The World's Most Breathtaking College Campuses

Enjoying Cherry Blossoms in University of Washington Campus


Cheapism is editorially independent. We may earn a commission if you buy through links on our site.
Enjoying Cherry Blossoms in University of Washington Campus
The University of Colorado-Boulder

The University of Colorado-Boulder

Boulder, Colorado

What started as one building in 1876 — now known as Old Main — has grown into dozens more today, with a mix of both traditional and modern architectural styles. But, of course, as beautiful as the CU-Boulder campus is, it gets a big boost from the surrounding landscape, particularly Boulder's famed Flatirons, ancient triangular sandstone formations that jut into the air at a steep angle southwest of campus. 

Related: 20 Beautiful Libraries Around the World

Elon University

Elon University

Elon, North Carolina

It's not every college campus that has a botanical garden and a forest, but Elon's does. Its 656 acres includes the Elon University Forest, a land preserve and natural area used for scientific research. There's also a campus farm used for environmental research and sustainability measures.

Berry College
Sean Pavone/istockphoto

Berry College

Rome, Georgia

With campus destination names like House o' Dreams and Lavender Mountain, it's clear that this 27,000-acre, northwest Georgia campus is a scenic one, but it's the college's Ford Hall — named for Henry Ford, who helped fund it and the surrounding structures — and its nearby reflecting pools that are truly breathtaking. (Incidentally, Henry Ford is one of many billionaires who never attended college.)

For more great travel tips,
please sign up for our free newsletters.

Trinity College Dublin: The Long Room of the Old Library
Trinity College Dublin: The Long Room of the Old Library by Diliff (CC BY-SA)

Trinity College Dublin

Dublin, Ireland

Established in 1592, Trinity is characterized by grand and stately architecture, public art, and lush, verdant green spaces. Its most iconic space is probably Parliament Square, but visitors shouldn't miss out on the Trinity College Chapel or the Long Room of the Old Library.


Related: 30 Free Things to Do in Ireland

Colgate University Campus
Colgate University Campus by Colgate University (CC BY-SA)

Colgate University

Hamilton, New York

Colgate's 88 campus buildings were built between 1827 and 2019 but were designed to adhere to "a singular architectural language." The structures are handsome, but it's the campus' 2,300 trees, mostly sugar maples and northern red oaks, that really give the campus its beauty, especially in the fall.

All Saints' Chapel at The University of the South
All Saints' Chapel at The University of the South by Amanda (CC BY)

Sewanee: The University of the South

Sewanee, Tennessee

This campus, located about 100 miles southeast of Nashville, also combines stunning architecture with the best of nature. In fact, Sewanee has a 13,000-acre "living laboratory" and "woodland classroom" called The Domain, filled with forests, bluffs, meadows, lakes, and caves.

Cornell University

Cornell University

Ithaca, New York

Hiking on campus? Yep, Cornell's got it. Fall Creek and Cascadilla gorges are just two of a handful of places where students can get a hike in between classes. Other favorite scenic campus spots include Beebe Lake, Mundy Wildflower Garden, F.R. Newman Arboretum, and the campus' Botanic Gardens. 

University of Coimbra
University of Coimbra by Peter K Burian (CC BY-SA)

University of Coimbra

Coimbra, Portugal

Founded in 1290 in Lisbon and moved to its current location in 1537, this university is characterized by its grand buildings, including the Joanine Library and Royal College of Arts. With a chapel, botanic gardens, museums, and observatory, it was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2013.

Mount Holyoke College

Mount Holyoke College

South Hadley, Massachusetts

This liberal arts college for women includes a botanic garden with a greenhouse and multiple gardens, two lakes, waterfalls, stables, and woodland riding trails. Its striking buildings include the 1897 Mary Lyon Hall and the Abbey Chapel, which was added in 1938.

U.S. Naval Academy, Maryland
Wikimedia Commons

United States Naval Academy

Annapolis, Maryland

Located at the confluence of the Severn River and Chesapeake Bay, this entire 338-acre campus — known as "the Yard" — has been designated as a National Historic Landmark. Its Bancroft Hall is the largest college dormitory in the world, and its domed Main Chapel is one of the campus' most iconic buildings. 

Spelman College
Spelman College by Wayne Taylor (CC BY-NC-ND)

Spelman College


This historically black women's college was founded in 1881 and is laid out over 39 beautifully landscaped acres. Architecturally significant buildings include the 1886 Rockefeller Hall and the 1927 Sisters Chapel.

Vanderbilt University

Vanderbilt University

Nashville, Tennessee

Founded in 1873, the Vanderbilt campus — with its nearly 200 species of trees and shrubs — is a designated National Arboretum. Scenic spots include the Alumni Lawn, Kirkland Hall, and Bishops Commons — all of which can be explored via virtual tour.

