A few months ago I set out to write a “30 Before 30” “bucket list” travel guide. Thirty things that every traveler should do before they turn thirty. I quickly realized that was a ridiculous idea, as it would take a pretty broad stretch of the imagination to identify thirty different things that would appeal to any and every twenty-something traveler. Plus, assuming that eighteen is the age of majority in your region, that really only gives you twelve years of independent adulthood to work your way through thirty different travel challenges. Who’s got time for that?
I knew I had to shift my thinking. I started to wonder why we focus so much on the years between eighteen and thirty, when it’s actually the years after that when we’re more likely to have the ability, time, money, knowledge, skills and confidence to embark on life-changing travel adventures. Screw “thirty before thirty” (in the nicest way possible, of course)… I wanted to make a “thirty after thirty” list of the destinations around the world that are truly worth waiting for.
I reached out to more than twenty-five other “seasoned” travel writers and asked them to share their favorite destinations for travelers in their thirties, forties, fifties and beyond. From opulent luxury getaways to once-in-a-lifetime wildlife encounters to complete cultural immersion, they found travel destinations that definitely won’t disappoint even the most experienced travelers. And the great news is that with the average American citizen living to be seventy-eight years old (and with lifespans even longer in many other countries!) you’ve got plenty of time to visit all thirty of these destinations… no need to pack them all into a single decade just to cross them off an arbitrary bucket list!
(Still convinced that you need a “thirty before thirty” travel guide? Well, I scaled that post down to “ten before thirty”, focusing on essential travel themes rather than super-specific experiences. Read it here.)
30 After 30 Travel Destinations in Europe
Often, traveling around Europe is associated with travelers in their late teens or early twenties, with big backpacks and an Interrail pass. And yes, that image does accurately describe how I spent the summers in the mid-2000s! However, I’m thirty-five years old now, and I have a completely different approach to travel in Europe. I’m more willing to pay for little luxuries, to travel slowly and to go off the beaten path to have authentic travel experiences. If you’re a little more mature (or even just a little older, not necessarily more mature!) consider adding these European gems to your “30 After 30” travel plans.
#1 – Burgundy, France
Burgundy, France is a great destination to explore as a traveler in your thirties and beyond, as your taste for fine food and drinks grows. Burgundy is well known for producing one of the best wines in France (and for some, in the world) and there are different wine trails, each with its own particular character and, of course, wines!
In addition to the endless vineyards and wineries, where you can learn about Burgundy wines and wine tasting in general, there are many beautiful villages in Burgundy Wine Region. Some of them have a very interesting history and heritage, and you’ll recognize the names from the labels of your favorite Burgundy wines. Although some other villages are not that wine-centric, they are so picturesque that they have been awarded the label “Most Beautiful Villages in France”. Stop off to enjoy the cutest villages in Burgundy, making sure to taste their wines and other local products as you go.
Elisa, 42, from France Bucket List
#2 – Costa Brava, Spain
While Spain’s big-city Barcelona gets a lot of tourist attention, the region north of the Catalan capital, the Costa Brava, deserves accolades as well. Full of relaxing beaches, a craggy coastline, and quaint villages, the “brave coast” is ideal for travelers who want to relax and explore destinations of authentic Catalan culture. The Costa Brava doesn’t disappoint for those over 30 – when your appreciation for culture, history, and nature deepens more and more!
The Costa Brava is the beloved region of international artist Salvador Dalí. He was born in the small town of Figueres, which houses the eccentric and incredible Salvador Dalí Museum-Theater. If you’re looking for scenery, the picturesque town Cadaqués is a whitewashed former fishing village with quiet coves and a rocky coast. Other than being a favorite vacation spot for Dalí, Cadaqués was also a special destination for other artists like Pablo Picasso and Joan Miró. For Game of Thrones fans, the small town of Girona is an underrated Spanish town that boasts a gorgeous Gothic cathedral, Roman remains, and medieval buildings. On the Costa Brava’s interior, you can find scenic natural areas like the rocky Cap de Creus National Park, the Montseny mountain range, and ancient volcanoes in Garrotxa.
Justine Ancheta, 41, from Latitude 41
Carly’s Tip – If you’re passing through Barcelona on your trip to the Costa Brava, stay in one of my five favorite neighborhoods in the city!
#3 – Bologna, Italy
Many first-time travelers to Italy hit the big three: Rome, Florence, and Venice. But, once travelers start to plan repeat travels to Italy, they start to look for more sophisticated destinations. One of these top destinations to visit has to be Bologna, in Emilia Romagna.
