This article was reviewed by Jay Brecknell, CFP®.
You’re retired, or close to it, and it’s finally time for all the trips you’ve been dreaming of. You’re no longer limited by vacation time and the whole world is open to you. So where should you explore?
You’ve likely got some destinations in mind that you’ve been dreaming of for years, but once you’ve crossed those off your list, what next? We’ve put together a list of great vacation destinations for retirees to enjoy their golden years, both locally in Canada and all across the world.
Right here in our home country, there are tons of incredible places to explore. If you’re not looking to go too far or want some options in between your bigger trips, Canadian destinations could be a great option for you.
If you want a taste of Europe without crossing any oceans, Quebec City is the place for you. With cobbled streets, French-influenced culture, and iconic architecture, the city is a beautiful destination for any retiree. You’ll want to specifically visit Old Quebec, where most of the main attractions such as the Notre-Dame Basilica, Citadel, Place Royale, Plains of Abraham, and the Parliament Building are located. While you’re in the city, consider a short trek north to Montmorency Falls Park to see the gorgeous 272-foot-high waterfall. Make sure you also visit an artisan cafe for your favourite hot beverage and enjoy some relaxing people-watching. There are also plenty of food tours, so don’t miss out on the chance to enjoy the city on a whole new ‘flavour’ if you’re a foodie. We recommend brushing up on your Quebecois French to have a deeper and more authentic experience of the city, but most locals speak English so don’t let that be a deterrent.
If you’ve never been to this province before, retirement is the perfect time. Newfoundland offers great activities for retirees, including unique animal sightings (whale watching and up-close puffin viewing!), strolling through the picture perfect town of Trinity, viewing icebergs, and exploring the historic capital of St. John’s. Check out the traditional Irish village of Tilting on Fogo Island or take a boat excursion from Twillingate to have a completely unique and unforgettable experience.
The Canadian Rockies offer breathtaking landscape views and are perfect for nature and photography lovers. National parks, wildlife preserves, hiking trails, and ski runs are plenty in this beautiful part of Canada. Banff and Jasper are two popular areas, and understandably so—they’re close to an abundance of incredible sites like Lake Louise and are packed with rich cultural history. If you don’t want the hassle of driving during your trip, there are a number of train cars that offer tours such as the Rocky Mountaineer.
If you want to leave the country but not head too far away, there are plenty of great locations in the United States to explore during your retirement.
In order to really do the national parks justice, you need the abundance of time that retirement provides. There are many options all across the States, but the Grand Circle Road Trip is one of the most popular, with good reason. It offers some of the most stunning and wild scenery on the continent, and has fun activities for all ranges of outdoor enthusiasts. On this road trip, you’ll visit Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park, Capitol Reef National Park, Arches National Park, Canyonlands National Park, and Grand Canyon National Park. As a self-guided road trip, you can go as fast or as slow as you’d like and take whatever detours interest you during the vacation. Just make sure to plan out your path ahead of time to make sure no roads are closed as you encounter jaw dropping scenery.
If you’ve never visited the Big Apple, retirement is the perfect time to go. With so many classic attractions like the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, the Empire State Building, and Central Park, there’s an abundance to explore in the city. New York is incredibly walkable and is excellent year-round, with each season offering a unique experience of the city. You’ll want at least a few days to take in the main sights, and if you have time to spare, explore a little further. Try walking through Little Italy and Chinatown, visiting the Metropolitan Museum of Art, stopping by the Grand Central terminal or Wall Street, or spend an evening watching a Broadway Show. Wherever your interests lie, there’s something in this vibrant city for you to explore.
Hawaii is best experienced when you have plenty of time—making it a perfect destination for retirees. From stunning beaches to jungle-clad volcanoes to gorgeous seaside cliffs, incredible views are abundant. Enjoy your time in a luxury hotel and soak in the perfect weather and local food to make this an unforgettable experience. And with so many islands, there are options for everyone, no matter your activity preference. If you enjoy history and beach lounging, check out Oahu where you can visit Honolulu. There is more untouched natural beauty to be found on Maui or Kauai, and of course, up close and personal experiences with volcanoes right on the Big Island.
Central and South America
The Caribbean is perfect for anyone seeking a warm, relaxing, and rejuvenating vacation. Sitting on a white sand beach under a palm tree with that book you’ve been meaning to read and an iced drink within reach—it’s the perfect way to switch from the rush of your working life to retirement. Go snorkeling, swim with dolphins, or just soak in the sun on your well-deserved rest. You can pick one island and spend your full time there, or hop on a cruise to visit a number of islands, each with their own perks and exciting features. The Caribbean is a great destination year round, so it’s the perfect escape during the chillier months of winter.
