The world's most beautiful sunsets

Rough Guides Editors

written by
Rough Guides Editors

updated 29.04.2024

Sunset anywhere is a gorgeous time of day, whether the light is reflecting off a city skyline or you're watching the last rays shine out over the ocean.

There's something majestic about the sun setting for the day, but what does a beautiful sunset actually mean? For some, it's the orange glow setting behind a silhouetted building. For others, it means watching shades of pink and purple sweep over a viewpoint. Essentially, a beautiful sunset means whatever you want it to. We're all looking at the same sunset, but we all have our own experiences with them.

Below, we've selected the world's best sunsets. These take you all around the world, from vast deserts to city lights. Remember to come back to this post when you're in need of holiday inspiration!

For more sun-related recommendations, read our round-up of the best winter sun destinations around the world.

1. The Taj Mahal, India

The Taj Mahal in the Indian state of Agra is regarded as one of the world’s architectural wonders. It transforms into one of the best sunsets in the world when the day comes to an end and the sun starts to set behind it. The sun’s rays bend and wind round the white marble dome, bathing the stuccoed walls, minarets and garden in a soft pink and orange haze.

Consider taking a day tour from Agra to experience both, the majestic sunrise as well as the romantic sunset at Taj Mahal. Or are you planning to visit other places in India as well? Our local experts can help organise not only your Taj Mahal tours, but trips all over the country.

Taj Mahal, India © Don Mammoser/Shutterstock

The Taj Mahal glowing in soft light makes it one of the best sunset locations in the world © Shutterstock

2. The Atacama Desert, Chile

Chile’s Atacama Desert is so dry that plants find it difficult to sustain life here. This is where the 2001 film Space Odyssey was shot, the desert doubling up as the Moon’s arid surface. Small populations cluster round water-filled oases, witness to an incredible sunset each day. Sandboarding and sunset excursions are a popular way for tourists to enjoy the spectacle of the fiery sun sinking over the bone-dry land.

To beat the crowds, take a VIP tour from Atacama to the Valle de la Luna in a small group setting. And of course, if you're planning to explore Chile further, get in touch with our local expert today for a personalised quote.


Sunset hits different in the Atacama Desert in Chile © Shutterstock

3. The Matterhorn, Switzerland

Rearing 4478 metres skyward, the mighty Matterhorn is the icon of the Swiss Alps. The sight of the sun setting behind its snow-streaked slopes is truly awe-inspiring. Head to the futuristic-looking, eco-friendly Monte Rosa hut to catch this cool sunset. The trip there requires plenty of energy and pluck but the views are certainly worth the effort.

Discover even more scenic hotspots in Switzerland with our Rough Guide to Switzerland.

matterhorn switzerland beautiful sunsets

The iconic Matterhorn glowing in the sunset © Shutterstock

4. Punta del Este, Uruguay

Punta del Este is a chic and fashionable resort town. It's Uruguay’s answer to Europe’s glitzy St Tropez! Punta del Este sits on a peninsula with the Atlantic sea on one side and a calmer estuary strip on the other. After a busy day on the beach, sip a cocktail at one of the seafront bars - check here for the best restaurants in Punta del Este. Then, it's time to watch the large red orb dip below the ocean’s waves. Along with the city lights shimmering against the water's reflection, it makes for a very pretty sunset.

Enjoy Punta del Este on a guided sunset tour and learn more about this chic sea resort. If you're planning to combine Uruguay with neighbouring Argentina or Brazil, contact our local experts today for a personalised offer.

Uruguay. Punta del Este © Chaykovsky Igor/Shutterstock

Uruguay. Punta del Este © Chaykovsky Igor/Shutterstock

5. Zanzibar, Tanzania

Zanzibar is a beautiful island off the coast of Tanzania. It has multiple tropical beaches that are the perfect spots to watch the hot African sun disappear. Alternatively, hop on a boat and cruise about on the gentle waves, stained blood-red by the setting sun. It might just be the best sunset in the world!

Zanzibar is also the ideal location to end your Safari trip in Tanzania. Our The Big 5 & Beaches in Zanzibar itinerary gives you a first idea of what is possible with our local experts, and you can find tips on planning your safari in Tanzania here. If you're already in town and just looking for a sunset activity, look no further than a traditional Dhow sunset sailing.

Dhow sailing during sunset in Zanzibar © Robin Babista/Shutterstock

Dhow sailing during sunset in Zanzibar © Robin Babista/Shutterstock

6. Siem Reap, Cambodia

You won’t be watching the sun set in peaceful isolation on the top of Phnom Bakheng temple in Angkor Wat. From around 4pm a large and cheerful crowd begins to gather at this Siem Reap hotspot. Wait for the magical moment when the sun hits the top of Tonlé Sap lake, sparkling and shimmering. As beautiful sunsets go, this is one of the best.

To make your whole journey a fulfilling experience, we recommend exploring our Cambodia itineraries, where you can not only find ideas for your trip, but also book one of our unique itineraries carefully designed by our local experts.


