The 50 best things to do in the world right now have been revealed by Time Out, and it is the Yayoi Kusama Museum in Tokyo that takes the top spot. It is followed by New York’s hedonistic gem House of Yes and an out-of-this-world sauna in Sweden called Solar Egg.
The Time Out DO List features the best experiences in the world right now. The global list is based on over 5,000 recommendations in 400 destinations, curated by Time Out’s global professional network of local, expert editors, and via a survey of 15,000 urbanites around the world. The final list was then ranked by Time Out’s editors, who judged the entries on uniqueness, authenticity, timeliness, place, audacity and sheer cultural brilliance. The result is the essential bucket list to help people go out right now, anywhere in the world: timeout.com/best-things-to-do-in-the-world
1. Polka dot paradise: Yayoi Kusama Museum - Tokyo (Japan)
Yayoi Kusama’s art is incredibly distinct, ubiquitous and much loved: giant polka dot pumpkins, huge infinity mirrors filled with colour-changing paper lanterns and enormous psychedelic flower sculptures made her an art superstar. The Yayoi Kusama Museum – a slender, minimalist space – opened in 2017. It is a polka dot paradise and Instagram heaven, giving Kusama fans an intimate glimpse into her work. Admission tickets must be purchased in advance through the museum’s website and there are no door tickets at this point – but those who nab some are rewarded with an unforgettable experience of beautiful masterworks.
2. The shining star of all party venues: House of Yes - New York (U.S.)
Located in Brooklyn’s Bushwick neighbourhood, House of Yes is a hidden-away club celebrating all things hedonistic. The name says it all: it is a place where anything goes, and it is keeping the city’s weird streak alive. On any given night, the house will be packed with body painters, aerialists, dancers and more – this is an eclectic hub where euphoric parties and taboo happenings are commonplace and the most liberated city dwellers feel right at home.
3. An out of this world sauna: Solar Egg by Bigert & Bergström for Riksbyggen - Kiruna (Sweden)
Kiruna is one of Sweden’s most northernmost towns – it is an otherworldly place, and home to an out-of-this-world sauna. Solar Egg is a giant, shiny golden-mirror-clad social sculpture by artists Bigert & Bergström, laid on a hilltop and surrounded by Lapland’s icy landscape. It is an insanely cool sauna, a warm cocoon to enjoy and follow with a reinvigorating naked roll in the arctic snow. The Solar Egg was built in response to the near-biblical challenge of moving the town two miles eastwards to escape subsidence from an iron ore mine.
4. Stepping into another world, then another, then another: Meow Wolf - Santa Fe (U.S.)
Taking entertainment to the next level, Meow Wolf in Santa Fe is an immersive, interactive installation making art accessible to everyone. Inside an unassuming building in the city’s industrial district is the ‘House of Eternal Return’ – a multi-dimensional experience for adults and kids alike, featuring mind-bending and magical worlds, accessed through secret passages: sliding down a washing machine or climbing through a refrigerator, visitors land at the end of the tunnel in a lounge space, a room aglow with twinkling blue stars or even an award-winning music venue.
5. Colombia’s official and explosive national sport: Tejo at Los Amigos Club - Cali (Colombia)
Colombia’s national sport, Tejo, involves drinking copious amounts of beer while throwing metal pucks into a nearby goal packed with clay. But there is a twist: the clay is embedded with small explosives, which prove particularly difficult to avoid after a couple of drinks. The late, great Anthony Bourdain made Tejo internationally popular; he learned to play it at Los Amigos Club in Cali, where visitors can still toss a tejo puck, drink too much of the local brew and hang out with regulars.
6. Losing oneself in immersive light installations: Museum of Old & New Art - Tasmania (Australia)
The Museum of Old and New Art is full of surprises: it is built underground, accessed by a high speed, camo-painted ferry and was funded by the gambling proceeds of owner David Walsh. Located in Hobart, Tasmania – Australia’s island state – the museum’s most recent addition is the Pharos Wing, described by Walsh as ‘a testimonial to the power of light as art’, and features four majors works by James Turrell amongst others. In fact, it is one of the only places in the world right now to experience one of his perceptual cells: a fully immersive light bath – it is like a hallucination. Once visitors have seen the light, they can continue their exploration by heading to the Faro bar for an Instagram-friendly Black Margarita, garnished with a pig’s eye encased in ice.
7. Film screenings in an iconic cemetery: Cinespia - Los Angeles (U.S.)
There is hardly a more magical movie experience in this world than Cinespia’s cemetery screenings which bring hoards of movie lovers to the hallowed resting place of Hollywood stars such as Bugsy Siegel and Rudolph Valentino. It isn’t summer in L.A. until Angelenos flock to the Hollywood Forever Cemetery lawn – packed with drinks, snacks and blankets – to watch classic and cult films projected onto the side of an enormous mausoleum. There are also DJ sets, dance parties, fireworks, film-set-worthy photo booths and a few all-night slumber parties.
