Whether you are fresh out of high school, just completed your undergrad, or drained from completing your graduate thesis, you’re probably ready for a vacation. Sure, you could spend your last months of freedom chilling in your home town before you start a new degree or jump into the workforce, but doesn’t a journey around the world sound more exciting?
Most of us probably can’t afford to spend their whole summer traveling, but if you have some graduation money ready to use, you might as well get a few countries under your belt before entering the “real world.” So here are the top 10 best travel destinations for graduates.
I know, you’re not a kid anymore, but that’s exactly why you should visit the happiest place on earth before its too late. Trust me; you’ll want to enjoy this park before you’re forced to chase your kids (or nieces and nephews) around it. If you haven’t been, grab your tickets and head on down to Florida. You’ll probably be heading there anyways come Spring Break, so you might as well enjoy this classic theme park before the party scenes hits town. And while you’re, there visit all the other Orlando theme parks.
On the complete opposite side of the country is rainy, dreary Seattle. Wait. Why should I spend summer here? Besides top of the line seafood, the unmatched beauty of the city’s parks and architecture, a multitude of fantastic museums, the proximity to amazing the Mt. Rainier National Park, the cozy bed and breakfasts dotting the city, the cultured and spirited vibe of the bars, and the youthful confidence that’ll prepare you for college or let you experience one last time, I’m not sure. I guess the Space Needle looks cool at night.
Just a hop over the border is another hidden treasure of the Pacific Northwest: Vancouver. Booming in recent years with travelers looking to explore the Rockies, the city itself is rife with amazing breweries and bars, fascinating museums, relaxing green spaces like Stanley Park, and expansive range of mountains to explore. That’s not to say its not a great jumping off point for longer vacations to the Canadian Rockies, or a day trip to Victoria or Whistler, but Vancouver is really a city to get lost in for a week or two. Get your feet wet with a guide tour then spend a few days wandering on your own.
Alright, let’s get it out of the way. Toronto has Niagara Falls, one of the most visited waterfalls in the world, an amazing natural wonder, a world renowned tourist destination, but it has so much more! Niagara Falls is a perfect day trip for those who’ve never seen it, especially during the summer when Maid of the Mist is open, but if you’re going to spend a few days in Toronto, make sure to explore its teaming night life, catch a cruise on Lake Ontario, head out to the scenic and untouched Bruce Peninsula, and just all around enjoy the city’s rich cultural and arts scene.
Now if you’re looking for somewhere a bit warmer, then you should slip down to Mexico’s capital for a few days. A busy city through and through, Mexico City offers a multitude of options for travelers, from richly decorated museums like the Frida Kahlo Museum or National Museum of Anthropology, the the fascinating Teotihuacan Pyramids, delicious local restaurants, and a lively nightlife. Plus, who doesn’t want to see a Mexican wrestling match at least once in their life?
Alright, enough of the busy cities. Let get to the beach! Most of the time when you think of Mexico’s beaches, you’re envisioning Cabo or Cancun. But, Riviera Maya? Where’s that? Well, its just down the road from Cancun, less crowded, covered in gorgeous resort beaches, Maya ruins like Tulum, and phenomenal hotels. Relax on the beach, cruise around on an ATV, snorkel in the Caribbean, or even swim with dolphins!
Dipping into its winter this summer (remember, Australia’s got that whole southern hemisphere thing going on), Cairns will be cooling off in the upcoming months, meaning you can dodge the unruly Australian heat and enjoy the lovely beaches, fun-filled rooftop bars, and adventurous rainforests that surround it. From ATV tours to Daintree Rainforst walks, jungle surfing to crocodile cruises, Cairns offer the true Australian experience for first timers.
Another fantastic Australian city, Melbourne is a must on any bucket list. Complete with calm, historic neighborhoods and stunning skyscrapers, Melbourne provides all the expansiveness of a big city without being overwhelming. A week minimum is required to truly enjoy this city, as there is so much to do. Chocolate tours? Rooftop bars? A coastal drive down the Great Ocean Road? Chilling ghost tours? The towering Eureka Skydeck? Dolphin cruises? Tree surfing? Calm down, Melbourne, you don’t have to be so perfect.
Croatia? Where’s that? Besides hosting film sets for Game of Thrones, Croatia is one of the best countries to visit while you’re young (sorry mom and dad but you’re just not cool enough to chill in the Balkans). Located just on the southeast side of Europe, Croatia hosts medieval cities paired with gorgeous beaches along the Adriatic Sea. It’s a hard choose between Split and Dubrovnik for the go to Croatian city, so why not visit both? Both have rich party scenes, scenic islands nearby for a day cruise, and gorgeous national parks just a days trip away for you to explore.
Last but not least, Amsterdam. What can we say? Some of the best museums in the world, the tempestuous and fascinating Red Lights District, canal cruises in all shapes and sizes (do I pick a burger cruise or romantic candlelight dinner?), the best clubs in Europe, and just plain chill city to visit. Often overlooked on most European adventures in lie of Paris, Rome, and London, Amsterdam is the unsung capital of the youthful European adventure tour.