Sweeping slopes, speckled fauna and long, winding rivers – there are some pretty spectacular valleys dotted around the globe. From the snow-frosted peaks of the Barun Valley in Nepal to the cascading waterfalls of the Jiuzhaigou Valley in China, we’ve chosen the top ten most beautiful valleys in the world to inspire your wanderlust.
1. Waipi’o Valley, Hawaii
Found in the Hamakua district of Hawaii, the Waipi’o Valley was once the home of Hawaiian kings. With thick, green forests, gushing waterfalls and a shimmering black sand beach, the Waipi’o Valley is undeniably one of the most beautiful valleys in the world. Although the Waipi’o Valley may be difficult to access, the steep hike down into the heart of the valley is well worth the effort. Alternatively, following the Muliwai trail will take you along the cliffs surrounding the Waipi’o Valley where you’ll be able to catch a glimpse of the picturesque waterfalls that flow out of the Waipi’o River.
2. Douro Valley, Portugal
Criss-crossed with rows of vineyards, the Douro Valley, located in northern Portugal, is often overlooked for the bustling city of Porto. While a trip to the Douro Valley can be quite time consuming, the valley is definitely a must see for its sun soaked slopes and beautiful wilderness. The Douro River runs from the Soria Province in Spain through to Portugal and flows through the middle of the valley. With the Douro Valley silent all but for a few weeks of harvest this valley promises tucked away tranquillity along the north of Portugal.
3. Kaghan Valley, Pakistan
The Kaghan Valley stretches across one hundred and sixty kilometres and reaches four thousand one hundred and seventy metres at the Babusar Pass. This beautiful valley is spotted with shimmering lakes and swirling mountain streams. Curving through the Kaghan Valley flows the trout-filled waters of the Kunhar River. Amongst the pine forests sit several towns, including the touristy Naran. While exploring the Kaghan Valley you’ll often see the locals leading a trail of cattle up towards the higher pastures.
4. Yosemite Valley, California
Nestled in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California, Yosemite Valley is covered with thick, pine forests and mapped with cool streams. Stretching to around twelve kilometres, this valley is well known for its many granite summits such as Half Dome that surround Yosemite. While rock climbers may enjoy the rocky face of El Capitan, the main appeal of this valley is the beautiful Yosemite Falls. A hike through Yosemite Valley will take you through green meadows, dense forests, and by the many streams and waterfalls that run into the Merced River. Yosemite Valley with its many creeks, falls, and canyons has earned its spot as one of the top 10 most beautiful valleys in the world.
Yosemite features as a detour on our ultimate West Coast USA road trip itinerary. *Warning: may inspire acute road trip wanderlust*
5. Jiuzhaigou Valley, China
Located in the Sichuan Province in China, the Jiuzhaigou Valley spans across seventy-two hundred hectares. Besides the valleys, snow-capped peaks and many waterfalls, Jiuzhaigou Valley’s main draw is its colourful lakes. Locals believe the Goddess Semo dropped a mirror made from the wind and clouds gifted from Dago so that it shattered into the hundreds of lakes that are speckled across the valley. A must see spot of the Jiuzhaigou valley is Five Flower Lake, a brilliant cyan coloured pool flowing over many fallen, ancient tree trunks. There are natural forests spread all over the valley that are home to many species of animals such as the rare giant panda.
6. Kalalau Valley, Hawaii
Another one of our top ten most beautiful valleys in the world is the Kalalau Valley found on the island of Kaua’i in Hawaii. Tall, fauna dotted cliffs enclose this valley meaning that you’ll either need to use a kayak or hike along the Kalalau Trail to get to this secluded hideaway. The weather alternates between soft rain and warm sun so creates the perfect environment for many species of flora and fauna to thrive. By the Kalalau Beach at the end of the trail mangoes, passion fruit, and cherries grow whilst waterfalls trickle over the edge of the valley slopes.
7. Barun Valley, Nepal
The Barun Valley is tucked at the base of Makalu (the fifth highest mountain in the world) in Nepal. With tall, green forests, peaks dusted with white snow, and crashing waterfalls, the Barun Valley is definitely a natural beauty. Recognised for its diversity of wildlife, wild orchids and rhododendrons bloom across lush meadows in the Barun Valley while snow leopards prowl along the cliff tops. Although the trek along the valley can be quite difficult, it’s well worth it for the beautiful views of the Himalayas and chance to explore caves such as the sacred Shiva Dhara.
8. Valley of Flowers, India
Known for its meadows of colourful, endemic flowers, the Valley of Flowers is one of the most beautiful places to visit in India. Situated in Uttarackhand, this valley is home to many endangered animals such as musk deer, brown bears, and blue sheep. The Valley of Flowers sits between the towering Zanskar and Great Himalaya mountains, creating a burst of colour in the landscape of rugged, grey rocks. The best place to start the trek into the Valley of Flowers is from Ghangaria; here you will pass fields of crops, flowers, and wild strawberries before entering into the valley. Several rivers pass through the Valley of Flowers including the winding Pushpawati stream.
9. Lauterbrunnen Valley, Switzerland
Named after the many waterfalls that cascade from jagged rocks, the Lauterbrunnen Valley is one of the smallest valleys on the list. Several streams crawl down the length of steep slopes in the valley and spray over the edge, forming some of the seventy-two falls in the area. Sections of the Lauterbrunnen Valley in Switzerland are covered in clusters of trees and flowers with the green, uncovered areas largely crossed by rivers and streams. The most well-known feature of the Lauterbrunnen Valley is the Trümmelbach Falls where gallons of water plunge from the two hundred metre drop.
10. Valley of Ten Peaks, Canada
Enclosed in an arch of ten peaks, the Valley of Ten Peaks in Canada is the last on our list of the most beautiful valleys in the world. This valley is covered in dense, uniform forests full of pine trees and is home to the well-known Moraine Lake. The Moraine Lake is the main attraction of the Valley of Ten Peaks due to its distinctive blue colour and stunning reflections of the snow-coated mountain tops. Glaciers hang from cliff faces and many different species of animal hide in the shadows of thick branches making the Valley of Ten Peaks a truly spectacular place to visit.
There they are… the top ten most beautiful valleys in the world to add to your travel list. Need more travel inspiration? Check out our full collection of travel bucket list features and articles.
Got another valley that you think should be featured? Let us know in the comments below.
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