The world is a wonderful place. There are countless beautiful locations just waiting to be visited and discovered. Some of them are popular tourist destinations. Others are less visited by tourists, but breathtaking just the same.
If you’re looking for a picturesque destination for your next trip, you should check out one of the 30 most beautiful places in the world. Below is my personal list.
Nicknamed “the Garden Isle”, Kauai is famous for its lush green beauty. Located in the mid-Pacific, this island boasts tropical rainforests, pristine beaches, and enchanting waterfalls. Its scenic drives, imposing mountains, and breathtaking sea cliffs have been the backdrop for a number of Hollywood films.
Despite being the oldest and fourth largest of the islands in Hawaii, Kauai remains the least commercially developed of the Hawaiian Islands. This allows Kauai to remain pristine and relaxing. People flock to the island to hike, dive, snorkel, and unwind.
Due to its location, Kauai has long days of sunshine and a relatively mild temperature all year round. You can visit the island and enjoy it over 60 long, sandy beaches any time of the year.
Cappadocia is a semi-arid region in central Turkey. It is known for its “moonscape” area around the towns of Ürgüp, Göreme, Uçhisar, Avanos and Mustafapaşa. Erosion of the volcanic landscape has formed caves, clefts, and “fairy chimneys”, which have been utilized as settlements by early dwellers.
This region has a number of cave hotels. These cave hotels allow tourists to experience what it’s like to live in the rock dwellings. Aside from these cave hotels, the fresco-adorned rock-cut churches of Göreme Open-Air Museum and the subterranean refuges of Derinkuyu and Kaymakli are also very popular.
Given the region’s complex and fairy tale-like topography, public transportation is not well-developed in Cappadocia. However, you can easily rent cars or join guided tours if you want to get a good look at the region’s honeycombed landscape.
Known as the world’s largest salt flat, Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia resembles enormous mirrors. Stretching over a staggering 4,500 square miles, Salar de Uyuni is an ethereal location with a unique and unforgettable landscape.
Salar de Uyuni was formed when a lake covering most of southwestern Bolivia dried up several thousand of years ago. Elevated at around 12,000 above sea level, the salt deposits on the landscape seem to create optical illusions.
The salt flat solidifies during winter and you can easily drive across it. In summer, meanwhile, Salar de Uyuni turns into a giant puddle, reflecting the sky and clouds.
Known as the largest fort in India, Chittorgarh is an imposing structure located on a hill near the Gambheri River. Built by various Maurya rulers in the 7th century, this fort now covers an astounding 700 acres. Even at present, Chittorgarh Fort remains a testament to the chivalry and pride of the Rajputs.
Apart from its massive iron spiked doors, watch towers, and formidable structure, the Chittorgarh Fort is also known for being the "Water Fort." The Fort used to house 84 water bodies, albeit only 22 remain nowadays. Its ponds and wells can store up to 4 billion liters of water.
Also inside the Fort is the Meera and Kumba Shyam Temple. This temple is associated with the mystic goddess Meera whose life and works have become part of India’s rich literary traditions.
Bagan is an ancient city in central Myanmar. It is considered one of the world’s greatest archaeological sites. The site can easily rival Machu Picchu and Angkor Wat, although it is not yet as frequented by tourists as the former.
Sitting on a verdant 26-square-mile plain and set against the backdrop of distant mountains, this temple city is a sublime site. Around 4,450 temples were built on the site, but only around 2,230 remain at present. The site is now protected by UNESCO and remains to be a destination for Buddhist pilgrimage.
Most of the remaining temples are well-preserved or restored. Many of them contain frescoes, carvings, and statues. There are plenty of ways to get around this big temple city, but the best way to see it in its entirety is via hot air balloon ride.
The Zhangye Danxia Landform is aptly dubbed “the eye candy of Zhangye”. It's red rocks and rainbow ridges look like a three-dimensional oil painting. The Zhangye Danxia National Geological Park features precipitous red cliffs and multicolored ridges. The landscape covers an area of 200 square miles.
According to studies, the colorful rock formations were created by layers of different colored sandstone and minerals. These minerals were pressed together over 24 million years. They were then buckled up by moving tectonic plates, thereby creating the rocky outcrops which resemble different shapes.
There are sightseeing cars within the national park, which allow tourists to visit each of the four viewing platforms. The Geological Park is best visited at dawn and at dusk. During these times, the shifting light allows you to marvel at the changing colors of the rock formations.
Santorini is the most popular island in Greece. It is a spectacular combination of beautiful beaches, scenic view, amazing restaurants, and some of the world’s finest wines. This island is famous for its rugged landscape, which was shaped by a devastating volcanic eruption in 1450 BC.
