James Bond Island Photo: Joan Campderros-i-Canas

The world’s most incredible views

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The Aurora Borealis or Northern Lights

The Aurora Borealis or Northern Lights Photo: Timo Horstschäfer

 A room with an incredible view and a vacation with a vista. Every holiday home, from the Seychelles to Skegness, boasts of its spectacular vistas and perfect panoramas. It’s easy to drop superlatives (beautiful scenery; idyllic location) but not all views are equal. Some are prettier than others. Some are so gorgeous that words don’t do them justice; just as well we’ve got pictures then to back these beauties up.

Call them breathtaking; call them jaw-dropping; call them so damn fine you can’t even utter a word, let alone reach for the camera. There’s no such thing as a view to die for, but these wonders come pretty close.

Christ the Redeemer, Brazil

As one of the Modern Wonders of the World, Rio’s iconic landmark needs little introduction. When viewed from the city it watches over, JC is majestic, imperious and, quite frankly, epic. While Christ the Redeemer can be admired from afar, the greatest view comes, not while looking at him, but while looking from him. Workers sent to repair the statue climb a series of stairs and ladders before exiting at the top of the world.

 The reward for their endeavour? A view like this:

Brazil Christ Statue

Christ the redeemer, Brazil Image: AP Photo/Felipe Dana Felipe Danar

Phi Phi Islands, Thailand

Pure shores, golden sands and turquoise waters. Even if you’ve never visited; even if you don’t know their name, you know the Phi Phi Islands. Man can create awesome landmarks but only nature can create a view like this. And yes, the islands do appear in The Beach. And in the holiday snaps of every gap-year student on Facebook.

James Bond Island Photo: Joan Campderros-i-Canas

James Bond Island Photo: Joan Campderros-i-Canas

Planet Earth

 Sometimes you can’t see the wood for the trees, or the earth for, well, the earth. The greatest view of our planet calls for distance to put its beauty into perspective. For now, that view has been limited to a handful of astronauts. Pretty soon though, the public (the very rich public) will be blasting into orbit to marvel at the floating jewel in space and join the 100,000 mile high club.

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Most Amazing Image of the Earth Photo: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

Northern Lights

Not all views are permanent; some of them have to be found. Visit Norway and pack some patience however and the aurora borealis might just dance for you. The colours vary with the intensity of the Northern Lights but one thing that never changes is their capacity to dazzle.

Incredible Views: The stunning northern lights

The stunning northern lights Photo: Moyan Brenn

Solar System

 The greatest view on earth might not even be of earth: leave the city behind, take a ride into the country and cast your eyes heavenward on a clear night. Nothing can compare to the majesty of the solar system; shimmering stars, glinting planets and clusters that sparkle and glow. The night sky can be appreciated from anywhere on earth, but to witness it in its purest form, try Utah’s Natural Bridges National Monument or Pennsylvania’s Cherry Springs State Park; both have been designated as International Sky Parks thanks to low light pollution and excellent visibility.

Storms in the distance

Storms in the distance Photo: Mike Lewinski

Yuangyang Rice Terraces, China

Like stained glass, the paddy fields of Yunnan Province change as swiftly as the light; blue as the midday sky, aureate at dusk and brooding by night. Head there in springtime when the flooded fields inhale the light and refract it back in a myriad of tints and shades.

Yuanyang Hani Rice Terraces at Sunrise Photo: Simonair Chiu

Yuanyang Hani Rice Terraces at Sunrise Photo: Simonair Chiu

Fireworks, Dubai

Dubai is not known for its subtlety and understated class; the perfect setting then for the world’s brashest fireworks display. Spend New Year in the emirate city and you’ll get to experience 500,000 fireworks going boom-boom-pow.

 It’s the perfect opportunity for filling an album with photos you”ll never glance at again. Still, it was spectacular while it lasted. All six minutes of it.

Dubai New Years Eve 2014 Photo: Gabriela Purri R. Gomes

Dubai New Years Eve 2014 Photo: Gabriela Purri R. Gomes

Taktsang Monastery, Bhutan

In Bhutan’s Paro District, architecture meets nature to devastating effect. In other words, the buildings are as pretty as the valley they’re built upon. The pick of the bunch is Taktsang Monastery, precariously nestled on a 1,200m cliff edge. Known as the Tiger’s Nest, the monastery is one of Bhutan’s most sacred sites; show it some respect and go easy on the selfies.

Taktsang Monastery "Tiger´s nest" in Bhutan

Taktsang Monastery “Tiger´s nest” in Bhutan Photo: Goran Hoglund (Kartlasarn)

Bagan, Myanmar

The ancient city of Bagan provides a window into the old world, and what a view that window boasts. Early in the morning, when the mist is rising through the stupas, Bagan exudes an ethereal beauty whose evanescence will leave an indelible impression. Or something like that.

Sunrise over Bagan Photo: Peter Halling Hilborg

Sunrise over Bagan Photo: Peter Halling Hilborg

Darvaze Gas Crater, Turkemistan

 Some views are breathtaking to behold; others are terrifying. Darvaze is a natural gas crater that has been raging hard ever since Soviet scientists lit the touch fuse and stood well back in 1971. If you can handle the heat and the smell of sulphur, you’ll be treated to a glimpse of Satan’s inner sanctum. This is The Door to Hell. Step over the threshold and you could be gone a while.

Darvaza gas crater panorama Photo: Tormod Sandtorv

Darvaza gas crater panorama Photo: Tormod Sandtorv

What’s the best view you’ve ever witnessed? Pop your favourites in the comments below.

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