View of the Galapagos Islands - Ecuador

Travel Inspiration Top 40 Places to Visit before you turn 40

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Iconic Destinations

Once you get a taste for adventure, it’s hard to go back. There are people who are content to stay close to home. There are those who like to go back to the same destinations every year and hate to deviate. Then there are the free spirits - the adventurers who are on an eternal quest to find something more exciting, more exotic, more challenging.

Here at Kandoo Adventures we call ourselves travel experts. Collectively our team has travelled the world seeking new experiences, immersed themselves in foreign culture and seen and done things our friends and family have only dreamed about.

The following list is a directory of our favourite places. It is entirely subjective and is a culmination of the shared passions and interests of our diverse team of adventurers. Use it as a tick list, use it for inspiration, use it as a lucky dip for your next trip. The list is by no means exhaustive and there are so many more iconic places to visit on our stunning planet earth, however we think we have chosen some of the best bits. Happy reading!


1. Blue Lagoon - Iceland

Blue Lagoon, Iceland
The Blue Lagoon, Iceland, is a great place to start our 40 places to visit before you’re 40. Iceland sits on a volcanic ridge creating geothermal hot springs across the country. Swimming culture in Iceland is huge. Whilst the temperatures outside may be moderate, bathing, floating, luxuriating in mineral rich hot water is the perfect way to warm up and these turquoise blue waters are both breathtaking and restorative.

2. Dolomites - Italy

Massive mountains of the Dolomites
The Italian Dolomites are unique northern mountains in Italy which are famed for their incredible rock formations and soaring granite peaks. The Dolomites are popular for walking, skiing, mountain biking and climbing and can be visited all year round, depending on what you want to do. The Dolomite mountains are a UNESCO World Heritage Site and are famed for their stunning sheer cliffs, vertical drops, deep valleys and beautiful scenery.

3. Chamonix - France

The town of Chamonix
Chamonix, France, is the adventure capital of the French Alps. The lively town sits at the base of Mont Blanc, the highest mountain in western Europe, and is a renowned skiing, mountaineering and paddling destination for outdoor enthusiasts all year round. Chamonix itself is a gorgeous town with wooden chalets, incredible views and the opportunities for exploring the natural landscapes makes it perfect for thrill-seekers and less intrepid travellers alike.

4. Lofoten Islands - Norway

Volandstinden, peak of Lofoten
Norway boasts approximately 50,000 islands across its western and northern shores, which is staggering. One of our favourite places to visit in Norway is the Lofoten Islands. These 7 islands feature soaring mountains separated by fjords carved by glaciers and the North Sea. Hiking, paddling and exploring here is a truly memorable experience. The islands are remote, rugged and offer impossibly beautiful views in every direction.

5. Whale Watching in Húsavík – Iceland

Whale Watching in Húsavík - Iceland
The first wildlife experience on our list is whale watching in Iceland. In particular, Húsavík, is a favoured destination. Iceland whale watching is unique due to the variety of whale, porpoise, dolphin and sea bird populations that visit this Arctic country. Look out for minke whales and humpbacks, blue whales and fin whales and if you’re lucky orcas, beluga whales and sperm whales although these tend to visit the northern waters where it’s colder.

6. Buckingham Palace – UK

Buckingham Palance
We’re British, we may be biased here, but Buckingham Palace in London is such an iconic visitor destination for both residents of the Commonwealth, royalists and non-royalists alike. The palace itself, in the heart of the British capital, is vast and seeing the King’s Guards with their traditional uniforms and fluffy black hats is a wonderful picture. If you’re lucky you may even catch a glimpse of King Charles himself!

7. Plitviče National Park – Croatia

Plitviče National Park – Croatia
Plitviče National Park is a forest park and UNESCO World Heritage Site in central Croatia made up of 16 interconnected lakes joined by waterfalls and split across two different elevations. There are walkways snaking between the lakes and waterfalls for visitors to explore the forest park and a huge variety of wildlife reside here from bears and wolves to boar, deer and rare bird species. This stunning sight features lush forest and crystal-clear waters and is well worth a visit to Croatia in itself.