Bologna, and some of the nearby cities like Modena and Parma, are home to slow food and fast cars. That means it’s a destination for people who want a little more than cheap street-side pizza. One of the main reasons to visit is to taste all of the famous Bologna foods. This includes mortadella, lasagna, and tagliatelle ragu. As well, you can taste some of the top Emilia Romagna food products that are known around the world, including prosciutto, Parmigiano Reggiano, and traditional balsamic vinegar. It’s also possible to go truffle hunting just outside of the city, in the Bologna Hills. In fact, only thirty minutes from Bologna is Savigno, the City of Truffles, where it is possible to go truffle hunting in the surrounding hills.
Amber, 43, from With Husband in Tow
Carly’s Tip: I also recommend Turin, Piemonte, for an authentic Italian experience!
#4 – Budapest, Hungary
I visited Budapest last summer and it was unexpectedly amazing! I often compared it to Paris and decided quickly that if given the opportunity, I’d return in a heartbeat.
There are so many things to do in Budapest that five days were barely enough to truly get a feel for this incredible historic city. A visit to Budapest’s Jewish Quarter is, for me, a must do. I’m not Jewish but to explore this area, especially with a local guide, is truly incredible. Visit the Kazinczy Synagogue and the Dohany Synagogue, the largest synagogue in Europe. Make sure to take time to explore the ruin pubs in the Jewish Quarter as well. While party locations at night, Szimpla Kert is so unique that its definitely worth exploring during the day. The building housed Jewish families during the war and now, you can even enjoy a Sunday brunch offered by local farmers and producers.
Another amazing area to explore in Budapest is Castle Hill, especially the area around Matthias Church and Fisherman’s Bastion on the Pest side of Budapest. Matthias Church is stunning inside and the view over Parliament from the tower is one of the best views in Budapest. Just outside, you’ll find Fisherman’s Bastion with its peaked points similar to a fairy tale castle.
Finally, if you’re looking for an evening activity, you have to take a night time cruise on the Danube. The lights of Budapest at night are incredible. Parliament is truly one of the most beautiful buildings I’ve experienced and to see it glow against the water at night is a lifetime experience. Budapest is truly one of the world’s most incredible cities.
Joanne, 50, from Sunsets and Roller Coasters
#5 – The Azores, Portugal
The Azores is one of the best places for travelers of any age, but it is especially a fantastic destination for those of us over 30. I first went around a year and a half ago, have been planning several trips back since and can’t wait to embark on my next one!
The Azores are a group of nine volcanic islands remotely located in the middle of the Atlantic in between Portugal and the United States. The main island, Sao Miguel, is home to the largest Azorean city, Ponta Delgada, and several of the islands’ natural wonders. The east side of the island is where Furnas is located; Furnas is a geothermal Disneyland where the local delicacy (Cozido das Furnas) is created and cooked underground in the Earth’s heat. On the island’s west side, you will find crater lakes and some of the most spectacular views the island has to offer, such as Miradouro da Boca do Inferno which overlooks the town of Sete Cidades and stunning, green crater lakes.
The other eight islands are completely unique in their own rights- from volcanic peaks to being saturated with waterfalls… the Azores are one of the best places to visit for those of us over 30. Getting to Azores is fairly easy from continental Europe and is becoming increasingly easier for those located in Canada and the US. The islands are gaining fame these days for their landscape and scenery and it is not long before they are a top contender for the most desirable place in the world to visit.
Megan Starr, 35, from MeganStarr.com
#6 – Berlin, Germany
The first time I went to Berlin I got sucked so deeply into the city’s non-stop nightlife scene that I hardly saw any of the German capital. It was my second trip, when I was thirty-four years old, that really helped me get to know the city, its culture and its people… and it was on that trip that I truly fell in love with Berlin.
Traveling to Berlin in my thirties meant that I didn’t have the energy (or the desire, for that matter) to go out partying from midnight to 9:00 am. I mean, those are prime sleeping hours! Instead, I trusted my body’s biological rhythms. I woke up fairly early every morning for a hearty German breakfast (my favorite was the complimentary breakfast served at Casa Camper Berlin) and then set out to explore the city by public transportation and by foot. In the afternoon I might stop by a bar along the riverfront for an ice-cold glass of radler, and in the evening I sampled amazing German vegetarian food (okay, and just a teeny-bit of nightlife) before retiring to bed before 1:00 am every night. I felt energized, balanced, happy and healthy every day, which is a lot more than I can say for my previous, hangover-filled visit to Berlin!
Carly, 35, from Fearless Female Travels
#7 – Amsterdam, Netherlands
Think of Amsterdam and you think of young drunk and/or stoned travellers ignoring the city’s famous canals and culture in favour of coffee shops and bars. While there is no age limit for coffee shops or bars, and I know visitors of all ages like the city’s relaxed marijuana laws, Amsterdam has so much to enjoy for a traveller in their 30s or older.
It goes without saying that Amsterdam is one of the most beautiful cities in the world and so just wandering around is enough of a treat for travellers of all ages, but older (and more sober!) visitors may like to find hidden gems such as the Begijnhof Square in the middle of the city, which has Amsterdam’s oldest wooden house and a church featuring some Piet Mondrian artwork, or De Papegaai Church on the city’s busiest shopping street Kalverstraat.
