12 Apostles, Australia
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These eight limestone formations are a major landmark along the Great Ocean Road. The dramatic sight of the stacks, the light on the water and the rolling surf makes this a remarkable spot to welcome a new day.
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Over 2000 ancient ruins and edifices, dating back to the 11th century, lend an ethereal ambience to the sunrise over the Bagan Archaeological Area. The silhouettes of temples and pagodas become harder to see as they recede into the morning haze.
Grand Canyon, United States
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The Toroweap Overlook is a unique spot to wait for the sunrise on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, with views down to the Colorado River. On the South Rim, Yavapai Point is popular; from both of these lookouts, you can watch as the morning light slowly changes the colour of the canyon walls.
Cape Town, South Africa
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From the top of Lion’s Head lookout, itself on the summit of a mountain, the sun can be seen rising over the unmistakable flat top of Table Mountain, casting a warm glow over Cape Town.
Antarctic Peninsula, Antarctica
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Light reflecting off glassy icebergs, pure-white snow and calm, deep, blue-black waters make watching the sunrise from Antarctica a truly special experience – should you be lucky enough to get the chance.
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
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It might be easier (and more fun) to party until dawn rather than set an alarm for sunrise in Brazil’s capital. Expect fabulous vistas from Mirante Dona Marta, a lookout with an unmistakable view of Sugarloaf Mountain.
Great Wall of China, China
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Watching the sun creep over the misty ridges along the path of the Great Wall of China is an incredible moment thanks to the beautiful scenery and the realisation of how remarkable this ancient man-made wonder really is.
Giant’s Causeway, Northern Ireland
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This UNESCO World Heritage Site is one of the most famous attractions in the region. Made up of thousands of naturally formed hexagonal basalt columns, the Giant’s Causeway looks evening more intriguing during sunrise.
Byron Bay, Australia
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Get up at sparrow’s to make the schlep up to the Cape Byron Lighthouse, Australia’s most easterly point, and you’ll be compensated with a view of a radiant orange sun peeking over the horizon of the south Pacific Ocean.
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The soft glow of dawn over Paris makes it seem even more magical, whether you’re at Place du Trocadéro looking out towards the Eiffel Tower or along the Seine and its picturesque bridges.
Haleakalā, United States
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Haleakalā translates to “House of the Sun” and is one of two volcanoes that form the Hawaiian island of Maui. Gazing east from the lookout at dawn, the sun rises above an 800-metre-deep impression in the earth that appears as though it could be on another planet.
The Quiraing, Scotland
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On the Isle of Skye, The Quiraing is a landslip that forms part of the Trotternish Ridge escarpment. Distinct jagged outcrops, rolling hills, pretty lochs and angled plateaus make this historic area a special place to watch the sunrise.
Taj Mahal, India
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In the stillness of the morning, the pure white marble of the Taj Mahal takes on a soft luminance and the sunlight lends a glowing aura to this grand mausoleum.
Mount Fitz Roy, Chile/Argentina
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Bleary-eyed adventurers in El Chaltén and nearby campsites are roused from their beds and sleeping bags early to witness the dawn gradually turn the impressive granite peaks of Mount Fitz Roy a deep pink against the sky.
Mount Fuji, Japan
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In the Land of the Rising Sun, there’s no more apt place to see the sunrise than Mount Fuji. The Fuji Five Lakes region, north of the mountain, offers plenty of picture-perfect vantage points, including Lake Shōji.
Moraine Lake, Canada
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From the Moraine Lake lookout in Banff National Park, the sunrise makes Tonsa Peak appear a fiery pink and the glacial waters take on a vivid turquoise hue when they’re at their highest, thanks to rock particles in the water.
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Stay up to greet the sun from Ponte dell’Accademia on the Grand Canal as it lights up the domes of Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute. The vision will make you fall even more in love with a city that’s touted as one of the most romantic in the world.
Mount Bromo, Indonesia
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Framed by smaller peaks and the Tengger Caldera, the striking ridged edges of Mount Bromo volcano create dramatic shadows and a moonscape-like atmosphere in the emerging light.
Mount Cook, New Zealand
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It was a training ground for Sir Edmund Hillary in his lead-up to Everest and while the sunrise is breathtaking from the summit (in every sense), it’s just as special from the ground, surrounded by the lakes and glaciers of Aoraki Mount Cook National Park.
Roman Forum, Italy
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The raised Via Monte Tarpeo offers a sweeping view of the ancient ruins of the Roman Forum. This historic site seems even more extraordinary as the sun rises over the deserted grounds.
Angkor Wat, Cambodia
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It can get a little crowded seeing the sun come up behind the shadowed outlines of the Angkor Wat monuments but the changing colours of the sky as the temple complex is gradually illuminated makes it worth the hustle.
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The three crater lakes on this volcano continually change colour from blue to green to red – seemingly at a whim. At dawn, the site takes on an especially serene and other-worldly quality.
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Watching the sun rise over Uluru in Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, it’s easy to see why the world’s second-largest monolith is such a significant sacred cultural site.
Up next: The Most Colourful Places in the World
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