28 Hidden Wonders of the World (+Photos)

Our world is an amazing place, full of fascinating landscapes and famous landmarks. While some monuments like the Taj Mahal or Machu Picchu are overrun by tourists, others remain off-the-beaten-path, unknown to most people.

Sculpted by either the Earth or engineers aeons ago, these ancient historic sites and unique nature spots are often set in quite isolated areas. This makes these astonishing canyons, pyramids and caves even more rewarding to explore as there is barely anyone else around.

Although hard to reach, their astounding architecture or outstanding beauty are certain to awe and inspire. With so many hidden wonders to discover, it could take a lifetime to uncover all the planet’s many marvels.

28. Panjin Red Beach, China

An incredible natural phenomenon, the picturesque Panjin Red Beach turns a bright crimson color each autumn. From August to October, millions come to photograph the striking sight which is found six hours drive northeast of Beijing.

Part of the largest wetland and reed marsh in the world, its shallow seas and tidelands cover the east bank of the Liaohe River. While it is home to hundreds of bird species, most people flock here for the beautiful bright red carpet that its seepweed creates.

Green jade in spring, the unusual suaeda salsa plants slowly change color as the seasons progress. Walking along the wooden boardwalks, taking in the views of its vivid hues really is an unforgettable experience.

27. Rani Ki Vav, Patan, India

Rani Ki Vav, Patan, India

Boasting some absolutely exquisite architecture, carvings and sculptures is the historic Rani Ki Vav stepwell in Patan. Located in Gujarat, India, it was built back in the eleventh century, during the rule of the Chalukya dynasty.

Meaning ‘The Queen’s Stepwell’ in Gujarati, its seven storys are decorated with thousands of stupendous sculptural panels. These depict everything from gods and goddesses to birds, beasts and celestial beings.

One of the finest stepwells in the country, the elaborate carvings of the inverted temples are amazing to inspect. Full of symbolic and secular imagery, it honours numerous Hindu deities while highlighting the sanctity of water at the same time.

26. Blagaj Tekke, Bosnia and Herzegovina

Blagaj Tekke

Another historic site that looks harmonious with the waters around it is Blagaj Tekke in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Lying just a short drive south of Mostar, the small Sufi monastery is set alongside a scenic spring, beneath steep, soaring cliffs.

Although the exact date is unknown, the traditional tekke is thought to have been erected around 1520, shortly after the establishment of Ottoman rule in the region. Its quiet, quaint site also includes a mausoleum and an old Turkish bath.

A lovely place to stop by, its simple white walls make for some wonderful photos what with the river and rocks next to them.

25. Paisupok Lake, Indonesia

Paisupok Lake

Hemmed in on all sides by steamy jungle vegetation are the crystal-clear waters of Paisupok Lake. Tucked away in the remote northern reaches of Peleng Island, it is one of the standout sights of Indonesia’s seldom-visited Banggai archipelago.

Despite its name meaning either black or dark waters, the lake’s glinting surface is actually unbelievably blue and clear. At the bottom are loads of fallen logs and rocks which somehow make its already special scenery even more arresting.

Besides swimming and snorkeling, you can also rent small boats, canoes and paddleboards to explore the lake and its lush surroundings. Still completely untouched and undeveloped, Paisupok will leave you with plenty of magnificent photos and even better memories.

24. Weano Gorge, Karijini National Park, Australia

Weano Gorge

Winding its way through the dry savannah and wiry grasslands of northwest Australia is the gigantic Weano Gorge. Part of Karijini National Park, its red rocks are lots of fun to hike and scramble about before plunging into its shady natural swimming pool.

Formed over the course of billions of years, the rugged canyon lies right at the center of the immense park. While some sections are quite wide, others see you slip between tall, narrow walls on the way to Handrail Pool.

Although it is quite an arduous hike and climb, the remarkable rock formations make it well worth it. Afterwards, there are the equally impressive Hancock and Knox gorges and Oxers Lookout viewpoint to see nearby.

