15 Natural Wonders That Should Be on Your Bucket List

Experience UNESCO World Heritage sites and awe-inspiring sights on an adventure to remember.

U.S. News & World Report

15 Natural Wonders That Should Be on Your Bucket List

Asian woman scuba diving in tropical reef.
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Explore the Earth's most captivating and hard-to-reach natural splendors.

While humankind can take credit for world-class art and modern buildings that serve as archaeological masterpieces, it's hard to compete with the beautiful structures and environments created by Mother Nature herself. From rock formations carved with wind and rain for thousands of years to soaring mountains, carefully crafted waterfalls and illuminated skies, the world has created some beautiful and inspiring splendors out of nothing more than air, water and sand. Here are 15 must-see natural wonders the world over.
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Aurora Borealis

Norway; Finland; Sweden; Iceland; Canada

Aurora borealis, also known as the northern lights, is a scenic wonder that can only be viewed from certain regions of the world. The glow it creates illuminates the night sky with a sea of greenish-blue, striking awe and wonder in all who experience it. You can see the northern lights in various locations from Norway to Finland, Sweden, Iceland and areas across Canada.
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Explore the Earth's most captivating and hard-to-reach natural splendors.

While humankind can take credit for world-class art and modern buildings that serve as archaeological masterpieces, it's hard to compete with the beautiful structures and environments created by Mother Nature herself. From rock formations carved with wind and rain for thousands of years to soaring mountains, carefully crafted waterfalls and illuminated skies, the world has created some beautiful and inspiring splendors out of nothing more than air, water and sand. Here are 15 must-see natural wonders the world over.

Aurora Borealis

Norway; Finland; Sweden; Iceland; Canada

Aurora borealis, also known as the northern lights, is a scenic wonder that can only be viewed from certain regions of the world. The glow it creates illuminates the night sky with a sea of greenish-blue, striking awe and wonder in all who experience it. You can see the northern lights in various locations from Norway to Finland, Sweden, Iceland and areas across Canada.

Ayers Rock

Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, Australia

Ayers Rock, located in Australia's Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, is a giant rock that stands more than 986 feet high. But look closer, and you'll see much more. Not only is it huge and looming over the Australian landscape for miles, but it's also considered a spiritual site for some of Australia's indigenous people.

Banff National Park

Banff, Canada

Yes, Banff National Park is a natural wonder on its own. Set in the Canadian Rockies, Banff invites you to see some of the world's most breathtaking mountain peaks and captivating wildlife. What's more, with the diverse park covering more than 4,000 square miles, Banff offers superior sightseeing, hiking, whitewater rafting and canoeing.

Cliffs of Moher

County Clare, Ireland

There's nothing like seeing the end of the world, yet that's exactly what you'll appear to find at the Cliffs of Moher in Ireland. Perched on the verge of the Atlantic Ocean, these cliffs end abruptly, creating a vast stretch of green peaks. And these cliffs don't just attract tourists, either. They also attract a fun world of wildlife that keeps families coming back for more.

Geirangerfjord and Nærøyfjord

Norway

The Norwegian fjords are well-known for their beauty, but the Geirangerfjord and Nærøyfjord fjords are two can't-miss sites every world traveler should see at least once. Not only are they a few of the longest and deepest fjords in the world, but they offer sweeping views of the unbelievable scenery on each side. Opt for a boat tour down the mountain-lined waterways filled with waterfalls and wide-angled cliffs.

Grand Canyon National Park

Arizona

While pictures of the Grand Canyon reflect its vast grandeur, seeing it in person will give you an entirely different perspective. First, the park covers more than 1 million acres of land, with the canyon itself dominating around 277 miles. And thanks to the many parks and campgrounds nearby, you can easily turn this bucket-list destination into a cheap family getaway. Pitch a tent, fill a cooler and enjoy the great outdoors.

Great Barrier Reef

Australia

The Great Barrier Reef is one of the world's premier natural wonders. Comprising more than 3,000 individual reefs, the Great Barrier's reefs each offer a unique combination of marine life and coral. Arrive by boat to dive deep into a world of coral and marine life, before floating atop to see fascinating creatures swim by.

The Great Blue Hole

Belize

Visitors to Belize marvel at the Great Blue Hole, a giant, 410-foot hole below sea level with seemingly endless depths. Renowned as an amazing destination for scuba divers, adventure seekers show up in droves to explore the Great Blue Hole and get a taste of the deep sea. Inside, an array of interesting rock and coral formations, caverns and sea life await.

Lauterbrunnen Valley

Switzerland

Lauterbrunnen Valley is the stuff of dreams. Picture yourself in a steep ravine among the Swiss Alps, with delicate waterfalls cascading all around you, mountain peaks towering over you and rolling green hills filling in the scenery. Many visitors flock here simply to see Staubbach Falls, one of Europe's tallest waterfalls.

Mount Everest

Nepal and Tibet

Mount Everest – the world's tallest mountain – is a scenic and thrilling site to behold. Standing more than 29,000 feet tall, its peaks are often covered by clouds and sky, making it impossible to see the mountain in its entirety. But, if you do make the risky and extremely strenuous trek, the views from the top are spectacular.

Niagara Falls

Ontario, Canada and New York

While it may be a tourist trap, Niagara Falls is a gem of natural beauty. It's hard to take in the entire scene at the falls because it is so incredibly wide and vast; it's nearly 176 feet tall in some places and pushes through 150,000 gallons of water per second. Coming from either the U.S. or Canada, it's easy to turn this trip into a family getaway. With inexpensive hotels and plenty of restaurants and attractions, there is more than enough to do and see.

Pulpit Rock

Ryfylke, Norway

Giant rock formations are beautiful on their own, but it's hard to match the spectacular views from the top of the Pulpit Rock in Norway. Here, you'll find breathtaking vistas over Kjerag peak. Just keep in mind you won't find safety railings here, so it's best to visit once you're comfortable with heights. Better yet, for a worry-free experience, stick to the middle of Pulpit Rock.

Salar de Uyuni

Bolivia

As the world's largest salt lake, the Salar de Uyuni offers an otherworldly landscape. Formed through the joining of several prehistoric lakes, it is exceptionally flat. As such, it mimics the clouds and sky directly above, allowing visitors to create extraordinary poses that make them appear to walk on water. Stroll on the Salar de Uyuni during the day, and you might feel like you're walking on the sky – and in the the dark night, you can easily feel entombed by outer space.

Shilin Stone Forest

Yunnan Province, Kunming, China

The Shilin Stone Forest of China offers a strange combination of rock formations and greenery. Spread over a vast area in the Yunnan Province in China, the green space is filled with giant rocks that remind you of Stonehenge yet don't have any clear-cut formation or order. Archaeologists say that the rocks themselves are more than 270 million years old, however, they stand as firmly as they always have.

Table Mountain

Cape Town, South Africa

Table Mountain dominates the scenery surrounding Cape Town, South Africa. The flat-topped mountain's beauty is best experienced with a hike along the mountain itself or a cable car ride to the top. Add in a stint exploring the sites across Cape Town, and you'll have a blast.
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