As we continue to stay at home during the COVID-19 pandemic, we're more inspired than ever to use our vacation days once it's safe to travel again. While there are some vibrant metropolises and beach towns that often make our annual vacation list, the world is full of magical places that offer unique, jaw-dropping scenery. To help you plan your next dream getaway, or simply provide a pretty photo break, here are the 10 most striking landscapes in the world.
A fjord is a long, narrow inlet with steep sides created by a glacier. They're found throughout the world, including in New Zealand, Alaska and Chile, but some of the most extensive and breathtaking are the fjords located in Norway. The Norwegian fjords are one of the country's biggest draws, and they can be explored via hiking trails, on boat cruises, or from above in a helicopter. The Sognefjord is Norway's longest and deepest fjord, measuring 127 miles inland and nearly 4,300 feet deep, with surrounding mountains soaring 6,500 feet high. The Geirangerfjord and Nærøyfjord have both been included on the UNESCO World Heritage List. While you probably can't see all 1,190 fjords in Norway, travel companies have tours that showcase the most popular.
In the Maldives, the view of crystal-clear water filled with sea life from a luxury overwater bungalow is a knockout, but it's not the island nation's best vista. That superlative belongs to the stunning scene visible when travelers are in a sea plane heading to their resort, overlooking the atolls - ring-shaped coral reefs that encircle lagoons. There are 26 atolls making up the Maldives, including Ari Atoll, home to five-star resort Constance Moofushi, and North Male Atoll, where the stellar Gili Lankanfushi resort is located. Although pricier than a speedboat transfer, the view from the sea plane is worth it alone.
Uyuni Salt Flats, Bolivia
You've probably seen of a photo of Bolivia's Uyuni Salt Flats on Instagram, which at certain times acts as a mirror due to nearby lakes overflowing and leaving a thin layer of water that provides a reflection of the sky. Situated in the Andes and measuring 4,086 squares miles, it's the world's largest salt flat, and it was created from a prehistoric lake that went dry and left behind a thick crust of salt. Although the salt flat is still a worthwhile sight when dry, it's worth visiting in the rainy season - December through April - to secure the magical mirror effect.
Giant's Causeway, Northern Ireland
Situated along the north coast of Northern Ireland, Giant's Causeway is a mesmerizing collection of 40,000 massive black basalt columns - most hexagonal-shaped - that stick out of the sea. It was created by volcanic activity some 50-60 million years ago, and was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1986. However, legend has it that it was actually formed when there was a fight between Irish giant Fionn mac Cumhaill (Finn McCool) and Scottish giant Benandonner - hence the landmark's name. Regardless, it's a gorgeous sight that can be climbed.
Ha Long Bay, Vietnam