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12 Unexpected Destinations for Seniors

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Senior couple walking on the beach in South Africa

Bloubergstrand Beach in Cape Town, South Africa

Our list of 12 unexpected destinations for senior travelers is full of surprises and allows you to immerse yourself in history, tradition, and the environment.

From exploring secluded volcanic slopes at your pace to enjoying cultural experiences as a family, embracing a new perspective of a familiar destination, or making an exciting discovery as a couple, traveling to unexpected places allows us to enjoy the world from a new standpoint.

No matter your travel style or desire, you can find inspiration in the unexpected for your next vacation.

Overview
  1. 1. Thailand
  2. 2. Vietnam
  3. 3. Japan
  4. 4. South Africa
  5. 5. Tanzania
  6. 6. Kenya
  7. 7. Egypt
  8. 8. Morocco
  9. 9. Peru & Machu Picchu
  10. 10. Ecuador / Galapagos Islands
  11. 11. Iceland
  12. 12. Costa Rica
  13. Plan Your Next Trip to an Unexpected Destination

1. Thailand

Ratchaphruek Flower Gardens in Chiang Mai, Thailand

Ratchaphruek Flower Gardens in Chiang Mai, Thailand

Thailand is a tropical paradise and jungle adventure, home to an ancient empire and bustling modern metropolis. From the pristine waters lapping against the idyllic white beaches to night markets erupting with enticing culinary aromas, Thailand can open your eyes to the point at which history and modernity meet, whether in the mountains or at the sea.

“November to June offers the best weather, and it’s outside the Monsoon period,” says Jack, a Thailand travel specialist. These months bring to light the variety of natural and cultural wonders for which Thailand is famous, with pleasant weather in which to enjoy it all.

Whether interested in visiting the bustling markets of Bangkok or eager to lounge on the pristine sands of Koh Tao in between scuba-diving instruction, a travel specialist can make sure you travel at a pace comfortable to you.

“All of the tours would be done on a private basis,” says Jack. “Your guide will have the control to adapt and change as needed, instead of a standard step-by-step program. For example, if in the itinerary we planned to visit a temple, but you wish to go back to the hotel, no problem.”

When in Thailand, having the flexibility to travel the way you prefer can set the tone for your trip. Whether on a cultural tour visiting ethnic tribes in the north, on a culinary tour of the south in search of traditional Sriracha, or visiting the ancient ruins of Ayutthaya, your travel specialist can ensure you have the fluidity and accessibility you need to make your trip as smooth and comfortable as possible.

Learn more: Thailand Tours & VacationsThailand Travel GuideThailand Tours for Seniors

2. Vietnam

Lush green landscape surrounding Ban Gioc waterfall and Quây Sơn River in Vietnam

Ban Gioc Falls in Vietnam

Vietnam is enchanting, with dazzling metropolises and natural beauty spreading from the coastline to terraced rice paddies, the banks of the Mekong River, and breathtaking views from the mountains. With cultural diversity and natural splendor, it is easy to immerse yourself in the colorful variety Vietnam has to offer, from the greenery of the landscape to the costumes of ethnic hill tribes.

“Be upfront with your travel planner about your expectations on the types of activities, accommodation, and cuisine you enjoy most,” suggests Irene, a travel specialist for Vietnam. “If you are not comfortable with certain experiences, like dining with locals, eating street food, or spending prolonged hours outdoors, it is totally ok to let your travel planner know in advance.”

By understanding how you feel most comfortable exploring, you can better shape your perfect trip. “If you have already given sufficient information on the type of traveler you are and your expectations for the trip, try to trust your travel planner with appropriate recommendations,” Irene recommends. “While it is ok to get reviews online or from people you know who have done a similar trip, keep in mind that what people like or enjoy may not always be suitable for you.”

Your trip is personal, and how you hope to experience Vietnam will depend on your preferences, what you wish to see, the accommodations you would like to enjoy, the activities that make you feel at ease, and who you may be traveling with.

“Lastly,” Irene says, “if traveling with your grandchildren, be open to having soft adventure excursions that appeal to young and old. Do not cross out activities that look strenuous. Creative arrangements can always be made to accommodate seniors so the tour can be conducted for everyone.”

