The Most Beautiful Places In The World (Updated 2020)

We live in a world blessed with countless beautiful places.  Mother Nature has so much to offer, as do some man-made monuments. Their beauty fills the eye and warms the heart.

No matter what your tastes are, there are countless locations scattered across the globe that will take away your breath.

Do you love water landscapes?

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Photo by Muhammad Khubaib Sarfraz – Mansehra, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan
Iguazu Waterfalls
Iguazu Waterfalls — Daniel Hardman (via Flickr)

Do you dream of climbing the world’s tallest mountains?

Mt. Everest
Mt. Everest — Sistak (via Flickr)

Do you have a craving to walk across the planet’s most beautiful islands?

Photo by Tom Winckels on Unsplash

Or is it history that takes hold of your heart?

Great Pyramid
The Sphynx and the Great Pyramid of Giza — David Holt (via Flickr)

It’s difficult to narrow down the most beautiful places of the world, isn’t it?

After all, we’re all at least a little bit biased towards the places where we live and the experience of what we’ve seen. It’s unlikely that any two people would choose exactly the same places as the most beautiful ones in the entire world that surrounds them.

Beauty – In the Eye of the Beholder

It wouldn’t humanly possible for us to determine the best of the best when it comes to beautiful places in the world. After all, “beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” right?

But what we can do is share these examples of some of those places that are among the most beautiful places of the world.  This way, we hope to give you a broader perspective on what beauty is to different people in different parts of the world.

And we hope to perhaps inspire you to explore more of the world that surrounds you. That’s one of the perks of living in such a connected world these days. We’re able to see and experience new things, even from home. Hopefully you’ll find something here that you like.

We also want to thank our readers, who have suggested many of the places featured in this article. On the basis of your comments, we are always expanding this list.

Pakistan

Topping this list is Pakistan, recently rated the #1 holiday destination by Condé Nast Traveller.

From towering snow-topped mountains framing clear blue lakes to desert dunes spanning into the endless distance, Pakistan has countless stunning natural vistas to offer. Whether you are love wild ocean views or bustling, vibrant cities, this country will capture your heart.

In addition to its magnificent geography, Pakistan can boast a rich cultural diversity. Each ethnic group, from the people whose home lies in the mountainous North to those native to the desert South, contributes ancient traditions, a mouth-watering cuisine, intriguing myths, and its own unique cultural identity.

If you’re looking for more detailed inspiration for which beautiful places to visit in Pakistan, you will find some suggestions on this list.

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Photo by Umar Khan on Unsplash
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Photo by Nazim Laghari on Unsplash
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Photo by Yahya Ehsan on Unsplash

Mount Everest – Bordering Tibet and Nepal

Mount Everest is the world’s highest mountain, with a peak that reaches more than 8800 meters (29,000 feet) above sea level. It forms part of the Mahalangur Himal sub-range of the Himalayas.  The border between Nepal and Tibet runs through the mountain.

Locals have revered Mount Everest and its surrounding peaks for their beauty and spiritual value. The mountain’s Tibetan name, Chomolungma, translates as “Goddess Mother of the World” or “Goddess of the Valley.”  Sanskrit-speakers call it Sagarmatha, which literally means “Peak of Heaven.”

Geographers only recognized Mount Everest’s significance as the highest point on Earth  in 1852. It took another 101 years after that for the fist explorers to reach its peak.

To date, more than 3000 people have climbed to the summit of Mount Everest to. Attaining it is difficult and dangerous, and has ended in tragedy for more than a few. Faced with sub-zero temperatures, avalanches, and oxygen starvation, over 200 people have died on the mountain.

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Mt. Everest — Joe Hastings (via Flickr)
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Mt. Everest — Gunther Hagleitner (via Flickr)
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Clouds on Mt. Everest — watchsmart (via Flickr)

Lake Louise – Alberta, Canada

Lake Louise is a lake in the province of Alberta, Canada. It is one of the most beautiful spots in Banff National Park.

The Stoney Nakota Fist Nations people call it Lake of the Little Fishes, but the lake’s most spectacular features is probably its stunning blue-green color.

