Whether you travel for education, relaxation, or to discover the Earth’s most beautiful destinations, no traveller’s bucket list is complete without these five unmissable World Heritage Sites.

What are World Heritage Sites?

World Heritage Sites are landmarks or places that have been provided with legal protection by UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation. Sites are granted this special status if they offer something significant, such as historical importance or unique nature.

There are currently over 1,000 World Heritage Sites spanning 167 countries across the globe. Seeing all of these sites would be a lifelong mission, and it can be hard to know where to begin. If you’re looking for the most spectacular UNESCO treasures, don’t miss these five World Heritage Sites.

Abu Simbel, Egypt

Egypt is host to some of the most astonishing ancient structures in the world, including the Pyramids of Giza which are one of the seven Wonders of the World. A lesser-visited World Heritage Site is Abu Simbel, a pair of enormous rock-carved temples in Upper Egypt close to the Sudan border. These cave temples are over 3,000 years old, yet the colossal statues at the entrance are still standing!

Travellers keen to explore all of the heritage sites of this country can take advantage of Egypt tours tailored towards history lovers that encompass other highlights such as the Valley of the Kings.

Taj Mahal, India

The Taj Mahal is truly the most beautiful building in the world. This crowning jewel of the Mughal Empire was built by emperor Shah Jahan as a mausoleum for his late wife. It took 16 years to complete and is an architectural masterpiece of luxury materials and perfect symmetry.

Terracotta Army, China

The Taj Mahal may be the most beautiful mausoleum, but the resting place of China’s first emperor, Qin Shi Huang, has to be the most astonishing. This is a true necropolis, an underground mock-up of his imperial palace that spans 98 square kilometres. In 1974, it was discovered that this tomb is guarded by a ‘Terracotta Army’ including 8,000 soldiers and 130 horse-pulled chariots.

Angkor Wat, Cambodia

Another of the most amazing World Heritage Sites in Asia is Angkor Wat in Cambodia. Constructed almost nine centuries ago during the age of the Khmer Empire, Angkor Wat remains the largest religious structure in the world. This enormous and elaborate complex was created as the earthly representation of the abode of ancient Hindu gods, Mount Meru.

Machu Picchu, Peru

This Wonder of the World only became known to the Western world in 1911 when it was rediscovered by Yale University historian Hiram Bingham. This 600-year-old citadel is a masterpiece of Inca construction hidden high in the mountains surrounding the sacred city of Cusco. Machu Picchu is best viewed from above after a four-day hike along the Inca Trail.