bucket list for retirees

Ultimate Bucket List for Retirees: Adult Ideas For Retirement

Welcome to a journey of exploration and wonder! A bucket list for retirees – a compilation of dreams, aspirations, and must-see destinations – becomes especially poignant in retirement. This golden phase of life opens up a world of opportunities, unshackled from the binds of a 9-to-5 routine. Imagine walking the cobbled streets of Paris, soaking in the vibrant culture of Barcelona, or gazing in awe at the ancient ruins of Machu Picchu.

Retirement is not just a time to relax; it’s an invitation to explore, to immerse oneself in new experiences and create memories that transcend the ordinary. In this guide, we’ll take you through some of the most famous cities and destinations around the globe, each with its unique charm and appeal, perfect for those looking to enrich their retirement years with the joy of travel. Get ready to tick off those dream destinations from your bucket list, one extraordinary journey at a time.

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Criteria for Destination Selection

When putting together your retirement bucket list, here are three key factors you might want to consider:

  • Accessibility
  • Safety
  • Cultural Richness

Accessibility ensures ease of travel and comfort, especially important as mobility needs vary.

Safety, of course,  is paramount, as secure destinations offer peace of mind.

Lastly, cultural richness allows for immersive experiences, letting you engage deeply with local traditions, history, and arts, enriching your travels beyond mere sightseeing.

Ultimate destination buck list for retirees

Top Cities and Destinations for Retirees

Retirement offers the perfect opportunity to explore some of the world’s most enchanting and culturally rich destinations. Whether you’re seeking historical immersion, natural beauty, or urban adventures, these bucket list ideas provide a selection of cities and spots that are ideal for retirees.


Paris, France

Often known as “The City of Light,” Paris is a treasure trove of art, history, and culinary delights. It’s not just about the famous landmarks like the Eiffel Tower or Notre-Dame Cathedral; it’s also about the little joys like sipping coffee at a streetside café or exploring quaint neighbourhoods like Montmartre. The city’s world-class museums, such as the Louvre and Musée d’Orsay, are a haven for art enthusiasts.

eiffel tower
Paris - City of Light

Paris: Quick Facts

Currency: Euro

Languages spoken: French, and some English spoken especially in tourist areas.

Main Airport(s): Charles de Gaulle, Orly and Beauvais Airports serve Paris.

Key Highlights:  Eiffel Tower,  Notre-Dame Cathedral, the Louvre…the list goes on.

Rome, Italy

Rome is a city where history comes alive. From the Colosseum, a symbol of the ancient Roman Empire’s might, to the Vatican City, home to the Pope and a trove of artistic and religious significance, Rome offers a journey through time. The city’s narrow lanes lead to unexpected piazzas, each with its own story, and the local cuisine, especially its gelato, pasta, and pizzas, is a delight for food lovers.  No bucket list for retirees would be complete without a visit to the Eternal City.

Rome - The Eternal City

Rome: Quick Facts

Currency: Euro

Languages spoken: Italian, English spoken widely in tourist areas.

Main Airport(s): Leonardo da Vinci Airport (Fiumicino Airport) and  Ciampino Airport.

Key Highlights:  Trevi Fountain, Colosseum, Vatican, Spanish Steps…the list goes on.

Barcelona, Spain

Barcelona is a city of whimsical architecture, thanks to the works of Antoni Gaudí, including the still-unfinished Sagrada Família church. The city’s Gothic Quarter, with its medieval streets, contrasts sharply with the modernist landmarks. The vibrant street life of La Rambla, the seaside charm of Barceloneta, and the city’s rich Catalonian culture offer a diverse experience.

sagrada familia
Sagrada Familia - Barcelona

Barcelona: Quick Facts

Currency: Euro

Languages: Catalan and Spanish (English is widely spoken in tourist areas)

Main Airports: Barcelona Airport El Prat de Llobregat.

Key Highlights:  Sagrada Família church, Gothic Quarter, La Rambla.


Kyoto, Japan

Kyoto, once the capital of Japan, is a city where traditional Japanese culture is preserved. With over 2,000 temples and shrines, including the famous Kinkaku-ji (Golden Pavilion) and Fushimi Inari Shrine, it offers a serene and spiritual experience. The historic Gion district is known for its traditional wooden machiya houses and might even offer a glimpse of a geisha.


Kyoto: Quick Facts

Currency: Yen

Languages spoken: Kyoto-ben (a Japanese dialect). English is also widely spoken in tourist areas.

Main Airport(s):  Itami Airport (also called Osaka International Airport), Kansai Airport and Centrair Airports.

Key Highlights:  Golden Pavilion, Fushimi Inari Shrine and Nijo Castle.


