The 16 most stunning places on earth

Our planet is truly amazing, with its enormous glaciers, breathtaking mountains, and plains dotted with wild animals. In fact, it can seem impossible to choose where to travel to next when contemplating the most stunning locations on earth. The Southeast Asian islands? The Middle East’s deserts? What about all the wonderful places to visit right here in the United States?

While listing all of Mother Nature’s masterpieces would take a lifetime, we believe that these 51 incredible locations—from Antarctica to Zimbabwe—need to be at the top of your bucket list. You’re sure to find your new favorite place below, whether you’re looking for beaches, forests, or national parks.

Portugal’s Azores

This Portuguese archipelago, located about 900 miles off the coast of Lisbon, can pique travel lust with just one image. The Azores are a paradise worth visiting because of their lush valleys, sheer oceanside cliffs, rows of blue hydrangeas, and scattered waterfalls. Just be sure to go before everyone else you know does.

Tanzania’s Mount Kilimanjaro.

Because it is an old stratovolcano that is not a part of any mountain range, Africa’s highest peak appears to be more impressive than many other well-known mountains. That makes the 19,000-foot summit a mirage-like blip on Tanzania’s varied topography, dropping down to vast, flat plains on all sides. The peak’s lack of technical mountaineering requirements means that even inexperienced hikers can cross it off their bucket list.’

China’s Wulingyuan Scenic Area

In this case, “scenic” might be an understatement: Thousands of sandstone pillars make up this 100-square-mile tourist destination in China’s Hunan Province. Some of them even reach heights greater than the midpoint of the Empire State Building.

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Japan’s Arashiyama Bamboo Grove

The ethereal glow and seemingly endless heights of this bamboo grove outside of Kyoto should be experienced by every traveler. Even the sounds—wood creaking, leaves rustling—are part of the experience; in 1996, Japan’s Ministry of the Environment listed these sounds as among the top 100 Soundscapes of Japan.


Yes, we did put a whole continent on this. Despite having ice covering 99 percent of its surface, Antarctica’s landscape still manages to be incredibly diverse, with 360-degree views of untouched snow, active volcanoes, surreal blue glaciers, and rough waterways like the Drake Passage. And when an emperor penguin or humpback whale shows up, those views get even better.

Hawaii’s Na Pali coastline

With its majestic waterfalls and secluded crescent beaches, Kauai’s coastline is among the most beautiful in the entire world. Just be aware that you’ll need to put forth some effort to fully appreciate its wonders, as the only ways to view Na Pali are from a helicopter, catamaran, or a strenuous hike.

Namibia’s Namib Desert

Namibia is unlike any other place on Earth because of its surreal landscapes, remote luxury lodges, and populations of rhinos, giraffes, and elephants. In fact, you might mistakenly believe that you have been transported to Mars instead of Southwest Africa because of its red sand dunes and skeletal trees.

Iceland’s Reynisfjara

The moon’s coastline would probably resemble Reynisfjara if it had one. This beach in southern Iceland is only a 20-minute drive from Vik, and its jet-black sand and spectacularly shaped basalt columns make it one of the most impressive places in the already impressive nation.

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Italy’s Capri

Italy has a wide variety of natural beauty, from craggy peaks and verdant hills to turquoise waters and white-sand beaches. Few places in the world can make such a claim. However, Capri Island is unquestionably one of the most beautiful (and glitziest) places in the nation.

Turkey’s Cappadocia

On its own, Cappadocia in Turkey, a region where entire cities have been carved out of rock, is pretty amazing. But when hot air balloons are present—many of which rise just as dawn breaks—its level of beauty literally soars.

Argentina’s Angel Falls

There are countless natural wonders in Venezuela, including the 3,212-foot cascades of Angel Falls, which are part of the UNESCO-protected Canaima National Park and are the highest waterfall in the world. Canaima is by far the most well-known attraction in the nation, and its waterfalls rise astonishingly 19 times higher than Niagara Falls. Bonus: Paradise Falls in Up was modeled after the location by Pixar animators, so you know it’s good.

Galápagos Islands, Ecuador

Do we really need to describe what makes the Galapagos so alluring? Visit this section of Ecuador that looks like it belongs in another era, complete with blue-footed boobies in the wild and giant tortoises that stomp through the tall grass like dinosaurs. (Pro tip: Taking a cruise is the best way to see the islands; Celebrity Cruise’s Xpedition ferries only 100 people and hosts nightly lectures by naturalists from Galápagos National Park.)

Irish Cliffs of Moher

This natural wonder, which reaches a height of 702 feet at its highest point, is one of the best examples of the untamed, unadulterated beauty of Ireland’s west coast. In spite of the fact that you might be more familiar with them as the Cliffs of Insanity from The Princess Bride, the cliffs are actually near Galway.

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Australia’s Great Barrier Reef

Despite being visible from space, the Great Barrier Reef—also known as the largest living thing on Earth—is best viewed from the yearly visits of devoted snorkelers and scuba divers. If you must surface again, do it in the Whitsundays, specifically at Whitehaven Beach, which is frequently cited as one of the world’s most stunning beaches.

Arizona’s Grand Canyon

One of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World, Grand Canyon National Park is a popular destination for tourists for good reason. Plan to hike some of the park’s most picturesque loops, such as Horseshoe Bend and the South Rim Trail, to see the Navajo Nation, the Painted Desert’s rocky badlands, and perhaps even a few waterfalls.

Peru’s Machu Picchu

The site’s natural surroundings make Machu Picchu even more alluring despite the fact that the intricate stone ruins are the work of Incans from the 15th century. The ancient Wonder of the World, which is perched atop a mountain’s flattened peak, enjoys the famed Huayna Picchu backdrop, lush green surroundings, and a barrier of Andean peaks that, despite the landmark’s notoriety, gives you the impression that you’ve discovered a secret.

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