My All-Time Favorite Places in the World

best places to travel to

Before, I would struggle to say which country I enjoyed traveling through the most. Now I usually say South Africa without hesitation. It’s not just because it was my first African country, which awakened a brand new love affair with my now-favorite continent, but because of the people and the variety of activities and climates.

When I road-tripped through South Africa in 2015, I was invited to stay with locals all the time, of all backgrounds. I was blown away by the natural beauty and friendliness, though one place stood out in particular – the Wild Coast. It’s where Nelson Mandela was born, and where the most beautiful part of the country is, IMHO. I could stay there forever just walking along the rural bluffs over the ocean while dogs from the backpackers come join for the walk.

2. Torres del Paine, Chile

best places to travel to

Torres del Paine was the final stop on a 2-month journey through Patagonia, where I did my first multi-day backpacking adventures requiring that I carry all of my own gear and food. I’d previously thought I wouldn’t be capable of doing that, and now I’m pretty much obsessed, having done it in Kyrgyzstan, Alaska, and Peru! I can thank my Patagonia experience for waking up that side of me.

I’ll always love Torres del Paine for the challenge, for showing me that I could do it, and for being so beautiful. It’s hard to think of a place with heavier winds, more glaciers, better mountains, or a bigger wealth of adventures.

3. Komodo National Park, Indonesia

best places to travel to

I’ll never forget surfacing in Komodo National Park after a night dive on the Fourth of July, near the end of my first year of traveling solo. The Milky Way was in full view and my dive buddy and I had just spent the previous hour marveling at tiny little Mandarin fish with their bright orange and electric blue markings.

The previous week had been full of Manta rays, the most impressive corals I’d ever seen, and some of the best diving of my life. It still ranks high on my list of favorite experiences after all these years.

4. The Annapurna Circuit, Nepal

best places to travel to

Reaching the Thorong-La Pass, the Annapurna Circuit‘s highest point at over 5400 meters on my 27th birthday, was an experience I’ll never forget. The trek took two weeks and was the longest I had ever attempted hiking, which had previously only been for 2 days in China’s Tiger Leaping Gorge.

I did it in running shoes and without a guide while everyone else seemed to be more prepared than I was with their hiking boots and topographical maps. Yet I managed to go for longer each day than I thought I’d be able to, and tacked on the 4-day Annapurna Sanctuary and Poon Hill treks too. After that experience, I truly felt like I could do anything I put my mind to.

5. The Ring Road and northern lights, Iceland

best places to travel to

My Iceland camper van road trip was in a word: Magical. My friend Maksim and I impulsively bought cheap flights to Iceland for October without realizing how well we’d done with picking our time of year. We got fall foliage, super small crowds, better prices, and the northern lights three times during our trip!

The feeling of seeing the northern lights is indescribable. It seems like it just couldn’t be real, even though there you are, looking at it with your naked eyes. I’m still not over it three years later.

6. Tofo, Mozambique

best places to travel to

Of all the places I’ve traveled to in the world, Mozambique was the biggest question mark. I was supposed to travel there with someone I had been casually dating at the time, and when he pulled out last minute I was left with a choice: Go alone to a place I’d only read scary things about on the internet or cancel my trip. Daring to go made all the difference.

I met the coolest people of all my travels there, whom I’ve met up with again in Switzerland, Bangkok, South Africa, and Indonesia. Mozambique is also where I was when this blog really started to take off, and I’ll always cherish those days where everything seemed to go right and nothing went wrong. It was the place, yes, but it was so much circumstance, too. I think that’s why I can’t return, though I’d love to. Mozambique will always be a cherished memory.

7. Solo camping in Utah, USA

best places to travel to

Though I’ve always loved California and Hawaii, it wasn’t until roughly a year ago today that I really fell in love with my own country and came to value the beauty of it. Utah was the place where I realized I could free camp in some of the most stunning places on the planet, where I’d meet a motley crew of other camper vanners on the journey, and where I could be totally, truly alone in the desert.

I solo rappelled down a canyon wall, drove myself for over 1000 miles through four states in the American Southwest, and saw some of the most beautiful landscapes I’ve ever laid eyes on. America, despite all of your flaws, you are beautiful and I’m grateful to call you home.

