There’s so many places to go in the world that sometimes it can be overwhelming figuring out where to next. I asked a great bunch of travel experts where are the best countries to visit in your 40’s and beyond. Here’s where they recommend.
Contributed by Bec and Mark from Wyld Family Travel
Why should you visit Spain…because it is easy! There are so many places you can see that will get your mind racing and heart pumping from gorgeous places like the Alhambra to food that you will dream about for the rest of your days, Spain has a place for us all.
I must admit I left a piece of my heart in a pan of Paella in a tiny back street in Barcelona, I marvelled at the Alhambra sitting mightily above the town of Granada and I sampled so much Sangria I nearly turned into a jug of it.
But for us it was an easy place to visit. People were friendly and where more than happy to tell us a story of a place they held so much pride for, tell us about the holidays they celebrate, delve into a past some are not so keen to talk about and the food that got them through the hard times.
We rode bikes around mega-cities, segways in ancient ones, sunbaked on the beaches and walked the streets where Roman Emperors were born. Spain for us was beautiful. It has lovely weather and we found most of the cities easy to walk. Plenty of people speak English and are happy to help out. Like most large cities you still need to be careful and stay safe if you are travelling along and in a group. Pick pocketing is an issue in many Spanish places but this should not stop you from going and finding a piece of Spain you love.
Contributed by Angela from Reading Inspiration
Scotland has a lot to offer visitors in their 40s and over. There is a wide variety of different destinations including vibrant cities, interesting towns and breath-taking countryside. As I’ve reached my 40s I’ve enjoyed holidays featuring more natural beauty, but I also love to visit urban areas for history and culture.
I’ve visited different parts of Scotland and found a range of things to do that appeal. It’s a large country with a lot of variety and there is so much more I’m still looking forward to exploring!
Scotland has a wealth of natural beauty and has stunning lochs, mountains, glens and forests – it is great for walking and hiking holidays. There are a number of areas where you can look out for wildlife in its natural habitat, including Highland cows in Pollok Country Park and dolphins on the Moray Firth.
Scotland’s cities have cultural attractions including art galleries, theatre and music. Art highlights include the Edinburgh Festival in August, the Scottish National Gallery in Edinburgh, the Gallery of Modern Art in Glasgow and Dundee Contemporary Arts.
Scotland is full of unique history sites from prehistoric landmarks like Skara Brae in remote areas to historic sites in its towns and cities. For example, the town of Dumfries is full of sites associated with the nation’s poet Robert Burns who spent his last years there, while you can visit monumental sites like the medieval Dunnottar castle in Aberdeenshire.
More modern wonders of Scotland to be impressed by include the Glenfinnan Viaduct, the Forth Bridge, the Falkirk Wheel and the Kelpies horse sculptures in Falkirk. I’d recommend getting about Scotland by train as often the views from the railways are stunning.
I know, Romania might not be the first country you think of visiting in your 40′ and beyond, but, trust me, you should definitely consider it. Why? First of all, because it has impressive landscapes.
Then, because it’s rich in history. Everyone we spoke to said that they were impressed to see old churches (think many hundreds of years old) and buildings. They were also surprised to see that we have a medieval city still inhabited – and quite famous (Sighisoara). We have fortified churches and monasteries (Moldavia), we have the Merry Cemetery in Sapanta (interesting because of their crosses), and we have many interesting cities such as Brasov, in the mountainy area, that are also home to old and interesting attractions (the first Romanian school, for instance, the largest Gothic church between Vienna and Instanbul, etc.). And we have the communist legacy – and Bucharest is a great destination for this with its famous Palace of Parliament and the newer place to visit, the Spring Palace (the official residence of the Ceausescu family). We also have an interesting and beautiful architecture – sometimes with a mix of styles.
Romania is also rather budget friendly compared to many other European countries. Plus, there are interesting things to see and do almost everywhere – open air village museums in Sibiu and Bucharest with houses from all over the country (you simply must visit ASTRA Museum of Folkloric Traditional Civilization in Sibiu or the Village Museum in Bucharest). We also have different sanctuaries (the bear sanctuary at Zarnesti, for instance), Sighisoara ice cave and glacier, and many other wonderful places to discover. So, if you want to add another country to your bucket list, Romania could be it for nature attractions, wonderful landscapes, friendly people, and history.
