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The 11 most beautiful mountains in the world

From impenetrable monsters to dramatic volcanoes and beyond, these are the most beautiful mountains in the world

John Bills

Our magical rocky, watery planet is packed with gorgeous oceans, seas, lakes and rivers, but the craggy parts deserve plenty of attention. Nothing gets the heart racing quite like a magnificent mountain, and that’s even before you’ve attempted to walk up one. Mountains are seen as mythical and inspiring, unique and sublime: it’s no great mystery why humans have spent so much time trying to conquer them. Every outstanding achievement is a personal Everest, after all.

Mountains may be challenging to hike, but many of them are pretty stunning. The most beautiful in the world showcase the incredible power of nature, from symmetrical volcanoes to glacier-topped rocky prisms and beyond. Here, we’ve picked out the most impressive peaks our planet has to offer. And once you’ve finished gawping from afar? It’s time to get trekking.

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The world’s most beautiful mountains

1. Mount Fuji, Japan

If we’re talking about the world’s most beautiful mountains, you’ve got to begin with Mount Fuji. Aesthetically speaking, it’s one of the most iconic mountains on the planet. The perennially snow-covered conical is Japan’s highest peak, a major pilgrimage site and one of the country’s most important symbols. It’s inspired famous paintings, novels, music and practically any other art form you can think of. It’s also stunningly beautiful. Just bear in mind, Fuji-san is an active volcano, so do be careful if you decide to go for a climb. 

2. Mitre Peak, New Zealand

Mitre Peak is one of the most photographed mountain peaks in the world, and it isn’t hard to understand why. New Zealand’s famous stunner rises 1,682m into the sky with sheer drops down to the Milford Sound, making for some pretty dramatic visuals. Mitre Peak is made up of five individual peaks tightly packed together and is named after its resemblance to the bombastic headgear worn by bishops.


3. Vinicunca, Peru

There are beautiful mountains, and then there’s Vinicunca. Until 2013 we were none the wiser to its beauty because it was permemantly covered in snow. Now its bands of vibrant colour are visible. The stripy slopes are the result of centuries of geology where 14 different colourful minerals have come together to create something special. No matter the science behind it, Peru’s colourful Vinicunca is an absolute stunner with bands of turquoise, lavender and gold. It’s almost beautiful enough to make you forget about the whole doom-laden climate change aspect of it all... almost. 

4. Triglav, Slovenia

A mountain so beautiful it features on the country’s flag. Triglav (loosely translated as ‘three heads’) is much more than just the highest peak in Slovenia. This mountain in the Julian Alps is the beating heart of the nation and its most important symbol. It was the highest peak in Yugoslavia too, and its three jagged summits are a commonly used image across Slovenia, from Jesenica to Lendava and beyond. Climbing Triglav is a rite of passage for all Slovenes, and you can join them on various tours and trails. Or, just stick to admiring it from afar and exploring Triglav National Park if you don’t fancy the climb. 


5. Everest, Nepal and China

Although it might not be classically beautiful like the other mountains on this list, Mount Everest’s dazzling combination of history and stature makes it hard to ignore. It’s famously the highest mountain on Earth, after all, and its intimidating peak stretches 8,850m into the sky. That famous summit is pretty arresting, which has made it a destination for climbers and adventure seekers for over 160 years. It’s the peak of the planet. If you want to stand on top of the world, you need to climb Qomolangma (that’s its historic, local Tibetan name, fyi).

6. Matterhorn, Switzerland and Italy

No list of the most beautiful mountains in the world is complete without the Matterhorn. Rising from the border between Switzerland and Italy, there is a grace to this Alpine beauty that’ll take your breath away. It’s an almost perfect pyramid, shooting into the sky, which explains why Disney modelled its famous rollercoaster after it. Next time someone tells you that cirque erosion isn’t beautiful, just show them a picture of the Matterhorn.


7. Kirkjufell, Iceland

Okay, Kirkjufell doesn’t quite qualify as a mountain, but this distinctive hill is too picturesque to ignore. Standing 463m high on Iceland’s Snæfellsnes peninsula, Kirkjufell is one of the most photographed hills on the planet. It gained international notoriety as a Game of Thrones filming location, but this graceful former nunatak is much more than a backdrop. As its shape suggests, Kirkjufell is a treacherous climb, so taking a photo of its sharpened conical top from a distance might be the best bet.

8. Table Mountain, South Africa

Some mountains have poetic names, creative monikers paying homage to a mountain’s distinctive size and shape. Table Mountain? Well, it looks like a table, doesn’t it? Arguably the most famous flat-topped mountain on the planet, Tafelberg overlooks Cape Town and attracts millions of visitors every year, energetic types eager to follow in the footsteps of António de Saldanha in 1503. It’s a dramatic sight, and if you’re not feeling the climb you can take the convenient cable car that ferries passengers to the summit. 


9. Fitz Roy, Argentina and Chile

Fitz Roy is one of the jewels in the amazing Andes. It emerges out of the South American mountain range with all the intimidating grandeur of a video game final boss. Located in the Southern Patagonian Ice Field, Fitz Roy (locally called Cerro Chaltén) isn’t the most accessible mountain to view, let alone climb. Most people don’t climb to the top because of its vertical rock walls. Instead, most hikes lead to a lake formed by its glacier at the base of the mountain, which only serves to give it an imposing mystery. 

10. Ama Dablam, Nepal

Mount Everest is the highest point of the Himalayas, but the most dramatic? We reckon Ama Dablam takes the crown. The Eastern Himalayan beauty is one of the most challenging climbs on the planet thanks to its icy glaciers, treacherous ridges and steep faces, but there’s a majesty to its picture-perfect peaks which are the source of many myths and legends. Its name translates as ‘Mother’s Necklace’, echoing its long ridges on each side of its peak which are said to look like the arms of a mother protecting her child, while its hanging glacier is described as a ‘dablam’, a traditional necklace containing pictures of the gods worn by Sherpa women. 


11. Mauna Kea, Hawaii

Mauna Kea is more than just an inactive volcano. It’s considered to be one of the most sacred volcanoes in Hawaii and doubles as the largest observatory on the planet, with more than a dozen humongous telescopes monitoring the skies from its vantage point. The tallest point in the entire Pacific Basin, it looms large over Hawaii – in fact, it’s actually taller than Everest if you take into account the bits of it that are submerged by the ocean. It’s particularly famous for stargazing, and you can easily visit prime viewing spots after dark or take tours to more out-of-the-way areas for a dazzling evening. 

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