Nature never fails to impress and surprise us. Nowhere is this more true than when looking at (or better yet, standing on top of) beautiful mountains.
In this article I pay tribute to some of earth's most photographic peaks. These may not be the highest mountains in the world but their unique and striking features attract just as much attention. If mountains had a beauty pageant, these stunning ranges would all be winners!
I found it impossible to choose the ultimate / most beautiful mountain in the world. As such, this list is in no particular order.
15 Of The Most Beautiful Mountains In The World
1. Mount Roraima, Venezuela
Mount Roraima (2, 810m / 9,219 ft) is a unique and stunning mountain located in South America, on the border between Venezuela, Brazil, and Guyana. It is part of the Pakaraima mountain range and is known for its distinctive flat top and 400-1000m vertical walls. It is considered one of the oldest geological formations on the planet, with an estimated age of over 2 billion years.
One of the most unique features of Mount Roraima is its 15 square miles (40 square kilometers) area on the top. Here you can find otherworldly landscapes including deep gorges, bizarre rock formations, hidden waterfalls, and small lakes. The geographical isolation of this area has made it a hotspot for endemic plants and animals, many of which are yet to be studied.
The name, Roraima, comes from the native language of the Permon people. Roughly translated, it means ‘The Great Blue-Green’. The mountain and its surrounding area are part of the Canaima National Park. Several hiking trails lead to the top of the mountain.
2. Matterhorn, Switzerland & Italy
The Matterhorn is a mountain located in the Swiss Alps. It straddles the border between Switzerland and Italy. The name translates to ‘meadow horn’. This mountain has a very distinctive, almost symmetrical pyramid shape which makes it one of the most recognizable and iconic mountains in the world.
The peak stands at 4,478 meters (14,692 feet) tall and is made mostly of the metamorphic rock gneiss. The Matterhorn is also known for its challenging climbing routes, which attract mountaineers from all over the world.
The first successful ascent of the Matterhorn was made in 1865 by a team led by British climber Edward Whymper. Tragically, four members of the team fell to their deaths during the descent. Several films have been made about this event.
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3. Cerro Torre, Argentina and Chile
Cerro Torre is a mountain located in the Southern Patagonian Ice Field. Its located along the border between Argentina and Chile. It stands at an elevation of 3,128 meters (10,262 feet) and is known for its distinctive finger-like shape.
This thin, granite tower is one of the most challenging mountains to climb in the world. Cerro Torre remained unclimbed long after its neighbor, Fitz Roy. Some mountaineers believed it to be unclimbable.
In 1959 by a team led by Italian climber Cesare Maestri climbed Cerro Torre for the first time. Controversy surrounds this ascent as some experts believe that Maestri fabricated his claims of reaching the summit.
The mountain is attractive to serious rock climbers and has sparked many debates about what constitutes ‘fair climbing’ (i.e. whether bolted routes count as true climbing). In 2012, two young climbers started another controversy by removing 125 bolts from the southeast ridge on their descent.
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4. The Pitons, Caribbean
The Pitons are two volcanic spires located on the Caribbean island of St. Lucia. Gros Piton stands at an elevation of 771 meters (2,530 feet) while Petit Piton is slightly shorter at 743 meters (2,438 feet). The peaks are symbols of St. Lucia's natural beauty and cultural heritage, they feature on the country's coat of arms and flag.
The indigenous Amerindian tribes who originally inhabited the island believed that the peaks were sacred sites associated with fertility and abundance. When the island was colonized by the French in the 18th century, the Pitons became a symbol of resistance and rebellion against the colonial powers.
Today, the Pitons play an important role in St Lucia’s tourism economy. They immediately grab the attention of visitors and are a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts. The area surrounding the Pitons is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
5. Mount Fuji, Japan
Mount Fuji (3776m) also known as Fuji-san, is the highest mountain in Japan. It is an iconic feature against the skyline and has been the subject of countless paintings and poems over the centuries. Fuji is considered a sacred mountain by the Japanese people.
