Because everyone deserves a little eye candy now and then, we’ve gathered some of the most spectacular panoramas of breathtaking locations from across the globe. With the proliferation of drones and modern camera technology, expansive viewpoints from virtually any point on or above the earth are now available at the touch of a button or tap of the screen.
While your smartphone may have a panorama option, you’ve never seen images like these. There’s nothing quite like the magic that results when a skilled photographer meets advanced hardware in some of the most beautiful places on earth!
1. Downtown Dubai
The most populous city in the United Arab Emirates and a burgeoning financial capital of the world, Dubai rose out of the desert in an incredibly fast time, reaching for the sky with an array of increasingly astounding buildings. Home to the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa, the city also houses a man-made island chain shaped like a map of the world.
2. Angel Falls, Venezuela
Angel Falls, in Venezuala, is the tallest waterfall on earth, with a height of 3,212 feet. The original name, Kerepakupai Vená, means “waterfall of the deepest place.” The falls, part of the Gauja River, are part of a UNESCO World Heritage site.
3. Barcelona, Spain
The capital of Spain, Barcelona appears positively psychedelic when viewed from far above. The parallel streets and geometric precision with which the old city is laid out are dotted with astounding bursts of color and unique architecture.
4. Victoria Falls, Zambia
Situated on the border of Zambia and Zimbabwe, Victoria Falls is the largest continuous sheet of falling water. While neither the highest nor the widest waterfall in the world, it’s considered the largest, because of its width of 5,604 feet and height of 354 feet.
5. Iguazu Falls, Argentina
Iguazu Falls is located at the point where the Iguazu River falls off the Paraná Plateau, at the border between the Argentina province of Misiones and the Brazilian state of Paraná. A unique outcropping, seen at center, allows for breathtaking views right from the center of the falls.
6. Mount Everest
Mount Everest, as you probably know, is the highest point on the earth’s surface. With an elevation of 29,029 feet, it’s almost 6 miles from sea level, and was first climbed in May of 1953 by explorer Edmund Hillary and his Nepali guide, Tenzing Norgay.
7. Arc de Triomphe, Paris
Here’s another old European capital seen in its full, dizzying geometry from above. The roundabout surrounding L’arc de Triomphe, in Paris, is perhaps the most famous on earth, with surrounding avenues bursting away like spokes on a wheel.
8. Empire State Building, Manhattan
Since the attacks on September 11, 2001, the Empire State Building resumed its place as the tallest building on the Eastern seaboard of the United States. It’s an iconic presence that even those who have never visited New York will recognize from countless films and television shows.
9. Plosky Tolbachik Volcano, Russia
Situated on the far Eastern edge of Russia, in the Kamchatka Peninsula, Plosky is one of a pair of active volcanoes rising over 12,000 feet above sea level. It erupted as recently as November, 2012, flowing lava for more than a month.
10. Manhattan Skyline
Having perhaps the most iconic skyline on earth, Manhattan is recognizable when approached from virtually any angle. However, the aerial view seen here allows us to place it within the vast scope of the surrounding cityscape.
11. Great Barrier Reef, Australia
You may be surprised to learn that the Great Barrier Reef off the coast of Australia is the largest living entity on earth, covering an area of almost 133,000 square miles and clearly visible from space.
12. Taj Mahal, India
Originally commissioned in 1632 by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan to house the tomb of his favorite of three wives, the Taj Mahal is a fantastical white marble mausoleum located on the southern bank of Yamuna River in India. Standing the test of time, it’s now one of the premier tourist destination on earth.
13. Halong Bay, Vietnam
Halong translates as “where the dragon descends into the sea,” as legends state that the incredible archipelago was formed by a great dragon in the mountains. It’s a mystical landscape of limestone islets, appearing like the peaks of long-submerged mountains.
14. Coast of Iceland
With one of the most distinctly surreal landscapes on earth, Iceland is home to a people who still officially believe in Gnomes, Elves, and other mystical creatures. This panoramic look at the coast makes it easy to understand why.
15. Neuschwanstein Castle, Germany
Neuschwanstein is an nineteenth century German castle commissioned by Ludwig II as an homage to Richard Wagner. Designed as a personal retreat, it was opened to the public immediately following his death in 1886.
16. Great Pyramids, Egypt
The great pyramids of Giza are quite simply one of the most iconic objects ever built by man. Considered one of the original great wonders of the world, they were built thousands of years ago and are clearly visible from space.