Contributed by Susan from Portugal Exposure
For such a small country the regions are immensely varied and there is something for everyone. While there are endless reasons to visit Portugal below are our top picks.
The south of the country is a sunseekers’ paradise with over 300 days of sunshine a year and some of Europe’s best beaches. Beautiful beaches aside Portugal offers plenty of reason to get outdoors, swim, surf, hike, cycle, golf – the list is endless.
Experience the buzzing cities of Lisbon and Porto with historic sights and edgy hangouts. You can also make a journey inland and discover remote villages preserving a traditional rural outlook and slower pace of life.
Portugal’s cuisine is as diverse as its landscape and each region has its own speciality. Although Portuguese cuisine has been underrated for years, Portuguese chefs have recently been producing innovative dishes from traditional ingredients with an abundance of fresh fish, seafood, vegetables and fruit.
Whether it’s white, ruby or tawny, sip a glass of the country’s iconic fortified wine at a quinta in the Douro valley the home of port production.
With so many different things to discover and experience Portugal is the ideal destination for the over 40’s and you’ll find that one visit is never enough.
Contributed by Fiona from Passport and Piano
Thailand is a great place to visit no matter what age you are. There’s much more to the Country than the beach parties and nightlife that it’s often associated with.
I was recently working for two months in Thailand and was surprised by how many historical sites and cities there are to explore.
The area of Kanchanaburi was particularly interesting not only for its association with the second world war but also for its stunning beauty. Most travellers only visit the city on a day tour from Bangkok, but it’s well worth spending a few days here. The area is steeped in history with several museums including the Hellfire pass and numerous temple caves to explore.
Ayutthaya is another city which travellers generally only see in a day trip from Bangkok. Again it’s worth staying overnight in the town. The whole city is a Unesco Heritage site, and there’s at least a dozen historic temples and palaces to see.
If you visit the north of the Country, the White Temple in Chiang Rai is Thailands equivalent of the Taj Mahal. The building is absolutely exquisite, and it sparkles when the sun shines on it.
Many of the islands are also worth visiting, and there are some spectacular coral reefs to see if you like snorkelling and diving. While Phuket is a popular choice, you’ll find the island of Khao Lak a little further north more relaxing with fewer tourists.
If you’re looking for an excellent place to dive or snorkel and want to avoid the crowds, take a look at Kho Ngai. The island is in the Andaman Sea and its the perfect place to head to if you’re looking for a slice of paradise.
Perhaps I’m biased but being 40 something and living in Australia my entire life, I really do think Australia is a fantastic country to visit in your 40s and beyond. Australian isn’t the cheapest country to visit, but it is fairly laid back so for those of us that no longer feel qualified to be called a young backpacker use to roughing it and enjoying the party scene, in Australia you will find the right kind of balance between quiet landscapes and bustling trendy cities.
For those that love the beaches head on down to some the more relaxed beaches around Queensland’s Sunshine Coast like Noosa, Coolum and Caloundra. Around Adelaide there are some spectacular beaches and in some cases you may just be the only one there! For those that love to be where it’s all happening head on down to the world famous Bondi Beach in Sydney.
For spectacular landscapes you really can’t beat the Australian red centre. Get yourself to Darwin and hire a car or join a friendly tour group and make your way down to Uluru stopping at some fantastic waterfalls, hot springs, gorges and quirky pubs along the way. Once you reach Uluru enjoy both a spectacular sunrise and sunset over of Australia’s most loved icon.
For super trendy cities, you can’t go past Melbourne. Find yourself a nice quiet coffee shop or trendy bar in one of the colourful laneways and read a book or people watch. Then head on over to St Kilda just a short tram ride away for more of the same but with a beach setting.
Of course Australia has so much more to offer than the outback, beaches and cities, and honestly no matter what age you, there is something for everyone in Australia.
China is difficult to talk about as one country due to the sheer scale of it – 23 provinces and several municipalities. But due to its size, it offers a variety of bucket-list attractions and vast landscapes. I recommend visiting Chengdu for the pandas, Xi’an for the Terracotta Warriors, Shanghai for the skyscrapers, and Guilin for the breath-taking scenery. Not to forget the classics in Beijing, such as the Great wall of China, one of the seven wonders of the world, and the Forbidden City.