Located on the border between Shizuoka and Yamanashi prefectures, Mount Fuji is a part of the Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park. The mountain is a dormant stratovolcano, it last erupted in 1707. The top is covered in snow for much of the year, giving it a majestic appearance.
Between July to September, hikers from Japan and all over the world climb to Fuji’s summit. The mountain is particularly busy during Obon Week, an important national celebration in mid August. The day hike takes 5-10 hrs depending on which trail you choose. Once at the top, you can walk right around the crater.
6. Table Mountain, South Africa
Table Mountain is an iconic, flat-topped mountain above the city of Cape Town in South Africa. It stands at an elevation of 1,085 meters (3,558 feet), overlooking the Atlantic ocean.
The mountain is made up of sandstone and is believed to be over 300 million years old. It is home to unique plant and animal species including the beautiful endemic red Disa (Disa uniflora), found nowhere else in the world. Table Mountain is a popular destination for hiking, rock climbing, and other outdoor activities. You can also ride to the top in a cable car.
One of the most famous features of Table Mountain is the "tablecloth". This is a weather phenomenon that occurs when cloud covers the top of the mountain in a dense, layer. It gives the appearance of a tablecloth or blanket draped over the peak.
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7. Kirkujufell, Iceland
Kirkjufell (Church Mountain) is a mountain located on the north coast of Iceland, near the town of Grundarfjörður. It is considered one of the most beautiful mountains in the world and the most photographed mountain in Iceland. It is only 463m (1519ft) tall.
The mountain has a unique triangular peak that rises dramatically from the landscape. It is surrounded by stunning natural scenery, including waterfalls, fjords, and glaciers. There is a lake at the base in which, on a clear day, you can see the perfect reflection of Kirkujufell. It is a popular destination for landscape photographers and outdoor enthusiasts.
Kirkjufell is also an important cultural landmark. The mountain is featured in numerous films and television shows. You can see it in the background of several scenes in the popular Game of Thrones series.
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8. Mauna Kea, Hawaii
Mauna Kea is a dormant volcano located on the Big Island, Hawaii. It is the highest point in the state of Hawaii, with an elevation of 4,207 meters (13,803 feet) above sea level. Most of this mountain is submerged below the sea. When measured from base (i.e. the section below water) to summit, Mauna Kea is the tallest mountain on earth!
Mauna Kea is a significant cultural and spiritual site. The slopes are home to ancient Hawaiian temples and shrines, as well as burial grounds and other sacred sites.
Mauna Kea is not only one of the most beautiful mountains in the US, it is also an important scientific research site. The summit of Mauna Kea is considered one of the best places in the world for astronomical observation. There are several world-renowned observatories located here. The clear, dry air and high altitude are perfect conditions to study stars and planets.
Many native Hawaiian groups strongly oppose these scientific developments on cultural grounds.
9. Tre Cime di Lavaredo, Italy
Tre Cime di Lavaredo, also known as Drei Zinnen in German, is found in one of the most beautiful mountain ranges in the world, the Italian Dolomites. These three towering peaks in Sexten Dolomites National Park rise to over 9,800 feet (3,000 meters) above sea level.
The three peaks are named Cima Grande, Cima Ovest, and Cima Piccola (Big peak. West Peak and Little Peak). Cima Grande is the tallest of the three at 2,999m / 9,839ft. The peaks are particularly impressive when viewed from the south, where they appear to rise up dramatically from the rolling hills of the surrounding countryside.
The Tre Cime de Levaredo trail is a short (8.8km / 5 mile )and easy route that allows hikers to view these outcrops from all angles. The sheer cliffs and steep faces of the mountain range make for some interesting climbing routes, which attract skilled climbers from all over the world.
10. Mount Teide, Spain
Mount Teide is a volcano located on the island of Tenerife in the Canary Islands, Spain. It has an elevation of 12,198 feet (3,718 meters) making it the highest mountain in Spain. It is also the highest volcano in the Atlantic Ocean islands.
The volcano last erupted in 1909 and, although currently dormant, is still classified as an active volcano. Mount Teide is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Spain. In 2016, Teide National Park received over 4 million visitors.