Beginning of Campus of Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana During Autumn, Flowers in the Foreground with Stone Gate, a Stone Building on the Right
Ying Luo/500px/Getty Images

Indiana University

Bloomington, Indiana

Many of the campus buildings here are made from Indiana limestone and were constructed by the Works Progress Administration during the Great Depression. A district known as The Old Crescent hosts nine of the campus' most historic buildings, which represent a diversity of architectural styles including Collegiate Gothic, Richardsonian Romanesque, and Gothic Revival. 

University of Washington

University of Washington


Founded in 1861, this Pacific Northwestern campus includes iconic indoor and outdoor spaces. The UW Quad is resplendent in spring, when the many cherry trees bordering its criss crossed pathways bloom. Another stunning scene can be found in the 1926 Suzzallo Library's Graduate Reading Room. 

University of Cambridge

University of Cambridge

Cambridge, England

Founded in 1209, Cambridge is the fourth-oldest surviving university in the world and the alma mater of Charles Darwin, Stephen Hawking, and Sir Isaac Newton. Its 710-acre campus is filled with ancient architecture, museums, and a Botanic Garden, much of which can be explored via Google Street View.

Rhodes College: The main academic building
Rhodes College: The main academic building by Washnockm (CC BY-SA)

Rhodes College

Memphis, Tennessee

This smaller campus is known for its excellent examples of Collegiate Gothic architecture, 13 of which are on the National Register of Historic Places. All but one campus structure has leaded stained-glass windows, and the campus has more than 1,500 trees representing around 120 species.

University of Notre Dame
Aaron Yoder/istockphoto

University of Notre Dame

Notre Dame, Indiana

The Golden Dome has been an enduring symbol of beauty for this campus, but there's plenty more to it, including the (also well-known) Basilica of the Sacred Heart and historic Washington Hall. Outside the latter is what is popularly called the God Quad, a tree-filled area that is scenic in all seasons.

Founders Library at Howard University
Founders Library at Howard University by Derek E. Morton (CC BY-SA)

Howard University

Washington, D.C.

Another historically black university, the 256-acre HU campus — often called "The Mecca" — has a number of historic landmarks, including Frederick Douglass Memorial Hall, the Andrew Rankin Memorial Chapel, and the Founders Founders Library. Its Upper Quadrangle, known to students as "the Yard," is one of its most famous and photographed campus locations, and can be visited via Howard's virtual tour

University of Chicago, Harper Library.
University of Chicago, Harper Library. by Rick Seidel (CC BY)

University of Chicago


This campus combines gothic designs with modern buildings in a striking array of architectural styles. Some of its more distinctive buildings include the Cobb Lecture Hall, the ivy-covered Snell-Hitchcock dormitory, the Rockefeller Chapel, and the more recent and modern glass-domed Joe and Rika Mansueto Library. 

Thompson Library at Vassar College
Thompson Library at Vassar College by Noteremote (CC BY-SA)

Vassar College

Poughkeepsie, New York

Another college combining historic and modern architecture, Vassar's campus became formally recognized as an arboretum in 1925. Today, the campus has more than 2,200 trees and is also home to the 1916 Shakespeare Garden and the campus-adjacent, 430-acre Vassar College Ecological Preserve, which includes more than 600 species of vascular plants and contains multiple walking trails. 

Duke University

Duke University

Durham, North Carolina

At the center of Duke's campus rises the 1935 Duke Chapel, a striking example of Collegiate Gothic style architecture. The Sarah P. Duke Gardens, about a 10- to 15-minute walk from the chapel, are another campus highlight, with 55 acres of landscaped gardens, water features, an arboretum, trails, and more. 

Area above Bologna's old city centre
Area above Bologna's old city centre by Gaspa (CC BY)
Flagler College

Flagler College

St. Augustine, Florida

Though it's located in the oldest continuously inhabited European-established settlement in the contiguous U.S., Flagler wasn't founded until 1968. Still, its 19-acre campus offers lots of eye candy, including the 1888 Ponce de Leon Hall — once a luxury hotel — Kenan Hall, and the outdoor West Lawn, all of which you can visit via a virtual tour

Yale University

Yale University

New Haven, Connecticut

Founded in 1701 and then known as the Collegiate School, Yale is the fourth-oldest university in the U.S. behind St. John's College, College of William and Mary, and Harvard. The campus is notable for many iconic structures that range from Collegiate Gothic, Victorian, and Georgian to much more modern architectural styles. Many of these can be visited through a virtual tour

Pepperdine University: A view of Alumni Park and the Santa Monica Bay beyond
Pepperdine University: A view of Alumni Park and the Santa Monica Bay beyond by Kristina D.C. Hoeppner (CC BY-SA)

Pepperdine University

Malibu, California

Perched on 830 acres of the Santa Monica Mountains with Pacific Ocean views, this Christian college was once described by as a place with "stunningly distracting scenery" that "looks more like a beach resort than a private university." Its buildings are mostly Mediterranean Revival Style, characterized by white stucco and red tile roofs. Other striking features include Alumni Park and Stauffer Chapel, which has 3,000 square feet of stained glass windows. 