Learn more: Vietnam Tours & VacationsVietnam Travel GuideVietnam Tours for Seniors

3. Japan

Loan fisherman in a boat on Lake Kawaguchiko with colorful autumn foliage of red leaves framing Mt fuji in Japan

Lake Kawaguchi in Fujikawaguchiko, Japan

Japan is often described as timeless, a captivating destination where visions of the future fuse with ancient traditions. With culture dating back millennia and natural beauty spreading from staggering mountainscapes to renowned cherry blossoms, the distinctive combination of past, present, and future feels seamless.

“Spring is the best time to visit Japan, as the cherry trees bloom and the weather is wonderful for walks in the parks, temple grounds, and shopping areas,” says Jeff, a travel specialist for Japan. “Fall is also wonderful, as mountains are painted in fall colors.”

The beauty and accessibility of Japan make it easy for senior travelers to enjoy, no matter the type of experience you prefer. The country is mobile-friendly, especially in cities like Tokyo and Kyoto, which are comfortable and accustomed to international travelers.

“Japan has an amazing train system that makes traveling easy, though there are stairs to climb,” shares Jeff. “Luckily, this is not an issue for seniors as there are also escalators and elevators at all stations. Traveling by train is so easy, as you do not need to worry about where you are going; you just sit in the train and watch the countryside.”

Whether you would like to stay in a traditional ryokan or witness a sumo tournament, watch the cherry blossoms fall, or visit an ancient temple, it is essential to know what you want to do and note any limitations your planner should keep in mind.

“We take the time to know our travelers and then build trips they will love," says Jeff. "If they cannot climb stairs, then we arrange accommodations with few stairs, even when they are staying at a ryokan inn.”

Part of visiting a new destination is remaining open to discovery. It is not just about expectation, but the anticipation of the unexpected. It is in Japan’s diversity that you can experience the true essence of the country, as it shares remarkable traditions and a vision of the future.

“Japan is an old country with many beautiful sights, sounds, and tastes,” says Jeff. “Stay open to new ideas and be willing to try new things. Also, take breaks and visit convenience stores as they have some of the best snacks and drinks in Japan.”

Learn more: Japan Tours & VacationsJapan Travel GuideJapan Tours for Seniors

4. South Africa

Two giraffes in South Africa

South Africa

South Africa is a country of astounding diversity, from wildlife adventures to dramatic scenery, remarkable history, and an exceptional coastline. With endless possibilities, you can travel the gaping gorges, experience seclusion in a star-studded desert, or embrace the lively ambiance of Cape Town, in addition to finding inspiration from elephants to lions.

Traveling as a senior in South Africa is easy, comfortable, and exciting. Luxury accommodations can immerse you in the wilds of the savanna or reveal the gorgeous panoramas spanning the coastline. “South Africa has good infrastructure, with easy access to safari destinations and other main attractions,” says Neil, a South Africa travel specialist. “Combine this with a private tour guide who looks after your every need and you will have a winning combination for a luxury, stress-free vacation.”

With some of the African continent’s best safari destinations in which to find the Big Five and access remarkable culture, from the Winelands to Soweto, the landscapes are wondrous and timeless. By working with a South Africa travel specialist, you can experience the country as you prefer.

Sample delectable wines, travel to the edge of the Cape of Good Hope or the top of Table Mountain, visit the Apartheid Museum, or relax with a sundowner while overlooking a distant pool known for attracting elephants.

By sharing your travel preferences, your preferred experiences, and any mobility limitations or concerns with a travel specialist, you can plan accordingly to have your perfect trip.

With established tourist infrastructure, a reputation for exceptional safari excursions, and well-trained local guides who can give you deeper insights into the landscapes, cultures, and wildlife, you are guaranteed a profound and comfortable experience.

Learn more: South Africa SafarisSouth Africa Safari GuideSouth Africa Safaris and Vacations for Seniors

5. Tanzania

Leopard on a tree branch in the Serengeti National Park, Tanzania

Serengeti National Park, Tanzania

Tanzania is the embodiment of safari destinations, giving you views of lounging lions, long parades of elephants, and the secluded luxury of a wilderness resort. But beyond the safari adventures, Tanzania emanates majesty, from the peak of Mount Kilimanjaro to the endless grasslands of the Serengeti, the pristine white sands of Zanzibar’s beaches to the crystal-clear waters of Pemba Island.

