The 10 Best Views from Aeroplanes

Published 13 April 2016

Angela Griffin

Angela Griffin

We tend to look at flights as purely a means to get us to and from our destination, a time to sleep or to immerse ourselves in endless movies. But treat your flights as part of your Journey and your holiday begins the very moment you take to the skies. Request a window seat, order a glass of something cool, sit back and enjoy a scenic flight over the world.

In my experience, everything looks better from above. From your uninterrupted viewpoint in the sky cities look neater, landscapes look vaster and mountains stretch further. Whether I’m on a short hop to Scotland or a long-haul journey to the other side of the world, I always request a window seat. I’ve been treated to many beautiful aerial views over the years, so it was hard to narrow them down, but here are a few of my favourites:

Kilimanjaro from above

Mount Kilimanjaro

Free-standing Kilimanjaro towers 5,895 metres above the surrounding plains of Kilimanjaro National Park, home to elephants, bushbabies and leopards. Climbing to the summit and back takes about five days depending on your fitness level and which route you take. It’s a hard slog, so for a much easier way to see the mountain, take a flight from Nairobi to Dar es Salaam. If you sit on the right side of the plane it’s often possible to see the snowy plateau of Kilimanjaro peeking out majestically from beneath a blanket of cloud.

Visit Tanzania with Round the World Experts’ East Africa Discovery Journey or chat to your Expert about climbing Mount Kilimanjaro.

The Arctic from above

The Arctic

Flights from Europe, Dubai or Asia to the USA and Canada often bypass the Atlantic Ocean and take the shorter route north, crossing the Arctic Circle and entering the Polar region. Book a seat and you might pass over Greenland, Iceland or the northernmost reaches of Canada. Look out for icebergs, mountains and mile after mile of white.

Chat to an Expert today to arrange your trip to the Arctic.

The Alps from above in snow

The Alps

Pretty much every flight from London to southern Europe or north Africa (or indeed South Africa, but these tend to fly overnight) will fly over the Alps. Look out for the towering peaks appearing on the horizon and soon you’ll be surrounded by snow-dusted mountains and shimmering lakes. Having flown over the Alps numerous times, I still can’t decide if they look better in the white of winter, or in the vibrancy of summer. I’ll leave it to you to make your own mind up.

Sydney from above

Sydney Harbour

Fly in from the northwest and your first glimpse of Sydney will be of the glistening blue harbour far below you, a seemingly miniature city with tiny versions of the famous Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge. Flights from London (via Asia) usually arrive early morning, the perfect time for the sunlight to glitter attractively across the water. Sit on the right side of the plane for the best Opera House views.

Many of our Australia Journeys fly into Sydney. Check them out here.

Cape Town from above

Cape Town

It doesn’t matter which side of the plane you sit, if you fly into Cape Town on a sunny morning you’ll be treated to some fabulous vistas of Table Mountain and the surrounding bay. The best views are from flights that originated from the north. As Cape Town is one of the southernmost cities in the world, that is pretty much everywhere.

Fly into Cape Town with one of Round the World Experts’ South Africa Journeys.

Bora Bora from above

Bora Bora

Check out this view of the runway at Bora Bora Airport (pictured), your first glimpse of this tropical paradise as you fly in. Flights to Bora Bora usually originate in Tahiti, and do not have allocated seating. As a result, you’ll need to be near the front of the boarding queue to grab a much-coveted window seat, preferably on the left side of the plane for views of islands Huahine, Tahaa, Raiatea and Bora Bora itself. Too late for a left side spot? Fear not – sit on the right and look out as the plane comes in to land. It will turn sharply, giving you a glimpse of Bora Bora in glorious close up.

Fly into Tahiti on our Best of the North Island & Tahiti Journey, which includes time in New Zealand and Tahiti.

London from above


We’re all so focused on where we’re going on our holidays, we often forget about where we’ve come from. You can get some great views of London and its surrounding countryside from the plane, both on your outbound and inbound flights. Flying into Heathrow from the east, sit on the right for the Houses of Parliament, Big Ben, St Paul’s Cathedral and even the distant Thames Barrier. Alternatively, if you fly in from the west you’ll pass over Windsor and Eton and be treated to some great views of Windsor Castle and the Long Walk.

All of Round the World Experts’ Journeys range of tailor-made holidays start and end in London, so chat to your Expert about which one is best for you.

Dubai from above


When jetting into Dubai it’s a bit of a toss-up as to which side of the plane to sit on. Your entrance direction will depend on the weather, sand and dust levels and how many other flights are waiting to land at the same time. But whichever side you choose, you’re sure to have a fantastic view: look out for the looming Burj Khalifa skyscraper, a vision of glass towering above the desert, and the man-made island fronds of The Palm.

Dubai is often used as a stopover on our Journeys to Australia and New Zealand. Chat to your Expert to add a short break in Dubai to your Journey.

Victoria Falls from above

Victoria Falls

If you fly into Livingstone from Johannesburg, you’ll pass right over the mighty Victoria Falls and its accompanying gorge. Look out too for the zig-zag pattern created by the Zambezi River as it carves its way through the rocky landscape. Sit on the left side of the plane for the best views, but if you can’t nab yourself a window seat, sign up for an epic Flight of Angels helicopter ride over the waterfall. The longer flights even take you on an air safari over Zambezi National Park, where you might spot elephant, hippo, crocodile or giraffes from the chopper.

Fly over Victoria Falls on Round the World Experts’ Southern African Predators Journey, which includes the Flight of Angels helicopter ride over the waterfall.

The Maldives from above


It doesn’t matter where you sit; on your approach into Male’s Ibrahim Nasir International Airport you’ll get great views of the Maldivian Islands, their white beaches and the surrounding sea, usually an impossibly deep shade of turquoise. Enjoy.

Chat to your Expert to book your holiday to the Maldives.

You might also like:

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