5 Places I Dream of Returning To

There isn’t a single place in the world I’ve been to that I haven’t loved in one way or another, and every time I leave a place I almost always tell myself that I’ll make it back there one day.  But with so many incredible places to see in the world, I usually try go somewhere new, as I love to explore other countries, learn about different cultures and try new things.  I get caught up in new places and ticking things off my bucket list but, while the places that I’ve already visited and loved so dearly turn into a distant memory, they are never forgotten.

So when Shikha of Why Waste Annual Leave nominated me to write about the places I’d most like to revisit, in conjunction with Booked.net and their Top Destinations to Go There competition, my mind started whirring with all the possibilities.  It was actually harder than I thought it would be to narrow the list down to only 5 but these are the places that I just can’t let go of.


This was the first place I visited in Africa and is one of the many reasons why I fell madly in love with the continent.  Tanzania is the place that most people imagine when they think of Africa – my first glimpse of this wonderful country was driving along the dusty roads past Mount Kilimanjaro; young boys herding goats and brightly clothed women walking along the side of the road carrying huge buckets on their heads.  The people were so friendly, waving hello to us as we passed, telling us about their lives, and we even got to dance with a Masaai tribe in a nightclub!

Whether we were spotting wildlife on the plains of the Serengeti, playing with children at an orphanage or teaching them in schools, relaxing on the sandy beaches in Zanzibar, or meeting the locals, every single memory from our time in Tanzania brings a huge smile to my face.

On safari in the Serengeti

On safari in the Serengeti


One of the only places in the world that I would go back to time and time again, Gibraltar is like a second home to me.  My aunt is Gibraltarian so we have family who live there and have visited regularly since I was little.  I even lived there for a summer with my mum when I was younger, and we have had 3 family weddings out there including my own.

I haven’t been back for a while now and I’ve been told that it’s changed a fair bit over the last couple of years with fancy hotels and casinos lining the harbour.  To me it will always feel like a warmer, friendlier, more relaxing home and this would be the place I’d go if I ever moved abroad.

On the top of the Rock of Gibraltar

On the top of the Rock of Gibraltar

New Zealand

New Zealand was towards the end of a round the world trip but because we’d already spent time in so many other places, we didn’t end up having enough time to explore the whole country.  We chose to stick with one island so that we could really see the place without rushing, and as we were flying into Auckland, it made sense to see the North Island.

We visited some amazing places and saw some incredible scenery but I am disappointed that we didn’t get to see the beauty of the South.  I’d love to go back for some adrenaline pumping activities in Queenstown, to spot wild dolphins and whales, and to hike (or maybe just look at) the stunning glaciers.

Hiking the Tongariro Crossing

Hiking the Tongariro Crossing

Paris, France

Even though I’m not religious, I love visiting cathedrals whenever I travel, but for me nothing compares to the Sacre Coeur.  It’s somewhere I love to visit whenever I’m in Paris and I’ve been trying to go back for a few years.  It’s only a quick train ride away which should make it an easy trip but, liked I said, I always seem to go somewhere new instead!

While I’m there I would also love to see a show at the Moulin Rouge and then wander around the city marvelling at all the sights that I may have seen before but are still oh so pretty.

Standing under the Eiffel Tower

Standing under the Eiffel Tower

South Africa

There are so many places I want to return to in South Africa that I would need to take an extremely long sabbatical from work to achieve it all!  Not only is the country full of life, music, culture and a landscape so diverse you could see everything here all at once, but some of the most amazing things I’ve ever done, I did in South Africa, so the country is incredibly close to my heart.

I am desperate to spend some time with the big cats and see how much they’ve grown at a lion park near Johannesburg where we did volunteer work.  I want to explore more of Cape Town, a city that I loved from the very first moment I stepped foot off our overland truck.  Even though we’ve done it before I’d love to hire a car and drive along the Garden Route again, visiting even more places this time, as this is one of our favourite memories from all of our travels.

Overlooking Table Mountain at the V&A Waterfront

Overlooking Table Mountain at the V&A Waterfront

Thinking about returning to these places has made me realise just how much I miss some of them – I’m sure you can tell how much I especially love Africa and I really do long to go back every single day.  Instead of crossing something new off my bucket list, I think some return trips are needed back to these amazing places that stole my heart.

I now nominate Packing my SuitcaseThe Long Way Home, On The Luce, Travel Morgan Travel and Emily Luxton to tell us about where they would revisit.

Which destinations do you dream of returning to?

28 thoughts on “5 Places I Dream of Returning To

  1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) says:

    Great list Ayla! So delighted that Tanzania was one of your favourite 5 as well 🙂 I had a feeling we would have at least one that was common to both our lists! I’m so tempted to visit both Gibraltar and South Africa after reading and hearing about your experiences there!

    • Ayla says:

      Tanzania was without a doubt one of my top 5! I was debating putting Argentina in there too but – that would be my sixth choice! Gibraltar is so close and easy to get to but South Africa should definitely be on your list. Love it there so so much 🙂

  2. HannahontheMap says:

    Great choices! Unfortunately I haven’t been to any of these places, but I should be going to NZ next year. cool pictures too!

    • Ayla says:

      You’ve had loads of great travels of your own though but I would recommend adding some of these to your list. You’ll love NZ – so many great things to do and beautiful sights to see 🙂

  3. Nita says:

    Fantastic places Ayla! I haven’t been to Tanzania but you’ve described it amazingly. Been to South Africa and loved my experience there. New Zealand is a wonderful country as well. I’ve been but just to the South – Stunning!! Great to see a round-up of your favorite places 🙂

    • Ayla says:

      We need to have a swap on NZ and each see the other island! The South looks so gorgeous. Tanzania should be your next trip then Nita, it is an amazing country 🙂

  4. Life On My Plate says:

    Love your list Ayla.. I’ve inly been to Paris out of your top 5 and I actually didn’t like it much. So I want to return to give it another chance to seduce me, like it seems to do for everyone else.
    And a New Zealand road trip is something I’ve been dying to do 🙂

    • Ayla says:

      I do have a few little niggles with Paris – such as everything being ridiculously expensive and the people generally aren’t the friendliest – but I still think it’s such a beautiful city. A road trip through NZ sounds like so much fun. The perfect way to explore!

  5. rlishman84 says:

    A wonderful list and many of the destinations are still a first-time dream for me which has given me some new inspiration! Thanks for the nomination, my list will be up this week 🙂

  6. thegrownupgapyear says:

    I love South Africa and New Zealand too, although I never got to see the Tongariro Crossing like that – it was completely foggy when I did it! I would love to go back to Japan (as you know!) and also Burma, which is such a beautiful country.

    • Ayla says:

      That’s a shame about the Tongariro Crossing – it was so beautiful! It was my first proper hike and the views were stunning. Hopefully you’ll get to Japan next year for the most amazing honeymoon!! 🙂

  7. joanfrankham says:

    Reading your list was like reading something I would have written myself! I love all these places and would definitely love to return. Thanks for the like on my blog, I am going to explore yours in more detail now.

  8. Sreejith Nair says:

    Beautiful post 🙂

    Only Gibraltar was not part of my bucket list, now I think should definitely add it too.

    The way you have used the images and words is so tempting to explore places.

    Thanks a lot for sharing 🙂

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