Those brief moments where the sun is just falling below the horizon, or rising above it in the morning, are among the most magical and special no matter where in the world you are, casting a warm red glow over the landscape and making for a spectacular view.
Some places around the world have become particularly well-known for their inspiring sunrises and sunsets and draw people from around the world purely to catch a glimpse of them.
But which are the very best in the world? To find out, we’ve scoured a number of articles and blogs to find which sunsets and sunrises are most often recommended by travel writers and bloggers, as well as comparing these destinations on the number of Instagram posts showcasing them and the level of pollution caused by artificial light.
With travel restrictions slowly starting to ease, maybe one of these destinations should be on your post-pandemic bucket list when the time comes to pack up our luggage and start traveling the world again?
The world’s best sunset destinations
1. Santorini, Greece - Sunset Score 8.29/10
Number of articles/blogs recommended by - 12
"Sunset" & "sunrise" Instagram posts - 108,109
Brightness - 0.627 mcd/m2
The destination that stood out more than any other was the Greek island of Santorini, which is thought by many to be the most beautiful of the country’s many small islands, known for its towering cliffs and whitewashed houses on the shore of the Aegean Sea. Santorini was recommended in far more articles than any of the other destinations that we looked at and also doesn’t suffer from light pollution like major cities, with a brightness of 0.627 mcd/m2.
2. Bali, Indonesia - Sunset Score 7.13/10
Number of articles/blogs recommended by - 5
"Sunset" & "sunrise" Instagram posts - 174,966
Brightness - 0.216 mcd/m2
Another island that is known for its spectacular sunsets is Bali in Indonesia, especially from its many beaches along the west coast such as Jimbaran Beach where you can watch the sun go down with a drink or a bite to eat in one of the seafront bars and restaurants as the sun drops behind the sea.
3. Hawaii, United States - Sunset Score 6.62/10
Number of articles/blogs recommended by - 5
"Sunset" & "sunrise" Instagram posts - 134,535
Brightness - 0.179 mcd/m2
Many of the best sunsets in the United States can be found in Hawaii, including at the Haleakalā national park, but the Aloha State is also home to some of the best beaches in the world too. The sparkling white sands of the likes of the Kohala Coast are perfect for watching the Pacific Ocean turn brilliant shades of pink, yellow, and orange.
The most recommended sunset destination - Santorini, Greece
As we’ve already seen, it was Santorini which was most commonly recommended in the various articles and blog posts that we studied, being mentioned in 12, which was far more than the next-closest destination, the Grand Canyon, with seven.
The most Instagrammed sunset destination - Rio de Janeiro
Rio is a city framed by dramatic peaks and beautiful beaches, offering many great viewpoints to watch the sunset. From the top of the likes of Sugarloaf Mountain, you get an incredible panorama, but even from the likes of the Copacabana and Ipanema beaches you still get a great view. Combined there were 234,067 Instagram posts mentioning #riosunset and #riosunrise.
The least light-polluted sunset destinations - Bagan, Salar de Uyuni, and the Serengeti
We also looked at the levels of artificial brightness in each area as this could impact on your enjoyment of the view. Obviously, it was in built-up towns and cities where this light pollution was the highest, and the three areas which saw the least were the remote Serengeti in Tanzania, the ancient city of Bagan in Myanmar, and the Uyuni Salt flats in Bolivia.
We began by looking at 20 online articles and blogs about the best places to see sunrise and sunset, counting how many times each destination was recommended.
We then took each destination that appeared in more than one list and compared them on the following three factors, giving each destination a normalized score out of ten for each factor before taking an average ‘Sunset Score’ across all three.
Number of articles/blogs recommended by
The number of times each destination was recommended in the 20 articles and blogs that we analyzed.
"Sunset" & "sunrise" Instagram posts
The number of posts on Instagram that used hashtags mentioning the destination name followed by the words “sunset” and “sunrise” (as of June 16th, 2021).
The artificial brightness according to Light Pollution Map. For each destination, we used the coordinates of the center point of the area, according to Wikipedia.
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