In our digitally-connected age, often the most powerful way to connect with a new environment is by putting your phone down and looking up (and out) at the wonders of the world. By disconnecting for a spell and visually engaging with your surroundings while traveling, you’ll elevate all of your senses. It turns out, the very best views found the world over go deeper than the visual–in fact, they partner with the rhythmic chanting of monks at a call to prayer and the scents of fragrant flora and dazzling fauna. A multi-sensory experience ensures these places will remain with you long after you return home, whether it’s a secluded island surrounded in solitude by the deepest azure blue or a bustling city that lights up at night. These views and settings will leave you inspired, awe-struck and forever changed. Here, the very best views in the world, how to experience them, where to find them, and why they’re worth traveling for.
Perched (and seemingly suspended) above the dramatic Masai Mara game reserve in Kenya sits the intimate and exceedingly luxurious Angama Mara. Spread out on one of the most dramatic stretches in the world, The North and South Camps comprise elegant, spacious tents, all with views that will leave you inspired and energized (although tent #7 might win out as a favorite).
Overlooking the iconic site of the Out of Africa film, this gem was literally built with the best views in mind. Just a short drive by Land Rover Defender, you can experience some of the best animal spotting and game drives in Africa, where you may even see The Big 5 on your first day. From the property’s dramatic position, take binoculars or try the telescope and you will see elephants gently grazing, prides of female lions sunbathing, and in the “Green Season,’” watch the power of nature come alive with fleeting storms that roll in slowly from the distance and depart leaving things cooled down and lush. In fact, the “Green Season” will grant you privileged access to some of the best animal sightings in the world, which explains why photographers flock to Angama Mara for the views and access to the natural world.
Pro tip: take in the Out of Africa views by hot air balloon and ‘forage’ for your lunch in the organic garden overlooking the valley below–best enjoyed with crisp rose in hand. Notably, Angama Mara hosts Sundowners at least once during your stay, where in a setting overlooking the picnic spot made famous by the Meryl Streep and Robert Redford film, you can enjoy a Pimm’s Cups as you unwind in camp chairs with cashmere blankets as the local Masai Men perform an amazing ritual dance, all light by tiki torches and candlelight.
Far removed from the stresses of daily life in a dazzling lagoon in French Polynesia sits The Brando, a luxurious and civilized private island with a smattering of elegantly appointed, exclusive villas.
Pictures don’t do it justice, but trust that the views here are some of the most dramatic and uncompromised in the world. Here, you are literally surrounded on all sides by some of the best preserved flora and fauna on the planet. The best part about The Brando is that you can choose how to soak in the views–be it with gin and tonic in hand watching the dramatic sunset or out snorkeling or paddleboarding in the clear Polynesian waters.
This is a place that’s hard to forget once you’ve been. It doesn’t hurt that a Michelin-starred chef whips up inspired cuisine with seafood plucked from the sea just hours before. All villas have private pools, but if you can, splurge and go for the 3-bedroom, the crown jewel of the property and the perfect setting for a celebration with intimacy and elegance.
Many words come to mind when describing the setting of the Six Senses Ninh Van Bay, but the most accurate would be ‘surreal’. The setting is unparalleled and otherworldly–a painting come to life–in one of the more isolated and visually stunning settings in the world.
Incomparable and understated luxury typify this Six Senses haven, where you can enjoy sweeping views of the East Vietnam sea and it’s lush hillsides. Take them in by boat, bike or private sunken pool (in your villa). Prepare for a trip that’s more seaworthy than airborne–you can only access this area by boat and you will immediately feel as though you’re slipping into seclusion during the journey to this property. The best way to take in all that this area has to offer is by candlelight dinner as you watch the sunset across the horizon.