The Santorini complex remains to be an active volcano. The massive eruptions in the past caused the middle of Santorini to fall into the sea. This left a steep-edged crater, known as the caldera, peeping just above the waves. Standing from the island's clifftops, you will get a spectacular view of the caldera.
But it’s not just the geological landscape that makes Santorini popular. Its whitewashed houses and blue-domed churches are similarly eye-catching. The vineyards, meanwhile, are irresistible to wine connoisseurs.
Angkor is one of the most important archaeological sites in Southeast Asia. Covering a staggering 400 square kilometers, the Angkor Archaeological Park houses the remains of the different capitals of the Khmer Empire. Inside is the famous temple of Angkor Wat, the largest monument in Angkor.
Angkor Wat is the most well-preserved structure in the Angkor complex. More than its imposing size, Angkor Wat is an archaeological masterpiece in terms of composition, balance, proportions, reliefs, and structure.
This famous temple is decorated with intricate flourishes. The designs depict historical events and stories from mythology. The temple is built using sandstone bricks mined quarried from the holy mountain of Phnom Kulen. The temple was said to have been completed by 300,000 workers and 6,000 elephants.
The Isle of Skye is the second largest of Scotland’s islands. It is one of the most popular destinations in Scotland, along with Edinburgh and Loch Ness. The island is most famous for its mountain scenery and is a popular destination for avid hikers and climbers.
The Cuillin Range and the Trotternish Ridge are some of the most challenging climbing and hiking spots in the island. For the less-experienced, there are also a variety of hiking and walking trails. While hiking is not always an option given the changeable weather, the island offers other activities for tourists.
Although famous for its climbing and hiking spots, there are actually numerous art galleries and studios in the island, as well as a number of castles. In addition, the island is perfectly suited for watersports, such as diving, canoeing, windsurfing, and yachting.
The Waitomo Glow Worm Cave in New Zealand is one of the most spellbinding and magical places in the country. With thousands of Arachnocampa Luminosa, a type of glow worm unique to New Zealand, the Waitomo caves light up to seemingly welcome its visitors.
The Waitomo Grotto can be accessed by riding a boat across the Waitomo River. While gliding through the cave, you can see the glow worms up close in their natural habitat. The natural limestone formation is also a sight to behold, a testament to over 120 years of natural and cultural history.
While visiting the Waitomo Glow Worm Cave, you can also try black water rafting, wherein you will crawl, swim, and float through Waitomo’s underground caves on a rubber tube.
Neuschwanstein Castle is the most visited castle in Germany. It was built by the “Fairytale King”, King Ludwig II of Bavaria. Neuschwanstein literally translates to “New Swan”, a reference to the “Swan Knight” of one of Richard Wagner’s operas.
Despite its medieval façade, the Neuschwanstein Castle was actually built between 1869 and 1886. It was equipped with state of the art technology at that time. Set on a cliff against a mountainous backdrop, the castle was intended to embody the true spirit of the medieval German castle.
King Ludwig II was a shy king and the Neuschwanstein Castle became his recluse. Nonetheless, the castle was officially opened to the public seven weeks after the death of King Ludwig II. Being one of the most popular castles in Europe, around 1.4 million people visit Neuschwanstein every year.
Torres del Paine National Park in the Patagonia region is truly a sight to behold. It is known for its soaring mountains and jagged mountaintop glaciers. Located at the Southern tip of the Andes, visitors are greeted by fierce westerlies which blow all summer.
In addition to being one of the most impressive sights in the Southern hemisphere, Torres del Paine is also home to some of the world’s most famous trekking routes. Tourists flock to Torres del Paine to trek on its world-renowned paths.
Aside from its world-class trekking routes, Torres del Paine is also home to an assortment of flora and fauna. The wide expanse of the national park also encompasses glaciers, ancient forests, lakes, and rivers. Popular routes include the W Trek and the Paine Circuit.
Petra, Jordan is considered a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The city is strategically situated between the Red Sea and the Dead Sea. Its location made it an important crossroads between Arabia, Egypt, and Syria-Phoenicia.
Petra is a world-famous archaeological site, known for its interesting blend of ancient Eastern traditions and Hellenistic architecture. This rock-cut capital city was carved directly into red, white, pink, and sandstone cliff faces, making the city look like a pop-up storybook.
Even at a distance, one cannot help but marvel at the skill by which this ancient city was created. The imposing architecture remains in great condition. In fact, it still looms before tourists like some form of grand overseers.
