Where to Find the Most Picturesque Sunsets and Sunrises in the World
These are some of the most breathtaking views on earth
There’s no better way to start your day than rising early to catch the sunrise, seeing the first rays of light illuminate the sky. Equally magical is watching the sun disappear behind the horizon, the sky awash in vibrant shades of pink, red, orange and gold (perhaps with a cocktail in hand?). Here at Plum Guide, we know all there is to know about the best destinations to visit, including those special sunrise and sunset spots. So, fancy a sun-seeking adventure? From bustling cities and stark deserts, to dramatic coastlines and idyllic countryside, take a look at our list of where to see the best sunsets and sunrises in the world.
Tuscany is a region in central Italy, home to various beautiful landscapes including the Renaissance city of Florence, the rugged Apennine Mountains, and 230 kilometres of sparkling coastline. Its countryside is like something out of a painting - think gently rolling hills, winding roads bordered by cypress trees, picturesque fortresses, and medieval hilltop villages. At dawn, this landscape is even more magical with the golden light shining through the soft morning mist, illuminating the valleys.
It won't come as a surprise to many people to see the Maldives near the top of this list. This archipelago in the Indian Ocean is known for its clear blue waters and pristine beaches, which provide a remarkable backdrop for its vibrant sunrises and sunsets. Situated on the eastern edge of the Maldives, Alimatha Island is one of the best spots for sunrise. For a truly magical experience, take a kayak out on the calm waters and watch as the sun bathes the palm trees in a soft yellow light. At the end of the day, take to any of the west-facing beaches for mesmerising views of skies that come alive with colour.
Isle of Skye, Scottish Highlands, UK
Although the Isle of Skye typically has wet and cloudy weather, this can actually add to the experience, with striking cloud formations adding dramatic effect to the sunsets. If it’s not a complete washout, then the best place to go for sunset is Neist Point on the most westerly tip of the island, where you can enjoy an unforgettable backdrop of impressive coastline. Quiraing is another great spot to witness beautiful light bouncing off the crags and crevices of the landslip.
Ha Long Bay, Vietnam
Made up of over 1,000 towering, rainforest-covered limestone islands, Ha Long Bay is a spectacular sight and a must-visit while in Vietnam. The best time to experience this UNESCO Heritage site is at sunrise, when the soft, orange light illuminates the imposing peaks and emerald green waters. It’s so magical that even the most hardcore of sceptics may start to believe the legend of the dragon which descended from the heavens to create this other-worldly paradise.
Joshua Tree, USA
Joshua Tree is a special place offering the most spectacular desert sunsets and sunrises. There are countless places to see the sun wake up, but the Cholla Cactus Garden is undoubtedly one of our favourites - the fuzzy Cholla cacti appear to glow a fiery gold as the sun creeps up above the horizon. For sunset, Keys Views is not to be missed. You’ll have to hike for a bit, but the views of the national park, the surrounding mountains, and the Coachella Valley are completely worth it - we promise.
The Masai Mara, Kenya
Picture this: a herd of elephants silhouetted against an orange sky, the sun a large red ball dipping below the horizon. It sounds like a scene from The Lion King and to be honest, it's not far off. The sunsets on the Masai Mara are some of the most extraordinary on the planet, with an abundance of wildlife making the scenery even more special. Don’t forget to bring your camera, as the Masai Mara is known for having the best photographic light in the world.
The Catalan capital is a fantastic city to catch some beautiful sunrises. Park Güell, which happens to be a great spot for sunrise, is one of Barcelona’s most famous sites, so chances are you'll be planning to head there regardless of its affinity with the sun. With views over the entire city as well as the Mediterranean sea, enjoy watching the morning rays light up the park’s unique architecture and bizarre sculptures. Alternatively, take a short trek up the small mountain of Montjüic for 360° views of the city and the port.
