25 Must-See UNESCO World Heritage Sites
25 Must-See UNESCO World Heritage Sites
From supernatural stories to cultural legends, every UNESCO world heritage site has a tale to tell. Here are the 25 Must-See UNESCO world heritage sites to check off your bucket list.
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1. Bagan, Myanmar
Bagan may just be the real-life ‘Fairy-tale’. Float in a hot air balloon across temples rising out of the mist and the green. Discover this legendary site of 2200+ temples in central Myanmar. It finally received its UNESCO status in 2019.
➳ Bagan, the temple travel guide
2. Cultural Landscape of Sintra, Portugal
Fairy tales do come true in the picturesque Portuguese town of Sintra. Think magical castles and palaces with exotic gardens that are fit for a king. This UNESCO heritage site is a large natural park that requires at least 2-3 days to explore if you want to see everything.
➳ Here’s how to visit Sintra in Portugal
3. Venice, Italy – A Unique UNESCO location
This archipelago of islands provides the perfect location for this unique floating city. Venice is movie-style romance, with mist rolling off the water, charming strolls in the streets and gondola rides. Established as one of the most magical places in the world, it’s easy to see how Venice was the inspiration for so many artists and architects.
➳ Here are: the best things to do in Venice City Trip
4. The Colosseum, Italy
One of the seven wonders of the world and the world’s largest-ever amphitheater- this is a must-see to check off your UNESCO bucket list. Take a tour of this oval masterpiece to gain a greater understanding of its turbulent history- truly mind-blowing!
➳ See: 3-Day Rome City Trip Guide
5. Vatican City
Ever thought you’d visit a country within a city? Vatican City is the smallest country in the world, existing at the heart of Rome. This significant religious site is home to the pope and some of the most valued sculptures and artworks on the earth.
6. Cinque Terre, Italy
Opposites attract in the dazzling villages of Cinque Terre! See the sweet-looking candy-colored houses, pop out against the dramatic, sheer coastline and the deep blue ocean. The very nature of the landscape in Italy is what makes it so impressive that people were able to settle here, building their houses into the cliffs in order to successfully cultivate the land.
➳ Read: The colorful villages of Cinque Terre
7. Ksar of Ait-Ben-Haddou, Morocco
Time stands still in this Moroccan earthen village. The old techniques of making buildings from mud have been entirely preserved on this UNESCO site, showcasing an excellent example of original Moroccan architecture. The color of the reddish mud against the backdrop of the desert and the sunset is a remarkable sight.
➳ Read: Morocco Sahara Desert Tour
8. Historic Areas of Istanbul, Turkey
The critical placement of Istanbul bridges the gap between Asia and Europe. The city has been the principal site for major artistic, political and religious developments over the years. Buildings such as the Topkapi Palace and the Hagia Sophia will blow you away with their designs, both inside and out.
➳ Top Things To Do in Istanbul, Turkey
9. The Rock Sites of Cappadocia, Turkey – Must-visit UNESCO site
It’s hard not to pinch yourself when visiting the rock sites of Cappadocia – a place that could only be plucked from your dreams. Feel close to nature by staying inside a cave hotel, watching stars by night and floating in a hot air balloon in the morning. A number one unforgettable experience!
➳ Things To Do in Cappadocia, Turkey
10. The Great Wall, China
The snaking shape of the Great Wall of China can be seen from the moon. How crazy is that?! It is just one important factor in the value of this UNESCO site. Built by hand, through painstaking effort over a span of nearly 1000 years, the defensive wall has a total length of 20,000 kilometers!
11. The Buda Parliament, Hungary
Although many of the buildings along the banks of the Danube river have UNESCO status, the gothic parliamentary building steals the show hands down. The rest of the city has drawn influence from its powerful architectural style and it has long been seen as the emblem of Budapest, standing out from all viewpoints.
➳ Read: 3-day Budapest City Trip Guide
12. Pyramids of Giza, Egypt
It’s difficult to imagine how these otherworldly constructions in Egypt ever were built. As a result, you feel inspired by the capabilities of the human race. These impressive royal tombs are thousands of years old and are of such great height that they can be seen from Cairo city.
