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7 Most Scenic Flight Routes You Can Take

Make sure you book a window seat for these memorably beautiful sky-high views.

While many travelers prefer to get into their seats, close the shade, and try to get in some sleep when they're on an airplane, in some cases, that may be a waste. Depending on where you're going, your flight could be the beginning of your sightseeing journey, with the rare chance to view the world from 35,000 feet. If you're looking to make the most out of your time in the sky, there are a few legs that are worth grabbing a window seat for. Read on for the most scenic flight routes you can take, according to travel experts.

RELATED: The Most Comfortable Economy Seats on Long-Haul Flights.

Approach into Rovaniemi, Finland

Reindeer attached to sleighs next to a snowy fence in Rovaniemi, Finland

A winter wonderland is a stunning view, whether you're at sea level or on a mountaintop. But those flying into Rovaniemi, Finland are treated to a truly unique glimpse of nearly Arctic terrain.

"Despite not seeing the Northern Lights—even though it's a popular viewing location for them—I loved the aerial view of the frozen lakes all around the city," says Amber Haggerty, travel blogger and founder of Amber Everywhere. "The landscape had more texture than any view I can think to compare it to: I probably took 20 photos from the plane window."

Even if you're flying in after sunset, you might see the city twinkling in the distance before you arrive. "Rovaniemi is famous for its Santa Claus Village—so much so that the screen at the airport said 'North Pole' instead of Rovaniemi when we were checking for our gate in Dublin, Ireland," says Haggerty.

Flying into Aspen, Colorado

aspen colorado mountains

"Flying into Aspen is like stepping into a winter wonderland kissed by nature," says LaDell Carter, founder and lead travel designer at Royal Expression Travels. "The snowcapped peaks create a surreal contrast against the rugged, dark mountains, offering a mesmerizing spectacle."

The time leading up to landing also provides a fantastic finale. "As your plane descends, the landscape transforms into a serene, white paradise dotted with quaint, charming chalets. This breathtaking aerial view captures the essence of Aspen's enchanting allure, making every moment glued to your window seat a visual feast," says Carter.

RELATED: 10 Clothing Items You Shouldn't Wear on a Plane.

Landing in Washington, D.C.

aerial view of washington, d.c.
Orhan Cam / Shutterstock

A trip to the nation's capital usually includes historic sightseeing, museum visits, and touring the city's many monuments. But because the area has so few tall buildings and high elevations, your window seat can provide one of the best views available.

"It's not that exotic or extreme, but I used to live in Washington D.C., and to this day, one of my favorite aerial moments is the river visual approach into Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA)," says Jared Benoff, travel expert at Vacationeeze. "You get stunning views of the nation's capital as your plane swiftly maneuvers until the final moments right before touchdown. It's a breathtaking way to see some of the city's most beautiful monuments and buildings."

Transcontinental flights in the U.S.

rocky mountain national park
RondaKimbrow / iStock

A coast-to-coast flight in the U.S. is long enough to eat a meal, watch a movie, or get a decent amount of work done before landing. But if you're trying to pass the time, don't forget to look out your window to appreciate the view.

"I was once flying from San Francisco to NYC, and when I looked out the window, I saw the slopes of the Rocky Mountains sloping into farmland somewhere between Wyoming and Colorado, and I'm telling you, it was the most all-American view I could ask for," says Becca Siegel, co-owner at Half Half Travel.

She explains that even though many people take transcontinental flights, very few realize there's such a stunning aerial view of places they might never see on the ground.

"I saw the actual circles that corresponded to where farmers had radially watered their fields, and I had never considered that there are farms and agricultural lands right at the foot of the most famous mountains in the continental U.S.," she says. "It was awe-inspiring for me, and while it's not a famous landmark, it was beautiful in its simplicity."

RELATED: 9 Best Airports in America That Are Worth a Layover.

London, England to Toronto, Canada

Red house in settlement of Tiniteqilaaq on Sermilik Fjord, East Greenland

Transatlantic flight routes between North America and Europe cover a lot of open ocean before they make landfall at their destination. But some routes make it possible to glimpse a rarely seen location far to the north.

"Passengers on these flights can be stunned by the beauty of Greenland—which is actually the largest island in the world!" says Daniel Clarke, travel expert and director of home booking service Parklink. "The vast amount of snow-capped peaks look beautiful from the plane window, and with the majority of the island being uninhabited, it feels extremely calm and peaceful to see from above."

Flying over the Great Salt Lake

An aerial view of the Great Salt Lake in Utah

There are several notable points of interest on flight routes crossing the western U.S. If your trip takes you over Utah, one of the state's most famous natural features is not to be missed from the sky.

"I fly from the West Coast often, but besides the Grand Canyon, one of the most unforgettable sights is a birds-eye view of the Great Salt Lake," says Tanya Taylor, travel writer at Travels & Treasures.

She added that it became even more impressive when she flew into Utah for a ski trip in March. "The lake was a deep blue and a stunning contrast of the landscape with patches of snowy mountains," she says.

Arriving at Princess Juliana International Airport in Sint Maarten

princess juliana airport with plane landing close to people at the beach

It's one thing to take in memorable views from a plane. But whether you're flying into Princess Juliana International Airport or standing on the ground, you're in for an unforgettable sight.

"You have stunning crystal blue waters below you, mountains in the distance, and a runway in between. As you're about to touch down, you can see the bathing suit colors of everyone on Maho Beach!" Benoff tells Best Life. "It's such a cool experience—on the ground and in the plane!—and a perfect way to kick start an exciting vacation."

Zachary Mack
Zach is a freelance writer specializing in beer, wine, food, spirits, and travel. He is based in Manhattan. Read more