Tanzania is the perfect place to find guided adventure and relaxation, especially from December to February, during the migration in the southern Serengeti, which severely shortens travel time. “The best destination for seniors in terms of accessibility and enjoyment is northern Tanzania, Tarangire, Ngorongoro, and, of course, the Serengeti,” says Tehsin, a safari specialist with Zicasso. “Working with a travel expert can offer on-the-ground flexibility, on a day-to-day basis, for the trip to be faster or slower, or even include unscheduled downtime whenever you like.”

Each destination can give you a different view of Tanzania’s natural charm by giving you a different perspective of the wildlife and wilderness. Tehsin also recommends extending any trip with a relaxing beach visit to Zanzibar.

As with any destination, how you experience Tanzania depends on your goals and preferences. Working with a safari travel expert and sharing the types of trips you hope to have will ensure your best trip.

“You can truly appreciate your surroundings in Tanzania,” adds Tehsin. “It is not about aiming to tick off a bucket list, but the aim to experience authentic Africa.”

Learn More: Tanzania Safaris & VacationsTanzania Safari GuideTanzania Safaris for Seniors

6. Kenya

Two zebras in tall grass

Kenya

Kenya conjures images of endless savannas speckled with massive herds of wildlife, where the landscape - from the snowcapped equatorial mountains or the soulful drama of the Great Rift Valley - promises adventure. The epic scenery stirs a longing for a deeper connection to the diversity of the land, abundant wildlife, and distinct cultures.

“Kenya’s tourism board’s slogan is ‘Magical Kenya’,” says African safari expert Michelle. “And this rings so true. There is a sense of cultural pride and some of the best game viewing in Africa. Knowing that extremely qualified guides, luxury vehicles, and a good choice of well-established, bigger lodges can cater to seniors’ needs makes it a great option for older safari-goers.”

Whether arriving directly at your lodge with a fly-in safari for a shorter connection or having a private driver who can stop at local markets along the way, you can arrive at your lodge in a manner comfortable to you.

A safari experience in Kenya is perfect for seniors with or without mobility concerns, making some of the most remote corners of the protected wilderness accessible. “Hands-on assistance at all times and attentive guides can literally walk with guests each step of the way,” adds Michelle. “Adapted safari vehicles are available for those travelers who may require a wheelchair. Using the same 4x4 vehicles to get from Nairobi to Maasai Mara or Amboseli, for example, and within these parks, means clients can get to ‘know’ their safari vehicle and how best to get into and out of that.”

The true majesty of Kenya stems from its variety, which makes it much easier to travel, explore, and discover as a senior safely. “Some travelers prefer not to stay in Nairobi at all,” Michelle says. “But at least one night upon arrival is important to either rest and acclimatize to the time-zone change or to visit some of Nairobi’s key places of interest. Kenya is also in East Africa, which is easily combined with Zanzibar for the ‘beach-and-bush’ combo.” A Kenya travel specialist can ensure your time in the country is all about your preferred experiences.

Learn More: Kenya Safaris & ToursKenya Safari GuideKenya Safaris for Seniors

7. Egypt

Senior tourists visiting the inside area at the Philae Temple in Aswan, Egypt

Philae Temple in Aswan, Egypt

As the home of enchanting pyramids and preserved ancient temples, the aromas of spices filling a labyrinthine bazaar, and the Islamic call to prayer, Egypt is a captivating destination with layers of history, culture, and prestige that transcend time.

Whether looking for an adventure or interested in a slower pace in the countryside, the best time for seniors to visit Egypt is between October and April.

“Most seniors are concerned about the amount of walking they will have to do and how comfortable the accommodations will be,” says Mahmoud, an Egypt travel specialist. “When working with a travel specialist, you can ensure your trip is tailored to your needs and goals. We plan the perfect itinerary for you, provide a friendly, professional, and knowledgeable Egyptologist guide, plus reliable and comfortable vehicles during every transfer.”

Planning ahead will ensure you have a perfect trip. Mahmoud also suggests you carry your prescriptions and any other medications, as it may be difficult to find your medicine in Egypt. Otherwise, you will travel in safe hands.

Egypt is a grand destination in which to immerse yourself in ancient wonders. By understanding your limits, your travel specialist can help you plan for any mobility issues or the desert heat.

“Review your itinerary and make sure it has everything you are looking for,” recommends Mahmoud. “Request any changes before the trip start date to make sure it has everything you want, as this is going to be a lifetime experience.”

