Most Beautiful Landscapes in the World
Discover the Top 13 Most Breathtaking Natural Landscapes Around the World
Prepare to be awestruck as we explore some of Mother Nature’s most beautiful masterpieces. This roundup of incredible natural landscapes spans towering mountains, vibrant coral reefs, ice-sculpted fjords and even the vast African savanna. As you read about these 8 stunning destinations, just try not picturing yourself witnessing such postcard-perfect scenes in real life!
We crafted this list of dreamy natural sights that should be at the top of any travel bucket list by reviewing data from numerous travel guides, visitor popularity and reviews. Special consideration was given to geographic diversity, biodiversity, one-of-a-kind environments and opportunities for visitors to interact with nature.
What Makes an Exceptional Landscape?
But what exactly qualifies a destination as a top natural landscape? As it turns out, there’s no single formula. But the world’s most beautiful land sights often boast some combination of: Most Beautiful Landscapes in the World
✅ Breathtaking geology like mountains, deserts, caverns or unique rock formations
✅ Glaciers, lakes, waterfalls and other hydrological features
✅ Lush forests and abundant biodiversity
✅ Fantastic light conditions during sunrises, sunsets or even the Northern Lights
✅ Cultural significance for indigenous peoples or famous artists/explorers
✅ Opportunities for visitors to interact through hiking, diving or even mountain climbing!
The destinations we cover below check many (if not all) of these landscape must-have boxes. Let’s count down nature’s top 8 masterpieces starting with…
1. Grand Canyon National Park – Arizona, USA
Surely one of the world’s best known natural wonders, Arizona’s Grand Canyon National Park earned its crown jewel status spanning 277 river-carved miles long, up to 29 miles wide and a mile deep. This UNESCO World Heritage Site delights over 6 million annual visitors with its sheer cliffs, pine forests and colorful labyrinth of buttes and columns revealing nearly 2 billion years of geological history.
The park dazzles from countless overlooks, but head to hopi Point, Grandview Point or moran point for the most dramatic views as shadows accentuate ridges and canyon depths. Hike down the Bright Angel Trail to view the Colorado River’s frothy rapids slicing through ancient rock. The South Rim offers stunning sunset watching, while the quieter North Rim impresses visitors with its lush Kaibab National Forest and snow dustings in winter.
Don’t Miss Activities
- River rafting roaring 14-mile stretch through Granite Rapid
- Helicopter flights for bird’s eye canyon views
- Hiking down the famous Bright Angel Trail almost 5,000 ft elevation change!
- Mule rides navigating steep switchbacks open to non-riders
- Stargazing the Milky Way from Desert View Watchtower without light pollution
- Experiencing a condor or perhaps black bear sighting!
2. Great Barrier Reef & Whitsunday Islands – Queensland, Australia
Spanning over 1,400 miles off Australia’s northeastern shore, the Great Barrier Reef earns the crown as the planet’s largest coral reef system – and the only living structure visible from space! Along the reef and nearby Whitsunday Islands, explorers discover a vibrant underwater world protecting delicate coral structures, sea turtles, rays, dolphins, humpback whales and more than 1,600 species of fish.
Many travelers choose Cairns as their gateway to the Great Barrier Reef, with tour boats whisking visitors away to famous sites like Moore, Hardy and Fitzroy Reefs for snorkeling amongst the kaleidoscopic marine ecology. Out on the continental islands like Hamilton and Whitsunday, pure white silica sand beaches framed by bright turquoise waters look straight off a postcard.
Recent coral bleaching poses conservation challenges, as the Great Barrier Reef lost nearly 50% of its vibrant coral between 1985-2012. Responsible tourism helps support regeneration efforts so visitors can enjoy this natural wonder for generations.
Top Sites & Activities
- Snorkeling dazzling reefs via tours from Cairns, Port Douglas or Airlie Beach
- Sailing multi-day adventures through the protected Whitsunday Islands
- Scuba diving courses to see vibrant coral, fish and even sea turtles up close!
