The world is filled with thousands of incredible landmarks, meaning it was very difficult for us to pick just nine! After lots of research - and deliberation - we’ve put together a list of the most famous. From China to Portugal, which landmark is the most iconic?
“Without doubt, I think the most iconic landmark in the world has to be Sydney Harbour, book-ended by the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House,” says Steph from Cruise with Amber. “They really are a powerful pair of landmarks and complement each other so perfectly.”
Steph lived and worked in Sydney for 10 months whilst travelling around the world. “The Harbour Bridge’s dark industrial arc contrasts beautifully with the pale iridescent sails of the Opera House. When you get up close to both landmarks, they reward you with some surprising details which are impossible to discover from afar. For example, the Opera House reveals new layers of beauty in her pearlescent, herringbone tiles which tesselate so perfectly to form her grand sails. While on the other hand, the Harbour Bridge reveals some of its millions of sturdy rivets. If you get the chance, I would highly recommend climbing the Habour Bridge - not only for the spectacular panoramas you get whilst 134 metres above Port Jackson but also for a chance to blow a kiss for good luck to Blinky Bill (the flashing red light) right at the summit.
“For a memorable sail away on a cruise ship, I think Sydney Habour tops the list. It’s no wonder it’s the focus of Australia’s New Year fireworks each year. We were so lucky to be there for the millennium. Sydney Harbour is so iconic - you can show anyone a silhouette of the skyline and be certain they’ll know exactly where you are.”
Christ the Redeemer
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
“Rio is famous for many things,” Debbie from Ocean Waves told us. “Copacabana and Ipanema beaches, the massive Maracana Stadium, Sugarloaf Mountain and, of course, Christ the Redeemer, or Cristo Redentor, as he is known locally.
“This huge statue stands on top of Corcovado peak 98ft high on top of a 26ft pedestal and his arms (wingspan) stretch to 92ft wide. Therefore you can’t miss it unless the clouds are low in the sky. Even as your aeroplane is on its final approach into Rio de Janeiro airport you can easily spot the distinctive white cross-shaped statue from afar.
“You have to do most of the ride up Corcovado peak by the Rack Railway (not unlike a funicular), designed for going up and down steep peaks. It takes about 20 minutes and you have fantastic views of the city and its beaches on the way. Once you alight at the top, there are still a number of steps to climb until you find yourself on a platform around the statue’s plinth, where you will be at the feet of Christ the Redeemer. Only then do you realise just how massive the statue is and you get a weird sense of vertigo when you crane your neck to look up into this face.
“You will see that Christ has his head angled slightly downwards and has a serene expression. From all angles at the top, you can now see for miles around. I remember taking a deep breath and looking around in fascination, not quite believing that I was actually here in Rio de Janeiro, looking down at many famous sights from another famous landmark. ‘Awesome’ is a word that comes nowhere near to describing it.”
Siem Reap, Cambodia
We chatted to Della from the beauty, travel and lifestyle blog, Della Loves Nutella. Della nominated Angkor Wat for the world’s most iconic landmark, she told us: “Angkor Wat and its surrounding temples are one of the most incredible sights in Cambodia and the largest religious monument in the world in terms of land area. It’s one of those landmarks that left a place in my heart and still, to this day, I’m in awe that I visited.
“My visit to Angkor Wat is something I will never forget. The sheer size of the Angkor Wat temple blew me away on arrival and I couldn’t believe the beauty as I roamed around the many temples in the Angkor Wat Archeological Park. My favourite memory exploring is the day I woke up at 4 am and got a tuk-tuk ride to watch the sunrise over the temple. Pinks and purples filled the sky and it brought out the silhouette of the phenomenal temple into the light.
“Built in the 12th century and located in Siem Reap, Angkor Wat has a wealth of history and wonder to it. Stretched over 400 acres, the park requires a tuk-tuk driver to take you around. The tuk-tuk driver adds to the overall experience as mine regaled me with stories and facts I didn’t know about the temples. They even provided bottles of water to cool me down under the hot sun. Cambodia is a beautiful country filled with humble people, beautiful scenery and must-see attractions.”
Great Wall of China
The Great Wall of China, also known as the Great Wall at Mutianyu, is one of the Seven Wonders of the World. Located just 35 miles outside of Beijing, the wall is one of China’s most popular tourist hotspots attracting over 10 million visitors a year.
Made of cement, bricks, dirt and wood, the wall is the longest structure humans have ever built. Measuring over 13,000 miles long, 29 feet wide and 49 feet tall (it is so long, in fact, it can be seen by astronauts out in space), the Great Wall of China was finally completed in 1878 after 2,300 years. Its purpose was to protect the north of the empire of China from enemy attacks and because of this, there are more than 20,000 watchtowers along the wall. Interestingly, it is not a single wall but a series of fortification systems and although much of the structure is now in ruins, it still stands as one of the most impressive feats of engineering in the world.
