The UNESCO Tour
Collected by Kristin Rust, AFAR Local Expert
The UNESCO World Heritage List includes 981 sites of cultural and natural heritage that exhibit outstanding universal value. Many are iconic and worth building an entire trip around.
Balat Mahallesi, Mürselpaşa Cd. No:10, 34087 Fatih/İstanbul, Turkey
Jl. Badrawati, Kw. Candi Borobudur, Borobudur, Magelang, Jawa Tengah, Indonesia
The sunrise at Borobudur is one of those magical experiences that makes us spend so much money on travel. The site of the smoking volcano on the horizon, combined with the brilliant hues and Buddhas on the summit of the temple mountain, make this...
Obala kralja Zvonimira 13, 21220, Trogir, Croatia
My mom kept urging me to go to Croatia because she had seen images of the beautiful Dalmatian coast. I resisted because Croatia was not on my travel agenda at the time. I finally caved in and I’m so glad I did because it’s a gem of a country! Most...
Lavaux in Vaud, Switzerland is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, home to 830 hectares of vineyards just 20 minutes by train from Lausanne. Slanted dramatically, these fields stretch about 30 km along the banks of Lake Geneva producing mostly Chasselas...
50170 Mont Saint-Michel, France
It's safe to say there’s nothing in the world quite like this magical island, topped by a medieval monastery that rises out of the bay like a heavenly apparition. It’s said that, early in the 8th century, a bishop in nearby Avranches...
Mehrauli, Seth Sarai, Mehrauli, New Delhi, Delhi 110030, India
Delhi's Qutub Minar, at 72.5 meters or 238 feet tall, is the tallest tower in India. Built as an Islamic monument in the early 13th century of red sandstone and marble, the minar is not without controversy. Some believe the tower...
Av. Domínguez Ruiz 300, San Jacinto, 29160 Chiapa de Corzo, Chis., Mexico
Chiapa de Corzo’s Fiesta de Los Parachicos is held every January, and is part of a month-long celebration known as Fiesta Grande. The Parachicos celebration has been named by UNESCO as an item of intangible cultural heritage and is often described...
50180 Göreme Belediyesi/Nevşehir Merkez/Nevşehir, Turkey
These giants rocks have been home first to the early Christians and then passed down through many generations. Located in Central Anatolia, Turkey about an hour and a half flight (450 miles) from Istanbul to Kayseri this area is a UNESCO World...
506 01 Jicin, Czechia
It's amazing what several millions years can do, transforming buried sandstone into monoliths that pepper a landscape of plateaus, deep gorges and valleys. In the UNESCO protected Bohemian Paradise Geopark, hiking through the spruce forest that...
Schloßberg 1, 06484 Quedlinburg, Germany
At just 132 miles West of Berlin, it is like the imaginary town of Brigadoon has come to life. Unesco heritage site Quedlinburg is a breathtaking town that seems to have escaped modern days and still lingers in the late middle ages. Restored to...
70011 Alberobello BA, Italy
Lured by the promise of an off-the-beaten-path UNESCO World Heritage site, I ventured to southern Italy to see the magical trulli houses in Alberobello. And I was enchanted. Back in the 1600s, these limestone houses were built without mortar so...
Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya, Thailand
While you're in Thailand, be sure to escape the colorful chaos of Bangkok and head toward the historic capital of Ayutthaya, a UNESCO World Heritage site. The best option to get there would be by train and they run frequently from Bangkok's...
2961 Kinderdijk, Netherlands
Hop on a bus in Rotterdam and you'll be transported to the past. Around 1740 about 19 sturdy windmills were built in Kinderdijk outside of Rotterdam. They have been well preserved to the present day and are even listed as a Unesco World Heritage...
Bucovina, Botoșani, Romania
Set amidst the hilly forests of northeastern Romania, the Painted Monasteries of Bucovina are some of the most spectacular works of art and architecture in the world. (This is not hyperbole). The exterior walls are covered with vibrant Byzantine...
Kalabaka 422 00, Greece
Meteora means "suspended in air" in Greek. The town of Meteora, about a 5-hour drive north of Athens in Thessaly, Greece, is home to a UNESCO World Heritage site: six Greek Orthodox monasteries built on enormous rock pinnacles that rise up to...
Suicide Alley, Zanzibar, Tanzania
The crumbling architecture of Stone Town is a UNESCO World Heritage site, and the town’s carved doors are one of its most recognizable features. I spent a lot of time searching for the door of Swahili merchant Tippu Tip, a notorious 19th-century...
Sockenvägen, 122 33 Stockholm, Sweden
Designed by Gunnar Asplund, one of the big names of 20th-century Swedish architecture, this beautiful graveyard is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the final resting place of actress Greta Garbo. A wonderfully peaceful combination of great...
Rumi was born in Afghanistan, spent time in Persia (Iran), then settled in Konya, Turkey when his father was invited there to be a scholar. Rumi became an Islamic scholar himself teaching peace, love, and tolerance. He built quite a following of...
Krong Siem Reap, Cambodia
Crowds may swarm upon it daily from sunrise onwards, but exposure hasn’t dulled the impact of the largest religious monument in the world. Commissioned by King Suryavarman II in the 12th century as the centerpiece of the mighty Khmer empire,...
If you're really up for adventurous travel, Greenland should be your next stop. While it's not easy to get to, it's worth the trip. Kangerlussuaq doesn't appear to have much to do at first. But if you dig a little deeper, you'll have the chance to...
288 Nguyễn Duy Hiệu, Cẩm Châu, Hội An, Quảng Nam, Vietnam
The Old Quarter of Hoi An is incredibly well preserved and photogenic. Head there at nightfall when the lanterns are lit and begin snapping some incredibly beautiful photos. Between the lanterns, the gorgeous architecture, the boats, and the...
A short ferry ride from Dakar, Sengal sits the small but powerfully impressive UNESCO World Heritage site of Gorée Island, known as the last stop for slaves departing their homeland en route to the Americas. Standing on the threshold of the slave...
Jaipur, Rajasthan, India
Jaipur is capital and the largest city of the largest state Rajasthan in India. The city is stood at the foot of the sprawling 300 year old hilltop Amber fort just on the outskirt of the city. Jaipur is also called the pink city due to its pink...
Ottawa, ON, Canada
One of the great engineering feats of the 19th century, the Rideau Canal was constructed between 1826 to 1832 originally as a military and commercial waterway connecting the Canadian capital to Kingston, at the head of Lake Ontario. Today, it is...
City Center Inside Seven Olives Hotel | Next To The reception, Lalibela 1260, Ethiopia
There are 11 churches in total at the UNESCO World Heritage site of Lalibela. Built in the 12th century by King Lalibela, these churches were and are a sacred pilgrimage site for Orthodox Christians in Ethiopia. Because these churches are still...
Sidi Bouloukat Djemaa el fna 53 Sidi Bouloukate، Marrakech 40000, Morocco
Described by writer Tahir Shah as the “greatest show on Earth,” no visit to Marrakech would be complete without a visit to the famous night market on the Djemaa el Fna. Arrive before sunset and park yourself at one of the...
The Great Wall of China runs more than 21,000 kilometers (over 13,000 miles), not as one continuous wall but rather as fortified wall sections. Some of the sections date back more than 2,500 years, though only 8.2 percent of the existing wall is...
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