Planning a trip is so much fun. But where we used to get our ideas from travel brochures and guidebooks, things have now moved on to a more modern format. Travel websites offer an exciting glimpse into locations all over the world. Each one provides you with the information you need to make an informed decision, and even save money while doing it. That is enough to get anyone’s wanderlust up.

However, what always gets me going is the design of the website itself. It isn’t that a tourism website without the bells and whistles can’t represent a beautiful place. It is just that an inspiring and well-designed travel site can help build excitement and just looked nice. These are my ten favorites right now.

1. Australia’s Official Tourism Site

Most Inspiring and Well Designed Travel Sites

Australia has a certain image that immediately comes to mind for me, and that is the ocean. Their official tourism board seemed to agree, as that is the motif used for their site. The background shows an underwater scene including a sea turtle, some coral and a fish. You can almost picture yourself diving down among the reefs, or taking a sail boat across the coastline.

2. Visit Idaho

Most Inspiring and Well Designed Travel Sites

Many websites are too busy and cluttered, and they suffer for it. This one manages to offer a ton of information right up front, yet it doesn’t look over saturated for badly designed. More busy and exciting, showing off what Idaho – a less well known US state from those abroad – has to offer.

3. Alpine Meadows

Most Inspiring and Well Designed Travel Sites

Do you want to go skiing? When you see this website you will. The entire site comes off as very cozy, like sitting around a fire in a log cabin in the mountains. The pictures, however, give a sense of adventure and show all the fun activities Alpine Meadows has to offer. The little graphics like the skis and snowboard, cabin and map are nice little additions that mesh well with the background.

4. Visit Utah

Most Inspiring and Well Designed Travel Sites

The Utah tourism website immediately catches the eye with the slideshow at the top. It doesn’t just focus on one type of image, but instead spans out across the state itself. As Utah is split between the northern half with mountains, cities and skiing, and the southern half with smaller towns, desert and natural parks, it strikes the balance well in the design by showing you a little of both. Plus, it lets you explore the north, south and central areas to see which each is known for.

5. Lanyon Holiday Cottages

Most Inspiring and Well Designed Travel Sites

Grid designs are a dime a dozen, and not usually very interesting to look at. This is defintiely an exception, as they haven’t allowed the simple design scheme work against them. Instead, they have used it to offer as much information as possible without making the site appear cluttered and unappealing. This includes bright photographs with plenty of color against a white background. It is very bright, clean, happy and warm.

6. Pioneer Africa

Most Inspiring and Well Designed Travel Sites

What I personally like about this site is the background. It is incredibly light, with the map it is based on faded so it is barely visible. Which adds a sense of mystery to it. Plus, you have little touches like the moving compass, the tabs that extended like case folders and the overall color scheme. Very unique and well done.

7. Clover Cottage

Most Inspiring and Well Designed Travel Sites

The best way to describe this site design would be “country chic”. It has many elements that are remnant of log cabins or cottages. Yet, there is an element of luxury with the dark, rich colors, font and photos that are more high end than what you would normally expect. Their slogan is “A place where tradition demands quality”, and that is exactly what the site delivers.

8. Elegant Rooms

Most Inspiring and Well Designed Travel Sites

This is a site that allows you to book luxury rooms at boutique and high end lodgings all over the world. Their website really manages to reflect that idea, but unlike so many others in the genre it remains understated. Which is what makes it seem all the more elegant by comparison. Plus, it lists the service features right on the front page, making it convenient in its design. We actually rather like the booking template than the actual website, as it’s uncluttered and lets you choose a hotel based on the few key search options easily.

9. FeeJee Experience

Most Inspiring and Well Designed Travel Sites

You might be thinking to yourself, “That isn’t how you spell Fiji!” You would be correct, but it is a misspelling that conveys the charming and fun nature of this travel site. The quickly rotating slideshow photos show off the exciting and friendly nature of the location. It includes friends covered in mud after some messy activity, scuba divers, people lounging on the beach…just what you would hope for.

10. Amsterdam City Tours

Most Inspiring and Well Designed Travel Sites

There is something to be said for travel sites that lay it all right out. This one isn’t as attractive as the others, but it is helpful and efficient. The moment you look at the page you will see available tours and their prices, with a short description. Navigation is clear thanks to the large buttons and text. It is one of the most productive travel sites I have ever seen.

Have a site that belongs on this list? Let us know in the comments.