50 landscapes around the world that are so breathtaking they don't look real

Agora‘White sand beach,’ photographed by Johan Vandenhecke.
  • Agora, a free photography app, recently held its #Landscape2020 contest.
  • The competition, which ran from June 19 until July 3, encouraged photographers to share images they have taken of stunning scenery around the world.
  • According to the app, more than 14,000 images were submitted, showing landscapes from France, Iceland, Indonesia, and more.
  • Here’s a look at the winning shot, taken in Utah by Australian photographer Luke Simpson, and 49 nominated photos.
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.


“Surprised by a full moon at Goblin Valley” by Luke Simpson

Luke Simpson/Agora

Simpson told Agora that he didn’t plan to take this photograph – which won Agora’s #Landscape2020 contest – while visiting Utah’s Goblin Valley State Park.

In fact, he told the photography app that it was “only made possible” by the “running speed” and “willingness” of his friend who quickly posed in front of the moon for his photo.


“A magical sunrise” by @followmypath

@followmypath/Agora

This nominated image was captured in Panama by a photographer who goes by @followmypath online.

“This was definitely my favourite hike in Panama,” he told Agora. “The landscapes were out of this world, and we had an amazing sunrise that day as well.”


“A sunrise with some fog and tulips is great. With a windmill in the distance, it’s epic” by Nick de Jonge

Nick de Jonge/Agora

De Jonge captured these tulips in front of a fog-covered windmill in Alkmaar, Netherlands.

“I don’t think it can be any more Dutch than this,” the photographer said about his image while speaking to Agora.


“Another planet” by Alvaro Valiente

Alvaro Valiente/Agora

There’s actually a hidden detail in Valiente’s photograph, which was taken in Iceland.

“Can you spot my car?” he asked Agora. “It’s the tiny white dot! The scale there is incredible.”


“Art of nature” by Arthur Kanatov

Arthur Kanatov/Agora

Kanatov told Agora that he and a friend had been hitchhiking across the Caucasus region when a hotel manager picked them up. They felt “so grateful for the ride” that Kanatov was “ready to offer him some cool shots” he had photographed of a lake in Chechen, Russia.

“The manager said that he loves and respects people who prefer to hitchhike and sleep in tents under the open sky,” Kanatov said. “He was so kind that he allowed us to stay for the night in their special rooms because the night was cold in the autumn season. He also gave us some food.”


“Chư Đăng Ya volcano” by Hòa Carol

Hòa Carol/Agora

In the Chư Păh District of Vietnam, Carol photographed this volcano while it was surrounded by clouds.


“Classic Dutch Beach” by Cuno de Bruin

Cuno de Bruin/Agora‘Classic Dutch Beach,’ photographed by Cuno de Bruin.

De Bruin photographed this sandy landscape in Vlissingen, Netherlands.


“Deep in the Indonesian jungle” by Sjoerd Bracke

Sjoerd Bracke/Agora‘Deep in the Indonesian jungle,’ photographed by Sjoerd Bracke.

Bracke told Agora that this waterfall was the “most impressive” he’d seen while travelling with his girlfriend and other photographers in East Java, Indonesia. He used a drone to photograph himself standing in front of the location, and did so to show the waterfall’s massive height.


“Dramatic Friday” by John

John/Agora‘Dramatic Friday,’ photographed by John.

A photographer named John captured this cityscape in Hong Kong. He told Agora that while the area might not be a natural scene, he still appreciates the beauty of this man-made landscape.


“Gate to heaven” by Maky and Matt

Maky and Matt/Agora‘Gate to heaven,’ photographed by Maky and Matt.

Maky and Matt, a photography duo, captured this aerial shot of themselves standing in the middle of a road in Indonesia.


“Helicopter trip” by Pamela Plaza

Pamela Plaza/Agora

Plaza told Agora that it was “captivating and awe-inspiring” to visit the Tutoko glacier in New Zealand, where this nominated photo was taken. She reached the destination via helicopter on a “rare, cloudless day.”


“Hidden away” by Joel Friend

Joel Friend/Agora

Friend told Agora that visiting these smoky mountains in Iceland “felt like another planet.”


“Ice cave” by Pavel Tokarev

Pavel Tokarev/Agora

Tokarev’s photograph, which shows a woman standing in the middle of an icy blue cave, was taken at Lake Baikal in Russia.

“There was ice all around, hanging from the ceiling and streaming along the walls,” the photographer told Agora about the location. “It felt like there was a mirror spreading along the ground.”


“Life on Mars” by James Theo

James Theo/Agora

“These colourful mud mounds I came across while in Utah were like something from Mars,” Theo told Agora. “This location blew me away and I had never seen anything like it before.”


“Icelandic landscape” by Victor Ferreira

Victor Ferreira/Agora

Ferreira told the photography app that he wants his image, which was taken in Iceland, to show that “our planet is alive.”