It’s also worth mentioning the fact that Amsterdam has countless things to do, including more museums per capita than any other city, festivals for all occasions at all times of the year, and a highly underrated foodie scene, including 16 Michelin-starred restaurants. And if you do still want to enjoy Amsterdam’s coffee shop scene and the famous Red Light District, then you can do so in a surprisingly informative way by visiting the Cannabis Museum or by going on a tour of the Red Light District given by a former sex worker.
Frankie Thompson, 37, from As the Bird Flies
30 After 30 Travel Destinations in Asia
Asia is one of the most popular continents for budget travelers, which makes it especially popular with young, inexperienced travelers on a shoestring. Over the years, though, I’ve learned that there’s so much more to Asia than the cheap beers and budget hotels of Southeast Asia, and it’s a continent that I’ve grown to appreciate so much more in my thirties. In fact, in six weeks I’ll be departing for a trip that crosses of more than ten of the thirty travel destinations I’ve always wanted to visit most. This trip will take me from Taiwan to Bali to Kuala Lumpur to Istanbul to Bishkek to Tashkent to Delhi… and beyond! Follow my trip on Facebook, or keep reading below for more Asia travel inspiration from distinctly different destinations.
#8 – Iran
Travelling to Iran is always a very cultural experience. I’ve been visiting this Middle Eastern country since I was 32 and I always can’t wait to go back. There is a great variety of experiences to be chased in Iran, from delving into the history of their Achaemenid Empire in Persepolis, near Shiraz, to discovering the mesmerising architecture of the Safavid era in Isfahan to exploring the Zoroastrian culture in the ancient city of Yazd.
In Iran, alcohol is illegal and so are night and disco clubs. Sure, you can find booze and underground parties if you really can’t stay away from it for a couple of weeks, but being illegal, it’s very risky. This doesn’t mean that there are no coffee shops in the Iranian cities. I loved the ones in Tehran’s Enghelab Street, those in Isfahan’s Armenian quarter Jolfa and the ones around the main Naqsh-e Jahan Square, where you can enjoy different delicious teas, drinks and cakes in an atmosphere that blends modern and traditional décor.
There are many tourists in Iran, including many young people, and most visitors respect the laws of the country. This makes Iran makes a more tranquil over-30 travel destination, but it definitely doesn’t make it less exciting. Each season has its festivals and regions to visit, each city its history and landmarks, and each market its stories. Iran requires a more savvy way of travelling, but it’s a country of perpetual discovery and for sure it’s never boring.
Angela, 40, from Chasing the Unexpected
#9 – Arunachal Pradesh, India
Travelling in the remote region of Arunachal Pradesh is easily one of our travel highlights in recent years. India’s Seven Sisters, a somewhat tribal region made up of seven states, is one of India’s least explored places, and Arunachal Pradesh is probably the most difficult of the country’s northeastern states to travel in.
Travelling on the abysmal roads in Arunachal Pradesh is tough, and not for the faint-hearted. The region tends to be expensive when compared to other places in India, and the process of obtaining the necessary permits can be rather off-putting. Nevertheless, Arunachal Pradesh is one of the most beautiful and diverse regions we have been to, with its wild mountainous interior, friendly locals and unusual tribal traditions.
A good understanding of the region’s tribal culture is essential when travelling in Arunachal Pradesh, especially if you intend to spend a fair amount of time there. Although not obligatory, guides may be necessary in some of the areas, particularly if you would like to experience and understand some of the tribal rituals such as those of the Apatani tribe in the Ziro Valley.
The majestic beauty of Arunachal Pradesh is mind-blowing and this, together with its rich cultural heritage, makes the little-explored Northeast Indian state one of our favourite over-thirty travel destinations!
Michelle, 41, from Cheeky Passports
#10 – Jordan
You don’t travel in your thirties for the same reasons that you travel in your 20’s. The “life of da party” is (for most) over and you can afford to travel to more expensive destinations. One of the first high-budget trips I took when I turned thirty was Jordan.
I had dreamed of going to Jordan ever since I watched Indiana Jones, but I knew it was not that easy to backpack. When planning my travels I realized that just the visa and the entrance to the most popular site in Jordan (Petra) would cost me more than 150 dollars! On top of that, there aren’t many ways to go from one place to the next because there are very few public buses. The best way to travel around is to either book a tour, rent a car or hire a private guide and driver like we did. When it comes accommodations, you won’t find my hostels or budget hotels like in many other countries. Jordan is a fabulous country, but you’d better have a good income to be able to afford it!
