From snowmelt serenely cascading downhill to the epic roar of rivers plummeting hundreds of metres onto rocks below, waterfalls capture travellers’ imagination with their perpetual movement and raw display of natural power.
74% of UK travellers say that outstanding scenery is very important when picking the destination for a trip. So Booking.com has delved into its more than 29 million listings in over 153,000 destinations around the globe.
Here are six off-the-beaten-path places that bring travellers up close to some of Mother Nature’s most stunningly beautiful waterfalls.
From Bulgaria to Bidulginang, these mesmerising natural landmarks are well worth the detour.
Krushuna Falls, Bulgaria
The gently cascading waters and terraced, turquoise pools of Krushuna Falls make for an excellent day trip from the Bulgarian capital. You’ll find them in the middle of the forest a 2.5-hour drive from Sofia,
Only reachable by car and a 20-minute walk from Krushuna village through the national park, this beautiful series of falls attracts visitors from near and far. At 58°C (146°F), their inviting mineral pools are perfect for a rejuvenating soak.
The mysterious, otherworldly Devetashka Cave is a short walk away along the main road, near the village of Devetaki.
Where to stay: Located in the village of Krushuna, Guest House Bigora is a relatively short and easy walk from the waterfalls. The guest house offers complimentary bike hire in case you prefer to explore the area on two wheels.
Ouzoud Falls, Morocco
Only a 2.5-hour drive from Marrakech through a varied and stunning landscape, Ouzoud Falls are the highest in North Africa.
The dramatically tiered cascade tumbles over the umber rocks, kissed by lush greenery. They are home to scores of monkeys (Barbary macaques).
You can take a boat ride straight underneath the mouth of the waterfall to view the rainbows created by the spray and get drenched by the thundering torrents. Visitors may also swim in the natural pools at the bottom of the falls, or climb the path from the bottom to the top (or vice versa).
Where to stay: If you fall in love with the austere, rugged beauty of this place and are looking for a truly authentic Moroccan stay, spend the night nearby at the Riad Cascades d’Ouzoud.
Just a short walk from the waterfall, it’s a tranquil retreat where you can treat yourself to stunning views of the surrounding valley and distant Atlas Mountains.
Multnomah Falls, Oregon
Multnomah Falls is easily accessible by car. Its proximity to the city of Portland (just a 30-minute drive away), makes it a popular side trip year-round.
After a moderate two-mile (3.5 km) hike, an ascent of around 700ft (213m), you’ll be able to get the ideal shot of photogenic Benson Bridge with the falls in the background. For even more impressive views, you can continue to the overlook point, which is an additional 20-minute hike away.
While you’re there, make sure to visit Multnomah Falls Lodge, which was built in 1925. In addition to the delicious local fish on the menu, you can enjoy fine wines from both Oregon and Washington state, as well as craft beers from the area. All this from a privileged vantage point at the base of the falls.
Where to stay: Eva’s Cottage – Romancing the River is a holiday home located in Washougal. This is a little over 3.5 miles (6km) from Multnomah Falls on the Washington side of the Columbia River. Just a short drive away from the falls and a busy interstate highway, it’s a peaceful, wooded location.
This cosy cottage near the Washougal River is a secluded escape for travellers who love fishing. Alternatively it’s perfect for those simply looking to take a digital detox.
Rhine Falls, Switzerland
During the summer, up to 160,000 gallons (600,000 litres) of water flow over Rhine Falls every second in the Swiss town of Neuhausen am Rheinfall.
There are more than a few viewing points to witness Mainland Europe’s largest waterfall, as the falls are accessible from both the northern and the southern banks. The most popular observation platform though is the Känzeli on the south shore. Access it through Laufen Castle (where you can also enjoy a tour). Or you can take a boat trip to the Rhine Falls cliffs, but be warned – you will get wet.
The scenic falls are only a 45-minute drive from Zurich with plenty of must-sees along the way, including Munot Fortress, a 16th-century ring-shaped fortification. It overlooks Schaffhausen, a picturesque medieval town on the Upper Rhine between the Black Forest and Lake Constance.
Where to stay: Dating from 1654, the traditional Hotel2B is located in the historic centre of Schaffhausen. If you’d like to enjoy more of the outstanding beauty of the area, you can visit the Regionaler Naturpark Schaffhausen. This natural wonderland straddles the Swiss-German border about a six-mile (10km) drive away.
Bidulginang Waterfalls, South Korea
Home to the Bidulginang Waterfalls, Pocheon is an inland city about 40 minutes to the northeast of Seoul. Your first stop on your road trip to visit these secluded waterfalls should be Peace Land Korea, a beautiful botanical garden at the entrance of Sanjeong Lake.
The gardens are home to the “forgotten giants”, five sculptures made from recycled materials by the Danish artist Thomas Dambo, which playfully complement the area’s natural beauty.
Your second stop should be Pocheon Herb Island. In this small village, Mediterranean herbs are grown and used both for cooking and healing.
If you visit between November and April, you’ll witness the Herb Island Lighting & Illumination Festival. Millions of LED lights decorate every building and garden in the village.
Where to stay: Located in Pocheon, Sunny Terrace offers stunning views of the surrounding area. It makes a lovely home base if you want to spend more time exploring the region’s many lakes, springs, mountains and forests.
Salto Grande, Torres del Paine, Chile
The thundering waterfalls of Salto Grande lie in the Patagonian paradise of Torres del Paine.
Drive to the Pudeto sector of the national park. After an exciting, yet accessible hike of a little over a mile (2km) from the main road, you will reach these imposing, glacier-fed falls.
There’s a wealth of other natural landmarks to visit including the Grey Glacier, Lake Pehoé and Lake Sarmiento. Yet Nordenskjöld Lake (named after the Swede who discovered it) is another real standout. It’s formed by a melting glacier and known for its stunning turquoise colour and surrounding mountain vistas.
Keep your fingers crossed for a clear day to enjoy the array of crisp blues as the weather in Torres del Paine is famously unpredictable!
Where to stay: Mountains, glaciers, forests and lakes… Torres del Paine (‘Towers of Blue’) is a bucket-list part of Chile that many travellers are aching to visit.
Just a short drive from the national park entrance and overlooking the Paine massif, Pampa Lodge, Quincho & Caballos is a great base to get in touch with nature. Rest here before you hike, climb and ride your way through the park’s marvels.
You can even head off on an unforgettable adventure on horseback through the mountainous terrain.