Angkor Wat © Shutterstock

7. Isle of Skye, Scotland

Quiraing is an oddly shaped landslip on the Isle of Skye’s Trotternish Ridge. But for all its uniqueness, it offers a beautiful mountain sunset. It's a favourite spot among photographers, who come armed with their lenses. As the sun sets, the light bounces off the crags and crevices, and this light show becomes even more captivating. Syke also featured in our reader survey of the most beautiful places in Scotland.

If you're staying in Inverness consider taking a small group tour out to the Isle of Skye and Eilean Donan Castle.

© Shutterstock

8. Santa Monica, California, USA

California’s much-loved playground, Santa Monica Pier boasts rollercoasters, amusement arcades, shops and cafés. There's also a whirling carousel and an aquarium. Clearly, there's plenty of things to do; but one of Santa Monica's best experiences is totally natural.

When the sun begins to go down, head to the beach below the jetty. Watch the lights from the amusement park twinkle in the twilight. If you've spent the day on the rollercoasters, this beautiful beach sunset will certainly keep you grounded.

Santa Monica pier, california, beautiful sunsets

Sunset at Santa Monica Pier © Shutterstock

9. The Maasai Mara, Kenya

Sunset on safari is a must-see sight. The Maasai Mara National Reserve in Kenya is one of the most magical places to enjoy it. The sun’s rays begin to cool as it sinks beneath the horizon, immersing the land and wildlife in a rusty orange light. Remember your camera, because this is surely one of the most beautiful sunsets in the world.

With our local experts in Kenya, you can create and worry-free book an itinerary completely tailored to your preferences, including sunset and sunrise game drives. Click through this sample itinerary for Kenya and send in your modifications today to receive your personalised quote.


© Shutterstock

10. Sussex, England

The white, chalky cliffs between Seaford and Beachy Head provide the perfect blank canvas for a pretty sunset. Along this picturesque Sussex coastline is a perfect sunset-watching spot. Catch the rays of the setting sun bounce off the cliff walls. It engulfs the entire landscape in a burnt orange and dusky pink glow.

Take the time to explore nearby Arundel and other towns in the southeast, which makes for another impressive sunset spot.


© Shutterstock

11. Port Waikato, New Zealand

The small town of Port Waikato is home to Sunset Beach. This is said to be the best place in New Zealand to watch the sun go down. The light slowly fades into darkness as the rolling blue waves crash and thunder onto the shore. While the surfers catch the waves, you can catch a beautiful ocean sunset.

Discover more natural scenic spots in Waikato, from craggy limestone outcrops to glowworm-filled caves.

Sunset Beach at Port Waikato, New Zealand © C.Levers/Shutterstock

Sunset Beach at Port Waikato, New Zealand © C.Levers/Shutterstock

12. Cairo, Egypt

Only in Egypt could you witness the prettiest sunset ever. The hot red sun sinking and glittering between the Great Pyramids is undoubtedly mesmerizing. Located near Cairo, this sunset will leave you with a profound sense of awe and history. Not to mention some seriously impressive photographs, too.

Check out these other top views in Cairo.

sphinx pyramid giza egypt beautiful sunsets

© Shutterstock

13. Bali, Indonesia

Bali is known for its special sunsets. One particularly attractive place to watch it is at Jimbaran Beach. A handful of excellent seafood restaurants line the scenic beachfront. Pull up a chair, order some fresh lobster or red snapper and watch as the sun peacefully slips beneath the waves. If you're looking for the meaning of a beautiful sunset, look no further.

Before heading out to dinner, watch the Kecak dance at Uluwatu temple, truly an unforgettable experience.

Silhouettes of people at sunset on the beach of Kuta, Bali, Indonesia © Netfalls Remy Musser/Shutterstock

© Shutterstock

14. Hawaii Island, Hawaii, USA

Located on Hawaii’s Kohala Coast, Kauna’oa Bay is generally accepted to be the best beach in the US. A crest of sparkling white sand, it’s also the perfect venue for a magnificent sunset. There’s a big luxury hotel on the beachfront which offers amazing views of the sunset. Non-guests can still get access to the beach and enjoy a beautiful ocean sunset. Watch the Pacific turn a breathtaking mix of yellow, violet and orange – you'll truly feel at one with yourself.

Once you've watched the sunset, find out what else Hawaii has to offer.

Haleakala volcano, Maui Island, Hawaii © Pierre Leclerc/Shutterstock

Haleakala volcano, Maui Island, Hawaii © Pierre Leclerc/Shutterstock

15. Borneo, Malaysia

Borneo’s coastal town of Kota Kinabalu is overlooked by the immense Mount Kinabalu. It also provides a dramatic backdrop for a sumptuous sunset. Grab some pan-fried dumplings or noodles from a local food market and head to the town’s beach to watch the sun fall behind the mighty mountain. This beautiful mountain sunset isn't one to be missed!

If you're looking for an international buffet instead, take a sunset dinner cruise.

