Have you ever wondered what the landscapes of some of the most beautiful places in the world would look like or where they would be? If so, have we got a list for you. Whether you're an armchair traveler sitting down at your desk with a steaming cup of java or a well-seasoned, travel-hardened veteran, we're certain you'll find our choices interesting if not enlightening. For instance, how many people have heard of the gigantic 36 foot crystals of Mexico or the Valley of Flowers in India? As such, it's time to relax and enjoy our list of the 20 most beautiful places in the world.
20. Arches National Park, Utah: Outstanding Collection of Over 2,000 Natural Rock Formations
Arches National Park in Utah contains more arches than any place in the entire world, over 2,000 arches in fact. This National Park lays claim to 76,680 acres crammed with natural wonders. Hikers especially enjoy a visit to Arches. The enticing charm of this park is due to its unique geologic features such as spires, balancing rocks, natural bridges and more. Top attractions in Arches include the Devils Garden Trailhead, the Delicate Arch, Double Arch, Landscape Arch, Double O Arch and more. The Park offers various ways to tour the area such as 4-wheel drive tours which take tourists through the backcountry.
19. Vatnajökull National Park, Iceland: Home of Volcanoes, Wetlands and Svartifoss
Magnificent mountain ranges, expansive wetlands, and the Vatnajokull Glacier are among the many natural wonders found in this scenic region of Iceland. Further inspection reveals the towering kings of the park: The volcanoes Askja, Kverkfjoll and Snaefell. However, for many the most captivating attraction in Vatnajökull is Svartifoss. What is Svartifoss and what makes it so special? Svartifoss is an 80 foot tall waterfall, a waterfall where crystal clear waters cascade over dazzling black basalt columns. When taken in as a whole, the scene of black, shiny basalt framing a thin outpouring of water amid bright green vegetation makes it one of the most stunning attractions in the park.
18. Maroon Bells, Colorado: A TripAdvisor Top Choice Winner for 2022
Did you know that the Maroon Bells stand as the most photographed mountains in America? That's true. Maroon Bells is known as one of the world's mosts beautiful places with its scenic trails, and maroon colored, twin snow capped peaks, known as North Maroon Peak and Maroon Peak respectively. Examine the exquisite beauty of Maroon Valley by enjoying a hike around Maroon Lake or backpack into the Maroon Snowmass Wilderness. Trails to check out are the Four Pass Loop and Conundrum trails. If visiting these maroon colored peaks is of interest to you, the Forest Service asks visitors to call their Maroon Bells Hotline, 970-945-3319 before visiting to check for updates on road conditions.
17. The Cave of the Crystals, Mexico: Home to Gigantic Crystal Formations
Are crystals alive? Some people seem to think so and after learning about the Cave of Crystals in Chihuahua, Mexico, you may think so too. The cave lies underground and is the home to many massive quartz formations. In fact, these crystals are so huge that recent videos show that researchers standing on them are tiny in comparison. If you're wondering if you can visit the cave, the answer is "no". The environment is simply too hostile to endure without protective clothing, and even then researchers can last only around 45 minutes.
16. Garden of the Gods, Colorado: Where Massive Red Rock Formations Reach for the Heavens
The Garden of the Gods is most certainly one of natures best achievements. Indeed, it's almost as if the gods themselves thrust these massive, red rock formations through the Earths crust. Hiking is considered the best way to view the splendor of the Garden of the Gods. In fact, there are around 15 miles of trails from which to choose, with the best ones being the Perkins Central Garden Trail, The Ridge Trail, The Siamese Twins Trail and the Chambers/Bretag/Palmer Trail. If hiking is not your thing, you can also engage in biking, horseback riding or take a jeep tour or two. If you plan on visiting this magical place, it pays to visit their visitors center so you don't miss out on anything.
15. Isle of Sky, Scotland: Visit the Place Where Fairies Play in the Moonlight
Where else in the world can you visit some authentic Fairy Pools? Why the Isle of Skye, Scotland of course! The Isle of Skye has much to offer any traveler yearning for an earthy sense of beauty. Attractions include the Quiraing, the Old Man of Storr, the Fairy Glenn, Kilt Rock and the Black Cullin'. If you've still got time on your hands other must see geologic formations include Trotternish Ridge, Neist Point and Ben Tianavaig. As you take in the buckets of fresh air and enjoy the scenic highlands, make sure you book a full day tour or two so you don't miss a thing in this most magical land.
