Ready your passport for these top experiences around the world.
Float in toasty, open-air bliss in Iceland's Blue Lagoon, two acres of astonishingly azure water. Surrounded by a craggy, 800-year-old lava flow about 50 minutes from Reykjavík, this pool of mineral rich, 98º to 104ºF water—the reservoir of a geothermal power plant has attracted bathers for its skin soothing properties since 1981.
2. Costa Rica
Fly through Costa Rica's Monteverde Cloud Forest on a zip line after traversing its canopy on a network of arboreal suspension bridges. Home to an astounding 2.5 percent of earth's plant and animal species, the forest echoes with birdsong and boasts more than 500 kinds of orchid, possibly the most diverse concentration in the world.
Hike amid the rugged, windswept beauty of Trotternish Ridge on the Isle of Skye in northwestern Scotland. This other worldly 20-mile-long escarpment of ancient basalt swathed in grasslands and heath is punctuated with dramatic rock outcroppings and stirring views of land and sea. Its 13 named pinnacles are often shrouded in mist.
Explore the spectacular mountaintop ruins of Machu Picchu in Peru. The 8,000-foot-high citadel of the Incas was erected in the 15th century without benefit of iron tools, draft animals, wheels, or mortar. Yet massive granite stones in some walls were cut so precisely that a credit card can't fit between them.
Climb catwalks and ladders to the top of Australia's Sydney Harbour Bridge, some 400 feet above the water. Among the 3.5 million fearless folks who have scaled the 1932 landmark are Oprah Winfrey, Robert De Niro, a 100-yearold woman, and 28 couples who were married at its summit.
Glide heavenward to the crest of a 7,486-foot peak aboard the Banff Gondola in Canada's Banff National Park. Starting nearly 2,300 feet from the top and moving at 10 feet per second, the four-person cars take eight minutes to reach a top-of-the-world vista encompassing six mountain ranges.
Sail with the wind through the Greek islands on a day trip by yacht from Mykonos. First stop: the fabulous archaeological site on Delos, believed by the ancient Greeks to be Apollo's birthplace. Next, cool off in the turquoise and emerald waters of Rhenia, an uninhabited isle dotted with sandy coves.
Stroll the serene pathways of Kenrokuen, one of the Three Great Gardens of Japan. At nearly 25 acres, the site in Kanazawa (180 miles west of Tokyo) is a sublime rarity, dating back hundreds of years and displaying all six attributes of a perfect garden: spaciousness, seclusion, artifice, antiquity, watercourses, and panoramas.
Take a long, slow look at the giant tortoises of Ecuador's Galápagos Islands at the Charles Darwin Research Station on the island of Santa Cruz. Weighing up to 600 pounds and typically resting 16 hours per day, the sluggish behemoths have no reason to rush. They can live 100 to 150 years.
Beat a rhythm on a conga or make a graceful swirl during a lesson in percussion or dance in Santiago de Cuba, the nation's cultural capital. Music infuses everyday life on this island of 11 million people, and deeprooted genres—from rumba and salsa to son cubano—wield outsize influence on the world stage.
This article was first published in Fall 2017. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.