Amandine, 32, from Les Berlinettes
#11 – Lebanon
A great place for travelers over thirty, and also a very underrated travel destination, is Lebanon. Officially called Lebanese Republic, the country is located at the crossroads of the Arabian hinterland and the Mediterranean Basin. Yes, it is bordered by Syria to the north and east and by Israel to the south. But that actually doesn’t mean much, as long as you don’t go border hopping.
Lebanon may not be a typical holiday destination, although it a lot to offer. You can even visit the snow-covered mountains in the morning and then and chill at the beaches of the Mediterranean sea in the afternoon. Be ready for the most beautiful sunsets, visit the incredible historical sites such as Baalbek and the whole Beqaa Valley, enjoy evenings in bars and hidden clubs, and eat your way through the traditional restaurants of lively Beirut. Where other destinations offer just what twenty-somethings are looking for, Lebanon is on the rise to be the perfect thirty-something-travel destination.
Clemens Sehi, 35, from Travellers Archive
#12 – Maldives
We think one of the best places for more seasoned travelers would be the islands of Maldives. Maldives is made up of 1200 islands, but only around 200 are inhabited. There are two types of islands: local islands, and resort islands. The resort islands are perfect for a relaxing luxury getaway.
Overwater bungalows are the most sought after accommodations on these islands, and for good reason. You can enjoy your days in your overwater bungalow, swim in your own private infinity pool on the deck, and head out to snorkel in your own part of the sea. There are several islands that have some great all-inclusive resorts, where you can have the run of the entire island and everything taken care of for you. One of our favorite resorts was Robinson Club Noonu. This resort owns the entire island, so it was more of a small resort type feel, where we could go wherever we wanted by foot around the island.
If you’re looking for a luxurious vacation in your thirties and beyond, Maldives is worth checking out!
Sara, 31, from Our Kind of Crazy
#13 – Malaysian Borneo
Malaysian Borneo is a versatile destination for nature lovers, scuba divers and snorkelers, and foodies alike. If you love wild jungle beaches, rainforests and wildlife, river cruises, colonial cities, and adventurous activities, look no further. Borneo is a perfect choice for older travelers who are looking for off-the-beaten-path destinations, fun in the sun, and soft adventures, since it’s more mature than many other Asian islands and definitely not a party destination.
Even a two-week itinerary in Borneo can include all of the above: You can see orangutans and proboscis monkeys in their natural habitat, unwind on paradise islands where you can swim with turtles and sharks, eat your way through a couple of colonial cities, hike in the rainforest and even summit Mt Kinabalu. If you’re more into relaxing in five-star, all-inclusive resorts, Borneo still keeps you satisfied and offers varied day tours to wildlife sanctuaries and national parks, world-famous caves, and marine reserves.
Niina Lehikoinen, 38, from Bizarre Globe Hopper
30 After 30 Travel Destinations in North America
Hailing from North America myself, I have seen embarrassingly little of my home continent, choosing instead to travel to the opposite corners of the world. I’ve been to Madrid, Spain, more times than I’ve been been to the next city over from my hometown (and it’s literally only twenty miles down the road!). So, I had to turn to my travel blogger friends for more details about the best destinations for thirty-something travelers in North America, and they helped me generate this list of spectacularly sophisticated “30 After 30” trip ideas, with a heavy emphasis on sun-seeking getaways and cultural hotspots. Count me in!
#14 – Havana, Cuba
I first visited Havana when I was 40. I had traveled all over Latin America but for some reason I found Cuba to be very intimidating. I learned it was nothing like I feared and so much more than I expected. But I do think it’s a great country to visit after you turn 30 and have had several years on independent travel under your belt.
There is an incredible culture of art, dance and music in Cuba. And there are amazing restaurants and cafes that serve local Cuban coffee. But you need to also deal with many of the frustrations of a country that suffers from food shortages and a US embargo. Many times you’ll enter a restaurant and half the items on the menu aren’t available. And perhaps it can be frustrating when not everyone speaks English. And wifi in Cuba is an on-going issue so you’re phone likely doesn’t work and you won’t be able to be on the internet all day. And…
Fortunately, with age and more experience traveling, you begin to embrace unique qualities in a country – like the Cubans’ incredible passion for music and dance. And you realize that you don’t need to be online all day, or have cable television in your room or fast food options. Havana is an incredible city of contradictions. Well-educated, modern citizens in a destination many people incorrectly think is frozen in time. Fortunately, with age you realize Cuba isn’t just about classic cars, cigars and mojitos but about the culture that continues to evolve despite all of its challenges. And that’s why over-thirty travellers love Cuba.
Ayngelina, 41, from Bacon is Magic
#15 – Valladolid, Mexico
Valladolid Mexico is often perceived to be a small, boring city on the Yucatan Peninsula, but that is not at all true. This city is exactly the place you are looking for when you are in your thirties (or beyond!) and tired of the hustle and bustle of Cancun and Playa del Carmen.