14. Lofoten Islands, Norway: Home of the Midnight 'Sun
One doesn't automatically think of surfing when they think of Norway. Yet, Lofoten Islands has some pretty sweet waves. If you're into whale watching, you're in luck because Lofoten hosts some amazing creatures which you can enjoy during one of their many wildlife safaris. If horseback riding is more your speed, then visit Hov Hestegard to ride the beaches in style. Lofoten Islands also has 24/7 golf. That's right, you can even play golf throughout the night thanks to the midnight sun. After all, the sun never totally sets in Lofoten, Norway, which means that all activities can be enjoyed any time of the day or night.
13. Fiordland National Park, New Zealand: Striking Landscapes, Gorgeous Hikes and Tumbling Waterfalls
It's no secret that New Zealand has some of the most beautiful landscapes around, but for many it's the Fiordland National Park that takes the cake. It's dramatic landscapes, crisp fresh air, and stunning sites have made this part one of the most beautiful places in the world. Close to 3 million acres of land laden with snow-capped mountain peaks, frosty fjords and cascading waterfalls wait for you upon your arrival. Top attractions include the Te Anau Glowworm Caves, Chasm Walk, Milford Sound, and Lake Te Anau.
12. Banff National Park, Canada: Warm-Hearted People are the Key to This Fabulous Region
Banff National Park is a gorgeous, expansive park nestled quietly within the embrace of the spectacular Canadian Rockies. Adored by tourists and locals alike, Banff offers visitors a first-hand look at the raw allure of the Canadian wilderness. Add to that the ever welcoming vibes of the citizens of Banff and you have scored a diamond in the rough. Lovely places to visit include Cascade of Time Gardens, Lake Louise, Bow Lake, Johnston Canyon, Morant's Curve and more.
11. Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia: Enjoy a Night Sleeping in an Authentic Salt Hotel
Visiting this South American treasure located in the Eduardo Avaroa National Andean Wildlife Reserve, will most certainly leave you speechless. One might think it one large snow covered patch of land, but in reality all that white is actually salt--3,100 square miles of it. In fact, experts believe that over 10 billion tons of salt resides at Salar de Uyuni. FYI, you can thank the operation of your smart devices to Salar de Uyuni because it plays host to over 70 percent of the worlds Lithium deposits. Attractions include the Polques Lagoon hot springs, the Sol de Mañana geysers and the Train Graveyard. If you're of the adventurous type, you can elect to spend a night or two in one of their famous salt hotels.
10. Machu Picchu, Peru: Once the Glory of the Fabulous Incan Civilization
"All man must live in Machu Picchu for some time! Over there you will be closer to the universe and you will realize how trivial you are in this chaotic cosmos..." Mehmet Murat IIdan. Machu Picchu or "Old Mountain" in Quechua is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and for good reason. This 15th century city of the Incas was considered their largest city. Located in the Amazon Rainforest of Peru in the Peruvian Andes, the site contains the ruins of around 200 Incan buildings. Areas of interest include the Room of the Three Windows, Royal Mausoleum, and the Temple of the Sun. A word of caution: As Machu Picchu sits about 8,000 feet above sea level, it's possible to become ill due to altitude sickness, so be ready just in case.
9. Valley of Flowers, India: Drift into a World of Resplendent Alpine Color
Vibrant and mesmerizing are two words one could use to describe this magical valley. Located in the Indian state of Uttarakhand in the Garhwal area, visitors will come across a fabulous sight: Around 400 varieties of alpine flowers. Species include daisies, marigolds, orchids and poppies, to name a few. These flowers gently drape the landscape, their bright colors ignighting the land, a stark contrast to the snow-covered mountain backdrop. The Valley of Flowers is certified a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Visitors will also marvel at the crystal clear waterfalls, creeks, lush ground cover and wildlife.
8. Halong Bay, Vietnam: One of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World
Welcome to Halong Bay, Vietnam, a stunning example of the wonders of our natural world. If variety is the spice of life, then Halong Bay is indeed a destination worth exploration. With around 1900 unique inlets which vary in size, to spectacular caves and beaches, Halong Bay has enough variation to keep even the most travel hardened tourist interested. Great attractions to investigate during your stay are the Me Cung Cave, the Soi Sim Beach, Ba Ham Lake, Bo Hon Island, Cho Da and Thien Nga islets. Furthermore, did you know that Halong Bay was recently named one of the 7 natural wonders of the world?
