51 thoughts on “What is the most spectacular tourist site you’ve visited?

  1. Darkwings

    I envy many of your travels more than you would believe… but the one place that brought tears to my eyes was, believe it or not, the Rocket Garden at Kennedy Space Center, Cape Canaveral, Florida. All my childhood dreams, standing in front of me… (oh, darn, my eyes are sweating thinking about it…).

    The Special Access visit at StoneHenge (book through English Heritage), as Cindy said (#9, above), is absolutely awesome, too. Did that in 2001, just before the world changed.

    And I have never heard silence like the windless day in Joshua Tree National Forest (middle of the Mojave desert, the day I was there, it rained… such is my luck).

  2. Susan Mcneely

    I’ve seen many of these places – don’t think I could even start to rank them, although I would add many of the Himalaya views in Nepal (Annapurna circuit, Everest from the air, Machapuchare from Pokhara). I think the one place of which I expected the least was the Taj Mahal – and I must say, seeing it at sunset filled every expectation I had ever had, from high school on. It is everything every dreamer ever imagined.

  3. RM Nishikawa

    The Pacific Rim National Park on Vancouver Island in British Columbia. It is a temperate rainforest with huge trees that are hundreds of years old and an impassable undergrowth — you have to walk on a boardwalk. It feels like you are walking in the time of dinosaurs.

    Runner up is the Sognefjord in Norway.

  4. Kathleen Kelly

    Machu Picchu at any time of day. I loved Iguazu Falls, Antactica, the Hudson River Valley, Hudson Bay, the Aleutian Islands, dawn over Denali from 30,00 feet. As a member of western civilization, the Acropolis brought tears to my eyes the first time I saw it. But Machu Picchu is the perfect match of site and structure, beautifully executed. The kind of vision that caused it to be built was genius beyond imagining.

    The only thing that ever rivaled MP for me was a total eclipse of the sun, but that’s another story.

  5. PSWaring

    Hands down there are three sites that have nearly moved me to tears. I would visit each of them again and again and again and it still would not be often enough. They are the Great Wall of China, Ephesus and the Sphinx in Egypt.

  6. Greg Thibault

    Nothing in the nature comes close to the beauty of Bora Bora. Photographs cannot capture the true depth of colors you’ll see as you ride from the airstrip through the lagoon to your resort located on a motu (small island surrounding the lagoon). I remember saying to my wife, “that’s the bluest water I’ve ever seen”, and about a minute later, “no, this is the bluest water I’ve ever seen”. And so it went; for the 45 minutes it took to cross over to our hotel. I must have seen 20 different shades of blue, all more amazing than the last.

  7. Charles Deahl

    The Alhambra. Good enough for Washington Irving, good enough for me.

  8. John Montag

    Some of the sights mentioned above I’ve found truly stunning; others I’ve long wished I could see them. But the place that strikes me as most mind-blowing, strictly in tourist terms, is the Tower of London. Here, you have a precinct steeped in as much history and drama as any acreage on earth; you’ve got the place of beheadings and murders, you’ve got the crown jewels, you’ve got the ravens, an armorial museum, a magnificent Norman chapel, and countless other things worth seeing. If you know British history, you’ll surely find it rewarding. But if you don’t, not to worry; you have your own Beefeater yeoman guard to show you through. These guards, in addition to their official role as, well, guards, are perhaps the most informed and entertaining tourist guides anywhere. They had me in stitches.

    You can wander the precinct at your leisure–at least the public spaces, which are many. On my first visit, nearly twenty years ago, I was astonished to find unprotected graffiti scratched into the walls of one of the prison towers; since then it has been covered by clear plexiglass. My first time through I found the names of several Jesuit martyrs in the graffiti. As a Jesuit priest, I felt especially moved by this discovery.

    I thought I’d mention one place of natural beauty that stands out for me: Maroon Bells, in the Rocky Mountains, near Aspen. There’s something about the quiver of aspens in the high Rockies, in the late summer and fall especially, that hypnotizes me with joy. The stark striations of the rock surfaces, along with the ‘golden groves unleaving’ provides its own definition of the sublime.