Costa Rica is a nature lover’s paradise. From gorgeous rainforests to stunning beaches to volcanoes, there’s an abundance of exploration possibilities. Hang out with monkeys a few steps from the beach, watch sloths lounge in the treetops, and taste the wide range of native fruits. A relatively affordable location, you can spend a significant amount of time here soaking in the country and drinking some of the best coffee the world has to offer.
Visiting Machu Picchu is a classic bucket-list trip—and retirement is a great time to make the trek. But it isn’t all Peru has to offer. Both Lima and Cusco are incredible cities with countless fascinating attractions. Further from the cities, you can visit the Floating Islands of Lake Titicaca and experience a culture that is older than Incan civilization itself. The Rainbow Mountains are another popular sightseeing destination due to their beautiful and unusual colouring. Sit back and relax in an airplane as you soar over the mysterious Nazca Lines and make your own theories on how they came to be (or ask Taiya, our administrator and resident archaeologist!).
The unending beauty and abundance of exciting towns make Ireland a perfect destination for a lengthy trip. Dublin is an easy starting point where you can kick your trip off by visiting Trinity College, learning how to pour a proper pint at the Guinness Storehouse, and learning more about Ireland’s history at the prison-museum Kilmainham Gaol. Once you’ve had your fill of Dublin (which might take a while), consider some of the many fascinating other cities: Galway, Belfast, Dingle, Kinsale, Killarney, and Kilkenny, as well as the historic city of Derry and the extraordinary Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland. Make sure you visit Ireland’s incredible natural wonders like the Cliffs of Moher, and if you’re feeling more adventurous, drive the 179km Ring of Kerry along the Iveragh Peninsula for breathtaking views, historical sites, waterfalls, beaches, and monuments. Try taking the train while you’re there, and make sure to explore a few castles like Adare Manor, Dromoland Castle, or Carton House.
European River Cruises
These are a classic retiree vacation choice. Journey along iconic European waterways such as the Danube and the Rhine to enjoy the beautiful scenery of the Netherlands, Germany, Austria, and Hungary. River cruises offer an easy pace and a range of activity levels depending on your preference, as well as a great value for the amount of places you visit and a more intimate experience with each stop. Step on shore for excursions like bike tours, wine tastings, and even opera performances, or just sit back on deck and let the gorgeous landscapes scroll past.
Italy is packed with culture, scenery, and activities that will thrill all types of interests. Visit Rome and view the Colosseum and Pantheon, say hello to the statue of David in Florence, drive along the Amalfi Coast for gorgeous views along the stretch of coastline, or take a boat trip out to Capri to explore the beautiful island. For a more focused vacation, spend your time in Tuscany enjoying the laid-back atmosphere and countless vineyards. Wander among the palazzos and cathedrals while soaking up the Tuscan sun. If you’re looking for a little more excitement, travel to Venice and float down the canals while being serenaded and explore the fascinating shops and scenery.
Ever been on a lion safari? Now’s the time. Take a trip to South Africa and experience lions, giraffes, elephants, and zebras up close (but not too close). Safe within an all-terrain vehicle, you can see all the safari has to offer. The Kruger National Park is an excellent choice, and once you’ve gotten your lion fix, the rest of the country awaits. Relax on the beach, go on vineyard tours, or try riding the tram up Table Mountain in Cape Town.
Thailand is an excellent affordable destination for a luxurious retirement vacation. Whether you’re looking for a relaxing stay on a beach, visiting Buddhist temples, exploring floating markets, or the excitement of Bangkok, there are plenty of options. And best of all, you can experience the higher tier hotels and restaurants at an affordable price.
retirees on a budget. Bali features a plethora of gorgeous natural scenery including pristine beaches, waterfalls, and lush greenery. With magnificent temples and art markets, there isn’t a dull moment on this beautiful island. Take a trip to the Ubud Monkey Forest, experience a Balinese massage with traditional herbs and spices, or tour around the entire island with your own private driver who can tell you everything you’d want to learn about the culture.
Retirement is such an exciting time of life as it opens the door to once in a lifetime vacations. If you’re eager to hop in a plane but want to ensure you’re in the right financial spot to do so, that’s where we come in. Book a complementary call with one of us and let’s get you set up for the trip of your dreams.