Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away – Unknown.
Plitvice Lakes, Croatia
Plitvice is a collection of 16 natural lakes that is considered to be one of the most beautiful natural sights in Europe. The area is located roughly halfway between capital city Zagreb and Zadar on the coast. The lake’s stunning natural beauty, exotic fauna and the sparkling turquoise waters has earned it the UNESCO heritage tag. It’s a stunning place to visit any time of year as the park takes on a unique hue for every season: lush green in summer, fiery orange in autumn and bluish white in winter.
Yosemite Valley, USA
Often referred to as ‘indescribably beautiful’, Yosemite Valley is located within the Yosemite National Park in the western Sierra Nevada mountains of Northern California. It is renowned for its spectacular landscapes and is widely considered the most prominent attraction of Yosemite National Park. Beautiful scenery, great walking trails and the multitude of raging waterfalls render it a truly spectacular landscape that warranties a visit at least once in your lifetime.
Hitachi Seaside Park, Japan
Spread across 190 hectares, the Hitachi Seaside Park is located in Ibaraki Prefecture, northeast of Tokyo in the Kanto Plain. The park is unimaginably huge, with a wide range of plants and flowers. But the highlight of the place is the Nemophilia, commonly known as baby blue eyes and the brilliant scarlet coloured Kochia blooms. The sprawling park also houses an amusement park, cycling paths and BMX courses.
Lençóis Maranhenses, Brazil
Visitors to the Lençóis Maranhenses National Park in Brazil is treated to a uniquely spectacular landscape featuring beautiful white sand dunes filled with crystal-clear fresh water. From the months of January to June, the area is lashed by torrential rainstorms which cause rainwater to pool in the valleys between the dunes creating thousands of crystal clear lagoons. Once the dry season returns, the equatorial sun rapidly heats the region causing water levels to drop by as much as three feet in a month creating the surreal landscape. The best time to visit the lagoons is between July and September when the pools are almost full and temperatures are not too extreme.
Serene, spiritual and spellbinding, the Meteora is easily one of the most inspiring landscapes in the world. This unique natural phenomenon is located in the town Kalambaka, a few hours from Athens at the fringe of the Plain of Thessaly. These monolithic rocks abruptly rise out of the valley creating a dramatic vertical backdrop among the flat plains that surround them. They were believed to be formed around 60 million years ago and were sculpted to its present shape by weathering and earthquakes. The Byzantines constructed several monasteries atop these rocks, however, only six of them are left standing.
Vatnajokull Glacier Cave, Iceland
Iceland is home to several stunning landscapes but none more surreal and magical than the Ice Cave in Vatnajökull. Sometimes referred to as Crystal Caves, these natural wonders are as iconic as they are spellbinding, granting them a place in several bucket lists. These caves were depicted in the HBO series Game of Thrones as the alternate universe that lies “beyond the Wall” in the far north.
Navagio Bay, Greece
Probably the most stunning beach in the world, Navagio Bay is actually an exposed cove located on the coast of Zakynthos, in the Ionian Islands of Greece. Often referred to as Smugglers Cove, this beautiful beach can be accessed only by a boat and is famed for a shipwreck that still rests buried in the limestone gravel of the beach. If you are planning to visit the place, bring all required supplies as the island is totally barren. Also, try to visit early in the morning, the sunlight reflecting off the turquoise blue waters paints the entire cliff face in a dazzling blue tint.
Li River, China
Li River often finds a place in the ‘World’s Best Rivers’ and for a good reason. The entire stretch of the 83 km long waterway from Guilin to Yangshuo features splendid scenery replete with rolling hills, steep cliffs and hidden caves. The river originates in Mao’er Mountain in Xing’an county northeast of Guilin and its scenic beauty attracts thousands of visitors every year. A cruise along the river breathing in the fresh air, feeling the gentle breeze and enjoying the fabulous landscape is something everyone should experience once before they die.
The Turkish translation for ‘Pamukkale’ is cotton castle and it couldn’t be more fitting for these brilliant white calcium travertine terraces. This unreal landscape features mineral forests, petrified waterfalls and multiple rows of terraced basins. The area was marked as a natural spa of Hierapolis at the end of the 2nd century B.C. by the dynasty of the Attalids, the kings of Pergamon. Visitors to Pamukkale can also explore the well-preserved ruins of the temples and other Greek-Roman monuments. If you are planning a visit during the summers, carry a hat and sunglasses as the sun rays reflecting off the chalky structures is quite harsh.
The iconic purple lavender fields of Provence carries an ethereal and otherworldly charm that attracts millions of visitors every year. Whether it’s feeling the wind rush against your face while cruising on winding cliff-top roads, soaking the sun on Mediterranean beaches or shopping for homemade chocolate fudges in the charming corner shops, Provence will pamper you with its irresistible joie de vivre.
Moraine Lake, Canada
Set in the rugged Valley of the Ten Peaks in Banff National Park, Alberta, the lake is surrounded by mountains, waterfalls, and dense forests creating an almost unreal scene. This glacially-fed lake reflects a brilliant shade of turquoise when it reaches its crest during the month of June. The unique hue is caused by the light refracting off the rock flour deposited in the lake.
If you happen to fly into Bagan, get ready to be awestruck by the surreal sight of more than 2,400 temples of varying shapes and sights as far as the eye can see. This abandoned town on the banks of Ayeyarwady River is home to the largest and densest concentration of Buddhist temples, pagodas and ruins in the world. Hire an e-bike and explore the pagodas, watch the village folks go about their daily chores and in the evening climb up the hidden staircase of the pagodas to witness a magical and truly unforgettable sunset.