By Venus Wong
Turning 30 is considered a major milestone for many people — it’s the age by which you’ve hopefully
somewhat mastered the art of adulting. Your twenties is a great time to make carpe diem your life mantra, be in crappy relationships, all-nighters, and ill-advised haircuts out of your system. It’s also a fantastic time to see the world, since you’re less likely to be tied down with a mortgage or family obligations. After all, no one in the history of the world has ever looked back to to their youth and wished they had traveled less.
Exploring new places in your twenties is immensely fun, but you’re pretty much guaranteed to have the time of your life at these 10 destinations. Click ahead for the ultimate travel bucket list to check off before you hit the big 3-0.
Azore Islands, Portugal
When it comes to island hopping in Europe, countries like Croatia and Greece usually come to mind, but the Azores — nine islands of the autonomous region of Portugal — deserves to be on your radar, too. The island cluster boasts an incredibly diverse and stunning terrain, including mountains, jungles, beaches, hot springs. The best part? It’s a lot closer than you think. The destination is only less than four hours away from the East Coast.
Azores Getaways offer seven-day island flight and hotel packages beginning at $749 from NYC and Fort Lauderdale to Sao Miguel, the biggest island in the archipelago.
Don’t Leave Without: Hiking up to Sets Cidades, a twin set of lakes. With one lake in green and one in blue, this natural attraction is the ultimate Instagram spot. Photo: Shutterstock.
Yamba should be on the bucket list for anyone looking to surf and chill. The beach town charms visitors with a temperate climate and bohemian atmosphere. There’s not one, but
16 beautiful beaches to make a splash in. Our favorites are the unspoiled Brooms Head Main Beach and the shockingly-blue Angourie Beach, a top-rated spot for surfing.
Don’t Leave Without: Petting adorable alpacas at Glen Ian Ostrich and Emu Farm, a facility offering tours of farmyard cattle and fowls. Photo: Getty.
Seoul, South Korea
Seoul is a city that lives in the future, and twenty-somethings will be most at home at this fast-paced, hyper-connected town. Whatever is trending in the U.S. right now, it probably became passé in Seoul six months ago. The sheer avalanche of Korean beauty and fashion products you’ll be able to find at Dongdaemun Market, a 24/7 shopping emporium will shock your senses.
Don’t Leave Without: Sampling authentic Korean street food at the bustling Gwangjang Market, one of the oldest food markets in the country. Our money’s on bindaetteok, a traditional bean pancake, and soondae, a type of skewer made from pig intestines. Photo: Getty.
Bologna is a collegiate town popular with foreign exchange students, so you know you’ll be in great company. The destination balances historic towers, cathedrals, and cobbles squares with a lively nightlife. Hit up
Cantina Bentivoglio for live jazz and a chance to mingle with other adventurers.
Don’t Leave Without: Feasting on pizza at Berberè, where the dough is handmade and ripened over 48 hours. Photo: Getty.
Millennials have been
moving to Portland in droves and it’s not hard to see why: The standards of living are still relatively affordable, and the city has managed to retain its hip and quirky character. Your main hangs will be Division Street, the beating heart of the city’s culinary scene, and the Pearl District, an artsy neighborhood full of funky warehouse and cobblestoned streets.
Don’t Leave Without: Getting your bookworm on at Powell’s Books, the biggest independent bookstore in the world. You can easily spend a whole day flipping through books — don’t say that we haven’t warned you. Photo: Getty.
The bad news: Antalya’s tourism has been on the downward slump in light of an
attack in 2016. The not-so-bad news: Traveling there is now more affordable than ever. The seaside town has a reputation for being a party central, there’s a lot more to do than hitting up pool bashes. You can’t find a more picture perfect spots to wander around and lose yourself at than the old town of Kaleici. The breathtaking view of Antalya’s coastline is one of those special views you have to see to believe it.
Don’t Leave Without: Taking a full-day tour of the ancient Roman ruins in Aspendos and the waterfalls at Kursunlu. Photo: Getty.
A trip to Hanoi will change everything you think you know about Vietnamese cuisine — and it can possibly wreck you forever, since no Pho you taste from this point onwards will ever be able to compare. In Vietnamese culture, Pho is consumed during breakfast, so what’s served here is much more refreshing to its American counterparts. The city is also famed for being the birthplace of bun cha, an orgasmic pork-and-rice-noodle combo served with a side of fried crab rolls. Obama and Anthony Bourdain rocked up to
Bun Cha Huong Lien when they were in town, and so should you.
Don’t Leave Without: Taking a tour of nearby Halong Bay, a magnificent cluster of limestone islands lauded as one of “ The New Seven Natural Wonders Of The World “. Photo: Getty.
Lindos, Rhodes, Greece
Santorini and Mykonos are great and all, but they don’t hold a candle to the serene beauty that Lindos possesses. Perched on a steep mountain, the seaside town is one of the best kept secrets in the Greek islands, with its fishing village charm largely intact. The hike up to the Lindos Acropolis — the ancient ruins overlooking the heart-shaped St. Paul’s Bay — will simply floor you. Oh, and did we mention that the fresh seafood is super affordable here?
Don’t Leave Without: Taking a Lazy Day Boat Cruise around Rhodes, and going for a dip in the crystal clear waters. Photo: Getty.
Santa Fe, NM
Santa Fe is a striking place that doesn’t look like anywhere else. The Pueblo-style architecture and mud brick buildings cut a striking silhouette, especially during sunset. Art lovers should put the city on their bucket list, as it’s home to an array of highly-regarded museums and galleries featuring Southwestern Art. For starters, hit up
Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, New Mexico Museum of Art, and El Rancho de las Golondrinas.
Don’t Leave Without: Experiencing the Meow Wolf’s House of Eternal Return, a conceptual artist space funded by Game of Thrones author (and Santa Fe resident) George R.R. Martin. The former bowling alley houses funky installations from 135 artists, ranging from a neon forest to a refrigerator that leads to a spaceship. Photo: Getty.
Allegedly the residence of Santa Claus, Europe’s largest lake district has a lot more offer than Christmas kitsch. The Finnish region offers a well-rounded wellness experience, from sledding at
Linnansaari National Park to a steam session at a traditional Finnish sauna. With over half a million cottages, this region embodies a IRL holiday card.
Don’t Leave Without: Hopping on a hot air balloon ride in Hämeenlinna to take in the Finnish nature from a unique perspective. True to its Finnish roots, the balloons come in chic Marimekko-like patterns. Photo: Courtesy of Hannes Becker.
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