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Northern Lights and the Siberian Railway: The Ultimate Over-55s Must-Visit List

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The travel wish list is an essential part of any adventurer’s toolkit. Filled with all the things we want to do, visit and conquer, ticking off the various points on our lists can be one of the most satisfying aspects of travel – but how do they change as the years go by?

To find out, we asked over 1,800 over-55s about their own must-see lists, including the countries they’d like to visit and attractions they’d like to see. Far from discovering that the older we get, the less excited we are by travel, we found that the sense of adventure doesn’t age.

Our top 10 takes in every corner of the globe, from the ultimate European trip to far-flung places. From Canada (chosen by 36%) to New Zealand (35%), the list spans four continents and an incredible mix of cultures. Take a flight direct from the UK to each country, and you’d clock up almost 40,000 miles to tick off each stop on our bucket list of countries.

ultimate over 55 must visit list group of people reading a map

The older you get, the better chance you have to travel

62% of the over-55s we surveyed said that they have a wish list filled with experiences they’d like to achieve or locations they’d like to visit. Contrary to the belief that exploration is something to be done when you’re young, our respondents say now is the time to get out and complete that list. 72% said the best time to travel is over the age of 55, compared to just 11% who said 18-34.

Last year, it was reported that gap years among 18 to 24-year-olds are on the decline. With travelling abroad now easier than ever, and with most over-55s free from the burdens of financial and work constraints, many are saving their adventures for a time when they have more money and more time to do it the right way.

When completing our travel wish lists, most of us would like to go with our partners (72%) or go alone. 15% of women would like to travel solo, compared to 7% of men.

From the Glacier Express to Route 66

We’ve established that there is an appetite for exploration among over-55s, but where do they want to go? We asked our respondents to list the top 10 ultimate experiences they’d like to see or do:

  1. See the Northern Lights
  2. Ride the Glacier Express
  3. Go Wine Tasting
  4. Travel the Siberian Railway
  5. Go on Safari
  6. Drive Route 66
  7. Go to the Opera
  8. Ride a Hot Air Balloon
  9. Ride a Gondola
  10. Visit the Yuletide festival

Among the selections are a wide variety of activities. From the strikingly vast countryside of Russia on the Siberian Railway to an epic 2,400-mile road trip on Route 66, the over-55 must-visit list includes experiences that span the world’s biggest countries. Throw in a date with nature’s most beautiful creatures on a safari and a tour of the world’s most romantic waterways on a Gondola, and you complete an incredible list of experiences.

ultimate over 55 must visit list cheetahs on safari

Coming out on top was a trip to see the Northern Lights, with 54% selecting it in their top 10. Viewable from Alaska, Greenland, Iceland and many parts of Scandinavia, the Northern Lights comfortably beat a trip on the Glacier Express (36%) to take first place.

Ancient Ruins and Incredible Architecture

Alongside a list of experiences, respondents were asked to create a list of famous attractions and landmarks they’d like to visit, resulting in this top 10:

  1. Niagara Falls
  2. Petra
  3. Machu Picchu
  4. Yosemite National Park
  5. Great Wall of China
  6. Blue Lagoon
  7. Taj Mahal
  8. Pompeii
  9. Galapagos Islands
  10. Acropolis of Athens

Again, we find a list of attractions filled with some of the world’s most spectacular landmarks; from the ancient Roman ruins of Pompeii to the incredible mountainous Inca civilization of Machu Picchu.

ultimate over 55 must visit list machu picchu peru with an alpaca

With 31% of the vote, top of the list is the awe-inspiring Niagara Falls. Bordering Ontario, Canada, and New York state, this natural wonder sees 85,000 cubic feet of water pass through it every second. Coming a close second (26%) is the ancient city of Petra in Jordan.

A 40,000-Mile World Tour

There are 195 countries on our planet, but we all have a list of the ones we’d most like to see. We asked our respondents to name their top 10:

  1. Canada
  2. New Zealand
  3. Italy
  4. Australia
  5. USA
  6. Norway
  7. Iceland
  8. Croatia
  9. Japan
  10. Greece

From Canada (chosen by 36%) to New Zealand (35%), the list spans four continents and an incredible mix of cultures. Take a flight direct from the UK to each country, and you’d clock up almost 40,000 miles!

ultimate over 55 must visit list ancient greece acroplis in athens

With some research online to see which places the general population are searching for, we found a slightly different top 10:

  1. Greece
  2. Croatia
  3. Maldives
  4. Thailand
  5. Turkey
  6. Malta
  7. Sri Lanka
  8. Italy
  9. Egypt
  10. Australia

Just four countries make it onto both lists: Greece, Croatia, Italy, and Australia. As European countries make the top two of the general population’s list, we can see that over-55s are more intent on having a unique, ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ experience.

Travelling is a rich and fulfilling pursuit, no matter the time in your life you decide to embark on it. Contrary to the belief that exciting expeditions are something best done when you’re young, our survey has shown that there is a strong appetite for adventure in over-55s. Now all that’s left to do is get out there and start ticking off your ultimate travel wish list with Riviera Travel!


If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.

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