Accommodation:  Booking.com

Activities: Get Your Guide

Flights: Skyscanner

Trains: Rail Europe

Bus: FlixBus

Car Hire: AutoEurope

Bali, Indonesia

Bali is much more than just a beach destination. It’s a centre for spiritual and cultural richness. The island is dotted with Hindu temples, the most famous being Tanah Lot. Bali’s unique cultural practices, evident in its music, dance, and art, make it a deeply engaging destination. The island’s interior, with its terraced rice fields and volcanic mountains, adds to its allure.

indonesia 1203250 1280

Bali: Quick Facts

Currency: Indonesian Rupiah

Languages spoken: Indonesian, Balinese, and English. 

Main Airport:  Ngurah Rai International Airport (also known as the Denpasar International Airport).

Key Highlights:  Hindu temples, terraced rice fields, fantastic beaches and volcanic mountains.

North America

New York City, USA

New York City is a melting pot of cultures and experiences. From the bustling Times Square to the tranquillity of the High Line, the city offers varied experiences. Its museums, like the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Modern Art, are world-class. Central Park serves as an urban oasis, providing a peaceful contrast to the city buzz.

statue of liberty
Statue of Liberty - New York

New York: Quick Facts

Currency:  United States Dollar

Languages spoken: English, Spanish and several other languages spoken. 

Main Airport(s):  Kennedy International Airport (JFK), Newark Liberty International Airport and LaGuardia Airport.

Key Highlights:  Times Square, Central Park, Empire State Building and Broadway.

Vancouver, Canada

Vancouver is a coastal city known for its high quality of life. It’s surrounded by mountains and has a thriving art, theatre, and music scenes. Stanley Park, one of the city’s biggest attractions, offers a mix of natural and cultural experiences. The city’s culinary scene is diverse, with a focus on seafood and Asian cuisines.

totem pole

Vancouver: Quick Facts

Currency: Canadian Dollar

Languages spoken: English, but also French and Chinese are widely spoken. 

Main Airport:  Vancouver International Airport.

Key Highlights: Stanley Park, Capilano Suspension Bridge Park and the Museum of Anthropology.


Sydney, Australia

Sydney is famous for its stunning natural harbour. The Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge are iconic landmarks. The city’s beaches, like Bondi and Manly, offer beautiful settings for relaxation. Sydney also boasts a dynamic arts and culture scene, with numerous festivals, theatres, and galleries.

sydney opera house

Sydney: Quick Facts

Currency: Australian Dollar

Languages spoken: English. 

Main Airport:  Sydney Airport.

Key Highlights: Sydney Opera House, Harbour Bridge and Bondi Beach.

Queenstown, New Zealand

Known as the adventure capital of the world, Queenstown is ideal for retirees who enjoy active pursuits. It’s surrounded by the Southern Alps and sits on the shores of Lake Wakatipu, offering stunning views. Activities include bungee jumping, jet boating, and wine tours in the nearby Otago region.

Lake Wakatipu - Queensland

Queenstown: Quick Facts

Currency: New Zealand dollar

Languages spoken: English. 

Main Airport: Queenstown International Airport.

Key Highlights: Southern Alps, Lake Wakatipu and Bob’s Peak.

South America

Buenos Aires, Argentina

Buenos Aires is often referred to as the “Paris of South America” due to its European-style architecture and vibrant cultural scene. The city is the birthplace of tango, and many dance halls offer shows and lessons. The cuisine, particularly steaks, is renowned worldwide.

buenos aires
Buenos Aires

Buenos Aires: Quick Facts

Currency: Argentine peso

Languages spoken: Spanish. 

Main Airport: Ministro Pistarini International Airport (also known as Ezeiza International Airport).

Key Highlights:  Plaza de Mayo,  Teatro Colón and Tango.

Machu Picchu, Peru

This UNESCO World Heritage site is an ancient Incan city that remained hidden from the outside world until the early 20th century. Located in the Andes, it offers not just historical intrigue but also breathtaking views. The journey to Machu Picchu, whether by trek or train, is as memorable as the destination itself.

Machu Picchu and a lama

Machu Picchu: Quick Facts

Currency:  Nuevo Sol, but US dollars may be accepted for high-value purchases.

Languages spoken: Quechua, but also Spanish and English. 

Main Airport: Cusco Airport is Machu Picchu’s closest airport.

Key Highlights:   Royal Palace and Acllahuasi, Temple of the Sun and Intihuatana.

Each of these bucket list for retirees destinations offers a unique blend of sights, sounds, and experiences, making them particularly appealing for retirees who have the time and desire to explore the world in depth.

Travel Tips for Retirees

Embarking on travel during retirement can be a fulfilling adventure, but it requires careful planning and consideration, especially regarding health and insurance. Here are some essential tips for retirees to ensure a smooth and enjoyable travel experience:

Advance Planning:

Itinerary Planning: Tailor your travel plans to your interests and energy levels. Consider slower-paced itineraries that allow for in-depth exploration and rest.

Accommodation: Choose comfortable and conveniently located accommodations, possibly with amenities like elevators, on-site dining, and accessibility features.  We usually use Booking.com for our accommodation needs, as they are generally easy to book, flexible and have good search functions.

Transportation: Look into transportation options that offer comfort and convenience, such as direct flights, airport transfers, and rental cars with navigation systems.

