50+ Beautiful Places to See Before You Die (2021 Update)

Published on:

Our world has a nearly endless supply of natural and manmade wonders that highlight its grandeur and beauty. From the pyramids of Giza to Disney World, Earth has so much to offer that it might be tough to choose which places to put on your travel bucket list.

Jump ahead to these sections:

To get started, begin your travels right where you are — in your own country. As you start checking items off your bucket list, move on to more locations around the world. Travel is just one way to live more fully and enjoy your time on earth. 

Here’s our list of the top places on earth to see before you die. Before you schedule that first flight and take off, remember to take a book or two. 

Places to See Before You Die in the US

America has so many places to see that you could spend a lifetime exploring them all! Here are just a few that should go on your must-see list.

1. Yellowstone National Park near Jackson Hole, Wyoming

From the majestic grandeur of Old Faithful to the colorful Grand Prismatic Spring, you’ll enter a world of enchantment the moment you step foot inside the park.

2. Great Smoky Mountains, Tennessee

This national park is a sight to behold, especially in autumn when the stunning natural foliage is at its peak. Fishing, horseback riding, and hiking await you there.

3. Mendenhall Glacier Caves, Alaska

These ice caves are a must-see before they melt away! To enjoy a complete out-of-this-world experience, you can either hike up the glacier or take a kayak to its western end.

4. Space Needle in Seattle, Washington

This observation tower boasts a grand, sweeping view of Seattle, endless glass windows, glass benches, and a glass rotating floor. You’ll feel like you’re floating in clouds over the city.   

5. Antelope Canyon near Page, Arizona

With tall, meandering walls that make it one of the most stunning rock formations ever, Antelope Canyon will sweep you away into a traveler’s paradise of whirling red-tinged sandstone. 

6. Niagara Falls, New York 

This natural phenomenon that spans two countries is worth seeing from up top or up close via the Maid of the Mist boat tour. Get even closer by signing up to visit the Cave of the Winds and view the year-round rainbow up close and personal. 

7. The Narrows, Utah

One of America’s narrowest gorges, this natural wonder doesn’t have a marked trail. If you want to hike along the bottom, plan on sinking your feet into the Virgin River. It’s an exciting trek for adventure seekers and bucket list accomplishers.

8. Arlington National Cemetery, Virginia

Serious. Somber. Reflective. Breathtaking. These are just a few words visitors use to describe the final resting place of many of America’s heroes. There, you can pay your respects to the people who dedicated themselves to the freedom of America and watch the emotionally charged Changing of the Guard ceremony.

9. Chinatown of San Francisco, California

From the moment you enter through the authentically designed Dragon’s Gate, you’ll find yourself in China without ever having to leave the country. 

10. Oneonta Gorge, Oregon

Walking through the moss-covered walls will feel like passing through a fairy tale. It’s a magical place with a variety of distinct animals and plants for nature lovers.  

11. Mount Rushmore, South Dakota

Walk along the Presidential Trail and you’ll be greeted with astounding views of nature and manmade icons. The carvings of four U.S. presidents rise up against the South Dakota sky and remind you of national history and the spirit of democracy. 

12. Walt Disney World at Bay Lake, Florida

For maximum feel-like-a-kid excitement, travel to the Magic Kingdom. Get caught up in the wild rides, the diverse cultures, and the best nostalgia opportunities possible in the gigantic amusement park. 

13. Fraunces Tavern on Broad Street, New York

Eat at the very place George Washington ate after the end of the Revolutionary War! This working tavern is a historical landmark with its own museum to showcase Revolutionary War history. 

14. Freedom Trail, Boston

Take a tour of the historical sites along the trail, including the Paul Revere House. Tour guides are dressed in 18th-century period clothing and will regale you with tales from the time period. 

15. Northern Lights in Fairbanks, Alaska

During the winter from mid-September to April, the Alaskan night sky comes alive with the magnificent northern lights. The mere sight of them will take your breath away.  

16. Santa Fe, New Mexico

It’s beckoning you with its heritage of traditional and modern art, history, and divine cuisine. Wake up to a glorious sunrise, then explore the city and the surrounding nature areas to your heart’s content. 

17. Pike Place Market, Washington

A foodie’s dream come true, this market has fishmongers, bakeries, restaurants, and of course, coffee shops. Be sure you don’t miss out on the flower and crafts stores with their amazing creations. 

18. French Quarter in New Orleans, Louisiana

A dynamic mix of French, Spanish and Southern traditions, the French Quarter invites you to marvel at its aesthetic architecture, numerous monuments, cobbled streets, and musical history. 

19. Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, Tennessee

For music lovers, the country's most famous stage should take priority. When you sink into those red velvety seats, you’ll be reminded of the musical history by artists like June Carter and Johnny Cash. 

20. Las Vegas Strip, Nevada

The biggest, brightest, and best that Las Vegas had to offer, the strip takes over 40 to 45 minutes to walk on foot. You could spend a lifetime exploring all it has to offer, with its night-time street performances and award-winning casinos.

ยป MORE: Take things one step at a time. Here is your post-loss checklist.

 

Places to See Outside of the US Before You Die 

If you’re ready to take your traveling game to the next level, it’s time to apply for a passport! Traveling the world will help you see life like never before.

21. Angkor Wat in Krong Siem Reap, Cambodia

Visit for the legendary temples, the monkeys, or the stalls of brightly colored handmade items for sale. You’ll never forget a trip to the rainforest of Angkor Wat.

22. The Great Blue Hole, Belize

The world’s largest sinkhole hides unexplored treasures for divers and casual swimmers. The mere sight of it will leave you in awe.

