Top 5 Must-See UNESCO World Heritage Sites

UNESCO World Heritage Sites are often the most breathtaking, unusual and particularly unique. Many of these are not popular with tourists as they are often more difficult to get to as a traveller. Nonetheless, this is a list of the top 5 must-see UNESCO World Heritage Sites, chosen for their utter beauty, scenic surrounds as well as their interesting history.

1. Ancient City of Sigiriya, Sri Lanka

top 5 must-see unesco world heritage sites

This breathtaking rock juts out from a tropical landscape of Ceylon tea plantations and was once home to King Kassapa (477 – 95). His palace was situated in a most unusual location – right on top of the rock itself. A trip to this attraction promises a lush green setting complete with pools and springs where the concubines once bathed while the king looked on. Take the steep trip on foot to the top to observe the incredible ancient cave paintings and the unbelievable view of the entire region.

2. Huanglong Scenic and Historic Interest Area, China

top 5 must-see unesco world heritage sites

Huanglong is located in the Sichaun Province. It is an unbelievable valley comprising exquisite glaciers and snow-capped mountains of over 5000 metres in altitude. The area is well-known for its beautiful forests, thriving ecosystems, waterfalls and even hot springs. Expect to see the endangered giant panda and endangered species of monkeys including the Sichuan golden snub-nosed monkey. It is of no surprise that locals believe that this is where god lives.

3. Stonehenge and Avebury in Wiltshire, United Kingdom 

top 5 must-see unesco world heritage sites

A trip to the United Kingdom isn’t complete without visiting the popular and fascinating Stonehenge in Wiltshire which was built from 3100 to 1100 BC in numerous and distinct phases. These are the most famous megaliths in the world and are known for their astronomical importance. The rocks are considered holy territory created during prehistoric times and there is no grouping of megaliths of a similar structure in the entire world. What makes Stonehenge so fascinating is the design and placement of the stones and how they were transported to the area.

4.     Socotra Archipelago, Yemen

top 5 must-see unesco world heritage sites

Socotra Archipelago is situated in the northwest of the Indian Ocean close to the Gulf of Aden. The archipelago is 250km in length and consists of four exquisite islands.

The area is well-known for its striking flora and fauna and 90% percent of the reptile species, 37% of the plant species and a whopping 95% of land snails cannot be found anywhere else on earth, so there is definitely something very unique about this destination. You can expect interesting landscapes, oddly shaped trees, crystal clear waters and a diverse marine life – a photographer’s paradise!

top 5 must-see unesco world heritage sites

5.     Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe

Victoria Falls (or Mosi-oa-Tunya – The Smoke That Thunders) is a must-see for serious nature-lovers. Its incredible beauty and boundless energy never fails to excite.

top 5 must-see unesco world heritage sites

The Zambezi River powers the falls – the largest expanse and sheet of falling water on earth. Situated at the border of Zambia and Zimbabwe, the area is awe-inspiring and the spray of the falls, the rainbows and the mist create a magical, fairytale-like setting. If natural wonders appeal to you, visit this spectacular waterfall and hop on a boat to experience the spray of the falls and its powerful beauty.

Have you been to any of these top five must-see UNESCO World Heritage Sites? We’d love to know more about your experiences there. Tell us in the comments section below.


Photo credits: Gregory Tonon, Jay Galvin, Gerry & Bonni, Jurvetson