14 Bucket List Destinations That Are Worth the Expensive Price Tag This Year

There are some destinations on Planet Earth that are unparalleled.
Last updated April 3, 2023 | By Cat Lafuente Edited By Rachel Siegel
happy mother holding daughter in lap sightseeing colosseum in rome while vacationing

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While budget travel is a great option if you want to save money – always a wise idea, especially if you want to retire early – vacationing on the cheap isn’t always an option, depending on where you want to go. 

This is especially true if you’re venturing off to far-flung locales with unparalleled experiences.

Whether you’re on the quest to see natural wonders or are seeking culinary and cultural experiences that are second to none, these places are 100% worth the thousands of dollars you’ll pay to visit them.


VanderWolf Images/Adobe western wall at temple mount in jerusalem

You don’t have to be religious to appreciate the rich history you’ll find in Jerusalem, the crown jewel of the Middle East. From the Wailing Wall to the Dome of the Rock to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, this city is holy to three religions: Jews, Muslims, and Christians, who all share the space.

There is also a deep culinary history here as well. And don’t miss out on a day trip to Petra – one of the wonders of the world – in nearby Jordan, either.

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Mapics/Adobe basilica st peter in rome italy

Another city steeped in religious history is Rome, the beating heart of Italy. Here you’ll find Vatican City, which is home to some of the most stunning art and architecture in the world.

Rome is also famous for ancient ruins, abundant museums, bustling markets, and more amazing art and architecture. And of course, the food in Rome is world-famous for a good reason – it’s delectable.

Southern Africa

Anna/Adobe beautiful shot of victoria falls waterfall on zambezi river

There are several African countries that offer bucket list safari experiences, but only South Africa has those as well as other amazing tourist delights. These include a sojourn into the Kalahari Desert, a few days at the beach, world-class food, and wine.

If you can swing it after taking in all a safari has to offer, a side trip to Zimbabwe’s famed Victoria Falls is absolutely worth the splurge as well.


siraphol/Adobe huts with crystal blue water on maldive island

There are beautiful beaches all over the world, but the Republic of Maldives is a standout spot located in the Indian Ocean. 

This locale is known for its overwater bungalows that provide endless water views by day and starry skies by night. There are also ample outdoor activities.

Getting to Maldives will take you a full day, but it’s totally worth it if a secluded, semi-private beach getaway is what you’re after.


tawatchai1990/Adobe tokyo cityscape with beautiful lightning at night with mount fuji in background

You’d be hard-pressed to find a city more worth visiting than Tokyo. This teeming metropolis literally has it all: world-class dining, endless entertainment, unmatched technological savvy, rich cultural destinations, quirky museums, cutting-edge fashion, and stunning outdoor spaces.

Tokyo also has a remarkable public transportation system that will shuttle you around the city, which is an experience in and of itself.

Galapagos Islands

Alexander/Adobe green mountains with blue water in galapagos island

Off the coast of Ecuador are the iconic Galapagos Islands, a must-see destination for eco-tourists. 

Home to giant tortoises, blue-footed boobies, frigate birds, sea lions, iguanas, and lava lizards, this natural wonder is a unique ecosystem unto itself.

An eight-day cruise of the islands will allow you to experience all the Galapagos have to offer. But no, it’s not cheap.

Machu Picchu

SCStock/Adobe aerial shot of green town on mountain at machu picchu

Peru, Ecuador’s neighbor to the south, is home to the architectural wonder that is Machu Picchu. This UNESCO heritage site built by the Inca attracts millions of curious explorers every year, who go there to drink in the sweeping views and see the ancient ruins for themselves.

If you are up for the trek, there are plenty of porter companies who will help you hike in. Otherwise, you can take the train from Cusco.

Amalfi Coast

Boris Stroujko/Adobe small houses in strani town at amalfi coast

This romantic Italian destination has so much going for it: unparalleled cuisine, luxe accommodations, stunning sea views, and an old-school road system ripe with dramatic mountain switchbacks. It’s even a UNESCO heritage site.

Once you’ve finished dining at Michelin starred restaurants, explore old churches, stunning frescos, and breathtaking architecture that will transport you.


andreykr/Adobe colorful building at water coast with boats in amsterdam netherlands

The Van Gogh Museum. The Rijksmuseum. The Anne Frank House. These are just three of the iconic places you can visit in Amsterdam, the stunning canal city of The Netherlands. This walkable metropolis also boasts thrilling nightlife for curious revelers.

We recommend taking a canal tour so you can see Amsterdam from the water, which gives you a new perspective of the place. The food scene is of course great, too.

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The Great Barrier Reef

Tunatura/Adobe colorful fishes under sea

This natural wonder of the world is an absolute must-see for fans of snorkeling and scuba diving. The Great Barrier Reef is the biggest coral reef in the world – it’s the sole living thing that you can see from space – and is a crucial habitat for countless species of marine life.

When you’re done snorkeling, you can repose on one of the many gorgeous beaches in the area. You can also take in Australian history in the local urban areas.


AlexAnton/Adobe pyramids of giza and great sphinx

Who hasn’t dreamed of visiting Egypt? This historic country is home to the Great Pyramids of Giza, the tomb of King Tutankhamun, the Great Sphinx of Giza, and the Valley of the Kings, arguably the most important archeological wonders in the entire world.

Egypt also has beautiful beaches and exciting diving, as well as hot springs where you can soak your ailments away. Don’t forget the cuisine, either, as it’s downright magical.


saiko3p/Adobe aerial view of paris city and eiffel tower

We don’t have to tell you that the wine and food in Paris are both world-class, or that the art at the Louvre is an absolute must-see. And you likely know the Eiffel Tower is worth visiting.

If you have an interest in the morbid, you must venture down into the catacombs, which are lined with skulls and bones. The place is spooky, but utterly fascinating as well.

Hong Kong

TTstudio/Adobe hong kong skyscrapers at night

With its stunning concentration of skyscrapers, Hong Kong thrills just looking at it. Once inside this bustling and youthful Chinese city, gourmet cuisine and creative cocktails abound. Along with these delights, urban temples dot the streets, merging the traditional with the new.

If you find yourself weary of the big city, slip into Yau Ma Tei in Kowloon, where you can drink tea and play mahjong, old world style.


SCStock/Adobe colorful meadows surrounded with green gardens in juneau alaska during day time

Alaska may be in the United States, but you need to trek fairly far to get to this rugged and remote place. Once you’re there, though, wonder awaits in the form of majestic whales breaching, the Northern Lights twinkling in the sky, and glaciers shining in the midnight sun.

Don’t miss the chance to stand in the Shadow of Mt. Denali, or glimpse bears and other wildlife at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center. Both are once in a lifetime experiences.

Bottom line

nikolas_jkd/Adobe woman wearing sun hat and backpack standing on bridge in amsterdam

Travel is a great way to open your eyes to new sights, histories, and cultures, but it usually doesn’t come cheap. These places may be expensive to visit, but they are more than worth the money.

That said, there are ample destinations that are worthy of your bucket list that you can do on a budget, like Costa Rica or Puerto Rico. Pro-tip: That’s a great way to make money moves that will keep your bank account bountiful.

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Cat Lafuente Cat Lafuente is a Florida-based writer and editor with extensive experience in digital and print content spaces. Her own personal finance journey — particularly consolidating debt and paying it off, in turn boosting her credit score and becoming a homeowner — inspired her to join the FinanceBuzz team; she hopes she can help others do the same.