1. Capri, Italy
The rocky island of Capri lies at the mouth of the Gulf of Naples and is easy to get to by ferry from Positano (about 30 minutes) or Sorrento (20 minutes), both on the picturesque Amalfi Coast. Capri's towering cliffs harbor countless caves and rock formations and offer awe-inspiring views. The charming, whitewashed town of Capri lies high in the hills above Marina Grande, where ferries offload their passengers. You can head uphill by bus or festive convertible taxi, or enjoy the view with a ride up on the funicular. Eventually, you'll want to take a boat ride around the island to view the cliffs up close and see Capri's famous Blue Grotto.
"Cliff" Notes: Perched atop the massive cliffs of Capri is Villa Jovis, the restored summer home of Emperor Tiberius. During his reign, anyone who fell out of favor with him reputedly was thrown off these limestone cliffs to certain death more than a thousand feet below. What a guy!
Hideaways Recommends: Hotel Villa Marina Capri, a private estate turned boutique hotel tucked away in a quiet corner of bustling Capri, and offering stunning views of the Gulf of Naples dominated by Mt. Vesuvius in the distance; and Capri Palace, an art hotel nestled in a prime position within the charming, less-touristed town of Anacapri, and resonating with stylish, understated elegance. We found there's no more sybaritic experience in the world than enjoying a leisurely lunch at Capri Palace's il Riccio "beach club," which clings to a rocky cliff above the Blue Grotto and looks out across the Mediterranean.
Get More Hideaways Insight: Read President Mike Thiel's report from his recent visit to Capri.
2. Ta Cenc Cliffs, Malta
Ferry over (just 30 minutes) to Malta's outlying island of Gozo for a relaxing stay and a visit to Gozo's Ta Cenc (pronounced "Ta Chench") cliffs, rising some 470 feet above sea level. There is no human habitation in sight, and you can walk right to the cliff's edge as we did—if you dare! From these heights, you can drink in absolutely stunning views of the deep-blue Mediterranean which surrounds the islands. Legend has it that in the old days, people used to rappel down (and supposedly climb back up!) the Ta Cenc cliffs in order to fish!
The area is an important ecological and geological site, and its cliffs are an important nesting site for many species of birds such as the blue rock thrush and the rare spectacled warbler.
"Cliff" Notes: In days gone by, the Ta Cenc cliffs were a popular breeding ground for the world-famous Maltese falcon, which, unfortunately, is now extinct on the islands of Malta.
Hideaways Recommends: Relaxing in comfort at the impressively positioned Hotel Ta' Cenc, set quite remotely near the Ta' Cenc cliffs. Its rooms and suites are set in single-story sandstone buildings, some with beehive towers and sprinkled around gorgeous gardens. A unique feature is the hotel's rocky il Kantra beach, where you can swim in the crystal-clear waters of a fjord-like cove.
Get More Hideaways Insight: Read President Mike Thiel's report from his recent visit to Malta.
3. Cliffs of Moher, Ireland
Soaring more than 700 feet above a wild five-mile stretch of Co. Clare, where the Irish coastline meets the Atlantic Ocean, the Cliffs of Moher are one of the most impressive natural landscapes in all of Ireland. The finest view of the cliffs is from the observation area at O'Brien's Tower, built in the 1830s by local Cornelius O'Brien of Dromoland Castle fame (see our recommendation, below). On a clear day, you can see all the way to the Aran Islands, 30 minutes away by ferry. The cliffs harbor a wealth of interesting birdlife, including puffins, guillemots, gannets, and shags that nest along the cliff face and feed in the waters below.
"Cliff" Notes: An impressive Visitor Center opened at the Cliffs of Moher in early 2007, and its absolute highlight is a virtual-reality experience that gives you a gannet's-eye perspective of the cliff face, as the birds dive and swoop above and below the ocean's surface.
Hideaways Recommends: The exquisite luxury of Dromoland Castle, where guests luxuriate in warm Irish hospitality, 5-star accommodations, locally inspired dining, extensive gardens and woodlands, and activities like fishing, falconry, clay shooting, and horseback riding. There's even a championship golf course and the Dromoland Golf Academy to get you playing better.
Get More Hideaways Insight: Read Editor Pat Chaudoin's report from her visit to Ireland.
4. Na' Pali Coast, Kauai
"Pali" means "cliffs" in Hawaiian, and the Na' Pali coastline of Kauai has cliffs in spades. Most of this rugged 15-mile stretch on Kauai's northwest shore is inaccessible due to its sheer cliffs that drop straight down, thousands of feet into the ocean—which is also why it remains one of the most beautiful and pristine coastlines in the world. You can get a bird's-eye perspective of this hidden coastline by taking a helicopter tour, or get a dolphin's view with a Zodiac tour along the rugged coast, with stops for snorkeling along the way.
"Cliff" Notes: If you're a bit more adventurous, hiking the 11-mile Kalalau Trail is a total immersion experience that reveals the cliffs' lush waterfalls and private beaches tucked into the Na' Pali Coast. The trail earned a Sierra Club rating of "9" out of "10" in degree of difficulty, but we did the first half without too much huffing and puffing, and were in very average condition. It was an experience not to be forgotten, with vistas of whales frolicking offshore, the blue Pacific crashing below, and the enjoyment of the camaraderie of fellow hikers.