The peak can often be seen above the ‘sea of clouds’ creating a stunning visual effect. The mountain is home to a variety of unique plant and animal species, including the Teide white-tailed rat, which is found nowhere else in the world.
11. Ama Dablam, Nepal
Ama Dablam is a mountain located in the eastern part of the Himalayas in Nepal. The name translates to "Mother's Necklace," the long lower ridges resemble a mother's arms protecting her child.
This striking-shaped mountain reaches a height of 22,349 feet (6,812 meters) above sea level. It is considered one of the most technically challenging climbs in the world. The first successful ascent of Ama Dablam was made in 1961 by a part of the team led by Sir Edmund Hillary. Today, it is the third most popular mountain for expeditions in the Himalayas.
Ama Dablam is located in the Khumbu region of Nepal, trekkers to Everest base camp will see this mountain along almost all of the way. The region is known for its spectacular scenery, rich cultural heritage, and opportunities for Nepal trekking and climbing. The mountain is considered sacred by the Sherpa people.
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12. Mitre Peak, New Zealand
Mitre Peak (1,692m / 5, 560ft) is a famous mountain located in Milford Sound, a fjord on the southwest coast of New Zealand's South Island. It has a distinctive, sharp, jagged peak and sheer sides. This beautiful mountain was named after the mitre, a ceremonial headdress worn by bishops.
Its shape combined with beautiful and dramatic surroundings, make Mitre Peak one of the most photographed mountains in the country. Mitre has important significance to the Maori people, who have lived in the region for over 1,000 years.
Mitre Peak is in Fiordland National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site known for its towering mountains, cascading waterfalls, and crystal-clear lakes. The park is home to a variety of unique flora and fauna, including the endangered kea parrot, and the rare Fiordland crested penguin. There are opportunities for hiking, kayaking, and boat tours of the fjord.
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13. Montserrat, Spain
Montserrat is a mountain range located in Catalonia, Spain, about 30 miles (50 kilometers) northwest of Barcelona. Montserrat is named after the shape of its peaks which resemble a serrated saw blade. The range rises 1,236 meters/ 4,055 feet above sea level, its highest peak is known as Sant Jeroni.
Since the 9th century, Montserrat has been home to a Benedictine monastery, which is considered one of the most important pilgrimage sites in Spain. The monastery is home to the famous Black Madonna statue that is believed to have miraculous powers. The monastery also houses a museum with a collection of artwork, including works by Picasso and Dalí.
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14. Mount Olympus, Greece
Mount Olympus is the highest mountain range in Greece, with its highest peak, Mytikas, rising to a height of 9,570 feet (2,917 meters) above sea level.
According to Greek mythology, Mount Olympus was the home of the twelve Olympian gods, including Zeus. Pilgrims would travel from all over Greece to visit its peaks and temples.
Today, Mount Olympus is a popular destination for hikers and outdoor enthusiasts. There are a variety of trails and routes that offer stunning views of the surrounding landscape. You can even trek to the summit of Mount Olympus.
The mountain is an important site for scientific research. The slopes and surroundings are covered in dense forests of beech, oak, and fir trees. Mount Olympus is home to a variety of wildlife, including wolves, bears, and lynx.
15. Mount Osorno Chile
Osorno is a cone-shaped stratovolcano located in the Chilean Lakes region in the southern part of the Andes. Its snow-capped peak rises 2, 652m (8,701 ft) above sea level, on the southeastern shore of Llanquihue Lake.
Osorno was the name given by Spanish settlers. Natives knew it by other names including Hueñauca, and Guanauca in the 18th century.
Historically, Osorno has been one of the most active volcanoes in Chile. There were 11 recorded eruptions between 1575 and 1869. Although there hasn’t been an eruption for more than 100 years, it is technically still active.
Mount Osorno is popular for hiking. Several trails lead to the summit of the mountain, ranging in difficulty from easy to challenging. The mountain also has several ski resorts and slopes for skiers and snowboarders of different levels.