Today (August 29, 2016): the 10 best places to watch the sunrise or sunset around the world.
I am one of those people who is drawn to the surreal setting of sunrise and sunset, which both highlight the natural beauty of the planet we all share. Whether it’s the warm red colors, the dancing shadows, or the soft light, each one has something that makes people across the world wanna do things, from taking photos with loved ones to a pure moment of self-reflection. Some places are so famous for their sunrises and sunsets that they inspire entire journeys and attract record numbers of tourists. Today, I share with you my 10 favorite spots with sunrise and sunset spectacles that impressed me the most during all my years of traveling around the globe.
What is your favorite spot in the world to watch the sunrise or sunset? Leave a comment or take my poll below.
Uluru (Ayers Rock) and Kata Tjuta (The Olgas) are Australia’s most recognisable natural landmarks. Witnessing a sunset and sunrise over these massive sandstone formations is an awe-inspiring experience and a ‘must do’ on every visitor’s list. The apparent colour changes result from the effects of the earth’s atmosphere on the sun’s incoming rays. The ash, dust particles and water vapour present in the earth’s atmosphere act as a filter which can remove the bluer light from the incoming rays of the sun, allowing the redder light through at different times of day. Reflections from the rock and clouds in the sky enhance the vivid colours.
- Official website: Uluru
- Other accolades: Uluru features in my top 10 list of the most spectacular trips of a lifetime.
Perhaps the globe’s ultimate luxury destination, the Maldives has become a synonym for paradise whether it is for honeymooners, sun worshipers, scuba divers or celebrities. Located on the equator towards the south of India and stretching over 800 km, the Maldives are the visible coral tips of an oceanic volcanic mountain range whose outer edge at some points plunge to depths of over 3 km (10,000 ft). The stunningly beautiful islands are blessed with some of the most spectacular beaches in the world, crystal clear blue lagoons, incredible underwater wildlife, unrivalled luxury resorts that take up their own private islands and are built over water, and the planet’s most breathtaking, tropical sunsets.
- Official website: The Maldives
- Other accolades: The Maldives features in my top 10 lists of the world’s best beach destinations, the world’s best wildlife holidays, and the world’s most beautiful islands.
Cambodia’s landscapes are surprisingly diverse, with tropical beaches, remote jungles, rice paddies, and sugar palm plantations. But most people come here because it is the gateway to magnificent ancient temple ruins, such as iconic Angkor Wat, elegant Angkor Thom and the ubiquitous Ta Phrom. Vast, beautiful and beguiling, these temple complexes contain a magic that makes them stand out from the crowd. Watching the sunrise by the pond that gives you reflections of the triple towers of Angkor War, with beautiful oranges and reds peeking out behind the temple complex, is an iconic travel experience that you will cherish for life (although you’ll have to share it with many other tourists).
- Official website: Angkor Wat
- Other accolades: Angkor Wat features in my top 10 lists of the most spectacular trips of a lifetime and the world’s best destinations for culture.
A powerful and inspiring landscape, Grand Canyon National Park is one of the USA’s most popular tourist destinations (so be prepared to share it with the crowds). Unique combinations of geologic color and erosional forms carved by the Colorado River decorate a canyon that is 277 river miles (446km) long, up to 18 miles (29km) wide, and a mile (1.6km) deep. The Grand Canyon’s phenomenal beauty is emphasized at sunset, when the explosive color palette of the canyon changes as dazzling light dances across giant rock cliffs, shadows envelop entire gorges, and canyon walls blaze orange, rust, and red. While Hopi Point is unquestionably a desirable viewpoint for sunset, but Yaki and Pima Points offer equally spectacular sunset views and are less congested.
- Official website: Grand Canyon National Park
- Other accolades: Grand Canyon National Park features in my top 10 lists of the most beautiful national parks of the USA, the world’s most spectacular scenery, and the most spectacular trips of a lifetime.
Without any doubt, Peru’s greatest attraction is the mist-shrouded Inca citadel of Machu Picchu, which was only discovered in 1911 and is believed to have been used by the Incas as a secret ceremonial city. No matter how many times you have seen a photograph of the iconic Inca ruins, nothing prepares you for the sense of awe that this magical place elicits in its Andes mountain setting, clinging as it does to rock and jungle. And there’s no better way to start your day at this iconic site by watching the rising sun that clears the surrounding mountain peaks and the first rays of soft light that hit and illuminate the ruins from the Intipunku sun gate, the end point of the world-famous Inca trail.
