Going on vacation with friends is one of the best types of getaways. Whether it’s to mark an occasion, such as a friend’s birthday, or simply a regular trip with your closest circle, taking an exciting trip with your friends creates lifelong memories.
You’ll share adventures, bond over new experiences, absorb culture together, sample local food and cocktails, and no doubt share many laughs.
From chic city destinations such as Paris and Lisbon, where you can mix culture with cuisine and shopping to the sun-drenched islands of Mykonos, Bali and Barbados, for a more relaxing vacation, here are some of the best places to travel with friends.
Add the vibrant Greek island of Mykonos to the top of your list as one of the best places to go on vacation with friends. Mykonos might be known for its lively nightlife, but it also offers oases of calm on its alluring beaches.
Wander the tangle of narrow streets in Mykonos Town to admire the garlands of bougainvillea draped against whitewashed buildings that Greece is known for. Browse the many boutiques to pick up a one-of-a-kind new outfit, accessories, and local arts and crafts.
Bask on a sun lounger, swim in the azure sea, and try the watersports on Kalafatis or Elia Beach. These well-equipped shores are some of the best beaches in Mykonos, found on the island’s south coast, within easy reach of Mykonos Town.
Mykonos also has a sophisticated dining scene, with international big-hitters Ling Ling by the Hakkasan group and Matsuhisa Nobu setting up on the island.
For a taste of authentic Cyclades cuisine, one of the best things to do in Mykonos is to dine at one of Little Venice’s prettiest waterfront restaurants, right on the waterfront. Share a gourmet mezze spread followed by ultra-fresh squid, octopus, mussels, and lobster, while you enjoy the calming sound of gentle waves lapping right outside.
If you’re thirsty for culture, enjoy a scenic 40-minute boat trip to the remote island of Delos, next to Mykonos. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Delos is the birthplace of Apollo in Greek mythology, and a sacred place.
The entire rocky island is an archaeological site with evidence of human occupation that dates back to the 3rd millennium B.C. Excavations have been taking place on Delos since 1872 and are still underway today.
When planning your trip to Greece, consider signing your group up for a guided tour of the archaeological site. Wander the ancient streets, enjoying the silence; the only sounds on Delos are the whisper of the sea breeze and the hum of insects among the wildflowers.
Read: Best Summer Destinations in Europe
Go barefoot on the Indonesian island of Bali, one of the best places to travel with friends, for a blissful blend of tropical beaches, rich culture, and a hip, boho vibe.
Head to Kuta Beach near Denpasar, the capital of Bali, for a relaxing day dipping in and out of the silky water. One of the best beaches in Bali, Kuta offers a vast strip of white sand bordered by palm trees and beach bars.
Relax while enjoying a beachside massage from your sun lounger, whizz around on water toys, and sip colorful cocktails.
Amid the lush rainforests and terraced rice paddies of Bali’s southern uplands, Ubud is a must-visit for temples, museums, and shopping for traditional crafts.
Prepare for a sensory overload as you trawl Ubud’s art and street markets for locally-made items. On Jl. Raya and Jl. Karna, which meet at a junction in the center of Ubud, you’ll find gorgeous wood carvings, silver-hammered trinket boxes, colorful paintings, rattan boxes, and handwoven baskets, among a kaleidoscope of jewelry, scarves, and textiles.
Look out for the independent pottery and ceramic studios dotted around Ubud, including Serayu Pottery and Gaya Ceramic Arts Center, selling beautifully-made pieces.
Take a seat under an umbrella to cool off with a fresh mango juice and Balinese food once you’ve purchased a selection of souvenirs.
Across from Ubud Market, visit Ubud Palace and its temple, Puri Saren Agung. Here, you can explore the complex of mainly 20th-century-built pavilions and palaces. After, walk the short distance to Saraswati Temple, an ornate Hindu temple accessed via a pretty lotus pond.
One of the most awe-inspiring sights in Bali to visit with friends is Uluwatu Temple on the island’s southwest tip. Uluwatu Temple is a Balinese Hindu sea temple that clings to the top of a 230-foot cliff.
The temple dates from the 11th century and today is occupied by a gaggle of opportunistic monkeys which have learned to steal from visitors, so hold onto your sunglasses.
