The Most Beautiful UNESCO World Heritage Sites

By | March 1, 2010

PyramidsUNESCO is protecting and preserving the world’s most beautiful cultural and natural sites. These are places of great value to humanity. The concept of World Heritage states that these sites belong to all people in the world, regardless of their country.

There are hundreds of World Heritage Sites. We have built a list with the best of them. These are places you should definitely visit if you are passionate of traveling.

Madriu-Perafita-Claror Valley, Andorra
Madriu-Perafita-Claror Valley is a place where you can see how people have harvested the natural resources of the Pyrenees during the past. Old houses mix with a beautiful mountain landscape, showing how people have lived and worked here.

Los Glaciares, Argentina
Los Glaciares National Park is situated in a beautiful mountain area, covered with many glacial lakes. Lake Argentino is 160 km long.

Iguazu National Park, Argentina
This impressive waterfall is 80 m high and has a diameter of 2,700 m. Water is sprayed by the many cascades that form the waterfall. The surroundings are beautiful, with a subtropical rainforest inhabited by many exotic animals.

Great Barrier Reef, Australia
This is the largest collection of coral reefs, with 400 types of coral and 1,500 species of fish. Many species threatened with extinction still live here.

Tasmanian Wilderness, Australia
This is a place full of wildlife. It’s surface is 1 million ha. It’s one of the last places in the world where wildlife is still surviving on such a large area.

Sydney Opera House, Australia
Sydney Opera House is a modern building with an impressive design. It is located on a peninsula in Sydney Harbor.

Vienna Historic Center, Austria
Vienna city center has been preserved very well, with its old buildings and impressive architecture. Streets are not so narrow as in other old cities, but you can see a large number of castles, churches and other attractions.

Schönbrunn Palace, Vienna, Austria
This royal palace is an excellent place for you to understand the emperors’ way of life. The gardens are huge and beautiful. You can find here the oldest zoo in the world, built in 1752.

Salzburg Historic Center, Austria
Salzburg has preserved its historic center very well. It is truly a pleasure to walk in the city where so many artists and craftsmen had lived. The architecture has many Italian influences.

Le Grand Place, Brussels, Belgium
This is the central square of the city, surrounded by buildings of a remarkable architecture. It’s one of the main attractions of Brussels, with many shops, restaurants and cafes.

Historic Center of Brugge, Belgium
Brugge is a very nice medieval city. Its historic center has been preserved very well.

Iguaçu National Park, Brazil
The Iguaçu National Park is shared with Argentina. Here is an impressive waterfall 80 m high, with a 2,700 m diameter.

Central Amazon Conservation Complex, Brazil
This is the largest protected area in the Amazon Basin, with over 6 million hectares. It is very diverse in terms of animals and plants that live here. Many threatened species still survive in this place.

Nessebar, Bulgaria
This ancient city is situated on a rocky peninsula on the Black Sea. The city has been preserved very well. It has been first a Thracian city, then it became a Greek colony.

Wood Buffalo National Park, Canada
The park is situated in a vast area of plains. It houses the largest population of wild bisons in North America. The world’s largest inland delta is also located here.

Historic District of Old Québec, Canada
Québec was founded in the 17th century and has preserved its bastions, gates and towers. The fortified city atmosphere is still present, being surrounded by all these defense buildings.

The Great Wall, China
The Great Wall is one of the most magnificent things built by man. It was designed to protect China against invasions coming from north.

Historic Center of Macao, China
Macao was an important Portuguese port from the 16h century until 1999, when it came under Chinese sovereignty. It has a mix of Chinese and Portuguese buildings. The oldest lighthouse in China is situated here.

Sichuan Giant Panda Sanctuaries, China
The giant panda is threatened by extinction. 30% of the panda population lives in these national parks, covering 924,500 ha. Other endangered species also live here.

Old City of Dubrovnik, Croatia
Dubrovnik is also known as “The pearl of the Adriatic”. It was an important port, but was severely damaged by an earthquake in 1667. Almost every building here is a monument by itself, with beautiful architecture. Dubrovnik is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Croatia.

Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia
The lakes here are flowing beautifully from one to another, since they are situated at different heights. They have created their way in limestone and chalk, with nice natural dams and waterfalls. The water is extremely clear and has an impressive blue color.