Far less trafficked than the neighboring Seychelles, one of the most awe-inspiring settings in the world is the inimitable and utterly fabulous Alfajiri Villas on Diani Beach in the Kenyan Coast. Just a short flight from Nairobi lay 3 of the most luxurious and well-appointed villas the world over, each with their own charm. Privacy isn’t a privilege but assumed here, as the properties can be separated or booked together, but no matter how large your tour group, you’re in for one of the best views in the world.
The Cliff Villa’s master bedroom has, arguably, the best view on the property of the vast ocean expanse, but all properties are perched in a setting that will inspire. Everything at Alfajiri is built to put you at ease, including a daily massage in dedicated areas where you can feel the sea breeze come through as your troubles melt away. The food here is out of this world and includes fresh lobster, lumps of white crab meat salad and delicious, perfectly cooked Arrabiata pasta (owner Marika and her husband Fabrizio have expertly trained local chefs to prepare it perfectly).
Genteel, barefoot luxury reigns supreme here, where charming white coated butlers are on hand at all times to make your stay special. The perfect place for a honeymoon, family gathering or even group of friends, Alfajiri Villas’ position overlooking the Indian Ocean is as dramatic as it is an unconventional choice; this ‘in the know’ element is part of its breezy charm–it seems Brad and Angelina had the right idea when they chose this as their honeymoon destination.
Majestically woven into the mountainside near Paro, Bhutan, sits Taktsang Palphug Monastery. Equally dramatic as it is stunning, this Buddhist temple complex–commonly known as the Tiger’s Nest– is Bhutan’s most prominent landmark.
Reaching the monastery requires a 4-5 hour round trip hike, but the views are well-worth the early wake-up call and 1,700 foot elevation gain. The entire path is carpeted with colorful prayer flags, vibrant prayer wheels, and unobstructed views of the monastery. There’s no better time to visit than this upcoming October, when the long-awaited Six Senses Paro property will open its doors just 20 minutes from the trail entrance. Consisting of five resorts spread over Bhutan’s sweeping hills and valleys, the Paro property will ensure a spiritually enlightening stay and visit to Tiger’s Nest, while overlooking the Paro Valley.
Creating a sense of tranquility in a bustling city like Tokyo is no easy feat, but the Palace Hotel has accomplished exactly that and reigns as a temple of well-being. Located opposite the Imperial Palace Gardens, this Japanese gem offers an incomparable perspective on the city. Here, you get the best of both worlds–a property with an ideal location in the heart of Tokyo’s liveliness, and a serene home-base that feels far removed from this urban jungle’s (often infectiously) manic energy.
By day, the best views can be taken in from the Evian Spa, situated on the fifth floor and boasting floor-to-ceiling windows that lead to inspiring panoramic views. When the sun has set, a leisurely evening at the hotel’s sixth floor outdoor bar is the best way to take in the enchanting glimmer of Tokyo with an expertly mixed cocktail in hand.
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When seeking the best views in the world, Borobudur in Central Java, a 9th century UNESCO World Heritage Site, is must for bucket-list worthy sunrises. Enveloped by dense, emerald green jungles, the views from Borobudur–the largest Buddhist temple in the world–give way to vibrant skies that overlook the majestic Mount Merapi.
The temple itself is supremely otherworldly, a dramatically peculiar pyramid with 9 levels sculpted from grey volcanic stone, where Buddhist relics and illustrations paint an intimate portrait of this spiritual universe. The most mystical part of the sunrise experience is absorbing the view while listening to the monks complete their morning chants–this view is multi-sensory, transcendent, and deeply moving.
A spectacular hilltop locale exuding medieval charm, Taormina is Sicily’s seductive summer hotspot. The Greek and Roman influences on its history make this city one of Italy’s most picturesque locations–one that’s attracted the likes of Oscar Wilde, Woody Allen, and even Elizabeth Taylor.
An underrated view often overlooked for other Italian hotspots is that of Teatro Antico, where the crystalline waters of the Ionian Sea and the distant smoking cone of Italy’s most active volcano, Mount Etna, create a jaw dropping take on Taormina. The theater is still in use, often hosting festivals, concerts, and plays, which makes this vantage point even more culturally immersive. After an afternoon exploring this impressive archeological location, wandering the streets of Taormina is just as captivating as seeing it from above.
