Beauty comes in all shapes and sizes. Whether it’s having stretches of verdant fields, pristine beaches or mammoth mountains, each and every country is beautiful in its own unique way. But there are a few destinations so visually stunning we think they’d impress even the most seasoned traveler.
From Iran’s intricately-tiled mosques to Namibia’s sprawling red dunes, these underrated beauties of the world mesmerize with their good looks. So if you want to be dazzled on your next adventure, look no further than our top ten list of 10/10s.
China feels like a hundred different landscapes and countries rolled into one – from neon cities to mountainous villages. It brims with natural wonders, including the sandstone pinnacles of Wulingyuan, the karst-lined Li River and multicoloured Danxia. Where the Silk Road once bustled through China there is incredible desert scenery, such as Turpan — once the centre of a fertile desert oasis. And who could forget the magic Great Wall of China? Enough said.
Rolling countryside, high alpine peaks, breezy beachfront – Sweden’s abundance of natural beauty is sure to please any self-proclaimed nature lover. The untouched Swedish Lakes, including Lake Siljan and Lake Orsasjon, are a wonderfully peaceful spot. Stockholm – Sweden’s charming capital – sits at the mouth of Lake Mälaren and the Baltic Sea and is just as scenic as it is historic. And Muddus National Park, with its dense foliage of 700-year-old pine trees, is part of the idyllic, mountainous Laponian area which has been classified as a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Colombia’s equatorial location has given it a diverse advantage in scenery. Along the coast, Tayrona National Park is beautiful spot for clear waters and pristine sand beaches. Throughout Colombia, stretches of coffee plantations, such as in Salento, add to Colombia’s wonderfully verdant landscape. The towering wax palms that line Cocora Valley are sure to amaze visitors. And Cartagena’s vibrant colonial buildings add charm to the port city.
Namibia’s otherworldly appearance is unlike anywhere else in the world. Sossusvlei is a salt and clay pan surrounded by high red dunes, where scorched acacia trees dot the stark landscapes. The seaside town of Swakopmund charms visitors with its colonial-era buildings and sand dunes in the background. And Etosha National Park’s dusty salt pans make for a fascinating contrast to the bustling waterholes frequented by elephants, rhinos and giraffes.
It’s hard to truly appreciate the splendor of Iran unless you’ve experienced it firsthand. the Zagros Mountains, which span across the country, offer incredible natural scenery with, but much of Iran’s beauty lies in its dazzling cultural sites. From Nasir-ol-Molk Mosque, which is a spectacle of stained glass, to the mesmerizing blue mosaic tiles of Esfahan, Iran is beautiful to behold. Persepolis was once the richest capital on Earth, and though Alexander the Great burned down the city, its breathtaking ruins remain.
The rugged wilderness of Patagonia may be one of the best places in the world to revel in natural beauty. In Torres del Paine National Park, visitors are treated to dramatic peaks, sparkling lakes and herds of llama-like guanaco grazing in the distance. The Perito Moreno Glacier – one of the world’s few growing glaciers – is a breathtaking sight near the tip of South America. The best way to describe Patagonia is that it’s the perfect mix of wild and peaceful.
Cuba may be known for vintage cars and Cuban cigars, but its beauty and character are stealing some of the spotlight. Viñales’ sprawling tobacco fields and limestone karst hills look like the landscape of Jurassic Park. In Trinidad, pastel-hued buildings line the streets with the Escambray Mountains in the backdrop. And throughout the island, you'll find stunning waterfalls (like Javira and El Nicho), and can spot wild animals, like vibrant flamingoes in Ciénaga de Zapata Biosphere Reserve.
Montenegro is nestled in the Balkans where the sparkling Adriatic waters meet the Dinaric Alps, making for breathtaking scenery throughout the country. In the beautiful historic town of Kotor, red tile roofs contrast with the surrounding mountainous landscape. Durmitor National Park – a park carved by glaciers – is blessed with glacial lakes, dramatic peak and deep gorges. From the Bay of Kotor, to the Tara River, to Lake Skadar – Montenegro is a treasure trove of nature.
Bali is often used synonymously with the word ‘paradise’, and for good reason. Endless stretches of emerald-colored rice terraces, like at Jatiluwih, and swaying palm trees mesmerize passersby. Mount Batur offers incredible views at the top amongst the rolling clouds. And we couldn’t talk about Bali’s beauty without mentioning its idyllic beaches – think crystal clear water and dreamy pink sunsets at Sanur Beach.
From the lush kauri forests to the mighty Southern Alps, New Zealand has an impressive amount of natural beauty within its 200,000 square kilometers. The Waitomo Glowworm Caves twinkle like the night sky, Milford Sound’s turquoise waters snake though stunning fjords and Abel Tasman National Park boasts pristine white beaches. And as if that’s not enough, New Zealand continues to wow with its stratovolcanoes, the Franz Josef Glacier and the geysers in Rotorua.