Bucket List: Your 10 Top Dream Vacations from TripAdvisor

·Associate Travel Editor

Some people travel all the time, some people travel once a year, and some people barely travel at all. But most of us have someplace we must see before we die, and not in a Frodo Baggins-reaches-Mordor kind of way, but in a way much happier.

The travel site TripAdvisor asked its members what their biggest dream trips are, and below are the top 10. See any you’d agree with?

1. See the Northern Lights in Iceland

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Photo: TripAdvisor

It should be no surprise that a phenomenon as brilliant as the aurora borealis would top travelers’ wish lists. If you’re dedicated and patient enough, you can enjoy them without leaving the U.S., especially up in Alaska. But for some real multicolor dazzle, Scandinavia is tough to beat in the winter months, be it on land or a cruise. Saga in Akureyi offers a tour designed to show you the lights.

2. Sleep in an overwater bungalow in Bora Bora

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Photo: Four Seasons Bora Bora

TripAdvisor’s members went from marveling at nighttime science in their No. 1 pick to pure beach indulgence with the runner-up. But who can blame them? Perhaps Jennifer Aniston and Justin Theroux were among the voters for this choice, considering their recent honeymoon. That couple chose the Four Seasons Resort Bora Bora, wits its 100 overwater bungalows. Other bungalow stays you could splurge on are the St. Regis Bora Bora, the Bora Bora Pearl Beach Resort, and the Sofitel Private Island.

3. Admire the sunset over Santorini

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Photo: Pedro Szekely/Flickr

Yes, this doesn’t get the originality award for vacations. Taking your special someone to cuddle up and watch the sun set over Oia is almost as popular as ordering a latte at Starbucks. But that’s one gorgeous latte! The views of the whitewashed houses and blue domes here never get old.

4. Take the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu

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Photo: TripAdvisor

Even people who recoil at the thought of a tent back home have been compelled to hike and camp the Inca Trail during the four-to-five-day journey. It must have something to do with the transformative powers of travel, or maybe an Incan spell. Either way, if you’d rather not rough it too much, there are lodging options along the trail as well.

5. Explore the Galapagos Islands

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Photo: TripAdvisor

If you love animals, this has to be on your wish list for the sheer variety and quantity of exotic creatures, not to mention the natural beauty of the islands themselves. You’ll probably arrive here on the Ecuadorian island of San Cristobal and take a boat tour from there. Because of the delicate ecosystem here, this is a bucket-list item worth checking off first.

6. Visit Italy’s Amalfi Coast

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Photo: TripAdvisor

Pick a town –Positan, Ravello, Sorrento, Amalfi – and it’s hard to take a bad picture here. The colorful homes vertically dotting the rugged cliffs along the coast rival Santorini for their charms. You can explore the area through the hairpin turns of a road trip or the serenity of a cruise.

7. Photograph the Big Five on safari at Kruger National Park, South Africa

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Photo: TripAdvisor

That’s lions, elephants, leopards, rhinos, and buffaloes, if you’re keeping track of the Big Five. And there’s a whole lot more, of course, such as the giraffe above. The safari experience has come under a lot of recent scrutiny because of such issue as hunting, poachin, and maulings. But the chance to commune with these majestic creatures from a safe, respectable distance with a responsible tour company is still a rare treat.

8. Take the ultimate road trip on Route 66

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Photo: TripAdvisor

The original “Mother Road” Route 66 that stretched from Illinois to California is no longer, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the vestiges of this legendary stretch of freeway. There are more than 2,000 miles to be driven and some old-time kitsch to be found along the way, such as Cadillac Ranch and the World’s Largest Rocking Chair.

9. Set foot on Antarctica

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Photo: TripAdvisor

Setting foot on most places isn’t considered an accomplishment these days – even Cuba is fast becoming an easy travel stop. And while the South Pole isn’t the death-defying visit it once was, it does take some real commitment (and money) to get here and explore it on the ground. You can choose an Antarctic tour among these operators.

10. Ride the Trans-Siberian railway

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Photo: TripAdvisor

Be the star of your own Russian suspense novel by riding along the almost 6,000 miles of train track from Moscow to Vladivostok. Along the way you can experience life at the Mongolian capital of Ulaanbaatar, see the massive Lake Baikal, or wind up in Beijing.

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