Valladolid is one of the most upcoming travel destinations in Mexico because of its super laid-back vibe. This is not a party place at all! Valladolid is where you simply get lost in the streets and admire the historical buildings and search for hidden courtyards with local boutique shops. Lovely coffee shops, delicious vegetarian restaurants, and smoothie bars are opening everywhere around town and yoga workshops can be found across the city. On top of that, some of the best Yucatan cenotes can be found here as well. Renting a car and explore the cenotes around Valladolid is one of the best things to do in Yucatan (along with sleeping in one of the many historical haciendas). I promise that Valladolid is one of those places that you will start liking more and more the longer you stay!
#16 – San Pancho, Mexico
In my twenties, I often traveled to Sayulita, Mexico for a long weekend getaway of surfing, suntanning and boutique shopping. In my thirties, though, I prefer to head five miles down Mexico’s Nayarit Coast to San Pancho, a much smaller, less-hectic fishing village that has barely been touched by tourism.
San Pancho is ideal for travelers in their thirties, forties and fifties who are looking for an authentic Mexican beach experience, minus the crowds, plus just enough comforts to make you want to come back again and again. I always check in at Hotel Cielo Rojo, a locally-owned boutique hotel with breathtaking decor and homey touches like complimentary in-room tequila (yes, you heard me right!). After borrowing a beach chair and umbrella from the hotel, I head two blocks down the road to the beach, which is a stunning strip of golden sand with more than enough space to spread out. I could spend all day at the beach, reading a book under my umbrella and occasionally dipping my toes in the refreshing water, but I always succumb to the temptation of San Pancho’s surprising vegan and vegetarian cuisine culture, stopping by one of many local restaurants serving healthy brunches and seasonal organic dinner. Everything is easy in San Pancho, making it ideal for older travelers looking for a break from a high-stress job (or mid-life crisis!).
Carly, 35, from Fearless Female Travels
#17 – Antigua, Guatemala
Visiting the colonial city of Antigua, Guatemala when you’re over thirty is a rewarding experience. The UNESCO World Heritage site was once one of the great cities of the Spanish Empire and the grandeur of its schools, monasteries, churches and government buildings can best be experienced by staying in the atmospheric colonial buildings that have converted into boutique hotels. Unlike when I was younger and my budget only allowed me to stay in a grim hotel on the outskirts of the historic zone, now that I’m older and have a bit more disposable income I’ve been able to stay in some unforgettable accommodations. A little more flexibility in your budget is especially valuable during Guatemala’s festivals and celebrations, such as Holy Week, when rooms are scarce and prices high.
One of the most beautiful boutique hotels I’ve enjoyed is Hotel La Catedral, an authentic Spanish Colonial home dating to the 1700s which was originally built as part of the Palacio de los Capitanes Generales, a sprawling palace with stone pillars facing Antigua’s leafy Main Plaza. It’s just steps to the impressive Cathedral of San Jose and staying so close means being able to see the Holy Week processions as they proceed down the cobblestone streets in front of the hotel. I was able to spend leisurely afternoons on the rooftop terrace featuring panoramic views of Volcan de Agua, and in the evenings it was possible to see neon red lava spilling from the cone of still-active Volcan de Fuego.
As an older traveller I’m also interested in many more of the cultural activities offered in Antigua than I was in the past. Cooking classes, market tours and architectural walking tours are all activities that appeal to me now but weren’t of interest to me in my younger years. It’s the most rewarding time to travel and Antigua is filled with riches.
Michele Peterson, age top-secret, from A Taste for Travel
#18 – Vancouver, Canada
Vancouver, British Columbia is a great destination for travelers over 30, and as a native Vancouverite, I’ve enjoyed many aspects of Vancouver as a mature woman.
If you’re a foodie, you’ll find that Vancouver is chock-full of great restaurants at all price points, and it has particularly good Asian food. Fine dining restaurants are also in good supply, particularly in downtown Vancouver. Cocktail bars in Vancouver are excellent and attract people of all ages, with bartenders vying for best mixologist honours.
Vancouver is also a great destination for athletic pursuits of all kinds. Winter sports like downhill and cross-country skiing and snowboarding can be enjoyed within thirty minutes of the city center at local mountains, with world-class skiing at Whistler just an hour and a half away. Summer fun at beautiful local beaches, sailing, and amazing hiking is all within arms-reach too. No matter what you enjoy doing in the outdoors, you’ll love doing it in Vancouver.
If culture is your jam, you’ll find some of the best examples of First Nations art at many Vancouver galleries. The music scene in Vancouver is lively and the nightlife abundant. Live theatre in Vancouver is especially good and there is a great variety of professional theatre companies. Come to Vancouver – it’s a great destination!
Lesley, 55, from Freedom56travel
#19 – Nashville, United States
One of our favorite destinations is Nashville, Tennessee. This capital of the south makes a great weekend getaway for people in their 30s… and there’s good reason!
