LOOK: 12 breathtaking places to explore in 2024

Desert white sand at White Sands National Park in New Mexico. Picture: Unsplash

Desert white sand at White Sands National Park in New Mexico. Picture: Unsplash

Published Jan 17, 2024


The world is vast and majestic in its beauty. There are magnificent sites to see and destinations to uncover in all four corners of the earth.

Travelling is not just about visiting popular destinations but also uncovering natural wonders and exclusive sites.

Travelling is also about creating lasting memories and enjoying the moment.

In tourism, slow travel and taking the road less travelled is about exploration. Its about sustainable tourism and embracing the individual experience versus culture-led holidays and trends.

For those fearless enough to veer off the beaten path, slow travelling allows you to soak in everything that a place has to offer. If you’re looking for new destinations to explore, here are 12 ethereal destinations sure to get your stamp of approval.

Avenue of Baobabs, Madagascar

The sun sets over cattle herders at the Avenue of Baobabs, Madagascar. Picture: Unsplash.

With their fat, smooth trunks and striking splay of branches, baobab trees look like they belong somewhere in outer space. And there’s an entire, otherworldly avenue of these alien specimens in western Madagascar.

Around 50 of them line a dirt road in the country’s Menabe region and are thought to have been here for around a millennium.

Valle de la Luna, Atacama Desert, Chile

Valle de la Luna, San Pedro de Atacama, Chile. Picture: Unsplash

This arid stretch of the Atacama Desert lives up to its name. Valle de la Luna means “Valley of the Moon” and the cracked landscape is, indeed, about as lunar as you’ll find on this planet.

It’s a world of jagged rocks and sand dunes giving way to broad, white salt flats and offers some of the greatest stargazing opportunities on Earth.

Vatnajökull, Iceland

A traveller stands in between glaciers at Vatnajökull National Park, Iceland. Picture: Unsplash

Iceland makes good on its nickname, the “Land of Ice and Fire”, with this sprawling glacier, the largest not just in the country, but in Europe too.

At its thickest point the icy wonder is more than 2,953 feet (900m) and it has at least 30 outlet glaciers to boot.

Adding to the drama is Jökulsárlón, a jaw-dropping glacial lagoon fringing the southeastern edge of the ice cap.

Zhangye Danxia National Geopark, Gansu, China

Tourists marvel at the geo formations at Zhangye Danxia National Geopark, Gansu, China. Picture: Unsplash

Mountains don’t come much more colourful than this. Bright birthday-cake layers of blue, red and acid yellow come together to form Zhangye Danxia National Geopark in the northern reaches of China.

The eye-popping hues are the result of millions of years of layered sandstone and mineral deposits, while wind and water erosion carved deep ridges and troughs into the psychedelic rock.

Deadvlei, Namib Desert, Namibia

Deadvlei, Sossusvlei, Namibia. Picture: Unsplash

If it wasn’t for the petrified camel-thorn trees and the burning orange dunes, this stark landscape could double for the surface of the moon.

Deadvlei is folded into Namibia’s Namib-Naukluft Park and the white clay pan, likely formed more than 1 000 years ago, is fringed by some of the tallest sand mountains in the world.

It’s known for its glittering night skies too.

Salar De Uyuni, Bolivia

Salar De Uyuni, the world’s largest salt flat. Picture: Unsplash

Visitors to Salar De Uyuni, the world’s largest salt flat, seem to defy the elements and walk on water in the rainy season. In actual fact only a shallow layer of water covers the plain but its mirrored surface seems to blur all lines between the land and sky.

The wonder is just as otherworldly in the dry period, when the cracked, white Earth looks almost lunar.

Elafonissi Beach, Crete, Greece

Turquoise waters collide with pink sand at Elafonisi Beach in Crete. Picture: Tripadvisor

Greece is hardly short of good-looking beaches, but this one fringing western Crete is a little different from the rest.

Here the Mediterranean’s turquoise waters lap pink-tinged sand, the result of crushed coral reef. The trim of mountains at the edge makes the beach extra cinematic too.

Red Beach, Panjin, China

Travellers walk on a bridge above red marshes at Red Beach China. Picture: Instagram

You’ll not find golden sand on this expansive “beach” in northeastern China. It’s actually a vast wetland area whose marshes are home to a rare form of seepweed named Suaeda – and, come autumn, the plant turns a vibrant crimson, creating the blood-red carpet the site is famous for.

Migratory birds including the apt (and very rare) red-crowned crane make their home here too.

White Sands National Park, New Mexico, USA

White Sands National Park, New Mexico, USA. Picture: Unsplash

If the moon had sand dunes, this is what they’d look like. White Sands National Park takes up a glorious pocket of southern New Mexico, its rippling powder peaks forming the largest gypsum dunefield in the world.

Vast playas like Lake Lucero are also folded within the park’s borders, and curious critters such as the bleached earless lizard skitter between the dunes too.

Pamukkale, Denizli, Turkey

Pamukkale, Denizli, Turkey. Picture: Unsplash

If they weren’t such a famous sight, you might not believe that the cloud-like travertine terraces of Pamukkale belong on Earth.

The name means “cotton castle” and that perfectly sums up the spectacle, whose brilliant white steps contain glittering pools of mineral-rich water.

For a dose of earthly history, the ancient city of Hierapolis is on the doorstep too.

Rakotzbrücke, Saxony, Germany

Rakotzbrücke or stone bridge in Germany. Picture: Unsplash

So perfect and perilous is this stone bridge, legend has it it was crafted by the devil. It was actually commissioned in the 19th century by a local knight and it’s tucked away in the real-life Kromlau Rhododendron Park in eastern Germany.

The graceful arch reflects in the water below forming a faultless circle framed by saw-toothed crags and woodland.

Meteora, Greece

The mighty, cloud-hung cliffs of Meteora. Picture: Unplash

The mighty, cloud-hung cliffs of Meteora look like something pulled straight from a fairy tale.

The soaring stone pinnacles are striking enough but they're also finished with a series of Byzantine-era monasteries.

You can explore on spectacular walks and climbs in the region – highlights include 15th-century Moni Agiou Nikolaou and Moni Agias Triados, which was featured in James Bond film For Your Eyes Only.

∎ This list was sourced from loveexploring.com.