A visit to Jodhpur’s Blue City will leave you feeling anything but blue. A mesmerizing sea of cobalt, robin’s egg, cerulean and indigo abodes, this city is a photographer’s (or Instagrammer’s) paradise.
Perched on the precipice of the Thar Desert and aptly nicknamed the ‘Sun City’ for the amount of bright and sunny days each year, there is no viewpoint more guaranteed to dazzle than one that overlooks the color of Blue City, Jodhpur. While roaming the narrow alleys by foot is magical in itself, seeing the Blue City by hot-air balloon is a once in a lifetime experience. The stark surrounding landscape juxtaposed with the remarkable views of Jodhpurs grand forts and temples makes for a truly special view of this vivid city, and one of the best in the world.
It’s hard not to have a deep love affair with Aman on the whole, as each and every one of their properties exudes warmth, luxury and sophistication, always seamlessly syncing with their natural surroundings. Amanyara, set on the secluded turquoise Western coast of Turks and Caicos, is home to some of the best white-sand beaches in the world.
Whether taking in the view from their dazzling infinity pool, wading into the gentle lapping waves on their private stretch of coastline, or snorkeling in the colorful Caribbean reefs, Amanyara is special because views are enriched with the architecturally innovative creation of the property. Each and every villa at Amanyara offers a different view–our favorites include Villa 30’s stretch of rocky coastline and never-ending turquoise waters, and the cove and caves tucked behind room #124. However, some of the best views at Amanyara are taken in from the intimate window seats inside the bar, a perfect place to enjoy sundowners and watch the sun set over the azure blue pool and oceans beyond. And hey, close proximity to the bar itself is never a bad thing.
Made famous as the volcano that wreaked havoc across Iceland in 2010, this ice-capped behemoth is high on the list of best views in the world. Located in Southwest Iceland, adventure enthusiasts will find the surrounding Eyjafjallajokull area particularly exciting, as the majority of the terrain can only be explored by a 4×4.
Picture giant glaciers and incredible Icelandic views. The most epic way to witness the scale of the devastation and subsequent flourishing of life is via private helicopter. The valleys, waterfalls, and rivers seen from the sky add a memorable crescendo to this already unbelievable view.
Home to the most legendary mountainscapes in North America, the district of British Columbia, Canada contains incomparable natural beauty–including a portion of the Rocky Mountains. The peaks here glisten with snow, the river water runs transparent, and the wildlife is endlessly bountiful.
While there’s no shortage of Canadian National Parks, the Rocky Mountains provide one of the most quintessential and best views in the world. Clayoquot Wilderness Retreat, located on Vancouver Island and the Bedwell River, is the epitome of luxury in unison with nature. The property is enclosed riverside by lush forest, broad mountain ranges, families of black bears, and natural hot springs– and all visible from this special retreat.
California’s Big Sur–is there anywhere like it in the world? Roughly 90 miles of rugged coastline, dipping through valleys and cruising over seaside bridges, this stretch of the California coastline changes your very state of mind.
Lined with quaint harbor towns and bursting with unparalleled raw beauty, this classic voyage has ‘best American road trip’ written all over it. An oasis in the Redwoods, Ventana Big Sur provides ultimate peace and seclusion removed from Highway 101 in a rustic and romantic setting. Consisting of just 59 suites and 15 glamping tents, Ventana is the ideal launching point for hiking, whale-watching, and wine tasting your way through California for the ultimate Big Little Lies experience. Ventana Big Sur is alluringly understated, but its views are not–this is uneniably one of the best places to take in the natural beauty of the Pacific Coast.
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You’ve seen it in the movies–the iconic stretch of highway leading seemingly nowhere–marvelous red, sandstone formations rising sharply from the desert floor on each side of the deserted street. The wild landscape of Monument Valley, though seen plenty on late-night West World binges, must be seen to be believed.