“In the fields” by Sandro Rizzolo

Sandro Rizzolo/Agora

Rizzolo’s nominated image shows a lush barley field in Schaffhausen, Switzerland.


“Italy” by Michelle Wandering

Michelle Wandering/Agora

Wandering captured this shot in Italy’s Dolomites mountain range.

“Visiting the Dolomites last year was such a crazy experience,” she told Agora. “I loved every single view and moment of it, even though it was freezing and I’m not a fan of cold weather!”


“Kirkjufell” by Samuele Miccoli

Samuele Miccoli/Agora

Despite not having his camera tripod on hand, Miccoli was able to capture this pink sunset at Kirkjufell, a famous mountain in Iceland.


“Life in a fairytale” by Chad Torkelsen

Chad Torkelsen/Agora

Torkelsen told Agora that he stumbled upon this Oregon waterfall by mistake.

“We missed the turnoff for the trail and walked an extra two miles,” he said. “After we backtracked and went down the correct trail, we were greeted by this monster waterfall – one of the most spectacular places I’ve seen in Oregon.”


“Lighthouse” by Matt Cannon

Matt Cannon/Agora

Cannon captured this orange lighthouse atop a rock formation in Iceland. He told the photography app that he aimed to show the structure “standing strong and braving all elements.”


“Lightning and wind” by Olivier Vandeginste

Olivier Vandeginste/Agora

Vandeginste was at Zeebrugge, Belgium, for a fireworks festival when this thunderstorm struck. As he pointed out to Agora, numerous wind turbines can be seen on the left side of the photo.


“Magic sunset” by Brian TR

Brian TR/Agora

This nominated image was photographed by Brian TR in the Valensole commune of France. It shows a woman walking through rows of lavender towards a pink sky and tall tree.


“Magical sunset” by Sebastian Burziwal

Sebastian Burziwal/Agora

Burziwal told Agora that he spent “the whole evening” in Cinque Terre, Italy, to capture the town of Manarola with “magical light.”


“Minimalism” by Josu Ozkaritz Astigarraga

Josu Ozkaritz Astigarraga/Agora

Showing an orange-and-blue sunset, Astigarraga’s photo was taken in Maspalomas, Spain.


“Moab” by Tom Franklin de Waart

Tom Franklin de Waart/Agora

Franklin de Waart told Agora that he hiked early in the morning to get to the top of this orange canyon in Utah. He described the landscape as being “ridiculously beautiful.”


“Mosque 99 domes” by Reski Sandi

Reski Sandi/Agora

Sandi photographed this mosque on Indonesia’s Sulawesi island.


“Mother Nature’s creation” by Ilaria Ronchi

Ilaria Ronchi/Agora

This photo is precious to Ronchi because she took it in Namibia on her first road trip outside of Europe, where she’s from, as she told Agora.

“You don’t need many words to describe the feeling of driving in a silent desert right after sunrise,” she said. “From that moment, I just remember how overwhelming it was to be surrounded by perfect, natural sand creations.”

“Namibia recently became a renowned Instagram destination for photographers, but eight years ago there was almost no one there,” she continued. “On that morning, we met only 15 people. Everyone was more into enjoying the scene instead of getting ‘influencer’-style pictures.”


“My proudest drone shot to date” by Matthew Perks

Matthew Perks/Agora

As explained in the photograph’s title, Perks used a drone to capture this shot of a boat in Padstow, England. He told Agora that he waited three hours for the tide to roll away before he was able to capture the scene.


“National Treasure” by Sergei Poletaev

Sergei Poletaev/Agora

In Saint Petersburg, Russia, Poletaev photographed this skyscraper, which he said “strikes with its loneliness.”

“There are no other high-rising buildings in the area, just the water and one or two-storied suburban houses,” he told Agora.


“Old Cairo” by Banu Diker

Banu Diker/Agora

Diker focused on the landscape of Cairo, Egypt, for this orange-tinted shot.


“Perth” by Simon Pastor

Simon Pastor/Agora

Pastor’s nominated image was taken in Perth, Australia. It shows sun streaming across the city’s skyline.


“Polarlights” by André

André/Agora

André photographed this scene in Moskenesøya, Norway, during an eight-hour drive between the regions of Tromsø and Lofoten.

“It was in the middle of the night and suddenly I discovered the Northern Lights,” he told Agora. “Since I had no tripod on hand, I used the car roof!”


“Rock bridge” by Daniel Coello

Daniel Coello/Agora

Coello told the photography app that he dressed in dark clothes to highlight his silhouette against the white sky at sunset, as well as “the volume of the natural bridge.”


“Ship in a storm” by Subhash Panikar

Subhash Panika/Agora

Panikar’s ominous photo, which shows a boat sailing beneath dark clouds during a storm, was taken in Thailand.


“Sigiriya Lion rock” by Artem Pikalov

Artem Pikalov/Agora‘Sigiriya Lion rock,’ photographed by Artem Pikalov.

