The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has designated over 1,000 World Heritage Sites around the world, each one with its own unique story to tell. From ancient ruins to modern metropolises, from pristine forests to windswept deserts, there is something for everyone among UNESCO’s list of heritage sites. If you’re looking for an adventure and want to see some of the most amazing places on Earth, then be sure to add these popular World Heritage Sites to your travel bucket list.
Stonehenge – England
A mysterious circle of massive stones dating back over 4,000 years, Stonehenge is one of the most famous archaeological sites in the world. Located in Wiltshire, England, this prehistoric monument is thought to have been built by the ancient Celts as a place of worship or burial. Today, Stonehenge is a popular tourist destination, and visitors can even touch some of the stones if they wish, and you can read all about it on this page. The best thing about this heritage site is that it’s free to enter!
The Great Barrier Reef – Australia
Stretching for over 2,000 kilometers along the coast of Queensland in northeastern Australia, the Great Barrier Reef is the world’s largest coral reef system. This natural wonder is home to an astounding diversity of marine life, including over 1,500 species of fish, 400 types of coral, and countless other invertebrates. Visitors can snorkel or scuba dive among the colorful corals, go whale watching or take a glass-bottomed boat tour to see the reef without getting wet. Additionally, the Great Barrier Reef is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Machu Picchu – Peru
Built high in the Andes Mountains around 1450 AD, Machu Picchu was the lost city of the Inca Empire until it was rediscovered by Hiram Bingham in 1911. This “Lost City of the Incas” is one of the most popular tourist destinations in South America, and with good reason – it’s an incredible place! Visitors can explore the ancient ruins, hike to some of the nearby Inca sites, or even take a llama trek through the Sacred Valley. Peru also hides other gems, such as Lake Titicaca, the Colca Canyon, and of course, delicious Peruvian food.
The Taj Mahal – India
One of the Seven Wonders of the World, the Taj Mahal is an enormous mausoleum complex located in Agra, India. Built in the early 1600s by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan as a tomb for his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal, this white marble masterpiece is truly a sight to behold. Visitors can explore the sprawling complex, which includes a mosque, a guest house, and beautifully manicured gardens. When visiting India, keep the following things in mind:
- The Taj Mahal is closed on Fridays.
- There is a dress code for visiting the mausoleum – Women must cover their heads and shoulders, and men must remove their shoes. This is because the Taj Mahal is still an active mosque.
- Be prepared for large crowds, especially during peak tourist season (October – April).
Angkor Wat – Cambodia
The largest religious monument in the world, Angkor Wat is a Buddhist temple complex located in Siem Reap, Cambodia. Built in the 12th century by the Khmer King Suryavarman II, this massive temple is surrounded by a network of canals and moats, and is surrounded by dense jungle. Visitors can explore the temples and ruins, go for a swim in one of the canals, or take a boat ride through the floating villages on Tonle Sap Lake. Before you go to Cambodia, make sure to consider the best time to visit Angkor Wat. Also, don’t forget to try some of the delicious Khmer food!
Christ the Redeemer Statue – Brazil
One of the most recognizable landmarks in Rio de Janeiro, Christ the Redeemer is a massive Art Deco statue of Jesus Christ located atop Corcovado Mountain. Built in the early 1930s, this iconic statue stands 38 meters tall and offers stunning views of Rio de Janeiro from its perch. Visitors can take a train or hike up to the statue, and there is even a small chapel located at its base. Additionally, Rio de Janeiro is home to other great attractions, such as Sugarloaf Mountain, Copacabana Beach, and the favelas.
These are just a few of the many incredible world heritage sites that are worth a visit. World heritage sites are important not only for their historical and cultural value but also for the way they contribute to our understanding of the world around us. So get out there and explore!