Hideaways Recommends: Serene and sophisticated St. Regis Princeville Resort, located on the north shore of the "Garden Island" and overlooking lovely Hanalei Bay. The resort is framed by majestic Makana Mountain and the Pacific Ocean, and it borders on the Limahuli Preserve, where conservationists are working to preserve species native to this tropical habitat. Princeville itself offers eco-adventures like snorkeling, horseback riding, Save Our Seas programs for both kids and adults, and, of course, access to the breathtaking Na' Pali Coast.
Get More Hideaways Insight: Read President Mike Thiel's report from his visit to Kauai.
5. Cabo Girao, Madeira
The lofty sea cliff of Cabo Girao is set along the southern coast of the island of Madeira, in the Portuguese archipelago off northern Africa. Towering to as much as 1,932 feet above sea level, the cliffs are among the highest in Europe, presenting a real "gasp" factor as you stand at the iron railings of the viewpoint.
A transparent glass skywalk similar to the one at the Grand Canyon recently was unveiled, allowing visitors to experience a vertigo-inducing view over the rocky cliff face. The road to Cabo Girao also has been improved, and a gift shop and café have opened at the site.
Beyond Cabo Girao, what impressed us most about Madeira were its multiple climate zones from sea level—where bananas and other semi-tropical vegetation grow—to its windswept 5,800-foot tippy top, feeling and looking very much like the Highlands of Scotland. Beyond the island's beautiful scenery, it has a unique culture and is a seafood lover's Mecca.
"Cliff" Notes: Located below the sheer cliffs are terraced vineyards tucked along the shores, which once were accessible only by boat. In August 2003, a cable car was installed on the steep slope so farmers could reach these low-lying fields more easily. Also, adrenaline junkies have been known to para-glide and BASE-jump from these cliffs. Yikes!
Hideaways Recommends: Elegant and historic Reid's Palace, a grand cliff-top estate that once was the haunt of luminaries and aristocrats, and now embraces its past with luxurious rooms and suites, lavish afternoon tea, and gorgeous classic gardens that look out over the sparkling sea.
6. White Cliffs of Dover, England
Composed mainly of soft, white chalk, the White Cliffs of Dover are undoubtedly one of Britain's most spectacular natural features. They also have great symbolic value, as they face toward continental Europe across the narrowest part of the English Channel, where invasions historically have threatened and where the cliffs form a symbolic fortification. A series of dramatic cliff-top walks offer spectacular year-round views of the busy English Channel and the French coast. You can stop by the Visitor's Centre to learn more about the White Cliffs' fascinating military and penal history, then pop over to Mrs. Knotts' Tea Room for a spot of tea.
"Cliff" Notes: Caretakers here employ an unusual, natural method of keeping the cliff-top grasses and wildflowers trimmed—namely, two herds of sure-footed, semi-wild Exmoor ponies that graze along the cliffs' edge.
Hideaways Recommends: Make this a day trip from London, since there are few overnight lodging choices in the immediate area. Try a family-friendly apartment at The Athenaeum, in London's popular Mayfair district, or the Corinthia Hotel London, a stylish and contemporary retreat in the handsome neighborhood of Whitehall Place.
7. Santorini, Greece
The Greek island of Santorini is famous for its dramatic views, stunning sunsets, whitewashed homes, and its very own active volcano. It was, in fact, an ancient volcanic explosion that created Santorini's distinctive crescent-shaped rim of cliffs around the volcano's underwater caldera. The steep 1,300-foot sea cliffs, banded with brown, black, and white layers, are home to several villages—our favorite is Oia—as well as the busier capital of Fira, all with shops, tavernas, hotels, and cafs literally clinging to the precipice.
As impressive as the cliffs of Santorini are, we found it was the ever-changing cloudscapes and the special light that permeates this panorama that was most memorable. There's nothing quite like sipping a glass of wine at an eclectic restaurant or on the terrace of our favorite hotel clinging to these cliffs, while being completely mesmerized by the vista.
"Cliff" Notes: The fascinating ruins of Ancient Thira are located on a high rocky headland called Mesa Vouna, where you can take in some spectacular views over cliffs that drop into the sea on three sides. Most of the ruins date from the Hellenistic era. In fact, the large Terrace of the Festivals is where boys danced naked to honor the Greek god Apollo in a performance called the Gymnopaediae.
Hideaways Recommends: The cliff-side resort of Mystique, with its dazzling white Cycladic architecture and freestanding villas carved into the volcanic cliffs, each with a private sea-facing balcony; and Vedema Resort, a cluster of whitewashed and pastel residences linked by black lava cobblestone paths and sequestered away from the bustling streets of nearby Fira.
Get More Hideaways Insight: Read Hideaways Ambassador Bill Giles' report from his visit to Santorini.
Remember, we want to hear from you! So chime in on our Facebook page or tweet us @hideaways with your own nominations for favorite cliffs around the world.
And, when you're ready to plan a much-needed getaway with cliff-top views that will lift your spirits, contact your Hideaways Travel Specialist at 800-843-4433, or fill out a request to put together your own custom escape plan.