Pikalov told Agora that he woke early in the morning to catch “the first rays of sunlight” and photograph the Sigiriya Fortress in Sri Lanka from the sky.


“Some of the most unique landscapes I’ve ever seen” by Lee Mumford

Lee Mumford/Agora‘Some of the most unique landscapes I’ve ever seen,’ photographed by Lee Mumford.

Mumford photographed this desert landscape while grey clouds filled the sky in Ship Rock, New Mexico.


“Sunrise magic” by Ester Turri

Ester Turri/Agora‘Sunrise magic,’ photographed by Ester Turri.

Turri told Agora that it was “really dark” when she arrived at the Seiser Alm meadow in Italy’s Dolomites mountain range. Still, she decided to wait until sunrise to see if conditions would improve.

“As the first sun rays appeared behind the peaks, a thick fog rolled in, and in just a few minutes this breathtaking scenery appeared in front of our eyes,” she said. “It was one of the most magical moments I was lucky enough to experience so far.”

“Moments like these teach me that photography is all about waiting for the right moment,” she added. “I believe it is possible to contribute to the quality of your images simply by making use of your patience.”


“Sunset” by La Noia del Barret

La Noia del Barret/Agora‘Sunset,’ photographed by La Noia del Barret.

Del Barret’s photograph shows a woman walking through grass towards a winding, tree-lined road. It was taken in Crete Senesi, Italy.


“Tatacoa Desert” by Jan Meyer

Jan Meyer/Agora‘Tatacoa Desert,’ photographed by Jan Meyer.

Meyer’s nominated image shows the landscape of Colombia’s Tatacoa Desert as a bird soars through the cloudy sky.


“The anaconda ice cave” by Jeffrey Kieffer

Jeffrey Kieffer/Agora‘The anaconda ice cave,’ photographed by Jeffrey Kieffer.

According to Kieffer, glaciers inside the cave seen in his photo “are always moving” and “shifting from snow, melts, and floods.” That being said, “nothing is permanent” at the Vatnajökull ice cap in Iceland, as he told Agora.


“The first sunset during my Iceland trip” by Filippo Bellisola

Filippo Bellisola/Agora‘The first sunset during my Iceland trip,’ photographed by Filippo Bellisola.

Bellisola captured this shot of the Háifoss waterfall’s stream during his first day in Iceland.

“At this moment, I realised how incredible our Earth is, and how many other beautiful places I would see during the trip,” he told Agora. “It was only the beginning.”


“The Mont Saint-Michel” by Pascal Biomez

Pascal Biomez/Agora‘The Mont Saint-Michel,’ photographed by Pascal Biomez.

Taken in Normandy, France, Biomez’s photograph shows the island commune of Mont-Saint-Michel.

“When I took this picture, I was surrounded by sheep,” he told Agora.


“The pride” by Al Mamun Abdullah

Al Mamun Abdullah/Agora

Abdullah told Agora that he believes the landscape in his photograph “is a good representation of life” in the United Arab Emirates because it shows the desert, 4×4 vehicles, and a man dressed in traditional clothing. The man appears to be wearing a kandora or dishdasha, a white cotton garment that’s commonly worn by men in the UAE.


“Thunderstorm” by Jörg Petermann

Jörg Petermann/Agora

“It was my first time photographing a thunderstorm, but definitely not the last!” Petermann said of this image, which he captured in Bavaria, Germany.


“Tre Cime” by Ghislain Fave

Ghislain Fave/Agora

Fave stumbled upon this tiny church while exploring Italy’s Dolomites mountain range.

“The mountains were covered by clouds most of the day and while we hiked, the peaks were hidden,” he told Agora. “We got lucky and the sky opened for a short period, revealing this view. I think this image conveys well how we feel small in front of nature.”


“Tu Lan” by Dinh Cong Tam

Dinh Cong Tam/Agora

Tam’s nominated photo, which was taken inside a cave, shows a majestic landscape within the Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park in Vietnam.


“Volcán Fuego” by Lukas de Vries

Lukas de Vries/Agora

De Vries hiked for two days before reaching the Volcán de Fuego in Guatemala, where this photo was taken.


“Walk alone” by Wahyu Teguh Setiawan

Wahyu Teguh Setiawan/Agora

Setiawan’s image shows smoke rising from the Mount Bromo volcano in Indonesia.


“White sand beach” by Johan Vandenhecke

Johan Vandenhecke/Agora

“This place is so pure,” Vandenhecke told Agora of Australia’s Whitsunday Islands, where his photo was taken. “It’s only accessible by boat, so we slept on one in a neighbouring bay in order to get here in the morning.”


“Winter setting sun” by Jon Cleave

Jon Cleave/Agora

“The north of Iceland can be harsh in the depths of winter, but in-between the snowstorms come incredible sunsets and sunrises you’d only see this time of the year,” Cleave told Agora.

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