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New Dawns: Seven Spectacular Sunrise Spots

by andrew January 2011 - last edited February 2013 by Community Manager

Whether you're just heading home or just getting up, dawn is one of those moments that can really capture the spirit and soul of a destination. And anyway, sunsets are so last year. From misty mountaintops to vast plains, we encourage you to soak up those amber vibes with a handful of our favourite places for an unmissable sunrise…

Up On High

In the Land of the Rising Sun, there's no better place to see in the dawn than on Japan's highest peak. Standing above the clouds watching the sun burst through them is the best reason to climb Mt Fuji. So, pack for the cold night and set off at night. It will always be crowded, especially during summer’s official climbing season, but the sense of shared awe and triumph is overwhelming and part of the pilgrimage.

Crowds greeting the sun on Mt Fuji, by raneko on Flickr

Crowds greeting the sun on Mt Fuji, by raneko on Flickr

Another of the world's greatest sunrise peaks doesn’t even require much of a trek. Haleakala Volcano in Maui, Hawaii can be reached – at least as far as the visitor centre – by car. The mountain is linked with a lot of tradition and regarded as a spiritual place and daybreak is usually greeted with mele oli (a sacred poem), making for a meditative experience no matter how packed the peak is.

Sunrise in the clouds at Haleakala, Maui by exfordy on Flickr

Sunrise in the clouds at Haleakala, Maui by exfordy on Flickr

Out To Sea

If you're visiting Orlando or Miami, anywhere on the Atlantic Coast of Florida can provide a pretty special sunrise. When you know there’s nothing between you and the ocean for thousands of miles and that you’ll be among the first on a whole continent to greet the sun, the experience takes on an extra charm. You're in the sunshine state, so get up with the gulls and the fishermen and grab the rays – and the best beach spot - before everyone else.  If you're able to get up that far, the views around Jacksonville on the state’s Northeast coast are highly recommended.

Sunrise at Jacksonville Beach pier, Florida by country67 on Flickr

Sunrise at Jacksonville Beach pier, Florida by country67 on Flickr

Inland Awe

Masai Mara dawn, Kenya, by Mara 1 on Flickr

Masai Mara dawn, Kenya, by Mara 1 on Flickr

You needn't be in the sky or by the sea for sunrise as long as the scenery and atmosphere is right. On the Masai Mara in Kenya, that means miles of mist-covered flatlands dotted with sparse acacia tree silhouettes and, if you're lucky some big game.  And if one blazing orange sky isn't enough for one day, stick around and just turn to the west when the equally spectacular sunset comes in the evening.

Sunrise over the Ganges at Veranasi by orvalrochefort on Flickr

Sunrise over the Ganges at Veranasi by orvalrochefort on Flickr

The ancient city of Varanasi on the west bank of the Ganges in India offers a mystical daybreak experience as locals and pilgrims descend the riverside steps to pray or bathe in the holy water. Take a sunrise tour on rowboat or just take in the magic from the shore.

Urban Magic

Even where the true horizon is obscured by myriad manmade structures, sunrises can still be special. We often think of the classic city skylines at dusk or under moonlight, but some afford us a view of dark silhouettes against yellow glow - if we're up early enough.

The Pudong district of Shanghai, which features the cities tallest, most recognisable buildings, including the rocket-like Oriental Pearl Tower is handily situated on the Huangpu river's east bank. As famous as the night-lit view is, you get extra drama at dawn.

Dawn over Pudong, Shanghai by The-Pocket on Flickr

Dawn over Pudong, Shanghai by The Pocket on Flickr

Similarly, Sydney offers some incredibly vibrant, high contrast viewing if you get in the right spot. Get in position on the west side of the harbour's Circular Key and watch the sun come up behind the Opera House's shell–like structures – at the right angle it looks almost as if the building is giving birth.

Sydney Sunrise by mackenzie and john on Flickr

Sydney Sunrise by mackenzie and john on Flickr

Creative Commons photography courtesy of Flickr photographers raneko, exfordy, country67, Mara 1, orvalrochefort, The Pocket and mackenzie and john.

If you've been inspired, head over to virginatlantic.com for great deals on direct flights to Tokyo, Orlando, Miami, Nairobi, Delhi, Shanghai and Sydney.

Have we missed anything? Seen a great sunrise in any of our destinations? Advice, tips and photo links welcome! Let us know in the comments section below.


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Tweetsthatmen6 January 2011
This post was mentioned on Twitter by Cliff Flynn. Cliff Flynn said: RT @vtravelled: Sunsets are so last year. Check out our Sunrise feature http://bit.ly/hdpwb6
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VirginAtlantic1 January 2011
views of the Shanghai skyline. And if you do stay here, remember to get up early one morning as a spectacular Pudong sunrise is one of our all-time favourite sights.Virgin Atlantic operate daily flights to all these
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FiveGreatRoma February 2011
together as a couple, and if you like to rise early for your romance, check out our post on great sunrise destinations.Log on to virginatlantic.com for great deals on flights to Delhi (for Jaisalmer), Nairobi (for
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About the author: andrew

Andrew Bowman

Andrew is an occasional contributor to the Virgin Atlantic blog. He lived in the Japanese countryside for two years until he could no longer resist the pull of London's galleries, pubs and clubs. He likes to pretend he can speak Japanese and also sometimes writes about music.