7 UNESCO World Heritage sites that every traveller must visit
There are vacations, and there are journeys that are life-changing. Some magical destinations effortlessly offer experiences that are unique, making your trip completely worthwhile. By travelling to such places, you are exposed to a whole new world of cultures, awe-inspiring sights, tantalising aromas and flavours, and people from different walks of life.
With endless bucket lists of must-visit destinations and over a thousand UNESCO World Heritage Sites, it might be difficult to decide where to go. But worry not, on International Day for Monuments and Sites – April 18, 2018 – we’re here to help you narrow down your search.
So, if you’ve caught the travel bug, here are some places you should travel to, on your next overseas vacation.
1. Galapagos – Located in the Pacific Ocean, off the coast of Ecuador, this volcanic island archipelago is home to some creatures that can’t be found anywhere else in the world. You can observe gigantic tortoises and playful sea lions in their natural habitat. This is also where Charles Darwin drew inspiration and found evidence for his book ‘On the Origin of the Species’. The 19 islands and many small islets boast of unique landscapes – from barren volcanic rock to swathes of sandy beaches melting into turquoise waters, making it one of the best natural wonders of the world. In fact, both land and sea are protected, together forming a World Heritage Site.
Best time to visit: December to May
Getting around: Rent bicycles, taxis, or water taxis.
Currency: The US Dollar is the official currency on the island and mainland of Ecuador.
2. The Grand Canyon – Another natural site that is visually appealing, physically challenging, and brimming with cultural and historical significance, this monumental landmark in the south-western United States can be a magnificent encounter. Approximately 1500 meters deep, thanks to sustained help from the Colorado River for six million years, the Grand Canyon has grown to be one of the most spectacular gorges in the world. The past two billion years of geological history can be retraced by observing the sedimentary rock strata. No wonder it’s designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Forget all the pictures you’ve seen, for without doubt the Grand Canyon will take your breath away.
Best time to visit: March to May and September to November.
Getting around: Since the area is vast, car is the best option.
Currency: US Dollar.
3. Machu Picchu – An ancient Incan city in Peru, Machu Picchu has been intriguing and mystifying travellers for centuries. Hidden in the misty mountainous forests, this centuries-old ruined city remains well-preserved till date. An archaeological treasure steeped in history, Machu Picchu is considered the sacred religious site of the Incas. This man-made wonder sees thousands of visitors ascending the mountain path to witness the sunset and observe the brilliance of the gigantic complex.
Best time to visit: June and August
Getting around: Take a bus or book a ticket on the scenic 360° train from Cusco. Get around locally on foot.
Currency: Peruvian Sol, but Euro and US Dollar are also accepted.
4. Cappadocia – A true Turkish delight, the phallic spires – or ‘fairy chimneys’ in tourist lingo – are a breathtaking sight both, from the ground and from a hot-air balloon floating 3000 feet up in the sky. The region is peppered with pointy spires; a rocky wonderland that was formed over millions of years of erosion. Cappadocia has great cultural significance and is hence protected by UNESCO. This honeycombed gift from nature was later carved to perfection by humans to create caves and tunnels. Some of the caves and chimneys have even been remodelled into unique ‘hotels’.
Best time to visit: April to June and September to October.
Getting around: Rent a vehicle, taxi, bicycle or walking
Currency: Turkish Lira, Euro and US Dollar, along with other important global currencies.
5. Nærøyfjord – One of the most stunning natural wonders of the world, this narrow fjord is part of the main fjord stretching 18 kilometres, the longest in Norway. The narrowest part is only 250 metres wide, with a background on either side of soaring cliffs. A place of such breathtaking beauty and the world’s most beautiful fjord landscape deserves to be preserved, so naturally it’s found a place in UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites. Aside from majestic mountains, there are cascading waterfalls and quaint villages that dot the background.
Best time to visit: Summer months (May to September)
Getting around: Bike, boats and car
Currency: Norwegian Krone, Euro, and US Dollar.
6. Alberobello – The picture-perfect postcard town of Alberobello in southern Italy is famous for its beauty and its unique whitewashed conical-roofed houses. Preserved and protected by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site because of its architectural brilliance, the prehistoric construction technique survives and is functional to this day. The cobbled stone pathways, tiny shops selling locally produced goods, quiet cafes, and friendly locals make this a great little town for an enjoyable vacation.
Best time to visit: Summer months of June, July, and August.
Getting around: Walking
7. Easter Island – Called Rapa Nui by the natives, Easter Island is part of Chile. It got its name because it was discovered by a European explorer on Easter Sunday in 1722. The island’s main claim to fame is a group of about 900 giant stone figures called ‘moai’, which date back many centuries. These statues were created by master craftsmen and are unlike other sculptures popularly seen in Polynesian cultures. Keep in mind that since the island is so remote, mobile phone connectivity and Wi-Fi access can be rather erratic.
Best time to visit: December to February.
Getting around: Taxi or rent a car.
Currency: Chilean Peso, but the US Dollar is widely accepted.
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