How many of us have ever been literally breathless in front of a spectacle of nature, to a particularly scenic landscape, to a movie sunset or to free animals in your own territory? Nature holds incredible spectacles for us and there are particular places on Earth that are striking for the pure, uncontaminated, enchanting environment. We Italians are lucky, in our Peninsula you can find many "postcard" landscapes, from the peaks of the Alps to the Tuscan hills, up to the splendid coasts of Sardinia, Sicily and Puglia… an almost endless list. Around the planet there are several other locations that offer the viewer an unforgettable show, which any photograph would not do justice to!
We have combined 20 of these landscapes into one standings, sure that some, if not all, will make you want to pack your suitcase and go!
20 - Ha Long Bay, Vietnam
Imposing limestone pillars e small islets topped by forests they rise on the emerald waters of the Gulf of Tonkin. Halong literally means "where the dragon descends into the sea": the legend linked to this place tells that this seascape was created by a large mountain dragon that approached the coast and, waving its tail, created valleys and crevasses. Once the dragon disappeared into the sea, the water filled the area leaving only the limestone pillars visible. The geological explanation instead speaks of the simple phenomenon of karst erosion, but this does not detract from it the poetic beauty of this splendid landscape.
- Type: Archipelago
- Info for the visit: Gulf of Tonkin, 3 hours from the capital Hanoi to boarding in Halong City
19 - Napali Coast, Kauai - Hawaii
The Na Pali Coast is one of those places that can be considered a real food for the soul. Famous Kauai is truly impressive, with its emerald green pinnacles that continue for 17 miles along the coast. Located in the north area of Kauai, the Napali Coast offers panoramic views of the vast Pacific Ocean, green velvet cliffs and waterfalls that plunge into deep and narrow valleys. The rugged terrain has remained virtually unchanged for centuries, ever since the first settlements flourished in these valleys.
- Type: Coastal landscape
- Info for the visit: Possibility of mini cruises, trekking, scenic flights, directly from the town of Kauai
18 - Wulingyuan, China
It is a spectacular area that extends over 26.000 hectares in the Chinese province of Hunan. The site is made up of more than 3.000 narrow and pointed sandstone pillars, most of which exceed 200m in height. The peaks also form many particular ravines and gorges, crossed by streams, natural pools and waterfalls. The water also dug around 40 caves and formed two large natural bridges. The landscape, with its striking beauty, is not only known for being one of the most beautiful in the world, but also because it hosts some endangered animal and plant species.
- Type: Mountain landscape, canyons, nature reserves
- Info for the visit: Departures every 10 minutes by bus from Zhangjiahie station. Arrival in 40 minutes. Eco bus tour, tourist train, cable cars
17 - Pamukkale, Turkey
The flowing of the calcite-rich waters, which flow from some springs present on a cliff almost 200 m high overlooking the plain, have created Pamukkale (literally "cotton castle") an unreal landscape, consisting of forests, petrified mineral waterfalls and a series of natural pools. At the end of the nd century BC, the dynasty of the Attalides, the kings of Pergamum, established the Hierapolis spa here. The ruins of the baths, some temples and other monuments dating back to the ancient Greek era are still present at the site.
- Type: Natural pools, spas, mountain landscape
- Info for the visit: From Denizli city by bus, train or dolmuş in 40 minutes
16 - Lake Louise, Canada
Lake Louise is what makes the Banff National Park a phenomenal and famous place all over the world. The natural landscape is majestic and difficult to describe with worthy words. The area is made up of the lake with its turquoise waters beyond belief surrounded by a real amphitheater of mountains.
- Type: Lake landscape
- Info for the visit: The town of Banff is approximately 120 km from Calgary Airport. From Banff buses connect Lake Louis in approximately 40 minutes
15 - The fields of Moravia, Czech Republic
This landscape of rolling fields tells the agricultural history of Moravia, a region of the Czech Republic that is known for its folk traditions, distinctive architecture and landscapes. Looking at these fields one is almost hypnotized by their natural beauty, with colors that change according to the crops and the time of year, creating harmonious contrasts.
- Type: Country landscape
- Info for the visit: From the Moravian capital, Brno, you can reach the villages of Lednice, Valtice and Mikulov to admire the landscapes
14 - Mount Bromo, Java Island - Indonesia
Mount Bromo, which reaches 2.329m in height, is Indonesia's most iconic and most traveled mountain on foot. It is a still active volcano, which in fact is devoid of all the upper part, swept away by the various eruptions. White sulphurous smoke continuously comes out of the crater. A hike to this location will undoubtedly provide you with thrills of fear, as Mount Bromo still is one of the most active volcanoes in the world!
Nonetheless, the ascent to the volcano is short and easy and, once you reach the top, it is possible to enjoy a breathtaking and ethereal landscape, especially during the sunrise.
