There’s nothing like travelling abroad to open your eyes to a whole new world of cultural, historical and natural wonders. In fact, there are a whopping 1,073 UNESCO World Heritage Sites currently listed, with 20 new hot spots being added each year! To help you on your way, we’ve put together a list of the top 10 UNESCO-listed heritage sites for your next big adventure.
The Canals of Amsterdam
Celebrated for its artsy cosmopolitan vibe and iconic historical architecture, it’s no wonder that Amsterdam has snagged a spot on UNESCO’s world heritage list. The 17th century canals that meander throughout the city have rich historic and cultural significance, and provide the perfect viewpoint to explore the city by paddle boat. Take a boat tour through The Golden Bend from ‘Leidsestraat’ to ‘Vijzelstraat’ for the most beautiful stretch of canal houses. Then stroll over the picturesque ‘Magere Brug’ for a romantic view of the canals by moonlight.
The Palace of Westminster, London
The grand old city of London has no fewer than four UNESCO World Heritage sites to its name. First on the list are the Palace of Westminster, Westminster Abbey and Saint Margaret's Church. This historic ensemble of buildings is where you’ll find the rich history of Kings and Queens, Parliaments, Church and all powerful political influencers that have shaped the city as it is today. A visit to the lush Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, the infamous Tower of London and the sprawling Maritime Greenwich are also not to be missed.
Le Morne, Mauritius
Le Morne Peninsula in Mauritius is famed not only for its historical significance, but also its jaw-dropping beauty. Marked by the dramatic Le Morne Brabant mountain peak with long stretches of pristine beach at its foot, this UNESCO site was a picturesque shelter for runaway slaves throughout the 18th and 19th centuries. Today, this beautiful landmark is a symbol of freedom for the Creole people of Mauritius, as well as a natural beach holiday hotspot for visitors the world over
The Statue of Liberty, New York
Close your eyes and imagine New York. What’s the first thing you think of? We’d be surprised if the Statue of Liberty didn’t pop up. Since its arrival as a gift from France in 1886, the Statue of Liberty has stood as an icon of freedom and democracy. Nearly 22 stories tall, it became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1984 for its symbolic significance. Get up close and personal with Lady Liberty on a ferry tour or climb the 377 steps to the crown for amazing views of the city.
‘City of Gastronomy’, Phuket
While not strictly a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Phuket has been awarded the enticing title of ‘City of Gastronomy’ by the UNESCO Creative Cities Network. Celebrated for its rich culinary history, Phuket tantalises the taste buds with a unique blend of delicate flavours you won’t find anywhere else. Not too spicy, not too sweet and not too salty, it’s a true taste sensation in a stunning island setting. Don’t leave without trying the moo hong (salted boiled pork), mee hokkien (stir-fried Hokkien noodle) or nam chub yam (spicy shrimp paste sauce). Delicious!
Banks of the Seine, Paris
When it comes to romance, culture, history and art, Paris needs no introduction. This inspiring city is brimming with must-see sites from the Louvre, Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame to Place de la Concorde, the Grand and Petit Palais and Sainte Chapelle. All of these exquisite sites can be seen from the banks of the Seine River that flows through city, which have earned them the prestigious title of a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Historic Centre of Rome
Italy has no shortage of World Heritage Sites. In fact, its 51 designated cultural and natural landmarks make up over 5% of UNESCO’s global list! Topping the list is the Historic Centre of Rome. This incredible site was the first centre of the sprawling Roman Empire and dates all the way back to 753 BC. Here you’ll find the famous Forums, the impressive Pantheon, triumphant Trajan’s Column and the Column of Marcus Aurelius, as well as the religious and public buildings of papal Rome.
Sydney Opera House, Sydney
A triumph of architectural and creative design, the Sydney Opera House is one of the busiest performing arts centres in the world. Each year this spectacular theatre stages up to 2500 performances and events, drawing around four million visitors. Taking pride of place at the tip of Sydney Harbour, this architectural marvel is structured from three groups of interlocking ‘shells’ to create an enchanting array of performance halls, a restaurant and terraced pedestrian walkways.
Just a two-hour train ride from Bangkok, the historic town of Ayutthaya has earned a title as one of the most beautiful sites in Thailand. Step back in time through crumbling temples and patient stone Buddhas were once opulence and grandeur reigned. Learn about its founding as the second Siamese capital in 1350 and the vital role it played in international trade for centuries until its destruction by the Burmese in 1767.