From towering cliffs to impossibly blue glacial lakes and picturesque villages to stunningly beautiful temples, the world is a truly spectacular place. Every country is filled with awe-inspiring wonders and unique landscapes, so it can feel impossible to know where to visit next. Whether you enjoy hiking in National Parks, sunbathing on the beach, relaxing on a boat, or just soaking up incredible views, here are some of the world’s most outstanding places that should be top of your travel list!
10 Banff National Park, Canada
With lush alpine forests, snow-capped mountains, and impossibly blue glacial lakes, there is no doubt that Banff National Park in Canada is home to some of the most incredible scenery in the world. Three of the most popular spots to visit are Lake Louise, Moraine Lake, and Lake Minnewanka, each with crystal clear turquoise water and dramatic views of the Canadian Rockies. Summer is a wonderful time for hiking and wildlife spotting, and winter visitors are treated to some of the best ski resorts in the world. For those less active, soak up these pristine views from one of the cozy lakeside lodges scattered throughout the park.
9 Bora Bora, French Polynesia
Another place that looks too perfect to be real is dreamy Bora Bora. This small island out in the South Pacific is covered by thick jungle and is framed by sand-fringed islands with bungalows over spectacular coral reefs. Colorful fish swim through the crystal-clear waters, and visitors can while away the days swimming or snorkeling in the gentle turquoise waves. In the center of the island lies a dormant volcano which provides a striking backdrop to this heavenly coastline.
8 Patagonia, Chile
South America is home to some of the most dramatic scenery in the world, and one of the continent’s highlights is incredible Patagonia, which spans both Argentina and Chile. The Argentine side is renowned for the spectacular Perito Moreno Glacier at UNESCO World Heritage Site Los Glaciares National Park. It is one of the few glaciers in the world that is currently advancing, and as it grows, cracks form, and chunks of ice break off and crash into the lake below. On the Chilean side, at the southern tip of the Andes, lies the beautiful Torres del Paine National Park, which is home to impossibly blue glacial lakes, stunning rocky peaks, and rare wildlife like pumas and guanacos.
7 Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia
High up in the Andes lies the world’s largest salt flat, which covers more than 4,000 square miles of Bolivia. This vast, otherworldly landscape was once a prehistoric lake that dried up, leaving behind an endless desert of salt, broken up by strange rock formations and cacti-covered islands. In the dry season, the barren flats look almost like salt tiles, which reflect the dazzling sunshine. In the rainy season, the rainwater collects on the surface, creating a perfect mirrored surface that reflects the sky and clouds above. Watching the sunset, both in the sky and reflected in the water below, is one of the most spectacular sights on earth.
6 Santorini, Greece
The Greek Islands are covered in narrow streets, picturesque, whitewashed stone houses, colorful churches, and dramatic cliffs, making them some of the most beautiful places in the world. The volcanic island of Santorini is particularly striking, with volcanic beaches, rugged cliffs, and quaint cafes. Its prettiest small town, Oia, is perched on the ridge of a caldera and offers panoramic views of the Palea volcano, neighboring island Thirassia, and the blue waters of the Aegean Sea.
5 Ha Long Bay, Vietnam
Up in northeast Vietnam is UNESCO World Heritage Site, Ha Long Bay. Scattered throughout the bay are more than 1,600 limestone towers and islands covered in tropical trees. Most of the islands are uninhabited and unaffected by humans. The best way to experience this mist-shrouded landscape is to board a junk boat and sail through the outstanding scenic beauty. Visitors can get off to explore various cave formations across the bay, including Thien Cung Cave and Surprise Cave, which give way to impressive sweeping views of the water below.
4 Angkor Wat, Cambodia
Angkor Wat, meaning ‘Temple City,’ is nothing short of spectacular. Built in the early 12th century, Angkor Wat combines was designed to represent Mount Meru and is the largest religious monument in the world. Within the archaeological site also lies Angkor Thom, a Bayon Temple with impressive sculptures, and nearby Ta Prohm was abandoned once the Khmer Empire fell in the 15th century and since then has been slowly taken over by the jungle. Although not as well-preserved as Angkor Wat, it is equally remarkable.
3 Yellowstone National Park, USA
Back in 1872, Yellowstone became the world’s first National Park and remained one of the most popular of all 63 National Parks across the US. It offers visitors unparalleled opportunities for wildlife spotting as it is home to the oldest and largest public bison herd in the US, as well as free-roaming bears, wolves, and elk. Yellowstone is also a unique geothermal area and contains almost half of the world’s active geysers, including the famous Old Faithful. The park is covered in colorful geothermal pools, including colorful and other-worldly Grand Prismatic and geological wonders like the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River. Exploring this park makes it difficult to believe you are still on Earth.
2 Venice, Italy
The Italian city of Venice is one of the most unique and beautiful cities in the world. The City of Water is so-called due to its 100+ small islands connected by over 400 bridges. Although there are some walkways throughout the city, there are almost no roads, and the canals provide the main form of transportation. The largest waterway is the Grand Canal, and visitors can take gondola rides down to admire this beautiful city from the water. In the center of the city lies Piazza San Marco, a central square where the stunning St. Mark’s Basilica is found. This romantic floating city is like no other in the world!
1 Zhangjiajie National Forest, China
For a truly out-of-this-world experience, visit Zhangjiajie National Park. It was the inspiration for the movie Avatar and is equally stunning and otherworldly in real life. This 200+ square mile national park has hundreds of towering sandstone pillars. The area is often covered in low clouds, making the pillars appear to float out of the haze, creating a scene that looks too beautiful to be real! Yuanjiajie, a 150-meter-high tower, is one of the more iconic sections of the park and can be accessed via the Bailong Elevator for remarkable views over the National Park.