8. The sunrise at Kawah Ijen, Indonesia

best places to travel to

I often refer to the moment this photo was taken when I talk about the ‘highlight reel of my life’ because I can still remember it so vividly. I’d had to work for this one. It was almost impossible to figure out how to visit Kawah Ijen volcano without a tour, but I was determined. It almost ended badly when after almost 48 sleepless hours on cargo ferries and buses, getting catcalled, and scammed right away, I’d started to develop a mild hatred for Java.

Then everything turned around when I hiked in with the stars, just me and one other figure 20 paces or so ahead of me, and the workers who carry sulfur up and down the volcano day and night with superhuman strength. I got up close to the bright blue flames, felt the heat while covering my face and eyes for dear life, then hiked to the top for the sunrise. That figure ahead of me ended up being a fellow solo traveler and though we only shared that moment in time I think of him often. Back then we were the only ones up there watching one of the most spectacular sunrises I’ve ever seen, though I understand it’s become more popular since then.

9. Black Rock City, Nevada

best places to travel to

Burning Man is the one place I rarely photograph or write about, despite going to the last five burns and now gearing up to attend my sixth. I keep going back because it’s a part of my life now and it’s hard to imagine not returning to this funky city each year. It’s where I have my most profound realizations and for me, it’s like pressing the reset button each year.

It’s almost impossible to describe, but it’s safe to say, it’s a festival that has changed my life.

10. Inca Trail, Peru

best places to travel to

Hiking the Inca Trail would have been a special experience in and of itself, but it’s of particular importance to me because it was the first tour I’d ever led, and even more importantly, a huge step forward for Be My Travel Muse. I’d always enjoyed spending time with readers but I never got to do so for more than a few hours at a meetup. This allowed me to have two full weeks!

Though it should have been scary to lead my first tour, I was just excited to finally share my passion with an amazing group of people. They blew me away with how fun, smart, and adventurous they were. I could gush all day about it. It’s an experience that meant so much to me, and I can’t wait to do more!

Out of all of these places, what I’ve come to realize is that even if a place is beautiful, famous, or both, it’s the people who make it memorable. Even though I travel alone, I can hardly begin to count all of the amazing souls who have come into my travel experience and enriched it simply by being there.

You never know who you’ll meet or what a place could mean. I never expected, prior to going, that these would be the memories that would stick out the most, but I am grateful for every single one.

What are your favorite places on planet Earth?

Looking for epic places to go for your next adventure? After traveling around the world for close to 6 years, here are my top favorite places in the world. Some were off the beaten path, some were amazing hikes that I will remember forever, and some, I almost want to keep it to myself! #bucketlisttravel

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I like how you update your favorites as you experience more places. Also, it is personalized, what are the top 10 in your experience, versus what are the top 10, like there is a set answer for everyone. I look forward to seeing my fellow readers’ top ten lists! I can start, although my experiences are very limited (It is US heavy):

1. Mt. Haleakala, Hawaii: Hanging out in a recently active volcano is too cool.
2. Jerusalem, Israel: I also agree with Liz on the Negev desert too (and Eilat), but in terms of the whole package, this city is amazing in terms of beauty and history (and spirituality for me)
3. Scottish Hills (Scotland): Gorgeous, only had a glancing view of them, need to go back and actually fully experienced it!
4. Niagara Falls, NY and Canada: It had a charm when I last visited and the Falls are beautiful. But what makes it on my list is that it got me into traveling the U.S. and make a goal to see all 50 states (we drove as a family through rugged hills in PA and New York State and was enthralled).
5. Oregon Coast: It is really gorgeous and the people on coastal Oregon have a love for the environment that is contagious and clicks with me.
6. Toronto-Montreal, Canada: Have been to only a few areas in Canada, but the cities in Canada seem so clean and interesting to me. Haven’t been to Montreal actually (liked Toronto) but it is on my list of must sees.
7. Minnesota, USA: Friendliest people I have experienced and a great way to start my first real solo trip. Needed to find a store and asked directions in the mall. The person instead took a work break and drove us there! That is how friendly they are there in a nutshell. Plus Minneapolis has cool sky walks that go for miles and you can enjoy the city even in January in comfort and the food choices are many. St. Paul has a bit of history and the capital building is gorgeous. Then there is the black sand beach in the far northeast along Lake Superior with little islets you can cross over to and hang out.
8. Santa Monica or San Diego, CA: Like the character of Santa Monica, and the beach is nice in terms of lots of sand and the hills, although in terms of pure scenery the Sunset Cliffs near San Diego and the beach at La Jolla (or anywhere, I like how in the West, the beach is more than just getting a tan or bathing, it is a place to hang out and do whatever).
9. San Francisco, CA: Lots to see, great arts, culture, vegetarian wonderland, great parks, Golden Gate Bridge (gorgeous strait to the Pacific!), the Pier, etc. Just be prepared for cool weather in July! As a lover a weather I enjoyed the “foggy” side and “sunny” side of the city.
10. Appalachian Trail, Eastern USA: Lots of things to see along this amazing trail. I guess my favorite was in West Virginia such as “Cranberry Glades” and the New River with its many great whitewater areas.
Honorable mention: Key West, and the 7 mile bridge.