Lewis and Clark College
Lewis and Clark College by Lewis & Clark College (CC BY-SA)

Lewis and Clark College

Portland, Oregon

Heavily treed with lush landscaping and a wooded ravine running through the middle of campus, this small liberal arts campus in the Pacific Northwest is known for its surrounding natural beauty. Its man-made scenery comes courtesy of structures like the historic, Tudor-style Frank Manor House and its Estate Lawn and Gardens.

UCSB Lagoon at the University of California, Santa Barbara
UCSB Lagoon at the University of California, Santa Barbara by Coolcaesar (CC BY-SA)

University of California Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara, California

Another college that has its beauty on display for all in the form of a virtual tour, scenic highpoints of this campus include the UCSB Lagoon and the 175-foot Storke Tower and its adjoining plaza, which serves as an open-air venue for concerts and other events. The best feature, though, has got to be Campus Point, a scenic peninsula with a beach cliff, crashing waves, and hiking trails. 

University of Queensland
University of Queensland by Sedination (CC BY-SA)

University of Queensland

Brisbane, Australia

Established in 1909, UQ is bordered on three sides by the Brisbane River. In addition to its iconic Great Court, a 6-plus-acre outdoor area surrounded by buildings, the campus houses multiple museums and the UQ lake.

Georgetown University

Georgetown University

Washington, D.C.

Built above the Potomac River, this 1789 university overlooks Northern Virginia. Its beauty is reflected in its many natural and manmade features, including fountains, gardens, tree groves, and open quadrangles. Its most stunning architectural feature is Healy Hall, a National Historic Landmark built between 1877-1879, which features a clock tower, and the ornate Gaston Hall, a 750-seat auditorium. 

Lyon Arboretum at The University of Hawai'i at Mānoa
Wikimedia Commons

The University of Hawai'i at Mānoa


This 1907 university campus is characterized by palm trees, sure, but it's actually home to more than 4,000 trees of 500-plus species, making it an accredited arboretum. The school also includes the only university tropical arboretum in the country, Lyon Arboretum, as well as an open Thai pavilion and a Japanese garden with a koi pond and teahouse. 

Scripps' Elm Tree Lawn
Scripps' Elm Tree Lawn by Sdkb (CC BY-SA)

Scripps College

Claremont, California

This private liberal arts women's college has been on the list of many "most beautiful college campus" lists, including the Princeton Review, Forbes, U.S. News & World Report, HuffPo, and more. Its beauty is most evident in its many courtyards and landscapes, which include a rose garden, Iris Court, and orange, olive, grapefruit, pomegranate, kumquat, and loquat trees, from which students are welcome to pick freely. 

Margaret Clapp Library at Wellesley College
Wikimedia Commons

Wellesley College

Wellesley, Massachusetts

This small private college in the Boston area — which also happens to be the alma mater of Hillary Clinton, Madeleine Albright, and Nora Ephron — has a 500-acre campus that overlooks a lake and a landscape that includes both wooded areas and sweeping meadows. The six-story resident hall Tower Court is its most iconic building.

Ransom Hall at Kenyon College
Ransom Hall at Kenyon College by Cbc717 (CC BY-SA)

Kenyon College

Gambier, Ohio

This rural, 1,000-acre campus' Middle Path — a tree-lined footpath that the college calls its "central artery" — is just the start of its beauty. There's also the Brown Family Environmental Center, 500 acres of woodland and prairie habitats, gardens, and 8 miles of trails. And the 10-acre Kenyon Farm, where students are responsible for managing the animals and crops.

Aarhus University
undefined undefined/istockphoto

Aarhus University

Aarhus, Denmark

Each building on this campus is unified by its yellow brick and distinctive roof tiling, but perhaps the prettiest part of this campus is the Vennelystparken, the city's oldest park, which was incorporated into the campus in 1957. Its grassy knolls roll between lakes and streams, dotted with beech and chestnut trees.

Bryn Mawr College
Wikimedia Commons

Bryn Mawr College

Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania

This 1885 women's college is filled with some of the first examples of Collegiate Gothic architecture in beautiful historic buildings like Rockefeller, Taylor, and Rhoads halls. Another campus designated an arboretum, the college's 135 acres were designed in part by Frederick Law Olmsted, who is largely considered to be the father of American landscape architecture and was responsible for Central Park's design. 

University of Virginia

University of Virginia

Charlottesville, Virginia

Founded by Thomas Jefferson in 1819, this college and its Jeffersonian architecture have landed on many "most beautiful campus" lists. The Academical Village was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with its 1826 Rotunda its most iconic structure. In a special 1976 Bicentennial issue, the American Institute of Architects called the campus "the proudest achievement of American architecture in the past 200 years."


Oxford University

Oxford, University

Oxford, United Kingdom

Another British university with famous alumni including Oscar Wilde, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Indira Gandhi, Oxford predates even Cambridge, with evidence of teaching as early as 1096. It has no central campus — its 39 colleges are spread throughout the town — and dozens of buildings. The oldest, Duke Humfrey's Library, has been incorporated into the campus' Bodleian Library.