UNESCO World Heritage Sites are the greatest treasures of humankind and nature. If your goal is to see as many as possible, some countries should take priority on your list.
Many of them are among the most popular travel destinations that we spot on our cheap flight deals page.
We shared the 5 countries with the most UNESCO World Heritage Sites two weeks ago. In that article, you can read the details about how World Heritage Sites are chosen and how to find them, as well as the first 5 countries.
But with so many exceptional places around the world, I decided to continue Andrew’s list. So here’s Part 2!
Wherever you go in this incredible country, you’ll come across some jaw-dropping sites and breathtaking views. India has 38 UNESCO sites in total—7 of them natural, 30 cultural, and one mixed.
We sometimes spot half-priced deals to India and I can’t wait to discover this country: it looks incredible, it’s very affordable, and it’s one of the best places for lots of free Marriott hotel stays.
Here are some highlights:
- The Taj Mahal
The Taj Mahal is widely famous, and for a good reason. The emperor Shah Jahan commissioned it in the memory of his wife. He picked a beautiful place, too—this stunning monument is located by the river Yamuna in Agra. Furthermore, this white marble piece of Mughal architecture is one of the Seven Wonders of the World.
Standing as a testimony to the rich cultural heritage of India, the Khajuraho is a prominent UNESCO site. It’s a complex of Hindu and Jain Temples, located in the Chhatarpur district. The temples are most famous for the nagara-style, rock-cut cave monuments and lavishly decorated erotic paintings and frescoes.
- Nanda Devi and Valley of Flowers National Parks
Situated in the West Himalayas, these parks are home to many endemic alpine flowers, and exotic animals like blue sheep, snow leopards, and Asiatic black bears.
- Bodh Gaya, Bihar
Bodh Gaya is a significant religious site and place of pilgrimage. More specifically, many think this site is where Buddha obtained enlightenment. The site is built by the bank of river Niranjana in the southwestern Bihar state.
With 35 outstanding sites, Mexico holds the 7th place on the list of countries with most UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
I am currently in Panama and Mexico is a destination I’m considering for my next stop, since there are many nice places to visit if you go outside the resort areas and explore. Many cities in the country also have Marriott Category 1 hotels. We spot deals in the $300s very frequently to this country that is so close.
Here are 4 top sites:
- Chichen Itza
Built by the Maya peoples during the Terminal Classic period, the ancient city of Chichen Itza holds the title as one of the New Wonders of the World. The main attractions include the sacred temple of El Castillo, the Temple of the Warriors, the Hall of the Thousand Columns, the Tomb of Chacmool, and the Tomb of the High Priest.
Teotihuacan is another notable ancient holy city in Mexico. Step back in time in this vast pre-Columbian place, famous for the magnificent Avenue of the Dead, the Pyramid of the Moon, and the Pyramid of the Sun.
- Ancient Mayan City and The Tropical Forest of Calakmul
If you travel to southern Mexico, you’ll find the site with the most abundant archaeological remains of Calakmul, a significant Mayan City. It rests deep in the tropical forests of the Tierras Bajas. This site is a mystical place where archaeology and ecology blend nicely.
- Historic Center of Mexico City and Xochimilco
Built by the Spanish on the ruins of Tenochtitlan—the capital of the Aztec Empire—Mexico City is one of the largest and most densely populated cities in the world. The main attractions of the historic center include 5 Aztec temples, the largest cathedral on the continent, and Palacio de las Bellas Artes. You can sometimes get a nice long layover in Mexico City with some of our deals to Central or South America, which is great if you love to travel, in other words if you love to discover new places. I did it 2 years ago on the way to Colombia (what to do on a long layover in Mexico City) and Flytrippers’ other co-founder Andrew did the same on the way to Peru a few days later.
8. United Kingdom
The UK has an impressive 32 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, which include fantastic coastlines, dramatic bridges, and uninhabited islands. The main British Isles have 29 of them, and you’ll find the remaining 3 sites in the UK’s many overseas territories.
Since WOW air’s demise, flights to the UK are sometimes more expensive, but if you can’t find a deal to there, you can sometimes combine a deal to anywhere in Europe with cheap intra-European flights and see 2 countries too!
