6 EPIC 50th Birthday Trip Ideas to Celebrate a Half-Century

explorer chicks hiking wild

Turning 50 is a big life event and many people choose to do something special to celebrate this milestone birthday. You could just go for a bar-based birthday bash and eat mountains of birthday cake, but how much better would it be to organize a spectacular 50th birthday trip as a special treat to mark the start of the next decade of life.

I planned a romantic few days in Venice, Italy with my husband for my 50th birthday trip, but after he got excited and invited a load of people I ended up sharing my birthday weekend. At first, I was a little cross but I ended up enjoying delicious food, unforgettable memories, and exploring the rich history of this amazing city with some lovely friends so it turned out just fine!

I spent time researching how and where to celebrate my big birthday before choosing Venice, so I thought it would be useful to share some top tips and birthday ideas so you too can make the most of any significant event.

I’ll cover ideas for destinations, activities, and experiences so you can plan the perfect birthday trip, solo, as a couple or with friends and family.

Where Can I Celebrate My 50th Birthday?

So, where are the best place to start year 50 with a bang? There are plenty of great places, but to give you some ideas, here are 6 epic trip ideas for that big 5 0.

Hike the Inca Trail in Peru

hiking section of the inca trail
Explorer Chicks on the Inca Trail Trek.

To mark milestone birthdays, what could be better than a trip to a historic bucket list destination with spectacular scenery? Hiking the Inca Trail in Peru is the perfect backdrop to prove that 50 is just a number and reaching your half century doesn’t mean you have to leave behind your spirit of adventure.

However, that doesn’t mean you have to endure an entirely back-to-basics trip. I don’t know about you but at my age I enjoy at least some touches of luxury even on camping trips. Check out trips with porter support, and decent accommodation – think dining tents, private toilets and showers and maybe the option for at least a few nights in proper beds after time spent exploring this unique region of the world.

Imagine your sense of accomplishment completing an epic hike, following in the footsteps of the Inca to Machu Picchu. Take in the amazing views and experience the unique culture. Get your camera ready for some unmatchable social pics. 

This is definitely a trip for those with a decent level of physical fitness who can cope with and enjoy a challenging uphill hike at high altitude. If you love leg day and the high from completing an intense work-out, this is the dream vacation for you.

See the Northern Lights in Iceland

glacier trekking in iceland
Glacier trekking in Iceland

Now this was definitely on my bucket list when I was planning my 50th. It was only the fact that my birthday is in May and that’s not the best time to see the Northern Lights that made me reluctantly shelve that trip for another occasion.

If you love cosy clothes and cute hats, roaring fires and idyllic winterscapes, Iceland is the place for you. Beat the beach bores by casually dropping in mentions of your glacier ice climbing and hot springs soak seshes, and wow them with your waterfall selfies. No filters needed for pics of this incredibly photogenic nation with black beaches, blue waters and of course, majestic glaciers. Explore craggy national parks, volcanic landscapes and beautiful waterscapes and enjoy the freshest of air during your birthday celebration.

This destination would work equally well as a solo trip, bonding experience with friends, or even as a family vacation with enough outdoor activities on offer here to satisfy even the most hard core adventurer.

Walk on a Glacier in Alaska

woman ice climbing alaska
Women’s Alaska Tour

Continuing in the chill zone, how about exploring a glacier in the largest state in the US? Alaska has a whole bunch of fun things to do for bad-ass nature lovers so if kayaking, climbing, hiking, and generally high-fiving Mother Nature is your thing, this is the special occasion state for you.

Here are some fun facts about Alaska:

Top 7 Best Hikes in Alaska According to Hikers – Explorer Chick
These are the best hikes in Alaska for every type of hiker in every season whether you want a snowy winter trek or a casual lake-side stroll.

Consider a road trip or guided vacation to make the most of a trip to Alaska for your 50th birthday. For an especially unique trip, consider a plane ride over national parks or glaciers, trekking on a glacier, or sea kayaking through icy waters in the Prince William Sound. (If you want to do ALL of these, the Explorer Chick Alaska trip packs all these adventures in and more.)

Snorkel in the Galapagos

woman in the galapagos
Galapagos adventure trip

Some people prefer warmer climates and if admiring nature’s wonders on a sandy beach in South America sounds like your idea of bliss, then consider walking in Darwin’s footsteps in the Galapagos.

All year round there are different creatures and plants to see, some of which you won’t see anywhere else in the world. The Galapagos is a group of volcanic islands, rocks and islets about 1,000 kms off the coast of Ecuador in the Southern Hemisphere. Visiting this region, you can check out the truth in the story that water swirls down the drain the opposite way in the Southern Hemisphere versus the Northern Hemisphere.

This really is the go-to place for nature lovers so if your TikTok is populated with cute animal videos and you love the National Geographic channel, you have to take the opportunity of a lifetime and treat yourself to the best birthday present ever – a trip to the Galapagos islands.

Enjoy natural encounters with nature in a way that protects and conserves, then retire to luxurious accommodation to upload pics and share your experience. I mean, is there any point in travelling to these fabulous destinations if you can’t sprinkle a few brag-bites through your social media?

The fun doesn’t stop there though — don’t just stand and gawp at the sights this real-world Jurassic Park has on offer. Get up close and personal by snorkelling, hiking, and biking to get a 360 degree feel for this special place with beautiful beaches and a whole host of breathtaking sights you won’t see in even the best of botanical gardens. 

