International Day of Light
May 16th is the International Day of Light (IDL). An annual, global celebration, initiated by UNESCO on the anniversary of the first successful laser operation in 1960. Amongst its many goals IDL aims to provide a focal point for the appreciation of light and improve public understanding of how light and light-based technology touches our lives, not just in science but in art, culture, entertainment and education. The major source of light on earth is the Sun so what better way to celebrate IDL than a pocket adventure to watch the sunrise.
It might mean an early start but there’s something so special about witnessing the dawning of a brand-new day. Plus, watching the sun rise is scientifically proven to have positive psychological benefits including long lasting feelings of satisfaction and contentment. (Sign us up!)
For a really magical sky you need the right conditions, mild winds and a ridge of high pressure. Choose a good viewing spot, ideally facing east on a beach or a mountain. You would of course do perfectly well on the nearest hill but for daydreaming purposes we’ve put together this gourmet list of idyllic sunrise situations. Scroll on to discover the best places to watch nature’s greatest free show….
Image by Theodore Vasile on Unsplash
Winnats Pass, Derbyshire
A mile outside the village of Castleton lies Winnats Pass, a limestone gorge and one of the most iconic sights in the Peak District. Most people experience the pass by driving through on the windy road but the route on foot from Castleton takes you up a steep, rocky path with stunning views over the natural amphitheatre of the Hope Valley, well worth getting out of the car for. There are numerous footpaths around the Pass but you should not attempt to walk up the sides as it can be very dangerous.
Used as a location for filming Game of Thrones, this stretch of black sand along southern Iceland’s dramatic coastline is regularly voted one of the world’s most beautiful beaches. Underwater eruptions thousands of years ago created the Reynisdrangar sea stacks which, according to legend, are naughty trolls that were turned to stone by the sun. The view toward the village of Vik is breath taking at sunrise. Once the sun’s up you can explore a magnificent sea cave and look out for the extraordinary hexagonal rock columns on the shoreline. In summer you might see puffins nesting in the cliffs. But do be aware of the tides and don’t get too close to the water, the waves can be huge and dangerous.
Bavaria is the oldest state in Germany and one of the most scenic travel destinations. Famous for its mountains, lakes and traditional villages with twirly baroque castles and half-timbered homes, there is no shortage of dream spots to welcome a new day. And let’s face it, any day that begins with seeing the sunrise over an alpine lake is going to be a good one. Kolchesee (Lake Kochel) is not as well-known as other lakes in the area and consequently, it’s a lot quieter. Located 70km south of Munich on the edge of the Bavarian Alps, it offers amazing views, wooded shores and incredibly blue water. There are lots of beautiful hiking trails around the edge of the lake and four swimming areas to enjoy on warmer days.
A unique combination of nature and human engineering, Meteora (meaning ‘suspended in air’) is a UNESCO world heritage site in Northern Greece where a series of iconic monasteries were built on top of towering limestone rock pillars during the 14th century. A truly spectacular place to watch the sunrise, the morning rays slowly illuminate the deep valley casting long shadows and changing colours. There are several observation decks dotted around the area so finding a good spot isn’t hard. The monasteries offer a discreet glimpse into monastic life and the opportunity to walk on some beautiful and well-maintained trails.
The Val d'Orcia, Tuscany
Tuscany is a popular place to visit. Famous for its perfect views and hilltop villages, there are even travel companies that operate specific sunset and sunrise tours. The breath-taking, rolling green landscape is beautiful at any time of day but to see the sun peek over the Arezzo hills in the enchanting Val d’Orcia is a magical experience and not to be missed.
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