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The best World Heritage sites to visit

Globally recognised UNESCO World Heritage sites are of significant importance; each site is steeped in history with its own story to tell.

Angkor in South-East Asia

Posted on

15 Aug 2019

Capturing images and taking in the splendour of a UNESCO World Heritage site doesn’t always mean a long-haul flight followed by arduous treks through dense jungle, or spending hours scaling mountainous terrain. Some of the most amazing sites can be enjoyed on a cruise.

For this article, we asked bloggers which UNESCO World Heritage site struck a chord and gave them memories which will last a lifetime.

What is a UNESCO World Heritage site?

UNESCO stands for the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. It preserves 1,073 World Heritage sites across 167 countries. To be considered as a World Heritage site, the properties or area must meet strict criteria including “representing a masterpiece of human creative genius” and “be outstanding examples representing significant on-going ecological and biological process in evolution”.

The Great Barrier Reef, Australia

“Climate change is destroying this World Heritage site, so seeing it inspired me to start living more sustainably.”

The Great Barrier Reef


The Great Barrier Reef is a site of variety and beauty on the north-east coast of Australia and contains the world’s largest collection of coral reefs as well as thousands of species of molluscs and fish.

According to UNESCO, the site is also of “great scientific interest” as the habitat of species such as the sea cow and the large green turtle are “threatened with extinction”.

The breath-taking beauty of the reef has attracted countless visitors to Australia over the years, including Samantha from Coco Travels: “Not only is it beautiful and home to many species of fish and types of coral but visiting also gives you a much greater appreciation for the damage that global warming is doing to our planet. Climate change is destroying this World Heritage site so seeing it inspired me to start living more sustainably.”

The Great Wall of China, China

“If you are looking for a once-in-a-lifetime, ultimate holiday bucket list experience then the Great Wall of China has to be it.”

The Great Wall of China


Construction of the Great Wall of China is believed to have started in 220BC under Quin Shi Huang, where sections of earlier fortifications were joined together to form a defence against invasions. “Construction continued up to the Ming dynasty between 1368 and 1644 when the wall became the world’s biggest military structure”, UNESCO states.

The wall itself is 13,170 miles long and comprises of several sections. Each section has a different character and architectural style with a mixture of watchtowers, shelters and tracks. It starts at the Shanhaiguan in the Hebei province in the east and ends at Jiayuguan in the Gansu province in the west.

Leona from Wandermust Family told us that her family always try to visit a World Heritage site on holiday because they can be great places for learning: “You can get up close to history and really feel it come alive. The Great Wall of China is the most impressive sight you can see on Earth and can only truly be appreciated in real life and you will be speechless on first viewing. Today you can walk the wall in several places, with some areas being restored and others offering a wilder experience and terrain.”

“We opted for the Mutianyu section which has been restored and offers great facilities for families visiting the wall, however, each section offers something for travellers. If you are looking for a once-in-a-lifetime, ultimate holiday bucket list experience around World Heritage then the Great Wall of China has to be it.”

With so much to see and experience, a cruise to China will enable you to enjoy all the history, land formations, cuisine and culture this amazing country has to offer.

Angkor, Cambodia

“It is an example of the force of nature, as tree roots have uprooted the temple. It is easy to lose oneself in the complex for hours.”

Angkor in Cambodia


Cambodia’s Angkor is described as one of the most important archaeological sites in south-east Asia by UNESCO. As well as a variety of parkland and waterways, the site also boasts the famous Temple of Angkor Wat and at Angkor Thom, you can see the Bayon Temple with its gorgeous sculptural decorations.

Admiring secluded villages, mystical jungles and impressive mountains means that you can experience everything an Asian river cruise has to offer. L from Franglais27 Tales told us why the complex and unparalleled beauty of Angkor is one of the best UNESCO World Heritage sites to visit: “It is impressive to stand by the lake for a panoramic photograph before sunrise to capture the beautiful early morning sunlight rays.”

“The temple, Angkor Thom, whilst on a smaller scale to Angkor Watt, is equally stunning and there are many faces appearing within the rocks to discover at Angkor Thom. Ta Prohm is also quite renowned from the Tomb Raider film and is an example of the force of nature, as tree roots have uprooted the temple. It is easy to lose oneself in the complex for hours.”

For a truly memorable experience, get up early and grab your camera to capture some amazing memories of sunrise over one of these divine temples.

Tower of London, UK

“The tower has a richer and more complex history, having been home to the Royal Mint, the Royal Armouries and a zoo.”

The Tower of London


You don’t need to venture far to take in the glory and splendour of UNESCO World Heritage sites as there are several in the UK, including the Tower of London.

Embarking on a Tower Bridge cruise is a treat because it is one of the most exclusive ports in the world and only open to a select number of cruise ships. Unlike a regular port, at Tower Bridge, you will find yourself right beside HMS Belfast which is a Town-class cruiser built for the Royal Navy in 1936. She is now permanently moored as a museum on the River Thames for visitors to enjoy.

The Tower of London was built on the Thames by William the Conqueror in 1078 as a way to help protect the city. The structure itself has stood the test of time and visitors are fascinated with its rich history. The tower attracts millions of visitors every year and is home to the Crown Jewels and the Yeomen Warders. On their website, Historic Royal Palaces say that the “Ceremony of the Keys and other traditions live on, as do the ghost stories. The tower also has a richer and more complex history, having been home to an array of institutions including the Royal Mint, the Royal Armouries and a zoo.”

Statue of Liberty, USA

“A cruise to New York is not complete without admiring the impressive torch-bearing statue.”

Statue of Liberty


Arguably one of the most well-known American landmarks is the Statue of Liberty. The monument was inaugurated in 1886 and stands proud at the entrance of New York Harbour. A cruise to New York is not complete without admiring the impressive torch-bearing statue. 

The statue was designated as a National Monument in 1924 and National Park service staff have been tending to the upkeep of the colossal copper statue since 1933. If you decide to visit the Big Apple a trip to the statue is a must, you can even have a look inside the crown and create memories to last a lifetime.

Whether you prefer European river cruises or circumnavigating the globe during an around the world cruise, there are sure to be plenty of exciting things to see and do, including admiring some amazing UNESCO World Heritage sites.

The best World Heritage sites to visit

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