- Official website: Machu Picchu
- Other accolades: Machu Picchu also features in my top 10 lists of the world’s best destinations for culture, the world’s greatest train journeys, the most amazing places to visit in South America, and the world’s most iconic trekkings.
There’s no denying that Cape Town – my favorite city in the world – enjoys some of the most stunning sunsets in the world. As warm summer weather descends on the city, tourists and locals flock to the Atlantic shores for sipping on their favorite drink while watching the sun slowly dipping below the glistening ocean. There are many places in the city to have a cocktail while soaking in those perfects sunsets, but a standout is the Bloubergstrand shoreline, with its picture perfect views of the Table Mountain silhouette across Table Bay, Robben Island (where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned), the endless ocean and the occasional passing dolphin or whale.
- Official website: Cape Town
- Other accolades: South Africa’s Mother City features in my top 10 list of the world’s most beautiful cities, the most spectacular trips of a lifetime, the world’s best beach destinations, the world’s most spectacular scenery, and things to see and do in Cape Town.
Arguably Greece’s most beautiful island, Santorini is a mix of towering black cliffs, inky waters and whitewashed villages. Santorini inspires every visitor because of its spectacular landscapes with blue domes and white washed houses and churches perched on volcanic cliffs, all set against the backdrop of the beautiful shimmering Aegean waters. Built up on top of Santorini’s rust-red cliffs, the romantic village of Oia is the best vantage point from which to watch the sun set in the Mediterranean Sea. This breathtaking, bucket-list-type experience attracts huge crowds of visitors that gather each evening in Oia (you can head to the nearby village of Imerovigli for even more spectacular sunsets enjoyed in almost complete solitude).
- Official website: Santorini
- Other accolades: Santorini features in my top 10 list of the world’s most beautiful islands.
Haleakala is a massive shield volcano that forms more than 75% of the Hawaiian Island of Maui. As the volcano stretches out towards the skies, the lush bamboo forests and thundering waterfalls at its base give way to a desolate volcanic landscape, where you can hike above the clouds across an otherworldly desert (is this the planet Mars?) with incredible vistas towards the Pacific Ocean. One of Hawaii’s most memorable experiences is seeing the Haleakala sunset from 10,000 feet (3 km) above sea level, dramatically coloring the end of the day. Perhaps just as spectacular are Haleakala’s world-famous sunsets are the bright, starry skies revealed at night.
- Official website: Haleakala National Park
- Other accolades: Haleakala National Park features in my top 10 lists of the most beautiful national parks of the USA, the world’s most spectacular scenery, and the most spectacular trips of a lifetime.
One of the most scarcely populated countries in the world, Namibia is a top destination for those who enjoy unrivaled natural scenery and wildlife viewing. Nowhere is this more evident than in the spectacular Namib-Naukluft National Park, home to otherworldly looking landscapes with black tree skeletons and red coloured dunes, which rank among the world’s highest. The so-called Dune 45 is the most popular dune to climb at sunrise, because it’s easily accessible from the entrance road, and although you won’t be alone, it’s well worth it because the spectacle of a hundreds of waves of dunes slowly brightening and changing colors in the desert’s soft morning light will make you want to gasp for air.
- Official website: Namib-Naukluft National Park
- Other accolades: Namib-Naukluft National Park features in my top 10 lists of the world’s most spectacular scenery and the most spectacular trips of a lifetime.
Indonesia’s most iconic mountain, Mount Bromo, stands tall at 2,329 metres (7,641 ft) and is still one of the world’s most active volcanos. The mountain is easily recognized as the entire top has been blown off and the crater inside constantly belches white sulphurous smoke. It sits majestically inside the massive Tengger caldera (a volcanic crater with a diameter of approximately 6 mi or 10km) and is surrounded by a vast mass of of fine volcanic sand. The overall effect is unsettlingly unearthly, and this breathtaking and ethereal landscape have been swooned by many travelers, who mostly hike up nearby Mount Penanjakan in time to catch the sunrise over Mount Bromo. It takes about 1-2 hours hike to the first vantage point.
- Official website: Mount Bromo