23. Hegra, Saudi Arabia

Hegra, Saudi Arabia

Hidden away amidst the Hejaz region’s harsh mountains and desert climes is the isolated archaeological site of Hegra. After the world-famous Petra in Jordan, it once served as both the southernmost and second-largest city of the Nabataean Kingdom.

Also known as Mada’in Salih in Arabic, its more than a hundred monumental rock-cut tombs and all their intricate carvings are extraordinarily well-preserved. This is because of its arid environment, long abandonment and the fact it has often been considered a cursed place.

Wandering about its necropolises, examining their various facades and artistic styles really is an awe-inspiring experience. Its most photographed monument has to be Qasr al-Farid or ‘the Lonely Castle’ which stands out delightfully against the blue skies and bleak desert.

22. Cala Luna, Golfo di Orosei, Sardinia

Cala Luna

As picture-perfect as they come, Cala Luna’s sparkling white cliffs, caves and sands lie along the east coast of Sardinia. Arguably one of the most beautiful beaches in the Mediterranean, it is bordered by the twinkling turquoise waters of the Golfo di Orosei.

Meaning ‘Moon Cove’ in Italian, its inviting sands are so named due to their gently-curving crescent shape. Backed by humongous cliffs and towering headlands, its countless grottoes provide some welcome respite from the strong sun.

Situated halfway between the little communities of Baunei and Dorgali, the popular cove can be reached either by boat or a quite long, difficult hike. In summer, the beach can get quite busy as many tourist groups stop off here.

21. Kalavantin Durg, India

Quite an unusual shape, the prominent Kalavantin Durg is often considered one of the most challenging peaks to climb in the Western Ghats. Despite the trail’s difficulty, it still attracts keen trekkers with the astounding views from its summit.

Rising 686 metres in total, its soaring pinnacle is only accessed via hundreds of very steep, winding steps, cut into the cliffside. Some are quite hard and high to clamber up with rope ladders also being necessary at some particularly strenuous points.

All the gruelling effort you put in is rewarded though with jaw-dropping panoramas from the top of the mighty mount. What’s more, Kalavantin Durg is conveniently found less than two hours drive from Mumbai in the massive Maharashtra state of western India.

20. Ishak Pasha Palace, Doğubeyazıt, Turkey

Ishak Pasha Palace

Gazing out imperiously over the vast valley are all the elegant towers, spires and imposing walls of the semi-ruined Ishak Pasha Palace. Set in a spellbinding spot with rugged peaks bordering it on three sides, it lies not far from the Iran border in Eastern Anatolia.

Dating back to Ottoman times, the splendid palace and its fortified complex were built in the seventeenth century. While it was damaged numerous times by both wars and earthquakes, its grand courts, gates, dome and mosque are mostly still in pretty good condition.

Due to its secluded setting overlooking the small town of Doğubeyazıt, it receives relatively few visitors. This somehow makes its rooms even more fascinating to explore with Ottoman, Seljuk and Persian architectural styles all on show.

19. Agüero, Spain


A very calm and quiet place, the small Spanish village of Agüero is overshadowed by some absolutely spectacular rock formations. Part of the province of Huesca, it is located just 45 minutes drive from the city of the same name.

While its atmospheric old town and ancient stone churches are very pleasant to stroll around, your eyes and attention inevitably keep straying to the majestic Mallos de Agüero. Looming more than 300 metres high, their ginormous grey-and-ochre-colored cliffs completely block out the horizon.

The startling size of the large monoliths attract both keen mountain climbers and abseilers. There is also the cool Al-Foraz Cave to see which offers fantastic views over the surrounding forests and mountains.

18. Samarkand, Uzbekistan


Famed for its fabulous blue-tiled mosques and mausoleums, Samarkand is undoubtedly the most popular place to visit in Uzbekistan. Conquered and ruled by everyone from Alexander the Great and Genghis Khan to the muslims, Turks and Soviets, the city is a must for art and history lovers.

One of the oldest continuously-inhabited cities in Central Asia, its important setting along the Silk Road saw it flourish for centuries. Dotted about are countless madrassas, tombs and palaces that attest to its power and wealth.

