Oia, Santorini, Greece
You must have seen the scenic village of Oia, Santorini in many movies. However, no amount of cinematography can capture the true beauty and tranquillity of Greece. Situated on the cliffside, near the Nea Kameni volcano, the settlement looks well-organized and spotlessly clean. Traditional stone houses, blue-roof churches, narrow streets and sun-baked verandas depict the luxurious laid-back life of the locals.
Plitvice Lake, Croatia
Located halfway between Zagreb and Zadar on the coast of the Adriatic Sea, the Plitvice Lake is a rare waterbody of moving water that is surrounded by forests and hills. There are 16 lakes linked by waterfalls, man-made bridges, and ancient jungles. The landscape is perpetually covered in fog and mist giving the place a very surreal, mystical charm. You can spot wolves, monkeys, bears and other wild animals here.
Salar De Uyuni, Bolivia
Salar De Uyuni in southwest Bolivia is situated at an altitude of 11,995 kms, up in the Andes. The stretch of land, covering roughly 4068 miles was once a prehistoric lake that has now dried up and full of white sands and cracks in the landscape. Surreal rock formations, rare cacti plants, a flock of vibrant flamingos make up the central charm of the Incahuasi Island.
Sossusvlei or dead-end marsh is a stretch of salt and clay landscape that stretches for about 60kms and is surrounded by red sand dunes. The dunes block the Tsauchab River that remains mostly dry and is as hot as the Namib Desert nearby. There are some months of heavy rainfall when the land is fertile and full of water.
Torres del Paine National Park, Chile
The Torres del Paine set on the southern tip of the Andes is a place marked by fjords, glaciers, mountains, deep lakes, and other geological formations that would leave you spellbound. The lush forests are home to unique, rare wildflowers like pumas and the llama-like guanacos. Explore the landscape on foot, and don’t miss out on the neighboring granite towers of Los Cuernos, Grey Glacier, and French Valley.
Victoria Falls, Zambia/Zimbabwe
The Victoria Falls aka Smoke that Thunders is so loud it can be heard from 50 km away! It is the largest waterfall curtain in the world, flanked by gorges, steep cliffs and lush vegetation on all sides. The mist rises about 400m in the air creating an endless series of fogs, clouds, and rainbows – a breath-taking sight for nature lovers.
Moraine Lake, Canada
The Moraine Lake is among the top places to travel, located in the remote Valley of Ten Peaks in the Canadian Rockies. Ancient rocks, glaciers, mountain ranges, pine tree forests cover the lake from all sides, making it a great place to travel alone. The lake changes color when the glacier melts, the sedimentary rocks along the banks are eroded, bringing about this phenomenon. You can rent a kayak or canoe, go on hikes or simply soak in the beauty of the place from your hotel room.
Lake Bled, Slovenia
Form a distance Lake Bled in Slovenia looks like a fantasyland, something straight out of Narnia. The tiny island surrounded by the ocean is isolated from the real world. It is a separate sphere of its own, untouched by the perils and dangers of urban life. The church perched on the hillside and the ancient medieval castle on the slope belong to another era, a time of knights and dragons.
Mauna Kea Beach, Hawaii, USA
The Mauna Kea Beach on the Big Island, Hawaii is another cool place to travel with your friends and family. The golden sandy stretch of land is great for long walks and even swimming, surfing, and other water sports. The waves are gentle; with the water level always under check, your kids would love playing by the beachside. The five-star resorts along the beach are extravagant and elegant, ensuring a memorable stay.
The Niagara Falls is among the best places to travel for couples and solo travelers alike. The three massive waterfalls along the border regions of Canada and the United States attract thousands of tourists every year. Walk over a wire stretched over the falls, fall over in a barrel like the hobbits did or be inspired by the stunning landscape to write or paint – the Niagara Falls influences people in a number of ways.
Yellowstone National Park, USA
The Yellowstone National Park is among the oldest national parks in the world, stretching for about 3500 sq. kms, preserving the flora and fauna of the area. The wild untamed landscape spread across various states from Wyoming to Montana. Alpine rivers, dormant volcanos, hot springs, deep canyons, ancient forests and snow-capped mountains add on to the beauty of the place. Here, you can spot wild bears, elks, wolves, mountain lions, antelopes, and bison. The park is home to some rare migratory birds as well that you can spot along the hiking trails.
Amalfi Coast, Italy
The Amalfi Coast along the edge of the Sorrentine Penninsula, Campania, Italy looks more like a painting and less like a real place. This stretch of land is peppered with dramatic cliffs, steep mountain ranges, golden beaches and vibrant settlements. The pastel-colored houses along the slopes of Mount Ravello are known for their orange groves and extensive vineyards. Eat out in local restaurants, participate in the village festivities, or explore the town or take a hike up the mountains away from civilization, the choice is yours.
Appenzell in Switzerland is among the few places that have managed to keep the culture and tradition of this land alive. The rural village and countryside landscape are surrounded by the 8200-foot tall Mt. Santis. One can almost expect Maria to dance around these rolling alive to the sound of music. The pretty picturesque village is a charming retreat from urban squalor. Mingle with the locals, explore the food and festivals of the area, go on hiking trips – it is the perfect holiday spot.