  9. Wendy

    1. Borobadur in Indonesia. Just spectacular.
    2. Ephasus in Turkey. Anthony and Cleopatra walked these streets. An evening classical music concert in the small theater with only candle light and the moon for illumination took our breath away.
    3. Antarctica. Ice, fog, snow, rain and penguins. One of the most beautiful sights I have ever seen.

  10. Kervin

    Rio de Janeiro & Iguaçu Falls in Brazil are two of the most amazing natural settings I have visited. When we saw the Falls it made us smile & feel alive watching mother nature at its most awe inspiring. Rio has the most beautiful setting of any city I have ever seen. From Corcovado the city below is the cidade marveloso! I have visited many coastal cities (Sydney, SF, Vancouver, Lisbon, SD, Miami, Honolulu, etc.) all of which are beautiful but Rio is the most spectacular.

  11. Fran Roberts

    1. I agree with Iguasso Falls, but,

    2. A close second for me is Glacier Alley in Antartica, or just Antartica, itself. All those penguins are so adorable and interesting.

  12. Wendy McIlroy

    Grand Canyon, hands down. Hiking into or rafting through allows you to experience the millennia in its layers. Photos do not even begin to prepare you for Grand Canyon’s glory.
    For manmade attractions, I have to admit I did not expect to be impressed by the Egyptian pyramids, but I was. Especially the Sphynx.

  13. Ron Kellerman

    Angle Falls, Venezuela. The worlds tallest waterfalls as seen from a helicopter. Another spectacular sight was the fire clifs in the Gobi Desert in Mongolia. Truly a boutiful place.

  14. Jerry Farber

    PETRA in Jordan. A must see if you can get there. MAkes most Roman ruins second rate and those are spectacular enough

  15. Rob Swingle

    Lake Bled is really nice but Plitvice Lakes National Park in Croatia is spectacular.

  16. Pat Branson

    The Königssee in Southern Germany is absolutely gorgeous. It is very quiet; you can only ride in electric boats. I would love to explore the area more on foot.

  17. gary christopher

    My vote is for Lake Powell, Arizona. It’s like the grand canyon with water. I’d put Iguazu Falls in second place.

  18. Judi Brooks

    Easter sunrise service at the Grand Canyon is so beautiful.

  19. Craig Gross

    Orvieto, Beautiful 3000 year old town located on a mountain north of Rome.

  20. patricia orlando

    the sistine chapel

  21. Les Sewell

    Without a doubt I’d have to say Ephesus in Turkey. I had expected it to be really touristy and generic. But I was completely impressed. Incredible is the only word I can use to describe it. It’s one of those places I could return to over and over again and never get bored with it!

  22. Dee in Indiana

    Banff/Lake Louise area is a breathtakingly beautiful and fun destination.

  23. D. Nadler

    The Great Wall, The Forbidden City, and The Summer Palace in China

  24. Marjorie Zuckerman

    For sheer wonderment I would have to vote for Petra in Jordan. It rivals anything else I;ve seen for the word “miraculous”.

  25. Patrick

    I concur with Iguaçu Falls, Brazil/Argentina

  26. Pat Milligan

    I would vote for Lake Bled in Slovenia. It isn’t spectacular, but it’s beautiful and relaxing.

  27. Tim Johnson

    After three trips spanning 30+ days we thought we had experienced Rome, but we were wrong. Now, after two weeks in an apartment on via dei coronari in Rome, we would encourage anyone who wants the flavor of the eternal city to book an apartment in this neighborhood. In the morning hours Rome is all yours, at 8 a.m. I was the only person in Piazza Navona. And the local newsstand chap, and the grocery store clerk and the capucino shop all recognized us on the street ad said hello, one becomes part of the neighborhood.

  28. Bill M

    The Pont Du Gard Roman aqueduct in southern France near Remoulins is very impressive. You used to be able to walk across the top of it and look down at the river, but I’d heard you can’t do that anymore.