Chinese cuisine is arguably one of the best in the world. I’m talking about Beijing Peking Duck, dumplings, and other foods you’re less likely to know, such as Hotpot.
China is a great country to visit if you are aged over 40. The country tends to see an older demographic of travellers. So not too many young backpackers trying to ‘find themselves’!
The most popular form of transport within cities are taxis. They are cheap and allow you to visit multiple places in a day, without the hassle of public transport or group tours.
For travelling between cities, the high speed trains offer a comfortable way to travel, avoiding the hassle of flying.
The Chinese hate to walk! This means that all mountains and tourist sights (e.g. Great Wall) are full to the brim with cable cars and sightseeing buses. Not to mention the escalators you’ll find inside temples! This makes all of the main tourist attractions easily accessible.
Additionally, China is a very cheap country to visit. You can get 5 star hotels at a fraction of the price of other countries. It’s very easy to hire guides and/or drivers for a very reasonable price to ensure you make the most of your visit to China.
Contributed by Charmaine from Jamaica Travel Saver
Jamaica is one of those places where every time you scratch the surface you discover something new. This tiny island in the Caribbean offers something for everyone, whether you are dreaming of enjoying the beautiful beaches, exploring its rich culture at its historical sites, or going on an adventure. However, if you are on the mature side you will find Jamaica well suited for your traveling needs.
Jamaica tends to have a large number of all-inclusive hotels which add a certain level of convenience and comfort since everything is paid for upfront. You don’t have to worry about where to eat or what activities you want to participate in. Additionally, most of all-inclusive hotels have facilities such as world class spas and golf courses affiliated with them. For example Jamaica Inn and Jewels Grande has some great spa options. If you want to play golf hotels such as Sandals, Jewels Runaway Bay and the Hilton have Golf courses affiliated with the hotel.
If you want to explore the island it is extremely easy to get around. Most tours provide transportation; additionally, you can also organize private tours quite easily. If you are in Negril you can simply relax on Seven Mile beach or head inland and enjoy a farm to table experience. In the evening you can enjoy a sunset catamaran cruise. If you are in Montego Bay you can go bamboo rafting with a loved one on the Martha Brae River, explore the historic great houses of Rosehall or Greenwood, or go on a garden tour at Ahh Ras Natango Gardens. If you are in Ocho Rios you can explore Dunns River Falls or the Blue Hole. Travellers who enjoy exploring just as much as relaxing will find they have the best of both worlds in Jamaica.
Contributed by Katy from Untold Morsels
Many people visit Italy on their first European trip in their 20s but there’s nothing like a couple of decades to give you a different perspective and richer experience. Italy’s treasures are like its famous wines, rich in cultural and historic significance, best appreciated slowly. In your 40s you have the means and inclination to linger longer and appreciate the finer aspects of Italian culture and cuisine.
In Italy you can book a table at a farm restaurant, soak up the Tuscan sun and then watch it set over the Val D’Orcia. Or walk the Path of the Gods with stunning views of the Amalfi Coast to Positano. In Rome, explore the Jewish Ghetto and marvel at the ruins among the modern city. Hire a car to discover Lake Garda before watching an opera in the Roman amphitheater in nearby Verona.
Travel in your 40s is more about experiences than ticking off sights and attractions. And Italy will reward you if you explore beyond the obvious. In Sicily you can climb a volcano and wander the streets of romantic baroque towns. You might stumble upon a food festival where you can taste the local delicacies. Or find a special lake, where a community of silent nuns lives on an island reached only by small boat as they have for centuries. Plan to stay a long time in beautiful Italy as this country grows on you with every day you spend there.
Contributed by Gillian from Bucket List France
So why should you visit France in your 40s? Well, how about the food (did I mention the cheese?), the wine (oh the wine!), the markets, the culture, the landscapes, the chateaux, the scenery, the art… France has so much to offer. Having lived here since 2012, we have become true francophiles and reckon that the 4th decade of your life is a great time to explore the hexagon.
