the most beautiful views in the world
. Sometimes Mother Nature likes to show off. From surreal landscapes to places that take our breath away the world is filled with abundant beauty. The best part is that once you get to the destination be it a city hilltop or a deep desert canyon the million dollar view is all yours almost always for free. Here are 20 standout sights that are sure to inspire wanderlust.
NIAGARA FALLS CANADA AND UNITED STATES
. These waterfalls are possibly the best known in the world and what a sight! Pay a parking fee ($10 a vehicle) to enter Niagara Falls State Park and then enjoy views hikes and picnic areas at no extra charge. For a bird s eye view take a helicopter tour of the falls (for a hefty fee of course).
. Arrive early to the village of Oia to watch the sun set into the azure Aegean Sea. Crowds gather around the crumbling castle on the town s highest point and in the streets to watch the fiery orange red burst meet the blue sea.
BIG SUR CALIFORNIA
. Most Pacific Coast Highway travelers pull over at the iconic Bixby Bridge one of the most photographed spots in central California. The price of admission is only the cost of gas. Or for a nominal fee (placed in an honesty box) head to Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park and walk 500 yards to McWay Falls for a spectacular view of a massive waterfall meeting the beach.
MACHU PICCHU PERU
. This breathtaking Incan empire was built atop the Andes Mountains. Called the Lost of City of Incas the combination of intense landscape archeological sites and excellent trekking conditions has earned Machu Picchu the reputation as one of most beautiful places in the world.
BURJ KHALIFA DUBAI UNITED ARAB EMIRATES
. Visit the Observation Deck at the world s tallest skyscraper for outstanding views of Dubai. Arrive before 5:00 p.m. or after 7:30 p.m. for the cheapest tickets (roughly $34; children under the age of four are free).
. Climb 284 steps to the top of the Arc de Triomphe for spectacular views of the Eiffel Tower and the Champs ?lys?es. Go when the sun is starting to set to see the City of Lights sparkle. Tickets cost eight euros; no charge for children and students up to the age of 18.
HALEAKAL NATIONAL PARK MAUI HAWAII
. It s worth getting up early to watch the sun rise above the clouds at Haleakal? National Park. Soaring more than 10 000 feet above sea level the view as stars dissolve into daylight from the summit of this volcano is breathtaking.
VERDON GORGE PROVENCE FRANCE
. Often called Europe s most beautiful river canyon Verdon Gorge is known for its striking blue waters. Drive around the rim or head to the tiny hilltop village of Rougon for panoramic vistas.
MOSQUITO BAY VIEQUES PUERTO RICO
. One of the most magical sights in the Caribbean is watching agitated water light up with bioluminescent plankton. There are a handful of bioluminescent bays scattered around Puerto Rico but Mosquito Bay was declared by Guinness Book of World Records in 2008 to be the brightest recorded in the world.
LOS ANGELES CALIFORNIA
. Skip the world famous Hollywood sign. Instead tour the Stahl House in the Hollywood Hills for one of the best views of Los Angeles. The modernist style home also known as Case Study No. 22 was an experiment in residential architecture that ran from 1945 to 1966 thus the scientific sounding moniker.
YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK
. Catch a glimpse of the park s abundant wildlife from Lamar Valley just east of Tower Roosevelt. Arrive early in the morning for the best chance to spot elk bison antelope moose bears bald eagles and more. There are ways to visit?national parks on a budget one of which is that individuals on foot enter free; at Yellowstone each vehicle costs $30.
. Travel as far north in non summer months as possible to view Aurora Borealis or the Northern Lights. Keep an eye on the sky the likelihood of seeing this phenomenal light show is good in the towns of Rovaniemi Inari and Utsjoki.
LION S HEAD CAPETOWN SOUTH AFRICA
. Located between Table Mountain and Signal Hill Lion s Head is best known for its city views. During a full moon take an hour long hike to the top for a striking and unique perspective.
GREAT BARRIER REEF QUEENSLAND AUSTRALIA
. Stretching over 1 200 miles along the Queensland coastline the awe inspiring Great Barrier Reef is one of the world s great wonders. See it via a scenic flight or dive in to experience a vivid undersea world.
ANTELOPE CANYON ARIZONA
. Just south of Havasu Falls is Antelope Canyon the most visited and photographed slot canyon in the American southwest. The surreal landscape was formed by flash floods rushing through sandstone. Check out its world famous ray of light that shoots through Upper Antelope Canyon.
SAN PEDRO DE ATACAMA CHILE
. Salar de Atacama the biggest salt flat in Chile lies just beyond this adobe village. Here you ll find huge pools of shallow water that reflect the Andes Mountains. At night Atacama s clear skies and high altitude make the desert an ideal star gazing location.
GLOW WORM CAVE WAITOMO NEW ZEALAND
. Imagine being on a boat ($49/adults; $21.50 children) 150 feet underground in a pitch black cave illuminated by glow worms. This cave is home to thousands of these creatures that line the ceilings and light up the caverns with a phosphorescent glow like a sky full of stars.
SPLIT PINNACLES HUNAN CHINA
. Located in south China and on the bank of the Yangtze River these seemingly unreal split pinnacle rock formations amaze the eyes. Thousands of quartzite sandstone peaks jutting from the landscape create this dramatic vista.
ATHABASCA FALLS JASPER ALBERTA CANADA
. Experience the beauty of these falls in Jasper National Park from several different platforms. Considered the most powerful falls in all of Canada this is a favorite destination for whitewater rafters. Entry fee for a vehicle with up to seven people is less than (U.S.)$16.