14 World Heritage sites you need to see in your lifetime

There are over 1,000 World Heritage sites protected by United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). To become a World Heritage site, you must meet one of the ten following official criteria:

  • A masterpiece of human creative genius
  • Documents the exchange of human values over a period of time within a culture or advances in architecture, technology, town planning, landscape design or art
  • Preserves the unique culture of a civilization that is still living or has disappeared
  • Example of architecture, technology or landscape that depicts monumental moments in human history
  • Examples of traditional settlement that is representative of a culture, especially if it has become vulnerable to irreversible change
  • Tied to important ideas, religions, events/traditions, or literary/artistic pieces of significance
  • Nature-made wonders or of visual importance
  • Examples of major stages in earth's history
  • Examples of on-going ecological and biological importance in evolution
  • Natural habitats of endangered species and conservation

Out of these 1,000 locations, we have combed through and picked some of our favorites. While there are many more heritage sites we encourage you to explore past our list and see all that our fascinating planet has to offer.

RELATED: Learn more about some of our favorites below:

World Heritage sites you can visit
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World Heritage sites you can visit

A World Heritage site since 1997, the Manarola Village is just one of Italy's 51 heritage sites. The site is comprised of 5 villages that provide stunning views. 

Photo Credit: Getty 

One heritage site that is familiar to anyone who has taken a history class is the Colosseum. The Heart of Rome as a whole is considered a World Heritage site since 1990. 

Photo Credit: Getty 

The Terra Cotta Warriors and Horses found in Emperor Qin Shi Huang's Tomb are considered the most significant archeological excavations of the 20th century. The entire tomb which is located in China is still not completely excavated and was discovered in 1974. The tomb has been a World Heritage site since 1987 and is one of China's 50 sites.  

Photo by Gilles BASSIGNAC/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

Also known as one of the seven wonders of the world The Pyramids of Giza in Egypt have been a World Heritage site since 1979. 

Photo Credit: Getty 

The structure known as Stonehenge is one of the earliest man-made monuments in the world. Located in England it has become a huge draw for tourists especially during the solstices and has been considered a heritage site since 1986. 

Photo Credit: Getty 

These black basalt columns known as the Giant's Causeway were formed by volcanic activity almost 60 million years ago. located in Ireland the formations have been a heritage site since 1986. 

Photo by Bernard Menigault/Corbis via Getty Images

The central part of the Loire Valley in France was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000.

Photo by Patrick Durand/Sygma via Getty Images

One of the most lavish Heritage sites is the Palace and Park of Versailles in France. Constructed in the 17th century the palace has been home to many a royal. It was named a heritage site in 1979.

Photo Credit: Getty 

The Historic Villages of Shirakawa-go and Okayama in Japan are absolutely one of a kind. The farm houses are inspired by the village's culture and landscape. 

Photo Credit: Getty 

Designed architect Oscar Niemeyer and planner Lucio Costa the Catedral Metropolitana in Brazil is a well-known piece of urban planning due to its inventive design.  It is also the only city built in the 20th century to be slated as a heritage site. 

Photo Credit: Getty 

Named a World Heritage site in 1987, the Taj Mahal is an absolutely stunning structure that was actually built as a tomb for emperor Shah Jehan's wife, Mumtaz Mahal.

Photo Credit: Getty 

One of the most unique heritage cities, Cappadocia boasts chimney rock terrain, incredible hot-air balloon rides, and underground cities. Located in Turkey, Cappadocia became a heritage site in 1985. 

Photo Credit: Getty 

The Taos Pueblo honors the culture of the Pueblo people who resided in what we now know as New Mexico and Arizona. The Pueblo culture is still active in the area and became a heritage site in 1992. 

Photo Credit: Getty 

Made up of 3 million acres nature and wildlife the Glacial bay National Park in Alaska is certainly a site to behold. The icy destination became a World Heritage site in 1979.

Photo by Wolfgang Kaehler/LightRocket via Getty Images


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