The flavors and sounds of the south come alive in Nashville. This is Music City USA after all. Nashville is more than the country music, and there’s so much more to the city than the Grand Ole Opry and Country Music Hall of Fame. The clubs in Nashville feature a wide range of musical styles including rock, blues, folk, and even punk. But, unlike in college towns and other big cities, you won’t feel out of place going out for a night on the town if you’re in your thirties (or even older!). Nashville welcomes one and all.
The city is also a culinary powerhouse. Yes, you’ll find southern BBQ, but you’ll also find so much more. Nashville’s food scene can handle the most refined palate. And there’s a ton of breweries and distilleries in the area to quench your thirst. For us, when it comes to weekend getaways, Nashville is at the top of our list.
Lance and Laura Longwell, 42, from Travel Addicts
#20 – New York City, United States
One of the favorite destinations we have visited on our thirty’s is New York City in the United States. This place just has it all: awesome parks (like Central Park) to walk and relax, great restaurants of all kinds of food, awesome museums, outdoor activities, skyscrapers with 360º views of the town and so much more. You can find nightlife for all tastes and for us one of the best night activities were going up to the rooftops of hotels and restaurants to enjoy a glass of wine with the view of the city that never sleeps. The good thing is that in this city there are activities for everyone, no matter what your interests are or if you are traveling alone, with friends or with your loved one. This is what makes us fall more deeply in love with the place, we never felt like strangers in any place because there are many other over thirty’s like us visiting the places we wanted to see. You can’t get tired of New York and there is no way of seeing it all in just one trip, so everyone leaves wanting to get back as soon as possible.
Alejandra Werner, 30, from Universo Viajero
30 After 30 Travel Destinations in South America
South America is another continent where I’ve only dipped my toes into the amazingly diverse travel opportunities. I blame it on the seasons, as I can usually only travel during the South American winter. (I can hear your eyes rolling from here.) After reading about these amazing ecotourism and adventure travel opportunities in South America, though, I am pretty sure that I’ll be adding stops across this continent onto my 30 After 30 “to visit” list!
#21 – Fernando de Noronha, Brazil
Paradise island Fernando de Noronha, 340 km off the Brazilian coast, is one of the world’s most exclusive islands, a national park, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. To preserve the delicate ecosystem, the number of tourists is limited to a maximum of 500 per day and visitors must pay a daily environmental tax fee. That makes Fernando de Noronha a costly destination, accessible to people having rather deep pockets… such as 30+ travelers!
Forget parties and nightlife. Fernando de Noronha is suited to mature travelers in search of peacefulness and unspoiled nature. I had the privilege of spending a few days on the island when I was in my forties, after having saved money for months to afford a trip I had long dreamed of. With stunning golden beaches, black volcanic rocks emerging from crystal-clear turquoise water, and breathtaking views from atop the steep cliffs, Fernando de Noronha felt like paradise. Even today, it remains one of the most beautiful places I ever visited.
Simon Falvo, 55, from Wild About Travel
#22 – Patagonia, Argentina
Patagonia is an incredible destination. This huge region of South America sprawls across two countries (Argentina and Chile) and is perfect for people who enjoy nature, adventure and mountain hiking and who are experienced enough travelers to carefully plan their trips, for with such huge distances nothing comes easy in this part of the world. Though bars and pubs in Patagonia get crowded with people who enjoy a beer after a strenuous hike, this isn’t the kind of place where you can expect late night partying. It is all about trying to eat an earthy meal, going to bed early and waking up even earlier to get on the trails, to admire sunrise and to walk as much as possible. Patagonia is thus perfect for people who have grown out of the party-scene, who just want to be in the nature to be mesmerized by the incredible mountain, river and lake views; and who appreciate the force of the elements.
Claudia Tavani, 43, from My Adventures Across the World
#23 – Easter Island, Chile
Easter Island is situated off the coast of Chile and to get there its a five-and-a-half-hour flight from Santiago, Chile. The island is, of course, known for its mysterious and iconic moai statues. Having seen them, it’s no wonder they are one of the worlds greatest phenomenons!
Easter Island is reasonably small, and you can drive around it in a day, but to explore all the moai heads, you’ll need a few days. There are a couple of sights that should definitely not be missed. Watching the sunrise over Ahu Tongariki is stunning, and the heads at the quarry site Rano Raraku are incredible. It’s impossible to comprehend how the stone was chiselled by hand to make these sculptures not to mention moving them around the island without any machinery. Much of the Island is protected and as such its been awarded a UNESCO World Heritage Site designation.
In addition to the Moai, there is a wealth of cultural history to explore as well as extinct volcanoes, lava tunnels and caves. You can hike to some of the most secluded parts, which few tourists do. The island’s highest point, Terevaka, was deserted when I was there, and it was a moving experience to sit and reflect on a life well-lived. The three-hour hike to the eastern rim of Rano Kau crater is also worth it, as I got some fantastic photos, and there was not another person in sight.
