The world is full of wonder and beauty, but it important to remember that beauty is a very subjective trait. After all, what one person finds to be absolutely stunning may be disturbing to the person standing next to them. With this is mind, we have compiled a list of some of the most shocking and beautiful places to visit throughout the world so that you can expand your travel bucket list accordingly.
1. Tunnel of Love, Ukraine
Photo by Kashif Pathan
This 1.8 mile private railroad passage is set deep in the woods within the Ukraine. Due to its beautiful and serene setting, it has become a favorite spot for adventurous travelers and couples in love. This is the perfect location for a proposal or a romantic photo-shoot. Just make sure that you steer clear of the tracks when the lone train that utilizes them is in action.
2. McMurdo Dry Valleys, Antarctica
Photo used with permission of Matt Schwachofer
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to walk on Mars? Although you will probably never have the opportunity to visit another planet, you can see some of the most extreme deserts on earth by visiting Antarctica. The McMurdo Dry Valleys have a physical appearance that bears some similarities to the topography and general conditions of Mars, and they are almost just as remote.
3. Glowworm Caves, New Zealand
Photo by neverunprepared
Taking a boat ride through the Glowworm Caves in New Zealand’s North Island allows you to harness some of the mystery and magic that early humans felt when they first looked up at the night sky. The glowworms that are present within these caves exist only in New Zealand, and you can take an organized boat tour to soak in their natural beauty. Make sure that you bring your camera with you because this is truly a once in a lifetime experience.
4. Salt Tiles, Salar de Uyuni, Southern Bolivia
Photo by Phil Whitehouse
There is nothing else on earth quite like the salt tiles in Bolivia, and this gives people the sensation of visiting an alien planet. You will be able to see for miles, but the white salt tiles can also provide the illusion of a giant mirror during the right weather circumstances. As an added bonus, the nearby mountains have numerous caves to explore, and you can get photos that make the salt tiles look like a large, white sea.
5. Ice Caves, Mendenhall Glacier, Alaska, USA
Photo by Andrew E. Russell
Many people are attracted by the idea of seeing a glacier in person, but what if you could go inside one? The ice caves in Juneau, Alaska make this a possibility. The caves are 12 miles long, and adventurers who kayak and then ice climb can capture stunning photographs that look like they were digitally created. Be quick if you want to visit this spot, though, as climate change is causing the glacier to melt at a rapid pace.
6. Tulip Fields, the Netherlands
Photo by Reinoud Kaasschleter
Whether you love flowers and bright colors or simply have an appreciation for amazingly well-designed fields, the tulip fields in The Netherlands will deliver a visual treat. There are several places throughout the world that place an emphasis on growing tulips, including Holland, and Michigan, in the USA, but nothing is quite as stunning as what awaits you in The Netherlands.
7. Antelope Canyon, Arizona, USA
Photo by herdiephoto.com
Antelope Canyon is part of the Navajo Nation Parks & Recreation, and it was once home to a large population of pronghorn antelope. In order to visit the Upper or Lower Antelope Canyons, you will need to schedule a guided tour. Other areas such as the Rainbow Bridge Trail and the lowest section of the East Waterholes allow you to roam freely with a hiking permit.
8. Black Forest, Germany
Photo by ptwo
The name Black Forest conjures up dark imagery and twisted fairy tales, and its canopy of evergreens does have a slightly sinister look and feel. This area is the setting for Hansel and Gretel’s meeting with the wicked witch, but it also has some of the most stunningly gorgeous wooded views on earth.
9. Sea Ice, Spitsbergen, Svalbard
Photo used with permission of Matt Schwachofer
The sea ice outside of Spitsbergen is wondrous to behold on its own, but what makes it really beautiful is the regular appearances by polar bears. Some trip logs from Spitsbergen have even documented rare behavior from the polar bears in this particular region, including sparring. In other words, this area is a good choice for travelers who want to have photographic opportunities of the ice that just might include a polar bear or two, as well.
