March 20 is the Spring Equinox in the Northern Hemisphere, when the sun rises exactly in the east and remains in the sky for 12 hours, setting directly in the west. While the science of it is profoundly interesting, most of us are more concerned about the increase in sunlight — and warmth — on the not-so-distant horizon.
Speaking of horizons, we’ve picked 10 top places around the world to see a magnificent sunrise.
Featured image: Stonehenge by Peter G Trimming
Equinox devotees will gather at 5:14am on the dot this year for the Vernal Equinox. A place of sun worship still, Stonehenge is a mysterious destination that holds deep spiritual value for many travellers.
Some researchers suggest the formation was erected as early as 2200 BC, while others argue it was even earlier, in 3000 BC. No matter the date of creation, Stonehenge is a powerful landmark, and well worth the visit for a beautiful — and perhaps magical — sunrise.
Mount Sinai, Egypt
First a history refresher: Jews, Christians and Muslims alike believe that that Moses received the Ten Commandments at the biblical Mount Sinai, as mentioned in the Torah, Bible and Quran.
Still an important religious destination, Mount Sinai today draws believers who scale the route by foot for religious purposes, and for the chance to see one of the most inspiring sunrises in the world.
The sun doesn’t set in Svalbard — at least not between mid-April and late August each year. It’s obvious, then, why the sun rising holds an almost magical appeal for visitors. Situated north of the Arctic Circle, the northernmost inhabited spot on the planet features the midnight sun, a phenomenon where the sun stays continuously in the sky for 24 hours a day.
Glaciers and mountains clutter Svalbard’s horizon, painting a landscape that merely enhances the event.
Boarding a bus in the wee hours of morning is a pain, particularly on holiday when the greatest indulgence is sleeping in. But the alarm-clock acknowledgement is worth it if the return is watching a sunrise from above the clouds, on the top of a volcano.
Various van tours offer the trip through Haleakala National Park in Maui, picking visitors up at 3am and dropping them off to see the event from the summit. Should you want to (and we highly recommend it), you can bike the 45km (28 miles) down the mountain, back to sea level.
Siem Reap, Cambodia
Angkor Wat any time of day is powerful, but arriving early enough to watch the sunrise offers visitors an even greater spectacle. The preserved temple attracts travellers to Cambodia from around the world, providing them architectural insight into Khmer and Hindu mythology and history.
We advise that visitors dedicate more than a day to exploring the sacred grounds (and that one of those days begins before dawn).
Smack-dab on the 180-degree longitude line, Fiji is one of the first spots in the world to see the sun rise every day. The South Pacific destination, a favourite among lovers of turquoise seas and white-sand beaches (and who isn’t?!), offers unrivalled scenery and inspirational landscapes.
Tip: Follow an intoxicating sunrise with a morning exploration; the “soft coral capital of the world” offers some of the best scuba diving in the world.
Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania
Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro is on practically every adventure traveller’s to-do list. With the enormous undertaking comes a chance to see one of the most enchanting sunrises in the world.
From Kili’s summit — 5,895 metres or 19,341 feet above sea level — dedicated souls can reflect on their ascent, a massive accomplishment, while soaking up an unparalleled sight.
Tres Cruces, Peru
A six-hour bus ride from Cuzco, the gateway to Machu Picchu, Tres Cruces is undeniably worth the long trek. The Incas held the mountain spot, situated on the Amazon basin, sacred. Nowadays, it’s visitors looking to experience a mind-blowing sunrise who sanctify the destination.
The view famously boasts celestial hues and Polaroid moments from above the clouds.
The coastal oasis of Tulum draws spiritual travellers and yoga-types year-round to soak up exquisite culture, history and scenery all in a single spot. The destination’s think-green mentality and efforts toward sustainability set the tone for a raw form of holidaying, where visitors are up with the sun (and often in bed shortly after the sun goes down).
No need to set an alarm in Tulum, where sun worshippers gather at the shoreline daily to watch the sunrise.
Grand Canyon, Arizona, USA
The most impressive sunrises in the United States occur every day across the Grand Canyon. Cool purples melt into shades bronze and orange against the awe-inspiring scenery, arguably America’s greatest natural wonder.
There isn’t a best place to see the sunrise in the Grand Canyon, but Maricopa, Hopi, and Mather points, and along the South Rim are recommended highly by in-the-know travellers.