The World’s Prettiest Destination Tunnels

Size matters – with tunnels, anyway. Most lists of the world’s most spectacular designs pant over the longest passageways, like Norway’s Laedral Tunnel, currently the record-holder at 15.25 miles.

But beauty before distance, I say. Give me the arched canopy of tart pink cherry trees in Bonn, Germany, over a cold engineering marvel anytime. Or Shanghai’s psychedelic light show inside the Bund Sightseeing Tunnel (pictured above). Or a simple rock cutaway in South Dakota with a million-dollar view. To that end – short trip though it may be – here’s a photo tour of the most striking destination tunnels.

Cherry Blossoms in Bonn, Germany
There’s something poetic about the very existence of tree tunnels, formed by nature instead of built to conquer it.

[Photo credit: K.A.I. via Flickr]

Rua Gonçalo de Carvalho in Porto Alegre, Brazil
This high-reaching green carpet in the middle of the city, formed by more than 100 tipuana trees pressing up against tall buildings for several blocks, was at risk of being uprooted to make way for more development before residents won a fight to preserve it. Now the tree tunnel is a protected heritage and environmental site.

[Photo credit: Ander Vaz via Flickr] For more leafy canopies, see World Geography’s photo gallery of tree tunnels.

Custer State Park in South Dakota
Three tunnels on the Iron Mountain Road scenic drive frame a view of Mt. Rushmore in the distance, like a spyglass. They are also cut out just wide enough for a motor coach to squeeze through.

[Photo credit: Devin Westhause via Flickr]

Bund Sightseeing Tunnel in Shanghai
A light show flashes along video walls that line the entire length of this tunnel connecting two major sights, and kids love it.

[Photo credit: Thewamphyri1 via Flickr]

Traboules in Lyon, France
These ancient passageways in the old quarter and the Croix-Rousse stretch the definition of “tunnel,” but we can make room for such graceful architectural details, and history – the French used them to elude the German occupation during World War II.

[Photo credit: Emmrichard via Flickr]

Have you visited any of these beauties, or others that belong on the list?

[Top photo credit: Synchroni via Flickr]