Beautiful landscapes. Humans have had an obsession with a good view since time began. Well, okay, we don’t actually have any proof of that. But if you and I can look out the window and smile at what we see, then you can imagine Neanderthal man looking out of his cave and thinking, “Ah, what a lovely view.” It’s so hardwired into our brains to appreciate beautiful landscapes that it must have come from somewhere. And even if Ug the caveman didn’t leave us any archaeological evidence of view appreciation, other cultures certainly did seek out and appreciate the most beautiful landscapes in the world.
From ancient China to the Renaissance, people have been showing their love of beautiful landscapes by trying to reproduce them. Whether that’s by carving stone or displaying oil paintings in London galleries so that sophisticated Victorians, who wouldn’t imagine getting their clothes muddy, could stand and gaze upon wild, amazing landscapes and think, “Yes, yes, very good.”
Now, we at Much Better Adventures think the very best way to experience a beautiful landscape is to walk, hike, raft or otherwise haul yourself away from a computer to see them in person. But since you and I are clearly both looking at a screen right now, we’ll compromise. What’s the modern equivalent of a Victorian art gallery? Well, I’m afraid it’s Instagram.
Here are 10 beautiful landscapes that you can admire from a distance, hold in your hands wherever you go and – just maybe – see it with your own eyes one day.
1. Snowy Mountains: Aleutian Islands
There’s something very beautiful about a pure snow-covered landscape. It’s like taking an already beautiful mountain and covering it with icing. These two mountains in the Aleutian Islands – Pavlof 1 and Pavlof 2 – don’t really even look real. Add a cloud inversion into the mix and all of a sudden you’re on another planet.
Luckily you can experience the beauty of a snowy mountain pretty much all over the world. Anywhere cold enough or high enough (or both!) for snow and you’re sorted.
2. Craters and lagoons: Iceland
Ah Iceland, land of ice and fire and ridiculously long words that no visitor can pronounce, giving Welsh a run for its money! Iceland has a very volcanic history (there aren’t many places with black sand beaches) which has shaped a unique and beautiful landscape. But, we’re here to talk specifically about the craters and lagoons. We had to include the image above, with its surprisingly vivid colours and sweeping view into the mountains.
You can find similar mountain lakes, left behind by glaciers, far more widely than just Iceland. Glacial valleys can be seen from the Lake District to the Alps and right across mountainous areas in the world. At least, any place where there was ice millions of years ago.
3. Ice caves: Iceland
On the subject of ice, let’s give ice a beautiful landscape point in its own right. Iceland definitely isn’t the only place you can find big expanses of ice and glaciers. However, we do know that you can walk inside the glaciers in Iceland. As if ice wasn’t beautiful enough, you can walk under a translucent blue ceiling.
4. Beaches and Coastline: USA
When people think of beautiful beaches, they’re probably thinking of long stretches of white sand that meet turquoise blue oceans. Maybe a turtle or two. But the rock formations around the coast are equally beautiful, shaped by thousands of years of waves. Because really, that’s kind of all sand is: really, really small grains of rock… mostly. Let’s not talk about the parrotfish poop (look it up).
We just liked this dramatic picture of a coastal cave at a mystery location on the coast of California. But every island has a coast, if you can just find the edges. So many coastlines are beautiful in their own right – whether that’s the storm-shaped cliffs of Cornwall or the smooth beaches of Flores Island in Indonesia.
5. Volcanic Landscapes : Ethiopia
Err, okay anyone would think we have a thing about volcanoes… but they do make for some very beautiful landscapes. Beautiful in the extreme kind of way. We love how nature produces these crazily vivid colours. Eat your heart out artificial food colouring! Although, you don’t want to be eating or drinking anything in made naturally in the Danakil Depression, Ethiopia. Pretty much everything is toxic.
6. Water: Norway
There is water everywhere that there’s not land. Duh. About 70% of the Earth’s surface is covered in water (and about 60% of the human body is water, which is kind of interesting). So we reckon that water is very underrated when it comes to beautiful landscapes. Particularly big expanses of water, not just lakes or lagoons or rivers. They’re cool too, but there’s something impressive about water all the way to the horizon. It certainly gives you a bit of perspective.
Of course, we’d much rather be out on it than just looking at it, like kayaking the Greek coast or island hopping in Sweden. We also love the Norwegian fjords, where vast bodies of mirror-still water are surrounded by craggy mountains.
7. Jungle: Colombia
A wimba-way, a wimba-way, a…. just kidding. But the mighty jungle has many beautiful landscapes, regardless of whether there’s a sleeping lion in it. In fact, there’s probably not going to be a sleeping lion because lions don’t live in the jungle – which brings up a whole load of questions that our childhood selves need answered.
While we go and work that out, you can experience the real jungle for yourself. Like on a 100km jungle expedition across Colombia. The Samana Watershed is a biodvierse rainforest paradise, rarely visited by tourists. No lions. Promise.
8. Desert: Morocco
The lions let us down, but the camels won’t. Once upon a time the Sahara desert was under water. Now instead of water as far as you can see, it’s sand as far as you can see. Kind of like you’ve been shrunk to the size of an ant and left in a sand pit… but without the threat of giant children.
Perhaps what's even more amazing than the baron, immense desert though, is the towns and human dwellings that spring up within it, such as the above Ait Benhaddou - an ancient city in Morocco.
9. Rock Formations: Scotland
The strange rock formations of the Old Man of Storr on Scotland's Isle of Skye creates an ethereal landscape. Maybe it reminds us of magical towers or the gates of Mordor. We’re not sure, but there’s definitely an edge of fantasy to pillars of rock. Or perhaps the location scouts for fantasy films are just creating a self-propagating circle. Skye is a wild and bleak mountainous island ready for adventure.
10. Forest: Slovenia
Okay, yes, we could have picked any number of forests. There’s something beautiful about deciduous trees changing colour with the seasons. It’s like seeing autumn happen in front of you. The forests of Slovenia are gorgeous in autumn and we learnt that first hand on a team trip to Slovenia. Even if your adventure doesn’t go 100% to plan, you can still enjoy being in nature.