Paphos, Cyprus
Paphos is a very old city on the island of Cyprus. Greek legends say that Aphrodite had been born on this island. You can visit here the remains of temples, fortresses and tombs.

Historic Center of Prague, Czech Republic
Prague was built during Middle Ages, mainly under the Holy Roman Emperor Charles IV. Buildings have been preserved very well and have a magnificent architecture. The narrow streets are excellent for walking or relaxing with a glass of the traditional Czech beer.

Galápagos Islands, Ecuador
These islands are situated in the Pacific Ocean, 1,000 km from the continent. The isolation from the land preserved wildlife here. Galápagos Islands are home of the giant turtle.

Historic Center of Cairo, Egypt
Cairo is one of the oldest Islamic cities. It was founded in the 10th century and became the center of the Islamic world in the 14th century. You can see here mosques, fountains and lots of other buildings.

The Pyramids, Egypt
The Pyramids need no explanation. With their impressive architecture, they are definitely a must see for anyone traveling to Egypt.

Palace and Park of Versailles, France
Versailles was the main residence of French kings. The palace is impressive and demonstrates the luxury that was part of the kings’ lives. The gardens that surround the palace are of a magnificent beauty. Versailles is one of the most beautiful royal residences in Europe.

The Loire Valley, France
The Loire Valley is well known for its beautiful towns, villages and castles. The landscape here is magnificent. This is one of the best places to experiment the rural France, with its peace of mind and beauty.

Mont-Saint-Michel, France
This abbey is situated on tidal island. During high tide, it becomes completely isolated from the continent. The landscape is very beautiful.

Palaces and Parks of Potsdam and Berlin, Germany
Potsdam houses a great complex of palaces, with over 150 buildings that cover 500 ha. The complex extends into Berlin’s outskirts. The most popular palace here is Sans-Souci.

Rhine Valley, Germany
The Rhine Valley is well known for its impressive castles, beautiful landscape, old towns and villages. The Rhine river was one of the most important transport routes in Europe.

The Acropolis, Athens, Greece
The Acropolis was the center of civilisation in Ancient Greece. It has impressive temples, Parthenon being well known. The remains of the old buildings provide excellent material for all history fans.

Archaeological Site of Delphi, Greece
Delphi was a sacred place, where the oracle of Apollo spoke. The landscape is very beautiful.

Meteora, Greece
The monasteries of Meteora need no introduction. Monks have built them on inaccessible stone peaks. Many of them live here isolated from the world, with food being sent to them by ropes. The magnificent landscape adds to the wonder that these people have created.

Mount Athos, Greece
Mount Athos is an important religious center in Greece. It is inhabited by monks. The Holy Mountain has enjoyed autonomy for centuries.

Old Town of Corfu, Greece
Corfu is one of the most beautiful islands of Greece. The Old Town of Corfu has been inhabited for centuries. It has a strategic position in the Adriatic Sea. It has an old fortress situated on a hill. Corfu Town is known for its Venetian architecture.

Vatican City, Vatican
Vatican City is the center of catholic religion in Europe. Its architecture is impressive. The most popular buildings are St Peter’s Basilica and Vatican Museum, that houses the Sistine Chapel.

Maya Site of Copan, Honduras
Copan was one of the most important sites of Mayan civilization. The city was abandoned in the 10th century, but the ruined citadel and public squares reveal some of the history of this civilization

Budapest, Hungary
Budapest is a monument by itself. The Buda Castle and Andrássy Avenue are the most important sites that speak about the past.

Taj Mahal, India
Taj Mahal, with its beautiful white color and impressive architecture, is one of the most appreciated attractions in the world. It is made up of white marble.

Historic Center of Florence, Italy
Florence was a important center for artists in the Middle Ages. Santa Maria del Fiore cathedral, the Church of Santa Croce and the Pitti Palace are the most important attractions of Florence.

Piazza del Duomo, Pisa, Italy
Pisa is known for its leaning tower in Piazza del Duomo. Even if not covering a big surface, the beauty of the monuments in this square makes Pisa such a popular destination.

Venice, Italy
Venice is an impressive city built on a few islands. Most buildings stay on wood that is put in water. It is not a surprise that most transportation in the city is by water, even “buses” and “taxis” being in fact boats. A magnificent place that should be on any traveler’s list.

