UNESCO World Heritage Sites are places around the world that have been given a prestigious status from the WHC, all for very different reasons. After reading a huge percentage of the unesco.org site during my last job, I was amazed to find out just how many places are on this National Heritage list.
Many are obvious ones like the Grand Canyon, but some are lesser known, such as two spots in Ireland – which is great to see that we are recognised for our fab country. Countries that really stand out as clearly being home to some magnificent sites to see are China, France, Germany, Italy, Mexico, Russia, Spain, the UK and the US.
There are an overwhelming amount of World Heritage Sites, however I have whittled them down to a list of 10, that I think deserve a spot on any bucket list. Some are popular destinations that you will definitely know, but others are among the low key World Heritage Sites that are sometimes overlooked.
1. The Ellora Caves in India
India is one country that fascinates me beyond belief and I am very keen to visit someday. Among many top things to see, the Ellora Caves are an important member of the World Heritage Sites and are well known for the Indian-rock architecture that you can see there. I read a pretty cool fact, that there are various temples and sculptures there, which prove that India at the time was open to a range of beliefs such as Buddhist, Hindu and Jain. Isn’t that lovely now! If only everywhere today was open to all faiths and beliefs…
2. Venice (and its lagoon) in Italy
While this is obviously one of the most loved cities in the world (and chaotic tourist trap), I don’t think people know that it is place on the UNESCO World Heritage Sites list. The entire place earned its stripes for its ability to make the odd placement of the city actually work in their favour. I was lucky enough to visit Venice in all its glory last year and it did not disappoint.
3. The Iguazu National Park in Argentina
There are many National Parks on the National Heritage list, but I chose this one because I had never heard of it before. It is known for the amazing waterfalls and rainforest that make up the wonderful park, which is situated in Argentina and also borders Brazil. It literally looks like the perfect tropical paradise and is home to lots of creatures including rare species of mammals, plants and birds.
4. Cinque Terre in Italy
The last time I checked (and I love sharing this random fact), Italy has more UNESCO World Heritage Sites than any other country in the world. China is the close second, but I think that’s pretty amazing considering the size of Italy vs. China! This is why I had to put Italy twice in this post and chose Cinque Terre here, because of course Florence, Rome etc etc are all up on the official list! This stunning area is the exact depiction of what I think of, when I think of ‘Italian heaven’ – so this is why it got my vote.
5. Mistaken Point, Newfoundland Island in Canada
This boy is one of those ones that got me with the name alone. ‘Mistaken Point’ sounds very mysterious and enchanting, thus making it onto my list of amazing UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Apparently, you go on a huge adventure to see some of the the oldest and most complex life forms found anywhere in the entire world, which is pretty cool if you’re into fossils and big oul hikes.
6. The Historic Centre of Vienna in Austria
This is another spot that I was lucky enough to come across when I was interailling last year. We knew that we wanted to see Vienna, but didn’t have much of a plan before we got there. Thankfully, we ended up finding the amazing history that Vienna had to offer, including discovering the historic centre with the amazing palaces and architecture.
7. The Sichuan Giant Panda Sanctuaries in China
Anything including the word ‘panda’ is an immediate winner for me. We all know that the Giant Pandas are endangered and this place is one of the most important World Heritage Sites for them, as they are bred here. Sadly, many animals are not treated right in many parts of the world, but this sanctuary is the real deal and it is also apparently perfect for adventures and exploring too.
8. Saint Petersburg in Russia
Another famous place, but did you know that it was a part of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites? Known for the unique architecture, busy harbour filled with gorgeous ships and interesting culture to experience. I have read that The Hermitage Museum is highly praised by history and culture lovers, so if that’s your thing – it’s the place to be!
9. San Pedro de la Roca Castle in Cuba
Although I have never been, I am in love with Cuba and all of the magical things that they have to offer. One of those things is this castle, situated in the Santiago de Cuba Bay, which has stood the test of time since the 17th century. This is obviously for history lovers, but for more other interesting things about Cuba, check out these interesting facts that I discovered!
10. The Great Barrier Reef in Australia
This one is a very obvious member of the National Heritage list. I don’t have the actual statistic, but I’m fairly sure 99.98% of the world knows what the Great Barrier Reef is. I doubt much needs to be explained about why I find this place so magical, but in case you didn’t know – there are around 900 islands and 3,000 reefs here. This makes it the biggest coral reef system in the world and hosts amazing wildlife.