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Top 10 UNESCO World Heritage Sites

As of June 2020, there are 1,121 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 167 countries around the world, including 869 cultural, 213 natural, and 39 of mixed properties. With 55 selected areas each, Italy and China are the countries which are home to the most sites on the list.

Aside from some really obvious ones, like Machu Picchu, the Great Wall of China, and the Taj Mahal for instance, we have selected our top 10 favourite UNESCO World Heritage sites which we think are unique and underrated and deserve a visit on your next cruise.

Easter Island, Chile

Originally named Rapa Nui by its indigenous inhabitants, this Polynesian island now owned by Chile consists of three extinct volcanoes and over 900 monumental statues. These ‘moai’ are hand-carved human figures with oversized heads, made from the surrounding rocky landscape and placed on pedestals; the tallest moai stands at almost ten metres high and weighs over 80 tonnes. It is thought that they were made to honour the tribe chieftains, and they are one of the most iconic handmade monuments in the world.

Easter Island

Mont Saint Michel, France

One of the most iconic sights in France, the imposing fortress of Mont Saint Michel rises from the sea off the coast of Normandy. The bay around the Mont is famous for its varied tides; at high tide the looming town becomes inaccessible. A visit to this medieval town offers a true experience of French heritage.

Mont Saint Michel

Ha Long Bay, Vietnam

Easily one of the most beautiful natural landscapes in the world, Ha Long Bay in northern Vietnam is a glittering emerald cove dotted with lush limestone towers. Cruise the bay’s calm waters or stay on nearby Cat Ba Island and enjoy snorkelling, kayaking, and caving excursions in Vietnam’s paradise bay.

Halong Bay

Borobudur Temple, Indonesia

Perhaps the most underrated cultural icon of Southeast Asia, Indonesia’s stunning Borobudur temple complex is a must-visit destination on the UNESCO world heritage list. Nestled among the paddy fields and rainforest, this beautiful Buddhist monument has held unparalleled cultural significance on the island of Java since the 7th century. A stone’s throw from the enigmatic city of Yogyakarta, Borobudur is a haven to be added to every keen traveller’s bucket list.

Valletta, Malta

This elegant, 16th century walled city serves as the tiny capital of Malta and is one of the most beautiful and artistic cities in all of Europe. Valletta has a rich history and was given status as European capital of Culture in 2018. As well as being home to an abundance of museums, galleries, and restaurants, day trips from the peninsula will see tourists visit nearby fortresses and golden beaches.

Valletta

Acropolis, Athens, Greece

The regally imposing Acropolis in Athens is home to the majestic Parthenon, one of the most iconic buildings of the ancient world. This epic monument boasts thousands of years of history and mythology that is rooted deeply in Greek culture. The surrounding Acropolis area offers other ancient sites such as the Temple of Athena Nike and the Theatres of Dionysus and Herodes Atticus, while the peak of the hill is undoubtedly the best spot in the city for panoramic sunset views.

Athenian Acropolis

Luxor, Egypt

Often overlooked in favour of Egypt’s most iconic site, the Great Pyramids, Luxor is one of the most incredible heritage sites in the world. Formerly known as Thebes, Luxor served as the Pharaoh’s capital at the height of power and dates back to the 16th century BC. With some of the most extensive ancient Egyptian ruins, Karnak Temple to the north, and the Valley of the Kings to the west, Luxor is more than deserving of its UNESCO world heritage title.

Luxor

Darien National Park, Panama

The Darien National Park in Panama is one of the most extensive and ecologically diverse national parks in all of Central America. Associated with its stigma of being unsafe, Darien National Park is the jewel of Panama and is a sought-after destination for biologists, botanists, and wildlife afficionados the world over. Home to stunning waterfalls, mountains, and cosy lodges where visitors can spend the night, Darien National Park is a nature lover’s haven and well deserving of its UNESCO status.

Volcanoes National Park, Hawaii, USA

Lonely Planet describes Hawaii’s stunning Volcanoes National Park as a “micro-continent of thriving rainforests, volcano-induced deserts, high-mountain meadows, coastal plains and plenty of geological marvels in between.” If this isn’t enough to tempt you to visit, I don’t know what is! Home to the world’s most active shield volcano, Kilauea, the national park is constantly changing due to seismic activity and lava flows and today encompasses around 500 square miles of raw beauty.

Hawaii

 

Angkor Wat, Cambodia

The magnificent temple complex of Angkor Wat in Siem Reap, Cambodia, is the largest UNESCO World Heritage site and the largest religious complex in the world. It is the heart and soul of Cambodia and, despite their recent turbulent history, is the epitome of Khmer inspiration, nationality, and pride. Wander the ruins of Ta Prohm, the famous film location of Tomb Raider, and wend your way through the jungle to marvel at the complex’s wondrous design.

Angkor Wat

Which UNESCO World Heritage sites have you visited, or wish you could visit on your next cruise?

If you feel inspired and want to learn more about adding some of these locations to your cruise itinerary, get in touch now on 0161 516 2178 to speak to your Personal Cruise Connoisseur.

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