- Bushwalking island trails like Tongue Point Circuit on Whitsunday Island
- Relaxing on Whitehaven Beach with its 7 mile stretch of powdery 98% silica sand
- Skydiving over turquoise waters or the remarkable Heart Reef formation
3. Patagonia – Argentina & Chile
Forming a vast natural area split across Chile and Argentina, Patagonia’s landscapes look like the edge of the world with snow-capped mountain spires, massive glaciers and even Magellanic penguins! Situated between the towering Andes peaks and southern Atlantic coastline, Patagonia delights outdoors adventurers with stunning vistas around every turn.
Famed Torres del Paine National Park serves up soaring mountain views under horn-like Cuernos del Paine granite towers. Hit the park’s epic 12-day circuit to see icebergs calving from Grey Glacier or hike underneath the imposing triple Aux Torres. To the east, bright blue Perito Moreno glacier elicits loud cracking sounds as it slowly creeps across picturesque Lake Argentino.
Patagonia’s sparsely populated wilderness provides the perfect backdrop for trekking, camping, climbing and scouting for exotic wildlife like guanacos, rheas, foxes and condors. Peak tourism aligns with South America’s summer from December to March.
- Trekking the demanding yet rewarding “W Route” through Torres del Paine
- Ice hiking Perito Moreno glacier to glimpse its electric blue crevasses
- Road tripping the classic Carretera Austral through quaint fishing villages
- Visiting Magellanic penguins and southern right whales in Peninsula Valdes
- Exploring the photogenic Fitz Roy mountain range near El Chaltén
- Experiencing Patagonian lamb roasted over an open fire
4. Cliffs of Moher – County Clare, Ireland
Near Ireland’s wild Atlantic coast, the iconic 700-foot Cliffs of Moher tower over the raging seas with views of the nearby Aran Islands appearing through the misty gloom. As one of Ireland’s most popular natural sights, nearly 1.5 million annual visitors flock to County Clare to see sheer sea cliffs and Listen to enormous 30-foot waves crashing against stone.
Follow oceanfront trails to O’Brien’s Tower for picture-perfect cliff viewing – aiming for golden hour when setting sunlight illuminates colorful stratified layers. Adventurous types traverse uneven steps down to Doolin Cave or search for horn corals navigating the tide pools during low tide. Spring through fall tend to offer clearer cliff panoramas, with winter months bringing raging seas wrapping walkways in salty ocean spray.
- Braving blustery walks along cliffside trails – best seen at sunset!
- Wandering along the Burren limestone karst landscape filled with hazel scrubland
- Exploring Ailwee Cave underneath the Burren to see underground waterfalls & hibernating bats
- Trying a traditional Irish jam session in the popular pubs of Doolin village
- Taking guided boat trips to Inis Oírr island or below towering Cliffs of Moher
- Catching playful dolphins or nesting seabirds like kittiwakes and razorbills!
5. Serengeti National Park – Tanzania, Africa
In northern Tanzania, Serengeti National Park offers up the world’s most iconic safari landscape where over a million wildebeest, hundreds of thousands of zebras and all Africa’s big predators roam the open grassland plains. This annual Great Migration crossing into Kenya sees predators closely tailing wildebeest herds in one of planet’s last great animal movements.
Aside from wildebeest and zebras, visitors may spot giraffe, elephants, hippos, impala and over 500 bird species. Safari goers take part in traditional game drives through untouched savanna wilderness, seeing how many members of the “Big 5” they can spot. These include lions napping under acacias, massive African elephants at watering holes, critically endangered black rhinos, aggressive Cape buffalo and stealthy leopards hidden high up in sausage trees ready to pounce. Also consider hot air balloon safaris for bird’s eye views of magnificent Serengeti scenery brimming with wildlife.
Peak visitor season aligns with the Great Migration spanning from July through October. However, excellent year-round game viewing means sparse rains or golden grasses each have their own allure. Head west to Grumeti for great migration river crossings or south for beautiful vistas with fewer crowds.
Things You Can’t Miss
- Capturing the massive herds during the Great Migration river crossing
- Lions lounging atop their rocky pride lands observatories
- A dazzle of zebras streaking across amber savanna grasses
- Giraffes foraging acacia trees with comical ossicones (horns)
- Bucket list sighting of endangered rhinos or maybe even a leopard!