Sure — you could see many of the world’s creatures during a day trip to the zoo but for a 50th birthday or other special occasions, a trip to Galapagos has to be on the top of any birthday trip ideas list especially if you’re keen to see turtles and tortoises from the water’s edge rather than from behind glass.

Go Wild in Las Vegas

trip ideas for 50th birthday las vegas
Explorer Chick birthday Las Vegas trip

The only thing you need in Sin City is a desire to have fun whether that’s in the many casinos, eating until you feel you might burst, scaling the rocks of the world famous Red Rocks or kayaking through the Black Canyon on the Lower Colorado River.

With so many fabulous eateries within walking distance of most hotels, you’ll want to make the most of the beautiful outdoorsy calorie-burning activities around (so you can work up an appetite and eat even more, of course!). Your hotel might have an onsite restaurant but there are loads of places to eat in Vegas ranging from casual themed to fine dining.

There is more to Vegas than the Strip so check out the “old town” around Fremont Street. People watch, dance to live music, and check out the many art galleries in this district, including the Metropolitan Gallery Las Vegas Art Museum.

I live in a rural area and work in a big city (basically, the best of both worlds) so I know how great a vacation with elements of both can be. Imagine being able to go from marveling at the bright lights of Vegas to the billion star sky of the surrounding desert-scape. Spend a day hiking, climbing or biking on day trips in the Mojave Desert then head straight back to civilization for a session in the steam room, hot tub and a selection of spa treatments to get you ready for your next adventure.

Foodie Trip to Venice

venice birthday trip

As I mentioned earlier, for my own 50th birthday weekend I went to Venice, Italy with a group of friends. The trip brought us closer together as a group and now we have a really special relationship built on fabulous memories.

We’re all foodies and last time we visited this historic destination we were hotel guests. We ate breakfast in the hotel dining room and found places across the city to eat and drink the rest of the time. One amazing restaurant we visited on my birthday, we agreed to let the chef create a fabulous multi-course meal for us. I basked in happiness as my friends sang happy birthday. Then, we wandered via narrow streets, along the canals and over tiny bridges, back to our hotel.

We’re going back to our favourite place with the same friends but this time intend to live as much as possible like the Venetians, staying in a historic former palace with a terrace where we plan to sit with Aperol Spritz’s chatting and people watching.

There are plenty of self catering accommodations in Venice and a multitude of markets, grocery stores, bakeries, and places selling colorful fresh pasta to create your own meals from locally sourced fresh ingredients. Self catering, you could even make your own pasta or take a food tour of your local “sestieri” avoiding the tourist traps. A budget-friendly Venetian fave you should get: frittura di pesce misto. This is a selection of hot fried fish and seafood. It usually comes in a cone to be enjoyed while you wander the ancient streets.

Top Tips for Exploring Venice:

  • Wear comfortable shoes. It might be tempting to emulate the effortless style of the Italians, but a trip to Venice involves a lot of walking. It’s not the only way to explore of course – buy tickets for the water bus or treat yourself to a ride on a gondola or water taxi.
  • Use a paper map. Phone and GPS signal is often patchy around the city and without a paper map it’s easy to get lost. Actually with a paper map it’s still easy to get lost, but you may discover some amazing sights while you work your way back to the main trail. If in doubt, follow the many signs to the Rialto bridge and start again from there.
  • Don’t opt for pizza. This sounds a bit odd but almost nowhere in Venice is allowed a traditional wood-fired oven to cook pizza in and although many places sell pizza it is not a local specialty and is really aimed at tourists. Choose fish, seafood, or pasta for a more authentic Venetian experience.

Read more about planning a 50th birthday trip to Venice.

Single Travel Tours for Women 50+: Everything You Need to Know – Explorer Chick
If that midlife crisis is sinking in and you’re ready to prove age really is just a number, check out some single travel tours for women 50+.

How Do You Celebrate Your 50th Birthday?

Birthday margaritas in the Grand Canyon
Birthday margaritas in the Grand Canyon anyone?!? (Yes, we do do this.)

Celebrate with cake, with friends, with an experience to relax or challenge you – you choose! If scaling a mountain solo or attending yoga retreats brings you joy then do that rather than organise an event for other people to enjoy. I’m a foodie so my idea of a treat would involve great food in a scenic location.

What Is the 50th Birthday Called?

Did you know that a 50th birthday can be called a semi-centennial or a quinquagenary? Now you do!

Is There a Color for 50th Birthday?

A 50th wedding anniversary is a Golden wedding anniversary – gold is generally associated with any 5oth anniversary, including 50th birthdays.

Why is Your 50th Birthday Special?

Any birthday is special, especially those when you reach an age with a 0 in it, but reaching 50 should be particularly celebrated as it marks a whole half a century since birth. For me, it was a birthday I could enjoy as an established confident woman who knows what she wants and isn’t afraid to go get it.

I believe we should take every opportunity to enjoy and celebrate life, so if you have a big birthday coming up, start listing those birthday trip ideas now! Need more birthday trip inspiration? See our 30th birthday trip ideas.

celebrate your birthday with other women

Meet the Writer

Afra Willmore

Afra is an award winning journalist who has enjoyed many adventures including swimming with sharks, crewing hot air balloons and canyoning.  She started creating online content ten years ago, diversifying after years writing for print publications. She loves travel, great food, and her family. Not necessarily in that order.

Favorite outdoor adventure: Snorkeling in the warm waters off the coast of Cyprus

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