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I’d really like to see the Oregon coast! I love Santa Monica as well.

Oregon coast is absolutely stunning. I recall being near Canon Beach and then Astoria and thinking “holy moly — WHERE AM I?” The photos turned out great, too

Even picking ten is hard! In no particular order:
1. Antarctica
2. Uganda
3. Ushuaia, Argentina – the southernmost city in the world!
4. Stone Town, Zanzibar – and the beaches too! The Rock restaurant is literally a restaurant on a rock in the middle of the ocean. Awesome! I hear they have an underwater hotel now, too.
5. Livinstone, Zambia – looking over the edge of Victoria Falls was incredible!
6. Serengeti National Park, Tanzania – tent camping safari was the best.
7. Saint Petersburg, Russia
8. Anywhere in the western United States, especially Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah
9. Asheville, NC
10. Seattle, WA

I realllllly want to see Antarctica. You naming it #1 definitely reinforces that!

Wow! Kristin, those places are amazing. I hope at the end of this year, you’ll share us your new set of favorite places in the world. Looking forward to more of your travels. GoodLuck.

Great list Kristin!! Amazing places but mostly, lots of determination to archive solo travel!
I like how you relate these places to your personal experience or personal moments. My favorite would be the sunrise on the Kawah Ijen, Indonesia, I’m a big fan of celestial bodies photos.

I’m looking forward to the next list.

Thanks Mario! Me too!

I really like your site, I’m inspired. I’d been thinking of using my savings to try to ‘settle down’ in the city (west LA) but now my gut is telling me to travel. Thanks, Kristin!

I had the same thoughts around 7 years ago! I took the travel route.

At 61 years of age, I have already traveled to 83 countries. When I retire in 5 years and 10 months, I will do a round the world trip. This article really inspired me. Here are my 10:
1. Jerusalem (Israel in general)
2. Finland
3. Northern lights in Michigan
4. Utah national parks
5. Colorado national parks
6. Cuba
7. Machu Picchu, Peru
8. Scottish highlands
9. ancient sights in Turkey
10. New Zealand

My 14 Favorite Cities in the World

A long-exposure shot of the hectic streets of Bangkok, Thailand at night

Last Updated: 5/10/21 |May 10th, 2021 (Originally posted in 2011)

When you travel for a living, you get asked a lot of questions as you bounce from one hostel to another. The top one: what’s your favorite country?

The second most asked question: what’s your favorite city?

I’ve spent a long time traveling the world and have been to hundreds upon hundreds of cities in the world. There are so many that I love for many different reasons – some for art, some for history, some for the food, most for the people.

But, to me, the ones that stand out the most are the ones where I feel most at home. They are places I visit and feel connected too. Their energy and my energy match. I move around them with ease, I feel at one with the culture, and tempo of the city.

I think to myself “Yeah, I could live here.” Not just visit but live.

And, when I think that, then I know I’ve found a special place.

So what are my favorite cities in the world? Where are the places I feel that way? They are here:

My 14 Favorite Cities

1. Amsterdam

The historic buildings of Amsterdam that line the narrow canal

I can’t say exactly how many times I’ve been to Amsterdam, but it’s in the double digits. And, for a brief time at the end of 2006, I lived there as a professional poker player (Seriously. It’s one of the more interesting random facts about me!).

The fast-paced life, friendly locals, easy access to the rest of Europe, picturesque canals, and stunning architecture keep me coming back. Plus, it being Amsterdam and all, there are tons of weird and quirky things to see and do there too!