- Sundowners cocktails on the savanna watching pink-hued sunsets with silhouetted acacias
6. Iguazu Falls – Argentina & Brazil
Straddling the border between Brazil and Argentina, Iguazu Falls counts as the world’s largest waterfall system with 275 individual drops cascading over an astonishing 1.7 mile-wide cliffside. Located within equally breathtaking Iguazu National Park, this UNESCO World Heritage Site yields tremendous views of sheer, U-shaped Devil’s Throat, water vapor rainbows and lush tropical jungle surroundings.
The falls’ 2.7 million annual visitors can access catwalk trails yielding soak zone views from above or aboard zodiac boats entering the mist from below. The undisputed highlight here is experiencing the deafening roar with rainbows materializing amid clouds of mist at Devil’s Throat lookout points. Visitors also enjoy lush forest walks with colorful butterflies, toucans and maybe even coatis stealing food scraps left behind!
Peak visitor months coincide with South America’s summer from October through March when river levels run highest. But the falls captivate year-round, especially from the Argentinian side.
- Walking upper and lower Iguazu Falls trails feeling the wind, mist and roar up close
- Epic boat rides nearly under the thundering Devil’s Throat for soaking wet views
- Aerial views only visible by helicopter rides high above the falls’ crest
- Spotting toucans, parrots, monkeys & butterflies along the jungle trails
- Iguazu Forest after dark shows with nocturnal wildlife like caimans
- Frothy boat rides up to San Martin waterfall surrounded by sheer jungle
7. Ha Long Bay & Cat Ba Island – Vietnam
In northern Vietnam, sweeping Ha Long Bay counts over 1,600 unique limestone islands jutting straight from the emerald bay waters – forming an unforgettable seascape backdrop easily explore by traditional junk boats. This UNESCO site astounds visitors with sacred grottos, tiny floating villages, deserted beaches and spectacular sunrise vistas worthy of any tropical dream imaginable.
Most travelers board overnight cruise boats to navigate the surreal and often foggy maze of karst pillars, spending nights on luxury junks allowing full days of island hopping. Top stopovers include visiting ashore into magnificent Sung Sot Cave full of dangling stalactites or kayaking into the hidden depths of Dark & Bright lagoon cave. Over on neighboring Cat Ba Island, thick jungle awaits covering over half this tourist hub offering biking, trekking, climbing and even monkey spotting!
February through April tends to offer ideal weather and medium crowds. Hit popular Surprise Cave or less explored Lan Ha Bay for kayaking through a maze of karst.
Top Sites & Activities
- Sailing traditional junk boats weaving through mind-blowing island scenery
- Kayaking into secluded lagoons like Ba Ham Lake or Dark-Bright passage
- Squid fishing overnight trips to glimpse bioluminescence and shootings stars
- Biking Cat Ba Island’s interior to seenative Delacour’s langur monkeys
- Beach hopping to untouched oases like Monkey Island or Van Boi sand bar
- Watching the sunrise over distant islands awash in pink and tangerine light
8. Fiordland National Park – New Zealand
Along New Zealand’s glacier-carved southwest coast, Fiordland National Park safeguards one of the planet’s most beautiful corners where steep mountains give way to icy blue fjords penetrating deep inland. Centered on stunning Milford Sound, visitors flock to Fiordland to cruise the misty waters and glimpse some of over 7,000 local bottlenose dolphins while surrounded by thundering waterfalls pouring down imposing cliffsides.
Nearly half Fiordland’s landscape falls under conservation protection including its five main fjords – Milford, Doubtful, Dusky, Breaksea and Long Sound. Each branch offers unique beauty, but Milford takes the crown jewel with iconic Mitre Peak mirrored on calm waters when early morning fog briefly lifts. Don’t miss seaside tracks to touch opaque glaciers or rushing waterfalls. Overnight cruises allow experiencing the fjords’ peaceful solitude once bustling daytime boats clear out.
New Zealand weather varies widely, but November through April offers pleasant summer conditions. However winter snow dustings showcase Fiordland’s magical landscapes in a frosty dreamlike state.
