. Add this unique experience to your bucket list: Stay at the Ice Hotel in Sweden
This is one of the most unique bucket list ideas imaginable!
The Icehotel in northern Sweden offers an experience like no other. Each of the rooms contain hand-carved ice furniture and furnishings that makes you feel like you’re in a mystical place near the North Pole. The rooms are kept at subfreezing temperatures, so you’ll fall asleep at night in a thermal sleeping bag. There’s a sauna, and lots of unique winter activities you can do outside, including dog sledding and reindeer sleigh rides.
Stay inside a hotel entirely sculpted of ice with views of the Northern Lights, and you’ll see why this is one of the top bucket list ideas for travelers.
17. Step foot on each of the seven continents
This is the ultimate bucket list idea if you enjoy traveling.
Some people are put off by visiting Antarctica due to its extremely cold temperatures, so hitting 6 of the 7 continents is a great alternative as well.
One interesting caveat about continents as it relates to this bucket list: some countries, including the US and much of Europe, consider there to be seven continents: Africa, Antarctica, Asia, Oceania, Europe, North America, and South America. But in other parts of the world, people consider Europe and Asia to be one continent (Eurasia). Additionally, Central and South Americans consider America to be one continent, rather than two. And finally, some parts of the world don’t consider Antarctica to be a continent at all. It’s all about perspective!
18. Hike the Himalayas – one of the most unique bucket list ideas imaginable
If you’re into hiking, the Himalayas ought to be near the top of your bucket list. This mountain range in Asia separates the Indian subcontinent from the Tibetan Plateau. It’s best known for Mount Everest in Nepal, the highest mountain on Earth above sea level. However, there are lots of other mountains in Bhutan, China, India, and even Pakistan that are worth the trek.
Is this one of the most unique bucket list ideas? Absolutely!
19. Visit the Galapagos Islands in Ecuador
Known for its wildlife-viewing, the Galapagos Islands are a must-see island destination off the coast of Ecuador. Nowhere else on Earth will you see the sheer diversity of flora and fauna than on the Galapagos.
These islands inspired Charles Darwin’s Theory of Evolution, and they will inspire you too. Check out the giant tortoises, iguanas, and finches, and you’ll see what I mean!
It would be a crime not to include the Galapagos Islands among the most unique bucket list ideas, especially if you’re a wildlife lover.
Read next: The Coolest Islands in the World
20. Get lost in the concrete jungle – One of the coolest bucket list ideas for citygoers
Originally, I was going to make this bucket list idea about NYC, but there are many other concrete jungles out there worth visiting.
Cities like New York City, Shanghai, Hong Kong, and Tokyo are considered “Concrete Jungles” due to the copious pavement and skyscrapers that are found at every turn.
Even if you don’t like big cities, it’s still worth tacking on these global cities to your bucket list. You’ll find lots of interesting culture and history in each, and the gastronomical experiences are second to none!
Read next: Unique things to do in Shanghai
21. Attend the Olympic Games
Ever dreamed of going to the Olympics? Well, if you’re not a top performing athlete, the next best thing is attending as a spectator. These international games are held every two years, switching off between Summer and Olympic games.
Cheer on your country and enjoy the party atmosphere in the process, and you’ll be happy you added this unique experience to your bucket list!
22. Go camping in the middle of nature
Nothing beats the feeling of serenity when you’re totally off the grid.
Putting your phone away (or not having service altogether) allows you to better connect with nature. Enjoy the fresh air, a good night’s sleep, and improved mood levels as you spend time with your loved ones. Camping off the grid is truly a lost art these days, and a great way to make all of life’s worries go away.
So, escape the hustle and bustle of city life and go camping…preferably in a hidden vacation spot somewhere in your country.
Read next: Best Hidden Gems to visit in the USA
For further reading: Most Unique Stays in New England
23. Visit the “New” 7 Wonders of the World
I’ve already mentioned the Great Wall of China, but there are six other unique wonders worth visiting:
– Machu Picchu in Peru
– Taj Mahal in India
– Petra in Jordan
– Christ the Redeemer in Brazil
– Chichen Itza in Mexico
– The Colosseum in Italy
Each of these sights are among the most breathtaking UNESCO World Heritage Sites. These manmade structures will blow your mind!
The Egyptian Pyramids are technically an ancient wonder, but you should strive to see those too!
23. The ultimate bucket list adventure: Go backpacking for an extended period
Backpacking is easily one of the most fun and cost-effective ways to travel. I’ve done many backpacking trips, where I’ve covered a lot of ground for a fraction of the price of a typical vacation. Consider backpacking around Europe, or in a specific destination like Thailand or Colombia.
There are lots of amazing places for backpacking, so take your pick and cross this off your travel bucket list!
Read next: Best Hidden Gem Vacation Spots in Europe
24. Experience all four seasons: winter, spring, summer, and fall
If you live in a tropical place, you probably don’t see snow very often (or even at all!). Put your fears of the cold aside and try to see the winter! And while you’re at it, also make it a point to see the spring flowers and fall foliage. You won’t regret it!
Consider seeing the cherry blossoms in Washington D.C. or Japan! And don’t miss the fall foliage season in New England!
25. Go stargazing in the desert
Not many of these unique bucket list ideas are more magical than stargazing.
