UNESCO World Heritage Sites are included on most travelers’ must-see lists. But what are UNESCO World Heritage Sites?
UNESCO is short for the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization and is dedicated to preserving sites of cultural significance worldwide. To be designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the location must have cultural, historical, scientific, or ecological value. There are currently almost 1,200 World Heritage Sites in countries around the world.
Here are twenty of the most impressive UNESCO World Heritage Sites you can visit today.
1. Mount Fuji, Japan
Mount Fuji was designated a World Heritage Site in 2013. This iconic Japanese mountain has been a source of artistic inspiration since the 11th century.
2. Danxia Landform, China
This awe-inspiring natural formation in southwestern China is home to many species of flora and fauna, 400 of which are considered rare or threatened. It was designated as a World Heritage Site in 2010.
3. Great Wall of China
Constructed from 220 B.C. through to the fourteenth century and added to the World Heritage Site list in 1987, the Great Wall of China is often cited as one of the only man-made structures that can be seen from space.
4. Taj Mahal, India
The Taj Mahal was constructed from 1638-1644 in memory of the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan’s favorite wife. It is one of the most iconic World Heritage Site locations and was added to the list in 1983.
5. Jaipur City, India
The walled city of Jaipur was founded in northwestern India in 1727 by Sawai Jai Singh II and is considered a prime example of city planning that combines Western methods with Hindu concepts. It was added as a World Heritage Site in 2019.
6. Ha Long Bay, Vietnam
The Ha Long Bay World Heritage Site consists of 1,600 islands and inlets that form a spectacular landscape of naturally occurring limestone pillars. It was designated as a World Heritage Site in 1994.
7. Angkor, Cambodia
One of the most important Southeast Asian archaeological sites, the Angkor Archaeological Park was designated a World Heritage Site in 1992. It contains 400 square kilometers of land that include the remains of the different capitals of the Khmer Empire, which date from the 9th to the 15th century.
8. Pyramids of Giza, Egypt
The Pyramids of Giza have been recognized throughout time for their majesty. Built around 2550 BC, the Pyramids at Giza were considered one of the Seven Wonders of the World in ancient times and were added as a World Heritage Site in 1979.
9. Serengeti National Park, Tanzania
Serengeti National Park is renowned for its diverse wildlife, including the annual migration of hundreds of thousands of wildebeest, gazelles, and zebras. It earned World Heritage Site status in 1981, and the 1.5 million-hectare park sees up to 350,000 visitors per year.
10. Lake Nakuru, Kenya
Lake Nakuru is part of a three-lake system in the Great Rift Valley that’s home to 13 globally threatened bird species. The Great Rift Valley Lake System was designated as a World Heritage Site in 2011.
11. Acropolis of Athens, Greece
The Acropolis of Athens is the most complete ancient Greek monumental complex still in existence today. Constructed in the 5th century BC, the Acropolis was designated as a World Heritage Site in 1987.
12. Budapest, Hungary
The entire city of Budapest was designated a World Heritage Site in 1987, with its boundaries expanded in 2002. The city’s 30 million annual visitors can enjoy such sites as the remains of the Roman city of Aquincum and the Gothic castle of Buda.
13. Old City of Dubrovnik, Croatia
Known as the Pearl of the Adriatic, the Old City of Dubrovnik has survived wars and natural disasters while preserving beautiful examples of Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque architecture. It was designated as a World Heritage Site in 1979 and is currently undergoing major restorations led by UNESCO.
14. Mont St. Michel, France
The imposing, ancient abbey set on a remote island between Brittany and Normandy, Mont St. Michel, has been a pilgrimage site for more than a thousand years, including 2.5 million tourists annually. The abbey received World Heritage Site status in 1979.
15. Piazza del Duomo, Pisa
Home of the world-famous Leaning Tower of Pisa, the Piazza del Duomo is actually home to four masterpieces of medieval architecture enjoyed by 5 million tourists each year. The complex was added as a World Heritage Site in 1987.
16. Great Barrier Reef, Australia
With stellar views from above and below, Australia’s Great Barrier Reef was designated as a World Heritage Site in 1981. It is home to 1,500 species of fish, 4,000 types of mollusks, and 400 types of coral.
17. Galápagos Islands, Ecuador
First made famous in Charles Darwin’s “On the Origin of Species,” these picturesque islands off the coast of Ecuador are home to many species of unusual animals, including the land iguana and giant tortoise. The Galápagos Islands were designated as a World Heritage Site in 1978.
18. Machu Picchu, Peru
Designated as a World Heritage Site in 1983, Machu Picchu is an ancient Incan City situated above the clouds in a forest at the top of the Andes Mountains.
19. Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, USA
More than one million people a year make the trek to visit the two active volcanoes contained in this World Heritage Site. Designated in 1987, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is also home to forests of ferns, lava flows, and many rare birds.
20. Mesa Verde National Park, USA
A vast collection of ancient Pueblo cliff dwellings can be found in this park in southwestern Colorado. This World Heritage Site was established in 1978 and is visited by 500,000 tourists per year.
World’s Most Recognizable Opera House, Plus 7 Equally as Stunning
With the birth of opera in the late 16th century came a demand for structures big enough and luxurious enough to hold lavish productions that combined music and theater.
Once the first opera house was built in Venice in 1637, other major cities followed suit. These venues became known as a place where the upper class would gather to attend famous operettic performances such as The Barber of Seville and La Traviata.
Many opera houses built since then have disappeared. Still, some have stood the test of time and have become historical structures recognized worldwide for their stunning architectural design.
While the Sydney Opera House may be the world’s most recognizable opera house, others are equally as impressive. Enjoy this list of eight incredible opera houses around the globe.
Most Dangerous Cities in the World, Ranked: Know Before You Go
These are 10 most dangerous cities in the world, where stunning landscapes and rich cultural heritage collide with alarming crime rates. We’re not saying don’t travel to these locations, but it’s important to be aware in order to stay safe.
10 Most Famous Cathedrals in the World
Cathedrals, with their towering spires and awe-inspiring architecture, have been spiritual and cultural symbols for centuries. These magnificent structures represent not only religious faith but also human ingenuity in construction.
Here, we explore the ten most famous cathedrals from around the world, each with its own unique history, architecture, and cultural significance.
This article was produced by Our Woven Journey.
Karee Blunt is a nationally syndicated travel journalist, focused on discovering destinations and experiences that captivate and inspire others through her writing. She is also the founder of Our Woven Journey, a travel site focused on inspiring others to create memory-making adventures with their loved ones. Karee is passionate about encouraging others to step out of their comfort zone and live the life they dream of. She is the mother of six kids, including four through adoption, and lives with her family in the Pacific Northwest. You can learn more about Karee on her about me page.