Last Updated on November 16, 2020 by Anisa

While we may not be able to travel, we can still dream about travel and plan future trips. I have had a theoretical bucket list ever since I can remember. It’s inspiring to learn about new places to add to my list.

My list seems to grow faster than I can check things off, but that’s ok. It will never be a static list because I enjoy finding out about new places to see. The Ultimate Travel List from Lonely Planet is a good way of doing just that.

Let me tell you more about Lonely Planet’s new book, The Ultimate Travel List (2nd edition) and why you need your own copy.

Note: I was gifted a copy of the Ultimate Travel List by Lonely Planet so that I could provide a fair review for my readers. Lonely Planet has also offered a copy for me to give away to one of my readers in the UK.

Anisa on a bench reading the Ultimate Travel List Book

I could sit and read this book for hours!

About the Ultimate Travel List

Lonely Planet’s Ultimate Travel List book ranks the 500 best (“most thrilling, memorable, downright interesting”) places to go. If you are wondering how they were able to come up with this list, it was an organized process.

First, they compiled a list of every highlight from every Lonely Planet guidebook. I can’t even imagine how long that list was before they narrowed it down a bit. Then, they had everyone in the Lonely Planet community vote for their 20 favorite places. They used a secret formula to calculate a score and rank the top 500.

Each place is presented in rank order with information about why it is on this list. Most places are accompanied by eye-catching photos.  I’m not going to give away the rankings, for that you will have to get your own copy of the book.

What is New for the 2nd Edition?

The first edition of the Ultimate Travel List was published in 2015. If you are wondering how much has changed in the last five years, it is quite a lot. There are 200 new entries for this edition of the Ultimate Travel List. Some are new places recently opened, while other new additions have improved their offering or become more relevant to the way we travel today.

The Ultimate Travel List Book, 2nd Edition from Lonely Planet

What I Love About the Ultimate Travel List

This book is full of travel inspiration. After the brief introduction, you’ll find the complete numbered list of all 500 places followed by maps for the different regions marked with the sites that made the list. The maps make it easy to find out what spots made the list based on location.

After the introductory section, each place is presented in order with information about why it is on this list. There is also information about getting to the attraction. Most places are accompanied with photos that make you want to visit for yourself. Throughout the book, you will also find the top five picks from specific travel experts.

At the end of the book, there is the index. You can search the index by country or type of experience like “hiking and trekking.”

Favorite Places in the Book

Probably the first thing that anyone will do when they open this book is look to see whether some of their favorite travel destinations are on the list. Several of the destinations I’ve traveled to over the years made the Ultimate Travel List:

  • Great Barrier Reef: Probably my favorite travel experience ever. When I think back to the day I spent snorkeling around the Great Barrier Reef, I still can’t get over all the vibrant colors.
colorful fish and coral at the great barrier reef

Snorkeling at the Great Barrier Reef is one of those experiences I will always treasure.

  • Stonehenge: You will be impressed by the history of Stonehenge. How did they get all those huge stones in place to form a circle that is aligned with the sun at the solstices? Those crazy enough to visit on the Summer Solstice will be treated to one of the most famous parties in the world.
"Stonehenge - Centerpiece of an Ancient Landscape" - Two Traveling Texans

Stonehenge is worth visiting to learn more about the history.

  • Niagara Falls: While they may not be the biggest waterfalls in the world, they are probably the most famous. There are lots of attractions that help you experience the power of the Falls and are exciting for all ages.
Tips for Visiting Niagara Falls - Two Traveling Texans

Some people think Niagara Falls is too touristy, but I’m glad to see that Lonely Planet agrees that it is a place everyone should visit.

  • The Peak in Hong Kong: I don’t think I will forget the weird feeling of seeing the skyscrapers lean as you ride the Victoria Peak tram. From the top, you get some of the best views of the Hong Kong skyline.
View from Victoria Peak Hong Kong

It’s hard to beat the view from Victoria Peak!

  • Great Wall of China: There is nothing that comes close to the Great Wall of China, it is one of the new seven wonders of the world. It was December when I visited and although it was absolutely freezing, the views made the climb worth it.
great wall of china in the snow

There is nothing like the Great Wall of China and pictures can’t do it justice.

  • Piazza San Marco: When you think of Venice, you think of St. Mark’s Square. This square has St. Mark’s Basilica, the Doge’s Palace, the Campanile (Tower), museums, and cafes. If you go early or late, you might actually find it quite quiet and romantic.
st marks square at night

St. Mark’s Square is not always crowded!

