The most gratifying trips are built around an intention or goal dependent upon a traveler’s style and desires. Whether you’re a foodie in search of unique culinary creations in far-flung locales, a romantic seeking secluded bliss on a private island, or a nature lover on a quest to see the world’s most wild and unspoiled landscapes, here are our top pics of the epic experiences curated with every type of traveler in mind.
History Buffs: Havana
To visit Cuba is to experience a country nearly frozen in time while also bearing witness to history in the making. Because Americans are only allowed to visit Cuba under strict and specific types of visas, cultural exchange and historical understanding must be part of any trip. Let Cultural Cuba sort out your “Support for the Cuban People” visa and start your journey in Old Havana, the beating heart of the country. By day, take a walking tour through the beautiful crumbling streets as you learn about Cuba’s revolutionary past, visit a cigar factory or maybe Hemingway’s former residences, enjoy a rum tasting, or even sit down with a former city planner. By night, take a sunset ride in a classic car along the seafront Malecón or have dinner in a historic paladar (a small family-run restaurant) followed by music at the famous Tropicana Club or the Fábrica de Arte Cubano.
While a weekend in Havana can be deeply educational and fun, longer itineraries further afield in Cuba are available, too.
Wellness Seekers: Bhutan
There is no better measure of wellness than our happiness, so what better place to kickstart or deepen a wellness journey than in Bhutan, a spiritual, unplugged, and health-focused country deemed one of the happiest on Earth? Find your Zen on an andBeyond customized Bhutan adventure. Most start in Thimphu, reached by flying over the majestic Himalayas. Visit Tamchog Lhakhang temple, hike up to the Tango Goenpa Monastery through rhododendron forests and marvel at one of the largest Buddha statues anywhere. Then it’s on to Punakha to visit the beautiful Punakha Dzong, a Bhutanese fort where every king is crowned. Pass through farmlands and a butterfly trail to an exciting rafting experience. The journey ends in Paro, with a stop at the national museum Ta Dzong and a hike to iconic Tiger’s Nest, one of the most hallowed Buddhist sites in the world.
Throughout the journey, enjoy healthy, simple foods, yoga, art and culture encounters, and insight into how the Bhutanese maintain their enviable happiness, tranquility, and hospitality.
The Land of Fire and Ice offers endless activities for thrill-seekers, adventurers, and those who prefer to fill their days with physical activities. Glacial, volcanic, and marine landscapes combined with nearly 24 hours of daylight in the summer mean adrenaline junkies can pack in a shocking number of activities in a short amount of time. Nordic Luxury’s custom itineraries cover both popular must-dos and the truly exclusive. Depending on the season, you can snowmobile across, hike up or venture deep inside a glacier; walk through a lava field to a dormant volcano, then descend via an open elevator to its center; hike an active volcano; race quad bikes across striking black sand beaches; go dog sledding; snorkeling or diving between tectonic plates in the Silfra rift; sleep under the stars in mobile campsites; fish the sea, lakes, and rivers; see the most stunning scenery by horseback or bike; raft a glacier-fed river; go cave exploring or kayak in a glacial lagoon.
When you’re physically spent, visit the rejuvenating Blue Lagoon and enjoy Iceland’s incredible food scene, which just might be the most adventurous part of your trip.
Romantics: Fiji’s Laucala Island
With its perfect climate, warm and welcoming people, crystal blue waters, and remote location in the South Pacific, Fiji draws honeymooners and lovers from all over the world. Those who are especially in the know make their way to the ultimate romantic hideaway, Laucala Island. This peaceful 3,500-acre private-island resort was built by the founder of Red Bull and has only 25 traditional yet luxurious thatched villas scattered around the island. It’s an all-inclusive Robinson Crusoe fantasy where you can do nothing at all or anything you want, from horseback riding to cooking classes, from golf to diving, snorkeling, deep-sea fishing, and water-skiing. There’s even a submarine.
Be sure to make an appointment at the gorgeous spa featuring indigenous treatments and fresh, healthy cuisine from five restaurants to round out the experience. The gracious, discreet, and well-trained staff go out of their way to create a romantic atmosphere.
The Japanese take incredible pride in their cuisine, which is as diverse as the country’s landscape. On the Wondertrunk & co.’s Tastes of Japan Insider Tour, try famous favorites such as Kobe beef, sushi, ramen, tempura, and matcha and discover lesser-known delights that never made their way into Western culture. On this 13-day culinary journey, you’ll stay in 5-star hotels and enjoy private transportation and guides while exploring the street food scene in Tokyo, classic country cuisine in Takayama, the sea’s bounty in Kanazawa, classic fine dining in Kyoto, and cutting-edge Japanese cuisine in Osaka, the country’s culinary capital.
From sake and beer tastings to traditional tea ceremonies, visiting bustling street food markets, and trying homestyle cooking lessons, this tour is a great way to immerse yourself in the history and culture of Japan one delicious bite at a time.
Road Trippers: Ireland
There is no better way to see Ireland than by car and CIE Tours makes it easy, with countless road trip itineraries focused on everything from genealogy and grand estates to pubs and folk music. They organize the car, a custom-tailored route complete with overnight lodging (choose from charming guest houses, luxury hotels, or even a castle or two), and support and guides along the way. Our favorite route is along the Wild Atlantic Way, a stunning coastal-hugging drive that reveals the beauty and charm of Western Ireland through its landscapes, villages, churches, castles, and people. With itineraries ranging from 7 to 14 days, you’ll encounter friendly locals, incredible food from creative fine dining to hearty pub fare, sleepy fishing villages dotted with colorful homes, vast green meadows full of sheep, craggy cliffs with jaw-dropping views of the Atlantic.
The most lively towns are Cork and Galway, but you’ll also love the otherworldly hills of the Burren and many historic and cultural sites along the way.
Nature Lovers: Galapagos
The islands of Galapagos hold much fascination for nature lovers. After all, in the 1800s, the naturalist Charles Darwin spent just over a month studying the islands’ unique flora and fauna, particularly its finches, which ultimately led him to write his groundbreaking Theory of Evolution outlined in the book The Origin of the Species. Walk in the footsteps of Darwin on Alluring Americas’ 10-day Island Hopping Adventure. The trip starts with a guided tour of colonial Quito, Ecuador, UNESCO’s first World Heritage Site. From there, you’ll fly or yacht to half a dozen islands as well as wildlife-rich Divine Bay, all while getting up close to Darwin’s finches, eagle rays, white-tipped sharks, all manner of fish, marine iguanas, the famous blue-footed boobies, herons, pelicans, sharks, and sea lions. During a stop at the Darwin Research Station, you’ll see the important giant-tortoise breeding program.
This mix of land- and water-based encounters is perfect for anyone who is unaccustomed to or not a fan of cruising.
Shopping Lovers: London and Paris
Fashionistas or those just needing a wardrobe or home décor refresh can deep dive into two of the world’s fashion capitals in just one trip across the pond. UK-based NoteWorthy is known for its exhaustive list of contacts and insider access throughout England, Scotland, and Paris. Let their local fashion and design experts take you on the shopping spree of your dreams, whether it’s to bespoke Saville Row suit makers, the trendiest upscale boutiques in Mayfair, or the best antique dealers on Portobello Road.
You can ship your finds home, board the Eurostar to Paris and meet up with a NoteWorthy Parisian guide for the French version of your shopping experience — think access to exclusive ateliers, custom couture, and a personal guide who can lead you through the mazelike Saint-Ouen flea market to just the thing you’ve been looking for.