This results from its glacial origin. Millennia ago, a glacier carved out the valley that the lake now fills up. Today still, its water still comes from melting glaciers in higher altitudes. The lake owes its distinctive turquoise tint to mineral deposits in this meltwater.

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Lake Louise bay — Samantha Marx (via Flickr)
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Lake Louise — Marilyn Peddle (via Flickr)
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Roadside View of Lake Louise — Harvey Barrison (via Flickr)

Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve – Alaska, United States

Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve is a protected area in the state of Alaska in the United States.

The National Park area encompasses the bay itself as well as surrounding mountains and glaciers. According to Wikipedia, it is “the largest protected water area park in the world.” Its is also a designated wilderness, a biosphere reserve, and a world heritage site.

If you visit, you can explore the area via land and water. Boat tours and cruises offer fascinating glimpses of seals, humpback whales, and Orcas. Along shore, black bears and wolves thrive off the halibut and salmon that live in these waters.

Glacier Bay
Glacier Bay — Kimberly Vardeman (via Flickr)
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Ice on Glacier Bay — Kimberly Vardeman (via Flickr)
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Mountain view at Glacier Bay — Glenn (via Flickr)

Sentani Lake – Indonesia

Sentani Lake is another gorgeous location that our readers suggested for this article.

This enormous freshwater lake lies near Jayapura, the capital of Papua Province in Indonesia. Consequently, it’s not just a stunningly beautiful spot, but also one that is easy for travelers to reach.

Nestled in the low-lying Cyclops Mountains, a lush green virgin forests, grassy slopes, and sago plantations surrounds the volcanic lake. Picturesque fishing villages line the shore and dot the many small islands scattered across the lake.

If you want to take along a memento of your visit to this amazing place, check out local crafts. The inhabitants of this area are skilled craftsmen, producing bark paintings, wood carvings and sago bowls.

Lake Sentani
Sentani Lake — Kiko Turteliny (via Flickr)
Lake Sentani
Sunset on Sentani Lake — Edwin Yepese (via Flickr)
Lake Sentani
Sentani Lake — Edwin Yepese (via Flickr)

Killarney – Ireland

Killarney is a beautiful town with a rich history in County Kerry, Ireland.

Its recorded history reaches back to the 7th century, when a monk founded Innisfallen Abbey on an island in a nearby lake. Subsequently, the Abbey became a center for Christian missionaries and scholars. Monks living there wrote the Annals of Innisfallen, an early history of Ireland. As a result, its location became known as Loch Léin, which in English means “Lake of Learning”.

Today, most of the area surrounding the town is part of Killarney National Park. This Park offers not just archaeological treasures, but also stunning views and breathtaking hikes.

From the historic churches and castles to Killarney Lake and the rolling green hills Ireland is famous for, you will definitely find something here that strikes your fancy.

Killarney, Ireland
Shore of Kellarny Lake — mozzercork (via Flickr)
Killarney, Ireland
Kellarny Lake — Meg Lessard (via Flickr)
Killarney, Ireland
Kellarny Lake — Jack Newton (via Flickr)

Skardu Valley – Pakistan

Shangrila Resort in Skardu valley is also known as “Heaven on Earth.” It is nestled among some of the world’s highest peaks, and it encircles the heart-shaped Kachura Lake. If you visit, you’ll find yourself surrounded by fruit-laden orchards and flower-filled gardens.

Skardu Valley itself is part of Baltistan in Pakistan. Baltistan covers an area of 26,000 square kilometers – right below the jagged and glaciated ramparts of the Karakoram. Once part of Laddakh, its former name was Tibet-i-Khurd, or Little Tibet.

Recent archaeological explorations proved that this area formed part of the Silk Trade Route.

Shangrila Resort, Pakistan
Shangrila Resort, Pakistan — norbakshi world (via Flickr)

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The Grand Canyon – United States

A steep gorge at the Colorado River, the Grand Canyon offers some truly magnificent scenery. It is 277 miles long, varies from four to 18 miles wide in places, and reaches to about a mile deep. Scientists believe that the Colorado River carved out the canyon over a six million year period.

