Kicking back on a beach, cold beer in hand while watching the sun go down is one of travel’s finest pleasures. But there’s something far more rewarding about heaving yourself from bed in the pitch black and blearily traipsing to the top of a mountain or the edge of a cliff to see the sun rise in all its glory. You'll have the whole day stretching out ahead of you, full of amazing travel adventures to be had. Or, if you’re feeling snoozy, you can always go back to bed afterwards. Head to one of these amazing spots and we promise you’ll be dazzled.
Central Australia’s most stunning natural wonder is best seen as the sun rises behind it. You’ll need to heave yourself from your swag bag by at least 4am to beat busloads of fellow somnambulant sun worshippers to the best viewing spots. But as the sky eases from inky black to purple, green and blue, illuminating the red rock of Uluru in a blaze of light, you’ll realise the incessant yawning has been totally worthwhile.
Mount Batur, Bali
If you’re desperate for a Balinese mountain sunrise, but aren’t super fit, then skip the steep, challenging Mount Agung and head for a pre-dawn clamber up nearby Mount Batur instead. Trips can be arranged from Ubud, with pick-ups starting at an upsettingly early 2am. Guides will keep you moving at a breathless pace, but the pre-dawn views across the lake to towering Agung and over the ocean to neighbouring Lombok are among Southeast Asia’s very best.
Inle Lake, Myanmar/Burma
Spend a night in a stilt house on Burma’s vast Inle Lake and you’ll be treated to a sunrise of spectacular beauty without having to move more than the five metres from your bed to the balcony. The mountainous backdrop, coupled with early risers out fishing and tending the lake’s lush floating gardens, mean you’ll have plenty of subjects for snaps. Or you can just sit back and drink it all in before crawling back under the covers.
Bryce Canyon, USA
Easily reached by car or a special park shuttle, Bryce Canyon’s Sunrise Point offers early-morning views which you’ll struggle to beat anywhere in the lonesome west. The unique rock formations glow majestically in the rising sun and if you go in winter, the snowy peaks make it even more magical. The view is epic, looking out across the entire Bryce Canyon National Park. Just remember to wrap up warm, against that overnight desert chill.
Okavango Delta, Botswana
Sunrise is one of the best times to see Botswana’s diverse fauna in all its glory. Try a sunrise safari walk with a local guide and you’re more than likely to have a truly unforgettable travel experience. But if the crocodiles and grazing gazelles are already settling down for a day of playing hide-and-seek with safari-goers, you’ll still get shimmering sunlight reflected from the delta’s vast, watery plains as the sun comes up.
Mount Fuji, Japan
Climbing Japan’s highest mountain is by no means easy. Unless you’re a hardened walker, you’ll need to do so in the official climbing season which runs from July-August, when Fuji is free of snow. Yes, it’s busy. But witness sunrise here and you’ll struggle to match the experience anywhere else on Earth. If you don’t hit the summit in time, never fear. The popular Yoshida trail has great views of the sun making its way into the sky.
The most northerly islands of the UK afford some of Europe’s best sunrise views. The remote beaches make the perfect spot for seeing the sun come up and we promise you’ll be in sweet isolation, untroubled by tourist hordes. It’s best to head here in early spring or late autumn for some sunrise action, as Shetland’s northerly location means the sun spends just a few hours below the horizon in the summer months.
You've risen early, caught the sunrise... now it's time for one of Lonely Planet's Great Adventures.