Highlights include the gorgeous Registan square in the centre and the stunning Shah-i-Zinda cemetery site. Both of these have tons of ornately-decorated buildings to admire, all coated in twinkling turquoise tiles.

17. Attabad Lake, Pakistan

Attabad Lake

Also glimmering like a jewel are the alluring emerald waters of Attabad Lake in Pakistan. An increasingly popular tourist destination, it has some scenic boat trips to enjoy with jet-skiing and fishing also being available.

Nestled in the far north of the nation, amidst snow-coated mountains and sweeping valleys, the lake was only actually formed back in 2010 after a substantial landslide. Surrounded by bleak, barren rocks and dramatic peaks, its vivid hues make for some brilliant views.

Aside from snapping some photos and taking sightseeing cruises, you can stay overnight at hotels and resorts lining the lake. Snaking its way for 14 kilometres through the mountains, it conveniently lies alongside the Karakoram Highway.

16. Fanjing Mountain, China

Fanjing Mountain

Towering 2,570 meters in total, Fanjing Mountain’s oddly-shaped rocks and high-up shrines often peek out from above the clouds. Protected as a national nature reserve, its incredible cliffs, temples and forests can be found in Guizhou province in southeastern China.

Long considered sacred by Chinese Buddhists, Fanjing is the highest peak of the very pretty Wuling Mountains. Its name is actually an abbreviation of ‘Brahma’s Pure Land’ with almost 50 temples being scattered about its craggy slopes and up near its summit.

Visitors can either hike 8,000 seemingly-endless steps up its forested mountainside or take a relaxing cable car ride. At the top, you can ogle at fantastical formations like the Book of Scrolls or Mushroom Rock. Its commanding panoramas are also out of this world.

15. Holy Kipinas Monastery, Greece

Holy Kipinas Monastery

Yet another revered religious site that is well worth visiting is the Holy Kipinas Monastery in Greece. Chiselled into the side of a vertical cliff, the secret sanctuary takes roughly an hour and a half to reach from Ioannina in the northwest of the country.

Wedged in a seemingly impossible spot, the marvellous monastery was built by monks back in the thirteenth century. Although it appears quite small and understated from the outside, its chambers connect to a hidden cave that actually extends 250 metres into the mountainside.

Other than appreciating its rather unlikely location, there is a beautifully-painted church, full of glittering gold icons to see.

14. Leptis Magna, Libya

Leptis Magna

Absolutely captivating to explore, the ruins at Leptis Magna count among the best-preserved Roman sites in all the Mediterranean. Once one of the Carthaginian Empire’s most important cities, its extensive excavations lie less than two hours drive from Libya’s capital Tripoli.

Covering an enormous area, its colonnade-lined roads, forum and temples sprawl along the country’s coastline for kilometers. Founded in the second half of the seventh century by the Phoenicians, the city reached its zenith under the rule of Emperor Septimius Severus.

Besides examining his almost intact triumphal arch, the archaeological site has an immense amphitheater and ornate Roman theatre to inspect.

13. Badab-e Surt, Iran

Badab-e Surt

While they are quite similar to the travertine terraces in Turkey, those of Badab-e Surt see substantially fewer visitors. This is because its colorful landscapes and reflective waters are set in the north center of Iran, quite far from any major cities.

Created over the course of thousands of years, its series of picturesque pools seem to form a staircase down the hillside. Fed by very salty water from two mineral springs, its terraces shine a bright range of colors in the sun.

First white and blue, then red, yellow and orange, the kaleidoscopic show looks even better with all the rugged mountains rising in the distance. Almost otherworldly in appearance, its calcium-encrusted formations make for some superb photos.

12. Chand Baori, India

Chand Baori

Another of India’s most elaborate and impressive stepwells has to be Chand Baori in eastern Rajasthan. Exhibiting some exquisite architecture, it plunges a staggering thirteen storys down into the ground.