Check Flights Below

Health Considerations:

Medical Check-Up: Before embarking on a trip, a thorough health check-up is advisable to ensure you’re fit for travel.

Check required vaccinations: Well in advance of your trip, ensure you check which vaccinations (if any) you will require or are advisable for your chosen destinations, here (US) or here(UK)

Medications: Ensure you have an adequate supply of all prescribed medications, along with copies of prescriptions. Familiarize yourself with the generic names of your medications in case you need to purchase them abroad.

Diet and Exercise: Maintain a balanced diet and a light exercise routine while traveling. Walking tours, yoga sessions, or swimming can be great ways to stay active.

Travel Insurance:

Comprehensive Coverage: Opt for comprehensive travel insurance that covers medical emergencies, trip cancellations, lost luggage, and other unforeseen events.  We recommend Staysure for insurance.

Pre-Existing Conditions: Ensure your policy covers any pre-existing medical conditions.

Emergency Assistance: Choose a policy that offers 24/7 emergency assistance and includes evacuation and repatriation coverage.


Safety and Security:

Stay Informed: Keep abreast of the latest travel advisories and safety information about your destination.

Emergency Contacts: Keep a list of emergency contacts, including local emergency services and your country’s embassy or consulate.

Valuables: Be cautious with valuables; use hotel safes and avoid displaying expensive jewellery or gadgets.

Local Knowledge:

Cultural Research: Learn about local customs, etiquette, and basic phrases in the local language. This not only enriches your travel experience but also helps in navigating new environments.

Technology: Utilize technology for convenience—GPS for navigation, translation apps, and mobile banking.  See our resources page for useful travel apps.

Flexibility and Openness:

Adaptability: Be open to new experiences and adaptable to changes. Sometimes the most memorable moments come from unplanned experiences.

Pacing: Listen to your body and take breaks when needed. There’s no need to rush; travel at a pace that’s comfortable for you.

By following these tips, retirees can enjoy a hassle-free and enriching travel experience, making the most of their adventures around the world.

Top Tips – Bucket List Destinations

Use Omio to compare buses versus trains, very useful.

For hotels including self-catering apartments we use Booking.com, where you can filter by review score and many properties have a pay later/late cancellation policy should your plans suddenly change.

For travel insurance, we use and recommend using  Staysure – specialists in over 50’s travel insurance, as we have always found them fair and easy to deal with.   

Check our resources page for more budget tips and discounts from our days in transit! 

Making the Most of Your Visit

For retirees, travelling is not just about seeing new places; it’s about immersing in new cultures and accumulating rich, local experiences. Here’s how you can make the most of your visits:

Engage in Cultural Immersion:

Participate in Local Festivals and Events: This is a great way to experience the local culture. Festivals are often a showcase of traditions, music, dance, and food.

Visit Museums and Historical Sites: These places offer a deep dive into the history and heritage of the area.

Take Cultural Workshops or Classes: Engaging in activities like cooking classes, craft workshops, or language lessons helps you connect with the culture in a hands-on way.

Local Experiences:

Explore Local Markets: Markets are hubs of local life. They’re perfect for tasting local foods, seeing handicrafts, and observing daily life.

Try Local Cuisine: Food is an integral part of cultural experience. Eat at local restaurants, try street food, and maybe even take a cooking class.

Interact with Locals: Engaging in conversations with local residents can offer insights into their way of life and perspectives.


Nature and Environment:

Nature Walks and Eco-Tours: Participate in guided walks or eco-tours to appreciate the local flora and fauna.

Sustainable Travel Practices: Be mindful of the environment; respect natural sites and wildlife.

Arts and Entertainment:

Attend Local Performances: Be it music, dance, or theatre, local performances provide a window into the artistic soul of a place.

Visit Art Galleries: Explore local art scenes by visiting galleries and art shows.

Reflection and Relaxation:

Journaling: Keep a travel journal to reflect on your experiences. It’s a wonderful way to process and remember the journey.

Photography: Capture moments and landscapes through photography. It’s a creative way to engage with your surroundings.


Community Engagement:

Volunteering: If time allows, volunteering can be a meaningful way to give back to the communities you visit.

Stay Flexible and Curious:

Be Open to New Experiences: Sometimes, the most memorable moments come from unplanned adventures or suggestions from locals.

By embracing these practices, retirees can transform their travel experiences from mere sightseeing to immersive journeys, filled with learning, discovery, and personal growth.

Retirement a Gateway to Adventure

Retirement is a gateway to new adventures, an opportunity to step out of your comfort zone and embrace the myriad wonders of the world. As you embark on this journey, remember that travel is more than just visiting places; it’s about creating lasting, memorable experiences. Embrace each destination with an open heart and curious spirit, and let these travels enrich your golden years. Your retirement is a canvas waiting to be painted with the vibrant colours of diverse cultures, landscapes, and stories. Go forth and make these years your most fulfilling yet, filled with journeys that echo long after you’ve returned home.