We have had the opportunity to go to some really incredible places throughout our adventures, and one question people ask us very often is “What are your favorite places that you’ve been?” Well, that’s a really tough question. Between the two of us, we’ve been to over 50 countries on every continent other than Antarctica. We’ve been to practically every country in Western Europe, we’ve bounced all around the Caribbean and Latin America, and we’ve been to just about every “region” of the world.
Putting this list together was not easy, and we’re still not sold on it, but these 7 countries are ones that we really enjoyed and will never forget. Some of these countries we’ve visited extensively, while others we’ve only visited one city. However, all of them left their mark on us in their own way. I don’t recommend going to some of these for your first trip abroad, but rather adding them to your bucket list of places to visit at least once in your life. Also, these countries are in no particular order…it’s literally impossible to rank them.
While I haven’t had the opportunity to visit yet, Angel says that New Zealand is easily one of the most beautiful countries that she has ever visited. You feel like you are living in a painting. The bright colored landscape is so colorful that it doesn’t even seem real, and absolutely no picture does it justice. When she went, she visited Queenstown, Auckland, and Milford Sound. Along the way she hiked mountains, awed at marvelous lakes and waterfalls, played in a huge beach cave, bungy jumped, go-carted down a mountain, and visited Hobbiton, which was the set where The Shire was filmed for Lord of the Rings.
If you are an outdoors lover and adventure seeker there is no better place to go than New Zealand. She is saying this as someone who stayed in cheap hostels the whole time! It was her first time ever staying in a hostel, and she had a great experience at each one that she stayed at. The majority of tourists traveling to New Zealand are backpackers looking to explore on a budget, so the hostel industry is absolutely booming there. When you go to New Zealand, we recommend you either hostel hop or you rent a van. The whole experience is extremely enjoyable and memorable. She met people from all over the world living in the hostels and any negative experience she had was outweighed by the gorgeous scenery that the country had to offer.
Italy belongs on every bucket list, whether you’ve never left your home country or you’ve been to 100 different countries. In our eyes, as far as culture, history, and places to visit, Italy is one of the top-3 countries on the planet. Very few countries’ cuisine is further reaching than Italian food, and even fewer countries have so many world-famous destinations. Beautiful beaches? Check. One of the 7 Wonders of the World? Check. Medieval walled in cities, Olympic-quality skiing in the Alps, volcanoes, and the pope? Check. Heck, Italy even has the biggest Egyptian history museum in the world outside of Egypt.
We both have unique and deep ties to Italy. I studied in the small, walled-in, medieval town of Urbino for a semester and traveled extensively throughout the country during that time. Obviously, it was the best undergraduate semester I could’ve dreamt of. Other than Mexico and the United States, Italy is probably the country that I have explored the most, and I’d love to live there again at some point. Angel, on the other hand, comes from Italian ancestry and is still in touch with her Italian roots and family.
If it weren’t for the Covid-19 pandemic, Italy would’ve had an even deeper significance to us; it would’ve been the place we got married. Up until the pandemic, we had plans to be married in St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican. While this plan wound up being scratched a few months before its fruition, we were still blessed with the wedding of our dreams in the United States.
If you are thinking about traveling to Italy, I highly recommend checking out my series of blog posts on Italy. I have written posts about most of the majors cities in Italy, including Milan, Rome, Venice, Florence, Bologna, and Turin, as well as other posts about visiting Italy, including the best airports to use in Italy for cheap airfare and how to experience an authentic Italian aperitivo.
Remember all those things we wrote about Italy? We could’ve practically hit copy and paste right here. Mexico also belongs on every bucket list, and not just for its pristine Caribbean beaches. The cuisine is just as far-reaching as Italian food, it also has one of the 7 Wonders of the World, volcanoes, and endless awesome museums. There might not be any Skiing or popes in Mexico, but there is no shortage of incredible towns and cities to visit and culture to absorb. From beaches, to jungles, to deserts, to mountains, Mexico is as geographically diverse as it gets.
Mexico will always have an incredibly special place in our hearts. Having lived and studied here for a year, we’ve made connections with the country and its people that will last for the rest of our lives. Living in Puebla has been everything we could’ve ever expected and more, and every place we’ve gone has surprised us with its own wonders. From a big, submerged statue of the Virgin Mary in Acapulco to the myriad of Michelin stars in Puerto Vallarta, to the picture-perfect beaches of Cozumel and Tulum, Mexico’s beach destinations never disappoint.
And while the beaches are where most tourists flock, some other parts of Mexico are even more mesmerizing. Baja California is its own bucket list destination, with the metropolitan madness of Tijuana, the gorgeous beaches in Los Cabos, and the stunning Vineyards in Valle de Guadalupe. Even high in the mountains you can find magical places like San Miguel de Allende, where Mexican charm is at its finest. Not to mention the fact the Mexico City is a bustling metropolitan wonderland over twice the size of New York City.
If you’re planning a trip to anywhere in Mexico, you will have the time of your life. We can promise that.
If you’ve ever thought about going to Morocco, I have one word of advice: GO. Morocco is one of the most culturally rich places that we have ever visited, and we’d kill to go back again in the future. From the bustling souks of Marrakech to the concrete jungle of Casablanca, to the walled-in medinas like in Rabat, Morocco is filled with experiences that you’ll never forget.
