There are hundreds of books and websites suggesting places to go, things to do and see before you die. This is my list of 10 places I've visited (not including Montenegro) that are worthy of mention in no particular order.
1St Petersburg, Russia is a fairy-tale-like city for many reasons. Although the amount of gold visible in churches, palaces and museums could be rather kitsch to some, the architecture is very impressive and unrelenting as you tour the city, either on foot, by river taxi or if you brave the packed trams or trolleybuses. In fact, even by underground metro, the station architecture is surprisingly grand. St Petersburg is the cultural capital of Russia, people are much more relaxed and considerate than in the vast and faceless metropolis of Moscow. This city is worth visiting for the Hermitage alone, the building as much a work of art as the artifacts contained inside. Venturing out of the city limits brings you to sumptuous grounds of palaces like Peterhof or Tsarskoe Selo (pictured right).
2The Himalayas, partly in Nepal, redefine one's understanding of scale as one stands, for example, in the Kali Gandaki river valley with 6km of rock rising above on either side. Although everyone has rightly heard of Everest, for the more amateur climber, the Annapurna Circuit holds just as much in the way of wonderful views. Annapurna I at 8,091m high is the 10th highest peak in the world. Escaping from the noise and pollution of Kathmandu to the serenity of Lake Phewa in Pokhara brings you within striking distance of the Himalayas.
3Floating in the Dead Sea, Israel and Jordan, is one of the more surreal experiences available in this region and should be combined with treatment with the special mineral-rich mud extracted from the Dead Sea. The salinity is so high that there are constant warnings about seeking medical help if you get any water in your eyes. But you can't really swim in this water because it is so buoyant, you have to just float. The sea floor and anything exposed to water for any length of time becomes encrusted with salt crystals, often making sharp surfaces you can easily cut your feet on. Picture taken from http://en.wikipedia.org/
4Plitvice Lakes, Croatia. Although Croatia is best known for its Adriatic coast with many islands, in-land there is little to compare to the Plitvice Lakes National Park - 16 lakes with turquoise water connected by impressive waterfalls, set in verdant parkland. Due to the karst rock, the area is riddled with caves and impressive rock formations. The best time to go is outside of the main tourist season, before July or after August, when the temperature is still high but the number of visitors is more manageable.
5London, England. I may be biased in putting my home town in this list, but I enjoy London like a tourist every time I go back to the UK. The place is dripping with historical buildings, cultural significance and this multi-ethnic city has a wonderful relaxed and independent spirit. On first glance London is bustling, impersonal and bewildering, but scratch beneath the surface and you'll find a great warmth in the population who actually live and breathe London. My personal favourite area is the Thames's South Bank/Bankside from Westminster Bridge to Blackfriars Bridge.
6Lake Baikal, Siberia. Containing one fifth of the world's unfrozen fresh water and covering an area of 31,722 km2, larger than Scotland, this lake of cold water is known as the Pearl of Siberia. It is home to one of the world's three exclusively freshwater species of seal, known as the nerpa, or Baikal Seal. It is the deepest lake in the world, at 1,642 metres. It is possible to fly part-way there, but a four-day train journey from Moscow on the Trans-Siberian Railway is surely the most authentic way to arrive.
7Pripyat', Ukraine, a small town near the ill-fated Chernobyl Power Station is a ghost town abandoned after the 1986 accident. It is a testimony too to how nature bounced back despite the massive radiation released in the form of fine dust, and how it is slowly erasing the traces of human activity and engineering in the absence of people. For many years after the accident the town was actually used by workers who operated the nuclear plant until its closure in 1996. You go at your own risk, because although the background radiation is within tolerable limits for a day trip, the radiation in the plant life and foliage is rather higher.
8Georgia. I didn't want to restrict this to a town or place, because Georgia's tourist heritage is scattered all around this unstable former Soviet Republic. Georgia's most precious asset, in my opinion, is its people. It accepted Christianity as its official religion in the fifth century and has managed to retain a strong national identity, despite the centuries-long instability of the region. The many centuries of Orthodoxy has built a strongly spiritual heritage and I got the impression that Georgians are much more spiritually switched on than most other Eastern Orthodox peoples. It is famous as a hospitable nation, where the guest is treated like royalty. The wonderful, rich food of this country and its red wine is the perfect accompaniment to their extravagant feasts, with endless toasts, music and dancing.
9Edinburgh, the capital city of Scotland is a beautiful place to visit, and one of the few cities which I immediately warmed to and thought it would make a great place to live. For the tourist, the Royal Mile has so much heritage to explore, the residents are friendly (even to the English! ;-)).
10Giants' Causeway, Northern Ireland makes it onto this list because of its great natural beauty and because of the pleasant memories I have of my time spent in that part of N.I. This feature of basalt columns, mostly hexagonal, is like a large children's playground where you can explore, jump from rock to rock as on stepping-stones and then turn round and wonder at the forces that formed its geometrical shapes.