Where to catch the most mesmerizing sunsets. Even at midnight.
Put down the camera and enjoy the “sundown effect”.
The sky turns tangerine. A distant mound of clouds goes from crimson to pink. Mother Nature doesn’t make moments better than that. So grab a pic or two, but don’t let the lens stand between you and the bigger experience – what we call the “sundown effect”. Every night, the world changes at whatever-o’clock as dusk deepens. The sounds, the tempo, and even the breezes shift at that moment. The sunsets on these Classic Journeys are more than hypnotically beautiful. Each one is a unique drama that’s worth the trip all by itself.
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Perched above the glass-calm caldera, every spot in Santorini is a ringside seat for sunset. The kaleidoscopic sky goes through a feverish range of color shifts. And watch how the fading sun drains the sapphire from the sea to replace it with warmer, fading hues. Closer in, the blinding white buildings around you are pale violet all of a sudden. Golden lights spark to life as the village slips into evening gear.
In this legendary landscape of intricate temples, no moment of the day is more spiritual than sunset. Be there as the sun’s descent begins. The cryptic carvings and lacy crenellations go into soft focus as dusk drains the light until your horizon is full of an awesome silhouette backlit by the glorious tropical sky. After 13 centuries, it’s still a moment that inspires quiet awe.
The Snaefellsnes Peninsula, Iceland
This is the sunset that pulled Viking explorers west. To watch the day end here is to wonder where the sun must go. Against an apricot sky, the glacier-capped volcano that Jules Verne called “The Center of the Earth” lords over all. Just in front of you, a meandering estuary glimmers in the fading day. The white peaks in the distance reach up to reflect the last rays before they wink out. And if your timing is right, the Northern Lights flicker and dance as if to replace the sun.
North Rim of the Grand Canyon, Colorado
The Grand Canyon seems to grow deeper as sunset nears. In the shade of the distant South Rim, the canyon looks like a purple sea. Islands of crimson, coral and tangerine – the caps of mesas high enough to catch the last light – float in the foreground. Some sunsets happen in a second. But the Grand Canyon gives up the day slowly. So you have luxurious time for photos and to sit back and soak it all in.
The soaring Merzouga Dunes are the world’s tallest, with great billows and crests of coppery sand. At sunset, they turn even deeper red as if they’re soaking up the last of the sun. The ultimate experience here is to sway on camelback to a spot not far from your luxury Berber encampment. And then you stop. And watch. As the sun drops it sends waves of shadows across the Sahara, until it disappears in a final flash – and you feel the quick retreat of the heat as night settles onto the desert.in.
Manuel Antonio Park, Costa Rica
Ever watched sunset from a tree house balcony? That’s the remarkable vantage point in this amazing park. Sit back with a glass of wine. Far below, the Pacific washes up to a horseshoe beach as a fiery tropical light show fills the view. You’re surrounded by jungle, and so it’s not just the disappearing sun that makes the moment so special. All around you, the daytime sounds crossfade to the soothing sounds of the night – like the movements of a natural symphony.
One of our favorite sunsets is one that never quite happens. Midsummer in Norway, the sun is a tease. It promises to set, but never does more than kiss the horizon. No matter how many times you’re read or hear about it, the midnight sun is a lovely (and disorienting) surprise. The long, soft shadows of endless dusk may lead you to postpone bedtime. And you will certainly be glad you experienced this phenomenon instead of the dark winter months when it’s sunrise that never comes.
Claim a spot on the terrace. Refresh your favorite aperitivo. Ask for some olives to nibble on for a while. You won’t want to head for dinner until the sunset show is over. Lakeside, the cool shadows arrive early. But Lake Como is tucked among mountains, and long after the sun disappears from your view, you can track its descent as the shadow rises until only the highest peaks are lit in a final burst of alpenglow. It may be the most civilized sunset you’ll ever enjoy.
The templed plain of Bagan is extraordinary in any kind of light. From a hot-air balloon, sunrise is magical. At midday, you can best grasp the scale of the site’s 2,200 temples and pagodas. But it is at sunset, as you stand atop one of the pagoda spires that the beauty is most splendiferous. The nearby Irrawaddy River glows like molten pewter. Face west and the spires become jet black silhouettes against the sky. Look to the east, and you see the sun gild the temples in dazzling light as their 12th and 13th century builders must have intended.
Havana’s harborside esplanade is sometimes called “the world’s longest sofa” for how the Cubans lounge along its five-mile length. Sunset is prime time. Waves splash up against the sea wall. As the heat of the day melts away, the music starts and the conversation picks up. At the far end of the arc, the towers of the legendary Hotel Nacional are alight. And all along the boulevard, a necklace of streetlights flatters the faded facades of grand buildings and let you imagine this proud 500-year-old city in its heyday.
From sun up to sun down, every Classic Journey is a handcrafted mix of wonderful cultural and historic experiences that immerse you in the life of the region you visit. Browse all of our destinations now.