30th Birthday Travel Destinations for the Gal With Wanderlust
Turning the big 3-O is kind of a huge deal, so it’s no surprise that you’re all about making your 30th birthday unforgettable. And if you have a travel-hungry spirit, that means you’ll go just about anywhere, from scuba diving in Thailand to wandering the stone streets of Paris. So book that vacation RN and celebrate the start of a new chapter with a fun adventure. Scroll on down to find the *perf* destination for your wanderlust-approved birthday and get to trip planning.
1. The Grand Canyon, United States of America: Keep your travels local by taking a trip to one of the US’s geographical treasures: the Grand Canyon.
2. The Bolivian Salt Flats, South Africa: Mirror, mirror on the… water? Take a trip down south — to South Africa, that is — and witness the pristine image of the world’s largest salt flats.
3. Moai, Easter Island: This tiny island in the South Pacific is filled with mystery. The production and transportation of the approximately 1,000 giant statues built out of volcanic rock are, to this day, considered a world marvel. Explore the island on horseback for a truly unique way to celebrate your 30th year.
4. Pamukkale, Turkey: Up the drama of your 30th bash by heading to a thermal pool that’s out of this world. Literally “Cotton Castle” in Turkish, Pamukkale is also a stunning UNESCO World Heritage Site (Pro tip: Stay overnight in the village to avoid the crowds that arrive in the afternoon).
5. Festival of Light, Thailand: Community is the cornerstone of every great civilization. Participate in the Festival of Lights (or Diwali), usually in mid November, as a chance to not only see, but share an experience with a local community.
6. Myanmar, Burma: Take a spiritual approach to your travels by heading to East Asia and visit Myanmar’s breathtaking temples. What better way to get the most out of this already gorgeous view than by seeing it from hot air balloon? Time your balloon ride for dawn or dusk to snap some double-tap-worthy shots of Bagan’s pagodas.
7. Cairo, Egypt: Spent a lifetime puzzled by the mystery of Giza’s Pyramids? See this breath-stealing sight for yourself by heading to Cairo. Standing for over 4,500 years, the pyramids are the oldest surviving wonder of the ancient world.
8. Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia: Magical waterfalls and cascades connect 16 lakes, giving this stunning Croatian view. This one’s for the birthday hikers, as it takes about six hours to explore the entire park on foot.
9. The Northern Lights, Iceland: The dazzling Northern Lights is a sight that should be on everyone’s bucket list, and Iceland’s highlands are the perfect place to witness the beautiful colors of this natural phenomenon. Plan your trip between late August and end of April, and cross your fingers for a cool, crisp night to catch the best view.
10. Angkor Wat, Cambodia: You don’t have to be a Buddhist to experience the beauty of Cambodia’s historical sites. Catch a majestic view of Angkor Wat at sunrise, then rent bicycles and head toward the smaller Ta Prohm. Nature has reclaimed this temple site, with massive tree roots twisting through its corridors.
11. Tokyo, Japan: Take a leap (a la Shoshanna from Girls) and head to Tokyo for the start of this new phase in your life. With flawless Harajuku fashion, adorable cat cafes AND amazing cuisine, you’ll definitely want to stay for more than just a week.
12. The Great Wall of China, Huairou: A great birthday deserves a Great Wall. The Jinshanling section in particular is two and a half hours from Beijing, one of the best preserved parts of the 5,500-mile wall and less crowded than other, more touristy stretches. Lace up those hiking boots and prepare to walk back in time for this epic birthday trip.
13. Venice, Italy: That’s amore. Add a little romance to your Bday getaway by taking a gondola ride down the canals of Venice.
14. Petra, Jordan: This desert vacay kicks Coachella to the curb. Discover Petra and the pink sandstone cliffs of Jordan for a trip that’s not only rich in history, but undoubtedly a visual treat.
15. Santorini, Greece: Travel to Santorini and gaze upon one of the most beautiful sunsets on the planet (on a nightly basis!) from its volcanic beaches. Can you think of a better way to turn 30 than while watching the sun set over the Aegean Sea, glass of wine in hand?
16. Bora Bora, French Polynesia: While adventure-seeking trips can be fun, tropical vacays are more your speed. So take a load off and sip cocktails by the beach in an ultra relaxing Bora Bora getaway.
17. Rome, Italy: When it comes to eat, pray, love, you’re all about the EAT! Holiday in Rome (see what we did there?) for a vacay that’s all about indulging in some mouthwatering tastes.
18. The Berlin Wall, Germany: Calling all history junkies! Get a dose of both art AND history by heading to the East Side Gallery of the Berlin Wall, where you can see murals painted by international artists after most of the wall was brought down in 1989.
19. Antelope Canyon, Arizona: This birthday, take some time to get in tune with nature. After passing the epic Grand Canyon, make your way to Antelope Canyon and witness the elegance of this geological beauty, a sacred site for the Navajo. The changing light between seasons brings different colors to the sandstone walls — no matter when you go, you’re gonna need some space on your camera roll.
20. Keukenhof Gardens, Amsterdam: Enter a world of color in Amsterdam’s famous Keukenhof Gardens. With 79 acres and tulips as far as the eye can see, you’ll feel like Alice walking into Wonderland.
21. Zhangye, China: Surrealism lives in this technicolor dream. Witness the true, awe-inspiring power of nature by making your way down to China to see the Danxia Landform.
22. Agra, India: You haven’t seen it all ’til you’ve seen the Taj Mahal! Take a gander at this architectural king by visiting the world’s most stunning mausoleum, in all of its ivory-white glory.
23. Ubud, Bali: Entering your 30s is an ideal time to be reborn in Ubud’s holy spring water. After pampering yourself in one of Asia’s top spa destinations, be sure to visit Bali’s Pura Taman Saraswati Temple, which honors the Hindu goddess of knowledge and arts.
24. The Great Barrier Reef, Australia: You’re not just a thrill seeker; you’re an explorer. Bring that curiosity to the magnificent depths of the seas by diving in the world’s largest coral reef.
25. Halong Bay, Vietnam: Forget your good old-fashioned boat parties. Make your way to Halong Bay and get lost in the sheer beauty of this rainforest retreat’s sparkling emerald waters.
26. Paris, France: What gal doesn’t have Paris on her bucket list? Whether you’re looking to stroll down the Champs-Élysées, baguette and Brie in hand, or take in some breathtaking art at the Louvre, a journey to Paris for your 30th is an absolute must!
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(Photos via Getty)