Borneo, beautiful sunsets

© Shutterstock

16. Lofoten, Norway

It’s not always sunset in Lofoten, an archipelago in the north of Norway. Instead, from between late May and mid-July the sun never goes down. The so-called “Midnight Sun” keeps the land in bright daylight. In the winter months it’s “Polar Night” when the sun does not even rise, and the swirling green Northern Lights come out to play instead.

We recommend taking a guided tour to chase the Northern Lights.

Dramatic sunset over the mountains and the sea of Lofoten islands in Norway © Nick Fox/Shutterstock

Dramatic sunset over the mountains and the sea of Lofoten islands in Norway © Nick Fox/Shutterstock

17. Santorini, Greece

Sunset in Santorini is a highly popular moment. The white-washed town of Oia offers a beautiful sunset view. Note that tourists take up every single inch of free space, some even settling down with picnics! When dusk approaches, the Aegean Sea is lit up in a gorgeous rose-pink light. This sparks off an impromptu applause from appreciative spectators. This has to be one of the most romantic sunsets in the world!

The ideal way to experience the magical sunset is taking a sunset cruise on a luxurious catamaran.

Santorini with sunset over Church in Fira town, Greece © Shutterstock

© Shutterstock

18. Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts, USA

A favourite escape for city-folk, Martha’s Vineyard is home to the quiet town of Aquinnah. Crowds congregate at sunset to watch a pretty sun set. Standing on the town’s clay cliffs and overlooking Jungle Beach is Aquinnah lighthouse. In order to get to the top you have to pay. Once you're there, you can watch the sun move gently across the sky. And note that Jungle Beach has nudist tendencies!

Afterwards, explore the rest of Martha's Vineyard, which is Massachusetts' largest offshore island.

Vineyard Sound and Martha's Vineyard in Massachusetts, USA © NayaDadara/Shutterstock

Vineyard Sound and Martha's Vineyard in Massachusetts, USA © NayaDadara/Shutterstock

19. Uluru, Australia

Uluru (also known as Ayers Rock) stands at 348m in Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. This large lump of sandstone is a bit of a chameleon, changing from a dark rusty brown colour at sunrise to blood-red as the sun sets. If you're looking for beautiful sunsets and sunrises, make time for Uluru. The rock is sacred to the Anangu people and visitors aren't permitted to climb it. Instead, stand at the foot and gaze up as the sun sinks through the cloud formations and dusk turns to night.

And what better way to enjoy the sunset than with wine and cheese? Maybe a Barbecue dinner?

Uluru, Ayers Rock, Australia © Uwe Aranas/Shutterstock

Uluru, Ayers Rock, Australia © Uwe Aranas/Shutterstock

20. Cape Town, South Africa

Flat-topped Table Mountain is the focal point of Cape Town’s sunset. You can sit back with a chilled glass of wine on the harbour front and watch as the sun disappears silently behind the prominent plateau. Or why not take a boat trip out to where the Atlantic and Indian oceans meet? Either way, it’s a magnificent sight of a pretty cool sunset.

Cape Town by night, South Africa

© Shutterstock

21. Dolomites, Veneto, Italy

Tucked away in the heart of the imposing Dolomites is a sophisticated ski resort. Cortina d’Ampezzo is surrounded by some of the best skiing in the world. It's also blessed with beautiful sunsets. At the end of the day, a broad strip of the alpine valley is soaked in a soft pink light. There retains a gentle atmosphere where you can enjoy some relaxed après-ski.

bike dolomites italy beaitiful sunsets

© Shutterstock

22. The Grand Canyon, Arizona, USA

If it’s possible, Arizona’s Grand Canyon becomes even more incredible at sunset. The rocks, towers, cliffs and crevices turn a deep shade of red, tinged with burnt orange. It’s like the whole canyon is on fire. Head to the North or South Rim and stand back, feeling amazed at this beautiful sunset.

To learn more about the national park, a guided tour is recommended.

Grand Canyon from Desert View Point, South Rim with the Colorado © Josemaria Toscano/Shutterstock

© Shutterstock

23. Venice, Italy

The marble churches, wandering canals and narrow streets are enticing enough during the day. But to capture Italy’s most beautiful city in its best light, don’t miss the sun setting. There are numerous places from which to enjoy the spectacle.

Choose from a typical Venetian boat on the Grand Canal, the bustling Accademia Bridge or the top of San Giorgio church. Whichever vantage point you go for, prepare yourself for one of the best sunsets in the world.

Piazza San Marco in Venice with Gondola

© Shutterstock

24. Alaska, USA

Alaska’s frozen lakes, dark pine forests and thick blanket of snow and ice glisten and sparkle beneath the glorious haze of sunset. The northernmost city in the United States, Anchorage, is a good place to watch it from. The sky is dyed a stunning shade of caramel yellow. It's a cool sunset – in both senses of the word!

sunset anchorage usa beautiful sunsets

© aarbois/Shutterstock

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Rough Guides Editors

written by
Rough Guides Editors

updated 29.04.2024

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