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Reader Picks: What’s on Your Bucket List?

Which place is your ultimate dream destination? That’s the question we recently asked IndependentTraveler.com readers on Facebook and Twitter. (We asked our staff too — check out their answers here!). In response, we got the following wanderlust-inspiring list.

Read on to see which places top our readers’ bucket lists. (Warning: You may find your own wish list growing.)

Viva l’Italia

Reader Take: “More, more, more of Italy and of much of Western Europe in general. I visited 17 cities in nine countries over 13 months last fall, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Can’t wait!” — Wynne Gavin on Facebook

IT.com Recommendation: Exploring Italy can keep you busy for a lifetime. A few of our favorite spots include Burano, a charming, colorful village in the Venetian Lagoon, and Cortona, the hilltop town made famous by Frances Mayes’ “Under the Tuscan Sun.”

Into the Wild

Reader Take: “I wanna go to the wild of Madagascar one day.” — Yusof Ibrahim on Facebook

IT.com Recommendation: For animal lovers, a trip to Madagascar is a must. This island nation off the coast of Africa is home to a wealth of unique species such as flying foxes, mongooses, spear-nosed snakes and about a dozen types of lemurs.

Adventure and Amazing Views

Reader Take:New Zealand. As a photographer and adventure traveler, NZ is always calling me.” — @RideRunRoam

IT.com Recommendation: New Zealand is famous for its adventure sports — everything from sky diving and bungee jumping to “zorbing” (rolling downhill in a giant, transparent ball). Queenstown, on the South Island, is considered the country’s adventure capital.

Beaches Without the Crowds

Reader Take: “Albania for its unspoiled beautiful beaches! Travel planning right now :)” — @Blocal_

IT.com Recommendation: Albania’s pristine coastline is one of Europe’s best-kept secrets. Ksamil Beach is one of our favorites, with its picturesque village, crystal-clear water and nearby islands reachable by boat.

Mountain Culture

Reader Take: “Tibet and Nepal. Always wanted to see Lhasa and Kathmandu … and the Himalaya Mountains. (Tibet being ‘China’ now.)” — Kim Higns on Facebook

IT.com Recommendation: Tibet and Nepal have some of the world’s most spectacular mountain scenery. Hikers can challenge themselves on high-altitude Himalayan treks, while other travelers come to explore the cultural riches here, from temples and monasteries to colorful festivals.

Ancient Wonders

Reader Take: “Peru, for all its ancient wonders!” — @malviche

IT.com Recommendation: Everyone thinks of Machu Picchu when they think of Peru, but many don’t know that the country is also home to numerous other Incan ruins. One of the most impressive is Sacsayhuaman, outside of Cuzco, an ancient fortress where the Festival of the Sun is celebrated each June.

European Coffee Culture

Reader Take:Vienna. Because of the coffee culture coming out of there.” — @meCatarina

IT.com Recommendation: Vienna’s oldest and most traditional coffee houses often have ornate details such as chandeliers and marble table tops. Locals can linger there for hours over rich coffee and pastries, perusing a newspaper or chatting with friends.

Do-Over in Paradise

Reader Take: “A bucket list location; that’d be a bit of a do-over as I didn’t plan Fiji correctly so I left. Now, I think instead I’d head for the Cook Islands; Seychelles & Maldives just not likely to be in ANY budget I’ll have but who knows?” — Colleen Costello on Facebook

IT.com Recommendation: With their pristine beaches, the Cook Islands are the perfect place to work on your tan — but if you’re after something a little more active, you can snorkel, kayak, hike and enjoy local foods such as rori (sea cucumbers) and ika mata (marinated raw fish, similar to ceviche).

History in Southeast Asia

Reader Take: “Vietnam! I love unique destinations with rich history and Southeast Asia is next on the list!” — @Mander_LA

IT.com Recommendation: Vietnam presents a rich tapestry for travelers to explore. We love browsing its colorful food markets, where you can pick up anything from exotic vegetables to chickens (dead or alive!). Night markets, floating markets, bustling city markets … they’re all a feast for the senses.

Ecuador from A to Z

Reader Take: “I’d love to tour Ecuador. Cuenca, Banos, Shell, the coast!” –@jamiedurbin75

IT.com Recommendation: Ecuador’s most famous tourist destinations are Quito, its capital city in the Andes, and the wildlife-rich Galapagos Islands. But the small, welcoming city of Cuenca beckons visitors with Old World architecture, an active arts community and a scenic location in the mountains.

Finding the Secret to Happiness

Reader Take: “Bhutan. Happiest people in the world.” — @sarahhong43

IT.com Recommendation: This small country in the Himalayas uses a “Gross National Happiness” index to measure and improve the wellbeing of its people, incorporating factors such as education, health and cultural diversity. Visitors must book their trip through registered local tour operators, which emphasize a policy of “High Value, Low Impact.”

Honeymoon in Ireland

Reader Take:Ireland!!!! It’s the honeymoon we never had because my hubby is military and he was constantly deployed. We ended up at a justice of the peace after he’d been in the field for a week and came in for a couple hours to get married. … I’m so grateful to be married to him but someday, soooomeday we will have that honeymoon to Ireland. He retires with 31 years of being in the Army this year and I truly hope in a couple years we can finally go.” — Jo Kula on Facebook

IT.com Recommendation: There are plenty of romantic experiences to have in Ireland, from a hand-in-hand stroll across Dublin‘s Ha’penny Bridge to an overnight stay in a castle.

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