7. Grand Canyon, Arizona: Be Witness to the Hand of Nature as it Carved its Way Through Time
Needless to say, the Grand Canyon is one of the most traveled spots in America. Born of the waters of the Colorado River, this massive natural wonder entices and beckons visitors like no other. Found in the Colorado Plateau in Arizona, it measures close to 18 miles across and 1 mile deep. Tourists are encouraged to visit the South Rim where they can take advantage of the Visitors Center and enjoy the view from Mather Point Overlook. Other points of interest include the Rim Trail, the Geological Museum, Hermit Road Drive, and Bright Angel Hiking Trail.
6. Great Barrier Reef, Australia: Become Immersed in an Undersea World of a Ancient Ecosystem
One of the Earths treasure is the Great Barrier Reef. Packed with life and drenched in beauty, the Great Barrier Reef is the world's largest coral reef system. Filled with seagrass beds, mangroves islands and more, its become Australia's top tourist attraction. While it's a sight to behold above water, its true beauty lies beneath. Snorkeling and diving are the best way to view this massive and complex ecosystem. The Great Barrier Reef is made up of around 3,000 coral reefs and hosts close to 9,000 species, making it an incredibly diverse environment.
5. Zhangjiajie National Forest, China
The Zhangjiajie National Forest is a captivating, magnificent and delightful piece of our planet. Named to the UNESCO World Heritage list, the park is covered in the richness of towering trees, dotted with deep ravines and unusual rock formations which include tall pillars of stone which reach to the sky. Breathtaking is all that can be said of this forest. Located in the Hunan Province, the most beautiful section of the park is found in the Wulingyan Scenic Area. Areas of interest include the Avatar Mountain, Glass Bridge and Tianmen Mountain. An interesting fact is that the Avatar Mountain was originally known as the Hallelujah Mountain, but the name change is due to the fact that it was the inspiration for James Cameron's film, "Avatar".
4. Raja Ampat Islands, Indonesia: The Amazon of the Oceans
For those of you into snorkeling and/or diving, the Raja Ampat Islands in Indonesia are a must for your bucket list. There are around 600 islands here, all nestled within the Coral Triangle, accompanied by miles of picturesque white, sandy beaches, mountain ranges, and crystal clear waters. Divers and snorkelers will marvel at the expansive biodiversity of the ecosystem here. If you intend to engage in underwater activities, it's recommended that you visit Waisai first as it hosts the Raja Ampat Dive Resort. The main islands are Waigeo, Salawati, Misool and Batanta. Main attractions include the Sea Ghost, Wayag Archipelago, and the Pari Manta Cleaning Station. Finally, don't forget to sample the lush green vegetation that lies above the water, as it's really quite lovely.
3. Li River, China: A Breathtaking, Culturally Significant Waterway Embraced by Giants
The Li River is found in Guilin, Guangxi Province, China. Approximately 50 miles long, the Li River has long been seen as as a river not only of beauty, but of cultural significance. The serenity of the jade tinted river almost clashes with the numerous karst formations. They tower over the waterway like green giants. All within the welcoming embrace of the beauty of Guilin.
2. The Maldives: Paradise on Earth
Pristine, white sandy beaches, fabulous, clear as crystal turquoise lagoons, vibrant coral gardens and tropical gardens all make the Maldives one of the most beautiful places in the world. The Maldives is a country made up of islands, 1192 to be exact. However, only about several hundred are populated, with Villingili Island to be the most beautiful. To truly grasp the etheral and serene beauty of this region, one must view the Maldives from up above. Other destinations of interest include Dhaalu Atoll, Olhuveli Island, Meerufenfushi, and Furanafushi Island.
1. Big island, Hawaii: A Utopia of Diverse Landscapes, Climates and Activities
Our number one pick for the most beautiful places in the world is the Big Island of Hawaii. Altogether, the state of Hawaii is made up of 8 main islands. Lanai, Molokai, Oahu, Kauai, Niihau, Maui, Kahoolawe, the "Big Island"and 124 smaller islands called islets. When you visit the main island, you may find yourself experiencing 12 distinct climate zones. There are variations in landscape and vegetation. Not to mention the volcanoes in the Hawaii Volcano National Park. If this sounds like a lot, well it is.
The best way to get your feet wet is to start learning the regions. There are separate regions: Hamakura Coast, Kohala, Hilo, Kona, Kau and Puna. The Big Island is home to miles of coastal beaches, tropical regions, pristine waterfalls, lush green valleys, and mountains. In the end Paul Theroux said it best, "Hawaii is not a state of mind, but a state of grace."
Written by Liz Flynn
Read more posts by Liz Flynn