Set in the heart of the Northern Territory’s ‘Red Centre’, Uluru has some of the most incredible sunsets and sunrises you’ve ever seen (hence why it ends up on just about every Australian photo calendar you’ve come across). As the light hits this majestic sandstone monolith, watch as the colours change right before your eyes, from dark rusty brown at sunrise to blood red at sunset. The rock is sacred to the Anangu people, so you’re not permitted to climb it. Instead, pick one of the five viewing areas to get the best angles.
Mount Bromo, Indonesia
Want to know where the most beautiful sunrise in the world is? Look no further than Mount Bromo on the island of Java. At 2,329 metres tall, this active volcano is one of the most iconic volcanoes in Indonesia. It sits inside a much larger crater, and is surrounded by a desert of volcanic sand. As those morning colours appear in the sky, the entire landscape is lit up in a golden light, resulting in an almost ethereal spectacle. For the best views, take a moderate hike up the nearby Mount Penanjakan (although you can also get there by jeep, too). This landscape truly feels like you’re on another planet.
New York, USA
Although a cosmopolitan city like New York might not be the first place that comes to mind when you think of scenic sunrises, you may be surprised at just how beautiful the light is at dawn and dusk. Stroll across Brooklyn Bridge to watch the sun go down over the iconic Manhattan skyline. For sunrise, head to Battery Park for views of the towering skyscrapers and the morning sun dancing on the water in the harbour. If you’re not afraid of heights, there’s always the Empire State Building or the Rockefeller Center, too.
If you’re wondering where in the world has the best sunsets, the Greek islands may well take the prize. Santorini in particular boasts some of the most breathtaking views, with the whitewashed village of Oia being one of the prime spots. If you’d rather escape the tourist crowds, head to the clifftop village of Imerovigli to see the sun sinking behind the island of Thirassia. You’ll also get panoramic views from the Akrotiri lighthouse, located on the most southwestern tip of the island.
Angkor Wat, Cambodia
Sorry to break it to you, but you haven't experienced a sunset until you’ve seen the sun light up the breathtaking Angkor Wat temple. As the sun sets, its rays reflect on Tonlé Sap pond, sparkling and shimmering in shades of red and gold. A bonus of coming at sundown is that there are next to no people around, so it’s a peaceful way to end the day. Plus, you’ll be rewarded with better photo opportunities.
Wondering which country has the best sunrises and sunsets in Europe? It doesn’t get much better than Portugal, so you can definitely consider this a possible future favourite. Most of the best sunny scenes can be found in the Algarve, with plenty of vantage points to get the best views. Cabo de São Vicente, Praia de Falesia, and Praia do Camilo are all superb spots to watch the sun sink into the waves. For sunrise, head to Praia da Mesquita or Praia da Marinha to see the first rays light up the dramatic cliffs and rock formations.
The Taj Mahal, India
One of the most famous landmarks in the world, there’s never a bad time to visit the Taj Mahal. Having said that, this 17th-century marble mausoleum is at its most beautiful when the early morning rays bathe the monument in a soft light. Watch as the white marble dome glows, with light dancing off the stuccoed walls, minarets, and garden in a soft pink haze. Furthermore, an early start means you’ll get the space to admire the beauty of the Taj Mahal before the inevitable crowds.
The Berlin sunset is a sight to behold, and the city knows it, with plenty of places to admire the sun dropping over its remarkable skyline. Tempelhofer Feld, the former airport of the GDR, is now a huge, open-air park and one of the best spots to relax as the sun goes down. Elsenbrücke and Oberbaumbrücke are two bridges which give you panoramic views of the sun setting against Berlin’s most iconic sites, including the Molecule Men and the TV Tower.
Cape Town, South Africa
Cape Town is an outdoor lovers’ paradise, and between the mountains and the ocean, there are numerous spots to watch the sunrise and sunset. One of the best places to start the day is the iconic Table Mountain, where you can witness the morning sun light up the city and the sparkling sea. Or, if the thought of hiking up Table Mountain seems daunting, then head to the Camps Bay Tidal Pools for a relaxing sunrise dip. At the end of the day, Signal Hill is the perfect place to enjoy a sundowner and watch the sun slide behind the ocean.