Stunning Photos of the Most Beautiful Places You’ve Never Been

Thanks to the simultaneous boom of amateur photography and the proliferation of social media sites, experiencing wanderlust is something that happens to us on a daily, if not hourly, basis. But the pangs we feel while paging through our childhood babysitter’s shots from a recent trip to Costa Rica or a co-worker’s weekend getaway to Vermont pale in comparison to what you’ll experience when viewing the more than 12,000 entries to the National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest 2012, now in its 24th year. Click through for a slideshow of some of our favorite photos — all pulled from the “Sense of Place” category — and stay tuned for the official contest winners to be named in August.

The French Alps. Photo credit: Kamil Tamiola