The country is so rich in history, savoir-faire, gastronomy and so much variety. Whether you’re into city breaks, rural retreats, mountain hiking, skiing, sunshine worshipping or beach seeking, there’s truly something for everyone. France is roughly the same size as Texas, about twice the size of the United Kingdom and shares the border with 8 other countries (and principalities) which might help explain the incredible diversity of this country.
Paris is always a good idea but beyond the capital… France has so much more to offer. In the north, you’ll find the Somme and D-Day beaches. Head south and enjoy the beaches of the Côte d’Azur or discover the sights that captured the Impressionists’ hearts. If you’re looking for a city break, you’ll be spoilt for choice with destinations such as Bordeaux, Lyon, Nice, Marseille, Strasbourg or Toulouse. Delve into history and grasp a deeper understanding of the French culture – think Versailles, the Bastille.
In many parts of France, you’ll find beautiful medieval villages – including many with the classification of ‘Les Plus Beaux Villages de France ’ – with nature on your doorstep. If you’re an adventure seeker, you might choose to walk the Mont Blanc or climb the highest sand dune in Europe (la Dune du Pilat). Winter sports lovers will get their hit on the slopes whether they choose the Alps, the Pyrennees or the Massif Central. Have I convinced you yet? Check out our French Bucket list for some more inspiration!
Contributed by Kylie Gibbon from Our Overseas Adventures
Taiwan is rapidly growing in popularity as a tourist destination thanks to its friendly people, vibrant cities, spectacular scenery and delicious food. It caters to all ages and tastes but particularly offers so much for the over 40’s traveller.
Taipei is home to some of the best culinary experiences in Asia. Take a tour through one of the many local food markets to see what’s on offer. We visited the Yongkang Street Market on our first morning in the city, sampling sushi, dumplings, fruit, Taiwanese wraps, deep fried savoury treats and (our favourite) fish ball soup. It was all delicious and gave us the perfect introduction to what we should try on the rest of our stay.
You won’t have to go too far to try the world-famous xiao long bao dumplings from Din Tai Fung. There are 6 restaurants in Taipei alone, and they are superb. Be warned though – you won’t want to share.
You will also want to take some time to get out of the city and see some of the spectacular natural landscapes. A walk up Elephant Mountain (only one stop along from Taipei 101 on the Red MRT line) gives you a taste of the lush forest that covers much of the country (and also provides a great view of the city).
However, the best place to sample what Taiwan has to offer is the stunning Taroko National Park. Take a couple of days to stay in Hualien and amble through the spectacular gorges, with lovely shrines and temples and picture opportunities everywhere.
Plan to stay for a couple of weeks at least. There’s so much to do, to see and to eat, but you will also need the time to just sit back and soak up the beauty.
Contributed by Ania from The Travelling Twins.
There are many beautiful places in the world where you can see the birthplaces of cultures and the power of empires. But one country that cuts across all that with raw natural beauty is Iceland.
As Europe and America separated, new rock erupted through the North Atlantic seabed to create Iceland. This geology is much younger than anywhere else above the waterline, and it is still developing today.
Iceland is a country of fabulous waterfalls, shining black beaches, sulphurous geysers and transparent glaciers. These phenomena contrast with a muted backdrop of rolling heaths under Disney-pink-blue skies.
For all its natural force, Iceland is also a land of romantic legends and myths of Vikings and trolls. It is the nascent world, as it was before all those empires rose and fell. And it is more exciting to discover it after having seen some of the rest. Here, at last, is the prequel to all the other stories of civilisation.
A great time to come to Iceland is in December. Reykjavik and many of those geological wonders are all within a couple of dozen kilometres of the south coast. The low trajectory of the sun gives a fantastic day-long light show of pink sunrise and sunset skies.
It’s a good idea to hire a car for your stay. Beautiful skyscapes, fearsome seas and unexpected waterfalls illuminate your road-trips. Fabulous landscapes may be commonplace to youngsters raised on computer-generated fantasy worlds. But for those of us who have seen a bit more of the real world, Iceland is jaw-dropping.
Three more reasons to visit Iceland in December are the northern lights, Icelandic Christmas traditions, and new year fireworks. If you enjoy myths of trolls and giants, and the spectacle of fireworks, then again, this place is like no other.