Native Americans built settlements in the caves within the canyon before the immigration of Europeans. It was also an important site of pilgrimage by the Pueblo people. The first recorded visit to the Grand Canyon by Europeans was in 1869. Although it is not the deepest canyon in the world, it is known for its extremely large size and beautifully intricate landscape.

The Grand Canyon National Park is one of the earliest national parks in the United States, and it attracts more than five million visitors each year. Weather conditions in the Grand Canyon vary greatly between seasons as well as at different elevations. While winter snow is experienced by the higher forested rims, the inner gorge has more of a desert temperature because of its low elevation.

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The Great Barrier Reef – Australia

One of the natural wonders of the world, the Great Barrier Reef off the east coast of Australia is the world’s largest coral reef. It has the distinction of being placed in the World Heritage as well as the National Heritage list.

With more than 600 islands and coral cays, the Great Barrier Reef covers more than 300,000 square kilometers. Corals make up the reefs and cays and are responsible for a huge diversity of maritime species in the area. That includes green turtles, several varieties of whales and dolphins, the dugong, around 4000 types of mollusks, 1500 different species of fish, as well as at least 200 species of beautifully-colored birds.

The Great Reef Marine Park is a huge tourist attraction with millions of tourists visiting each year. Sporting activities include reef sailing, scuba diving, and snorkeling.

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Cape Town – South Africa

Cape Town is aptly called “Heaven on earth.” This beautiful town at the tip of the African continent, with small roads surrounded by huge mountains, makes a person feel small. It shows just how marvelous and dominating nature can be.

The Cape’s Dutch-style buildings reflect the architectural heritage of the place. Beauty abounds in the black clouds that seem to pay homage to Table Mountain at all times.

Cape Point, Signal Hill, Chapman’s Peak Drive, Victoria & Alfred Waterfront, Robben Island, Rhodes Memorial, and the beaches are just some of the famous tourist attractions. Located on the shore of Table Bay, Cape Town is famous for its floral displays as well as its harbor. This town is one of the most popular tourist destinations in South Africa with its wine tasting day trips, whale watching, and dolphin watching.

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Lake Saiful Muluk – Pakistan

Lake Saiful Muluk is located on the northern end of the Kaghan Valley, near Naran. It’s located at an elevation of 3,224 m (10,578 feet) above sea level, making it one of the highest lakes in Pakistan.

This lake also has a considerable literary and cultural significance. A fairy tale called Saiful Muluk, written by the famous Sufi poet Mian Muhammad Bakhsh, is set here. It tells the story of a prince of Persia who fell in love with a fairy princess at the lake.

The lake’s beauty has such an impact that some people believe fairies come to visit it in the full moon.

Lake Saiful Muluk
Lake Saiful Muluk — Fahd Murtaza (via Flickr)

Taj Mahal – India

The Taj Mahal, located in Agra, India, is one of the wonders of the world and is one of the most beautiful mausoleums ever created. The Mughal emperor, Shah Jahan, constructed it in memory of his favorite queen, Mumtaz Mahal. White marble was his choice of building material of this symbol of love. Today, architecture buffs consider the Taj Mahal to be the pinnacle of Mughal architecture.

As the story goes, the emperor was grief-struck when he lost his beloved third wife, Mumtaz Mahal. It took thousands of craftsmen and artisans, and about twenty years to construct this structure in her honor.

The masons, stone cutters, carvers, inlayers, calligraphers, painters, and others were brought from throughout the entire empire as well as from Iran and Central Asia. Semi-precious stones were used for inlays and ornamentation. It later became the mausoleum of Shah Jahan, too. This is a huge tourist attraction with up to two million tourists visiting it every year.

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Canadian Rockies – Canada

The majestic Canadian Rockies are the Canadian segment of the North American Rocky Mountains. They are a visitor’s winter wonderland and Western Canada’s playground. They are older than the American Rockies, and they are the result of over-thrusting tectonic plates.

