What Are the 3 Most Beautiful Places You’ve Ever Seen?

Lately I’ve been thinking about the concept and future of travel, especially with the proliferation of technology.

I think I was in Seattle when this occurred to me in reference to a World’s Fair. From what I understand, people used to travel from far and wide to attend World’s Fairs. But now if you want to see what type of food people eat in Japan or the newest German invention, you can just go online and read about it.

I started thinking: Will this apply to travel and tourism too? The Great Wall of China is a remarkable architectural achievement, but in a world of HD images and virtual reality, will people be satisfied with looking at the wall remotely instead of going through all of the inconveniences to get there?

So lest this become reality, I thought I’d make a list of the 3 most beautiful places I’ve ever been. My memory of these sights is that they were so overwhelming beautiful that I felt entirely unequipped as a human to fully comprehend the beauty. For each of these places, photos truly do not do them justice.

Bryce Canyon at sunset

I visited Bryce Canyon (Utah) with my family when I was a kid. I distinctly remember watching the sunset one evening when we were ready to go back to our lodge, and I was simply in awe. I don’t know how to describe it–it was so much beauty that I literally found it difficult to breathe.


Stonehenge is an odd one, because it’s both majestic and ordinary at the same time. It’s out in the middle of nowhere–people chose to build it in this specific place. I think its beauty is tied to how ancient it is. I could have stared at it for hours.

Kyoto trees in the autumn

When I studied abroad in Kyoto, I biked through and past these leaves every day. Yet despite how commonplace they were, I couldn’t help to constantly be struck by how beautiful my surroundings were. I grew up in Virginia–we have autumn there, and it’s pretty. Yet it doesn’t hold a candle to Kyoto in the fall.

What are the 3 most beautiful places you’ve ever been? Places that no photograph, video, or virtual reality can ever capture as well as physically being there?

13 thoughts on “What Are the 3 Most Beautiful Places You’ve Ever Seen?”

  1. I’d have to think a little harder to figure out if these are the top three I’ve been to, but they’re definitely in the running…

    1. Aix-en-Provence, France and Cassis, France
    Two gorgeous cities in the south of France. Cassis is right on the Mediterranean and Aix is a little inland, but both have beautiful weather and the sunlight just seems to bask them in a golden glow. They’re surrounded by picturesque vinyards and the cities themselves are mostly old buildings with little overtly modern architecture (like, CENTURIES old buildings…I stayed in a 15th or 16th century villa while there).

    2. Romania
    While the cities I saw tended to be the old Soviet communist block architecture, the churches and countryside were downright gorgeous.

    3. Great Wall of China
    I was blown away by how beautiful the wall and its surrounding countryside are in person. No picture or VR could ever come close to approximating the rush of walking on the uneven and worn stones.

  2. For me –
    1. Masada at Sun Rise
    Watching the Sun rise over the Jordanian mountains from the top of Masada. This, after climbing Masada around 5:00 AM to see the spectacle. The sun rose like an golden ball over black hills and lit the Dead Sea which reflected its radiance.

    2. The Grand Canyon
    Not sure it was so beautiful as it was terrifying! The sheer depth and thought of falling were both scary and spectacular at the same time.

    3. Hierapolis (Pamukalle), Turkey
    The amazing show white rock form pools that hold flowing hot water from springs beneath the ground. The whole mountainside looks like white cotton candy castles (and thus the name Pamukkale). The blue is of the clearest and brightest blue I’ve ever seen. Once can sit in the rocky pools of hot springs and gaze out across the valley to ancient cities and roads. A spectacular and relaxing adventure.

  3. I’ve made it a priority of mine to make it to as many National Parks as I can, so I think most of these will be from NP’s.

    1. Grand Canyon. The sheer size of this natural area boggles the mind, even when standing on the edge. When you’re there it looks like a movie backdrop!

    2. Haleakela National Park. This is such a unique place, and was another that just took my breath away, and looked fake. The surfaces there look like another planet. The colors and shapes are beautiful.

    3. Yosemite National Park. We arrived into the canyon in the evening, so when we awoke the next morning and stepped outside I was in awe. The sheer size of the rock faces surrounding us just took my breath away.

    Honorable mentions, Rocky Mountain NP, Banff NP, Bryce NP, Masai Mara and Serengeti.

    On my “really want to see list”: Petra, The Pyramids, Great Wall of China, and New Zealand.

  4. +1 to Yosemite. The valley, the road through the park, so many vistas. the climbers like ants on El Cap. the dragonflies filling the meadow.