I’ve been twice, and both times were incredible. The grandeur of some of the hotels and palaces is absolutely breathtaking, and getting to experience Ramadan here was one of the coolest travel experiences we’ve had. Something we love about visiting the Arab world is witnessing the strong religious dedication that is so deeply ingrained into the fabric of the country. When the calls to prayer begin from every mosque in the city 5 times per day, it is amazing to see everything around you come to an immediate halt. I personally also love the entirely different dress code that is observed in Morocco, and I wrote an entire post on what to wear in Morocco.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the incredible food in Morocco, too. The flavors are so strong and bold, and ingredients that you’d never expect to be in the same dish work together magically. Thinking about authentic tajine and couscous makes my mouth water every time. If you’re looking for a very tourist-friendly destination in the Arab world that is bursting with cultural wonders, book your trip to Morocco.
Russia is one of the most interesting places we have ever been, and we loved every second of our time in Moscow. Russia was always one of my top-5 bucket list destinations, and finally visiting was a dream come true. We stayed in an old castle, which was a pretty epic experience. On top of that, the metro stations are remarkably beautiful, the food is really unique, and the people were really, really nice.
There were ice skating rinks set up on practically every other block, adorable little Christmas villages all throughout the city with food, rides, and games, and Christmas lights on literally every building. Being in Moscow a week before Christmas was literally magical and unforgettable.
The history of Russia is very interesting, and its role over the past century has definitely been questionable in the international sphere, but the political tensions between the United States and Russia felt non-existent to us. We were happily welcomed and greeted everywhere with happy faces even though we spoke no Russian. Sometimes the people were even too welcoming…like when they invited us to join their pro-communism, pro-Stalin parade right through the Red Square. We don’t normally refuse invitations to participate in cultural events, but we chose to sit that one out. All in all, we were blown away by some of the quaint wonders of Moscow, and we’d go back in a heartbeat.
United Arab Emirates
I had heard that Dubai is like a Las Vegas of the Middle East in some ways, but I wasn’t quite sure what to think of that until I went. The United Arab Emirates, specifically Dubai, had also always been a bucket list destination of mine, and when I finally visited, my expectations were blown away.
We started by spending several days in Dubai, and I can confirm: it is very much so the Las Vegas of the Middle East – but not necessarily in the way you may be thinking. Yes, the party scene in Dubai is crazy, but being a Muslim country, there’s definitely a ceiling to that craziness. Dubai isn’t like Las Vegas in the grungy, infamous ways you might expect. In fact, gambling isn’t even legal in Dubai. Dubai is similar to Las Vegas in that everything is exorbitantly giant, shiny, and over the top – the tallest building in the world is here – and the wealthiest of the wealthy call this city home. There are enormous malls with several floors, and all they sell is designer brands, like Gucci and Versace. Spending New Years in Dubai was an experience of a lifetime.
Dubai isn’t the only incredible place in the United Arab Emirates, though. Abu Dhabi, the country’s capital, takes the wealth and glamour of Dubai and refines it, expressing itself in subtly ludicrous ways. Ferrari opened an amusement park here; Ferrari doesn’t even do amusement parks. They make cars. Oh, and you can literally buy cappuccinos that are dusted with 24 karat gold inside of a giant palace. As if that weren’t enough, the Sheikh Zayed Grande Mosque is one of the most stunning and overwhelmingly large religious structures we have ever seen. The United Arab Emirates was always on my bucket list, and it was so incredible that it’s still on my bucket list, even after visiting. If you’re interested in reading more about this incredible country, check out my Dubai Travel Guide and my Abu Dhabi Travel Guide.
My visit to Cuba will forever be one of my favorite trips. Sort of like with Russia, I’ve always been fascinated by Cuban history, and getting the opportunity to visit was truly amazing. Cuba has one of the most interesting histories of anywhere in the Western Hemisphere and witnessing this Caribbean country’s vibrant culture first-hand was unforgettable. By the way, yes, it is true; the taxis here are American muscle cars from the 1960s!
Cuba’s main exports are some of my favorite things, so you could say that I was in my own little paradise. As a cigar lover, I was in my element. Visiting some of the most famous cigar factories in the world and buying a few boxes of cigars to take home was one of the coolest experiences I’ve had in my life, and I’ll never forget smoking a cigar with my dad in a square in Havana. Another one of those key exports is coffee, and anyone that knows me is fully aware of my love for fine coffee. Simply put, Cuban coffee was incredible, and I took a full kilogram home with me.
All of this, plus the fact that the national drink of Cuba happens to also be one of my two favorite cocktails – the mojito. While my Spanish was still in the works back then, I was able to muster up enough to get a private lesson from a bartender on how to make a true, authentic Cuban mojito. It was so good that I needed to bring three bottles of Havana Club rum home with me just so I could make them again later. By the way, Havana Club rum is easily the best I’ve ever had.
Between the cigar factories, coffee tasting, mojito drinking, and dancing in the Plaza Vieja in Old Havana, Cuba is one place I’ll never forget, and I hope to get back again soon!
That rounds out the list of our favorite places we have ever been. Do any of them sound particularly interesting or exciting to you? Have you been, or do you dream of going to any of them? Drop a comment below!