When the sun hits the sky like a red, smudgy pizza pie, that’s called Rayleigh Scattering.
As the sun hugs the horizon, its light has to pass through a thicker atmosphere on its way to the human eye. The blue in the sunlight scatters, leaving a red sunrise or sunset. For photographers, it’s time to get out the camera and capture some magic hour gold. For lovers, it’s time to sigh and admit you’re in too deep.
Either way, that orange-red glow is the most soul-affirming way to begin and end your day.
But the intensity of that glow, the angles and landmarks it illuminates, depend on where you’re sitting. Here at Morning Life we know how important a good night’s sleep is (and how hard it can be to get out of bed in the morning!) To make those early starts a little brighter, we’ve identified the best spots to wake up and watch the sunrise.
We gathered data from Tripadvisor reviews to find the places with the highest number of sunrise/sunset mentions around the world.
Angkor Wat Leads Spiritual List of Must-See Sunrises
Sunrise comes with its own Official Soundtrack: the dawn chorus of birds beginning the day’s singing. Mountains, lakes, and national parks make up many of the world’s most-reviewed sunrise locations – sun-up is not just for the early birds but the trekkers and explorers who set out to make a day of it. It is also for those seeking a spiritual experience.
One of the most esoteric sunrise views in the world is that of the UK, where the most-raved-about destination is the prehistoric monument of Stonehenge. “There is something truly spectacular and powerful about being at Stonehenge and being inside the henge is even more breathtaking,” reports one visitor. “Everything looks different as the sun rises and then starts to change colors once the sun has risen.”
10 Best Places to See the Sunrise in the World
“The walk through the trees to the east gate, and on to the main complex, is magical – often no one around at an early hour, with the birds singing as it grows light,” writes one reviewer of Angkor Wat. The Cambodian temple complex has two and a half times more mentions for its sunrise than any other attraction in the world.
Florida’s Mallory Square Hosts World’s Most Popular Sunset
“Red sky at night, tourist delight…” A pure red sky as you finish your dinner means clear air to the west – so there’s truth in the proverb, and you can expect good weather the following day. But where in the world are those reds (and pinks and golds) most dramatic?
Beaches, boardwalks, and bridges offer wide horizons. Angled to the west, you can expect to see them fill with red wonder when the conditions are good. And the day’s bookends offer an extra advantage in some locations: a quiet moment.
“By far the best time to visit is really early in the morning and on sunset,” writes one reviewer of the bridge at Mostar (literally ‘old bridge’), Bosnia & Herzegovina. “Most tourists have gone and the light is perfect.” Another calls it an “oil painting.” Rebuilt after Croat paramilitaries shelled it during the Bosnian War, the 16th-century Ottoman bridge offers its own vantage point, but you may prefer to photograph the bridge itself from another perspective.
10 Most Beautiful Places in the World to Watch a Sunset
Three American attractions make the world’s top 10 sunsets. Mallory Square is a waterfront plaza in Key West, Florida, where the sunset is cause for a nightly party – a ritual that playwright Tennessee Williams may have kickstarted when he spontaneously applauded the spectacle.
Arizona’s Grand Canyon South Rim Leads ‘Best In State’ Sunrises/Sunsets
Wrote John Steinbeck: “A large drop of sun lingered on the horizon and then dripped over and was gone, and the sky was brilliant over the spot where it had gone, and a torn cloud, like a bloody rag, hung over the spot of its going.”
Wherever your road trip is going, here are the best places to see sunset and sunrise in every American state.
America’s top 8 ‘best in state’ sunrises are in places of natural beauty. The highest-rated sunrise on the built landscape is New York’s Empire State Building. A trip to the 86th floor offers astounding views of the ‘city that never sleeps’ waking up in the morning as the sun picks out every Manhattan building in its own way.
In some American states, you’ll need to move around to catch the best sunrise and sunset– but others offer both. Arizona’s Grand Canyon South Rim is in the nation’s top three for both categories. Those rock formations seem to move as the light plays out across them.
“We visited the south rim and spend several hours late in the day watching shadows began to shift into the canyon,” says one visitor. “We also stayed for sunset and saw the majesty of a sunset over the Grand Canyon.” But don’t forget to dress warm, as the temperature drops dramatically with the sun.
The Holiday Spectacular That Doesn’t Sell Tickets
Holiday entertainment can get pricey very quickly – but the greatest show on Earth (and just beyond) is absolutely free. Here’s our full data on the most popular destinations for watching the sun rise and set in every country and American state.
METHODOLOGY & SOURCES
We used Tripadvisor to gather data on the best places to watch a sunrise and sunset by searching Things To Do using keywords “sunset” and “sunrise” in each country of the world and each US state.
Places with the highest number of mentions of, respectively, “sunset” and “sunrise” in their reviews were deemed the best places to watch sunset or sunrise.
Anywhere which included “sunrise” or “sunset” in the name was removed from the dataset. Attractions offering tours, adventures, excursions to various locations around them were also removed from the dataset.
The selection of places is limited to physical locations, i.e. public spaces, mountain peaks, beaches, buildings, establishments, etc.
The data was collected in November 2021.