Our world has an abundance of destinations that are full of beauty and wonder, breathtaking landscapes, and historic mysteries. There are more amazing places to see around the globe than you could possibly fit into one lifetime – or that we could describe in a single article – but we’ve created a shortlist.
Here are 10 of the world’s most must-see destinations everyone should experience once in their lifetime.
Angkor Wat, Cambodia.
A Buddhist and Hindu temple constructed in the 12th century, Angkor Wat – meaning the Temple City – is an architectural wonder. Surrounded by a wide moat and ancient outer walls, the temples and statues are almost beyond belief in their scope and grandeur.
The largest Khmer temple complex in the world is also the world’s largest religious monument. Surrounding the outside of the central temple complex is a series of intricate and astonishing carvings depicting the history and mythology of the region.
Admired for its beauty and preservation, as well as its historic and cultural significance, the site is the most visited attraction in Cambodia.
Considered to be one of the most romantic cities in the world, Italy’s ‘floating city’ was first constructed in the 5th century. Its canals, gondola’s, and historic buildings draw visitors from around the world. Venice is a must-see destination for its famous Gothic and Byzantine palazzos, museums, fine dining, and rich history. The city is an engineering marvel, a World Heritage Site, and a destination that may not be around forever. It recently made our list of disappearing destinations due to rising sea levels and increased flooding. See this one sooner rather than later.
Counted among the world’s great mysteries, Stonehenge represents one of the most striking prehistoric megalithic monuments still in existence. Archaeologists estimate that it was constructed sometime between 3,000 B.C. and 2,000 B.C. Each stone stands approximately 4.1 metres tall, 2.1 metres wide, and weighs roughly 25 tons.
That mystery is part of the reason why this ancient complex is now one of England’s most iconic draws for visitors. Not only do we not know how the prehistoric people manipulated such large stones, but we also don’t know why. Travellers come from the world over to marvel at its construction and wonder at its meaning.
The Great Pyramids, Egypt.
Another ancient site to visit for its mystery and majesty, is the pyramids of Egypt and the Sphinx. Built as the mausoleums for pharaohs roughly 4,500 years ago, the pyramids now draw thousands of visitors every day.
The site which is located just outside of Cairo, can be visited by car, tour bus, helicopter, or even by camelback. The landmarks are now the only surviving members of the original Seven Wonders of the World. Exactly how these huge monuments were built remains a mystery to this day.
The Grand Canyon, USA.
No matter how big you are expecting it to be, the Grand Canyon in Arizona will still take your breath away with its size and splendour. Sprawling over 320 kilometres, the steep rock formations were carved out by the Colorado River over thousands of years, creating one of the world’s most spectacular natural wonders.
This UNESCO World Heritage site can be explored on foot, by bike, or on the back of a mule. Areal tours by helicopter are also popular ways to take in the scope of the vast expanse of ridges and gorges.
A globally renowned attraction, the Grand Canyon draws millions of visitors from the world over every year. It is on many and adventurer-seeker’s bucket list for its white water rafting, hiking, and camping excursions.
Antelope Canyon, USA.
Also in Arizona is the Antelope Canyon. This stunning series of caves and crevices simply must be seen to be believed. Carved out of sandstone over millions of years, the Antelope Canyon is a dramatic series of passageways and stone corridors made up of surreal flowing rock formations.
The way that the sun filters into the crevices creates an array of colours on the layered sandstone walls and stunning beams of white light in dark chambers.
Only authorized tours are permitted as the site is part and property of the Navajo Nation.
Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia.
When it comes to must-see places to visit, Plitvice Lakes in Croatia should definitely be on your shortlist. Looking like a scene straight out of a fairy tale, one of Croatia’s largest and oldest national parks, Plitvice Lakes is made up of 16 different lakes separated into a series of upper and lower basins by natural dams formed out of moss and algae.
The waters appear in constantly shifting colours, ranging from azure to green, grey or blue depending on the minerals and organisms in the water and the angle that the sunlight hits it. The vast forest surrounding the lakes is teaming with diverse wildlife.
Author James A. Michener who wrote many novels set in the South Pacific, famously called Bora Bora, “The world’s most beautiful island.”
It’s not difficult to see why. Located in French Polynesia, Bora Bora features the stunning turquoise waters, white sand beaches, and beautiful flora you’d expect to find on a tropical paradise – all surrounded by a clear blue lagoon and a barrier reef. The waters in and around the lagoon are teaming with aquatic life, making Bora Bora a popular destination for snorkellers and scuba divers alike.
Among the most iconic accommodations the island has to offer, are the bungalows on stilts perched over the clear waters of the lagoon.
The Great Wall of China.
Stretching thousands of kilometres along northern China, the Great Wall was originally created over 2,000 years ago as a series of shorter walls connected into one barrier to defend China from invaders from Mongolia.
This massive, ancient man-made structure is a bucket list destination not only for its architectural and historic significance, but also for the natural beauty. The wall runs roughly 8,850 kilometres across diverse environments such as deserts, grasslands, and mountaintops – the latter offering spectacular views across the landscape below.
Machu Picchu is an ancient Inca city in the Andes Mountains of Peru that dates back to the 15th century. The site was never discovered by the Spanish conquistadors and remained unknown to the outside world until 1911 when is was brought to the world’s attention by historian Hiram Bingham.
Today, the luxury train that carries visitors from Cusco, Peru to Machu Picchu – the Hiram Bingham – is named after him.
The historic site offers visitors a fascinating look back at Incan history and culture. Roughly 200 structures that make up this once bustling centre seem to have been cut into a series of stone terraces on the steep mountainside. Along with the historic sites, Machu Picchu offers visitors spectacular natural views of the surrounding tropical mountain forests. Popular activities include hiking, biking, rafting and ziplining.
From wonders of the ancient world, to stunning natural formations, and the gem of tropical paradises, it’s been quite a journey. Checking these destinations off your bucket list should give you a taste of the best this planet has to offer. Of course, there is always more to see.