Here are 4 of the top sites:
- Stonehenge, Avebury, and Associated Sites
Probably the most famous groups of megaliths, these two sanctuaries are an incomparable testimony to prehistoric times. Both hold impressive titles: Stonehenge is the most sophisticated, and Avebury is the largest stone circle in the world.
- The Forth Bridge
Okay, this is one that I can’t leave out as a structural engineer. Located in Scotland, this innovative bridge appeared on the list in 2015. Opening in 1890, the Forth Bridge was the first multi-span cantilever bridge. Today, it’s still one of the longest in the world, with a span of 2,529 meters.
- Canterbury Cathedral, St. Augustine’s Abbey and St. Martin’s Church
For nearly 500 years, Canterbury was the seat of the head of the Church of England. Both St. Martin’s Church, which is the oldest church in England, and St. Augustine’s Abbey are associated with the spread of Christianity in Anglo-Saxon kingdoms.
- Dorset and East Devon Coast
The Dorset and East Devon Coast is a mix of geological, paleontological, and geomorphological rock formations and fossils. It has been influential in the study of earth sciences. The area is divided into eight sections along the south of England.
Because of its breathtaking nature, Russia is home to 11 natural UNESCO sites. The country is also home to 18 fascinating cultural sites, thanks to its rich history.
Russia is definitely on my bucket-list, hopefully one day the visa requirement is loosened to make it more affordable for budget-travelers like us. We sometimes spot deals to Moscow under $1,000 but they aren’t very frequent.
Here are 4 of the top sites:
- Red Square and Kremlin
A former residence of the Great Prince and a religious center, the Kremlin is the oldest part of Moscow. Many consider the St. Basil’s Basilica, located on Red Square, to be one of the most beautiful orthodox cathedrals in the world.
- St. Petersburg
One of the largest inhabited UNESCO sites, the historical center of St. Petersburg is a result of a large urban project that began in 1703. The main attractions include the Admiralty, the Winter Palace, the Marble Palace, and the Hermitage. There is a pro trick to visit Russia without a visa: a cruise to St. Petersburg.
- Lake Baikal
The south of Siberia is home to Lake Baikal. It is the largest lake in the world (by water volume), containing more water than all the Great Lakes combined, and also the deepest. Many consider it to also be the oldest and cleanest lake in the world.
- Wrangel Island
Situated in the Arctic Ocean, this remote island is one of the least-accessible natural reserves in the world. It’s known for having the highest biodiversity in the high Arctic. It’s also the last home of the wooly mammoth.
With 2 natural and 22 cultural sites, Iran holds the 10th place on the list of countries with most UNESCO sites.
Another country that we are passionate about and can’t wait to visit, Iran is a complicated country to go to for North American passport holders since a guide or host is required, making it very expensive for budget-travelers. But it looks like a wonderful country.
Here are 4 of the top sites:
Located 60 km northeast of Shiraz, the capital of the Achaemenid Empire of Persia, Persepolis, represents one of the most magnificent architectural complexes of the ancient world. The remains of the city, after it was burned by Alexander the Great, stand as a symbol of the first culture that welcomed cultural and ethnic diversity.
- Hyrcanian forests
The remarkable floristic biodiversity of the Hyrcanian forests was recognized by UNESCO fairly recently. The Hyrcanian forests stretch for 850 km on the southern coast of the Caspian Sea and are thought to date back 25–50 million years.
- Masjed-e Jame of Isfahan
Masjed-e Jame, also known as the Friday Mosque, sits in the center of the city of Isfahan. The construction started in 841 AD and lasted over 12 centuries. Because its construction lasted for such an extended period, the mosque represents the development of mosque architecture.
The ancient desert city and its citadel looks like a real-life sandcastle. Unfortunately, a massive earthquake hit the area and destroyed much of the city in 2003, also killing tens of thousands of residents. This is a reminder that we must see as much of the world as we can as fast as we can!
One lifetime is not enough to visit all the fantastic places on our diverse planet, including the UNESCO World Heritage Sites on this list. But, hey—let’s do our best!
Which are your favorite UNESCO World Heritage Sites? How many have you visited? Tell us your suggestions!
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Featured image: Dorset and East Devon Coast (photo credit: Mark Simons, UNESCO)
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