In some ways, Amsterdam reminds me of my hometown of Boston, which might be why I love it so much. The brick buildings, fast-moving people, austere vibe. It feels like home.

Favorite activity: Boating through the canals with friends.

Visiting Amsterdam? Check out my complete budget travel guide to Amsterdam! It’s hundreds of pages long and will help you plan the best trip there!

2. Paris

A Eiffel Tower on a bright, sunny day in Paris, France

Ever since I stepped out on the Champs Elysées, I knew Paris was it. It was everything I dreamed it would be I was in love from the first moment. Sure, Paris is large and expensive and bursting with tourists. But what big city isn’t like that?

Paris is beautiful, vibrant, and filled with tasty food and history. Being here is like being in a real-life romantic comedy. I love the city so much I even moved there for a good chunk of 2019. It really does live up to all the hype, especially when you move away from the tourist areas and into the local places more.

Favorite activity: Picking up some good food at the market and having a picnic.

Get my complete budget travel guide to Paris and plan the perfect trip! It’s hundreds of pages long and will help you plan the best trip there!

3. Bangkok

An up-close shot of the tuk-tuks in Bangkok, surrounded by bright neon lights at night

I hated Bangkok the first few times I traveled there. It was simply a dirty, polluted city with no redeeming qualities. It wasn’t until I moved there that I fell in love with it.

Bangkok, it turns out, is an easy city to live in — there’s lots to do, plenty of events, great bars, wonderful food (nothing beats Thai street food), and even more wonderful people. It’s just a bad tourist city. There’s just not a lot to do there for a tourist. It’s a city you live in.

Living in Bangkok showed me that looks can be deceiving and that there is more to a city than what you see on the surface. You just need to be willing to look a little deeper.

And, when you do, you always find something special.

Favorite activity: Live music at Brick Bar or eating noodles at a street stall.

If you’re visiting Bangkok, check out my complete budget travel guide to Bangkok! It has everything I know about the city in one easy place.

4. Stockholm

A beautiful picture of the Stockholm skyline and waters at sunset in Sweden

I have a strong affinity for all things Scandinavian, and Stockholm is no exception. I’ve been there a handful of times over the years, and I even tried to move there years ago (it didn’t work out).

I think this city is one of the most picturesque I have ever seen. The reds and greens of the buildings have an Old World charm that rivals cities like Prague, and during the fall, the changing leaves only highlight that beauty.

Stockholm is also very historic, with a high quality of life, and the Swedes in the city are super friendly and welcoming. It’s not a cheap city to visit, but it’s worth every penny!

Favorite activity: Getting lost in the maze of historic streets in Gamla Stan.

5. New York City

The busy skyline of New York City on a sunny summer day

New York City is a place where dreams are made into reality and there is always something to do, something to see, or a new place to eat. The city is so multicultural that when I feel like I need to travel but I can’t, there’s an ethnic area of the city that will give me my fix.

I love NYC. It is the heart of the world to me. It is a non-stop place where you come to make it in the world. You can always find something to do, world-class food, people from all walks of life, and just a hustler vibe.

I spent close to five years living there and visit at least once a month (when I can).

It is the city you see in the movies.

Favorite activity: Walking the High Line and cooling off with drinks at the Grey Mare.

Since I spent so much time there, I wrote a budget travel guidebook to New York City! Pick it up for all the insider info you need!

6. Chicago

Tourists and locals looking at the famous art and architecture of Chicago, USA

After NYC, Chicago is probably my favorite US city, especially in the summer time.

While the winter months here can be brutal, this lakeside city seems to come to life after it emerges from its long and cold winter. Along with its lively atmosphere, the food here is delicious and the architecture is second to none. There’s a vibrant energy during the summertime as everyone is out in the parks, cafes, rooftop bars, on the lake, and watching the Cubs.

Chicago is just awesome.

Favorite activity: Going to a Cubs game!

For more, read our destination guide to Chicago and start planning your trip today.

7. Vancouver

The stunning skyline of Vancouver, Canada and its reflection in the water

I think this must be one of the most livable cities in the world. I’d certainly live in it, which is my benchmark for whether or not I really like a place. In Vancouver, you can go from the city into the mountains in minutes. I think that is really the highlight of the city for me — the fact that I don’t have to go far to be with nature.

