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Each and every morning, the sun peeks over the horizon to welcome a new day, bathing the world in brilliant reds, yellows, pinks, and oranges. Explorers know that wherever you are, this daily phenomenon can turn the ordinary view from your window into one filled with magic, and experiencing that daily magic from a new place can be a thrilling introduction to a destination. From waterfalls to oceans, temples to mountains, volcanos to architectural wonders, there are some extra special vistas worth waking up early for, so for all those sunrise seekers, here’s a list of spectacular places for catching the first rays of the day on your next adventure.

Sunrise over Iguazu Falls

Iguazu Falls 

Waterfalls are always awe-inspiring to behold, and the Iguazu Falls, on the border of Argentina and Brazil, are legendary for their sheer magnitude. Add the bright colors of the sunrise hitting it just right and this majestic natural wonder becomes a breathtaking spectacle of colors and rainbows unlike any other in the world and a view that very few ever see. Dividing the Iguazu River into the upper and lower portions, these falls are the largest on earth, and the panoramic experience of viewing them from the viewing platforms, boat, or hiking trail, makes them a must-see for any traveler. 

Elephant in front of Botswana sunrise


A sunrise on safari marks the dawning of a day of discovery and exploration. The plains of Botswana, with their endless stretching horizon, spiky trees, and wandering wildlife make the ideal setting for an epic sunrise, calling to mind the opening scene of The Lion King. With many animals enjoying the temperate early morning weather before the heat of the day kicks into high gear, an early morning excursion to view the sunrise also increases your chances of seeing big cats returning from a night of hunting, elephants visiting watering holes, and zebra herds grazing. A sunrise game drive is an essential bucket list item for wildlife lovers and sunrise fans alike. 

Getting you there: Wildlife & Wilderness of Botswana

Finland snowy landscape with the sun rising

The Land of the Midnight Sun 

For a truly unique sunshine experience, Finland, also known as the Land of the Midnight Sun, is an option unlike any other. Summer in Finland means a sun that never fully sets, but rather hovers over the horizon with a colorful, drawn-out sunset that merges into a sunrise without properly dipping past the horizon. The glow of the sun at midnight is a ‘sunrise’ that must be seen to be believed and can be enjoyed in so many different ways. Take advantage of the sun still riding high in the sky as you enjoy classic daytime activities like nature rafting, husky walking, or relaxing in a sauna. North of the Arctic Circle, sun-seekers will enjoy sunlight all day and night from May to August, while the southern parts of the nation enjoy the phenomenon during June and July.

Getting you there: Wild Finland

Angkor Wat silhouetted in front of the sunrise

Angkor Wat  

Some silhouettes are so iconic, they immediately convey a sense of place. The Eiffel Tower, the Taj Mahal, and, yes, the temples of Angkor Wat. Located in Siem Reap, Cambodia, the Angkor Wat Buddhist temple complex is the largest religious monument on earth, and while these temples are beautiful and fascinating at any time of the day, the silhouette of their peaks against a colorful sunrise makes the sky seem even brighter than it is. Visiting this bucket list-worthy spot before the sun rises has the added bonus of taking advantage of the cooler temperatures of the early morning, as this site can get very warm as the sun reaches its zenith.

 Getting you there: Cambodia Adventure

Arenal Volcano emitting smoke, Costa Rica

Arenal Volcano

A volcano, especially one as breathtakingly situated as Costa Rica’s Arenal, is an ideal vantage point for sunrise watching. A short hike through the curling morning fog gives great vantage points of the sun rising over the lush jungle horizon. The area has a great system of trails running through the rainforest and near lava fields created by previous eruptions. With high vantage points, great views overlooking Lake Arenal, and plentiful birdlife, this region has everything from waterfalls to hot springs and beyond, and starting a full day of adventure with a magical sunrise makes it even more phenomenal for visitors of all kinds.

Getting you there: Costa Rica