    Mt St Helens – the power of destruction.

    Niagara Falls. I lived in Buffalo, and was sort of blase about the falls cause they were in my backyard. I was wrong. When I came back after living away, the majesty hit.

    Might i add, driving into NYC, the skyline, getting shivers just thinking about it….Nothing like NYC.

  5. I also think narrowing to three would take more thought than I have time for today! I’ll just throw out a handful, some of which have already been mentioned…
    – New Zealand: Is it cheating to list an entire country? From top to bottom, this country is pure beauty, serenity, color, and awe. The lakes, the rolling hills, the mountains, the beaches…New Zealand has it all. I could do an entire blog entry on the Top 10 Scenic experiences in New Zealand.
    – +1 to the Grand Canyon! Every time I stand at it’s edge, I’m reminded of how vast this natural phenomenon is. Even though I know this cognitively, I’m taken aback by it and seem to forget or minimize the magnitude in my head.
    – Big Sur, CA: It’s the pinnacle of highway 1. The drastic cliffs, the serene coastline, the waterfalls, and the trees. It’s like someone dropped paradise in SoCal.
    – For that matter, I’d add California’s Lost Coast too…so beautiful and unspoiled for being California!
    – Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia: moose, great hiking, quaint towns, rugged coastline with whales, etc
    – The ocean view from Jockey’s Ridge State Park, Nags Head, NC: standing atop the sand dunes at sunset, you’re sure to get a light breeze and a panorama of the outer banks.
    – Two for Sydney, Australia: The Bondi to Coogee beach/cliff walk and the view from atop the Blue Mountains about an hour outside Sydney
    – I’d give a +1 for Bryce Canyon as well!
    I could go on…everyone has inspired me to plan another trip!

  6. – Great Pyramid of Giza: The pyramid was closed to visitors while I was visiting Cairo but due to some connections, my friend and I were allowed to enter and visit the pyramid by ourselves. There is no way to appropriately describe the feeling of enter the pyramid through a dusty tunnel and emerging in the Grand Gallery leading to the King’s Chamber. Took my breath away and without a horde of tourists with us, we were able to just sit in silence for minutes just taking in the experience and admire this feat of engineering built thousand of years ago.

    – Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque: Perhaps the place that most exceeded my expectations. My parents took my siblings and I to visit the largest mosque in the UAE and the craftsmanship was absolutely stunning. From all the gold and inlaid marble deatails to the enormous Swarovski-crystal chandeliers, it really is something to see for anyone around Abu Dhabi.

    – Rocky Moutains: Until about a decade ago, I had never really been out West so when I attended a conference in Denver, my friends and I decided to take a extra day to go see and hike in the Rockies. Definitely the most beautiful natural place I’ve been and really made me want to go visit many more National Parks around the country.

  7. I’m not as traveled as some of you, but top of my list is Glacier NP – as if that’s not enough – there’s a little lake in West Glacier called Lake 5. It’s hot-spring fed, so you can swim in it. Absolutely spectacular, pure splendor.

    Second is most of CA. As much as people complain – if they’d just look around at what they’re driving through rather than yell at the driver ahead of them – I’ve tried to think of places I’d rather live, and I can’t. (I’m smack in the middle of Silicon Valley)

    Third – although not a fan of the state in general – is Fayetteville, NC when the dogwood trees are in bloom. I sure wish dogwood grew in my area. Twisted branches; glorious blossoms.

    On the bucket list is to go see the Northern Lights. I know my husband would love it.

    I’m cool without seeing the pyramids or the great wall. I’m sure they’re spectacular as well, but I’ve no interest in going to Egypt or China.

  8. Jamey,

    Fortunately, as an Air Force officer who has lived overseas, coupled with my passion for traveling (26 countries and 37 States), I’ve seen many beautiful places, but if I had to pick three…

    1. Sistine Chapel, The Vatican ~ I’ve never seen such beautiful art in my life, and the quiet experienced despite the dozens of people moving through this residence-cum-museum

    2. Red Square, Moscow ~ as a Russian speaker and former Soviet/Russian Studies major, it was quite surreal to stand there facing Lenin’s Tomb, St Basil’s Cathedral, and the Kremlin

    3. Niagara Falls ~ I had the chance, during the same visit to view this beautiful location from both the U.S. side and then pay the .50 to visit the Canadian side, as well.

    • Joe: Thank you for those recommendations! Your comment made me realize that I’ve never been to any of the world’s huge waterfalls–I definitely need to experience one in person.


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