It only takes one viewing of BBC's Planet Earth or a quick scan through National Geographic (or if we're lucky, a glimpse out the window) to realize just how beautiful our world is. And if you're like us, your travel bucket list is overwhelming. Since we only have so much time to travel and explore, we decided to curate a list of destinations to see in your lifetime if you're awed by vibrant colors, kaleidoscopic patterns, panoramic vistas, and pretty much anything that's visually delightful. Whether you're looking for a little inspiration to fuel you through the day, or you need some motivation and direction to finally start planning a trip, we compiled the most beautiful places to visit around the world in a lifetime.
This virtual tour of 13 places to visit is globe-trotting at its prettiest. Prepare to be dazzled.
Lençóis Maranhenses, Brazil
This gorgeous birds'-eye shot of Lençóis Marangenses looks more like an abstract painting than a natural landscape. It's a national park in Maranhao, Brazil, where you'll see sweeping white sand dunes punctuated by vivid blue rainwater lagoons.
Point Reyes, California
This scene looks like it was plucked out of a fairy tale. You'd never guess that this beautiful seaside town canopied in trees is just an hour and a half outside of San Francisco. With winding roads, rolling hills, and bay views (it also happens to be a national park), Point Reyes, California is a quaint, one-of-a-kind gem that feels untouched by time.
Axamer Lizum, Switzerland
I can't be the only one who just starting singing "There Is a Castle on a Cloud," from the Les Misérables soundtrack. Never have I ever wanted to jump through the screen as badly as I do right now. If only we could land on those fluffy, dream-like clouds. Located in the tiny town of Axamer Lizum, Austria, you'll find world-renowned slopes, breathtaking views, and peaceful lakes.
Thirteen thousand miles long and dating back to the third century B.C., the Great Wall of China is a must-see for history buffs, adventure seekers, and everyone in between. The most visited part of the Great Wall is just northwest of Beijing.
Fire State Park, Nevada
Dubbed the Fire Wave, this Nevada state park is one that nature lovers shouldn't miss. Standing here will make you like your Dr. Suess dreams are coming to life, only better.
St. Petersburg, Russia
Some people prefer to feast their eyes on beautiful architecture than sweeping mountains and sprawling oceans. If that's the case, go to St. Petersburg, where whimsy and opulence rule. The 18th-century architecture is rich in color and intricate details.
This remote cluster of islands in the Philippines is a mecca of turquoise lagoons, soft pink sand, and majestic sky-high cliffs. Go diving to see haunting WWII shipwrecks or swim in the quiet, peaceful caves.
Río Lagartos, Mexico
Bubblegum-pink water runs through the mounds of white salt and comes right up against iridesent turquoise water for a striking visual contrast. You'll almost feel like you've landed on another planet when you go to this river in Yucatan, México. The vibrant color comes from micro-algae. The nearby fishing town is just as colorful, with cheerfully painted buildings in every direction.
Iceland is worth visiting for so many reasons, but the biggest draw is arguably the natural wonders and views in every direction. If you love nature, adventure, and simple beauty, this country should be high up on your travel bucket list. Case in point? This beyond-beautiful waterfall in a cave in western Iceland.
Wander around the charming medieval streets in Chefchaouen, a Moroccan seaside town awash in periwinkle paint and colorful hanging pots. It's one of those places you can roam around for hours, getting lost in all the gorgeous architecture and hidden details.
North Island, New Zealand
And now presenting, the grotto of all grottos: The glowworm cave of Waitomo is a romantic gem. Located on the North Island of New Zealand, this is the destination to head to if you want to feel like you are stepping into another magical dimension.
Lake Powell, Utah
Okay, sign us up. It only takes one look at Lake Powell to convince us we need to visit it at least once in our lifetimes. Serpentining its way through the Utah canyons, this reservoir on the Colorado River really looks like it's on another planet.
With a population of only 280, Saturnia, Tuscany, stands apart from all the Italian destinations on our bucket list. These aquamarine hot springs are striking from a birds'-eye view, but they offer more than just beauty. The thermal waters offer a ton of health benefits, so while you're not sipping the wine of the region and feasting on spaghetti, you can come bask here.
Laguna Colorada, Bolivia
The Andean Plateau defies borders, with parts of it falling within Bolivian territory and other others in Peru, Chile, and Argentina. It's a cluster of active volcanoes, a stretch of desert, and the Amazon rainforest. Given this rich symphony of climates and geo-activity, there are many gorgeous, saturated lakes and salt flats. Above is Laguna Colorada in Bolivia, where pink flamingos abound. ■
Up next, a traveler editor's guide to the top five must-see cities in Europe.