One of the oldest and largest in the country, the upside-down pyramid-style stepwell dates to around the eighth century. Named after a local ruler of the Nikumbh dynasty, it features over 3,500 narrow steps with a fine palace also built into one side.

An engineering marvel, the symmetry and geometry of its cascading steps create some epic photos from up above. Many people stop by while travelling around India’s Golden Triangle.

11. Ancient City of Myra, Turkey

Ancient City of Myra

Sure to delight history enthusiasts, the Ancient City of Myra boasts some remarkable Roman ruins and rock-cut tombs. A couple of hours’ drive along the coast from Antalya, its sizeable site also has some stupendous carvings, reliefs and statues to admire.

Established by the Lycians in the fifth century BC, the city flourished alongside both the river Myros and the Aegean Sea. Later on, the Romans replaced them, leaving behind an astounding theater overlooked by the rocky Massykitos range.

While wandering about all its old temples, streets and houses is already wonderful, the main attraction is, of course, its many monumental tombs. Hewn out of the cliffside, their gaping entrances and intricately-carved reliefs make for a memorable sight.

10. Tatev Monastery, Armenia

Tatev Monastery

One of Armenia’s most famous and photographed sights, Tatev Monastery is perched atop a cliff with a ginormous gorge plunging away before it. Accessed via a long aerial tramway or regular car ride, it is located in the far southeast of the country.

Long an important economic, political and spiritual centre, the historic monastery has been around since the ninth century. It also had a huge impact on the scientific and cultural life of the nation thanks to the prestigious university that once existed here.

At its fortified complex, there are three charming old stone churches to amble around. What makes them so special to see though are their secluded setting and spellbinding views.

9. Marble Caves, Chile

Marble Caves

Although Patagonia is home to all kinds of astonishing landscapes, the Marble Caves in Chile still manage to impress with all their smooth walls and swirling lines. Very unusual, its rock formations are hidden away along the north shore of the glacial General Carrera Lake.

Slowly sculpted over the course of thousands of years, the caves were created by relentless waves and winds battering the shoreline. Sparkling in the sun, their amazing marble shapes reflect the azure waters of the lake around them.

The bewitching blue and white colours of its formations like the cathedral and chapel make everything look even more arresting. The caves can be visited on boat tours and kayak trips from either Puerto Rio Tranquilo or Puerto Sanchez.

8. Spiral Minaret of Samarra, Iraq

Spiral Minaret of Samarra

Soaring spectacularly up into the sky is the Spiral Minaret of Samarra. Part of Iraq’s Malwiya Mosque complex, it towers above the city of the same name, around two hours northwest of Baghdad.

Once the largest mosque in the entire world, the sacred site and its sandstone minaret were completed in 851 by the Abbasid caliph Al-Mutawakkil. Its distinctive spiral design is said to be inspired by the architecture of ancient Mesopotamian ziggurats.

Standing 52 metres tall, its counter-clockwise ramp slowly takes you up to its summit. From here, you can bask in breathtaking views of its surroundings before inspecting the remains of the old mosque below.

7. Abuna Yemata Guh, Ethiopia

Abuna Yemata Guh

An unforgettable place to visit, the centuries-old Abuna Yemata Guh can only be reached via a steep climb up a vertical cliff face. After hauling yourself up its very hazardous ascent and inching along narrow ledges, the historic church has fabulous friezes and views to take in.

One of the oldest in Ethiopia’s Tigray Region, it was hewn out of the mountain sometime in the fifth century. Decorating its worn walls and dome are colourful paintings of the apostles, saints and other revered figures from the Bible.

As it is situated at a height of 2,580 meters, the monolithic cave church offers delightful panoramas over all the lovely scenery below. What makes it so unique though is its age-old atmosphere and the hair-raising climb up to it.

6. Blue Moon Valley, China

Blue Moon Valley

So named due to the beautiful waters of its river and lakes, Blue Moon Valley can be found amidst the Yulong Snow Mountains of southwestern China. Very popular with photographers and newlyweds, it has relaxing hikes, viewpoints and cable car rides to enjoy.