10. Catacombs of Paris, France
Photo by Adam Baker
For some people, macabre locations can be not only stunning but also provide a beautiful place to visit. For example, the Catacombs of Paris contain a truly compelling collection of bones and skulls. Many of these grisly but somehow beautiful reminders of history are arranged artistically, and you can also learn a lot about the lives of each of the Catacombs’ residents by studying their remains. This is a must-see location for history enthusiasts and individuals whose interests run toward the dark side.
11. Bamboo Forest, Japan
Photo by Tim Brennan
The Bamboo Forest in Kyoto is one of the most beautiful green spaces in the world, but this is not all that the area has going for it. Additionally, the Bamboo Forest has been named to the 100 Soundscapes of Japan, which means that this is location is a visual and auditory delight.
12. Fairy Pools, Isle of Skye, Scotland
Photo by Indrik Myneur
A walk to the fairy pools will take you approximately 40 minutes, but your reward for taking this hike includes beautiful views and a cold but crystal clear pool of blue water from the River Brittle. Most travelers stick with photographing the Fairy Pools. However, if you are a swimming enthusiast, it is worth the cold water temperature to spend some time enjoying some of the clearest water on earth.
13. Machu Picchu, Peru
Photo by Peter Burka
There is a good reason that Machu Picchu was at the top of Lisa Simpson’s bucket list: it’s gorgeous, difficult to reach and contains an amazing opportunity to study a lost culture. No one is certain exactly what this area was used for in the 15th century, but reaching the peak of Machu Picchu without taking a helicopter ride is a huge feat that travelers from all over the world have set out to accomplish.
14. Mamanuca Islands, Fiji
Image by Juliane Schultz
There are 20 islands in Fiji that fall under the heading of the Mamanuca Islands, and they offer travelers a wide array of beautiful recreational opportunities. You can enjoy the water, take stunning photos, go dolphin-watching, parasailing and much more during a trip to this portion of Fiji.
15. Giant’s Causeway, Ireland and Scotland
Photo by Julian Dunn
Giant’s Causeway, which is found in Ireland and Scotland, was once believed to be the remnants of an ancient rock bridge that was formed by giants to enable them to travel between the two countries. Science tells us that the actual origins are less mythical but still really fascinating: the causeway is the result of quickly cooling and contracting volcanic lava.
16. Neuschwanstein Castle, Germany
Photo by Manuel Nunez Salinas
One of the most visited and photographed castle in the world was once the refuge of an introverted king. Fortunately for the public, Neuschwanstein Castle became accessible by tour in 1886, shortly after the death of King Ludwig II. Disney lovers will want to make a trip to Germany to see the real-life inspiration for the Beast’s castle.
17. Great Blue Hole, Belize
Photo by Eric Pheterson
Approximately 150,000 years ago, a limestone cave was formed in Belize. Over time, though, the water levels rose, and this caused the cave’s roof to collapse. The result of this process is the Great Blue Hole, which is considered to be one of the most unique and worthwhile diving spots in the world.
18. Castle Dracula, Romania
Photo by Dennis Jarvis
Bran Castle, which is better known as Dracula’s Castle, is a stunning landmark in Romania. Tourists with a taste for the macabre will enjoy the castle and the surrounding countryside. It is believed that the real Dracula, Vlad the Impaler, spent two nights in the dungeon of this castle. If you are really adventurous, you may also want to go to the ruins of the Poienari Castle in Brasov, Romania, which is where Dracula most likely actually lived.
19. Valley of the Ten Peaks, Alberta, Canada
Photo by Florin Chelaru
This valley is found in Alberta’s Banff National Park. From this spot, you can see and photograph the 10 peaks, including Mount Fay, Neptuak Mountain and Mount Tuzo. It is also possible to see several other peaks from within this strategic location.
20. Central Austrian Alps, Austria
Photo by Sonja und Jens
The Alps wind their way throughout Austria, Switzerland, Slovenia, Italy and Liechtensein. Some of the most memorable and stunningly gorgeous sections of the Central Austrian Alps are found in Austria, and they include a mixture of topographical features such as the small waterfall pictured above.