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Not only is there incredible nature nearby but there’s a park so big in the middle of the city, I often feel like I am in the center of a forest. Add in a vibrant food and art scene, and Vancouver is definitely a world-class city. It’s not a cheap city to live in, but that’s the price for all the amazing things Vancouver has to offer!

Favorite activity: Hanging out on Granville Island or walking around Stanley Park.

8. Queenstown

The rolling and rugged mountains of Queenstown, New Zealand

Perched on a lake in the stunning South Island mountains of New Zealand, Queenstown is a high-energy resort town for adventurers. This isn’t your typical city, as travelers come here because they want to be outside. There’s bungy jumping, hiking, rafting, zip-lining, boating, and tons more. It’s a paradise for the outdoorsy type and the perfect city for people who don’t like big, crowded cities.

The city and surrounding area are postcard-perfect (much like the rest of the country! I would jump on a plane and head back there right now if I could.

Favorite activity: Hiking the surrounding mountains.

Read our guide to Queenstown to plan your next adventure there.

9. Perth

The skyline of Perth, Australia lit up at night

Perth, Australia, is more like a big town than a city — and I think that’s what I like about it. It’s big enough to have a lot to do but small enough to feel cozy. I love Perth because of that small-town, big-city feel and for the fact that it’s on the water and has a fun nightlife.

Not only that, but Perth is the perfect jumping-off spot to see the western Australian parks and natural sites, and it’s also close to hip Freemantle, which is home to my favorite Australian brewery: Little Creatures. I find it much more personal than other towns in Australia.

Favorite activity: Relaxing at the beach

10. Hong Kong

The skyline of the busy and bustling city of Hong Kong

Hong Kong is one of the best cities in the world for foodies. I always stop in when I’m in Asia and stuff my face with some of the best dumplings in the world. The city is busy and dense (it’s one of the most densely populated places on the planet) but it has a fun nightlife and tons of activities to keep you entertained, from markets to temples to nearby hikes outside the city.

While the city offers an interesting mix between eastern and western cultures, what really sets Hong Kong apart from other massive, dense cities is just how clean and well-organized it is. Getting around is a breeze, making it an easy and fun place to explore for a few days — or more!

Favorite activity: Eating dumplings!

11. Reykjavik

A birds-eye view of the Icelandic capital of Reykjavik as seen from the city

Iceland is one of the most expensive countries in the world. As a budget traveler, you’d think that would keep me away but let me tell you something: it’s absolutely worth the price.

Reykjavik has tons of cozy cafes, wild clubs, cute architecture, and friendly pubs. It’s tiny, yet you can easily spend a few days here and not get bored (especially if you’re a night owl. Icelanders love to party).

Fortunately, as the tourism industry grows, there are more and more free (or cheap) things to do in the city. And with Icelandair offering free stopovers on flights between North America and Europe, it’s never been easier to visit this charming Scandinavia capital.

Favorite activity: Cozying up in a cafe to read and people watch.

12. London

The view overlooking the city of London and the river, including many of its famous attractions

As a history nerd, I’ve always loved visiting London. Some of the best museums in the world are there — and they are all free (there are tons of other free things to see and do as well).

But it wasn’t until last year when I spent a month in the city that I really “got” it. I understood why people loved it. There was a charming sophistication to the place.

Strolling the streets of the city, enjoying the markets, taking in the history of the place, laying in the park, and having a pint outside a pub? Heaven.

Paris will always have my heart but London comes close.

Favorite activity: Visiting as many museums as I can and then drinking at a pub.

Check out our travel guide to London to plan your trip.

13. Oaxaca

The colorful buildings of Oaxaca, Mexico

Oaxaca, a city in the central part of the Pacific coast of Mexico, is a hub for heritage tourism, owing to its many historical attractions (including Monte Albán, a UNESCO Heritage Site; and Mitla, a Zapotec archeological site), colorful buildings, scenic rooftop restaurants and bars, street art, historic Spanish colonial churches, cobblestone streets, and many parks.

The city has everything I like: history, Mezcal, and food. Oaxaca is one of the gastronomic centers of Mexico and was the place I fell most in love with during my visit to the country. It’s safe, the people are wonderful, the buildings are beautiful, and the food…did I mention the food? It’s out of this world.

Within seconds of landing here, I knew I belonged. I could easily live here I love it so much.

Favorite activity: Visiting the mezcalerías.