Just a short bus ride from Lijiang, its lush green confines contain four large turquoise lakes, all connected by small, shimmering waterfalls. While some rock formations are man-made, most of its pretty pools and cascades were formed by the Baishui River.

Although quite touristy, its startling colors and dramatic mountain scenery make the valley a must-visit. Aside from ambling alongside the lakes, you can snap fun photos and selfies with the cute yaks and local people wearing traditional outfits.

5. Dendera Temple of Hathor, Egypt

Dendera Temple of Hathor

While tons of tourists head to Luxor, not so many make it to the majestic Dendera Temple of Hathor, just an hour up the Nile. One of the most impressive in all of Egypt (and that’s really saying something!), it contains some stunning carvings, hieroglyphics and statues.

Surrounded by a massive mudbrick wall, its humongous temple, halls and shrines date to 54 BCE. Remarkably well-preserved, their high-up ceilings are propped up by huge pillars with Roman-era reliefs also found at the site.

Fascinating to explore, its colourful paintings, ceilings and underground crypts depict various gods, pharaohs and Cleopatra VI herself. The level of detail on show is simply mind-blowing, especially considering just how old all the artworks are.

4. Mount Roraima, Venezuela

Mount Roraima

Just as enchanting but for another reason entirely is the magnificent Mount Roraima in the southeast corner of Venezuela. Towering above the clouds, its vast plateau boasts some epic scenery and views with its rich fauna and flora being every bit as interesting.

Now protected as part of Canaima National Park, the flat-topped mountain is bordered on all sides by precipitous cliffs. These soar between 400 and 1,000 metres in total with glinting waterfalls also cascading their way down its mountainside.

On multi-day treks to the top of the tepui, you first pass through dense rainforest and then over rushing rivers before arriving at its 2,810 metre-high summit. While quite challenging, the sweeping views over the countryside below make it all worth it.

3. Pyramids of Meroë, Sudan

Pyramids of Meroë

The final resting place of countless kings and queens of yore, the Pyramids of Meroë now lie forgotten by time, amidst the desert’s giant dunes. By far the most important archaeological site in Sudan, their striking ruins can be reached in roughly 3.5 hours from Khartoum.

Erected between 2,700 and 2,300 years ago, its steep-sided pyramids impressively number more than 200 in total. It was here at Meroe’s three necropolises that many of the Kushite Kingdom’s royals embarked on their journey to the afterlife.

While much smaller than those in Egypt, the groups of tombs with their ruined tops create some phenomenal photos, particularly at sunrise and sunset. Wandering about the site with no one else around makes the whole experience even more special.

2. Trou de Fer, Réunion

Trou de Fer

With all its steamy cloud rainforest, sparkling waterfalls and stupendous views, the Trou de Fer is certainly one of the most scenic parts of Réunion. Concealed within the island’s wild and untouched interior, the gorgeous gorge is a treat to hike about or helicopter above.

Meaning ‘Iron Hole’ in French, the canyon’s almost circular basin plummets several hundred meters deep. Amidst all the verdant undergrowth coating its cliffs, you can see the jet-white waters of six wonderful waterfalls.

While one part consists of a gaping green crater, the other is a narrow slot canyon that cuts its way through the mountains for a couple of kilometers. Whether you hike its trails or take to the skies, you’re guaranteed unbelievable views wherever you look.

1. Guelta d’Archei, Chad

Guelta d'Archei

An astounding oasis that barely anyone has heard of, the isolated Guelta d’Archei lies in the Ennedi Plateau part of Chad, surrounded by the endless sands of the Sahara. Very remote and hard to reach, its colossal cliffs are located about a 4 day drive northeast of the capital.

One of the scorching desert’s most famous gueltas, its shady waters are remarkably home to a small surviving group of West African crocodiles. Some hardy camel caravans still stop here with incredibly-old rock paintings also found dotted about the arid area.

An awe-inspiring sight, its immense ochre-colored cliffs and almost impossible-to-visit oasis really are a hidden wonder of the world.

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