25 Best Places to Visit Around the World
One of the best parts of traveling is the sheer variety of places you can go to. From awe-inspiring natural wonders to man-made wonderlands, the breadth and scope of the world will amaze you. With that in mind, here are 25 places to help kick-start your journey:
1. New York City, USA
Ah, what can be said about NYC that hasn't been said already? The Big Apple may just be the single most famous place on Earth. With its 5 boroughs, exploring New York can be quite the journey, but luckily there is much to see at every step of the way. By this point, everybody knows about Central Park, the Empire State Building, Times Square, and the Statue of Liberty. But NYC is also a haven for culture, what with both the Met Museum and MoMA offering generous helpings of art in every style under the sun. And let's not forget about the still new One World Trade Center and the 9/11 Memorial & Museum, a testament to the city's inspiring rebirth after tragedy.
2. Niagara Falls, Canada/USA
There are bigger waterfalls around the world, but none with the combination of beauty and accessibility that Niagara Falls offers. Whether you're visiting on the American or the Canadian side, you can look forward to numerous fun activities. First off, there's the iconic Maid of the Mist ferry ride, which takes you close to the rapids themselves. Then there's the Niagara Scenic Trolley, with its guided trips along the American Falls and around Goat Island. But the absolute can't-miss highlight here is a trip inside the Cave of the Winds, a natural cave that leads you to the base of the American Falls themselves, where you can experience all the might and splendor of the water rushing over your body. Be prepared to emerge out of there soaking wet but all the happier for having experienced nature at its most elemental.
3. Great Barrier Reef, Australia
Some of life's best treasures are found below the surface. Just look at the Great Barrier Reef, a jaw-dropping ecosystem on its own comprising more than 2,900 individual reefs and 900 islands stretched out over an area of 133,000 square miles. Located just off the coast of Australia's Queensland, the Great Barrier Reef needs to be seen to be believed. An untold number of creatures navigate its waters, from sharks to stingrays to green turtles. Scuba-diving and snorkeling are the two most popular activities here, but even if you prefer to stay dry, there are glass-bottomed boats and underwater observatories that allow you to witness the spectacular life forms that populate the area.
4. Giza Pyramids, Egypt
If history is your passion, you owe it to yourself to check out one of mankind's supreme historical landmarks, the ancient Pyramids of Giza. Built during Egypt's Fourth Dynasty Period, these marvels of human engineering are still going strong today, with the Great Pyramid of Giza being the only member of the original Seven Wonders of the World that is still in existence today. The smaller Pyramid of Khafre and the Pyramid of Menkaure are just as worthy of admiration, as is the iconic Great Sphinx of Giza. Along with these major monuments, the complex also houses several satellite edifices, including multiple tombs and cemeteries, each of which adds to the overall mystique of the area.
5. Bali, Indonesia
An Indonesian paradise island that attracts travelers from all corners of the globe, Bali boasts multiple tourist hubs, each with their own distinguishing features. The town of Kuta, for instance, is celebrated for its gorgeous beach and clean waters, while the outer suburbs of Legian and Seminyak stand out for their luxury amenities and stunning natural beauty. Then there's the cultural center of Ubud, known for its famous Monkey Forest and numerous arts-and-crafts museums. Attractions like the cliff-side Uluwatu Temple and the piercing Mount Batur are deservedly famous, but there is a place for everyone in Bali, whether your goal is to become one with nature or simply enjoy some of the most stunning vistas in the world.
6. Grand Canyon, USA
Formed continuously over the last 5-6 million years as the Colorado River established its course through the area, the Grand Canyon is as vast and as awe-inspiring as its name suggests. Measuring 277 miles in length and up to 18 miles in width, the canyon routinely reaches depths of over a mile, with numerous points of interest scattered along the way. If you want to enjoy an unforgettable view from up high, the Lipan Point promontory is a great and easily-accessible spot. There are also facilities for a host of Canyon-centric activities such as rafting, hiking and skydiving. Guided helicopter tours can give you an overview of the entire area, whereas the Grand Canyon Skywalk allows you to stare into the abyss in complete safety.
7. Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia
Have you ever wanted to feel like you're standing on the precipice of the horizon? In that case, Bolivia's Salar de Uyuni would like to have a word with you. As the world's largest salt flat, the area stretches out as far as the eye can see, with practically no elevation in sight. In addition to offering priceless photo opportunities, its wide open flat surface makes you feel like you could hug the sky in every direction. Salar de Uyuni becomes even more spectacular immediately after rainfall, when the area's surface becomes reflective, thus temporarily turning it into the world's largest mirror, measuring no less than 80 miles across.
8. Santorini, Greece
A true gem even amidst several other gorgeous Greek Islands, Santorini was the site of one of the largest volcanic eruptions in history. The island's current water-filled caldera is a remnant of this remarkable event, and it's what gives Santorini its majestic background. But the island is also known for harboring gorgeous little villages such as Fira and Oia, which stand out due to their whitewashed houses and blue-colored church domes. Finally, the Akrotiri settlement dates back to the Bronze Age, and has stood the test of time due to being preserved in volcanic ash. With its amazing frescoes and artifacts, it deserves to be seen by both history fans and art lovers alike.
