There are so many amazing places to see around the world that we couldn’t include them all in one list, But these wonderful destinations are definitely worth placing at the top of your travel list, whether you want to relax on a beach, get off the grid, or explore a city.
Grand Canyon, USA
Located in Arizona, Grand Canyon National Park encompasses 446 km of the Colorado River and adjacent highlands. The park is home to much of the immense Grand Canyon; 1.6 km deep and 29 km wide. Superimposed bands of colored rocks reveal millions of years of geological history. The Grand Canyon is second to none in the incomparable views it offers to rim visitors.
The main geological exhibits in the Grand Canyon vary in age from the 2 billion year old Vishnu Shale at the bottom of the inner gorge to the 270 million year old Kaibab limestone on the rim. There is a gap of about one billion years between the 500 million year old stratum and the lower level, which dates back about 1.5 billion years. This large discrepancy indicates a long period during which no deposit is present. There is a lot of life growing on the steep sides of the canyon – you can see more of it walking the trails on the northern rim, where it is also less crowded. Most people limit their visit to the breathtaking views from the South Rim. Some of the more popular viewpoints are Yavapai Observation Station, Mary Colter’s Lookout Studio, and Mather Point.
Cappadocia is a beautiful region in central Turkey famous for its fairytale landscapes, cave dwellings, remarkable rock formations and, of course, the hundreds of hot air balloons that soar in the sky every morning at sunrise. There are also so many great hikes in Cappadocia that it will take you at least a week to explore all of the various hiking trails in the area. I spent ten days in Cappadocia adventuring on all hiking trails, exploring ancient valleys and of course hypnotized by hot air balloons. I’ve created this list of all the best things to do in Cappadocia to help you explore this beautiful region.
When it comes to hiking in Cappadocia, it’s hard to get past the Red Valley. The sharp sandstone ridges glow a deep, vibrant red as the sun burns through the unique landscape in the last moments of sunset each night. If you only spend a few nights in Cappadocia, but this one tops the list for sunsets. There is a great trail loop including Meskindir and Rose Valley or you can go straight to the sunset viewpoint to relax in the cafe or hike to the top of the flag viewpoint. Whether you walk or not, this is one of the must see places in Cappadocia.
Other notables sites include Bronze Age homes carved into valley walls by troglodytes (cave dwellers) and later used as refuges by early Christians. The 100m-deep Ihlara Canyon houses numerous rock-face churches.
Salar De Uyuni, Bolivia
The Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia is considered to be one of the most extreme and remarkable views in all of South America, if not Earth. Stretching over 4,050 square miles of the Altiplano, it is the world’s largest salt flat, left behind by prehistoric lakes that evaporated long ago. This beautiful and otherworldly terrain serves as a lucrative extraction site for salt and lithium—the element responsible for powering laptops, smart phones, and electric cars. The harsh beauty and desolateness of Salar de Uyuni can make for an incredible experience or a logistical nightmare.
The most popular jumping-off point for salt flats tours, Uyuni is a small, dusty town packed with tourism agencies in Plaza Arce, its main square. The rainy season (December to April) is when visitors come to witness the Salar’s breathtaking mirror effect. Be wary of excessive rain in December and January, as it can cause tour cancelations. June through August is perfect time to come here.
Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia
It is one of the oldest and largest national parks in Croatia. In 1979, Plitvice Lakes National Park was added to the UNESCO World Heritage Register. Waters flowing over limestone and chalk have, for thousands of years, deposited travertine barriers, creating natural dams which in turn have created a series of beautiful lakes, caves and waterfalls. These geological processes continue today. The forests of the park are home to bears, wolves and many rare bird species. The national park is world famous for its cascading lakes. Sixteen lakes can be seen from the surface. These lakes are the result of the confluence of several small rivers and underground karst rivers. The lakes are all interconnected and follow the flow of water. They are separated by natural travertine dams, which are deposited under the action of moss, algae and bacteria.
The nearest airports are Zadar, Zagreb and Rijeka. The nearest stations are Josipdol and Plaški, although there is no direct bus connection between these stations and the lakes. The national park became famous in the 1960s and 1970s thanks to several Western film productions of Karl May novels. Many scenes were shot on lakes or waterfalls. You explore the park via 18 kms of wooden pathways and footbridges that snake their way around the edges and across the waterfalls to offer unparalleled views of the area. Clouds of colorful butterflies also keep you company throughout your hike. No wonder that Plitvice Lakes manages to attract as many as 1,200,000 people per year.
Oia, Santorini, Greece
Oia, pronounced Ia, is the most famous of all the villages on Santorini. It is known around the world for its beauty, fantastic sunset, and incredible luxury hotels. It is certainly the most beautiful and picturesque village in Santorini (and some say Greece). The village is located at the top of an impressive cliff and offers a spectacular view of the volcano and the island of Thirassia. Oia is located in the north of the island, 12 km from Fira. Oia is a traditional village with charming houses in narrow streets, blue domed churches and sun-drenched verandas. Its streets are full of tourist shops, restaurants, cafes and other stores.
Oia has several cultural attractions like the Maritime Museum which houses a small library, artefacts from the maritime life of the region and the remains of a Venetian fortress. Many artists have fallen in love with the region and have settled there. For this reason, the village of Oia has many art galleries. Oia also has a small port, Ammoudi, which can be reached by a set of 300 steps down. There, small boats can take you opposite, to the island of Thirassia. Armenis beach is also located there. The taverns of Oia offer visitors tasty meals of fresh fish.
Niagara Falls, Ontario, is a Canadian city at the famous waterfalls of the same name, linked with the U.S. by the Rainbow Bridge. Niagara Falls is a group of three waterfalls at the southern end of the Niagara Gorge, spanning the border between the province of Ontario in Canada and New York State in the United States. The larger of the three is Horseshoe Falls, also known as Canadian Falls, which straddles the international border of the two countries. The features that became Niagara Falls were created by the glaciation of Wisconsin about 10,000 years ago. The retreat of the ice cap left a large amount of meltwater which filled the basins that the glaciers had carved out, thus creating the Great Lakes as we know them today.
To preserve the natural beauty of Niagara Falls, a 1950 treaty signed by the United States and Canada restricted the use of water by power stations. The treaty allows for higher summer diversion at night when tourists are fewer and during the winter months when there are even fewer tourists. The falls are a hugely popular tourist destination and have attracted honeymooners, families, and daredevils of all kinds, from those who went down the falls in a barrel to those who stretched a wire over the falls and walked across it.