Around the globe there are now 1,154 sites that the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) deems to have outstanding value to humanity. Getting a World Heritage Site designation means a place is naturally and/or culturally significant to the point it needs protection for future generations. So, it’s a logical place to start when you’re looking for adventures that include exceptional natural beauty, remarkable human achievement or proof of our intellectual history on earth.
To get you started, we’ve gathered just 10 of our favourites that you can see or experience for yourself on tour.
1: Galápagos Islands in Ecuador
Blue-footed boobies captivate island visitors with their mating dances
Giant tortoises! Marine iguanas! Blue-footed boobies! Three ocean currents, extreme isolation and volcanic activity created a melting pot of unusual land and marine species.
See it for yourself on: Galápagos Adventure: Snorkelling & Sea Lions
2: Þingvellir National Park in Iceland
The most important cultural site in Iceland is also a natural beauty
Imagine passing laws and settling disputes below the high cliffs of a major rift valley. Turf and stone fragments remain of the open air assembly (Alþing) that met from 930 to 1798.
See it for yourself on: Best of Iceland
3: Nazca Lines in Peru
You can opt to observe the mysterious lines from a flight above
Etched from 500 BC to 500 AD, gigantic lines depicting animals, insects, plants and imaginary creatures remain an archaeological enigma on the coastal plains of Peru.
See it for yourself on: Absolute Peru
4: Yosemite National Park in the United States
Granite marvels like Half Dome and El Capitan will rock your world
Five of the world’s highest waterfalls! Granite domes! Giant sequoia groves! Yosemite ticks both natural and cultural boxes as an ancestral homeland for some American Indian tribes.
See it for yourself on: Hiking Sequoia, Kings Canyon, and Yosemite
5: Chitwan National Park in Nepal
Significant sections of habitat are preserved for endangered rhinos and tigers
Set at the foot of the Himalayas, Chitwan is home to one of the last single-horned rhino populations and the Bengal tiger. You can search for both on a guided 4×4 wildlife safari!
See it for yourself on: Nepal Adventure
6: Wadi Rum Protected Area in Jordan
Hop on a 4×4 and head deep into this culture-rich desert
Both Petra and Wadi Rum top the list of Jordan’s must-see preserved sites. Petroglyphs and rock arches speak to 12,000+ years of humans interacting with their natural surroundings.
See it for yourself on: Highlights of Jordan
7: Hiroshima Peace Memorial in Japan
See Genbaku Dome preserved exactly as it was in the bombing’s aftermath
As the only structure left standing when the first atomic bomb hit, the Hiroshima Peace Memorial and Genbaku Dome is a living memorial to the tens of thousands killed in 1945.
See it for yourself on: Japan Express: Osaka to Tokyo
8: Mount Etna in Italy
Opt for a guided tour of lava fields and end with wine tasting
Powerful enough to dominate any list, Mount Etna is the world’s most active stratovolcano. It has spit lava for 500,000 years and continues to teach us about volcanic landforms.
See it for yourself on: Northern Sicily: Islands & Volcanoes
9: Medina of Fes in Morocco
Find quieter moments in amongst the daily hustle and bustle
Follow a local guide through any great gate to explore one of the world’s largest medinas made up of 9000+ winding streets and buildings dating back to the 9th century.
See it for yourself on: Highlights of Morocco
10: Old Town of Corfu in Greece
Still standing after plenty of sieges, hordes of visitors and reconstruction
Far more than a beach destination, the cobbled alleyways, squares and enduring fortresses speak to Old Town’s storied past and mix of Venetian, French and British influences.
Author and image by Gadventure