Historic Center of Naples, Italy
Naples was found by Greeks in 470 B.C. The city has many old and beautiful buildings.

Verona, Italy
Verona was founded in the 1st century B.C. Many old buildings and monuments have been preserved very well. It is a good example of a fortified town.

Kyoto, Japan
Kyoto was the capital of Japan until the 19th century. It was inspired by the large Chinese cities. It is a good place to see the evolution of the Japanese architecture and especially of Japanese gardens.

Historic Center of Vilnius, Lithuania
Vilnius had been the center of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania in the Middle Ages. It was a model of architecture development in Eastern Europe. Most buildings in the historic center are truly monuments.

City of Luxembourg, Luxembourg
Luxembourg had been an important fortification in Europe. Its strategic position lead to its development.

Valletta, Malta
Valletta is an old city with beautiful narrow streets and lots of monuments. Malta has a strategic position and was conquered by Phoenicians, Greeks, Carthaginians, Romans, Byzantines and Arabs.

Historic Center of Mexico City, Mexico
Mexico City was once the Aztec capital, known as Tenochtitlan. It was completely rebuilt by the Spanish in the 16th century. You can see here both ruins of Aztec temples and buildings of the Middle Ages.

Cuzco, Peru
Cuzco was an important center of Inca culture. The city is situated in the Andes mountains. The Spanish conquered it in the Middle Ages and built churches here.

Machu Picchu, Peru
Machu Picchu is located in the middle of a forest, 2,430 m above sea level. All the buildings here are beautifully aligned, proving the power and skills of the Inca people.

Historic Center of Cracow, Poland
Cracow is the former capital city of Poland. It is a pleasure to walk on the narrow streets and to admire the churches, buildings and old markets.

Danube Delta, Romania
Danube forms the largest delta in Europe when flowing to the Black Sea. It is an excellent place for wildlife, with over 300 species of birds and 45 species of fish.

Historic Center of Saint Petersburg, Russia
Saint Petersburg is known as “The Venice of the North”, due to its many canals and bridges. Buildings are impressive, the most important being The Winter Palace and The Marble Palace.

Lake Baikal, Russia
Lake Baikal is the deepest lake in the world, with its 1,700 m depth. Its surface is 3.15 million ha. It contains 20% of the world’s unfrozen freshwater. The isolation of Lake Baikal produced rich flora and fauna. It is also known as “The Galapagos of Russia”.

Historic Center of San Marino, San Marino
San Marino was founded as a city-state in the 13th century. The historic city center includes defense towers, walls, gates and bastions. It is one of the oldest republics and the only surviving Italian city-state.

Works of Antoni Gaudí, Spain
Antoni Gaudí’s works are located in or near Barcelona. He is considered to innovate architecture and building technology in the 19th and 20th century. Some of his works are Casa Vicens, La Sagrada Familia, Casa Batlló, Casa Güell and Park Güell.

Laponian Area, Sweden
The Arctic Circle of Sweden is inhabited by Lapp people. They still live in the traditional way, based on the seasonal movement of reindeer. The landscape is extremely beautiful.

Historic Center of Istanbul, Turkey
Istanbul is the meeting point of Europe and Asia. It is a great place of art, with its Hippodrome of Constantine, Hagia Sophia and Süleymaniye Mosque.

Troy, Turkey
Troy is one of the most famous archaeological sites in the world. The siege of Troy by warriors from Greece was immortalized by Homer in Iliad.

Stonehenge, UK
Stonehenge is the most famous group of megaliths in the world. Stones here are arranged in a pattern that is considered of astronomical significance.

Yellowstone National Park, USA
Yellowstone National Park is well known for its geysers, two thirds of all geysers in the world. It houses endangered species like the grizzly bear and the bison.

Grand Canyon National Park, USA
Grand Canyon was carved out by Colorado River. It is famous for its beautiful landscape.

Yosemite National Park, USA
Yosemite National Park is a place of unique beauty. Granite mountains were carved out by glaciation, being transformed in valleys, waterfalls and lakes.

The whole list of UNESCO World Heritage sites is much longer and you can find it here. Don’t miss the opportunity to visit at least some of these wonders that nature or our ancestors have created.