There's no question that TES V: Skyrim is one of the most beautiful games ever made. Even nearly ten years after its first release, its sights and sounds still take away our breaths when we adventure through the snowy, tundra-like province of Skyrim.
The game came a long way from its previous installments, and with mods available to make it look even more realistic and gorgeous, it's a sight for sore eyes. If you're looking to snap some aesthetic screenshots or just want to see the best sights in Skyrim, we have 10 locations you should visit for your fix of natural beauty.
Updated on August 9th, 2021 by Anastasia Maillot: When Skyrim first came out, it took people's breath away. For its time, it was a very well-done game. Over the years, however, it has definitely started to show a bit of age, which is why the Special Edition was a welcome addition to upgrade its in-game graphics.
On top of the Special Edition, a whole community of modders has made the game even more breathtaking to look at. As a result, a few more locations have emerged as incredibly stunning places to visit, for both adventure and a small photo session.
15 Lake Ilinalta
- Location: Follow the river from Riverwood down west or head northwest from Falkreath.
Lake Ilinalta is one of four lakes found in the province of Skyrim (five if the lake in Solstheim is counted). As such, lakes are a somewhat rare sight. There are four small ponds to be found as well, but these larger bodies of water that are landlocked are surprisingly uncommon.
That's easily why Lake Ilinalta is so special. It has the beautiful mountainous surroundings, the half-submerged mysterious ruins crawling with mages, and the creepy Half-Moon Mill run by vampires. There's also a shipwreck in the depths of the lake, and a Standing Stone located on a small island in the middle.
14 The Rift's Woodlands
- Location: Southeast of Skyrim.
Choosing just one location from The Rift is far too difficult, which is why the entire Hold qualifies as a beautiful location. It has a significantly different appearance to other southern holds of Skyrim, with autumnal trees and bushes that come in all shades of orange and yellow.
The Rift is home to Riften, which is easily the most corrupted city in the entirety of Skyrim. Riften's surrounding area, and the environment around Lake Honrich, which is connected to the city, are all worth visiting for some Instagram-worthy snaps.
13 Bard's Leap Summit
- Location: Inside Lost Valley Redoubt, down the river southeast of Markarth.
Mountains and cliffs were one of Skyrim's major selling point, as was the ability to climb them. Todd Howard famously advertised that players could get almost anywhere they wanted, without restrictions, and this does ring true even when it makes little sense.
One of the most impressive cliffs or high points in Skyrim is Bard's Leap Summit. This location is a bridge of sorts hanging over a flowing waterfall plummeting down an impressive fall into the waters below. Those brave enough to make the jump will be rewarded with Speech training by a ghost.
12 Bloated Man's Grotto
- Location: On the northside of the mountains next to Lake Ilinalta.
Lush caves are a specialty of Skyrim, and one of the earliest and best locations for admiring such caves is the Bloated Man's Grotto. It's relatively close to Riverwood, making it a common find for those who explore past the mountains where Bleak Falls Barrow lies.
The Grotto isn't just a nice place to look at. One of the coolest unique one-handed swords can also be found here. Bolar's Oathblade has the appearance of a katana, with a unique Stamina enchantment and the ability to force creatures below level 12 to run off for 30 seconds when hit.
11 Shadowgreen Cavern
- Location: Northwest from Solitude, in the mountains just opposite of the Thalmor Embassy.
Most lush caves in Skyrim tend to be around its southern and central areas. This is why it's surprising to find something like the Shadowgreen Cavern in the snowy mountains near Solitude, and few ever come to visit it unless brought here by a potential side quest.
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This strangely lush cave gets its charm from its greenery and the light that shines in from above. For players looking for alchemy ingredients, this cave is the perfect place to gather a few resources while taking in the sights.
- Location: Southwestern corner of Skyrim.
Out of all the cities in Skyrim, Markarth, despite its hidden and bloody storyline, is arguably the best-looking. Perched perfectly on the side of the rocky cliffs, it naturally blends in with its surroundings. Two waterfalls run down the city, which exists in multiple levels connected with winding stone steps.
All this is actually age-old Dwemer architecture, which is known for being quite bulky and functional, but it does have an interesting and charming aesthetic here. Not to mention, Vlindrel Hall, the house you can purchase here, has one of the best views from its front door.
- Location: East from Ivarstead, across the small lake.
Speaking of amazing views, if you're looking for a great vantage point from which you can see far north and south, as well as High Hrothgar, consider visiting Nilheim. Located in The Rift, this watch tower is surrounded by a waterfall and is right next to a cliff overlooking most of The Rift, and even the Northeastern parts of Skyrim.