  29. Nancy

    All of Kenya and Tanzania are remarkable. Forced to pick one tourist site, I’d have to choose Ngorongoro Conservation Area in Tanzania.

  30. Betty Sheldon

    It’s really difficult to name just one, but it doesn’t have to be outside the U.S. The Grand Canyon or Niagara Falls work for me.

  31. Erwin Miller

    1.Machu Pichu at dawn.
    2.Giant sand dunes outside Dunhuang China
    3.Sunrise view of Mt. Kanchenjunga from Tiger Hill, near Darjeeling, India
    4.Villages in the Waikabubak district of Sumba Island, Indonesia with their distinctive thatched roofed stilt houses.
    5.Traditional Hovsgal Hangard Ger Camp on pristine Lake Khovsgal, Mongolia.
    6. Opening Night at the Beijing Olympics.

  32. Tim Broedling

    Taking a Falluga on the Nile and a camel to a Nubian village for morning Hibiscus tea in a Nubian house surrounded by spice stalls and locals. The total isolation was fantastic!

  33. B Delidow

    The Galapagos Islands. A naturalist’s dream.

  34. Leah Syndell

    Sunrise at Angkor Wat Temple in Cambodia

  35. R. Schofield

    The Cistern in Istanbul is the most spectacular for me – those Romans could build anything and the Turks have turned it into a spiritual experience. (I do have pictures if you want them.)

  36. George Curran

    No question: the most jaw dropping spectacular sight (for first time visitors) is the Grand Canyon. For a decent second choice: the approach to Yosemite Valley from Tuolomne Meadows.

  37. Michelle C.

    My favorite spectacular landscape would have to be Glacier Bay in Alaska – watching the glaciers calving is simply awesome!

    But Venice, Italy is absolutely the most amazing of the cities I’ve visited – it is a city like no other on earth!

  38. Ed Vezey

    I have to agree with Joe- Iguacu Falls. From there I proposed to my wife 22 years ago – to there I took her for a delayed honeymoon two years later. We traveled the world together and saw much beauty but never saw anything to match!

    It’s a beatiful world, but I’m looking forward to joining my wife on the celestial shore where there is beauty beyind our comprehension.

    My Mobal phone is a joy – I am in the deserts of Jordan where it works perfectly!

    Thanks, Ed

  39. Paul Voorhees

    1. Okovango Delta, Botswana (game preserve)
    2. Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe
    3. Santorini, Greece
    4. Grand Canyon, Arizona

  40. Donna

    Petra – amazing and awe-inspiring (plus its an adventure just getting down the siq)
    Cruising the Nile – undescribable…a fabulous experience with so many sites to take in and to marvel at, and a feeling that some how time has stood still in parts of this beautiful country
    Connemara, Ireland – it truly is breathtakingly beautiful and peaceful

  41. Cindy Thun Figueiredo

    In 2006, I took a Special Access tour of Stonehenge. Before and after regular hours, you can (or could) go on a limited number tour of Stonehenge where you get to go inside the circle. You can touch the stones, stand next to the stones (and see incised Greek graffiti), get incredible pictures. I went on an evening tour and we had 20 minutes to wander around inside and outside the circle. Halfway into our alloted time, the sun started setting and it was so beautiful. When you are up close, you get a better idea of the grandeur and ancient-ness!

  42. Diane A.

    I saw the question and answered it before I saw the answer listed: Iguazu Falls. I haven’t been everywhere, but it was unbelievable and it was my first answer. Yellowstone also lived up to my expectations. Seeing my son sing mass with his choir at St. Peters Basilica in the Vatican was also beyond my wildest belief.

  43. T&J Piccinato

    Two Events in China:
    1. Watching the sunrise over the Great Wall of China in Simatai after spending an evening with the village children & parents in Gubeikou Town.
    2. The Terra Cotta Warriors at Xian are perhaps one of the most amazing things we have ever seen. Just the massive size of the exhibit is impressive.