Some popular stargazing spots in the desert include Joshua Tree National Park in Southern California, the Atacama Desert in northern Chile, and Wadi Rum in Jordan.
Set out for a place where there’s little light pollution, such as a desert, so you can see the night sky. There’s nothing quite like it!
26. Take a train ride through the Swiss Alps – A bucket list-worthy experience like no other!
If you’re into dramatic mountains, crystal clear lakes, and verdant scenery, add this unique experience to your travel bucket list!
Switzerland is easily one of the most beautiful places on Earth, and the best way to experience it is by train!
Take a panoramic train ride through the Swiss Alps, and you’ll discover the most breathtaking landscapes imaginable. One of the most popular train rides is the Glacier Express, which gives you unbeatable views of the iconic Matterhorn and Mater Valley. There are numerous other train rides as well worth noting, including the Jungfrau Railway and Bernina Express.
This type of Switzerland getaway is going to cost you a pretty penny, so better start saving now!
Read next: Coolest Airbnb Rentals in Switzerland
Unique Bucket List Ideas about Life and Personal Advancement
27. Wake up early to catch the sunrise – The only unique bucket list idea that’s free!
There’s nothing better than the feeling of seclusion and beauty that comes with a sunrise. This seemingly magical transition from Blue Hour to Golden Hour yields some spectacular colors, so be sure to have your camera ready and practice your travel photography.
In addition to caching the sunrise, waking up early on a regular basis has many other benefits. According to medical experts, this habit lends itself to a happier, healthier, and more productive lifestyle than that of late risers.
Unlike sunsets, which are more convenient to see, sunrises require some effort. It’s well worth it!
28. Learn another language
Conversing with people in a foreign language just might be one of the most satisfying feelings in the world. It takes a lot of practice, but it allows you to connect with locals in ways you otherwise couldn’t.
I know some Spanish and German, and there’s no better feeling than having a Cerveza or Bier and striking up a conversation with locals. Though contrary to popular belief, your language skills don’t get better with every beer you have!
Read next: Reasons to Learn Another Language
29. Run a marathon – one of the top bucket list ideas for athletes
If you enjoy running, then this idea was probably already on your bucket list. This isn’t just about physical toughness, but mental perseverance as well.
I look forward to one day mustering the physical strength, endurance, and determination to run those 26.2 miles!
30. Become a subject matter expert
This is one of the most desirable bucket list ideas for people who are career-oriented and education-driven.
Whether it’s your lifelong passion, career, or a combination of the two, dive into it with consistent focus and effort over a long period of time. Perhaps one day, you will know more in your field than anyone else!
31. Go horseback riding
There are not many stronger bonds out there than the one between people and horses. Humans have been riding horses for thousands of years, and this emotional attachment is very real.
Unlike other sports, horse riding is a team effort, where you get to work together with the animal.
Ride horses on the beach in a place like Half Moon Bay, California or amid the breathtaking landscapes of West Iceland. You’ll quickly realize why horseback riding is one of the most popular outdoor activities!
32. Play a new instrument – A unique bucket list idea for just about everyone
This unique bucket list idea isn’t just for musicians. Any child or adult is capable of learning an instrument. All it takes is practice and perseverance.
In today’s world, you’ll find all sorts of YouTube videos teaching you how to do just about everything. Of course, personal instruction is the most effective way to learn how to play an instrument, but online instruction works great, too!
In addition to the satisfaction of playing a new instrument, it’s scientifically proven that doing so is also great for the brain!
33. Create passive income
One of the ultimate life goals is to make the transition from a worker to an investor.
Creating passive income—whether it’s through a travel blog, affiliate marketing, rent income, or investment income—will give you more time to make your other bucket list ideas a reality.
Read next: Tips on How to Become a Travel Blogger
Unique Bucket List Ideas for Helping Others
34. Be a mentor to someone else
Whether it’s a coworker, a friend, or someone else who is less experienced than you, mentoring is one of the most rewarding things you can do.
Not only will you feel good about being a mentor, but the mentee will also thank you for it!
35. Do volunteer work – A unique bucket list idea that will help you give back to the community
There are lots of amazing organizations out there where you can volunteer. Brainstorm your passions and interests, and with a little bit of research, you’ll find hundreds of volunteer organizations that align with your goals.
Whether it’s volunteering at a museum or community center, an animal rescue shelter, or a local food pantry that supports the homeless, you’ll find that giving back to the community not only feels good, but also helps others in the process!
36. Make a difference in someone else’s life
As far as unique bucket list ideas go, this is one of the deepest. Ask yourself: “how can I make a difference in someone else’s life?” Then, figure out a way to make it happen!
37. Buy a drink for a stranger
This will give you a warm and fuzzy feeling in your heart. Perhaps buy the drink for the person behind you at Starbucks or a local coffee shop. This kind gesture can go a long way in making someone else’s day a little bit brighter. And who knows, maybe this good deed will be passed on to the next person in line?
38. Tell your friends about your bucket list and encourage them to create their own!
And while you’re at it, feel free to share this article with your family/friends! Hopefully, it will give them some inspiration, too!
For a printable version of this unique bucket list, feel free to send me a message on my Instagram page, and I’ll be happy to get that over to you asap!
Best wishes and hope you have a great year ahead!