There are many, many reasons to visit Paris yet witnessing the Eiffel Tower appears at the top of most lists (with very good reason). The Eiffel Tower is one of the most recognisable structures in the world, thus making it one of the most photographed landmarks in the world. The tower is named after Gustave Eiffel, who was the engineer behind the construction. The 324-metre tall structure, which opened in 1889 after 2 years, 2 months and 5 days of work, received much criticism when it was first erected as a temporary exhibit for the 1889 World’s Fair.
Today, it is France’s most iconic structure and the world’s most-visited paid attraction. There are 704 steps to the top of the Eiffel Tower, which held the title of the tallest structure for more than 40 years. We recommend splurging on a ticket to the top of the structure for unparalleled views of Paris.
25th April Bridge
Matthew, from cruise-related YouTube channel Cruising with Matthew, nominated Lisbon’s 25th April Bridge as one of the world’s most famous landmarks. When we chatted to him about this remarkable sight, he told us: “I’ve been lucky enough to see many iconic landmarks but one of my favourites has to be sailing under the 25th April Bridge in Lisbon, Portugal.
“Spanning the Tagus River, it is the largest bridge in Europe, as well as the 40th largest in the world. Construction started in 1962 and was completed in 1966, being renamed the 25th April Bridge following the Carnation Revolution.
“The bridge dominates your approach into Lisbon and makes for a very memorable sail in/out as you sail right under it to get to the terminal. I’d recommend that you get up early and get a good spot when you sail into Lisbon, as it really is quite the spectacle. The bridge seems to loom above you as you get closer and it also creates quite an eerie sound as you sail under it. Even on a medium-sized ship like Oceana, I wondered if she would fit. What makes it even better is that you get to do it all again on the way out! It was definitely a highlight of my visit to Lisbon and I can’t wait to do it again soon.” Catch a glimpse of 25th April Bridge in Matthew’s Lisbon vlog here.
Constructed in 2004, Burj Khalifa is the tallest free-standing structure in the world. The iconic landmark, which is located in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, stands over 828 metres tall and holds a vast number of records including; highest number of stories in the world, the highest outdoor observation deck in the world and the elevator with the longest travel distance in the world. The structure was created using 330,000 cubic metres of concrete, 39,000 tonnes of steel reinforcement, 15,500 square metres of embossed stainless steel and 103,000 square metres of glass. So much glass, in fact, the Burj Khalifa has a team of around 36 window cleaners that spend between 3 and 4 months cleaning the panels - as soon as they finish, they have to start again - it really is a never-ending job.
A feat of engineering standing proud on one of the world’s most iconic skylines, the Burj Khalifa boasts 160 stories affording unforgettable views of Dubai. For those wanting to visit the observation deck or lounge, we’d recommend reserving tickets in advance. The lounge spans 3 levels and guests can choose to have breakfast, afternoon tea or a glass of bubbly at sunrise or sunset.
Statue of Liberty
New York, USA
Nothing says ‘welcome to the USA’ quite like the Statue of Liberty. Situated on Liberty Island in the Hudson River, the Statue of Liberty faces New York City and symbolises freedom and prosperity. Lady Liberty, as she is often referred to, was designed by Frederic August Bartholdi and Alexandre Gustave Eiffel (yes, the same engineer that designed the Eiffel Tower). The statue depicts the Roman Goddess of Freedom, Libertas and was constructed with an iron skeleton and copper skin, which has oxidised over time.
The Statue of Liberty was a gift from France to the United States in 1886 - she later became a National Monument in 1924. We’d recommend getting a little closer to the universal symbols of freedom by hopping on the ferry that departs from Battery Park in Lower Manhattan and stops at both Ellis and Liberty Islands.
Golden Gate Bridge
San Francisco, USA
The symbol of San Francisco, Golden Gate Bridge is one of the most recognisable landmarks in the US. One of the seven wonders of the modern world, the suspension bridge connects San Francisco Bay and Marin County. After 4 years of construction, it was officially opened in 1937 and remained the longest suspension bridge in the world for 27 years. It is almost 3 miles long and about a mile wide which makes crossing it by foot no walk in the park (but the views from the middle are well worth it).
The Golden Gate Bridge attracts up to ten million visitors per year. Its welcome centre features information on the history and construction of the bridge. For a unique perspective of the suspension bridge, take the Golden Gate Bay cruise from Fisherman’s Wharf, it sails under the impressive bridge and along to Alcatraz Island.