- Seasickness-free mini cruise between glacier-fed waterfalls under Mitre Peak
- Scouting for dolphins and seals playing around your kayak or stand up paddleboard
- Epic guided full day hikes to Key Summit with staggering panoramic views
- Chasing glow worms illuminating grottoes along walking tracks after dark
- Stepping through beech forests straight out of Tolkien on the Routeburn Track
- Photographing vibrant pink sunrises reflecting off mirror-still waters
We could have easily listed 30 more of Earth’s natural masterpieces like the coral archways along Mexico’s Riviera Maya, the moonscapes across China’s Zhangye National Park or the Amazon’s intricate flooded forest. But alas, only so much can fit in one post! Hopefully reading about these 8 stunning natural landscapes inspires you to experience Mother Nature’s artwork first-hand. Trust us, no photo can adequately capture the magic. Let us know which destinations stand atop your must-visit travel bucket list!
9. Uluru-Kata Tjuṯa National Park – Australia
The Red Centre of Australia holds rich cultural significance for Aboriginal groups plus one of the world’s most recognizable natural icons – the glowing red monolith of Uluru. Sacred sites across Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park offer insight into indigenous traditions linked to the land’s history dating back tens of thousands of years. Beyond the photogenic sandstone changing hues at sunrise and sunset, visitors find caves covered in ancient rock art and access guided walks around the base and pools surrounding Uluru’s impressive 5 1/2 mile circumference.
Nearby emerge the 36 red domes of Kata Tjuṯa forming the other highlight aptly nicknamed “Many Heads”. These sedimentary rock formations tower over 1,000 feet into clear blue skies contrasting beautifully with scrubby spinifex grasslands underfoot. Dawn or dusk again showcases Kata Tjuṯa’s outback allure with golden hour rays spotlighting the natural architecture.
- Circumnavigating the iconic sandstone of Uluru both on foot and by tour bus
- Hiking through the beehive-like domes of Kata Tjuṯa as sunlight passes through
- Learning about indigenous Creation beliefs and traditions still honored today
- Hand painting with Aboriginal dot art or weaving threads into a tapestry
- Witnessing both landmarks shift colors from burnt orange to deep rusty reds
- Sleeping overnight to catch a brilliant Outback starred night sky untouched by light pollution
10. Salar de Uyuni – Bolivia
The world’s largest salt flat stretches 4,086 square miles across southwest Bolivia, creating dream-like reflective vistas after rainfall transforms the crunchy crystallized surface into the world’s largest mirror. During the dry season between May and November, the endless horizon of blinding white salt draws daring adventurers. But visiting after the summer rains when thin sheets of water produce flawless reflections makes Salar de Uyuni sought after by landscape photographers worldwide.
Aside from straight salt in all directions, colorful lagoons, active volcanoes and cactus-studded islands offer striking contrast across this otherworldly destination. The best way to experience the sheer vastness is joining multi-day jeep tours overnighting in simple salt hotels. Popular excursions include whizzing around Dakar-style while watching vibrant pink flamingo flocks take flight, searching for Andean foxes, hiking volcanic cave tunnels and visiting nearby town cemeteries filled with mummies.
- Joyriding quad bikes out onto the salty expanse chasing dust plumes in your wake
- Gazing awestruck at the sunset, moonrise or star-scattered night skies
- Crafting salty lithium batteries as a makeshift science experiment
- Contrasting bright blue lagoons with the endless white while eating a picnic lunch
- Spotting flamingos, Andean foxes and maybe a viscacha (relative of the chinchilla)
- Sleeping inside a boutique salt hotel hand-carved from the expansive chunky slabs
11. Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve – Mexico
Each winter, fir and pine oak forests spanning 56,000 acres across Michoacán, Mexico transform into an orange and black butterfly bonanza as millions of migrating monarch butterflies roost among the boughs. UNESCO protects habitat for this most beautiful stage of the monarch migration within Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve. But understanding the epic journey that leads the delicate insects here makes this natural phenomenon even more incredible.
Each autumn, Eastern North American monarch populations travel up to 3000 miles south. Their great-grandparents then make the return flight back north the following spring – each way an astonishing feat of endurance and inherited generational instinct guiding them to overwintering grounds never before seen by that generation of butterflies. For visitors, sanctuary paths wind amidst trees bursting with vibrant monarchs clustering together to stay warm. The phenomenon runs November through March, with peak sightings in late February. And if you’re lucky, a few of these marvelous migrators may land right on your shoulder!
