Travelling in your 20s can be a totally different experience to what you might want to do later in life. You’re likely feeling more adventurous, and probably on a tighter budget. So what exact travel criteria are you looking for?
We asked 20-something travellers how they wanted to travel and ‘sightseeing’ was their top priority. We then turned to our internal data to find the most highly-rated destinations for this specific type of trip.*
The results consist of places that offer either natural or man-made must-sees, new cultures and experiences to expand your worldview, or a youthful energy.
One of China's most awe-inspiring sights, the Forbidden Palace
Beijing is a genuinely awe-inspiring place. The scale of its imperial monuments, its palpable ancient history, haunting remnants of the Cultural Revolution, and the cryptic beauty of its ornamental gardens will draw breath from even the most jaded millennial. And though it’s become pricier recently, it’s still easy to do on a twenty-something budget. Don’t miss the Forbidden Palace, its rust-coloured walls looming over the massive moat, the eerie beauty of the Summer Palace shrouded in mist, the weighty significance of Tiananmen Square, or the astounding Great Wall of China. And last but certainly not least, the ‘hutongs’; collections of narrow alleyways filled with old lanterns, prayer flags, and crumbling, faded shops containing dusty oddities and treasures. Beijing Iris House is a modern homestay with stylish decor, an open kitchen with proper espresso machines, and a decked garden dotted with potted palm trees.
Take a special tour inside Niagara Falls
Niagara Falls, USA/Canada
Not that 20-year-olds ought be thinking about bucket lists already but if you’re keen to rack ‘em up early, Niagara Falls is a great place to start. One of the world’s biggest and most fast-flowing waterfalls, with a 51-metre vertical drop, it’s quite something. The thunderous sound and mist created by the cascading water creates an overwhelming sense of the power of nature. You can take a special tour to go inside the waterfall via passageways in the rock behind, and from the Canadian side, the falls are lit up after dark for several hours. Stay at Park Place B&B, just a 5-minute drive from the falls themselves and a cosy accommodation offering hot breakfast and free WiFi.
The largest waterfall system in the world, Iguaçu Falls
Foz do Iguaçu, Argentina/Brazil
Bordering Argentina and Brazil, Foz do Iguaçu is on the South America young traveller trail and thus largely caters for that market. It’s also the base for visiting the largest waterfall system in the world, Iguaçu Falls. Volcanic eruptions once cracked Iguaçu in two, dividing it into upper and lower levels and over 275 different falls. But the most electrifying sight of all is the spectacle of Devil’s Throat (Garganta do Diablo) – the fall’s longest drop, a narrow chasm 700 metres deep. Stay at the Aconchego na Terra das Cataratas Cama&Cafe, a modern, functional homestay that's perfect for young travellers looking to relax after a day at the falls.
The youthful and modern city of Kyoto
Though Tokyo is usually the first port of call for most travellers arriving in Japan, smaller Kyoto is arguably better for the young. It’s a university city with a youthful mentality, and is at the forefront of modern technological innovation – I.T. is the main industry and companies such as Nintendo have their headquarters here. But alongside the bullet train, Kyoto boasts a particularly high number of revered Japanese temples, tea houses, and shrines. The resplendent Kinkaku-ji is a sacred, ancient temple whose name derives from the golf leaf in which it is coated and which was once burned down by a schizophrenic monk who was envious of the building’s beauty. Every 20-something traveller visiting Japan simply must stay in a capsule room, of which there are many in Kyoto. One of the best, First Cabin Kyoto Karasuma, features slickly-designed sleeping cabins with LCD tvs and an airplane theme.
The precarious leaning tower of Pisa is classic Instagram fodder
For enthusiastic, young sightseers, the gravity-defying Leaning Tower of Pisa will go down a treat. You can climb the Tower up to the Gallery to gaze out over the terracotta roofs of the city, though you’ll have to be feeling brave because the slippery, polished marble floors can be rather unnerving. If that’s a bit much, an obligatory pic of you propping up the tower from below is classic Instagram fodder. 23 Bed & Breakfast is a youthfully-decorated accommodation in Pisa's historic centre. Excellent location, friendly ambience, and a smattering of SMEG fridges and concept furniture make this a great option for younger travellers.
The fascinating, historic city of Bath
Most come here to visit the Roman Baths which, though magnificent, are far from the only appealing aspect of the city. Wander the streets on foot and you’ll pass genteel, Georgian terraced houses and manicured gardens. In fact, Bath has so many historic buildings that the whole city has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Don’t forget to do a traditional Bath cream tea before you leave - the Pump Rooms is a real Bath institution where scones with thick clotted cream, cucumber sandwiches, and cupcakes are served with aplomb under the chandeliers. Grove Lodge in Bath is a nice blend of traditional Georgian grandeur with modern, eccentric interiors for 20-somethings wanting to treat themselves; think grey velvet sofas alongside peacock blue statement walls and minimalist furniture.
Soak up Savannah's youthful energy
For young travellers, Savannah has wide-ranging appeal. Strolling down its historic, leafy avenues of antebellum mansions feels like you’ve stepped onto a film set and its speciality Southern soul food is certainly something to write home about. From grilled meats and brisket to spicy gumbo (thick fresh meat or fish stew) and seriously good fried chicken. With cutting-edge interiors and a poolside area that you'll find impossible to tear yourself away from, the Kimpton Brice Hotel in Savannah's historic district is the place to be.
**The data analysts at Booking.com looked at endorsements for ‘Sightseeing’ by Booking.com customers. They then found the destinations that were most highly-rated for this endorsement.