It’s time to pack your bags and explore the world! While there are many wondrous sights around the globe, some destinations offer an extra kick of cultural enrichment. From ancient ruins to natural marvels and everything in between, UNESCO World Heritage Sites provide a unique opportunity for travellers to get up close and personal with history.
With over 1,000 properties listed on their archive, compiling a “must-see” list is easier than ever. Let us be your guide as we embark on a journey through some of the most awe-inspiring UNESCO sites – including those hidden gems you won’t want to miss out on! Get ready; it’s time to dive into your bucket list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites!
1. Cape Floral Region – South Africa
Planning a trip to South Africa? A visit to the Cape Floral Region should be at the top of your bucket list! Offering some of the greatest terrestrial biodiversity in the world, this World Heritage Site is home to 6,000 plant species and 20% of Africa’s flora.
A stay in one of the 13 protected areas such as Table Mountain National Park or Groot Winterhoek Wilderness Area will allow you to immerse yourself in the stunning landscape, whilst exploring some of the planet’s rarest plants.
2. Yellowstone National Park – USA
If you’re on holiday in the US and looking to take a walk on the wild side, then Yellowstone National Park should definitely be your destination of choice.
Home to over 300 geysers – two-thirds of all those on the planet – including iconic Old Faithful, and also boasting some of the highest waterfalls in the country such as Lower Falls, it’s no wonder that this Heritage Site is so highly revered.
As if that wasn’t enough wildlife for you, you won’t be left disappointed by its abundance of charismatic creatures such as grizzly bears, bison and elk who roam freely throughout.
3. Nubian Monuments – Egypt
It’s no sleight of hand that these iconic UNESCO world heritage sites, the Nubian Monuments of Egypt, astonish visitors on holiday in the region with all the grandeur they behold.
The Temples of Ramses II and Queen Nefertari at Abu Simbel are a sight to behold, and the fact that their relocation to evade rising Nile waters only adds to their awe-inspiring power.
Likewise, the Sanctuary of Isis at Philae made its move thanks to an extraordinary UNESCO-led project in the 1960s – a remarkable feat and a must on any journey through this majestic land.
4. Great Barrier Reef – Australia
The Great Barrier Reef is one of the most famous natural wonders in Australia and one of the best UNESCO World Heritage Sites! Incredible creatures of the deep await those willing to make that mind-blowing trip Down Under. Get your snorkel ready for parrotfish, giant clams and even sea turtles.
And if snorkelling isn’t quite your thing, there’s always the glass-bottom boat option. Make sure to include this on your tour of Australia and you won’t miss out on one of its natural wonders.
5. The Great Wall of China
When planning a trip to China, visiting the Great Wall should be at the top of your list. This UNESCO Heritage Site is awe-inspiring and truly a feat of engineering.
This massive structure is considered one of the world’s largest military constructions. It was built gradually starting from the 3rd Century B.C. all the way through to 17th Century A.D., and its sheer size made it visible even from space!
6. Petra – Jordan
Petra is a mesmerizing archaeological wonder and deserving recipient of Wonders of the UNESCO World Heritage award, and one of the most famous attractions in Jordan
Its renowned rose-red city has enthralled visitors for centuries and still manages to do so with its half-built, half-carved rock face. Your next holiday should certainly include finding out more about this awe-inspiring destination!
7. Bruges – Belgium
Bruges is a charming and picturesque city full of marvel. Walking through its streets one can appreciate the beautiful medieval architecture, romantic squares and the spell-binding canals it boasts.
A highlight of any vacation to Belgium, Bruges is known for its remarkable Gothic structures and infamous Flemish art whose masterpieces still decorate Groeningemuseum’s walls.
Be sure to visit the Basilica of the Holy Blood if you make your way there as it holds an important relic from Christ.
8. Kathmandu Valley – Nepal
Not to be missed if you’re visiting Nepal, the Wonders of UNESCO-listed Kathmandu Valley will take your breath away! The area lies at the foothills of the majestic Himalayas and houses numerous religious sites, both Buddhist and Hindu.
Look out for the famous 14th-Century Boudhanath Stupa, one of the largest and holiest of Buddhist sites with its solemn eyes gazing down at visitors.
9. Taj Mahal – India
Wonders of the world don’t come any better than the Taj Mahal. An iconic site nestled in Agra, India, it was built by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan as a memorial for his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal and is known for its stunning white marble facade and exquisite workmanship.
Visiting early in the morning is advised – this way you can beat both the heat and the crowds. A visit to Taj Mahal should be on everyone’s list if they ever find themselves touring India – it’s simply a must-see!
10. Machu Picchu – Peru
World Heritage Sites are often awe-inspiring examples of the deep well of human creativity, but Machu Picchu takes that to a whole other level.
One of the best legacies left by the Inca civilization, no one can quite agree on why Machu Picchu was built and then abandoned – there’s plenty for visitors to ponder as they explore its roughly 200 structures.
A visit to Machu Picchu allows you to tap into your sense of wonder and marvel at this beautiful Lost City of the Incas.
The world is full of amazing places waiting to be explored, but when it comes to truly remarkable sites it doesn’t get much better than the UNESCO designated Wonders of The World. There’s no reason not to try and visit at least one of them in your lifetime.
The ten we’ve listed are only a tiny taste of what UNESCO has to offer – so start planning your trip now! And if you have any suggestions for other amazing sites that should be on this list, let us know in the comments!
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