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Rough Guides Editors

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. Here are the world's best sunsets.

1. The Taj Mahal, India

Regarded as one of the world’s architectural wonders, the Taj Mahal in the Indian state of Agra, transforms into a magical apparition as 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.

2. The Atacama Desert, Chile

Chile’s Atacama Desert is so dry that plants find it difficult to sustain life here, and the 2001 film Space Odyssey was shot there, 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.

3. The Matterhorn, Switzerland

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

4. Punta del Este, Uruguay

A chic and fashionable resort town that’s Uruguay’s answer to Europe’s glitzy St Tropez, Punta del Este sits on a peninsula with the rough Atlantic sea on one side and a calmer, sandier estuary strip on the other. After a busy day on the beach, sip a cocktail at one of the seafront bars and watch the large red orb dip below the ocean’s waves.

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.

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    5. Zanzibar

    Zanzibar, a beautiful island off the coast of Tanzania, has multiple tropical beaches that are the perfect spots from which to watch the hot African sun disappear. Or hop on a boat and cruise about on the gentle waves, stained blood-red by the setting sun.

    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. If you're already in town and just looking for a sunset activity, look no further than a traditional Dhow sunset sailing.

    6. Siem Reap, Cambodia

    You won’t be watching the sun set in peaceful isolation on the top of Siem Reap’s Phnom Bakheng temple, as from around 4pm a large and cheerful crowd begins to gather, waiting for the magical moment when the sun hits the top of Tonlé Sap lake, sparkling and shimmering.

    A private day tour is the best way to visit Angkor Wat and its stunning sunset, but if you're already in Cambodia, why not explore further with our local experts and visit other highlights such as Kep and Phnom Penh.

    7. Isle of Skye, Scotland

    Quiraing, an oddly shaped landslip on the Isle of Skye’s Trotternish Ridge, is a favourite spot among photographers, who come armed with their lenses to capture the light bouncing off the crags and crevices. As the sun sets, the light show becomes even more captivating.

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

    8. Santa Monica, California, USA

    California’s much-loved playground, Santa Monica Pier boasts rollercoasters, amusement arcades, numerous shops and cafés, a whirling carousel and an aquarium. When the sun begins to go down, head to the beach below the jetty and watch the lights from the amusement park twinkle in the twilight.

    9. The Maasai Mara, Kenya

    Sunset on safari is a must-see sight, and 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.

    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.

    10. Sussex, England

    The white, chalky cliffs on the picturesque Sussex coastline between Seaford and Beachy Head provide the perfect blank canvas for the rays of the setting sun to bounce off, engulfing the entire landscape in a burnt orange and dusky pink glow.

    11. Port Waikato, New Zealand

    The small town of Port Waikato is home to Sunset Beach, 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 – favoured by surfers – crash and thunder onto the shore.

    12. Cairo, Egypt

    The sight of Egypt’s hot red sun sinking and glittering between the triangular peaks of the Great Pyramids near Cairo is a mesmerizing one, and will leave you with a profound sense of awe and history, as well as some seriously impressive photographs.

    13. Bali, Indonesia

    Bali is known for its special sunsets, and one particularly attractive place to watch it is at Jimbaran Beach, where a handful of excellent seafood restaurants line the beachfront. Pull up a chair, order some fresh lobster or red snapper and watch as the sun peacefully slips beneath the waves.

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

    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, but non-guests can still get access to the beach and enjoy watching the Pacific turn a breathtaking mix of yellow, violet and orange.

    15. Borneo, Malaysia

    Borneo’s coastal town of Kota Kinabalu is overlooked by immense Mount Kinabalu, which 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.

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

    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.

    17. Santorini, Greece

    Sunset in Santorini – particularly in the white-washed town of Oia – is a highly popular moment, with tourists taking 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, sparking off an impromptu applause from appreciative spectators.

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

    18. Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts, USA

    A favourite escape for city-folk, Martha’s Vineyard is home to the quiet town of Aquinnah (previously called Gay Head and still referred to as such), where the crowds congregate at sunset. Standing on the town’s clay cliffs and overlooking Jungle Beach – so-called for its nudist tendencies – is Aquinnah lighthouse (to get to the top you have to pay), where you can watch the sun move gently across the sky.

    19. Uluru, Australia

    A large lump of sandstone standing 348m in the middle of the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, Uluru (also known as Ayers Rock) is a bit of a chameleon, changing from a dark rusty brown colour at sunrise to blood-red as the sun sets. The rock is sacred to the Anangu people and visitors are discouraged from climbing 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?

    20. Cape Town, South Africa

    Flat-topped Table Mountain is the focal point of Cape Town’s sunset. You can either sit back with a chilled glass of wine on the harbour front and watch as the sun disappears silently behind the prominent plateau, or take a boat trip out to where the Atlantic and Indian oceans meet – either way it’s a magnificent sight.

    21. Dolomites, Veneto, Italy

    Tucked away in the heart of the imposing Dolomites and surrounded by some of the best skiing in the world, the sophisticated ski resort of Cortina d’Ampezzo is also blessed with beautiful sunsets. At the end of the day, a great swathe of the alpine valley is soaked in a soft pink light, a gentle atmosphere in which to enjoy some relaxed après-ski.

    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, amazed.

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

    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, including from a typical Venetian boat on the Grand Canal, from bustling Accademia Bridge or from the top of San Giorgio church.

    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, as the sky is dyed a stunning shade of caramel yellow.

    © aarbois/Shutterstock

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