➳ Discover: Cairo and the Pyramids of Giza
13. Works of Antoni Gaudi, Spain
Visit the colorful creations produced by the mastermind that is Antoni Gaudi! Dedicate a day to follow this imaginative path in Barcelona, marveling at the daring architecture. Followed by visiting Park Guell, the most creative park in the world and home to Gaudi’s trademark mosaic designs.
➳ Here’s a 3-day Barcelona city guide
14. Thingvellir National Park, Iceland
Take a front-row seat for wondrous mother nature! Iceland’s incredible national park is the only place in the world where tectonic plates are above sea level and therefore the visible divide between the North American and Eurasian plates is clear to see.
➳ Read the Ultimate Iceland Route Guide
15. The Taj Mahal, India
Often hailed as the jewel of India, this opulent burial chamber made from white marble was built by the Emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his favorite wife (he had many!). His love for her is clear to see through the careful design of the mausoleum, from it’s a perfect symmetry to the beauty of the white minarets against the blue Indian sky.
16. Machu Picchu, Peru – One of the best UNESCO world heritage sites
One of the new seven wonders of the world, every detail of seeing Machu Picchu, including the journey to get there, is overwhelmingly beautiful. Watch the sun’s rays beam down on the ancient Incan city, set against the backdrop of fantastically green mountains.
➳ Complete Guide to visit Machu Picchu
17. Historic Centre of Arequipa, Peru
Arequipa is one of a kind in every way. In its origins (built from white volcanic stone taken from the neighboring volcanoes), and in its design where contrasting European and Indigenous influences work together in harmony. The outstanding nature of the city is further complemented by its environment, shadowed by the local snow-capped volcano El Misti.
➳ Here’s the Things to do in Arequipa
18. Komodo National Park, Indonesia
Dragons and pink beaches, it seems like a fantasy. The treasures of the Komodo Islands have all this and more. Spend your days immersing yourself in world-class nature, with sea life of all colors and variations and oceans so clear that you’ll spend more time in the water than out.
➳ Go on a Komodo Islands Boat Tour
19. Angkor Wat, Cambodia
Hindu temples growing out of trees, carvings and giant sculptures are all elements of one of the most important archeological findings. There is something very spiritual about watching the sunrise over this ancient complex of temples.
20. Petra, Jordan – Best of UNESCO!
Step back in time when discovering the lost city of Petra. This archaic city emerges out of the rose-colored stone and has only discovered in the last 200 years. The majority of this site is still buried giving you the feeling you’ve discovered the world’s best-kept secret.
➳ Here’s how to visit Petra in Jordan
21. Rapa Nui National Park (Easter Island), Chile
An exceptional example of preservation of Eastern Polynesian culture, the island is home to nearly 1000 enormous sculpted heads and torsos called Moai carved from volcanic ash. The perpetuation of this cultural activity for 500 years is a result of a lack of external influence, as it is the most remote inhabited island in the world.
22. Itchan Kala, Uzbekistan
Khiva is the unexplored pearl of central Asia and one part of the famous silk route. This fairly unknown UNESCO site is named Itchan Kala. This is the old inner-city of Khiva, surrounded by defensive walls that almost appear to be made of sand. The contrast of the desert landscape against the vibrant turquoise of the minarets inside the wall is incomparable.
➳ Everything about Khiva, Uzbekistan
23. Ha Long Bay, Vietnam
Limestone pillars surge up out of the calm waters in Vietnam, looming over the small boats and local fishermen like something out of a storybook. A great way to see the 1600 islands is by kayaking. It gives you a great perspective as to how huge these formations are.
24. Ancient City of Sigiriya, Sri Lanka
This extraordinary rock fortress was built for a King and it’s an easy legend to believe due to the fact it is built complete with stairs, terraced gardens, beautiful wall paintings, and carvings. The challenging climb up this natural phenomenon is worth it for the panoramic views over the luscious Sri Lankan landscape.
➳ Read: Climb the Sigiriya Lion Rock
25. Stonehenge, United Kingdom
The formation of Stonehenge has to be one of the most puzzling marvels yet. How such incredibly large and heavy stones came to be moved to this site is an archaeological mystery. Additionally, the stone circle is renowned for its spiritual power-cue goosebumps.