Inside, this ancient city wows tourists with its vast mausoleums. Other impressive structures include a Roman-style theater, obelisks, temples, and sacrificial altars. There are two museums inside the compound. The first is Petra Archaeological Museum and the second is Petra Nabataean Museum,
Palawan Island is located off the northern coast of the Philippines. It is the largest of the islands and islets comprising the province of Palawan. Palawan Island remains underdeveloped at present, but it is already frequented by tourists who want to enjoy its exotic beauty.
The island is a dreamy mix of blue waters and jungle-filled mountains. The area teems with exotic wildlife and unique flora. The island is dubbed as “the last ecological frontier of the Philippines”. It is committed to the preservation of its ecosystem. Also, the island has artifacts dating to 50,000 years ago.
Given its tropical location, the island is relatively warm throughout the year, save for the rainy season. If you want to enjoy snorkeling, diving, and island-hopping, it is best to visit Palawan Island between the months of March and June.
Venice is one of those dreamy, world-famous destinations that tourists just can’t seem to get enough of. With its gondolas, canals, and restaurants, tourists can’t help but imbibe the city’s romantic vibe. The city reflects the wealthy trade between Europe and the Orient, as seen in its palaces and churches.
Despite its numerous appearances in films and artworks, nothing can quite prepare you for Venice’s disarming beauty. Already stunning on screen, Venice exudes a certain romantic aura in real life. The city’s vibe makes tourists instantly fall in love with the city’s gondolas and picturesque cafes.
Unlike most famous cities, Venice is all about the narrow alleyways leading to the city’s quaint shops and restaurants. Exploring the city is like walking through a piece of art, with every nook and cranny popping out like subjects of an oil painting.
This picturesque city is a place not only for sight-seeing but also for experiencing. No visit to Venice is complete without going to the opera or a classical music performance, visiting art galleries, and tasting the fresh pasta.
Set atop the Andes Mountains and overlooking the Urubamba River Valley, this Incan citadel is famous all over the world – and for good reason. This ancient city was practically forgotten until the earlier part of the 20th century. In fact, it was never revealed to the conquering Spaniards.
At present, this imposing structure serves as a tangible evidence of the Inca Empire during the peak of its power and strength. Despite the lack of tools at the time of its construction, the structure remains in good condition. The bricks are so tightly stacked that a knife still cannot be inserted in between.
Experts still cannot agree on whether the complex was intended to be a ceremonial site, a military stronghold, or a retreat for ruling elites. They all agree, however, that Machu Picchu is a formidable fortress. Moreover, the entire compound is an impressive display of landscape engineering skills.
Plitvice Lakes National Park is the most popular tourist attraction in Croatia. It was granted World Heritage status in 1979. Inside the heavily forested national park, tourists are greeted by 16 crystalline lakes. These lakes are interconnected by a number of cascading waterfalls.
The National Park covers an area of 300 square kilometers. Its woodland houses different species of deer, bears, wolves, boars, and rare birds. That said, Plitvice Lakes is perfect for bird watching. It is also ideal for observing wildlife.
The area is best explored by foot. A number of wooden footbridges are installed across the rumbling waters. Pathways also snake around the area. Exploring the lakes on foot would take one roughly six hours, but there are free boats and buses in the national park.
Bora Bora is a small island in the South Pacific. Despite its small size, it is considered as the jewel of the South Seas. It is also widely known for its romantic beauty. It is one of the most popular honeymoon destinations in recent years.
Lying at the heart of the island is Mt. Otemanu, a dormant volcano towering over the island like a castle. The rest of the island is equally idyllic, with its turquoise lagoon waters enchanting visitors from all over the world.
The lush tropical slopes and valleys in the island blossom with hibiscus, complementing its palm-covered lagoons and picturesque white-sand beaches.
Awarded the title “best island in the world” by US News, Bora Bora is unsurprisingly a famous luxury resort destination. If you’re feeling fancy and have the money to spare, you would love to rent one of the floating guest bungalow accommodations.
A popular setting for movies and video games, the Giza Pyramids is one of the most iconic locations in Egypt. The Giza Pyramids are comprised of three different pyramids: Khufu, Khafre, and Menkaure. The largest and oldest of the three is Khufu, thus earning it the moniker “the Great Pyramid”.
The pyramids were erected on a rocky plateau on the west bank of the Nile River. In 1979, the Giza Pyramids were designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Although built roughly 4,500 years ago, the Giza Pyramids remain intact nowadays, having stood the test of time.
