Pinpointing every breathtaking place on the planet could take a lifetime, but the guys in the know at CN Traveler think that these 50 otherworldly landscapes and awe-inspiring natural wonders need to move to the very top of your travel bucket list. (All images from Getty unless otherwise indicated)
Cappadocia, an area in Turkey where entire cities have been carved into rock, is pretty incredible on its own. But whenever hot-air balloons pepper the sky, its beauty level simply skyrockets.
Salar de Uyuni: Daniel Campos, Bolivia
The reflective surface of the world’s largest salt mine is like something from the imagination of Salvador Dali—although we’re happy it actually exists in real life.
Mù Cang Chải: Vietnam
Mù Cang Chải manages to be one of the most breathtaking spots in Vietnam, with terraced rice fields and mountainous landscapes.
Benagil Sea Cave: Algarve, Portugal
The southern coast of Portugal is lined with exquisite beaches and caves, including the famous Benagil Sea Cave (skylight included).
Iceland’s Snæfellsjökull glacier, complete with ice caves and craters, has appeared in Jules Verne’s Journey to the Center of the Earth and the film Batman Begins.
There’s a reason why more than 5 million people visit the Grand Canyon every year: It’s one of the seven natural wonders of the world, but a lot easier to access than Mount Everest or the Great Barrier Reef.
It’s over 12,000 miles long, thousands of years old, and can be seen from space—no wonder the Great Wall nabbed a spot on this list.
Denali (formerly Mt. McKinley): Alaska
Despite controversies over name changes and a shrinking elevation, Denali’s beauty is worth braving the extreme low temperatures.
Isle of Skye: Scotland
With fairy pools and bright green hills, the magical Isle of Skye is the stuff dreams are made of (regardless of whether you’ve binge-watched Outlander yet).
Bromo Volcano: East Java, Indonesia
Mount Bromo is perhaps the most well-known volcano in East Java’s Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park, thanks to its accessibility and epic sunrise views.
While it may not be the first place you’d pick for a vacation abroad, Samarkand is a standout with intricately tiled buildings and colorfully dressed locals. It also has a rich history as a Silk Road stopping point.
Holland is known around the world for its rainbow-hued fields of tulips, especially those located in and around Keukenhof. Millions of bulbs are planted in the park each year—visit in mid-April to see the flowers during their peak season.
Machu Picchu: Peru
Machu Picchu’s panoramic views and intricate (and a tad mysterious) stone walls more than validate the site’s worldwide fame.
The Great Barrier Reef: Queensland, Australia
Although the largest living thing on Earth can be seen from space, the best vantage point belongs to the avid snorkelers and scuba divers who visit each year.
Moravian Fields: Czech Republic
It’s more believable to think the Moravian Fields are the product of an oil painter’s genius brushstrokes, but these pastel-colored hills are very much a reality.
Socotra kind of looks like it was transported to Earth from a distant planet. The UFO-like dragon’s blood trees are the island’s most notable feature.
Bagan (formerly Pagan): Myanmar
Bagan’s ancient city skyline is like nothing else in the world, with ochre stupas and temples rising above the surrounding forests.
Santorini is officially one of the best islands in the world—and one of the most picturesque. The small village of Oia is particularly captivating, with its whitewashed buildings and bright blue roofs.
Slope Point: South Island, New Zealand
The next time you want to complain about the wind messing up your hair, just consider the trees of Slope Point, which have been permanently twisted and windblown by intense Antarctic gusts.
Lake Louise: Alberta, Canada
As is the case with most glacial lakes, Lake Louise is surrounded by rugged mountains and filled with clear, vibrant water.
Valle de Cocora: Quindío, Colombia
In case you were wondering where to find the world’s tallest palm trees (palma de cera), you needn’t look further. The lithe trees are even more incredible set against the backdrop of misty green hills and sharp mountains.
Pamukkale: Denizli, Turkey
The stacked pools in Pamukkale are usually surrounded by snow and frozen waterfalls, but the blue waters are hot and open to bathers. You’ll never be satisfied with your hotel’s infinity pool again.
Torres del Paine National Park: Patagonia, Chile
Torres del Paine is like a microcosm of all the things that make Patagonia such a spectacular place: sky-high mountains, blue icebergs, and mythical lakes.
Wulingyuan Scenic Area: Zhangjiajie, China
Scenic might be an understatement in this case. This 100-square-mile attraction contains thousands of sandstone pillars that are nature’s version of skyscrapers—some even stretch taller than the Empire State Building’s midpoint.
Angkor Wat: Siem Reap, Cambodia
Some popular tourist attractions are worth braving the potential crowds for, and Angkor Wat is at the top of that list. No matter how many Asian temples you’ve seen, this one will always be the grandest and most breathtaking.
Redwood National Park: California
Standing in the middle of California’s Redwood National Park is a humbling experience to be sure, especially when you look straight up at the 2,000-year-old, 300-feet-tall natural giants.
Na’Pali Coast: Kauai, Hawaii
Kauai boasts one of the world’s most insanely beautiful coastlines, which makes you work a bit to soak up its wonders—Na’Pali can only be seen from a helicopter, catamaran, or rather grueling hike.
Halong Bay: Vietnam
Halong Bay, located in northeast Vietnam, is beloved for its blue waters and spread of limestone islands, all occupied by tropical trees and wildlife.
Painted Cliffs: Maria Island, Tasmania
Tasmania’s Maria Island is a motherlode of fascinating geology, including the swirling, Triassic-era limestone of the Painted Cliffs.
Jodhpur (“Blue City”): Rajasthan, India
Jodhpur is an ancient city with plenty to offer modern travellers, like bustling bazaars, incense-scented air, and delightfully Smurf-like buildings as far as you can see.