Beautiful Lisbon—the capital of Portugal and one of the oldest cities in Europe—has long been one of the best places to go on vacation with friends. It’s hard not to fall hard for this hilly city, with its perfect blend of culture, art, history, and gastronomy.
There’s only one way to start your day in Lisbon, with a coffee and a pastel de nata—Portugal’s signature custard tart deserving of its own UNESCO-protected status.
Most visitors to Lisbon head straight to Pastéis de Belém, where the locals go for their daily fix. For an alternative option, try Rua do Loreto’s Manteigaria on the southern boundary of the bohemian Bairro Alto neighborhood of Lisbon.
Bairro Alto is Lisbon’s artsy quarter, with a wonderful collection of restaurants, Fado houses, galleries, and boutiques for you and your friends to discover.
Wander around, taking in the colorful balconied houses and vibrant street art that Portugal is famous for, before riding Lisbon’s iconic yellow and white Bica Funicular through the cobbled streets.
You can tick off many of Lisbon’s best attractions in one breezy cycle ride. Hire bikes and glide beneath the striking 25 April Bridge to end up at the Jerónimos Monastery and Belém Tower, one of the most beautiful places in Portugal.
This route covers a couple of miles and several museums, including the Popular Art Museum, the National Coach Museum, and the Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga.
Read: How to Spend 3 Days in Lisbon
Costa Rica—neatly sandwiched between Panama and Nicaragua, with the Pacific Ocean to the west and the Caribbean Sea to the east—offers an abundance of arresting sights.
This Central America hotspot ranks among the best places to travel with friends for its heavenly mix of tropical beaches, tangled rainforests, adventure sports, and wildlife.
Spot multi-colored macaws, slow-moving sloths, and howler monkeys on a hike with your buddies in the dense Carara National Park. Located near the Pacific Coast, Carara is one of 28 designated national parks in Costa Rica and an idyllic destination for an exhilarating jungle adventure.
Experience more of Costa Rica’s nature and follow the Laguna Meandrica Trail, which is just over one mile long and offers the chance to spot crocodiles in the Tárcoles River.
Monteverde Cloud Forest, in the northwest province of Sierra de Tilarán near Puntarenas, permanently draped in a dewy mist, is another hit for its array of dazzling flora and fauna.
Cross high-altitude hanging bridges and zipline through the park’s tangle of emerald trees as you look for birdlife, including quetzals, bright green and yellow chlorophonias, and hummingbirds.
If you and your travel companions are equally happy lazing on a beach, the photogenic Punta Uva, where the jungle meets the white sand, is just the spot. It’s known as one of the best beaches in Central America.
Located on Costa Rica’s Caribbean coast, Punta Uva offers deliciously warm water with a range of watersports on offer. A coral reef can also be reached from the shoreline, making it perfect for snorkeling.
Read: Ultimate Costa Rican Food Guide
Pop Champagne corks with your closest pals in Paris, France, known for the Moulin Rouge, the Eiffel Tower, and fabulous shopping and dining.
Enjoy a stroll along the banks of the Seine from the Eiffel Tower toward Notre-Dame. The latter is still under reconstruction after a devastating fire in 2019, though you can admire the exterior of the medieval cathedral as you pass by.
The walk will tick off plenty of the best sights in Paris, including the Musée d’Orsay and the Louvre—two of the best museums in the world—lying just across the river from each other.
As you reach the Latin Quarter of the South Bank, explore the independent boutiques, antique stores, and wine bars that Paris is famous for.
If you’re in the mood to shop while in France, Galeries Lafayette is a one-stop luxury department store featuring a remarkable steel-framed art-nouveau glass-domed ceiling. Head to the roof terrace once you’ve shopped to marvel at the magnificent views of Paris over a glass of Champagne.
For serious culture cachet, take in an afternoon performance at the Palais Garnier, the home of French opera in Place de l’Opéra and one of the most famous landmarks in Paris.
Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
Cabo San Lucas is among the best places to go on vacation with friends to experience ravishing beaches and Baja California cuisine at its best.
Make your way to the gorgeous Lovers Beach, or Playa del Amor, via a glass-bottom boat from Cabo’s marina. The secluded Lovers Beach is one of the best beaches in Cabo, featuring golden sand, turquoise water, and jagged rock formations.
