Our top 25 UNESCO World Heritage sites
June 19, 2023
This planet of ours is truly ravishing. From cobalt lakes glinting between sawtooth peaks to irresistible islands garlanded with perfect beaches, there is no shortage of stunning scenery to discover. We’ve picked out fifteen of our favourite beautiful landscapes to brighten your day and get you dreaming of your next adventure.
This world famous riot of colourful blooms paints the otherwise dull landscape in brilliant technicolour when the spring flowers arrive. Beginning in the Northern Cape in late July or early August – depending on timing and quantity of the winter rains – and then moving south to bloom on the west coast by late August and September.
Blyde River Canyon
At 25 kilometres long and with an average depth of 750 metres Blyde River Canyon is one of the planet’s largest canyons. Take the Panorama route to see the most breathtaking views of the green clad flanks and the Three Rondavels rock formation.
Visit South Africa with one of our trusted local partner’s suggested itineraries.
Mu Cang Chai
The most spectacular rice terraces in Vietnam corrugate the hillsides of the Mu Cang Chai region where villages perch among the emerald hillsides and the views down the valley are simply astonishing. Make sure you bring your camera as this is one of the most photogenic regions on earth.
Bai Tu Long Bay
This is the lesser known equivalent of the more crowded Halong Bay, offering the same staggering land and seascapes with dramatic eruptions of rock scattered throughout the bay, best explored on an overnight cruise so you can enjoy the beautiful karst scenery at sunset and sunrise.
Explore the delights of Vietnam with our trusted local partner’s Essential Vietnam tour.
At a breathtaking altitude of 3,000 metres, staggeringly scenic Song Kol Lake lies in the central Tien Shan range, seducing everyone who passes with its indigo depths and surrounding snow-dusted peaks. Nomadic herdsmen often set up yurt camps on the lake shore.
Tien Shan mountains
The idyllic Grigorievskoe Gorge, not far from the shores of Issyk-Kul lake, is a haven for hikers and horseriders who enjoy the stunning, pristine alpine scenery of the gorge. Discover lush green mountain slopes strewn with flowers and clear rushing streams surrounded by towering peaks.
Discover the beauty of Kyrgyzstan with our local expert’s Luxury Kyrgyzstan itinerary.
Enjoy unrivalled views of Mount Fuji when you visit the Hakone National Park, a blissful region of undulating trails, mountaintop shrines and the jewel in the crown – Ashi Lake. Forests around Ashi are breathtaking during autumn, and the views of Mount Fuji reflected in the serene waters are outstanding.
Blue Pond, Hokkaido
As the water from Mount Tokachi churns down Shirahige Falls, it collects aluminium and other minerals which are said to account for the intense hue of the Blue Pond – the body of water found at the waterfall’s end. Bare, birch tree trunks emerge from the pond giving it an ethereal beauty.
Explore Japan with our trusted local expert’s Classic Japan tour.
Torres del Paine
Three dramatic towers of rock form the centrepiece of the Paine Massif, the definitive landscape of Chilean Patagonia. The mountains give their name to the surrounding national park where you will find iconic views of several vivid lakes, endless pampas and the frozen beauty of glaciers.
Perito Moreno Glacier
One of the most jaw dropping natural landscapes in all of South America, the electric blue Perito Moreno glacier is an incredible sight. Viewed from a boat, a viewing platform or a hiking trail, it cannot fail to impress with 74 metre tall walls of ice creaking ever onward. You can even hike on the glacier surface if you dare!
Check out our local expert’s Highlights of Patagonia Itinerary for trip inspiration.
A collection of four serene and lovely valleys makes up the Bumthang region, all of them peppered with traditional monasteries, farms and delightful villages. The valley floor is a patchwork of apple orchards, dairy pastures and fields of rice and buckwheat.
Cut through by rushing rivers and surrounded by the mighty Himalayan backdrop, the scenery around Punakha is magnificent. Marvel at the serene situation of the Punakha Dzong at the confluence of the Pho Chhu and Mo Chhu rivers, or admire views of the whole valley from the lofty temple of Khamsum Yulley Namgyal.
Discover rural Bhutan with a Druk Path Trek organised by our local experts.
Gunung Bromo, Java
A cluster of volcanic cones sit inside one huge crater, a nine kilometre wide plateau believed to have been caused by a massive past eruption. Bromo is a popular destination for watching the sunrise from the crater rim – the low light picks out the detail in this other-worldly landscape.
Pristine underwater worlds are the major draw in Raja Ampat’s remote islands, but the scenery above the waves is impressive, too. Stunning limestone outcrops rise sheer from the azure water known for its amazing visibility and biodiversity, while paradise beaches fringe the larger islands.
For Indonesian trip inspiration take a look at one of our trusted local partner’s suggested itineraries.
Landscapes don’t get much more majestic than the Serengeti, where vast skies look down upon classic African savannah, endless horizons are punctuated by acacia trees, and you finally understand the true meaning of wilderness. And that’s before you catch sight of the Serengeti’s animals.
The roof of Africa
Mount Kilimanjaro is the highest peak in all of Africa, standing at a sky-piercing height of 5,895 metres. It rises from the surrounding plains in isolation, making it one of the most impressive sights on the continent. Whether you view from afar or brave the summit, this is undeniably one of Africa’s most iconic landscapes.
