In Part IV of the Travel Goals Master Checklist series, I’ll explain the reasons and inspirations behind the 13 destinations selected to represent Europe in my list of the top 72 travel locations in the world. Suffice to say, I could have easily found 72 in Europe alone, and arguments can be made that some worthy destinations have been left out. But I challenge anyone to claim that the 13 selected aren’t worthy entrants in their own rite.
The mountains, forests and charming villages of Germany’s Bavaria section are something right out of a fairy tale. The most conspicuous of such elements is the famous Neuschwanstein Castle, whose storybook setting and fantastical architecture were the perfect muse for representing this lovely region on the checklist.
Cliffs of Moher, Ireland
Though on my own visit to the Cliffs of Moher they – and they alone – were disappointingly wreathed in fog, the drama was still readily evident, and the familiar vertical cliffs seen in movies and postcards were still impressive. Ireland’s Atlantic coastline is stunningly spectacular, and the Cliffs of Moher are a worthy subject for inclusion on the Travel Goals Master Checklist.
The Norwegian fjords are collectively one of the most beautiful landscapes on Earth. Among these dramatic inlets, tiny Geiranger stands out as a cut above the rest. In fact, I consider this to be the second most beautiful place I’ve ever been (the first being Milford Sound, New Zealand – also located on a fjord). I strongly encourage all who can to make plans to check off this entry on their own copy of the Travel Goals Master Checklist.
Greek Islands, Greece
Though I’ve yet to make my way through the islands of Greece, from a tourism viewpoint they are the stars of the Mediterranean, and deserve a spot on the list. Among the various postcard-worthy scenes I considered as inspiration for creating the artwork for this destination, a sunset view over Santorini seemed to best encapsulate all that is good in this corner of the world.
When it comes to world cities, London is not just the capital of England, but a capital of empire with relics of its history, museums and architecture to recommend it. Considering its strong profile on the world stage and world-class attractions, London easily made its way onto the checklist, and is likely one destination that many can check off.
With so many sites in Europe worthy of their place on the checklist, I was reluctant to choose two from the same country. But the otherworldy pinnacles of the Meteora in mainland Greece were a highlight of my own travels, and a unique setting that earns its spot among the world’s most impressive places to visit.
Paris is another one of those cities that double as a national and cultural capital. There was no difficulty in selecting it as an entrant on the checklist, neither was there much internal debate as to which icon to select in representing the City of Light. Given its worldwide popularity as a travel destination, more than a few can mark off Paris on their own copy of the Travel Goals Master Checklist.
Plitvice Lakes, Croatia
Only in recent years has the small Mediterranean country of Croatia muscled its way among the heavyweights of world travel destinations. While its turquoise-framed islands and coastline get a lot of the attention, Croatia’s biggest natural gem is located inland at the UNESCO World Heritage Site, Plitvice Lakes. With turquoise waters of its own spilling over tiers of lush, forested mountains, this idyllic spot is on my own bucket list, and is worthy of its inclusion of the checklist’s top 72 as well.
Brimming with recognizable monuments and vestiges of former empire, the Eternal City of Rome is a no-brainer for the travel goals checklist. It also wasn’t too hard to select the massive Colosseum as the subject for this particular piece of artwork. For centuries Rome has been a must-see world capital and that appeal lasts right up to our time as well.
St. Petersburg, Russia
Though not as famous as the Russian capital Moscow, many would argue that St. Petersburg is superior from a cultural and architectural viewpoint. The gilded Hermitage was the obvious choice for representing the city, and a winter scene seemed only fitting given its location.
Swiss Alps, Switzerland
The entire country of Switzerland is made up of postcard-worthy views in all directions. Such views come courtesy of the Alps, which also spill over into Italy, France, Germany and Austria to great visual effect. Most famous of those peaks is the Matterhorn, whose distinct knife-edge profile was an easy choice for representing this stunning landscape that well-deserves its place on the checklist.
In my opinion, Venice gives off a vibe that it is more akin to a movie set than an actual functioning city. But function it has for hundreds of years, and as a result, the historic palazzos, ornate bridges and ubiquitous gondolas have earned it a spot on the checklist. Add to that a charm that launches it into a competition with Paris as the world’s most romantic city, and there’s no way I could leave it off.
Volcanic Landscape, Iceland
Iceland is a prominent fixture near the top of my own bucket list, and has the geological and atmospheric chops to earn it a spot on the master checklist as well. With raw, rugged landscapes sculpted by volcanoes and other elements, and the kind of latitude that lends itself to viewing the elusive aurora borealis for a good portion of the year, Iceland is a popular travel destination for good reason, and someday I hope to see it for myself.
At this point in the series I’ve now covered 47 out of the 72 destinations on the master checklist. How many can you check off? Even if that number is zero, the beauty of the checklist is that it inspires a person to new adventures and specific travel goals. If you’ve enjoyed the artwork and want a Travel Goals Master Checklist to display in your home or office, please visit my Etsy store to order a copy for yourself or the traveler in your life.
Part V coming soon . . .
Have you been to any of these destinations? Or do you have a favorite in Africa that you feel should have made the list? Share it with your fellow travel lovers by leaving a comment!