National Geographic is back with its annual ranking of “Best of the World” destinations.
This year, Nat Geo has called out 20 awe-inspiring experiences around the globe to consider for 2024 travel.
In an interview with Fox News Digital, National Geographic editor-in-chief Nathan Lump said the “Best of the World” series showcases the “incredible diversity of what there is out there to do and see and experience.”
“My hope is that everyone will find at least one thing in there that [makes them] say, ‘Gosh, I gotta go do that,’” he said.
“Travel is a good way for people to open their minds, eyes and hearts,” he added, “and it’s also a great way to give back to yourself.”
National Geographic’s “Best of the World” list is a decade-long tradition, according to Nathan Lump, the publication’s editor-in-chief. (Sebastián Iturralde/Acacia Johnson/National Geographic/Jay Young, Adventures on the Gorge)
Below are National Geographic’s top 20 recommended adventures for 2024.
1. Go on a horseback safari in Kenya
Instead of the usual safari experience in a 4×4 vehicle, consider taking in the African landscape by horseback.
Horseback safaris are intended for travelers who are looking for more “engaging, sustainable” wildlife encounters, Nat Geo said.
This experience is available at locations such as the 32,000-acre Borana Conservancy, which houses thoroughbreds and former polo ponies who are comfortable with riders at any skill level.
2. Run an Olympic marathon in Paris
With the 2024 Olympics headed to Paris, France, this summer, travelers are encouraged to take the opportunity to run an Olympic marathon at the same time.
Runners compete during the 46th edition of the Paris Marathon, 42,195 km, with the Eiffel Tower in the background, in Paris on April 2, 2023. (GEOFFROY VAN DER HASSELT/AFP via Getty Images)
The “Marathon For All” is expected to take place on Aug. 10 along the Paris Marathon 2024 route.
The race is the first of its kind in Olympic and Paralympic Games history, according to the marathon’s website.
3. Visit ski tour UNESCO sites in Georgia
In the mountainous republic of Georgia, skiing is a major way to get around, according to Nat Geo.
The European nation is home to scenic ranges such as Svaneti, which can lead skiers through panoramic views of Gvibari Pass or to medieval Ushguli villages.
4. Go bear watching in Katmai National Park
Right here in the U.S., travelers can check out one of the highest concentrations of brown bears at Katmai National Park in Alaska.
Brown bears graze in Hallo Bay in Alaska‘s Katmai National Park. The bay‘s grassy meadows are a popular spot for bear-watching tours from June through September. (Acacia Johnson/National Geographic)
Tours along the Katmai coast take visitors away from the high-tourist areas, where they can see bears grazing on greens and fish, Nat Geo reported.
5. Hear legendary live music in Kyoto
Although Japan is filled with ancient historical sites, Kyoto comes alive at night through its music scene.
Although Japan is filled with ancient historical sites, Kyoto comes alive at night with its music scene, featuring genres from jazz to punk. (Yagi Studio/Getty Images)
Nat Geo described the “loud and irreverent” vibes at venues like Jittoku and Field, where music of all genres, from jazz to punk, is played “into the night.”
“This is what happens in Japan when the mask comes off,” Kyoto guide Van Milton told Nat Geo.
6. Cruise an epic river in Colombia
Colombia’s river system is a large part of the country’s culture, as about 80% of the population lives in the river basin of Magdalena, according to Nat Geo.
A new cruise program from AmaWaterways – reportedly the first of its kind – is offering a seven-night Colombian river trip, stopping at colonial towns and for musical performances.
7. Cruise down Route 66 in New Mexico
“Get your kicks on Route 66” – or at least that’s what Nat Geo suggests for 2024.
A trip down the iconic road through New Mexico offers some major landmarks like motels, curio shops and the Petroglyph National Monument.
Hot air balloons are seen at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta in Albuquerque, New Mexico, on Oct. 7, 2019. (Richard Lakin/Xinhua via Getty)
Among the iconic sites is Albuquerque’s annual International Balloon Fiesta, the world’s largest hot-air balloon launch that takes place in October.
Eighteen miles of Route 66 run through through Albuquerque, which is currently receiving a “half-million-dollar glow-up” to its strip of vintage neon signs along Central Avenue, Nat Geo said.
8. Explore ancient art in Algeria
Algeria is home to Tassili n’Ajjer National Park, which is Africa’s largest national park.
It boasts one of the world’s greatest concentrations of ancient rock art, according to Nat Geo.
People from the Neolithic period carved 15,000 petroglyphs into these geologic formations with images of various animals, suggesting that what is now desert could have once been grassland intertwined with waterways.
9. Dive with sharks in Western Australia
Australia is known for its vast wildlife population, including the 300 to 500 whale sharks that inhabit Western Australia’s Ningaloo Reef.
Whale sharks swim at the surface of the ocean in Western Australia off Ningaloo Reef on April 1, 2012, in Western Australia. (James D. Morgan/Getty Images)
The sharks gather in one of the largest congregations in the world between March and July, according to Nat Geo, allowing visitors to safely view them while giving them space.