  44. Teresa

    Kemer or Antalya Turkey is popular with the europeans but not known to America. The Yacht tour is wonderfull and the sea is Turqoise and next the the mountain. Kemer has an international sea port. Not sure how to send picture but the yachts are really neat looking also.

  45. Bruce Stenman

    Easily it is Angkor Wat in Cambodia. There is nothing like it for shear scale as the many temples cover many square miles. Especially amazing is that the sculptures and rock carvings survived through the centuries in spite of the jungle growth, looters, and the Vietnam War when the US dropped more bombs on this tiny country than were dropped on Japan during World War II. Beautiful countryside and the Cambodians are an amazingly resilient people.

  46. Len Pine

    Without a doubt it has to be the Taj Mahal. It’s one of those mythical places of the world that actually lives up to its reputation. It is absolutely stunning.

  47. Joe Favaro

    Three thoughts:
    1. Sabi Sabi preserve in South Africa where I stood not 10 feet away from 6 Rhinos grazing. Scary but fascinating.

    2. Victoria Falls in Zimbabwai during the day with the mist rising hundreds of feet skyward.

    3. Sunset on the Zambesi River. What a sight.
    How do I sent pictures?

  48. John Thompson

    Angkor Wat/Angkor Thom complex in Siem Reap, Cambodia. Pictures don’t do it justice

  49. Wayne Hadden

    Visited WIELICZKA HISTORIC SALT MINE, Krakow, Poland.

    230 Km of tunnels through solid rock salt with sculptures including an underground chapel complete with Rock Salt figures and alters.

  50. Cherry C.

    All the natural phenomena (waterfalls, canyons, cliffs, mountains, lakes and so on) and many manmade ones (dams, skyscrapers, etc.) are of course wonderful, and we’ve enjoyed many of them in a lifetime of travel on all continents except Antarctica.

    But THE most amazing and wonder-full place we’ve ever visited was the old city of Krakow, Poland. The enormous hand-carved, gilded and painted altarpiece (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Altar_of_Veit_Stoss ) in the immense gothic church on the main square (from the tower of which the recording of the bugler’s famous truncated call that saved the town centuries ago plays hourly) is the most astounding work of art I have ever viewed.

    When you add to that the square itself with its ancient cloth market, the nearby castle (fabulously restored, full of ancient furnishings and tapestries, tours available in a multitude of languages), the cathedral (where the former Pope presided), the old Jewish quarter, all the other untouched-by-war medieval buildings, ancient city walls, all in a very walkable central area — plus the ability to take day trips out of town to an incredible underground salt mine and/or Auschwitz (terrible to visit, but important to remember) — and much, much more [see http://www.krakow-info.com/ ], Krakow will blow your socks off.

    We were alerted by many guidebook writers that this would be the case, and thought we were prepared, but the reality of the place outshone all our expectations. It is a priceless gem, but totally available.

    P.S. The food everywhere there was also fantastic–I made it a point to eat something made with mushrooms at every lunch and dinner for the 5 days we were there; never duplicated a dish, and each was more delicious than can be expressed. And all the other food, at restaurant after restaurant, was just as wonderful, not to mention very reasonably priced.

  51. Dena

    Seabrook Island is a 6 mile wide, small island, about 30 minutes from Charleston, South Carolina. Seabrook is a gated community.. quiet and serene. If you don’t live there or have a condo reservation, you don’t get in. No fast food restaurants within 35 minutes of the island. The beach and the ocean are breathtaking.. the beach is private to just residents and approved visitors, so it is never crowded. The dolphins play just 20′ from you in the water, giving you a show, and the fishing/shrimping boats are in and out of the marina all day long. Lazy evenings can be spent on the back deck overlooking the ocean at Pelican Watch Villas (all furnished), and having a home cooked meal. Mornings are breathtaking watching the sun rise and getting your view of the new morning ocean. By far, the best vacation spot I have ever found, and I continue to go back year after year, after year.

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