- Type: Volcanic landscape
- Info for the visit: From Yogyakarta by bus, possibility to reach the viewpoints and craters by jeep (last stretch of 20 minutes necessarily on foot)
13 - Isle of Skye, Scotland - United Kingdom
The Isle of Skye (An T-Eilean Sgiathanach in Gaelic) takes its name from the Old Norse "sky-a" which means "cloud island", a Viking reference to the mists that often envelop its shores. IS the second largest island in Scotland, a 50 mile long mosaic of velvet moors, jagged mountains, sparkling lakes and high sea cliffs. The breathtaking scenery is the main attraction, but when the fog closes you can also visit the castles, the museums, the welcoming restaurants and pubs or the dozens of art galleries and craft workshops.
- Type: Insular, coastal landscape
- Info for the visit: From Glasgow to Mallaig by train, then ferry, or by bus from Glasgow to the mainland bridge, or train Edinburgh - Inverness - Kyle of Lochalsh, and bridge crossing
12 - Grand Canyon, Arizona, United States
Located in Northern Arizona, the Grand Canyon is known around the world for its size and magnificent landscape made up of a myriad of colors and shapes. Over 270 miles long, up to 18 miles wide and one mile deep, its walls contain layers of rock that reveal the timeline of Earth's history.
Inhabited since the origins of man, it houses archaeological finds of civilizations dating back to about 12.000 years ago, up to the early 1800s. The environment of the Grand Canyon has been under the protection of the United States government since 1893 and, to date, it is considered a national monument.
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- Type: Rocky desert, canyon
- Info for the visit: From major cities and airports (Las Vegas and Phoenix) it is about 5 hours by car. There are connections to internal Flagstaff and Page airports, which are approximately 1 hour away
11 - Okavango Delta, Botswana - Africa
Considered one of the masterpieces of nature, the Okavango Delta offers its visitors an insight into the true wild life of Africa. A World Heritage Site, this vast and virtually untouched area is made up of freshwater wetlands right in the heart of the arid Kalahari region of Botswana. Here you can find a large variety of wildlife within a setting of dazzling natural beauty. Home of a large number of elephants, buffaloes, lions, hippos, giraffes and zebras and many species of antelope, it is also a paradise for the most feared predators. Yet, despite its wild nature, the Okavango Delta is surprisingly accessible and it is possible to visit it up close, thanks to organized safaris either on foot or by mokoro (a typical canoe) or by boat.
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- Type: River landscape, nature reserve, wildlife oasis
- Info for the visit: There is an airport in Maun. It is possible to organize a flight to Johannesburg, more frequent and cheaper, and then a half-day transfer to Maun (a stone's throw from the Okavango Delta)
10 - Kolukkumalai, India
There is a better place to have a refreshing cup of tea than in the hills of Kolukkumalai, India, which are home to the tallest tea plantations in the world? The answer lies in the delight of the drink, with its special flavor and freshness, obtained thanks to the high altitude of the crops. In addition to enjoying the natural landscape, it is possible to visit the old tea factory and buy different varieties, such as Orange Pekoe and Flowery Orange Pekoe.
Kolukkumalai is about 7.900 feet above sea level, from here you can also admire the distant plain located in the neighboring state of Tamil Nadu. When the fog rises, the distant hills seem to almost slide in and out of the haze, creating a captivating show.
- Type: Rural, mountain landscape
- Info for the visit: The closest airports to Munnar are Cochin (74) and Madurai (120). From Munnar, by jeep from (about 40 km)
9 - Milford Sound, New Zealand
Located on the west coast of the South Island, Milford Sound is a fusion of spectacular natural features. Described by Rudyard Kipling as "the eighth wonder of the world", Milford Sound is a fjord sculpted by glaciers during the ice ages: here the landscape is breathtaking in any weather! The cliffs of the fjord rise vertically from the dark waters, the mountain peaks seem to scrape the sky and the falls cascade downwards from a height of more than 1.000 meters. When it rains in Milford Sound, and it happens often, these falls increase their reach with a magnificent effect.
- Type: Fjord, cliffs
- Info for the visit: Located in Fiordland Park, 5 hours by bus from Queenstown. It can be visited by boat
8 - Namib Desert - Namibia, Angola and South African Republic
This extremely arid ecoregion includes sand dunes, gravel plains and rugged mountains. It is the oldest desert in the world, has existed for at least 55 million years and hosts an area completely devoid of surface water, but divided in two by several dry river beds.
È a difficult but fascinating environment, especially when there are thick mists along the coast, lifeblood of the desert, as they provide enough moisture for the survival of a few species of animals and plants that have adapted to the climate.
- Type: Sandy desert
- Info for the visit: Flight to Johannesburg, transfer to Windhoek, the capital of Namibia. There are no direct flights from Italy. From Windhoek, multi-day excursions are organized that also include the desert
7 - Alabaster Coast, France
The Alabaster Coast stretches for 130 kilometers with magnificent, white cliffs lined with pebble beaches. The vertiginously high plaster stacks reach 120 meters in height. The Grande Randonnée trail runs along the top of these sheer cliffs and offers exceptional views to all hikers who decide to venture on this route, which includes some stopping points where the scenery is particularly fascinating, such as Etretat, Fécamp and Dieppe.