9. Angkor Wat, Cambodia
Religious monuments throughout the world are known for their architectural ambition, but none can trump Angkor Wat in terms of sheer size and reach. Covering an area space of 402 acres, this vast temple complex dates back to the early 12th century and is considered a hallmark of Khmer architecture. Several of its highlights, including the Bayon Temple and the Terrace of Elephants, would be worthy attractions in their own right, but taken together and with the added bonus of a lush jungle background, they help create an atmosphere that is undeniably unique and worth experiencing at least once in a lifetime.
10. Rovaniemi, Finland
A small settlement of just 63,000 people, Rovaniemi at first glance may seem like your ordinary sleepy town. But the place has gained international prominence due to serving as the "official" residence of Santa Claus. Blessed with copious amounts of snow every year, Rovaniemi is home to the Santa Claus Village and the SantaPark Arctic World, both of which look positively magical around Christmas. The city is also located partly within the Arctic Circle, whose exact crossing line is a popular photo spot for visitors. Add to that the gorgeous sight of the Aurora Borealis and the spectacular architecture of places like the Lappia House, and you have all the makings of a truly picture-perfect getaway.
11. Barcelona, Spain
Talk about being easy on the eyes. Barcelona's architecture, courtesy of esteemed artist Antoni Gaudi, is world-renowned for its eccentric beauty. By now, everyone knows about the still-unfinished La Sagrada Familia, possibly the most avant-garde religious landmark in all of Europe. But Barcelona also features other works by Gaudi, including the wavy Casa Mila and Park Guell, an iconic resting spot that every architecture lover should have on their list. In addition, the cultural hub of La Rambla and the Picasso Museum help complete the portrait of a city that always plays by its own rules.
12. Dubai, UAE
Few cities have made a bigger leap than Dubai over the last fifty years. What not long ago was just a sleepy maritime city has now become one of the world's leading business hubs. Its reputation was bolstered by the construction of several unique landmarks such as the Burj Khalifa, currently the tallest building on the planet, and the Palm Jumeirah, an artificial archipelago filled with top-notch hotels and resorts. The city is also a major shopping center, with the Dubai Mall featuring a host of luxury brands and entertainment options. And don't forget about the Bastakia quarter, the older portion of town that stands as a testament to how Dubai looked before massive development began.
13. Machu Picchu, Peru
Located some 50 miles northwest of Cusco, Machu Picchu is a 15th century Inca citadel that shines a light into one of South America's most dominant civilizations. Its remarkable architecture is accentuated by the dramatic background of the Huayna Picchu mountain. The complex contains three primary structures: the Intihuatana, a ritual stone that was used for keeping time, the imposing Temple of the Sun and the lavish Room of the Three Windows. The area's stark beauty is amplified by its altitude, being situated at a cool 7,970 feet above ground, which is why it's always a good idea to pace yourself when hiking the ruins.
14. Petra, Jordan
One of the great "lost cities" of the world, Petra dates back to ancient times, with some estimates judging its construction to have begun as early as the 5th century BC. It was the pride of the Nabataean civilization, a tribe of nomadic Arabs who became accustomed to living in the harsh conditions of the desert. Judging by its incredible architecture and vibrant colors, the landmark also shows a remarkable inclination towards taste and beauty. Among its highlights we can include the rock-carved Ad Deir monastery, with its huge facade and gorgeous inner chamber, and the aptly-named Great Temple, which may have actually served multiple functions in its time.
15. Stonehenge, UK
From the very earliest of times, mankind has strived to put its mark on the world. While a far cry from today's skyscrapers, Stonehenge is one of the first examples of man's ambition being put to the test. Featuring a ring of staggeringly-heavy standing stones, each weighing around 25 tons, the mysterious landmark dates back to the early Bronze Age. It is now regarded as a British cultural icon, but in truth its popularity has transcended all borders. While its role has been hotly debated over the years, most archeological evidence points to Stonehenge being an elaborate burial site, but some believed it also fulfilled important ceremonial and religious functions too.
16. Shanghai, China
A symbol of China's emergence as an economic powerhouse and perhaps the most Westernized of all Chinese cities, Shanghai is a thoroughly modern metropolis that attracts travelers from all corners of the globe. The famed waterside walkway known as the Bund will give you an indication of just how beautiful the city is, while the Jin Mao Tower can hold its own with any US skyscraper. If you'd like to get some shopping done, be sure to visit the bustling Nanjing Road, whereas families will love a trip to the Shanghai Disneyland Park. Last but not least, the Tianzifang historic neighborhood and the Jade Buddha Temple showcase the traditional side of the city and deserve to be seen as well.