17. Unknown Island
We could find no further information about this particular image, other than the fact that it was meant to showcase the capabilities of the aerial panoramic camera. Emerald waters and deep green jungle always signify adventure and romance.
18. Singapore Flyer
The Singapore Flyer was the world’s tallest ferris wheel upon its completion in 2008 until Las Vegas had to one-up the tiny island Nation by building one 2.6 feet taller in 2014. Still, it’s an amazing and newly iconic presence in the futuristic city.
19. Bangkok, Thailand
The capital of Thailand is a sprawling metropolis, centered on the Chao Phraya River, which feeds an intricate network of canals. It’s the starting point for millions of South Asian backpackers going back decades, and home to some of the most magnificent Buddhist shrines on earth.
20. Etihad Towers
Returning to Dubai, we find a sublime aerial view of the Etihad Towers, a set of luxury hotel, residential, and office towers known for their gleaming, curved glass surfaces.
21. Grand Canyon
At over 277 miles long and a mile deep, the Grand Canyon is the most famous geological formation in North America. The Pueblo people considered it a holy site, while Europeans and their descendants have been visiting the canyon since at least 1540. We can thank president Teddy Roosevelt for championing its preservation over a century ago.
We just had to include this vibrant shot of Shanghai at night, as it’s one of the most futuristic and modern looking cities on earth. The sprawling metropolis is the largest city in China and a burgeoning world financial hub. At right we can see the Oriental Pearl TV tower, with its distinctive pink spheres.
23. Great Wall, China
The Great Wall was the first manmade creation visible from space, as its full breadth, including sections built at various points in history, stretches over 13,000 miles along an East-West path that was originally meant to defend China against invaders.
24. Hong Kong
Hong Kong is known as the port of the world, and is the premier shipping hub for the entire globe. The city-state was relinquished by the British into Chinese control almost 20 years ago, and continues to thrive independent of the standard laws of mainland China.
25. Blue Mosque, Istanbul
The Sultan Ahmed Mosque is known as the Blue Mosque for its distinctive blue tiling throughout the interior, and is one of the most recognizable manmade structures on earth. In one of the longest continually populated cities in history, the nearly 500 year old structure is still used as an active mosque today.
26. Kuala Lampur, Malaysia
The capital of Malaysia has an evocative skyline, speckled with verdant forests, and defined by a pair of notable outliers: the twin Petronas towers, with their distinctive connecting sky bridge, and the KL tower, the 7th tallest structure on the planet. The entire image looks like Blade Runner transposed into Hobbiton.
27. Las Vegas
Las Vegas is a city like no other, yet contains visual nods to famous places across the globe, including the Eiffel Tower, which can be seen at center. The now-sprawling city sprung from a desolate place in the sand mere decades ago, and is now a financial powerhouse in the US.
The biggest port on the south of the United States, Miami has been the entry point for immigrants and commerce for decades. The thriving culture has produced a skyline that, while less iconic than New York’s, is clearly recognizable as much as the surrounding emerald oceans.
29. Novodevichy Convent, Moscow
Translated as New Maidens’ Monastery, this 17th century cloister is one of the only remaining structures of its type to remain intact through modern times. Surrounded by walls, parks, and the Moscow River, it’s an astonishing site out of history within the modern landscape. If you squint just right, the building and its reflection forms a perfect sine wave.
30. Christ The Redeemer, Rio
This art deco monument was created in 1931 and stands 98 feet tall on the 2,300 foot Corcovado mountain overlooking Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. In 2013, a pair of extreme sportsmen from Norway performed a death-defying wingsuit flyby of the statue.
31. Shanghai (again)
We simply had to return to the futuristic glow of Shanghai for a second panoramic shot of the city at night. The curvy hum of city streets pulses with an orange light, like arteries through a sprawling neon body.
32. Cape Town, South Africa
Finally, we get to this soaring view over the southernmost tip of Africa, with the dense urban sprawl of Cape Town in full view. The second biggest continent on earth comes to a point here, with the city standing before the astonishing Table Mountain, visible in the distance.
We hope you’ve felt as astonished as we have by these indescribably gorgeous panoramic vistas. Being witness to the heights of both humanity and the earth itself is a great way to realign our perspectives and get us in tune with the bigger picture of life on this planet. It’s hard to feel boxed in by life, knowing these extraordinary places are within our reach!