One of the colossal structures built in the ancient world, the Great Pyramid rose to 481 feet with a base measuring 755 feet. After the erosion of its outer limestone casing, the Great Pyramid now rises to 451 feet. Inside the Great Pyramid is the King’s Chamber, which is entirely lined and roofed with granite.
More than just its astounding size and impressive architectural integrity, the GIZA Pyramids also serve as gateways to the ancient Egyptian civilization. With extensive hieroglyphs and engraving on the walls, the Giza Pyramids serve as a primary resource for Egyptologists.
Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming is a preserved wilderness covering an expanse of roughly 3,500 square miles. Located on top of a volcano hotspot, this national park is the site of America’s greatest concentration of geysers and hot springs.
Although famous for its gushing steam, Yellowstone National Park offers so much more than just geysers. In fact, this national park is the oldest national park in the USA. At present, it is the home to wildlife such as elk, bison, mule deer, bighorn sheep, grizzly bears, and black bears among others.
Spreading into certain parts of Idaho and Montana, the vast boundaries of the park enclose several rivers, craggy peaks, alpine lakes, deep canyons, and vast forests. Given its diverse landscape, there are a plethora of activities for tourists, ranging from visiting geysers to viewing wildlife in their habitat.
With its sheer size and noteworthy eco-diversity, it is easy to understand why Yellowstone National Park is dubbed as America’s finest and most diverse vacationland.
Wilderness destinations have grown popular in recent years and Okavango Delta has become one of the most sought-after locations. The Okavango Delta is a vast ecosystem which was created as the Okavango River flows into the Kalahari Desert.
Visiting the Okavango Delta is like entering Africa’s untouched interior. Home to large concentrations of birds and animals, the Delta is one of the best places to spot and observe wildlife. Since the Delta is a unique combination of wetland and dryland, an assortment of plants and animals can be found there.
There are three main geographical areas in the Okavango Delta. These areas are the Panhandle, the Delta, and the dry land. The river runs deep in the Panhandle and swamps are perennially flooded. This area is ideal for fishing and bird watching.
The Delta, meanwhile, is a stunning kaleidoscope of channels, lagoons, lakes, and flooded grasslands. Similar to the dryland, the Delta is also famous for game viewing, bird watching, and boating.
Rio de Janeiro is the second largest city in Brazil. For decades, this city has been the most popular and most visited tourist destination in the country. Rio is a buzzing city bursting with culture and history. It is, in fact, the third largest metropolis in South America.
Famous for its breathtaking tropical landscape and captivating beaches, Rio de Janeiro entice tourists with its vibrant culture and laidback vibe. Copacabana and Ipanema Beach are favorite destinations for beach-goers.
Despite being a big city and always being frequented by tourists, Rio is in no way a congested city. The bustling crowds are balanced by lushly forested mountains and small islands scattered along the seafront.
For the adventurous, Rio de Janeiro also offers a wide range of outdoor activities, including hiking, cycling, sailing, surfing, and rock climbing.
Kyoto is a popular tourist destination in Japan. Its old-world charm and beautiful tourist spots cater to nature lovers and those who want to better understand Japanese customs and traditions. The Arashiyama Area is the second most popular sightseeing district in Kyoto.
Tucked along the base of the Arashiyama Mountains, Arashiyama is some 30 minutes away from the center of Kyoto. Right across the train station is Tenryu-ji Temple, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. With 120 sub-temples, this temple is ranked as the largest Zen monastery in Western Japan.
This area has a lot of remarkable sights, but it is probably most famous for the Arashiyama Bamboo Grove. Tourists visiting Kyoto often find themselves enamored by the soaring bamboo stalks lining the pathway.
Located in an oasis in the valley of the Zerafshan River, the historic town of Samarkand is a melting pot of the world’s cultures. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is the second largest city in Uzbekistan and is as old as Babylon or Rome.
This medieval city is the location of various archaeological excavations. The site of the ancient city Afrosiab, located in the north-eastern part of Samarkand, is now preserved as an archaeological reserve.
Despite being very old, Samarkand still retains its majestic beauty. True enough, this city is often referred to as “the Rome of the East”. Walking through the city, one is transported to a seemingly different world filled with ancient mosques, madrassahs, and residential housing.
Composed of 19 islands, the Galapagos Islands is located about 1,000 kilometers from the South American continent. Among the first group of locations added to the UNESCO World Heritage List, Galapagos Islands are referred to as “a living museum and showcase of evolution”.
The archipelago is located at the convergence point of three ocean currents. The islands are famed for having piqued the interest of Charles Darwin in 1835. Various species of marine life converge in the area. Marine iguanas, tortoises, cormorants, and a diverse variety of finches can be found in the area.
