Photo: c/o TripAdvisor
Whether it’s watching the sunrise over Angkor Wat or watching it set over the Eiffel Tower, everyone’s got something they want to check off their travel bucket list. And with travel becoming more accessible than ever, people are getting more and more opportunities to actually go and do the things they’ve dreamt about forever. In a new report detailing 2018 tourism trends, TripAdvisor shared the 10 most popular experiences around the world. They found that while travelers are still excited about visiting iconic landmarks, like the Vatican, there’s been a “skyrocketing” interest in cultural activities like food tours, cooking classes, and historical and heritage experiences. People all over the world—particularly Americans—are feeling extra-outdoorsy these days, too, with sunset cruises, snorkeling, sailing trips, catamaran cruises, kayaking, and canoeing experiences all ranking in the fastest growing category.
But the most popular “bucket list activity” of all: Not having to wait in line, no matter where you are in the world. Make sense. Who wants to spend their vacation standing around waiting? Scroll through for TripAdvisor’s top 10 travel experiences of 2018.
Rome may not have been built in a day, but there’s no reason why anyone should spend their entire day waiting in line for its must-see artwork and architecture. This line-pass gets you a 3-hour tour of St Peter’s Basilica, the Sistine Chapel, and the Vatican Museum.
Take in Chicago’s iconic architecture from the water via a 75-minute tour down the Chicago River. You’ll see over 40 buildings (at least one of which you will recognize from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off), including the Aon Center, the Wrigley Building, and the John Hancock Building. Cover all three branches of the Chicago River, passing the East Bank Club, the old Post Office Building, and the Willis Tower.
There’s so much to see in Rome. Hop to the front of the Colosseum queue, then explore the amphitheater’s first and second levels with a guide and learn all about the gladiators’ gruesome battles. Finally, stop by the Roman Forum to see ruins like Caesar’s temple.
Chill out on top of a double-decker Rome tour bus (yes, they have those in places other than London) while you cruise past some of the most magnificent sites in history, including the Colosseum and Vatican City. You can buy a ticket that’s good for 24 or 48 hours, and hop on and off as you wish.
It wouldn’t be a trip to Paris without stopping by the Eiffel tower. Fast-track your visit while listening to guided commentary about Paris culture, traditions, and history. Then, head over to the summit to see Gustave Eiffel's private apartments, where you can treat yourself to a glass of champagne. When in France, right?
Barcelona is all about Gaudi, and there is a lot of it to get to. Skip ahead of other tourists with this private tour of the legendary artist’s La Sagrada Familia, which will give you one and a half hours of guided access into the UNESCO World Heritage-listed cathedral.
As Samantha Jones once said, “Old New York, new New York—honey, who cares? It’s still New York!” Get the most iconic, 360-degree view of the city from the top of the Empire State Building, where you’ll see landmarks like Central Park, the Chrysler Building, the Statue of Liberty, and Times Square.
Get ready for a trip to Hogwarts (IRL!) with this 7-hour behind-the-scenes experience at Warner Bros Studio Tour London, the Making of Harry Potter. You’ll be completely spellbound while you experience the magic of Diagon Alley, the Ministry of Magic, Platform 9¾, and the Hogwarts Express. Plus, you’ll be able to get up-close and personal with the costumes and props from the movie (sadly, the wands and invisibility cloak don’t actually work).
Many people may not realize that there is a lot to see just outside of Venice, and it just so happens to only be accessible by boat. Torcello, Murano, and Burano are three separate islands in the Venetian Lagoon, and a day trip bopping to each of them is a great way to see more than just central Venice (plus, it’s an excuse to spend the day cruising around on the water).
Whether you love art, history, food, nature, wine or all of the above, Tuscany has it all. Book a day trip from Florence to explore Siena, then dine in the Chianti hills for a Tuscan lunch and wine tasting. Finally, roam the streets of San Gimignano and take a peek at the leaning tower of Pisa. Yes, it is as cool in real life as it is in the postcards.