8. The Colosseum – Rome

The Colosseum
The whole city of Rome is a must-see destination however, if we were pushed to pick an individual site to explore, the Colosseum comes up top for us as the largest ancient amphitheatre ever built and one of the seven wonders of the world. Not only is the architecture of this incredible man-made building mind-blowing, but the rich history of this place can be seen when walking through the walls and viewing the arena from above and the labyrinth below.

9. The Pyramids of Giza – Egypt

The Pyramids of Giza
The pyramids of Egypt are an awesome site, especially when you consider that some of the oldest were built over 4,500 years ago. Most famous are the Pyramids of Giza on the outskirts of Cairo. The ancient structures are a wonder of the world and were built as tombs for Pharoh’s and their consorts. The largest is the Pyramid of Khufu, also known as the Great Pyramid of Egypt. These ancient monuments are fascinating site of historical significance as we’re still not entirely sure how they were actually built!

10. Scottish Highlands - Scotland

Scottish Highlands
This may seem a bit generic but the mountains in the north of Scotland are beyond beautiful. These vast craggy highlands are one of the most remote places in the UK. Think movie scenes from James Bond, Braveheart and Harry Potter with endless valleys flanked by rocky peaks and interspersed with lochs, or lakes. The North Coast 500 in particular is a 500-mile route starting and ending in Inverness which explore the coast around the top of Scotland taking in white sandy beaches, rugged mountains and remote villages.

11. Isle of Skye – Scotland

Isle of Skye Landscape - Scotland
The Isle of Skye is an island off the northwest coast of Scotland, the largest island of the Inner Hebrides covered in lush landscapes, ancient castles and rocky crags. Here you’ll find peace and quiet, endless coastline and quaint fishing villages. There are two small mountain ranges on the 50 miles long island, and it is a popular destination with walkers, climbers, runners and mountain bikers.

12. Arctic Circle

The Arctic Circle is the northernmost latitude circumference and encompasses parts of northern Russia, most of Greenland, northern parts of Norway, Sweden, Finland, Canada, Alaska and of course, Svalbard, the most northern inhabited place on earth at just over 160 miles from the North Pole. Svalbard in particular is a one-of-a-kind sort of place filled with ancient glaciers, iceberg filled fjords, polar bears and rare arctic wildlife, the Northern Lights and the midnight sun. Here is a place unlike any other we’ve visited.

South America

13. Machu Picchu – Peru

Panorama of the lost Inca city of Machu Picchu
Machu Picchu is an ancient Inca city high in the Andes mountains. This awe-inspiring place is super interesting, not least because of where it has been built, but also because you can see so much of the history in the archaeological ruins here. You can reach Machu Picchu by trekking the iconic Inca Trail or get a bus trip if you don’t fancy the high-altitude trek. Either way, this is another wonder of the world that is definitely worth seeing.

14. Havana – Cuba

Havana - Cuba
Did you know that Cuba is the most sustainable country in the world?! When other Caribbean countries built seafront hotels to attract tourists, Fidel Castro instead championed and preserved the natural habitats and ecology of the country to boost tourism. Havana is the capital city of Cuba and is a haven of live music, exciting cuisine and wonderful architecture. Make sure to visit Habana Vieja, Old Havana, as it is a celebrated UNESCO World Heritage Site, as well as the busy Centro district for bustling city sights day and night.

15. Mount Fitz Roy – Patagonia

Mount Fitz Roy - Patagonia
Situated on the Argentina-Chile border, Patagonia is an iconic mountainous destination popular with climbers and mountaineers. Mount Fitz Roy in particular has a reputation as one of the most attractive and difficult peaks to climb as at 3,405m high, the peak is often covered in cloud, the climbing season is short, and the weather can come in fast making conditions treacherous. You don’t have to climb Mount Fitz Roy to appreciate it’s beauty, trekking around it offers equally exciting scenery.

16. Galapagos – Ecuador

View of the Galapagos Islands - Ecuador
The Galapagos Islands are a province of Ecuador and are around 1,000km off the Ecuadorian coast. These unique islands are viewed as one of the most foremost wildlife spotting locations in the world and were the inspiration behind Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution. This volcanic archipelago is made up of 4 inhabited islands and many more uninhabited islands and despite its rocky, dessert like terrain is home to rare species such as giant tortoises, boobies (birds!) and marine life not found anywhere else. This is a trip of a lifetime destination, for sure.

