The term “bucket list” is now a gummed up, slightly cliche attempt at expressing regret for all the stuff you wish you had done when time permitted. With travel, however, it can be a useful tool to avoid getting stuck on the Baja Peninsula for a fifteenth time. Sure, it’s a wonderful thing to have a go-to surf break, food and beverage network, ski hill, art scene, and family reunion destination, but when it comes to adventure, to truly getting lost, a bucket list may be just the cure. For me, it’s all about starting with the basics, the Metros that are well-known and well-traveled. Chances are most people that read this will have visited at least two cities on this list, but make no mistake, all of the metropolitans listed are 100% “must experience.”
Let’s start with honorable mentions. Bangkok, Hong Kong, Mexico City, Bangladesh, Tokyo, Stockholm, Berlin, Venice, Barcelona, Kraków, and Dublin all get votes from this committee of one, but truth be told, that list only scratches the surface. I digress. This is bucket list 101, and we all have to start somewhere, right?
Coming in at number five: Rome, Italy
Rome, Italy’s capital, is a sprawling, cosmopolitan city with nearly 3,000 years of globally influential art, architecture and culture on display. Ancient ruins such as the Forum and the Colosseum evoke the power of the former Roman Empire. Vatican City, headquarters of the Roman Catholic Church, has St. Peter’s Basilica and the Vatican Museums, which house masterpieces such as Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel frescoes.
Number four: Sydney, Australia
Sydney, capital of New South Wales and one of Australia's largest cities, is best known for its harbourfront Sydney Opera House, with a distinctive sail-like design. Massive Darling Harbour and the smaller Circular Quay port are hubs of waterside life, with the arched Harbour Bridge and esteemed Royal Botanic Garden nearby. Sydney Tower’s outdoor platform, the Skywalk, offers 360-degree views of the city and suburbs.
A virtual tie for second, but beat by a nose to land at three: New York City, New York
New York City comprises 5 boroughs sitting where the Hudson River meets the Atlantic Ocean. At its core is Manhattan, a densely populated borough that’s among the world’s major commercial, financial and cultural centers. Its iconic sites include skyscrapers such as the Empire State Building and sprawling Central Park. Broadway theater is staged in neon-lit Times Square.
At a solid number two: Paris, France
Paris, France's capital, is a major European city and a global center for art, fashion, gastronomy and culture. Its 19th-century cityscape is crisscrossed by wide boulevards and the River Seine. Beyond such landmarks as the Eiffel Tower and the 12th-century, Gothic Notre-Dame cathedral, the city is known for its cafe culture and designer boutiques along the Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré.
And the number one city for that budding bucket list: Buenos Aires, Argentina
Buenos Aires is Argentina’s big, cosmopolitan capital city. Its center is the Plaza de Mayo, lined with stately 19th-century buildings including Casa Rosada, the iconic, balconied presidential palace. Other major attractions include Teatro Colón, a grand 1908 opera house with nearly 2,500 seats, and the modern MALBA museum, displaying Latin American art.