14. Cape Town

The colorful beach huts at Muizenberg Beach in Cape Town, South Africa

Cape Town is one of those places I can never get enough of. Its natural beauty, climate, people, chill atmosphere, and delicious food scene always make my visits memorable. Head up Table Mountain and Lion’s Head to soak up the city’s iconic view, walk the famous boardwalk along Muizenberg Beach, and visit the Robben Island prison where Nelson Mandela spent 27 years behind bars. Also, don’t miss the penguins at Boulder Beach. They’re super cool.

Favorite activity: Relaxing on the beach!

Check out our travel guide to Cape Town to plan your trip.

There are you have it! My favorite cities in the world. Leave a comment on this post and let me know what your favorites are – and why!

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Find a cheap flight by using Skyscanner. It’s my favorite search engine because it searches websites and airlines around the globe so you always know no stone is being left unturned.

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You can book your hostel with Hostelworld. If you want to stay somewhere other than a hostel, use Booking.com as it consistently returns the cheapest rates for guesthouses and hotels.

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Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it as I’ve had to use it many times in the past. My favorite companies that offer the best service and value are:

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My All-Time Favorite Places in the World

best places to travel to

Before, I would struggle to say which country I enjoyed traveling through the most. Now I usually say South Africa without hesitation. It’s not just because it was my first African country, which awakened a brand new love affair with my now-favorite continent, but because of the people and the variety of activities and climates.

When I road-tripped through South Africa in 2015, I was invited to stay with locals all the time, of all backgrounds. I was blown away by the natural beauty and friendliness, though one place stood out in particular – the Wild Coast. It’s where Nelson Mandela was born, and where the most beautiful part of the country is, IMHO. I could stay there forever just walking along the rural bluffs over the ocean while dogs from the backpackers come join for the walk.

2. Torres del Paine, Chile

best places to travel to

Torres del Paine was the final stop on a 2-month journey through Patagonia, where I did my first multi-day backpacking adventures requiring that I carry all of my own gear and food. I’d previously thought I wouldn’t be capable of doing that, and now I’m pretty much obsessed, having done it in Kyrgyzstan, Alaska, and Peru! I can thank my Patagonia experience for waking up that side of me.

I’ll always love Torres del Paine for the challenge, for showing me that I could do it, and for being so beautiful. It’s hard to think of a place with heavier winds, more glaciers, better mountains, or a bigger wealth of adventures.

3. Komodo National Park, Indonesia

best places to travel to

I’ll never forget surfacing in Komodo National Park after a night dive on the Fourth of July, near the end of my first year of traveling solo. The Milky Way was in full view and my dive buddy and I had just spent the previous hour marveling at tiny little Mandarin fish with their bright orange and electric blue markings.

The previous week had been full of Manta rays, the most impressive corals I’d ever seen, and some of the best diving of my life. It still ranks high on my list of favorite experiences after all these years.

4. The Annapurna Circuit, Nepal

best places to travel to

Reaching the Thorong-La Pass, the Annapurna Circuit‘s highest point at over 5400 meters on my 27th birthday, was an experience I’ll never forget. The trek took two weeks and was the longest I had ever attempted hiking, which had previously only been for 2 days in China’s Tiger Leaping Gorge.

I did it in running shoes and without a guide while everyone else seemed to be more prepared than I was with their hiking boots and topographical maps. Yet I managed to go for longer each day than I thought I’d be able to, and tacked on the 4-day Annapurna Sanctuary and Poon Hill treks too. After that experience, I truly felt like I could do anything I put my mind to.

5. The Ring Road and northern lights, Iceland

best places to travel to

My Iceland camper van road trip was in a word: Magical. My friend Maksim and I impulsively bought cheap flights to Iceland for October without realizing how well we’d done with picking our time of year. We got fall foliage, super small crowds, better prices, and the northern lights three times during our trip!

The feeling of seeing the northern lights is indescribable. It seems like it just couldn’t be real, even though there you are, looking at it with your naked eyes. I’m still not over it three years later.

6. Tofo, Mozambique

best places to travel to

Of all the places I’ve traveled to in the world, Mozambique was the biggest question mark. I was supposed to travel there with someone I had been casually dating at the time, and when he pulled out last minute I was left with a choice: Go alone to a place I’d only read scary things about on the internet or cancel my trip. Daring to go made all the difference.