17. Masai Mara, Kenya
Some of nature's greatest ambassadors are the wild creatures that roam the plains of Africa, and there's no better place to see them in action than Kenya's Maasai Mara game reserve. Far from the confines of your average zoo, this wide area allows animals to live in their normal habitat. Creatures such as lions, leopards and elephants can be admired through guided safari tours, with visitors staying at safe lodges and tented camps overnight. If possible, try coming here during the Great Migration, an annual event during which gigantic herds of wildebeest cross the reserve while having to fend off attacks by predators along the way.
18. Yellowstone National Park, USA
If it's nature that you crave, why not put your faith in the world's first national park? Established in 1872, Yellowstone occupies parts of Wyoming, Montana and Idaho in the northwestern part of the United States. It stands out due to its varied wildlife and remarkable geothermal features, including multiple geysers such as the emblematic Old Faithful. The national park is perfect for various outdoor activities such as camping, boating and fishing, and even welcomes visitors during the winter, when most of the exploration is done via guided tours that rely on snowmobile transportation.
19. Pamukkale, Turkey
Another place that looks as if it belongs on another planet, Pamukkale is actually located in the western part of Turkey. Its chief attraction lies in the oddly-shaped thermal pools which have attracted travelers since Ancient times, when the Greco-Roman city of Hierapolis was established in the area. While you can no longer bathe in the pools themselves, their shimmery, alien-like quality is quite a sight to see even from a distance. In addition, the nearby remnants of Hierapolis are a treat to explore, with several active swimming pools that you can take a swim in.
20. Venice, Italy
Venice is a city like no other. Built on a group of 118 islands that are separated by canals and connected by more than 400 bridges, the city's long history and distinguished architecture have made it a dream destination for couples and romantics from all walks of life. Here you can book a gondola ride and stride through the Grand Canal, while stopping to admire intricate landmarks such as the Rialto Bridge and the Bridge of Sighs. Or you can explore the huge Saint Mark's Basilica with its gilded domes and the Gothic-style Doge's Palace. Add to that annual events like the Carnival of Venice and the Venice Film Festival and you have all the makings of a true haven for lovers of all things beautiful.
21. Socotra Island, Yemen
Between Africa and Arabia lies one of the world's oddest islands – a small territory belonging to Yemen that's known as Socotra Island. Officially recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2008, Socotra stands out for its distinctive flora and fauna and features an impressive display of 700 endemic species that can't be found anywhere else on Earth. Chief among them is the spectacular dragon's blood tree, with its strange, umbrella-like shape, but the island also features a vast array of cucumber trees and several rare bird species like the Socotra starling and the baboon spider. With strange-looking places such as the Detwah Lagoon and the Diksam Plateau, Socotra truly is a land unlike any other.
22. Darvaza Gas Crater, Turkmenistan
If hell ever had an entry point on Earth, it would likely be the Darvaza Gas Crater in Derweze, Turkmenistan. Formed as a result of a collapsing natural gas field that geologists intentionally set fire to in order to prevent the spread of methane gas, the flames of Darvaza continue to burn bright to this very day. The beauty of Darvaza lies in its accessibility – you can get as close to the edge of the crater as you'd like, and some have even taken to roasting marshmallows over the flames (you'll need a really big stick for that, though).
23. Nasir al-Mulk Mosque, Iran
Many mosques are places of great beauty, ranging from traditional landmarks to state-of-the-art constructions. But few can match the incredible colors of Nasir al-Mulk Mosque in Shiraz, Iran. Sometimes nick-named the "Pink Mosque" due to its many pink-colored tiles, this gem was built specifically to reflect light and turn it into every color of the rainbow on the inside. This phenomenon can best be observed in the Winter Prayer Hall and is positively surreal to witness. The mosque also features several intricate decorations that you can stare at for hours on end without being bored.
24. Easter Island, Chile
One of the most remote inhabited places on the planet, Easter Island officially belongs to Chile, although it is located 2,182 from that nation's coast. The place is mostly known for its massive moai statues depicting human faces and torsos, whose carving dates back to 1100-1600 AD. They are believed to commemorate illustrious ancestors and played an important role in the island's traditions. That said, Easter Island features several other noteworthy attractions as well, including the Orongo stone village and the scenic beach of Anakena.
25. Redwood National and State Parks, USA
If you enjoy being amidst nature, the Redwood National and State Parks will feel like a second home to you. Composed of four parks in total, this landmark contains 45% of all remaining coast redwood trees, better known as Sequoias and known to be some of the tallest trees on the planet. The current record holder here is a tree known as Hyperion, and it measures an astounding 380 feet in height. In addition to skyscraping trees, Redwood also boasts a diverse fauna, with creatures such as the northern spotted owl and the iconic bald eagle being among its most famous occupants.
As you can see, there are plenty of places in this world of ours where beauty reigns supreme, and you owe it to yourself to try and expand your horizons by visiting at least some of them. So start by setting up a travel plan that works for you and begin exploring the world, one gorgeous destination at a time.