The flora in Galapagos Islands is also noteworthy. Visitors often find themselves gawking at huge cacti and various endemic trees. For a better sightseeing experience, take a boat tour and hop from one island to another. Feeling adventurous? This is the best place for snorkeling, diving, and surfing.
Another interesting travel destination is the Moravian Fields in the Czech Republic. Unlike the other places I've previously mentioned, this location does not offer much in terms of experience and adventure. Instead, what it offers is a spectacular view reminiscent of a Monet painting.
The Moravian part of the Czech Republic follows the Morava River. The region is largely agricultural and the surroundings change along with the seasons. The vast expanse of fields decorated with a couple of houses, tractors, and wild animals look straight out of an oil painting.
The area is hilly and very fertile, making Moravian Fields incredibly famous for its vineyards. Strolling in the area, you will likely encounter deer, hares, and even boars.
Looking straight out of a sci-fi movie is Socotra in Yemen. Referred to as the “lost world island”, Socotra has been separated from mainland Africa six to seven million years ago. Like Galapagos Islands, Socotra is famous for its biodiversity. This island is home to around 800 different species of flora and fauna.
Located in the Indian Ocean, the island has a rather harsh environment characterized by wide sandy beaches, towering mountains, and limestone caves. The place is generally hot and dry, leading to the unique appearance of plants found in the area.
The trees in Socotra are all towering, with leaves and flowers often concentrated only the topmost branches. This unique characteristic, coupled with the sandy and rocky topography, makes the island appear otherworldly. Some of the plant species in the area are around 20 million years old.
There are three distinct geographical terrains in Socotra: the narrow coastal plains, a limestone plateau, and the mountains rising up to 1,500 meters. Given the island’s unique landscape and diverse ecosystem, Socotra has declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Hailed as Canada’s “Diamond in Wilderness” and “Hiking Capital”, Lake Louise in Alberta is the perfect spot for tourists who want to perform as many activities as possible in Canada. Abundant with glaciers and waterfalls, there is no shortage of things to do in Lake Louise.
Among its many recreational and sightseeing opportunities is skiing. In fact, Lake Louise is home to one of North America’s finest downhill ski areas. For those not too keen on skiing, Lake Louise also has much hiking and walking trails, perfect for admiring the place’s spectacular scenery.
Lake Louise also has unparalleled wildlife viewing opportunities. Although St. Louise is a good three hours away from the nearest town, the place has complete amenities, thereby allowing tourists to stay comfortable during their stay. The place also has a lot of dining options and accommodations
Right at the foot of the Colombian Andes is Valle de Cocora, a picturesque valley adorning postcards everywhere. The valley is popular for being one of the few places in the world where one can see wax palms in their natural habitat.
Wax palms, a national symbol of Colombia, are remarkable for their towering height. Some trees can reach 60 meters, despite their spindly trunks looking barely capable of supporting the trees’ impressive height.
To reach Valle de Cocora, you would have to hike and go through a lush green cloud forest, as well as a river. There are two different routes, one remarkably shorter than the other. You can choose which one you prefer to take, depending on how much time you have and how far you want to hike.
The time of the day greatly affects the weather, so you would want to plan your trip accordingly. Mornings are typically sunny, a perfect time to admire the blue skies against a ravaging green backdrop. Afternoons, meanwhile, are typically dark and misty.
Another UNESCO World Heritage Site is the Maria Island National Park, a highly rural location which offers a little something to everyone. This rich island has historic ruins, sweeping bays, rugged cliffs, tall mountains, and remarkably diverse wildlife.
There are no motor vehicles in the area, so the best way to go around is by walking or cycling. True enough, the island offers excellent walking and cycling journeys. A particularly remarkable journey is that going to Darlington, a ghost town with a convict and industrial past.
Darlington is the most intact example of a probation station in Australia. The original layout was thus preserved and visitors can visit the ruins.
After visiting Darlington, you can go to Reservoir Circuit. The said place is sheltered from coastal winds and provides a glimpse of Maria Island’s wildlife and history.
For bird watching enthusiasts, Maria Island is one of Tasmania’s best bird watching hotspots. Here, you can find 11 of the country’s 12 endemic bird species.
The world is a big place filled with surprises and hidden wonders. It might be tempting at times to go to famous spots and see once and for all what the hype is about, but, trust me, stepping off the tourist track is definitely worth it.
This is my personal list of the 30 most beautiful places in the world and I can’t wait to add more to it as I explore more places. Have a favorite that wasn’t mentioned? Tell me about it in the comments below.
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