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I met the coolest people of all my travels there, whom I’ve met up with again in Switzerland, Bangkok, South Africa, and Indonesia. Mozambique is also where I was when this blog really started to take off, and I’ll always cherish those days where everything seemed to go right and nothing went wrong. It was the place, yes, but it was so much circumstance, too. I think that’s why I can’t return, though I’d love to. Mozambique will always be a cherished memory.

7. Solo camping in Utah, USA

best places to travel to

Though I’ve always loved California and Hawaii, it wasn’t until roughly a year ago today that I really fell in love with my own country and came to value the beauty of it. Utah was the place where I realized I could free camp in some of the most stunning places on the planet, where I’d meet a motley crew of other camper vanners on the journey, and where I could be totally, truly alone in the desert.

I solo rappelled down a canyon wall, drove myself for over 1000 miles through four states in the American Southwest, and saw some of the most beautiful landscapes I’ve ever laid eyes on. America, despite all of your flaws, you are beautiful and I’m grateful to call you home.

8. The sunrise at Kawah Ijen, Indonesia

best places to travel to

I often refer to the moment this photo was taken when I talk about the ‘highlight reel of my life’ because I can still remember it so vividly. I’d had to work for this one. It was almost impossible to figure out how to visit Kawah Ijen volcano without a tour, but I was determined. It almost ended badly when after almost 48 sleepless hours on cargo ferries and buses, getting catcalled, and scammed right away, I’d started to develop a mild hatred for Java.

Then everything turned around when I hiked in with the stars, just me and one other figure 20 paces or so ahead of me, and the workers who carry sulfur up and down the volcano day and night with superhuman strength. I got up close to the bright blue flames, felt the heat while covering my face and eyes for dear life, then hiked to the top for the sunrise. That figure ahead of me ended up being a fellow solo traveler and though we only shared that moment in time I think of him often. Back then we were the only ones up there watching one of the most spectacular sunrises I’ve ever seen, though I understand it’s become more popular since then.

9. Black Rock City, Nevada

best places to travel to

Burning Man is the one place I rarely photograph or write about, despite going to the last five burns and now gearing up to attend my sixth. I keep going back because it’s a part of my life now and it’s hard to imagine not returning to this funky city each year. It’s where I have my most profound realizations and for me, it’s like pressing the reset button each year.

It’s almost impossible to describe, but it’s safe to say, it’s a festival that has changed my life.

10. Inca Trail, Peru

best places to travel to

Hiking the Inca Trail would have been a special experience in and of itself, but it’s of particular importance to me because it was the first tour I’d ever led, and even more importantly, a huge step forward for Be My Travel Muse. I’d always enjoyed spending time with readers but I never got to do so for more than a few hours at a meetup. This allowed me to have two full weeks!

Though it should have been scary to lead my first tour, I was just excited to finally share my passion with an amazing group of people. They blew me away with how fun, smart, and adventurous they were. I could gush all day about it. It’s an experience that meant so much to me, and I can’t wait to do more!

Out of all of these places, what I’ve come to realize is that even if a place is beautiful, famous, or both, it’s the people who make it memorable. Even though I travel alone, I can hardly begin to count all of the amazing souls who have come into my travel experience and enriched it simply by being there.

You never know who you’ll meet or what a place could mean. I never expected, prior to going, that these would be the memories that would stick out the most, but I am grateful for every single one.

What are your favorite places on planet Earth?

Looking for epic places to go for your next adventure? After traveling around the world for close to 6 years, here are my top favorite places in the world. Some were off the beaten path, some were amazing hikes that I will remember forever, and some, I almost want to keep it to myself! #bucketlisttravel

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I like how you update your favorites as you experience more places. Also, it is personalized, what are the top 10 in your experience, versus what are the top 10, like there is a set answer for everyone. I look forward to seeing my fellow readers’ top ten lists! I can start, although my experiences are very limited (It is US heavy):