You'll see the Sea of Ghosts and even Windhelm from up here, which makes it an excellent location to visit for an amazing 360 degree view of major sights around you.
8 Merryfair Farm
- Location: Northwest from Riften by Lake Honrich.
In idyllic farm located nearby the city of Riften, it might not seem like anything special at first glance. However, the beautiful autumnal tundra that surrounds it, paired with a gorgeous view of the lake right by Riften is what makes this place so special.
This is some of the more colorful areas in Skyrim, and is definitely worth a quick visit if you want a rest from your adventures and would just like to take in the relaxing views. Even the Goldenglow Estate is visible from this location.
7 Shrine Of Azura
- Location: Directly south from Winterhold and southeast from Saarthal.
Not far from Winterhold, on top of a mountain peak, you'll come across this massive statue of a woman holding a bird and a star. This is the shrine of Azura, dedicated to the Daedric prince and guarded by one of its last followers.
The place itself has a magnificent view of the lands below, but the real sight here is the giant statue that just looks like a deity emerging from the stone of the mountains itself. It's quite a sight to behold, and a location to begin one of the many Daedric quests.
6 Eldergleam Sanctuary
- Location: Southwest from Windhelm, nearby the hot springs of Eastmarch.
Located in Eastmarch, the Eldergleam Sanctuary is not only a dream for any disciples of alchemy but also an amazingly beautiful location to visit.
The cave is partly open from its ceiling, with waterfalls falling inside along with specks of light. Rare plants and other flora and fauna can be found here, along with the Eldergleam Tree, which is required for one of your quests. If you worship Kynareth, this is the place to visit and take a moment at.
5 The Throat Of The World
- Location: The easiest path is from Ivarstead's bridge, where the stairs up to the summit begin.
This list really wouldn't be complete without the highest mountain top in Skyrim, and also in all of Tamriel. It's believed this is through where mankind was sent down to the continent for the first time, as it is closest to the skies and therefore the divines of Skyrim.
The mysterious Greybeards hold their headquarters here, along with Paarthurnax who sits at the top of the mountain. The view to down below is magnificent, and you'll even find rare unmelting snow at the top for you White Phial quest.
4 Ancestor Glade
- Location: Directly east from Falkreath, west from Helgen.
Another cave filled with flora and fauna, Ancestor Glade just looks incredible with its mysterious rock formations and light pillars that descend from the ceiling. Pools of water crowd around a beautiful pink tree, presumably the cherry kind or something similar.
You'll find this beautiful location near Falkreath, and what makes it so special is that it's home to the famous Ancestor Moth. Beware of the cave's natural inhabitants, however, as the Spriggans won't take kindly to visitors.
3 Forgotten Vale
- Location: Accessible through Darkfall Cave north from Markarth.
Those who have the Dawnguard DLC installed will be in for a special treat. The Forgotten Vale is a new special area completely separate from the rest of Skyrim.
You'll come across a beautiful tundra forest with very special and colorful flora and fauna, and then reach a valley surrounded by glaciers and a frozen river and a waterfall. A very special dragon encounter also awaits you in this frozen paradise, dotted with old Snow Elf ruins and even Falmer structures.
- Location: Through Skuldafn, an unreachable location in the eastern mountains of Skyrim, south from Kagrenzel. Must be accessed during the main quest only.
Sovngarde is a special location in the sense that it's a dimension outside of physical existence, a place where all Nords go after they have passed. It's then no wonder that this area represents everything that's close to the hearts of Nords, from colorful aurora lights to dark snowy forests and misty tundra paths.
Guided by the ethereal light of the occasional torch, you'll advance to the final part of Skyrim's main quest, but while you're here you might as well admire the view, which is truly unique.
- Location: Underneath Skyrim. Accessible through the Dwemer ruins of Raldbthar, Mzinchaleft and Alftand.
Ultimately the most beautiful and best made area in all of Skyrim is without a doubt Blackreach. It's quite a difficult journey to get here, but it's worth every slain Falmer once you arrive. This massive cave holds ancient Dwemer structures and large bioluminescent mushrooms that grow all around you all the way to the ceiling.
Huge waterfalls and underground lakes surround this settlement but tread carefully: a Falmer lurks around every corner and if you don't pay attention you might trip an ancient alarm system and awaken the all feared Dwarven Centurion or even the famous Vulthuryol dragon.