Blue Lagoon, Iceland
The Blue Lagoon in Iceland is located between Reykjavik and Keflavik International Airport, atop a lava field on the Reykjanes Peninsula. The magical landscape is peppered with hills and surrounded by white seawater. The man-made lagoon is powered by Svartsengi, a geothermal plant that sustains the locals and tourist accommodation of the area. The heated water geyser is rich in sulfur, silica and other minerals and has several medicinal properties.
Bora Bora, French Polynesia
Bora Bora is an isolated spot on the South Pacific, a small island that sits atop a dormant volcano, covered by thick jungles and flanked by tiny islands on the sides. The turquoise lagoon hidden from view is home to a variety of exquisite fishes and freshwater corals. Bora Bora is a favorite romantic gateway for couples, the luxury resorts near Tahiti and the thatched dwellings look rustic yet extravagant.
Fiordland National Park, New Zealand
The Fiordland National Park in South Islands, New Zealand comprises of 14 fjords lying side by side. According to Maori legends, these fjords were formed by a giant Tu TeRakiwhanoa who cut through the land to create this 1.2 hectares of pure, primitive beauty. A more scientific reason for the fjords dates back some 100,000 years ago when tectonic movements split the land and seawater filled in the gap in-between. Emerald lakes, sparkling mountains, lush forests, and exotic animals add on to the charm of the place.
Geiranger Fjord, Norway
Geiranger Fjord in Norway a cool place to travel, both literally and figuratively. You can catch some stunning view of the glaciers, frozen waterfalls, and huge mountains. The fjord is about 15 km long and stretches 1.5 km wide. The strip of land is flanked by vertical mountain ranges from both sides and surrounded by the ocean. You can still see some remnants of hillside farms that were abandoned by early settlers – the land remains unconquered, uncultivated and primitive. Kayaking, hiking, mountain climbing, ferry rides are some popular activities you can enjoy.
Garden of the Gods, Colorado, USA
The Spring Garden of the Gods is a famous tourist spot near Colorado. This public city park is completely natural with tall red-stone spires, bridges and rock formations stretching along for 15 miles. There are numerous well-formed hiking trails along the path that you can explore. Rock climbing is another popular activity that you can indulge in. People who aren’t into adventure sports can explore the marine fossils of dinosaurs, the limestone formations, and the 320-feet tall Gateway Rock.
Great Barrier Reef, Australia
The Great Barrier Reef is probably the only living thing that can be seen from space. This immensely large and diverse oceanic ecosystem is home to some of the most valuable corals, fishes, and other undersea creatures. Located in north-eastern part of Australia, off the coast of Queensland, the coral reef covers a stretch of 2300 km and consists of over 3000 reefs and islands along the sandy beaches. Here you can indulge in scuba diving, snorkeling or a trip undersea in a glass-bottomed boat.
Joshua Tree National Park, USA
The Joshua Tree National Park is the meeting place of two drastically different ecosystems of Mojave and Colorado. Set in the deserts of Southern California, this stretch of land features a diverse range of flora and fauna that you will not find anywhere else. The creosote bush, cholla cactus plant, and spidery ocotillo are some of the plants found in abundance here. The landscape is marked by geological features like twisted rocks, granite monoliths, arroyos, alluvial fans and other beautiful formations.
Krabi Island, Thailand
Krabi is a lively resort town on the Andaman coast in southern Thailand that is known for its scenic beauty and local tribal culture. The limestone krasts, dense mangroves, thick forests and sandy beaches make up for the perfect holiday destination. Here, you can check out the Tiger Cave Temple that is perched on top of a hill. Another popular landmark is the two slanting hills standing adjacent to the Khao Kanab Nam River. Krabi is one of the safer places to travel alone in Asia.
Rainbow Mountains of Zhangye Danxia, China
The Rainbow Mountains of Zhangye Danxia are perhaps the most stunning and surreal sight you will ever set your eyes upon in your lifetime. Here in the northern rocky areas of China, the excessive weathering and erosion of rocks have caused some stunning patterns and dramatic mix of colors on the mountain ranges. The ranges are covered in rainbow hues of pink, purple, orange, red, yellows and blue. You would have to see this natural phenomenon for yourself to believe it.
Neuschwanstein Castle in Southern Germany looks like something straight out of a fairy tale. In fact, the castle was so beautiful that it inspired the castle used in the movie Sleeping Beauty by Disney. The retreat takes you far away from the gritty realities of life, high up the snow-capped mountains and craggy steep cliffs. The castle itself is a tall imposing structure with tall towers and pointed rooftops. The structure seamlessly blends in with the background and yet is easy to spot from a mile away.
Taj Mahal, India
The ivory-white marble mausoleum was built by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan for his beloved Mumtaz Mahal after her death. Standing on the southern banks of the Yamuna, the Taj Mahal was constructed sometime in 1643 and was declared a world heritage site in 1983. The Taj Mahal is a dome-shaped tomb covering an area of 17-hectares and includes a mosque, a guesthouse, formal gardens and crenelated walls. Known for its rich history and heritage, the Taj Mahal attracts 6-7 million tourists every year and is a great holiday spot for history buffs.
Rolling plains, majestic mountains, rocky shores and stunning beaches are awaiting you this holiday season. What’s stopping you? Pack your bags and head out; it’s a beautiful world out there.