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17 Of The Most Beautiful Travel Destinations Of 2014

Wanderlust level: high.

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The three crater lakes surrounding Indonesia's Kelimutu volcano actually change color: from turquoise or green, to black or red. It's believed the shifting hues are due to chemical reactions in the water, but local legend says they reflect the moods of ancestors that have passed on.

4. The age-old salt mines in Maras, Peru.

Trover: Misha Zavoico

The mines trace back to pre-Inca times, and local artisans still refine salt with those same methods — while tourists can walk along the edges of the salt pools and observe.

Of the nearly two dozen Greek Orthodox monasteries that were built atop the rocks starting in the 14th century, only six remain. Give yourself at least two days to tour them all — climbing up staircases and across bridges — or visit the Great Meteoron Monastery, the tallest and oldest.

Johan Lolos / Facebook: lebackpacker

The Australian Outback is often ranked as one of the best places to take in the night sky. There's next to no light pollution — meaning that the vast, dark skies under Ayers Rock serve as an ideal canvas for incredibly bright constellations.

7. The beachfront views that surround Thailand's Koh Poda Island.

Koh Poda — the largest of a group of four islands that you can tour in the same day — sits on beautifully clear waters. To get there, visitors can take a longtail boat from Tonsai Bay in Thailand's Krabi province.

10. The awe-inspiring rock formations at Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah.

Flickr: don_graham

Bryce Canyon is best known for abundant hoodoos: tall, stunning spires of rock that jut out from the landscape and are different colors at different heights. This Utah park has more of them than anywhere else in the world.

12. The multicultural mecca of Cape Town, South Africa.

Flickr: martie1swart / via Gogobot

This was a huge year for Cape Town on several fronts — it took top honors on the New York Times list of Places to Go, and it was also named the 2014 World Design Capital.

14. The calm blue-green waters of Vietnam's Ha Long Bay.

Jetsetter.com

With its dramatic limestones that jut out from the water, Ha Long Bay has always been a popular spot to explore by boat. But this past year saw the launch of aerial tours, giving visitors a new opportunity to soar above the seascape.

As one of the highest-elevation lakes in the U.S., Lake Tahoe is gorgeous year-round. But with 125 inches of snow annually and more than a dozen top ski resorts, winter is arguably where it really shines. You'll find everything from snowshoe trails to dog sledding tours to horse-drawn sleigh rides.

Of the millions of flowers that bloom every year at the park, the baby blue eyes steal the show in the spring. Cycling and walking paths also wind through huge fields of tulips and daffodils, and the seasonal color palettes make for a beautiful (and ever-changing!) backdrop.

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