The stark natural beauty of this landscape, while breathtaking in pictures, doesn’t cut it in a photo. While the difficult part is getting there, the divine Amangiri property is located just two hours west and some of the best views are best seen by car en route to and from the property. Using Amangiri as a base to explore all of Utah’s National Parks–Bryce, Moab, Canyon Point–ensures maximum luxury and ample time for exploration. Upon first sighting Monument Valley, it becomes clear why it’s ranked as one of the best views in the world. If time is on your side, head East from Amangiri for a stay at Dunton Hot Springs, an astonishingly remote cluster of luxurious cabins in a formerly a derelict mining town that has been carefully renovated and curated to a T.
Like a scene from Jurassic Park, the emerald green mountains (or as they’re known in St. Lucia, Pitons) tower over secluded, golden beaches, two prominent peaks dropped in the middle of the Caribbean Sea, offering unspoiled viewpoints over azure seas and vibrant jungles.
Far and away the most mesmerizing view on the island is from the Jade Mountain resort, as it not only offers guests astonishing unobstructed views of St. Lucia’s trademark mountains, but also 600 acres of exclusivity and privacy. The resort resembles a floating sanctuary, with buildings connected by bridges that seem to suspend effortlessly over abundant flora and fauna. If you’re looking for a view that’s nestled in a private cove, spend your nights at Sugar Beach, a Viceroy Resort, which has a more secluded vibe, and looks out on the Pitons and the island’s epic sunsets.
There is something magnetic about cities that come alive at night and Dubrovnik, while not an obvious first suggestion, is one of those. Gorgeous during the day as well, this hotspot, made unforgettable by its appearances on Game of Thrones, also boasts killer views.
When the sun dips down behind the Adriatic Sea and the moon shines above, the city unveils a whole new side of its personality. The moon reflecting off the calm waters of the Old Port give the harbor walls an iridescent glow, and despite the panoramic views the city offers during the day, this is the most beautiful time of a day spent in Dubrovnik. After a late night of midnight marveling, the best place to rest your head is Villa Dubrovnik. Overlooking the turquoise waters and nestled amongst orange and lemon groves, this boutique hotel is the most peaceful place to wake up after a night on the town–and their many terraces allow you to take in the old city’s stunning views.
It’s no surprise that Mustique makes the list for the world’s best views, but Pangolin is the very best of the best with unparalleled lookouts. Built high above the beaches, you have sweeping panoramic visual access to the stunning landscape–and the best breezes too.
The largest estate on Mustique in terms of acreage, Pangolin is a fully staffed, exceptionally luxurious villa that just underwent an incredible renovation–and offers the utmost in privacy and service. You won’t miss out on visiting the fabulous Cotton House, as any guests at Pangolin have access to the beach club there, a truly world class property, beach and view in its own right.
The epic and unfettered Salar de Uyuni plays host to some of the most awe-inspiring scenery on the planet. Where untouched wilderness provides beautiful views by day, at nightfall the stars light up the barren salt flats with unobstructed views of the sky so bright that you don’t even have to look up–the lack of light pollution creates views of the milky way. This is truly the best stargazing in the world. With a telescope you can even spot the Jewel Box–a constellation dazzling with majestic stars with several blue and red super giants, as well as Jupiter.
Not sure how to experience this epic view? Black Tomato created our bespoke ‘blink’ camp set up specifically to make the most of the dark skies in one of the most unfettered parts of the world, including the above.
This article originally appeared on Harper’s BAZAAR US.
- Alfajiri Villas
- Angama Mara
- Big Sur
- Bolivian Salt Flats
- Clayoquot Wilderness Retreat
- Monument Valley
- Palace Hotel
- Six Senses Ninh Van Bay
- St Lucia
- The Blue City in Jodphur
- The Brando
- The Tiger's Nest
- Travel Destinations