17. Ushuaia – Argentina

The end of the world - Ushuaia – Argentina
Ushuaia in Argentina is commonly known as the end of the world. It is where the tip of South America meets Antarctica and is the most southern city in the world, located in the Torre del Fuego Province of Argentina, on the island of Isla Grande. Ushuaia and Torre del Fuego are full of breathtaking landscapes, fantastic wildlife especially along the Beagle Channel, and plenty of trekking opportunities.

18. Rainbow Mountains - Peru

Rainbow Mountains or Vinicuna - Peru
The Rainbow Mountains, Peru, are named as such beacuse of their colourful striped slopes. These incredible mountains are outside of Cusco in the Andes mountain range and it's possible to visit them in a day trip from the city. The only way to enter these vibrant natural phenomenon is with an official guide. The rocks were formed by different metals in the rock which give the stripes their impressive hues. On the way from Cusco you'll be rewarded with stunning views of the Andes, wild llama and alpaca, red rocky peaks and beautiful lush valleys. Combine a trip to the Rainbow Mountains with a visit to Machu Picchu and catch the best of Peru in one amazing trip.

North America

19. Grand Canyon – USA

Grand Canyon - Arizona - USA
I mean it’s the Grand Canyon. There really isn’t that much more to say! This spectacular natural wonder is estimated to be 5-6 million years old and was formed as the Colorado River gradually eroded the surrounding rock, creating a canyon almost 500km long and around 30km wide in places. It is believed to be a holy site for many Native American tribes, of which only the Havasupai still reside here. The Grand Canyon is a great place for trekking into the crevasse, paddling the Colorado River and camping under the endless Arizona stars.

20. Chichén Itzá – Mexico

Chichén Itzá – Mexico
Chichén Itzá is another of the new 7 wonders of the world and is one of the best preserved and largest archaeological sites in the world. Built around 1,500 years ago, this Mayan city is in various states of preservation, in some parts restored, and sprawls an unknown distance from the central site. There are numerous buildings to see here including the Castillo pyramid, and the Las Monjas palace and the Osario pyramid. For those interested in architecture and history, Chichén Itzá should definitely be on your bucket list.

21. Niagara Falls – Canada/USA

Niagara Falls - USA/Canada
Niagara Falls is actually the collective name for three waterfalls on the border between Ontario in Canada and New York State. The largest of the fall is Horseshoe Falls which is on the Canadian side, whereas Bridal Veil Falls and American Falls are on the American side. The falls are a simply stunning site and are one of the largest falls in the world. Explore from either the American side or Canadian where you’ll find walks, viewpoints, boat trips and adventure activities aplenty.

22. Mauna Kea – Hawaii

Mauna Kea Summit - Hawaii - USA
For those of you who didn’t know, the volcano Mauna Kea in Hawaii is actually the tallest mountain in the world from base to summit. The base of this mountain sits below the surface of the sea and the summit of Mauna Kea sits at 10,211m high in total. Because the dry elevation of Mauna Kea is only 4,207m it is often overshadowed by Mount Everest. The tropical island of Hawaii is a fabulous place to visit and is steeped in culture and history. Visitors to this volcanic island can expect stunning beaches, amazing surf, a warm climate and a welcoming reception.

Middle East

23. Petra – Jordan

The Treasury at Petra
The ancient site of Petra, Jordan, is another wonder of the world. This incredible city is part-built and part-carved into the mountain rock and is an important archaeological site as well as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Between the Red Sea and the Dead Sea, Petra was a historically important city that is well worth a visit today. Discover the deep passageways, incredible carvings and rich history of this absolutely stunning place.


24. Ngorongoro crater – Tanzania

Ngorongora Crater Landscape - Tanzania
The Ngorongoro Crater is, funnily enough, a crater nestled in an inactive but intact volcanic caldera where its unique microclimate has let African game animals thrive. Another UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Ngorongoro Conservation Area is home to black rhino, hippo, wildebeest, zebra, buffalo, waterbuck and gazelles, amongst others. Taking a trip to this isolated wildlife haven is an awesome experience and an animal-lovers paradise.