Some of the best things to do in Cabo include sailing, kayaking, or paddleboarding around El Arco, Cabo’s famous granite sea arch, where the Pacific Ocean meets the Sea of Cortez. The water is an alluring sapphire blue, while the gleaming rocks make the perfect backdrop for a selfie with your nearest and dearest friends.
In Downtown Cabo, tall palm trees line the vibrant streets. Browse the galleries, boutiques, market stalls, and tequila stores that Mexico is known for.
In leafy Amelia Wilkes Square, the location of the Museum of Natural History, make a reservation for lunch at the cheery Mi Casa restaurant. Share platters of fresh ceviche, corn tostadas loaded with fresh guacamole, and indulgent lobster enchiladas.
Read: Advice for Traveling to Mexico
There are many reasons to love Iceland. One of them is that it’s one of the best places to go on vacation with friends. The shared experiences Iceland offers—from exploring glaciers and trekking across volcanic landscapes to spotting whales and puffins in the wild—are magical.
Gather your group for a trip to what is arguably Iceland’s most popular landmark, the opaque Blue Lagoon. Carved into a lava field near Grindavík, southwest Iceland, the milky-blue geothermal spa is surrounded by dramatic black rocks.
The water is heated to a sumptuous 100-degrees Fahrenheit, with the rising steam creating an altogether otherworldly ambiance that makes it one of the most beautiful places in Iceland.
Slip into the relaxing waters of this Icelandic hot spring and lather silica mud onto your skin to enhance the experience. An added bonus: There’s a swim-up bar in the pool, so you can enjoy the surreal experience of drinking a cocktail in a geothermally heated pool with silica mud all over your face, should you wish.
In Reykjavik, get your steps in on a walking tour of the city to witness jazzy street art. You could also climb to the top of the city’s striking Hallgrímskirkja church, browse the chic vintage and independent stores of Laugavegur, and wander along the waterfront to Harpa, the city’s mirrored Harpa concert hall.
On the edge of the Caribbean, Barbados’ eastern seaboard is known for its wild Atlantic-pounded coastline. The island’s west coast is often referred to as the Platinum Coast for its calmer, clear water, pale gold beaches, and luxury condos and hotels.
You and your friends could experience both sides of this beautiful island, even during a short stay. Barbados’s hinterland is not to be overlooked, either, with nature walks in tropical forests, historic plantation estates, and even a vintage-style steam railway.
One of the many great things about Barbados is that you don’t need to leave its capital, Bridgetown, as there’s plenty to see here.
If you’re in town on a Wednesday, Saturday, or Sunday, start your day with an iced coffee or freshly-squeezed juice at Bridgetown’s Hastings Farmers Market.
The market is held year-round between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m. at the ArtSplash Centre Cafe, selling organic island-grown produce, a tasty selection of Trinidadian and Bajan dishes, and arts and crafts such as hand-carved sculptures and leather shoes.
After you’ve sifted through the goods at the market, head to Bridgetown Garrison, one of the Caribbean’s 23 UNESCO World Heritage Sites. In the 18th and 19th centuries, Bridgetown Garrison was the largest in the British colonies, featuring the St. Ann’s Fort, built in 1705, soldiers’ barracks, a parade ground, and a commissariat.
Explore this historic area of Bridgetown—with its mix of colonial-era buildings—on a walking tour. The Barbados Museum and Historical Society, housed in what was the Garrison’s British Military prison, traces the island’s history through exhibitions and artifacts.
You could also tour George Washington House, a 1700s plantation home with a mustard-yellow facade once visited by George Washington. This brings you nicely to sunny Carlisle Bay—one of the best beaches in Barbados—where you could enjoy the powdery white sand and the warm turquoise sea.
If your group fancies exploring the green interior that Barbados is known for, head to Highland in St. Thomas. Overlooking a lush valley of tropical vegetation, Highland offers some of the best views of Barbados.
Harrison’s Cave, in the center of Barbados, is a must-visit to gaze at flowing streams, deep, teal-hued pools, and shards of stalactites and stalagmites.
Another reason Barbados is one of the best places to travel with friends is its rum. Follow a tour of Mount Gay’s 300-year-old Bridgetown distillery by sipping on a delicious Caribbean rum punch with your travel buddies.
From city escapes to relaxing beach breaks, discover some of the best places to travel with friends on a luxury cruise vacation with Celebrity. Browse itineraries here and start planning your group adventure.