  • Ring of Kerry: One of our favorite road trips because there is a lot to see in a relatively small area. Don’t miss Killarney National Park, the Kerry Cliffs, the Gap of Dunloe, or Valentia Island.
Where to Stay when driving the ring of Kerry

The Ring of Kerry is a scenic road trip filled with history too.

The 9/11 Memorial is a beautiful tribute. Here is a photo of one of the two pools that make up the 9/11 Memorial. - - "The National September 11 Memorial & Museum: A Moving Experience" - Two Traveling Texans

The 9/11 Memorial is a beautiful tribute.
Here is a photo of one of the two pools that make up the 9/11 Memorial.

New Places I Added to My Bucket List

The Ultimate Travel List also contains some lesser known hidden gems. There were a few locations that I hadn’t even heard of before that I am adding to my bucket list:

  • Fiordland National Park New Zealand – I have wanted to go to New Zealand for years mainly for its natural beauty. I hadn’t heard of the Fiordland National Park before though. It is a rugged area with some interesting wildlife. I want to go and do all three Great Walks there.
  • Mogao Caves  – I have wanted to see the Xian Warriors but haven’t been able to fit it in during my time traveling in China. After reading this book, I am adding the Mogao Caves, located in Northwest China, to my list. Like Xian, the Mogao Caves is a large and impressive collection of Chinese art, but Lonely Planet ranks the Mogao Caves higher than the Xian warriors.
  • Lord Howe Island South Australia – This is probably as pristine a tropical paradise as you can find. It’s located 370 miles off the coast of New South Wales and they only allow 400 tourists on the island at any one time.
  • Silo Art Trail Australia Road trip – We love urban art so this road trip to see artwork on grain silos sounds right up our alley. It’s a 125 mile trail in a remote part of Victoria exploring Australia’s largest outdoor art gallery.
  • teamLab Borderless Japan – This is not your typical art museum. Each room is an immersive experience where the artwork reacts as you move. They even have a tea room where digital flowers bloom in your cup.

What’s Missing from the Ultimate Travel List

While there are 500 places in the Ultimate Travel List book, there were a few spots that I thought should be included that weren’t. I know it’s not possible to fit everything in a book like this but I am hoping these spots might make the next edition:

  • New York City’s Central Park: This is not your typical park! While it looks natural, much planning has gone into making this oasis in the middle of the concrete jungle. It has become so iconic thanks to the many movies filmed in the park.
Central Park Bridge covered in snow- "Tips for Visiting New York City For the First Time" - Two Traveling Texans

Central Park is pretty all seasons. I love it covered in snow.

  • Westminster Abbey: There are few places in England that can match the history of Westminster Abbey. Cornations, royal weddings, and many other special ceremonies take place inside the Abbey. It is also the final resting place for many significant figures in history, science, and art.
view of Westminster Abbey through iron bars in the Cloisters

Westminster Abbey has been a place of worship for 1000 years!

  • Angel Island State Park: It’s a hidden gem in San Francisco Bay that has a dark history. Visit Angel Island to learn more about it’s time as an Immigration Station and enjoy hiking with wonderful views of San Francisco.
Angel Island is a beautiful area with lots to do!

Angel Island is a beautiful area with lots to do!

  • Fountains Abbey: This UNESCO World Heritage Site is special because the ruins are huge and it is connected to the Studley Royal Gardens. It was once one of the wealthiest abbeys in England and now it is a ruin that perfectly complements the gardens.
Fountains Abbey ruins

You could spend hours exploring the ruins of Fountains Abbey.

  • The Alamo: Maybe I am biased but I was a little disappointed that there weren’t any places on the list from my home state of Texas. If I had to choose one place to add it would be the Alamo because it was such an important battle in the fight for Texas independence. The fact that the Texas army was able to hold off the larger Mexican army for 13 days is inspirational. To stand in the place where many heroes died gets me emotional.
alamo in san antonio texas

For any Texan, the Alamo is a sacred place.

I also wish that there was a photograph for every entry in the book. I know there are space limitations but the entries without a photo seem to get lost in this book.

Why You Need the Ultimate Travel List

I consider myself to be well-traveled, but I still learned a lot reading this book. It also brought back memories of my past travels. As I was going through the pages, most places I had either been to and loved, had on my bucket list, or added to my bucket list. There were a few that I thought were a bit too adventurous for my liking, but I’m sure they will appeal to many others. That’s ok. There are plenty of other places in the book for me to see.

You need to grab a copy for yourself! It’s a fun way to travel without leaving home and would also make a perfect gift for that travel enthusiast in your life.

It is available for purchase here.

What would be at the top of your “Ultimate Travel List”?

-Anisa

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Anisa reading the Ultimate Travel List book with text overlay "The Ultimate Travel List Book Review"