When you’re travelling, it’s easy to get distracted by the most famous sites, whether it’s Notre Dame or Machu Picchu. But those popular destinations can cause the excited traveler to miss some of these lesser known—but just as breathtaking—natural and manmade wonders next door.
Sainte-Chapelle, Paris, France
When you think of grand Paris churches to visit, you think Notre Dame and Sacré-Cœur—but Sainte-Chapelle is not to be missed. This comparatively tiny medieval Gothic chapel is located in the heart of Paris near Pont-Neuf. It features some of the most beautiful stained glass in the world, and the stone is painted so that the entire interior is awash with brilliant color. The exterior is comparatively simple and easily missed by the casual tourist, so when visiting Paris, don’t forget to mark Sainte-Chapelle on your map ahead of time!
Boca do Inferno, Cascais, Portugal
Boca do Inferno, which translates to “hell’s mouth”, is a natural arch in the Portuguese coastline. This is one wonder worth visiting during winter storms when the full force of the Atlantic Ocean pounds against the formation, reshaping the cliffs. Visitors can take pathways to climb down the cliff face to view the wondrous sight from either side. The hell’s mouth is a short walk from the fishing town of Cascais, and a day trip from Lisbon.
Sacsayhuamán, Cusco, Peru
This Incan wall complex is a marvel of ancient engineering—the stones fit together so well that not even paper can slide between them. It’s a must-visit during a trip to southeastern Peru, and Cusco has plenty else to see. It’s often referred to as “The Archaeological Capital of the Americas” and is not far from its more famous brethren, Machu Picchu. Plan time to acclimatize to the thin air before setting off on adventure—it sits at an elevation of 12,000 feet.
Moraine Lake, Alberta, Canada
You’ll be hard pressed to find a lake that’s a more brilliant shade of blue than Moraine Lake in Alberta. Set in the Valley of the Ten Peaks in Banff National Park, this glacially fed lake is surrounded by hiking trails, but invites the visitor to relax and contemplate its pure surface. And while on a sunny day it’s a popular tourist destination in Western Canada, there’s enough shoreline and rock face to scramble up for a bird’s eye view.
From the scenic mountains of Canada to the complex archaeological feats of Peru, these panoramic sights may not receive as much attention as other more famous destinations, but that only means you won’t have to fight the crowds to snap a shot of the mesmerizing views.