Top 10 best places in the world to watch the sunrise & sunset

Monday newsletters always feature top 10 travel lists to inspire.

Today: Top 10 best places in the world to watch the sunrise & sunset 

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. Here ‘s my selection of the 10 best spots on our planet to watch the sunrise and sunset (or at least the places that impressed me the most during all my years of traveling around the globe).

There is more information (with YouTube videos) below the slider. What is your favorite spot in the world to watch the sunrise or sunset? Leave a comment or take my poll below.

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10. ULURU, NORTHERN TERRITORY, AUSTRALIA

Uluru (Ayers Rock) and Kata Tjuta (The Olgas) are Australia’s most recognizable 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 color changes result from the effects of the earth’s atmosphere on the sun’s incoming rays. The ash, dust particles and water vapor 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 colors.

ULURU, AUSTRALIA


9. THE MALDIVES

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, 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 sunrises & sunsets.

THE MALDIVES


8. ANGKOR WAT, CAMBODIA

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).


7. GRAND CANYON NATIONAL PARK, ARIZONA, USA

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 sunrise and 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.

GRAND CANYON NATIONAL PARK, USA


6. MACHU PICCHU, PERU

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 near the Intipunku sun gate, the end point of the world-famous Inca trail: the sun rises over the surrounding mountain peaks as its first rays of soft light hit and illuminate the world-famous ruins.

MACHU PICCHU, PERU


5. CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA

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.

CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA


4. SANTORINI, GREECE

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).

SANTORINI, GREECE


3. HALEAKALA NATIONAL PARK, HAWAII, USA

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 sunrise or sunset from 10,000 feet (3 km) above sea level, dramatically coloring the start or end of the day. Perhaps just as spectacular as Haleakala’s world-famous sunrises and sunsets are the bright, starry skies revealed at night.

HALEAKALA NATIONAL PARK, HAWAII, USA


2. NAMIB-NAUKLUFT NATIONAL PARK, NAMIBIA

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 colored dunes, which rank among the world’s highest. 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 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.

NAMIB-NAUKLUFT NATIONAL PARK


1. MOUNT BROMO, JAVA, INDONESIA

Indonesia’s most iconic mountain, Mount Bromo, stands tall at 2,329 meters (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 10 km) and is surrounded by a vast mass of fine volcanic sand. The overall effect is unsettlingly unearthly, and this breathtaking, ethereal landscape has 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 (although you can also get there with a jeep excursion).


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10 Comments

  1. So many beautiful ideas there. Mother Nature puts on the best shows, all free! We’re hoping to visit Yosemite and then stay in Lake Tahoe with family in the autumn. Hopefully things are more normal by then.

  2. How about Tiger Hill, Darjeeling, to watch the sunrise on Mt Kanchenjunga ( the most beautiful mountain in the world ) , and if you are lucky, Mt Everest too. It begins like a new star beginning to shine as the sun touches the peak, then the mountain becomes awash with subtle shades of pink and orange until it shine pure white.
    Incidentally Cape Town is my favourite city in the whole world too.

  3. All the destinations listed are fabulous. I agree that a sundowner or sunrise experience would be a gorgeous moment to witness. Beach sunsets are my favourites and I bet the viewpoint at Maldives would be spectacular ones.

  4. Dawn and dusk- such incredible times of the day! You have captured the essence of true beauty with listing the best sunrises and sunsets. I am so glad to come across this post. Watched Angkor Wat sunrise video and the changing hues at every interval was nothing short of magic! What an experience to capture those moments! Loved your post! Very informative and mesmerized with the pictures of all the beautiful places, which looks all the more gorgeous during the wee hours of morning and the time before night! Grand Canyon sunset view is another wonder! Beautifully captured!

  5. Visiting a reindeer farm is beyond my imagination! Thanks for this informative post highlighting the Sami tradition and history of the Sami culture, and above all Reindeer Sledding. Would love to go on this enchanting tour and experience the pleasures of witnessing a unique culture. Reindeer sledding is on my list, at least for once and to observe the Northern lights. Enlightened!

  6. I’ve heard of Machu picchu and Santorini for their spectacular view, and it was nice to know about few more of destinations with beautiful scenes of sunrise and sunset.
    Thank You

  7. The sight of a sunrise and sunset is a delight to watch from anywhere it’s possible. The natural, everyday phenomenon that takes place, mostly in every part of the world, shows the difference between day and night. I had the privilege of watching these spectacular sights when holiday in the UAE. Just to watch them, I went on the morning and evening desert safari. The orange and red hue that sprinkled on the magnificent desert landscape of Dubai is a magical sight. If luck is by my side, I would love to enjoy the spectacles of sunrise and sunset in all the places you’ve listed.

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