World’s Best UNESCO World Heritage Sites

Written by
Rachel O'Leary, Jennifer Richt, Byron Thomas & Melania Siriu

The world is full of incredible places, and at Jacada we aim to show our clients the best of what the world has to offer.

With new UNESCO World Heritage Sites being discovered every year, we’ve highlighted the world’s best spots both old and new.

From classics like Vietnam’s Halong Bay to more recent additions such as Iceland’s Vatnajökull National Park, the world is full of wonders waiting to be explored.


New UNESCO World Heritage Sites

Vatnajökull National Park, Iceland

One of the latest additions to the UNESCO list, Southern Iceland’s Vatnajökull National Park is home to a string of natural wonders. Covering nearly 14% of Iceland’s land mass, this incredible national park houses ten volcanoes, black sand beaches, the jaw-dropping Jokulsarlon glacial lagoon and Europe’s largest glacier, the immense Vatnajokull. 


The largest national park in Europe, this ethereal landscape covers an astonishing 12,000 square kilometres (4,600 square miles). Besides creating mighty geological sights, this powerful and fertile land makes Vatnajökull National Park Iceland’s agricultural heartland. Dining on delicious delicacies in local restaurants and taking a boat trip out onto the ice filled waters of the Jökulsárlón glacier are both truly unforgettable experiences. 


Mounded tombs of ancient Japan

In the historic city of Osaka, Japan houses an incredible ancient burial system. Comprised of 49 tombs, the mounded tombs of ancient Japan include the country’s largest keyhole-shaped mound. Named after Emperor Nintoku, who is thought to have reigned over 4th-century Japan, this mounded tomb is one of Japan’s most ancient cultural relics. 


The range of tombs designated as UNESCO sites date from the 3rd to the 6th century, so these ancient tombs really do provide a window into ancient Japan. Now beautifully landscaped with verdant forestation, only those who know about Japan’s past will be able to recognise them as tombs upon first sighting. Nevertheless, they still remain an important part of Japan’s cultural heritage. 


Jaipur, India

A new addition for 2019, India’s northern city of Jaipur is one of the world’s most fascinating cultural destinations. The capital of Rajasthan is a frantic city, but it’s also a beautiful one. Some of India’s most majestic palaces and atmospheric palaces call Jaipur home, so there’s plenty to explore here. Often referred to as the Pink City, Jaipur’s pastel facades sit perfectly alongside energetic bazaars, bustling streets and coral washed walls. 


The city’s standout architectural gem is undoubtedly the striking Hawa Mahal, a pink terracotta palace dubbed the “Palace of Wind.” As well as a plethora of beautiful and historical buildings, Jaipur is one of the best places to pick up handicrafts, colourful textiles and jewellery. 


The classics

Iguassu Falls, Brazil and Argentina

One of the world’s most famous waterfalls, Iguassu Falls is located in the heart of Iguassu National Park. An expanse of thick and tropical rainforest, this incredible slice of nature straddles the border between Brazil and Argentina. The falls themselves are one of the most incredible sights in the world, standing at an impressive 80-metres tall.


The scale truly has to be seen to be believed, with 275 falls cascading over almost three kilometres of the Parana river. Set amongst lush tropical rainforests on the border between Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay, this world wonder is a must visit destination. 



Machu Picchu, Peru

One of the New Seven Wonders of the World, Machu Picchu is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that is famous the world over. Situated on a mountain ridge 2,400 metres above sea level, this remote location is reached via an iconic walking route. Latin America’s Inca Trail is one of the most famous and beautiful treks in the world, accompanied by moving scenery, fascinating legends and inspiring local Quechan communities. One of the most important archeological sites in all of Peru, this structural marvel is a true testament to the advanced level of Incan science and culture. This world famous site truly has to be seen to be believed. 


Stone Town, Zanzibar

A heady and exotic UNESCO World Heritage Site, Zanzibar’s Stone Town is a melting pot of cultures that have arrived at its harbour over the centuries. The legacies of Indian and Arab traders, Moorish explorers, Persian settlers and Swahili residents have all left their mark on this town of winding alleys, eclectic bazaars and grand mosques. It’s also a historically significant town, as its widely regarded as a base for the anti-slavery movement helmed by David Livingstone. Designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000, Stone Town is best explored on foot. When you’re winding your way through this labyrinth town, be sure to stop at the Palace of Wonders, the Old Fort, the Hamamni Persian baths and the Malindi mosque. 