25. Marrakech – Morocco

Marrakech market - Morocco
The vibrant city of Marrakech, Morocco, is a must-try experience. Navigating the souks of the old town, luxuriating in a local hammam and sampling sweet mint tea and honey-soaked pancakes for breakfast are all things we don’t think you’ll find elsewhere. The sounds, smells and colours of this bustling city are unrivalled. Make your way to Jamaa el-Fnaa, the main market square to see snake charmers, performing monkeys, intricate pottery and dazzling textiles. The vibe here is unreal.

26. Serengeti – Tanzania

Wildlife in the Serengeti National Park - Tanzania
Most famous for having the largest animal migration in the world, the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania sees approximately 1.5m blue wildebeest, zebra, gazelles and other animals migrate towards Lake Victoria during the dry season. For those wanting to go on safari, not many places top Tanzania with its populations of rhino, leopard, lion, buffalo, hyena, zebra, hippo and hundreds of bird species roaming across savannah such as the Serengeti.

27. Sahara Desert – North Africa

The Sahara Desert is the largest hot desert in the world. It spans from the Red Sea in the east to the Atlantic in the west and crosses approximately 12 different countries. This hostile, hot place can reach temperatures of over 50 degrees in the summer and fall below freezing temperatures at night in the winter. You can visit the Sahara from Mauritania or Morocco most easily but be prepared for a long hot day’s travel to get there. Sleep in a Bedouin tent under the endless sky for a pretty special experience in one of the hottest, driest places on earth.

28. Zanzibar – Tanzania

Beach in Zanzibar - Tanzania
The tropical island of Zanzibar sits just off the coast of Tanzania and was once one of the largest slave markets in the world. The island is famed for its tropical beaches, rich culture and history, fascinating architecture and local wildlife. Stone Town is a sprawling collection of Persian, Arabic, African and India influence and the food, markets, crafts and buildings are a tantalising testament to its fascinating past. Zanzibar is a great place for couples, history buffs and beach lovers.


29. The Himalayas – Nepal

Everest Base Camp - The Himalayas - Nepal
The largest and longest mountain range in the world, the Himalayas are home to 9 of the tallest 14 mountains in the world including Mount Everest and Annapurna, as well as being home to 100 peaks over 7,2000m high. It is safe to say that the Himalaya are famous for their unique climbing, trekking and mountaineering opportunities. The Himalaya span across Nepal, Bhutan, Tibet and Pakistan and are a sight to behold. You don’t have to climb anything to spot Everest, which can be seen on clear days from Kathmandu, but journey to Everest Base Camp to appreciate the sheer scale of this iconic peak.

30. Komodo Island – Indonesia

Daylight View at Manjarite Island, Komodo Islands
Komodo Island is in southern Indonesia, east of Bali and west of Timor, and part of the Lesser Sunda Islands. Most notably it is home to the 3m long komodo dragon monitor lizard after which the island is named. The whole island is a nature reserve and boasts empty white sandy beaches, crystal clear waters and stunning scenery. Komodo Island is best enjoyed by boat or kayak and on foot and you can reach it from the nearby island of Flores.

31. Tigers Nest Monastery – Bhutan

The Tiger's Nest monastery in Bhutan
Perched on the side of a cliff, Tigers Nest Monastery is one of the highlights of any visit to Bhutan, amongst a million other reasons to visit! Known locally as Taktshang Lhakhang, this Buddhist monastery is one of the holiest places in Bhutan and sits 3,100m above sea level and is so named for an Indian Buddhist master who allegedly came here to meditate on the back of a tigress. All Bhutanese people will trek here once in their lifetime, and we can totally see why. Absolutely not to be missed, and worth the strenuous hike to get here.

32. Great wall of China – China

Great Wall of China
It’s a giant wall that is over 2,000 years old and spans more than 21,000 km. That’s a pretty impressive feat of engineering and it is easy to see why this is a wonder of the world! Parts of the Great Wall of China, or Wanli Changcheng, is mostly built wall with natural rivers and ridges forming barriers in places. Spanning historic dynasties, this incredible site flows over hills and mountains, often made up of more than one parallel wall and was historically to keep Eurasian invaders out. Explore the various preserved sections around Mutianyu which is popular with visitors or visit the quieter spot of Jiankou for breathtaking views.