Learn More: Egypt Tours & Vacation PackagesEgypt Travel GuideEgypt Tours for Seniors

8. Morocco

Desert sand dunes in Morocco

Sahara Desert in Morocco

Morocco is often considered the gateway to Africa. With an impressive connection to ancient cities, antique trade routes, epic mountains, sweeping desert sands, and the endless warmth of local hospitality, you can find a taste of the exotic or the charm of timeless luxury. Morocco blends African and Arab heritage, makes age-old customs accessible, and creates a tangible atmosphere that can easily enchant.

Old cities that feel like mazes, mountaintops blanketed with snow, and sand dunes baked in the desert sun can make Morocco seem inaccessible, but the country is known for welcoming seniors with mobility or accessibility issues.

When working with a travel specialist, you can plan to overcome any challenges that may hinder your perfect Morocco trip and give you access to the right guides, accommodations, or transfer assistance you may need.

“Providing 24/7 ground support and lots of pre-trip information is part of being a good travel specialist,” says Marcus, a Morocco travel specialist. “Most of my clients take me up on my offer for a long conference call 14 days before departure to go over almost every detail of the trip. This brings up many questions and allows me to share tons of info I could never send in an email or fact sheet.”

You should always take your trip at your pace to better appreciate the dynamic culture and remarkable scenery of Morocco, whether sipping tea in a rooftop cafe overlooking Djemaa El Fna Square or watching the tanners in Fes. By traveling at your pace, you have a better connection to your surroundings and can ensure you stay hydrated. You can also understand your comfort level, from dietary concerns to riding a camel.

Learn More: Morocco Tours & VacationsMorocco Travel GuideMorocco Tours for Seniors

9. Peru & Machu Picchu

Main square and cathedral in Lima, Peru

Lima, Peru

Peru radiates history, culture, and adventure. From the banks of the Amazon River to the ruins of Machu Picchu, the high-altitude waters of Lake Titicaca to the mysteries of the lowland Nazca lines, discovering Peru is like uncovering a tapestry of ancient wonder and modern vibrancy. Nature and culture create endless opportunities across the country, especially for seniors during the dry season from May to September.

With so many options to experience, it is essential to pay attention to logistics and any possible health issues. “The idea is not to learn of any underlying health issues after the trip has started and then maximize the trip to include the possible activities in a safe manner,” says Jason, a Peru travel specialist. “By listening to and understanding your individual needs and capabilities, we can plan the best trip for you.”

Visiting Peru often raises many questions for senior travelers, especially when considering issues like the effects and challenges of traveling at high altitude, how to best prepare for your trip, or whether you will be fit enough to walk the one-day Inca trail. “On a practical level, the planning and routing of itineraries to adapt to the altitude are essential,” Jason says. “We have had people of almost 90 years old visit Machu Picchu and people in their eighties do the one-day Inca Trail hike.”

By understanding your limits and sharing any limitations or concerns you may have with your travel specialist, you can remain safe, while also exploring the diversity of Peru’s mountains, lowlands, coastline, and jungle. Peru is a country of heritage and action, but your travel specialist can make each corner accessible to you, whether you are in search of adventure on the Inca Trail, eager to find macaws in the rainforest, interested in seeing condors in Arequipa, or prefer to travel at a calmer pace with a scenic flight over the Nazca lines.

Learn More: Peru Vacations & ToursPeru Travel GuidePeru Tours for Seniors

10. Ecuador / Galapagos Islands

Sea turtle in the Galapagos Island, Ecuador

Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

Ecuador is a wave of cultural beauty and natural wonder. Colonial centers reflect the heritage, white beaches provide endless surprises, Andean traditions radiate marvelous colors, and the untouched Amazon creates an alluring ambiance, all cast in the shadows of the pristine wilderness around the Galapagos Islands.

Ecuador will delight and surprise you, especially when learning that its capital, Quito, has an altitude of 9,350 feet above sea level. The country is also home to five UNESCO World Heritage sites, including the Galapagos Islands. Whether you plan to cruise around the untouched archipelago or explore the broader diversity from coastline to jungle riverbanks, preparing yourself for the variety of altitudes, landscapes, and activities is essential.

The entire country is accessible to seniors, but when considering a visit to Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands, many wonder if they will physically be able to make the trip.

“It is all about listening and talking to you, about understanding your needs and having those needs met,” says Jason, a Galapagos specialist. Planning your trip ahead ensures that you can account for any seen and unforeseen challenges, whether dealing with mobility issues, a history of fatigue, or simply your preference for traveling at a particular pace.