Halong Bay, Vietnam

A stunning scene of over 2,000 huge, rugged limestone karsts jutting out of the sea, Halong Bay has deserved its UNESCO status since it was designated a World Heritage site back in 1994. A mostly uninhabited and untouched environment, this part of northern Vietnam is a simply spectacular vista. There’s nothing quite like drifting through the expansive emerald waters aboard a luxury junk boat. Halong Bay and its surrounding islands are marked with caves, grottos and the occasional sandy cove. With swimming, kayaking and excursions through floating villages all on offer, there’s something for everyone when it comes to visiting this world wonder. 


Victoria Falls, Zambia & Zimbabwe

The second waterfall on our list, Victoria Falls rivals Latin America’s Iguassu Falls. The go-to destination for a touch of history combined with Big Five spotting, the incredible Victoria Falls should be seen from every angle possible. Straddling the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe, the five falls here stand tall at an impressive 1,700 metres. Officially dubbed the ‘largest waterfall in the world,’ Victoria Falls is home to the largest curtain of falling water on the planet, with 550,000 cubic metres of water rushing by every minute. 


Angkor Wat, Cambodia

Recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1992, the Angkor temples offer an insight into the crumbling world of the ancient Khmer empire. Surrounded by tropical forest, the temples of Angkor are made up of grand lotus towers and ornate carvings. With watching sunrise over Angkor Wat being one of the world’s top bucket list experiences, this part of Cambodia is the perfect place to begin your discovery of the country’s history. Beyond the famous Angkor Wat, the Bayon temple, Angkor Thom and the incredible Ta Prohm are all sure to etch themselves into memory. 


Ngorongoro Crater

Tanzania’s Ngorongoro Crater is one of the last great wildernesses on the planet. The largest intact volcanic caldera in the world, this natural wonderland is the perfect introduction to Tanzania. A huge area of Savannah, forests and highland plains, the Ngorongoro Crater is 14 miles wide and has the world’s highest density of lions. These fierce Big Cats live alongside flamingos, elusive leopards and a whole host of other wildlife. 


With early hominid footprints here dating back 3.6 million years, it’s no wonder that the Ngorongoro Crater has secured UNESCO World Heritage Status. Today, local Maasai pastoralists tend to the land and use the Ngorongoro Crater as their base for livestock grazing.


Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, Uganda

Often overlooked by travellers, Uganda was once rightly described by Winston Churchill as the ‘Pearl of Africa.’ Lush jungle and tropical wildlife are primary features of Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, home to the highest concentration of primates on Earth. Designated a UNESCO site in 1994, this incredible forest is home to around 10 habituated gorilla families. 


Suited to adventurous types, Bwindi’s terrain is such that you start your trek on high ground before descending into the valley to see the gorillas before tackling an arduous climb at the end of the day. Efforts don’t go unrewarded though, as seeing the gorillas in their natural habitat is one of the most spectacular experiences in the world. 


Easter Island, Chile

One of the most remote islands on the planet, Easter Island – or Rapa Nui – is home to the world-famous mysterious giant stone Moai statues. A beautiful outdoor museum, Easter Island is set amongst the brilliant blue Pacific water, with its beaches and volcanic craters giving it a truly ethereal feel. Besides admiring the spellbinding statues, there’s plenty to get up to on Easter Island. Snorkelling, scuba diving, surfing, trekking and mountain biking are all on offer. With so much to do and an incredible history to discover, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is great for all the family.


The Galapagos Islands

With giant tortoises, elusive blue-footed boobies and gentle sea lions, the Galapagos Islands really are nature’s paradise. The Galapagos Islands straddle the equator in the Pacific Ocean, 926 kilometres from Ecuador’s coast, and so are filled with incredible diving and birdwatching opportunities. One of the most amazing places on Earth, the Galapagos Islands are one of the only places where you can see wildlife so close up. Due to the lack of human presence on the island, many of the animals are fearless. Walking among giant tortoises, snorkelling with sharks and swimming with playful sea lions are just some of what comes with the territory on the Galapagos Islands.


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