Fiona, 41, from Passport and Piano
#24 – Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
The Galapagos Islands are a great destination for travellers that are over thirty because frankly, travellers under thirty probably can’t afford to do it justice!
As most are aware, the Galapagos Islands boast stunning wildlife that you won’t see anywhere else on earth, both on the surface as well as underwater. Unique birdlife, tortoises, and iguanas are a marvel to see on land and the Galapagos waters support a huge variety of sea life including sharks, whales, sea lions, and numerous endemic species of fish.
To make the most of your time visiting the Galapagos Islands you’ll end up spending much of your time doing tours or scuba diving, both of which can easily cost hundreds of dollars per day and would be a budget buster for the twenty-something traveller. There are some free sites to visit on land or snorkel at, but honestly they do not compare to the best tours where you can get up close to the unique wildlife endemic to the Galapagos Islands. Whether you’re following a land based itinerary or visiting on a cruise ship, the Galapagos islands will be remembered as a trip of a lifetime… but save it for your thirties, forties or fifties, when you can truly enjoy it!
Philip, 31, from Zen Travellers
30 After 30 Travel Destinations in Africa
Africa is a top choice for older and/or more experienced travelers for a number of reasons, the least of which is that having a decade or two of independent travel experience in your pocket helps you feel confident when you face the (very expected) unexpected along the way. If you’re in your thirties, forties or fifties (or older, though Google tells me that would put you in the 0.1% of all my readers!), why not channel your wisdom, patience and expertise into an African getaway?
#25 – Kenya
Most travelers interested in African safaris have Kenya near the top of their bucket list. And for good reason: Kenya’s wildlife ranks among the densest in the world (tenth, to be exact). The country is home to countless animals, including Africa’s famed Big Five (lions, leopards, rhinoceros, elephants, and Cape buffalo), more than 400 other mammals species and around 1,100 bird species.
Of course taking an African safari isn’t cheap, especially when it’s as luxurious as the one I took my family on last year to celebrate my 50th birthday. The three weeks we spent exploring Nairobi National Park, Ol Pejeta Conservancy, Lewa Conservancy, Meru National Park, and the conservancies of the Maasai Mara led to an abundance of incredible experiences. From a behind-the-scenes tour to meet the baby elephants of the Sheldrick Wildlife Orphanage to walking with the last two Northern white rhinos on the planet at Ol Pejeta, our time with Gamewatchers Safaris and Cheli & Peacock Safaris was full of memories we’ll never forget. It also made us more conscious than ever of the fragility of life on this planet, and more determined than ever to do our part to protect these beautiful creatures.
Bret Love, 50, from Green Global Travel
#26 – Uganda
I travelled a lot in Africa in my 30s, including climbing Kilimanjaro and visiting South Africa and Namibia, but the country that stole my heart is Uganda.
Uganda may not be an obvious big-hitter like Kenya or Tanzania in terms of wildlife, and it’s not as exotic-sounding as Mozambique or Ethiopia, but don’t let that fool you. Uganda has it all: national parks teeming with lions, elephants and zebras; tangled forests hiding chimpanzees and the elusive mountain gorillas; rolling landscapes so green it’ll hurt your eyes; the frothing rapids of the River Nile and the calm waters of Lake Victoria; and some of the most friendly and welcoming people I’ve met anywhere in 22 years of travelling and 65 countries.
Travelling in Uganda can be done cheaply – but some of the country’s best experiences do come at a price. The number one draw – trekking to see the endangered mountain gorillas – costs a hefty $600 per person, but that’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience it’d be a shame to have to miss. Getting around by public transport requires a lot of time and patience – but if you can afford to, a private car and driver turns a chore into a pleasure. And if you have a bit more disposable income then staying in one of Uganda’s many luxury lodges is one of life’s greatest pleasures. All good reasons to visit when you can afford to splash out and make the most of this stunning country.
Bella, 40, from Passport & Pixels
#27 – Cape Town, South Africa
Cape Town is a great travel destination for travelers older than thirty given its history, culture, cuisine and many family-friendly activities. While Cape Town can be visited by younger travelers, travelers over thirty will have a deeper understanding and appreciation of its history and its changes in recent decades. Many travelers may have even lived through historical moments of Cape Town years back, seeing those events on the evening news and reading about them in the papers.
There are many museums in Cape Town (such as Robben Island and District 6 Museum) that may be greatly appreciated by older travelers. In addition to its history, Cape Town is known for its wine and cuisine. Travelers over thirty may be more interested in fine dining and have more means to try different restaurants and wineries. Some of the best restaurants in Africa are located in Cape Town and they are definitely worth a visit. Cape Town is also great for family friendly activities such as the cable car to Table Mountain, a visit to Cape of Good Hope, seeing the penguins, etc. These activities appeal to travelers over thirty… especially those with kids.