10. Hike a volcano in Panama
Since Panama’s recent launch of its “1,000 Kilometers of Trails” project, visitors are encouraged to trek the country’s trails as a means of driving up outdoor recreation and green tourism.
Hiking Panama’s Ruta de la Caldera, a system of trails around an extinct volcano, leads to views like this one from Cerro Cara Iguana. (Rose Marie Cromwell/National Geographic)
This includes the Ruta de la Caldera, a system of five trails surrounding the extinct Valle de Anton volcano. The trails feature “waterfall-speckled landscapes” and “spectacular views,” photographer Rose Marie Cromwell told Nat Geo.
11. Catch the eclipse at Niagara Falls
Looking for the perfect spot to view the total solar eclipse on April 8? Niagara Falls could be the place.
“Directly in the path of totality, Niagara Falls will offer views of a total solar eclipse, which won’t occur again in the contiguous U.S. until 2044,” Nat Geo said.
Terrapin Point, Prospect Point and the Observation Tower on the U.S. side of the Falls offer prime views of the phenomena, according to the brand.
12. Trek a glacier in Chile
Soak in the stunning panoramic views of snow-capped mountains and glacial waterways while exploring the tips of the Exploradores Glacier in Chile’s Laguna San Rafael National Park.
There are over 17,300 glaciers found along Patagonia’s ice covers, Nat Geo reported.
13. Step back in time in Menorca
With this adventure, you can feel as if you’re an archaeologist uncovering ancient ruins in Menorca – the archipelago’s “greatest repository of ancient architecture,” Nat Geo said.
Stars glitter above Naveta des Tudons, Menorca’s most famous burial monument, built by the Talayotic culture long before the Roman Empire. (Sebastián Iturralde)
From well-preserved village centers to foundational blocks from before the Roman Empire, these ancient sites are easy to visit and explore.
Some of the most striking features of Menorca are the navetas, which are megalithic tombs dating back to 1600 B.C., as well as the talayots, which are watchtowers built from mortarless blocks of limestone, according to Nat Geo.
14. Ride classic rails in Scotland
Explore the Scottish Highlands in style while aboard the Royal Scotsman.
Its interior reflects the surrounding landscape “through dark woods, wool tweeds and richly patterned bespoke tartans crafted by Scottish brand Araminta Campbell,” Nat Geo detailed.
Guests will have the opportunity to make stops along the coast to tour castles and sample whiskey at well-respected distilleries, or they may choose to take advantage of the onboard spa.
15. Sample authentic flavor in Thailand
Experience dishes made by locals and try unique flavors, such as one of the region’s key ingredients called pla ra, a “fermented-fish seasoning that boosts umami flavor,” Nat Geo said.
A traveler takes a Thai cooking class in Chiang Mai, Thailand, on Dec. 1, 2023. (Lauren Abbondondolo)
16. Wander tea trails in Sri Lanka
The island nation of Sri Lanka is “one of the world’s top producers of tea leaves” after first being introduced to the bushes nearly 200 years ago by British colonists, Nat Geo reported.
Tea enthusiasts can hike along the Pekoe Trail and follow the tracks once walked by workers and horse-drawn carts that transported the tea leaves during the 19th century.
17. Go gallery hopping in São Paulo
When visiting Brazil’s largest city, São Paulo, Nat Geo suggests exploring the numerous exhibitions and street murals that make the city a “paradise” for art lovers.
Skyline city graffiti art is pictured in São Paulo, Brazil. (Geff Reis/AGB Photo Library/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)
“The crowning jewel is the Museu de Arte de São Paulo (MASP), which is expanding to showcase more of its 11,000-plus artworks, from pre-Renaissance paintings to contemporary sculptures,” according to Nat Geo.
18. Raft the rapids in West Virginia
Nicknamed the “Beast of the East,” the rapids in West Virginia are worth the whitewater rafting trip, said Nat Geo, but they are reportedly not for the faint of heart.
The New River is one of the oldest rivers on Earth, believed to be upwards of 360 million years old, according to the publication.
“The river falls 750 feet in only 50 miles between sandstone cliffs [before it] eventually merges with the Gauley River,” Nat Geo said.
A whitewater rafting trip in the Gauley River in West Virginia navigates the longest and deepest river gorge in the Appalachians, a thrilling experience accessible summer through fall. (Jay Young/Adventures on the Gorge)
19. Go antiquing in Hudson Valley
Antique collectors could find their oasis at the various flea markets and boutiques that sell a variety of rare finds throughout the Hudson Valley, New York, area.
Nat Geo noted that the region’s various antique inventory, including “colonial furniture and rare books [or] mid-century modern decor,” can be found at locations like Antique Warehouse in Hudson and Sister Salvage in Catskill.
20. Sleep on the water in British Columbia
Explore the western coast of Vancouver Island while floating on the serene waters at the Tofino Wilderness Resort, owned by the Ahousaht First Nation.
The “floating lodge” was renovated from timber that had fallen on-site at the resort, Nat Geo reported.
“The Ahousaht share with guests their philosophy, hishuk ish tsawalk (‘everything is one’), celebrating the interconnectedness of people and nature in a land they’ve occupied for thousands of years,” Nat Geo said.