Activities & Sites
- Hiking forested trails through swarms of vibrant orange monarchs clinging to conifer boughs
- Visiting El Rosario or Sierra Chincua sanctuaries to experience the winter clustering wonder
- Butterfly-spotting amongst wildflowers in nearby zoques forest trails and meadows
- Sampling local cuisine like sopes, corundas or tamales in the quaint mountain town of Angangueo
- Learning about conservation and threats facing fragile overwintering populations
- Photographing insects with wings patterned like stained-glass backlit by the sun
12. Lençóis Maranhenses National Park – Brazil
Along Brazil’s northeast Atlantic coast, the barren dunes of Lençóis Maranhenses National Park yield one of Earth’s unexpected natural wonders where turquoise rainwater pools mirror bright blue skies between white sand mountains. The impactful contrast shocks first-time visitors who expect desert-like aridity rather than limpid lagoons alternating with 30 meter tall driftless dunes.
While the Lençóis Maranhenses landscape dazzles year-round, peaks from around June to September beautifully synchronize both elements after rains accumulate reflecting ponds in valleys between sand waves swept inland from Atlantic winds. Most travelers experience the area’s surreal vistas via scenic flights, dune buggies or multi-day treks glamping under dreamy starry skies. Don’t miss caburé sand drawers, boat trips through mangroves or swimming in bathtub-warm rainwater pools!
- Soaring high above the dunes and lagoons in heart-pounding tandem hang gliding or paragliding flights
- Sliding down enormous windswept megadunes bordering vividly blue water on sandboards
- Wildlife watching for migratory birds, dragonflies, lizards, spiders and even foxes or deer visiting for a drink
- Crossing bouncy dunes from Itaunas village towards legendary pilot whale grazing grounds
- Sunset beach camping trips with bonfires and starry night skies illuminated by the Milky Way Galaxy
- Experiencing the culture of lively Barreirinhas town or tranquility around remote beaches
13. Zhangye Danxia National Geopark – China
China safeguards over 322 square miles filled with rainbow-colored rock formations within stunning Zhangye Danxia National Geopark in the country’s northwestern Gansu province. Folding layers of red sandstone mixed with mineral-rich deposits become exposed over millions of years – yielding surreal landscapes certain to shock first-time visitors. This Martian world impresses photography lovers with fiery tones perfectly contrasted against green valley meadows and layered beige peaks.
Golden hour light further ignites Danxia’s colors – whether witnessed from Mi Fu’s Red Gateouldess, Zhangye’s “eye” arches or the park’s Grand Canyon walkway vista points. While the park’s undeveloped nature means few amenities, multi-day hiking opportunities allow deeper immersion into this unique badlands environment – including fossil hunting! Nearby Mati Temple’s “hanging monastery” perched precariously atop a cliff also merits exploring.
- Photographing the rainbow mountains from Sun and Moon Pagoda viewpoint
- Circling west towards the red, yellow and green peaks surrounding Buddhist Liu Li Pagoda
- Lighting water lanterns down Grand Canyon Valley’s Baishuitai streams
- Fossil hunting in Strata Cliffs where preserved ammonites await in eroded zones
- Sampling farm-fresh apricots, dates, tomatoes and walnuts from local orchards
- Spending peaceful nights camping inside the multi-colored badlands
Frequently Asked Questions: Most Beautiful Landscapes in the World
What extra sites just missed making this top landscapes list?
Other breathtaking contenders included Yellowstone National Park, Yosemite Valley, Torres del Paine National Park, Banff National Park, Atacama Desert, Galapagos Islands, Panama’s San Blas Islands and New Zealand’s South Island.
What should you bring to best enjoy these destinations?
Great shoes or sandals for walking, lightweight and waterproof jacket layers, sun protection including hats and sunglasses, binoculars, camera gear, reusable water bottle, packable daypack, and for some locations camping/hiking gear or snorkel equipment.
How can travelers avoid damaging fragile natural landscapes?
Follow leave no trace principles by staying on marked trails, carrying out all trash and waste, obeying protected area rules, avoiding wildlife disturbances, supporting eco-tourism operators and reducing overall environmental footprint from transport and activities.
Which destinations face environmental threats or require conservation support?
The Great Barrier Reef, Brazilian rainforest around Iguazu Falls, African wildlife populations in the Serengeti food chain and glaciated areas of Fiordland National Park all face concerning habitat loss from climate change currently requiring responsible travel.