Cape Town is best enjoyed by those that want a slower pace of travel and full appreciation of its history and cuisine.
Serena, 33, from Serena’s Lenses
30 After 30 Travel Destinations in Oceania
One of the most exotic regions on the planet, Oceania delivers in stunning landscapes (I mean, just look at French Polynesia!), breathtaking eco-adventures and yes, even a few cosmopolitan capitals! Simply by nature of its distance from North America and Europe, Oceania can be a time-consuming and/or expensive getaway for many people, making it ideal for older travelers who have the freedom to move at a more comfortable pace.
#28 – French Polynesia
Of all the places I travelled to in my 30s, French Polynesia stands out. More than just Bora Bora, this archipelagic nation is comprised of sub-archipelagos – from the dreamy sand atolls of the Tuamotus, to the volcanic islands of the Marquesas, and the cultural heartland of the Society Islands, just to name three!
French Polynesia seemed to draw the more mature tourist, and it’s not difficult to see why. Even with an independent travel style, the remote location and inter-island travel would favour travellers with more means at their disposal. Yachts anchor in the lagoons of the major islands, as Tahiti had always been welcoming of seafarers. Advanced divers fly off to Rangiroa for its epic tidal channel dives. Surfers come for the break waves of Teahupo’o. Seekers of black pearl roam the Society Islands for the perfect specimen.
There is a carefree, earthy vibe to French Polynesia. Its iridescent nature makes you almost forget that it has depth too, in its Polynesian and colonial history. It is the kind of destination that is most rewarding for the seasoned traveller who carry with them Mutiny on the Bounty references, Gauguin, life, and joie de vivre. Breadfruit and vanilla, secluded stays on private motus. There is also an egalitarian, civilised amity between traveller and host here. French Polynesia is not easy to reach, but once there, so easy to stay for the idyllic days in paradise lagoons.
Teja, 39, from Teja on the Horizon
#29 – Sydney, Australia
Sydney, Australia is a cool, all-round destination for all travelers and it is especially interesting for 30+ travel enthusiasts. This vibrant city has the right combination of urban delights and perfectly close nature getaways.
Right in the center of the city, you get to enjoy visiting the world-famous Opera House, chill out at Darling Harbour, enjoy a cool flick at the world’s largest IMAX (currently undergoing refurbishment, will open again late 2020) and fine-dining, all at the same spot.
There is so much to do in Sydney. For your nature fix, visit the gorgeous white sand beach at Bondi, cruise on Paramatta river, or picnic at the beautiful and vast Royal Botanical Gardens. Take a ferry to Watson’s Bay and visit Gap Bluff National Park here, or enjoy a delicious snack at Doyle’s on the Beach restaurant. If you still have the energy, take a trip to the Royal National Park at Bundeena and get lost in the majestic beauty at this spot where tall sandstone cliffs hug the ocean under deep blue sky and great wildlife around.
Priyadarshini Rajendran, 33, from Glorious Sunrise
30 After 30 – Yes, Even on Antarctica!
Again, I’m not one for bucket lists, but if you’re always dreamed of exploring every continent on the planet, then you’ll want to head to Antarctica… and in this era of a rapidly changing climate, you’ll probably want to book your Antarctic excursion sooner rather than later.
#30 – Antarctica
Antarctica is on many travelers’ bucket list; however, it is quite expensive to visit. It takes an enormous amount of money to reach the continent. But if you can save the money, it is worth splurging for this expedition if you have the means to do so.
While researching for our trip, we discovered that the price range varies vastly. The low range for Antarctica travel is around $8,000-$10,000 for a ten-day cruise from Ushuaia, Argentina. That’s a lot of money to spend for ten days, considering that for same amount of money, you could traveling South East Asia for about a year! For the average traveler, this Antarctica adventure could take years to save for. And for most, it will only come after you start making “real money” in mid-career. When you get there and when you hop onto the ship, you will probably see travelers who are in their mid-forties and older. There likely won’t be many travelers younger than thirty on board.
Some of the highlights of our Antarctica adventure included running the Antarctica Marathon and cruising the Drake Passage. But the biggest draw is always the wildlife. You’ll experience close encounters with whales, seals, albatross, and more. And if you stand or sit still enough, you may get lucky when a curious penguin stops by to check you out!
Halef and Michael, 40, from The Round the World Guys
Looking for more worldwide travel inspo? I’ve collaborated with other bloggers on several other posts that will send you straight to Google Flights!
Check out my roundup of The Most Beautiful Places in Europe, or pour some Baileys in your morning coffee and get comfortable with The 50 Best Day Drinking Destinations Around the World.
Did we miss any destinations that are perfect for over-thirty travelers? If so, let me know in the comments!