8. Seeing a secret Gaudí: Casa Vicens - Barcelona (Spain)
Mention Barcelona, and the Gaudí wonders of Sagrada Familia and Park Güell are always going to be at the top of a traveller’s must-see list. But the most recent Gaudí to open to the public was in fact his first major architectural undertaking, and an inspiration for his later works. Casa Vicens was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2005, but only opened to the public in November 2017. Since then visitors have been able to explore the house designed in 1853 as a summer resort in the Gràcia neighbourhood. Top tip: it is half price to visit on Mondays in summer.
9. High-altitude cuisine in the mountains of Peru: Mil - Maras (Peru)
Mil is Peru’s only restaurant dedicated to high-altitude cuisine. Guests of this unique restaurant overlook the ruins of Moray – built by the Inca as an agricultural laboratory. As an homage to these former innovators, the restaurant only serves ingredients grown at 11,500 feet or above. Diners enjoy eight ‘moments’, featuring local wine, alpaca and a handful of Peru’s 4,000 types of tubers. The experience – and the high-altitude location – will leave people breathless (literally, there's an oxygen tank on hand at the restaurant).
10. Taste the best of the city’s cuisine - Time Out Market Lisbon (Portugal)
Once a neglected building, in 2014 Time Out Lisbon editors went about turning the Mercado da Ribeira into Time Out Market, a food and cultural market bringing the best of the city under one roof: its best restaurants, bars and cultural experiences. Popular with both locals and tourists, 3.6 million visitors came to the market in 2017 to explore excellent food from 32 restaurants and kiosks; enjoy drinks from eight bars and cafes; buy from five shops; and attend cooking workshops in the Chef’s Academy and events in the Time Out Studio, a 900-capacity entertainment venue. In 2019, new Time Out Markets are set to open in Miami, New York, Boston, Chicago and Montreal.
11. A Venusian-approved sound bath: Integraton - Landers (U.S.)
Built in 1959 by ufologist George Van Tassel, who claimed to have been following instructions given to him by visiting Venusians, the Integraton is an all-white, all-wood, dome-topped sound chamber in the middle of the Joshua Tree desert. Booking well in advance is a necessity, and once there, visitors can relax in a hammock and then enjoy a sound bath in the acoustically (and aesthetically) perfect surroundings.
12. A journey through human emotions: Museum of Broken Relationships - Zagreb (Croatia)
Starting life as a tongue-in-cheek touring exhibition nearly a decade ago, the Museum of Broken Relationships has found a permanent home in an eighteenth-century palace in Zagreb’s Upper Town. It is one of the most eccentric museums on earth, telling the story of failed relationships through miscellaneous objects donated by the public. For recently heartbroken visitors wanting to cheer themselves up, the new restaurant at the museum features playfully experimental takes on Croatian cuisine.
13. Riding Norway’s fastest zipline: Zipline at Mount Ulriken - Bergen (Norway)
Forget open-top bus rides, there is a new best way to see unparalleled views of the city of Bergen. Thrill seekers can launch themselves from the 643 meter summit of Mount Ulriken, and hurtle down Norway’s fastest zipline, taking in the sights of Bergen’s spires, fjords, mountains and the North Sea with 360-degree views of the panoramic vistas to boot.
14. The world’s largest museum of contemporary African Art: Zeitz MOCAA - Cape Town (South Africa)
The Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (Zeitz MOCAA) in Cape Town opened in late 2017 and quickly attracted visitors from all over the world. The spectacular building houses over 100 galleries, spread across nine floors, showcasing cutting-edge art. This not-for-profit museum collects, preserves, researches, and exhibits twenty-first-century art from Africa and its diaspora. Above the museum resides the Silo Hotel with a fantastically buzzy bar.
15. A Japanese whisky pilgrimage to the mountainous Hakushu Distillery, in the pine forests of the southern Japanese Alps, serving up the World’s Best Whisky – Hokuto (Japan).
16. A world of colour at Taiwan’s Rainbow-painted village, now a protected cultural area after it was decorated by the only remaining resident of the village, once a settlement for retired veterans – Taichung City (Taiwan).
17. The Legacy Museum, the first museum to trace the African American experience from slavery to mass incarceration – Montgomery (U.S.).
18. Run with the pack at Territorio de Zaguates, also known as the ‘Land of Strays’, a mountainside sanctuary that is home to hundreds of stray dogs – Carrizal de Alajuela (Costa Rica).
19. Solitude soak at the Mývatn Nature Baths, located 489 km from Reykjavík and off the tourist trail – Mývatn (Iceland).
20. A local institution in the home of house music, dance the night away at Queen!, a club night at Smart Bar – Chicago (U.S.).
21. Experience mind-bending landscapes, stargazing, geysers and flamingos in the Atacama Desert, the world’s driest place – Atacama (Chile).
22. The birthplace of jerk chicken, Boston Bay, is a far cry from some of the more touristy resorts in Jamaica and has authenticity and atmosphere in abundance, like the hundreds of ramshackle stalls lining the streets – Boston Bay (Jamaica).