21. Candy Cane Mountains, Azerbaijan
Photo by David Davidson
These mountains are part of Azerbaijan’s Greater Caucasus range. The Candy Cane Mountains are nicknamed for the stunning colors that have been caused by a natural event: altered iron compound oxidation mixed with groundwater. Hiking in these mountains can be dangerous for people who are not experienced, but beautiful views can be seen without climbing up into the range.
22. Golden Temple, Amritsar
Photo by Arian Zwegers
Harmandir Sahib, which is commonly referred to as the Golden Temple, is a breathtaking building that attracts religious and secular visitors. This unique blending of Muslim and Hindu architectural styles is often referred to as one of the most artistically designed buildings in the world.
23. Mavora Lakes, New Zealand
Photo by Tom Hall
Mavora Lakes in New Zealand offer visitors a mixture of forests, lakes, mountains and tussock grassland, which makes it very appealing to people who thrive on time spent in the great outdoors. Even better is the spectacular way that the night sky comes to life. The lack of nearby light pollution provides an experience you will never forget.
24. Emerald Lakes, New Zealand
Photo by Marcus Holland-Moritz
If you head to New Zealand to see the view from Mavora Lakes, make sure that you also make time for a visit to Emerald Lakes. Named after their unusual color, this is another remote area of New Zealand that offers beauty combined with peace and quiet.
25. Etretat Cliffs, France
Photo by Gabriel Calderon
These cliffs in Upper Normandy are famous for their white, chalky appearance and the inclusion of three naturally-occurring arches. As an added bonus, the white pebble beach makes these cliffs easily accessible, and you can spend some time relaxing while you enjoy the area’s natural beauty.
26. Gullfoss, Iceland
Photo by Mark Fischer
Gullfoss, or the Golden Falls, is made up of three naturally carved steps. The water from the Hvita River flows down this so-called staircase, and it eventually makes a large plunge into a crevice that is 22 meters deep. From the view to the mist, standing on the side of the Golden Falls is truly memorable.
27. Pamukkale, Denizli, Turkey
Photo by miquitos
Pamukkale is a Turkish word that means cotton castle. Aside from the unique aesthetic appeal of this area, travelers are able to partake in hot springs that have served as an invigorating bathing spot for thousands of years. At one point, there were hotels and a thriving tourism industry, but the hotels were torn down to preserve Pamukkale’s natural beauty. You can still visit this World Heritage Site, but there are likely to be far fewer people in the area with you.
28. Kodiak Island, Alaska, USA
Photo by Andrew Peterson
Kodiak Island is the largest of the islands in the Kodiak Archipelago. Located off of south coast of Alaska, this location features almost 3,600 square miles of beauty to explore, ranging from heavy forests and mountains to relatively flat land. Two-thirds of the island is part of the Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge, and it is possible that you will find yourself face-to-face with the native Kodiak bear.
29. Athabasca Falls, Alberta, Canada
Photo by Bastien Deceuninck
This gorgeous waterfall is part of the Jasper National Park in Canada. Although the height of Athabasca Falls is not nearly as impressive as many other waterfalls around the world, the forceful rush of such a large amount of water is unusual. Another major draw is that these falls can be photographed safely from several nearby spots.
30. El Chalten, Argentina
Photo by Justin Vidamo
El Chalten is a mountain village located within Argentina’s Santa Cruz Province. The village itself is charming and worthwhile for anyone who wants to get away from it all for a while, but the true appeal is the two surrounding mountains. This region is beyond gorgeous during the autumn season, and it is known as Argentina’s Trekking Capital.
With all of these locations to choose from, there is no reason to take a boring vacation ever again. Keep in mind that traveling off the beaten path and seeing shocking and beautiful places will make you more likely to have a successful career. Additionally, it will also provide you with memories that last a lifetime.
Featured photo credit: Peter Burka via flic.kr