Sometimes the best vacations are the ones that go beyond individual borders and combine several countries on one incredible journey. Whether taking in neighbouring countries or pairing city stopovers with island stays, these vacations are the best way to get bang for your buck when exploring the world.
What are the best multi-country vacations?
Argentina and Brazil
This pairing is a no-brainer as both countries share Iguassu Falls, one of the world’s largest waterfalls. If you’re visiting Iguassu Falls, odds are you’ll want to see it from both sides, as the view changes dramatically depending on which side of the border you’re on. So the obvious thing to do is to include both countries on your vacation. Start in Rio and ride up Sugarloaf Mountain before heading down to Iguassu Falls. After the falls, head to Buenos Aires and explore South America’s most cosmopolitan city. Cap off the journey with a few days in the wilds of Patagonia. Or travel in the reverse direction and end in Rio.
Australia, New Zealand, and Fiji
It’s a long flight to get to Australia in the first place, so you might as well take advantage of the 15 hours on a plane and expand your itinerary beyond one country. It’s easy to combine Australia with New Zealand as the neighbouring countries have plenty of air service between their major cities. You can start the journey in Sydney or Melbourne and get a taste for Australia’s cities before connecting to one of the natural highlights, whether the Great Barrier Reef or Uluru/Ayers Rock. Then hop over to New Zealand to see Auckland or Wellington and take in a natural highlight like Milford Sound or the Bay of Islands. Add on a stopover in Fiji to the beginning or end of your journey to bookend your trip with a few days on a sunny beach.
Cambodia, Laos, and Thailand
This is another obvious multi-country vacation, as it’s a long flight to get to Southeast Asia and it’s very simple to cross the borders and take in sites in multiple countries. Start in Phnom Penh where you can see the royal palace and take a day trip to the Killing Fields. Then connect north to Siem Reap to spend a few days exploring Angkor Wat and the surrounding temples. Fly into Bangkok and spend a few days in this city that never sleeps before connecting north to Chiang Mai or spending a few days on the beaches of the south. Finally journey into Laos either on a Mekong cruise or by connecting into Luang Prabang or Vientiane. You can also add on Vietnam if you really want to extend the stay in Southeast Asia.
Dubai and the Maldives
You may be thinking that this is an outside-the-box suggestion, but many flights to the Maldives connect through Dubai. Thus, it’s obvious to stopover in the Emirati city of the future before connecting to the coral atolls of the Maldives. Spend two or three nights in Dubai seeing the city’s stunning mixture of historical highlights and modern wonders, from the spice and gold markets to the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building. After exploring the United Arab Emirates, connect onward to your private island resort in the Maldives where you’ll have upwards of a week to relax on white-sand beaches, enjoy the comforts of your overwater bungalow, and maybe even go snorkelling with migrating whale sharks.
Ecuador and Peru
Not only are Ecuador and Peru neighbours, but they’re also home to the Galapagos Islands and Machu Picchu, respectively, which are arguably the most stunning sites in South America. Start in Quito where you’ll get to explore one of the best-preserved colonial cities in South America. Connect to the Galapagos Islands for a multi-day cruise, exploring the volcanic landscapes and spotting the assortment of fascinating wildlife, including blue-footed boobies, land iguanas, and giant tortoises. Connect back to the mainland and pass into Peru to explore Lima’s gastronomic scene. Then fly into the Sacred Valley of the Incas to see Cusco, the former capital of the Inca Empire, and Machu Picchu, the famous Lost Citadel of the Incas.
Israel and Jordan
Not only do Israel and Jordan share the Dead Sea, but they’re also two of the best countries in which to explore the past. Thus, they naturally pair together for a historical tour. Start in the Jordanian capital Amman, where you can see the old Roman citadel and other historical ruins. Head south to the rock-carved treasury of Petra and the red-rock expanses of Wadi Rum. Turn back north and stop by the Dead Sea for a float and then cross the border to see the Israeli side of the lowest point on Earth. Explore Jerusalem and its many religious landmarks, including the Western Wall, the Dome of the Rock, and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, before ending your vacation in the coastal city of Tel Aviv, Israel’s party capital.
Kenya and Tanzania
If you want to go on the ultimate safari, follow the migrating wildebeest herds across the border for a journey through Kenya and Tanzania. It doesn’t particularly matter which country you start in. In Tanzania, you can connect into Arusha and head to park lands around Mt. Kilimanjaro before connecting to the wildlife-rich Ngorongoro Crater. Finally enter the Serengeti, the world’s most famous game reserve, to see lions, cheetahs, and the massive herds of migrating wildebeest and zebra. Cross the border into the Masai Mara and see the Great Rift Valley from the Kenyan side. Continue the safari to another park, such as Lake Nakuru or Amboseli, before reaching Nairobi to get a taste of the bustle of metropolitan Africa.
Mauritius and the Seychelles
If you love the idea of an island getaway, but want to stay away from the usual destinations, consider pairing together these two African island nations in the Indian Ocean. Start in Mauritius, where you can delve into the diverse culture of this nation that blends together African, Indian, Chinese, and French influences. You can also enjoy the coastal resorts and see some giant tortoises before connecting to the Seychelles to relax at a private resort with nothing but the azure waves and pristine sands as your company.
Portugal and Spain
This pairing is another no-brainer when it comes to a multi-country vacation. It doesn’t matter where you start. If you start in Portugal, connect into Lisbon to explore the capital and see Belém Tower before heading to Porto and the Douro Valley for wine tastings and pastoral views. Swing south and spend a few days along the beaches of the Algarve before connecting into Spain and exploring some of the historical sites of Andalusia. Stop by the Costa del Sol if you’re in the mood for more days at the beach before heading to Madrid and connecting on to Barcelona to explore Spain’s two most marvellous cities.
The Silk Road
This multi-country vacation is probably the most daunting of any on the list, but it’s the kind that’ll make you stand out as a true globetrotter. Back during the Middle Ages, the Silk Road fueled trade between Europe and the Far East. Today, you can follow that same trail to explore some of the world’s best-kept cultural secrets. Start in Ashgabat, the capital of Turkmenistan, where you’ll get a glimpse behind the curtain of this reclusive Central Asian nation. Visit historical landmarks in Nisa and Merv before crossing the border into Uzbekistan to see the holy city of Bukhara, with its thousand monuments in the middle of the desert, and the open-air museum of Khiva. Reach Samarkand, legendary jewel of the Mongols, where gorgeous buildings and ancient ruins tell the story of this once-mighty empire. Pass through the capital Tashkent before ending the journey in Kazakhstan and the largest city, Almaty, which showcases the oil boom of Central Asia while still displaying the cultural influence of the Soviet years.