Contributed by James from Travel Collecting.
I turned 50 on my most recent birthday, so I decided to go to Argentina to celebrate the big day. I spent my birthday weekend (one day is never enough to fully celebrate the occasion) in Buenos Aires with a breakfast of churros and hot chocolate at the iconic Cafe Tortoni; shopping at the Féria de San Telmo, a weekly Sunday antiques and crafts fair where I may have found a few presents for myself 😉; having the best steak I’ve ever eaten at one of Buenos Aires’ famous parilla steakhouses; and catching an evening tango show.
After Buenos Aires, I flew further south to El Calafate to see the spectacular Perito Moreno Glacier, which constantly crackles and cracks as pieces fall off it into the lake. There are walkways for easy viewing. I also took a day cruise to see Uppsala and Spegazzini Glaciers – a relaxing day with stunning views of the glaciers and icebergs. Further north is El Chalten, which is the (self-appointed) hiking capital of the world. Turning 50 doesn’t mean I couldn’t walk, fortunately, and this was some of the most incredible scenery I’d ever seen. The Cerro Torre Trail ends at a glacial lake with icebergs floating in it, with tall craggy peaks and a glacier forming a stunning backdrop. This one is for people with good mobility and fitness level, though.
My trip to Argentina was the perfect blend of city and nature and has something for people with every level of fitness and interest.
Check out Travel Collecting on Pinterest.
Contributed by Anne from Korea Travel Planning
As a ‘mid to late 40’s couple’ with children, we really enjoyed visiting South Korea late last year for the first time with our three children. We really enjoyed learning more about Korean culture and history which has a lot of depth and activities of interest, and it was great to visit an Asian country where we felt quite safe and that we did not get hassled on the street to buy things. Activities we particularly enjoyed were learning more about how Korea is unique, in particular from a foodie perspective. We tried many different foods and also became quite familiar with the street food carts which pop up every evening across Seoul. We also enjoyed getting out of Seoul, a particular favourite was the town of Jinju – we stayed there to visit the Jinju Lantern Festival – which was fabulous. But we also had a major find where we had our own swimming pool inside our hotel room which our family loved, and just down the street was an department store which had an amazing food hall in the basement which showcased a broad range of Korean food options which we loved!
Overall, visiting South Korea provided us with a great opportunity to learn about a new culture in a country which has been somewhat ‘under the radar’ from a tourism perspective in comparison with countries like Japan – so get in quickly before the rest of the world discovers this great destination!
Check out South Korea Travel Planning’s Facebook Group.
Contributed by Carolyn of Holidays to Europe.
Switzerland is a mix of gorgeous, well-preserved medieval cities, charming alpine villages and a landscape featuring towering snow-capped Alps, sparkling lakes and lush green fields. It is the ideal country in which to take time out and recharge your batteries – and perfectly suited for the more mature traveller.
Whether you prefer to spend time in Switzerland’s elegant cities for fantastic shopping and dining experiences or head to the countryside to immerse yourself in nature, you’ll be spoilt for choice in Switzerland.
Cities not to miss include Lucerne, with its medieval wooden Chapel Bridge and lovely Old Town; Zurich, where the twin-spired Cathedral looks over the River Limmat and lake Zurich; and the capital Bern, where you can admire the intricate face of the Clock Tower, now more than 800 years old.
If it’s the country’s stunning alpine scenery you want to see, head straight for the Swiss holiday resort town of Interlaken in the Bernese Oberland. Nestled between two sparkling lakes, and at the foot of the Eiger, Monch and Jungfrau mountains, Interlaken is a real-life postcard. An extensive network of trains and cable cars allows you to reach the mountain peaks in comfort from where you can gaze in awe at the incredible views.
Switzerland is well known for its extensive public transport network and this is just one of the many reasons why it’s the perfect country to visit in your 40’s and beyond. It is clean, well-organised and very modern but with a beauty that only the hardest heart could fail to fall in love with.
It’s not a cheap country to visit but, in my opinion, for the sheer wow-factor alone, it is very much worth it!
Check out Holidays to Europe on Facebook.
Where will you go?