33. Mount Fuji – Japan

View of Mount Fuji - Japan
At 3,776m tall, Mount Fuji, or Fuji-san, is the tallest peak in Japan and a sacred mountain. It is approximately 100 km from Tokyo and its perfect shape can be seen on clear days from the capital. This active volcano is a popular spiritual trekking destination can be easily reached by public transport. Hike up Mount Fuji or explore around the base for incredible views of this holy place.

34. The Golden Temple – Japan

Golden Temple - Japan
Kinkakuji, or Golden Pavillion, is a temple in northern Kyoto. The reason the Golden Temple is named as such is the top two floors of the building are completely covered with gold. This fascinating temple is part of the Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto which is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site and attracts visitors from all over the world. The complex comprises of a ‘strolling garden’, teahouse and restored samurai accommodation. The Golden Temple is an exciting example of a Zen temple and will appeal to historians and spiritualists alike as a wonderful example of Japanese history and culture.

35. Jaipur – India

Blue gates in Jaipur - India
Rajasthan is the largest state in India and the capital city of this province is Jaipur. Known as the Pink City, Jaipur is one of the most colourful cities in the world. It is jam-packed with vibrant palaces, such as the Hawa Mahal, or Wind Palace, and incredible architectural sights such as the Steepwell or Bawdi. Jaipur has an exciting calendar of events and festivals, delicious cuisine and friendly locals. We class it as one of our favourite places to visit in India.

36. Angkor Wat – Cambodia

Angkor Wat – Cambodia
One of the largest religious structures in the world, Angkor Wat, Cambodia, is in the ancient city of Angkor which was home to an estimated 1 million people during the time of the Khmer empire as its capital city. It was mysteriously abandoned around 430AD and historians don’t know why. This complex of incredible buildings is home to around 1000 temples and collectively Angkor Wat and Angor Thom are an unmissable UNESCO World Heritage Site. Stay in Siem Reap beforehand and arrive by tuk tuk for an authentic Cambodian experience.

37. Borneo – Malaysia/Indonesia

Borneo - Indonesia
The equatorial island of Borneo is the third largest island in the world and is shared by both Indonesia and Malaysia. It is a mountainous island, largely covered with rainforest and enjoys a hot and humid climate. Borneo is most famous for its wildlife, including orangutans, cloud leopards, monkeys, elephants and various bird and fish species. The unique habitats on this island make it one of the most biodiverse places in the world and fabulous for wildlife spotting, snorkelling, diving, eating and exploring.


38. Great Barrier Reef – Australia

Fish and coral on the Great Barrier Reef - Australia
The Great Barrier Reef is the largest living coral reef in the world, stretching for over 2,000km across the northeast shores of Australia – it can even be seen from space. This incredible reef is home to thousands of species of fish, coral and molluscs, super rare dugongs and endangered large green turtles. With over 900 islands scattered across the reef this is one of the most beautiful marine locations on earth. Spend a few hours, days or weeks here and you’ll discover new delights every day.

39. Ayres Rock – Australia

Uluru/Ayres Rock - Australia
Almost in the centre of the flat, red interior of Australia is the gravity-defying Ayres rock, or Uluru. Ayres rock is an important spiritual place for aboriginal Australian tribespeople and has attracted visitors for generations. This giant sandstone rock unbelievably has more mass below ground than above and is a wonder to behold. Camp near here beneath the stars in a swag bag and see the stars meet the horizon across this beautiful arid landscape.

40. Milford Sound – New Zealand

Milford Sound - New Zealand
Milford Sound is a stunning fjord on the western coast of the South Island of New Zealand. It is known as one of the most beautiful places to visit in New Zealand and boasts cascading waterfalls from sheer rock and forest covered slopes, incredibly clear, crystal water and plenty of wildlife. Come here for awesome hikes, take a visit to the underwater observatory or a boat trip through the remote waters. Milford Sound’s wild and wonderful location make it one of the most popular visitor destinations in the world.
Kandoo Adventures don’t offer trips to all of these destinations as many of them are not notable trekking destinations, although we might do one day as we can find a good walking trail anywhere, but for now we have popped in links scattered amongst this blog to take you to the destinations you can explore with us. We hope to see you on one of our iconic adventures soon!