23. Visit New Orleans’s Studio Be, a beautiful and thought-provoking homage to the city’s resilience and resistance – New Orleans (USA).
24. Ride the 28-mile Trappist Route that starts and ends at Westmalle, the abbey that is home to beer brewed by monks for centuries – Westmalle (Belgium).
25. An hour’s drive into the rural Chilean rainforest, 17 natural hot springs are tucked away in a rainforest canyon at Termas Geometricas – Panguipulli (Chile).
26. The Field of Light is a solar-powered installation at Australia’s spiritual (and literal) centre, with 50,000 glowing orbs best visited at sunrise or sunset – Uluru (Australia).
27. The longest navigable underground river in the world, paddle through caverns in Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park – Palawan (Philippines).
28. Indulge in both couture and culture at the Yves Saint Laurent Museum, where art, design, fashion and nature intersect – Marrakech (Morocco).
29. A temple of Korean beauty products, Filter Space is a three stories building that is as much immersive experience as retail experience – Seoul (South Korea).
30. Bota Bota, a floating three storey spa and bar on a frozen river – Montreal (Canada).
31. The old beer factory at Bomontiada has been transformed into a cultural hub, with music, craft beer, fine dining, art and photography – Istanbul (Turkey).
32. A breath of fresh art at digital arts space, L’Atelier des Lumières, is the first centre in Paris dedicated entirely to digital arts – Paris (France).
33. Roast marshmallows and hot dogs at the top of the Pacaya Volcano, leaping over cracks of lava to nab a prime roasting location – Antigua (Guatemala).
34. The secret research library at the Rijkmuseum features floor-to-ceiling shelves of thick, dusty books, spiral staircases and bags of nineteenth-century charm, plus a special reading room in the centre – Amsterdam (Netherlands).
35. Kayak through the stars in the Laguna Grande bioluminescent bay and marvel at Mother Nature’s sparkle – Fajardo, Puerto Rico (U.S.).
36. Travel back in time on the Montenegro Express from Belgrade to Bar, along one of the last historic railways in the area – Belgrade (Serbia).
37. Future World is the only permanent exhibition at the ArtScience Museum, with immersive 4D art featuring digitally-rendered waterfalls, cherry blossom blooms and more – Singapore.
38. Finally get your hands on tickets to Hamilton without the New York price tag by taking a trip to Chicago, Buffalo or London.
39. The road to Hana is Maui’s claim to road trip fame: a winding, 64-mile stretch of busted concrete, toppled trees and the occasional mudslide or overflowing waterfall – Maui (U.S.).
40. Take in charreria, Mexico’s national sport and answer to a rodeo at the Lienzo Charro de Jalisco – Guadalajara (Mexico).
41. Admire Scottish design at Scotland’s world-class design museum, V&A Dundee – Dundee (Scotland).
42. Laugh out loud at ISSA Comedy Show, bringing out the best of Berlin’s for a monthly night showcasing acts from around the world – Berlin (Germany).
43. Visit the Eden Project, the original and biggest indoor rainforest, for a green fix – Cornwall (UK).
44. Retrace the paths of the Romans (and the cast of ‘Game of Thrones’) in Italica, an incredibly well-preserved Roman city – Seville (Spain).
45. Once a police compound and prison in central Hong Kong, Tai Kwun has reopened as an arts complex – Hong Kong (China).
46. Shop ‘til you drop at 10 Corso Como, Milan’s chicest fashion emporium, stocking hundreds of the world’s coolest labels – Milan (Italy).
47. Discover the art and architecture of Jean Nouvel’s creation, the Louvre Abu Dhabi – Abu Dhabi (UAE)
48. Pick up the finest quality artisan cheese, bread, veg, game and coffee, or visit some of the best restaurants and bars in the city at Borough Market – London (UK).
49. Test your nerves at the world’s highest bungee jump, at Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon Glass Bridge – Wulingyuan (China).
50. Experience the world’s largest virtual reality theme park, VR Park, where everything is designed to suck you into a virtual world, even the temperatures and smells – Dubai (UAE).
Caroline McGinn, Global Editor-in-Chief of Time Out, said: “Time Out’s mission is to help you go out. Its local expert network of editors and writers are dedicated to curating the best things to do in more than 400 destinations worldwide. We know, because we go!
"For our inaugural list of the best things to do in the world, our editors drew on thousands of local recommendations, and whittled them down to just 50. It was tough, but I think this global ranking celebrates what’s brilliant, quirky, unique and truly memorable in the world of going out right now. The result is wonderfully miscellaneous, but each local entry that made the global list is there because we think it is the best of its kind right now. We live in a time where people value experiences over stuff – and are looking for more than the wisdom of crowds. We hope that the DO List becomes your annual bucket list, and an inspiration to discover the world’s coolest cultural experiences.”
Read more about the 50 best things to do in the world right now here: