Where are some of the most beautiful places you’ve been?
I’m talking about take your breath away, jaw dropping destinations.
I’m inspired to write about some of my “most beautiful places” thanks to Travis and Jason from Location Indie.
Travis has his own Extra Pack of Peanuts website and podcast.
Jason has Zero to Travel.
Together they have Location Indie.
Anyway they dedicated a few episodes of these 3 podcasts to beautiful places they’ve been and beautiful places they would like to go.
As I listened to some of the gorgeous destinations they’ve visited, I thought to myself, “What places are on my list?”
So here are the most beautiful places I’ve been.
Oh and a note: this is the international edition. I’ll do an American only edition around Thanksgiving.
Dingle Peninsula Ireland
One of my first Wow! moments came as I drove the Dingle Peninsula in County Kerry, Ireland.
It was a typical Irish day with overcast skies and some mist here and there.
But the scenery and the views blew me away.
I was wowed by Slea Head, the color of the water, the views to the islands, the interior mountains, the rugged cliffs and the little sandy beaches.
Not to mention all the shades of green.
It was mid to late September so there were only a few other cars making the drive which made it even more magical.
It’s a place I recommend to all my clients going to Ireland.
And a destination I long to visit again.
Cinque Terre Italy
Italy has so many beautiful places.
But the Cinque Terre along the Ligurian coast is definitely one of the most picturesque spots in the boot.
I remember taking the train up to Vernazza — one of the villages — where I was staying.
I looked out the window of the train and could see the sun shimmering off the sea and my breath caught.
The next morning as I walked from Vernazza to Corniglia then on to Manarola and Riomaggiore I was stunned by the beauty of this area.
These colorful towns — surrounded by terraced vineyards and lemon groves — are perilously clinging to the cliffs.
They look as though they could slide into the sea at any moment.
And while they are being loved a bit too much, I do believe that curtailing visitors is the right thing to do as these towns with their natural beauty and their cultural traditions need to be preserved.
It’s as dreamy as the pictures you see.
The bluest water.
The whitest buildings.
And the dazzling views.
The Greek Island of Santorini is the Glamour Girl and rightly so.
I arrived on a short flight from Athens at sunrise.
As the fog burned off my eyes grew wide and my heart skipped a beat.
This has always been a “dream” destination for me.
And I was here.
Santorini was as drop dead gorgeous as I thought it would be — maybe even more so.
I’d go here again and again if I could.
One of the most beautiful places in the world.
Northern County Donegal Ireland
In case you haven’t heard I recently took a trip to County Donegal, Ireland.
You may have read about this.
I spent most of my time way up in the northern part of this county in a town called Dunfanaghy.
And I loved it.
I was bowled over by the rugged beauty of this area.
Rocky coastline, soaring mountains, sandy beaches, green fields dotted with sheep (it’s Ireland).
Add in some wonderful lighthouses, lakes and streams, a few stately castles and views across the Atlantic to die for and I’m right at home.
Northern Donegal really took me by surprise.
I had heard it was stunning but it was really beyond stunning.
Mind officially blown.
Val d’Orcia Tuscany Italy
The first time I truly saw the Val d’Orcia was on my third trip to Italy and my second trip to Tuscany.
I was staying in Montepulciano and was driving around the countryside to different towns.
And while I thought it would be more about the towns for me, I was floored by the natural beauty of the Tuscan countryside — in particular the UNESCO Val d’Orcia which is just a bit southwest of Montepulciano.
Now I knew I would think the countryside was pretty amazing.
But I didn’t realize just how sublime it would be.
I remember trying to find places to pull off the road so I could take photos.
Then I realized the lighting was all wrong and that I should have been here in the morning and not the afternoon.
But I didn’t care.
I just wanted to relish in the beauty of this mesmerizing landscape with its rolling hills, soft mountains and towns perched on the hilltops.
When I returned to the area 2 years later, I made sure I spent enough time in the Val d’Orcia — and that I got out at the right time of day to capture some fabulous images.
And while it is another place that sees a lot of tourism, it deserves it.
The good thing about it is that there are some wonderful places to hide from the crowds.
Rannoch Moor Scotland
The West Highland Way cuts right through this starkly beautiful moor.
And it was one of my favorite parts of this walk.
It’s a bit desolate here.
But I think that adds to the beauty.
While it was too early in spring for the heather to be in bloom, I still found it stunning.
I can only imagine what it’s like when everything is blooming.
And you don’t have to walk the entire length of the West Highland Way to enjoy this.
You can park in Inveroran and take a walk up through it and back in a day hike.
But this is one place where you can’t drive and see it — you definitely have to walk the trail.
So worth it!
Notre Dame Cathedral Paris
The first time I walked into this magnificent Gothic cathedral this fallen Catholic girl cried.
I could hear my high school World History teacher, Miss Mueller, talking about the flying buttresses and the rose window.
And here I was all these years later inside this great architectural masterpiece that I had dreamed of seeing.
I was overcome with emotion.
It is truly a splendid work of art.
And while I’ve seen some other impressive churches and cathedrals that are just as beautiful, there’s just nothing like your first.
I remember looking at my friend Deb as we took the little boat across the Aegean Sea to Karia Bel Hotel just outside the village of Bozburun.
We both had our mouths and eyes wide open.
This place was stunning.
Neither one of us had seen a destination quite like this.
Mountain peaks just leading straight into the most gorgeous turquoise waters.
As we pulled up to the sundeck of the hotel we knew we had found an exceptional spot.
Bozburun and Karia Bel sit in a dazzling secluded cove.
You can see the Greek Island of Symi off in the distance.
And you simply feel like slowing down and doing nothing except soaking up the sun and gazing at the beauty that surrounds you.
So while this is one of my most beautiful places in the world, it’s also one of the most peaceful places.
Swiss Alps of Grindelwald area
There’s nothing more beautiful to me than a grand, rugged, stunning mountain range with a picturesque mountain village sitting in a valley.
And Grindelwald — surrounded by the Bernese Alps including some of the big guys: Jungfrau, Mönch and the very famous Eiger — fits this description to a T!
Breath taking? Yup.
Jaw dropping? Check.
Heart skipping a beat? You betcha.
This mountain range and quaint alpine village are stunning.
And my short time there just makes me long to go back.
It’s truly one of the most beautiful places on the planet.
Kind of like the Dingle Peninsula this area of Ireland has a big wow factor for me.
But kind of like Rannoch Moor in Scotland, the wow may not be as in your face as the Swiss Alps.
Connemara is an area of Ireland that is in County Galway and creeps into southern County Mayo.
It’s not a fertile area so not much grows here outside of heather.
There are mountains — the 12 Bens — lakes, peaty bogland and some streams.
It can at times feel desolate and lonely.
But for me it is so representative of Ireland and its people.
It speaks of the Great Famine and all the Irish endured.
And their heart.
It’s starkly beautiful.
I encourage all of my travel clients to spend some time here.
And I’ve been here on 4 out of my 5 trips to Ireland.
I can’t wait to go back yet again.
While I think the Isle of Skye is dazzling, nothing compares to the beauty of the Northwest of Scotland.
This is the area with the famous drive — the North Coast 500.
Northwest of Inverness, this area does take some time getting to.
But as with most things that take effort, it is so worth it.
I only took in part of this area around Gairloch and just a bit north of Ullapool.
But what I saw is etched in my memory.
Lakes and streams.
So much drop dead gorgeous scenery in just the wee area I explored.
I cannot wait to get back to discover more.
It is absolutely magnificent.
Alpe di Suisi Italy
If I had to put these most beautiful places in order this might be my number 1.
I’ll never forget making the drive on my first trip here.
It took my breath away as I first gazed upon this gorgeous valley and the pink-hued Dolomite peaks.
I don’t think I took a breath for a what seemed like forever.
I was completely stunned and awed by the natural beauty of the green valley, the rugged Schlern and the other Dolomite mountains surrounding the valley.
Then there were these cool looking onion-domed churches and half-timbered houses.
I was ready to stay for the rest of my life.
The Dolomites of northern Italy were a bucket list destination for me and here I was — mountain heaven.
As I returned on that second trip I wondered if this area would take my breath away again.
So I know this is one of the most beautiful places in the world for me.
To this day it is the one place I dream of when I am having a bad day.
I look at all the images of the Alpe di Siusi and the town of Castelrotto and I get that feeling in the pit of my stomach.
It’s the one destination I plan to go back to again and again.
So there’s the 12 most beautiful places I’ve been in the world.
I’d put some honorable mentions in there like the Aya Sofya in Istanbul, the Italian city of Florence and Patara Beach near Gelemis in Turkey.
They say that “beauty is in the eye of the beholder.”
So while these are my most beautiful places in the world, they might not be places that you find beautiful.
I’d love to know what some of your most beautiful places are.
Feel free to drop a comment just below — or send me an email.