You can spend your time searching for penguins, resting on the shore of a volcanic island, visiting the equatorial line, wandering the narrow cobblestone streets of a colonial village or indulging in a wonderland of chocolates. Visiting Ecuador opens a completely different world of natural, historical, and cultural splendor, no matter your interests.

Learn More: Galapagos Islands Vacations & ToursGalapagos Islands and Ecuador Travel GuideGalapagos Islands Tours for Seniors

11. Iceland

Sunset over the Kirkjufellsfoss waterfall with Kirkjufell mountain in the background in Iceland

Kirkjufellsfoss with Kirkjufell Mountain in Iceland

Iceland is a symphony of elements that creates magic, a destination that can turn the eyes of even the most jaded traveler. Untouched nature makes a dazzling wilderness where fire and ice meet, with tunnels woven into glaciers, volcanoes dripping magma, and puffins hiding in dramatic coastal cliffs.

The most accessible regions for seniors can take you to Reykjavik and the south coast year-round for an unparalleled introduction to the significant power of nature. “You can visit Iceland any time of the year for different reasons,” says Andres, an Iceland travel specialist. “It is more about preferences. Autumn is my favorite season. Winter has not arrived, high season is over, the autumn colors make the island more colorful than ever, and the Northern Lights are keeping us awake.”

No matter the season in which you visit Iceland, you can expect a personal touch with local hospitality and pace that forces you to consider the splendor of your surroundings. It is a landscape that can immerse you in adventure, but at your own comfort level, where you can wind through fjords, trek across glaciers, plunge into hot springs, or simply bask in the expanse of sparsely populated nature beneath the dancing Northern Lights or beaming Midnight Sun.

Your best Iceland experience will open your eyes to breaching whales or erupting geysers, with plenty of attention paid to your travel preferences. “A travel specialist offers high-class personal service, with great emphasis on holding phone calls and going over your trip request in great detail,” says Andres.

The personal touch of a travel specialist can be the biggest differentiator in understanding what you wish to see, the experiences you hope to have, and the best way for you to enjoy your entire Iceland trip.

Learn More: Iceland Tours & VacationsIceland Travel GuideIceland Tours for Seniors

12. Costa Rica

Senior couple hiking in the wilderness

Costa Rica

Costa Rica is a boundless world of natural wonder with unique wildlife, exceptional beaches, soaring volcanoes, and near-mythical cloud forests. From coastlines to mountainscapes, you can find luxury and quiet village seclusion any time of the year, including during the rainy season.

Senior travelers can relax in resorts overlooking the Pacific or find the perfect jungle lodge to search for bird and wildlife. “Costa Rica requires a law of accessibility for the hotels, which means most hotels offer access for seniors and people with some mobility restrictions,” shares Catalina, a Costa Rica travel specialist. “So basically, seniors can access all areas in Costa Rica.” Whether or not you are traveling with mobility and accessibility issues, understanding the logistics of your itinerary will help ensure your perfect vacation.

Working with a Costa Rica travel expert can help you explore your options and preferences when discovering the biodiversity and culture of the country. Whether you prefer to sail through the sky on a zipline excursion in Arenal or drift down the canals of Tortuguero in search of jaguars or manatees, snorkel at Manuel Antonio National Park, or listen for endangered squirrel monkeys in the Osa Peninsula, a travel specialist who understands the local challenges can make sure you accomplish your goals.

By understanding your needs when visiting Costa Rica, you can be better prepared for your style of exploration, such as changing your accommodation to be closer to a national park or needing more time with a private guide to search for a quetzal during a birding expedition. In the end, exploring Costa Rica is easy and accessible, with a travel specialist making sure you feel comfortable during your trip.

Learn More: Costa Rica Tours & Vacation PackagesCosta Rica Travel GuideCosta Rica Tours for Seniors

Plan Your Next Trip to an Unexpected Destination

Senior couple taking a selfie while snorkeling

Traveling as a senior is liberating and with expert assistance, you can travel hassle-free with every need met. Whether you like to indulge in the tropics, cultural excursions, or historic marketplaces, you can discover new opportunities as a couple, with friends, or as a family.

Our Senior Travel Guide has more ideas on how to travel or where to go when looking at your goals and interests. You can travel beyond your expectations and experience the world as you prefer when traveling on a Trip of a Lifetime or visiting the 10 Most Popular Destinations for Senior Travelers with Zicasso.

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