1. Mt. Haleakala, Hawaii: Hanging out in a recently active volcano is too cool.
2. Jerusalem, Israel: I also agree with Liz on the Negev desert too (and Eilat), but in terms of the whole package, this city is amazing in terms of beauty and history (and spirituality for me)
3. Scottish Hills (Scotland): Gorgeous, only had a glancing view of them, need to go back and actually fully experienced it!
4. Niagara Falls, NY and Canada: It had a charm when I last visited and the Falls are beautiful. But what makes it on my list is that it got me into traveling the U.S. and make a goal to see all 50 states (we drove as a family through rugged hills in PA and New York State and was enthralled).
5. Oregon Coast: It is really gorgeous and the people on coastal Oregon have a love for the environment that is contagious and clicks with me.
6. Toronto-Montreal, Canada: Have been to only a few areas in Canada, but the cities in Canada seem so clean and interesting to me. Haven’t been to Montreal actually (liked Toronto) but it is on my list of must sees.
7. Minnesota, USA: Friendliest people I have experienced and a great way to start my first real solo trip. Needed to find a store and asked directions in the mall. The person instead took a work break and drove us there! That is how friendly they are there in a nutshell. Plus Minneapolis has cool sky walks that go for miles and you can enjoy the city even in January in comfort and the food choices are many. St. Paul has a bit of history and the capital building is gorgeous. Then there is the black sand beach in the far northeast along Lake Superior with little islets you can cross over to and hang out.
8. Santa Monica or San Diego, CA: Like the character of Santa Monica, and the beach is nice in terms of lots of sand and the hills, although in terms of pure scenery the Sunset Cliffs near San Diego and the beach at La Jolla (or anywhere, I like how in the West, the beach is more than just getting a tan or bathing, it is a place to hang out and do whatever).
9. San Francisco, CA: Lots to see, great arts, culture, vegetarian wonderland, great parks, Golden Gate Bridge (gorgeous strait to the Pacific!), the Pier, etc. Just be prepared for cool weather in July! As a lover a weather I enjoyed the “foggy” side and “sunny” side of the city.
10. Appalachian Trail, Eastern USA: Lots of things to see along this amazing trail. I guess my favorite was in West Virginia such as “Cranberry Glades” and the New River with its many great whitewater areas.
Honorable mention: Key West, and the 7 mile bridge.

I’d really like to see the Oregon coast! I love Santa Monica as well.

Oregon coast is absolutely stunning. I recall being near Canon Beach and then Astoria and thinking “holy moly — WHERE AM I?” The photos turned out great, too

Even picking ten is hard! In no particular order:
1. Antarctica
2. Uganda
3. Ushuaia, Argentina – the southernmost city in the world!
4. Stone Town, Zanzibar – and the beaches too! The Rock restaurant is literally a restaurant on a rock in the middle of the ocean. Awesome! I hear they have an underwater hotel now, too.
5. Livinstone, Zambia – looking over the edge of Victoria Falls was incredible!
6. Serengeti National Park, Tanzania – tent camping safari was the best.
7. Saint Petersburg, Russia
8. Anywhere in the western United States, especially Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah
9. Asheville, NC
10. Seattle, WA

I realllllly want to see Antarctica. You naming it #1 definitely reinforces that!

Wow! Kristin, those places are amazing. I hope at the end of this year, you’ll share us your new set of favorite places in the world. Looking forward to more of your travels. GoodLuck.

Great list Kristin!! Amazing places but mostly, lots of determination to archive solo travel!
I like how you relate these places to your personal experience or personal moments. My favorite would be the sunrise on the Kawah Ijen, Indonesia, I’m a big fan of celestial bodies photos.

I’m looking forward to the next list.

Thanks Mario! Me too!

I really like your site, I’m inspired. I’d been thinking of using my savings to try to ‘settle down’ in the city (west LA) but now my gut is telling me to travel. Thanks, Kristin!

I had the same thoughts around 7 years ago! I took the travel route.

At 61 years of age, I have already traveled to 83 countries. When I retire in 5 years and 10 months, I will do a round the world trip. This article really inspired me. Here are my 10:
1. Jerusalem (Israel in general)
2. Finland
3. Northern lights in Michigan
4. Utah national parks
5. Colorado national parks
6. Cuba
7. Machu Picchu, Peru
8. Scottish highlands
9. ancient sights in Turkey
10. New Zealand

Source https://www.bemytravelmuse.com/my-favorite-places-in-the-world/

Source https://www.nomadicmatt.com/travel-blogs/my-favorite-cities-in-the-world/

Source https://www.bemytravelmuse.com/my-favorite-places-in-the-world/#:~:text=My%20All-Time%20Favorite%20Places%20in%20the%20World%201,sunrise%20at%20Kawah%20Ijen,%20Indonesia%20…%20Meer%20items

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