- Type: Coastal landscape, cliffs
- Info for the visit: It is located in the village of Caux, in Upper Normandy. The nearest airport is Le Havre. Paris is about 2,5 hours away by car
6 - Palawan Island, Philippines
The Philippines is a highly underrated destination for those looking for a tropical climate vacation, and this island proves it. Palawan it's a hidden piece of heaven which was recently named the most beautiful island in the world by some travel sites.
Its blue waters mix with the emerald green of the vegetation, the mountains seem inscrutable due to the dense jungle that seems to arise directly from the sea.
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- Type: Insular, marine landscape
- Info for the visit: From Italy, flight with a stopover to Manila or Puerto Princesa. From there, we travel by Jeepney (modified and very colorful jeeps)
5 - Iguazu Falls, Argentina and Brazil
Often elected among the 7 natural wonders of the world, Iguazu Falls are undoubtedly the most visited place and one of the most impressive natural attractions in Argentina and around the world. Located in the Iguazú National Park, about 20 km from Puerto Iguazú in the north of the province of Misiones in Argentina, the falls are shared with the territory of Brazil. The Iguazú river originates in the state of Paraná in Brazil and, after having crossed 1.200 km across a plateau where it receives numerous tributaries, it reaches a series of faults that force it to make a jump of 80 meters into the canyon called Devil's Throat, where the water produces a thundering sound and then flows into the waters of the Paranà.
A legend tells of a large snake called "Boi" that lived in the river. To calm her ferocity, the Aborigines used to sacrifice a woman in her honor every year. But once a brave Guaranì aboriginal stole the chosen woman saving her from the terrible rite. The snake Boi was furious, folded his body and divided the river through the falls, separating the two fugitives forever.
- Type: Waterfall
- Info for the visit: it is about 12 hours from the capital, but there are internal flights and Port Iguazù has an airport
4 - Benagil Caves, Portugal
The Benagil Caves are a real gem of the whole Algarve coast. They are located 150 meters east of the small beach of Benagil in the village of the same name. The sea cave has two magnificent entrances, a huge collapsed roof, a secluded sandy beach and a circular inner cave. This place is truly worth a visit by anyone with a particular interest in the wonders of nature.
- Type: Cave, beach, seascape
- Info for the visit: Benagil can be reached by bus from the main nearby cities. It is approximately 6 hours from the capital Lisbon and Sevilla, Spain.
3 - Galápagos Islands, Ecuador
The Galapagos Islands inspire those lucky enough to visit them a different vision of life. Here live some unique creatures in the world, and humans are considered mere paparazzi, even a little annoying. These islands are not the Bahamas and these are not typical tropical paradises, in fact, most of the islands are devoid of vegetation and some look more like the Moon than Hawaii. This group of islands of volcanic origin and its fragile ecosystem have assumed the almost mythological status of a showcase of biodiversity. You don't need to be an evolutionary biologist or an ornithologist to appreciate one of the few remaining places on the planet where the human footprint is minimized.
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- Type: Cave, beach, seascape
- Info for the visit: By plane to Ecuador, Quito or Guayaquil airport (approximately 16 hours). From here, flight to the Galapagos, Baltra or San Cristobal airport (approximately 2,5 hours)
2 - Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia
Salar de Uyuni is an expanse of 3.800 square miles of salt, the largest salt flat in the world. The cracks in the ground form an endless sheet of hexagonal tiles dotted with salt pyramids. Despite desert drought and extremely low night temperatures this landscape is not without life: pink flamingos, ancient cacti and rare hummingbirds all live in the Salar de Uyuni.
During the rainy season the salt desert turns into a huge salt lake, shallow, accessible both by boat and by four-wheeled vehicles. During this period, the shallow salt lake perfectly reflects the sky, creating bizarre illusions of infinity.
- Type: Salt desert
- Info for the visit: By plane to Bolivia, to La Paz, from there to Uyuni by bus (10 hours) or by plane. We organize excursions by jeep.
1 - Cappadocia, Turkey
As if it had been taken from a fairytale place and placed on plains of Anatolia, Cappadocia is a geological oddity composed of honeycomb hills and imposing boulders of a beauty that seems unearthly. The fantastic topography is combined with the human history of the place, here in fact people have long used the soft stone of the region to create underground shelters and leaving the countryside littered with a fascinating architecture composed by hundreds of caves. Have you come here for excursions, for the history of the place or for the thrill of turning yourself into a primitive man for a night? No matter the reason, a visit to this panorama reminiscent of the lunar surface will remain forever in your memories. Its rippling rocks, in a palette of colors ranging from sandy orange to cream, are an epiphany, worthy of the best psychedelic dreams.
- Type: Mountain, hilly landscape
- Info for the visit: From Istanbul, you can reach Göreme by bus (10 hours, about € 30,00) or by internal flight to Kayseri and from there private transfer or bus to Göreme.