Sunsets are a highlight of any vacation. They are a display of nature’s beauty that we often don’t have time to take in properly in our daily life.
Enjoyed with someone you love, sunsets are also a romantic sight marking the end of one day spent together, hopefully in paradise, with the prospect of many more to come.
So, with that thought in mind, here are some locations from which to admire the most beautiful sunsets in the world with loved ones and friends old and new.
Looking out west over the Pacific, Vancouver has the perfect setting for sunsets. The view from famous Grouse Mountain, which overlooks the city, is spectacular even before the sun sinks over downtown and the ocean.
The green spaces of Stanley Park wrap the city in a six-mile walking and bike path. It’s another enchanting place to take in the coastal view and wait for a beautiful sundown.
If you are more adventurous, head to Sunset Beach (there’s a clue in the name) where kayakers and paddle boarders gather. Rent one yourself to get on the water or just take in the view of the city across English Bay.
Cape Elizabeth, Maine
The coast of Maine faces east, but it still manages to have some spectacular sunsets. They may be even better for the way you have to work harder to see them.
In summertime, the sun sets here to the northwest; time your visit carefully to be guaranteed one of those classic Maine sights of a lighthouse or rocky shore standing against the red light of dusk.
Cape Elizabeth is best from fall through winter but its southwest aspect gives good sunsets all year round. Add in the Portland Head Lighthouse, dating to 1791, and you have a remarkable setting.
It’s the oldest lighthouse in Maine and stands in beautiful Fort Williams Park with the open ocean behind it. The Atlantic weather beating against the cliffs below can add real drama, making for memorable photographs or just great memories.
Key West, Florida
The day’s end over the Gulf of Mexico brings a beautiful sunset to much of Florida’s western coastline. Key West, the southernmost city in the contiguous United States, enjoys the very best.
Looking out over uninterrupted sea, 90 nautical miles from Cuba, watchers see an amazing light show as the sun sinks over the far horizon. Red, orange and violet—and all the others in between—light up the sky then vanish one by one.
Every night, Mallory Square hosts drinks and street food while entertainers boost the party atmosphere. The biggest cheer is reserved for the “green flash”, a rare phenomenon seen only on cloudless nights.
Haleakala National Park, Maui, Hawaii
Perhaps better known for its sunrises, Haleakala is also well worth seeing for its beautiful sunsets. Standing at 10,000 ft, the view out over volcanic peak, massive sky and expansive ocean is spectacular indeed.
In the Hawaiian language, Haleakalā means “House of the Sun”. In mythology, Maui was a demigod who stood here and roped in the sun to give his family more daylight.
From this height, the sun certainly seems to stand still for a while, taking its time sinking into the sea. Tumbled clouds add an extra dimension to the sights as shadows and colors play across their faces.
You will need to dress up warmly, with a good hat, heavy coat and even gloves—yes, in Hawaii. Once the sun drops down, so do temperatures at this high altitude. The show doesn’t end at sunset either. Keep watching as the stars blink on in the night sky to fill the heavens with their glory.
Eagle Beach, Aruba
With a rum punch in hand at a beach bar, you could argue there is no such thing as a bad sunset anywhere from The Bahamas to Tobago. On Aruba, that spot is Eagle Beach. Ranked as one of the best beaches in the world, its calm waters and white sands face due west.
Rather than palms, the beach has Aruba’s distinctive divi-divi trees. Gnarled and weathered into a twisted shape resonant of a bonsai, these evergreens point to the west with the prevailing winds.
A divi-divi tree against the sunset is an immediately recognizable image of Aruba. If it’s not the best sunset in the world, or at least the Caribbean, it will do just fine until a better one comes along.
Read: Best Beaches in Aruba
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
The sunsets in Rio are so good that on parts of Ipanema beach spectators stand and clap. Applause brings an encore, of course, although you do have to wait another 24 hours to see it.
Sunsets at beach level are one thing, but the view from on high, taking in the lights of the city as well, is something else. Popular spots in Rio are atop the Pão de Açúcar (Sugarloaf Mountain) with its outlook over Copacabana, and the Dois Irmãos, looking over Ipanema.
The best of all may be from Mirante Dona Marta, a belvedere standing about 1,000 ft above the city on the way to Corcovado with its Christ the Redeemer statue. The spectacle takes in Sugarloaf Mountain, Guanabara Bay and beyond as the city’s lights blink into life and the sun sinks over the far horizon.
A stopover for many on the way to the California Gold Rush, Valparaiso may remind you of old San Francisco. Facing west, it spills down a hillside, filled with bright-colored houses that light up and almost glow as the sun sinks into the Pacific.
Bypassed by the opening of the Panama Canal but now revitalised, Valparaiso has a unique charm: partly grand city, partly backwater. Amazing street art brings poor neighborhoods to life, while hotel terraces provide spectacular views and great food, not least pisco sour, Chile’s national drink.