The Canadian Rockies house five national parks, and four of those national parks (along with other provincial parks) combine to form a single UNESCO World Heritage Site that consists of beautiful mountain landscapes, lakes, canyons, waterfalls, glaciers, peaks, limestone caves, and fossils. Mount Robson is the highest peak of the Canadian Rockies and climbing it is considered a challenge. These beautiful mountains are a haven for hikers and walkers alike.

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Machu Picchu – Peru

Machu Picchu in Peru, which means “Old Peak,” is one of the most beautiful ancient sites in the world. According to legend, Machu Picchu was once a sacred place of the Inca people. The Inca erected a plethora stone structures and turned the entire site into a work of art.

Two thousand feet above the Urubamba river, the ruins of Machu Picchu consist of baths, temples, palaces, and around 150 houses, all very well preserved. These gray granite structures, some of which weigh more than 50 tons, are examples of perfect sculpting workmanship. They are nothing less than architectural masterpieces.

A Yale archaeologist rediscovered the the ruins of Machu Picchu in 1911. The ethereal beauty, workmanship, and history of the place attract millions of tourists each year.

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The Pyramids – Egypt

The Egyptian pyramids are massive monuments with a square base and four triangular sides rising up to a point. There is still a lot of curiosity (and many theories) about the construction of the pyramids — with people crediting everyone from slave laborers to alien visitors.

Scholars generally believe that the Egyptians began constructing the pyramids after 2700 B.C. and that they were built as tombs for the pharaohs.

The most well-known pyramids in Egypt are the Pyramids at Giza, which are said to be the largest ever built. It’s said that the Great Pyramid of Giza alone took 23 years to complete, using a work force of around 30,000 people. About 118 pyramids have been identified, and they are popular and intriguing to tourists and researchers alike.

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Petra – Jordan

Described by UNESCO as “one of the most precious cultural properties of man’s cultural heritage,” Petra is an archaeological site on the slope of Mount Hor. It is one of the new wonders of the world and is famous for its rock-cut architecture.

This site remained well-hidden until 1812, when a Swiss explorer discovered it.

According to legend, God prepared it for the Jewish people. Petra once flourished under the Roman empire but it rapidly declined as Arabian trade shifted elsewhere. Then, an earthquake caused a great deal of destruction.

Tourists frequent the place to get a glimpse of the ruins of this beautiful city, although they’re doing more harm than good, with tourism becoming a threat to the preservation of Petra.

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Kalasha Valleys – Pakistan

Cradled in the Hindu Kush mountain range, the Kalasha Valleys offer a unique culture and spectacular scenery.  This remote, secluded area encompasses three main valleys: Bumburet, Rumbur, and Birir.

The region takes its name from its inhabitants, the Kalash people, Pakistan’s smallest ethno-religious group. These locals have a unique culture and even speak their own language language. Unusual for Pakistan, their religion is a variation of ancient Hinduism. Some scholars believe that these people are the descendants of the armies of Alexander the Great.

Today, the Kalasha Valleys are a popular destination for both Pakistani and international tourists. People are drawn by the Kalash’s unique culture and colorful festivals, as well as the stunning natural beauty of the valleys.

Kalasha Valley hut — by Shah Tahsin Anwar
Kalasha Valley with natives
Kalasha Valley — by Tahsin A Shah

The Great Wall of China –  China

One of the seven wonders of the world, the Great Wall of China is a man-made structure. The people of China constructed it over two thousand years ago. Estimates put the time it took to complete at around 100 years. You can truly witness man’s potential when you take in the beauty and vastness of the Great Wall.

The construction on the Great Wall of China started in the 5th Century B.C. It is actually not a single wall, but rather many walls put together. Combined, they stretch over 4,000 miles. This purpose of collection of walls was to protect the Chinese empire from the Xiongnu people in the north. The wall initially consisted of stone, grass, earth, and wood. Later, after the production of bricks began, they turned into the material of choice. Historians suggest that around two to three million Chinese died during the construction of this wonder.