23. Old Bagan in the Mandalay Region, Myanmar

A mystical city, Old Bagan stands on a green plain with artfully crafted temples rising up to the sky. 

24. Taj Mahal in Agra, India

This white, marble-domed structure stands as a testament to the history of the Mughal era. Shah Jahan had it built for his wife, Mumtaz Mahal, who died in childbirth.  

25. Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia

This is the largest salt flat desert in the world. Its mirror-like surface is breathtaking yet surreal. You’ll feel like you're walking in the sky because of its reflection on the surface.   

26. Venice, Italy

What could be more romantic than a gondola ride in Venice? The art, culture, architecture, and gondolas have made it a must-see city. 

27. Santorini near the Aegean Sea, Greece 

Go to Santorini to indulge in its colorful beaches, outstanding wineries, and Oia, a town with striking blue domes and sublime sunsets.

28. Himalayas, Nepal 

Challenging for even experienced hikers, the Himalayans call out the adventure seeker in you. If you want to visit in a more relaxed setting, there are plenty of resorts to enjoy. 

29. Petra, Jordan

The stunning red city carved into rock walls will transport you to ancient times when the city was bustling and alive. Be sure to beat the crowd and catch a glimpse of the stunning sunrise. 

30. Zhangye National Geopark in Gansu, China

Explore rainbow-colored mountains and bright red ridges in China. The ever-changing colors of the landscape at sunset and sunrise are extraordinary.  

31. Old Town Bratislava, Slovakia

From the UFO Bridge, Bratislava Castle, and Old Town Hall to the dollhouse-looking Blue Church, Old Town is overflowing with the hidden gems of Slovakia. 

32. Aurora Australis, Antarctica 

You don’t need to travel to the Arctic to gaze at the marvel of auroras if you’re in the southern hemisphere. Just head to Antarctica to see Aurora Australis in all its glory.  

33. La Tomatina Festival in Buñol, Spain

Ever wanted to see a gigantic food fight? This festival where people throw tomatoes at each other may be just the thing to set your inner child loose.

34. Lençóis Maranhenses, Brazil

Drop by this photogenic beach with clear blue waters and white sand dunes. There’s no place like it on earth. 

35. Pyramids of Giza, Egypt

One of the seven ancient wonders of the world, the pyramids’ origins are riddled with mystery. Bring a guidebook with you and be sure you don’t get lost as you wander around the unmarked tombs. 

36. The Great Barrier Reef, Queensland, Australia

A reef so big that it can be seen from space, this natural wonder is home to magnificent underwater life. Divers the world over travel here to catch a glimpse of the scenery below the surface. 

37. Machu Picchu, Peru

Perched atop the Andes Mountains, this city is a restored Inca site brimming with history. Hike to the top to catch a fantastic view of the surrounding scenery. 

38. Cappadocia, Turkey

Watch a splendid sunrise enhanced by fairy chimneys (tall rocks) as the sky fills with hot air balloons. Hire one to give you a ride for an extra thrill. 

39. Perito Moreno Glacier in Patagonia, Argentina

Despite being one of the oldest glaciers on earth, it's still growing rather than melting, and trekking across it makes for a grand adventure of a lifetime.  

40. Jellyfish Lake on Eli Malik, Palau

Fulfill your dreams and swim among millions of harmless jellyfish in Jellyfish Lake. You can touch this special species of jellyfish without getting hurt!

41. Waitomo Glowworm Caves, New Zealand

Take a boat ride to experience the magic of glowworms in New Zealand. They create a galaxy above you on the dark cave walls with their shimmering lights. This is a must-see display. 

42. The Edinburgh Castle, Scotland

Forget Game of Thrones. Visit Scotland and walk through an actual castle, learn about life in the times of Scottish nobility, and stand in awe of the phenomenal sights from the top of the castle. 

43. Goðafoss, Iceland

A true gem, this stunning waterfall is definitely bucket list-worthy. Visit at the right time of year and the view of the Northern Lights above Goðafoss will take your breath away.  

44. Naica Mine, Chihuahua, Mexico

These caves are otherworldly and enchanting. The giant sword-like gypsum crystals have given it the nickname, “Cave of the Swords.” This is one place too stunning to pass up.

45. Dark Hedges, Northern Ireland

Walk down an enchanting tree-lined lane started in the 1800s. The ancient trees are hauntingly beautiful and definitely worth a visit.

46. Mount Fuji near Tokyo, Japan

Gaze at the cherry blossoms of Japan amid the serene backdrop of Mount Fuji. The sight alone will mesmerize you.  

47. Paro Taktsang in Paro Valley, Bhutan

The trails leading to Tiger’s Nest Monastery will leave you in awe of the surrounding photographic scenery. Reaching the monastery is an accomplishment of a lifetime.  

48. Provence, France

Home to the finest lavender fields in the world, Provence is a must-visit place with its scenic stone buildings, pink salt marshes, and Roman ruins. 

49. Kizhi near Lake Onega, Russia

With its classic onion-shaped domes and octagonal bell towers, these centuries-old churches built without nails sit among meadows and winding waterways. 

50. Easter Island, Chile

This is a place of mystery and unbelievable beauty, slightly reminiscent of Stonehenge. No one knows how the giant statues got there or why they were constructed on the island.

Make Memories, Not Just a List

Making yourself a list is only the first step! Now, plan your journey and travel far and wide. Get on a plane, go for a drive, or take a train to dive headlong into your next adventure.

Looking for more? Check out our lists of books to read before you die and countries to visit before you die.

Icons sourced from FlatIcon.