Wherever you are at sundown, though, watching the colors change on the facades of the old buildings as the sun sinks over the western horizon is enough to stir the imagination of any traveler.
Punta del Este, Uruguay
Jutting out into the Atlantic on a promontory, the buzzing beach resort of Punta del Este has a perfect setting from which to see the most beautiful sunsets in Uruguay. In fact, many visitors seem to only start their evening out after watching it.
“The Hand”, a sculpture by Chilean artist Mario Irarrázabal of a giant hand rising out of the sand, is a landmark site for photos. His signature piece has been copied around the world but never bettered.
There is also a wide choice of amazing restaurants, glamorous hotels and terraces to take in the view. Popular with Argentines and Brazilians, Punta del Este is a resort that gives St. Tropez a run for its money.
Known for its rain, Bergen might not seem the most reliable place in the world to capture Norway’s best sunset. However, it’s all the more special when it does show.
The colorful old wharf area of Bryggen is a great backdrop for photos at any time. In the so-called “Golden Hour” around dusk, the atmospheric wooden buildings of this UNESCO World Heritage Site positively glow with romance.
If you feel energetic enough, climb the 1,333 “Sherpa” steps to the top of Mount Ulriken, one of the most beautiful mountains in Norway. You can also take the cable car to the summit. Here you can see the city and ocean shining below you in the magical evening light.
Ask anyone from Cork and they’ll tell you that Cork—the city and county—is the most beautiful place in Ireland. That’s before you add in the dazzling sunsets over the Atlantic Ocean.
There are many spots in the city to enjoy nature’s free light show. A favorite with photographers is the 16th century Blackrock Castle, which looks amazing silhouetted against the light on the River Lee.
Irish sunsets might not have the dependability of a tropical one. They make up for it in atmosphere when the clouds and light interplay between dark and sunny moods, creating an ever-changing vista.
The Mediterranean delivers beautiful sunsets in many places, from Capri through to Sicily and, of course, Ibiza. The latter is particularly famous for its beach parties in the golden light.
Ibiza’s sunsets are a bit different in that, for many watchers, they mark the start of their day, not the end, thanks to the island’s legendary nightlife. But for a moment of communal serenity, the island stands still to watch the sun set the water on fire.
There are countless places, including the whole Sunset Strip in San Antonio, lined with chillout bars and cocktail menus, dedicated to celebrating sundown. Join the crowds, or find a quiet spot on your own, to take in the spectacle.
There is no denying that Santorini has possibly the best sunset in the world, no matter how much of a cliché the image seems. It’s a photographer’s dream, one that has appeared on the cover of countless travel magazines for a reason.
The town of Oia’s west-facing aspect, and its whitewashed walls offset by blue windows and domes, makes for a very special combination. The blazing sun seems to take forever to sink, reflected by its image in a vast expanse of the Mediterranean Sea.
Add in the wide choice of good restaurants, all oriented to the view, serving delicious food and fine wine, some playing opera to add to the drama, and you have the perfect setting to enjoy the famous Santorini sunset.
Angkor Wat, Cambodia
Originally built in the 12th century as a Hindu temple, Angkor Wat (“Temple City”) is now one of the most famous Buddhist temples in the world. It’s also the world’s largest religious monument, covering hundreds of acres.
Designed as a funerary complex, it faces west to the setting sun, rather than the more usual east for Hindu sites. That makes it perfectly aligned for both sunsets and sunrises.
There are several good places within the complex to see the sun go down, among them the central Pre Rup or “Pyramid” Temple, the jungle-covered Bayon Temple or nearby Phnom Bakheng. Whichever you choose, the setting adds its uniqueness to create a sunset you will never forget.
Better known as the land of the rising sun, it should be no surprise that Japan does beautiful sunsets as well as it does every other thing of beauty.
The cityscape of Tokyo remains a firm favorite, adding a glittering modern skyline to nature’s display. Many high rises offer a grand panorama, but Odaiba Seaside Park is one of the rare places in the city to take in the view with a stroll in the open air.
The sunset, the skyscrapers, Rainbow Bridge, Odaiba Statue of Liberty and the lights of many boats reflect in the waters of Tokyo Bay to duplicate the imagery.
Koekohe Beach, New Zealand
New Zealand is blessed with many natural wonders and its sunsets are among them. Koekohe Beach is doubly lucky to be a candidate for the best sunset in the world thanks to the remarkable Moeraki Boulders.
These large spherical rocks are grouped on one of New Zealand’s best beaches, where they have fallen from nearby cliffs. Textured in a way that made people once think them to be dinosaur eggs, they are actually balls of sediments.
Seen against a sunrise or sunset, the boulders make for a mesmerizing, otherworldly image, much enjoyed by photographers. The image is an unmissable sight for anyone visiting New Zealand’s South Island.
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