They say beauty is subjective, but for these gorgeous locations, we’re not so sure.
Travel operator Big 7 Travel drew data from Instagram likes, reader suggestions and ‘most beautiful places in the world’ pins on Pinterest to rank Earth’s premier beauty spots, spanning the snow-capped peaks of Canada to the marine marvels of the Pacific. Here are their top picks.
1. Torres del Paine National Park – Chile
Jagged mountain ridges, dense, primeval forests, pristine alpine lakes and a giant, glistening glacier: Torres del Paine contains more diverse ecosystems than some countries, let alone national parks. The pride of Patagonia, it’s been a UNESCO reserve since 1978 and dwarfs wide-eyed visitors with its awesome spectacle and scale.
2. The Faroe Islands
A windswept archipelago between Scotland and Iceland, the Faroe Islands come equipped with a bare, brutal beauty, and an extremely adorable population of puffins. The matchbox houses have grass-topped roofs and pastel paint jobs, while the famously stoic inhabitants trace their lineage to the Vikings. Fjords, fells, and little fishing boats – it’s all extremely Scandinavian.
3. Grand Teton National Park – Wyoming
Forget Yellowstone and Yosemite, and forget the Grand Canyon: Grand Teton is the unsung hero of the American National Parks Service, a sprawling patchwork of peaks, plateaus and ravines. Moose, elk and grizzlies roam the ragged rocks, ignoring the occasional groups of tourists shepherded by bear-spray wielding guides.
Read more: Top five most underrated US parks
4. Li River – China
Grazing water buffalo, bamboo groves, and villages propped up on stilts, the basin of the Li River hosts the sorts of scenes that charmed Chinese painters and printmakers in ages gone by. Today, it’s just as beguiling as ever, winding between peaks, flooded fields, and the occasional ancient shrine.
5. Lake Bled – Slovenia
We wonder how many people have had Lake Bled as their screensaver without ever knowing where it was. Picturesque barely begins to describe this much-lauded beauty spot, with its white-walled church perched atop a tiny islet in the heart of the water, surrounded by pine-covered peaks. The fairytale photos make the lake Slovenia’s most sought-after resort, and it is particularly popular with honeymooners.
6. Great Barrier Reef – Australia
A shoo-in on ‘best of’ lists across the natural world, the Great Barrier Reef is as dazzling as it is endangered. Though still packed with technicolour corals, sparkling seascapes, and a mind-boggling array of marine life, mass bleaching events have caused untold damage on the reef in recent years. We hope we can still list it in a few years’ time.
7. Banff National Park – Canada
Visiting Banff, Canada’s first and most famous national park, is like entering the land of the giants. Massive mountains, gargantuan glaciers, and all-round sprawling scenery: size does sometimes matter, the park’s scale is simply jaw-dropping.
8. Palawan – Philippines
A sun and sand paradise of the sort normally found on postcards, this Southeast Asian island has gone from hidden gem to bucket staple in the past few years, thanks to its sheltered beaches, remarkable rock formations, and exotic flora and fauna.
Have you visited any of these places? Where would be your number one?
– With PA
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