Exquisite Siquijor boasts sleepy villages slung along the shore with green mountains rising behind and perfect aquamarine seascapes in front. If you ever tear yourself away from the mesmerising beaches, head to Cambugahay Falls for another perfect tropical scene.
The Chocolate Hills are a bizarrely uniform cluster of more than 1500 conical mounds scattered throughout central Bohol. These grassy hillocks formed naturally over millennia, though legend states that they are petrified tears of a giant. They get their name because in the dry season the grasses turn a rich brown.
Experience the Philippines plush scenery and turquoise waters with a Luxury Philippines tour.
If it’s stark beauty you are searching for, you’ve found it. Sossusvlei is a region of russet dunes which reach heights of up to 300 metres and glow a startling red against the blue of the sky. Deadvlei is the most photogenic of the bunch – its white salt pan and red dunes offset by desiccated black trees.
Named for the hundreds of shipwrecks scattered along the remote and windswept northwest Namibian coast, this hauntingly beautiful stretch of dunes is lashed by desert winds which create a thick fog where they meet the cold Benguela current. A little spooky and unsettling, but there’s a beauty in the barren expanses of sand, sea and sky.
Take a look at our local partner’s Ultimate Namibia Itinerary for trip inspiration.
In the rainy season 13,000 cubic metres of water thunder over almost 3 kilometres of cliffs every second, plunging 80 metres in a spectacular show of nature’s raw power. Viewing decks allow you to get as close as you dare to the falls, and there are rainforest trails nearby, too.
Best known as the remarkable backdrop for one of the world’s most beautifully sited cities – Rio de Janeiro – Guanabara Bay is an incredible collection of conical mountains and sparkling sea. There can be few landscapes as iconic and jaw dropping as this one, with Sugar Loaf mountain and Corcovado, pedestal of Christ the Redeemer, among the world’s most recognisable.
Experience these landscapes with our local partner’s Ultimate Brazil tour.
Explore the landscapes around El Chalten on foot or on horseback, making your priority the unmissable sight of the Fitz Roy massif with its sharks teeth pinnacles and pristine wilderness all around. Breathtaking lakes and glaciers are also accessible, so you will never be short of staggering vistas.
The undulating landscape at the foot of the Andes around Mendoza provides some of the best wine growing conditions in Argentina, and happily it is also very easy on the eye, too. Dotted with historic wineries tucked in among the striped green hillsides with snowy peaks behind, the Mendoza region is very photogenic indeed.
See these rugged landscapes with our trusted local expert’s Luxury Argentina Itinerary.
Yangshuo karst formations
The Li River is like a silver ribbon winding its way around and between the stunning karst hills of Yangshuo, and the riverbanks are a checker board of small fields full of crops. Take a boat trip to admire the jaw-dropping landscape up close, or visit viewpoints for a birds eye view.
Stunning doesn’t really cover it – the Huangshan Mountains have an ethereal mystery and dramatic geology that makes them seem like they have been lifted from the pages of a fairytale. With numerous needle peaks piercing the swirling mist, it’s easy to see why this is the land of legends, inspiring Chinese artists and poets for many centuries.
Discover the beauty of rural China with a train ride through China’s southeast, organised by our local experts.
Monumental chunks of russet granite erupt from the orange Wadi Rum sand, adding colour and drama to this desert landscape that has been the backdrop to so many movies. Camp out with the Bedouin to experience the peace and beauty of the Jordanian desert as well as the brilliant night sky.
Dana Nature Reserve
Tumbling from a lofty 1700 metres right down to 50 metres, the landscape of Dana is monumental. For the best views head to Dana village, a cluster of 15th century stone houses overlooking the sweep of the Wadi Araba. As well as the drama of the surroundings, there’s unusual wildlife to spot here, too.
Take a look at our local partner’s Adventurous Jordan Itinerary for trip inspiration.
The most famous image of Belize is the marine sinkhole known as the Great Blue Hole which pierces the Lighthouse Reef atoll in a perfect circle 300 metres across, a deep inky blue fading to azure around its circumference. It’s a legendary destination for divers and snorkelers.
Although you are unlikely to spot a jaguar in this Wildlife Sanctuary, it has the highest density of these big cats in the world. What you will find are amazing natural gems. Delve into the furthest corners of the park for picturesque waterfalls, rugged cliffs, exotic wildlife and all that verdant jungle vegetation.
Experience the natural delights of Belize with our trusted local expert’s Active Belize Itinerary.
The deepest freshwater lake in Nepal sits at 3,611 metres altitude and makes a scenic stopover on the ten day trek named after it. Water enters the lake via several streams of melt water which trickle down from the Himalayan peaks around it, making the water very cold and giving it a stunning deep turquoise colour.
Take a sunrise trip to the peak of Sarangot Mountain from where the panorama takes in a broad sweep of the Himalayas including Annapurna, Manaslu and and Dhaulagiri peaks, the Pokhara Valley and the town’s lakes. It’s also a great base for adrenaline sports, so you can admire the Himalayas from a paraglider, too.
Discover Nepal’s enchanting landscapes with our trusted local expert’s Ultimate Nepal Itinerary.
Make it happen
There’s so much beauty and wonder out there and so little time to see it all. The links above take you through to our country pages, packed full of information and inspiration for that trip you’ve always wanted to take. When you have narrowed down your preferred destination you can contact our local partners direct for their expert input and advice. To speak to someone in the TravelLocal office, please call +44 (0)117 325 7898.
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