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The Iguazu Waterfalls, Argentina-Brazil Border

Heralded by many as the most beautiful waterfalls in the world, the Iguazu Waterfalls are a true wonder of nature. They are located on the border of Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay. While the Argentinean side allows visitors to walk right around the water or explore the National Park, the Brazilian side impresses with its panoramic views and splendor.

Former First Lady of the United States, Eleanor Roosevelt, is believed to have exclaimed upon seeing these falls, “Poor Niagara!”

The area surrounding the falls provides ample opportunities for rock climbing as well as water sports. Iguazu has the greatest annual flow of water of all of the waterfalls in the world.

There are plenty of choices with all of these, and many more, beautiful places that exist in our world. Which of the most beautiful places in the world will you visit? While some may love the tranquility of water, others may bury themselves deep in architectural miracles, ancient sites, or the serenity of a small town. In the end, all you can do is follow your heart.

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Lahore – Pakistan

‘Anyone who hasn’t seen Lahore simply hasn’t lived.’ So goes an old Punjabi saying on the subject of the province’s capital. One of Pakistan’s largest cities, Lahore is a treasure trove of historical monuments and amazing architecture.

In the 16th century, Lahore was the capital of the Mughal Empire, which ruled much of South Asia and engendered fresco-laden architectural magnificence. Today, it is one of Pakistan’s most vibrant cultural and historical centers. Its inhabitants are also dubbed the ‘zinda dilan-e-Lahore’ or ‘the people whose hearts are alive’.

The entire city is dotted with beautifully preserved tombs, lively shrines, and countless havelis. Marvel at the Mughal-era Badshahi Mosque, stroll through military history in Lahore Fort, and admire the intricate tile work at Wazir Khan Mosque.

If you visit, be sure to stop by the some of the city’s iconic gardens, take a walk along its canal, and try some of the colorful cuisine.

Lahore square — Guilhem Vellut (via Flickr)

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Lahore park — Hasnain Yaseen (via Flickr)

Vienna – Austria

Famous for its classical music, its breathtaking architecture, and historical significance, Vienna offers an authentic feeling of old Europe. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Ludwig van Beethoven, and Sigmund Freud all lived here.

Over thousands of years, the city grew from a tiny Roman army camp at the Danube to the center of the Austro-Hungarian Empire  in the 19th century. Even though the empire ended with World War I, Vienna still thrives as Austria’s capital.

Listen to the world-famous Philharmonic Orchestra perform in the State Opera, take a stroll through the inner city dotted with historical monuments, or stop by at one of the countless traditional coffee houses. If you are more of a nature fancier, take a streetcar to the edge of the city and wander through Vienna’s vineyards and forests.

In summer, the city enchants with countless festivals and open-air restaurants. In winter, it entices with traditional Christmas markets and stately balls in the old imperial palaces of Hofburg and Schönbrunn.

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Vienna imperial parks — by daniel plan on Unsplash
Belvedere palace Vienna
Vienna palace — by Dimitry Anikin on Unsplash
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Ice skating rink at Vienna City Hall — by Krzysztof Kowalik on Unsplash
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Vienna Opera — by Dan Visan on Unsplash

Angkor Wat – Cambodia

Finally, Cambodia dazzles with one of its most famous attractions – the temple ruins of Angkor Wat. Measured by land area, this is the largest religious monument in the world.

Located in Siem Reap province, the history of Angkor is shrouded in myth and legend. One story maintains that construction was ordered by the ancient Hindu deity Indra. A 13th century Chinese traveler, on the other hand, wrote that a divine architect built the monument in a single night.

However it came to be, though, it’s indisputable that Angkor continues to impress. The magnificent temple ruins, overgrown by ancient trees, are now a World Heritage Site.  Every year, more than 2.6 million people visit the site.

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Sunset over Angkor Wat — by Remi Yuan on Unsplash
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Monumental Busts at Angkor Wat — by Taylor Simpson on Unsplash

 

Please leave a comment and share some more of the world’s most beautiful places with us and our readers.

Note: We originally published this post on January 16, 2009. It was updated with new content and republished on its currently-listed publication date.