I keep a list of the places I visit and I just recently started to put them in order of my favorite to least favorite. I say “places” instead of “countries” because sometimes I’ve only been to one city in a country and I don’t feel like it’s fair to judge a whole country based on one city.
Also, I know this list technically has more than five places on it…
But I was thinking in terms of places one would go in a single trip, so some got grouped together…and maybe I had a hard time narrowing it down…Anyways! My top 5 favorite places I’ve been to:
5. The USA!
Surprised to see America on here? I think there is SOOOOOO much to see in my own country! America will never climb to the top of my list though because it’s expensive to travel here and it’s not easy for backpackers/budget travelers (lack of public transportation, lack of hostels). That being said, our country is vast and vibrant!
Most people want to see New York City when they visit America, which is necessary I suppose, but of the places I’ve been to in my own country, I’ve found these three to be my favorites:
New Orleans: Oh my gosh the food!! Jambalaya, boiled crawfish…Beignets!! New Orleans is a really intense city. It’s sort of falling apart in places (as I’m sure you’ve heard) and there is a lot of poverty and crime there, but there is also a really colorful culture. Great jazz and blues music, interesting people, some of the most talented buskers I’ve ever seen, a charming historic quarter, and a very very boisterous nightlife scene.
Miami: I went to Miami for the first time during Spring Break of my senior year of college. We drove down from Athens, GA, ALL TWELVE HOURS, and stayed in an AirBnB place somewhere north of South Beach (North Beach?). I don’t think the *glam* side of Miami is for me, but I really love the beach, the tropical weather, the art deco, and that awesome Italian villa in the middle of the forest called Vizcaya.
San Francisco: I haven’t been in aaages but I’ll always remember San Francisco fondly. I went to visit my cousins there when I was 16 or 17 and stayed with them in Marin County (so I think I got to avoid the notorious fog of the city proper). Great hiking, the sea, the weather, the culture.
4. Barcelona and Portugal
I know these are two different countries but I have a really hard time separating them in my head because I visited them both in one trip, and I haven’t been anywhere in Spain besides Barcelona. I LOVED Barcelona, and I LOVED Lisbon. Just two really freakin awesome cities. They have the beach-and-city combo, fun nightlife, laid-back cultures, Mediterranean climate, interesting and colorful architecture, are cheaper when compared to other western European destinations, and Sintra has CASTLES! I enjoyed Porto as well and wow is it beautiful there but Lisbon stole my heart.
3. New Zealand
Because it’s empty! Seriously, outside of the cities I remember feeling like we were the only ones around, which is lovely when you’re camping. I went to New Zealand in 2010 with my French housemates and their friends during a school break while I studied at Sydney Uni. We did a bit of the north island and then essentially drove the perimeter of the South Island, camping in our campervan next to beaches and glacial lakes.
New Zealand is BEAUTIFUL. The geology is fascinating and extremely varied, especially between the North and South Islands. Lots of outdoor activities. I remember enjoying the accents and the nice people and all them delicious golden kiwifruit.
No surprises here. As you may or may not remember, I f*cking loved Turkey! And I was there in wintertime!! It has epic geology – it’s basically a land of ancient volcanoes, meaning lots of cool rock-related things like hot springs and fairy chimneys. It’s an affordable place to travel to, is filled with friendly Turkish people, and Istanbul is historical and multi-cultural. I imagine if you go in the summer, the coast and beachy places are stunning.
Maaaaybe I’m biased because I spent so much time there, but Thailand is a pretty awesome place to visit. It’s my number one favorite place I’ve been to because it’s beautiful, interesting, and a whole lot of fun!
Other qualities that tempt me DAILY to buy a one-way ticket back to Bangkok: it’s affordable, tropical, the beaches are lovely, the geology is interesting, the locals are extremely friendly and warm, the food is spicy, and the backpackers are the best! SCUBA diving, rock climbing, hiking, swimming, drinking, dancing, singing, eating, MASSAGES, elephants, monkeys, wats, streetfood, speaking Thai, shopping…I mean really I could go on forever.
P.S. The lesson here is that I tend to value crazy rocks, the ocean, and nice weather in my travel destinations :D
What are your top 5 favorite places you’ve been to?? I genuinely want to know so I can work on my travel wish list!