What do Yellowstone National Park, Machu Picchu, and Mont-Saint-Michel all have in common? Each site is a United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage Site. Preserving places around the world with outstanding universal value, UNESCO has dedicated more than 1,000 World Heritage Sites reflecting the world’s natural and cultural diversity. Many of our guided tours visit these incredible sites so we made a list of some of our favorites. Explore the top UNESCO sites to add to your bucket list in 2022!
Mont-Saint-Michel and its Bay
Emerging from the tides in Normandy, France is a Gothic Abbey built on a massive granite rock. The lower towers and medieval sea wall protect a small village, capped magnificently by the commanding Abbey dedicated to the Archangel Michael. With a permanent population of around 50, this popular tourist destination has a history dating back to at least the Roman era.
Featured in our Heart of France tour >
Historic Town of Sukhothai and Associated Historic Towns
Located in Northern Thailand is Sukhothai Historical Park, consisting of closely related ancient towns. Sukhothai was the political and administrative capital of the first Kingdom of Siam in the 13th and 15th centuries. Si Satchanalai, its sister city, was the spiritual center of the kingdom and the site of numerous temples and Buddhist monasteries.
Featured in our Amazing Thailand tour >
Historic Sanctuary of Machu Picchu
High in the Andes of Peru lies the majestic Machu Picchu. Archeologists believe the site dates back to the 15th century and represents the estate of Incan Emperor Pachacuti. Built without the use of mortar, metal tools, or the wheel, Machu Picchu is a testament to the power and ingenuity of the Inca empire.
Featured in our Enchanting Peru tour >
Giant’s Causeway and Causeway Coast
A geological wonder on the coast of Northern Ireland, the Giant’s Causeway is made up of some 40,000 massive black basalt columns sticking out of the sea. The dramatic sight has inspired legends of giants striding over the sea to Scotland. The striking landscape was caused by volcanic activity some 50–60 million years ago.
Featured in our Magical Ireland tour >
Historic Villages of Shirakawa-go and Gokayama
Located in a mountainous region that was cut off from the rest of the world for a long period of time, these villages with their Gassho-style houses subsisted on the cultivation of mulberry trees and the rearing of silkworms. The large houses with their steeply pitched thatched roofs are the only of their kind in Japan offering outstanding examples of a traditional way of life.
Yellowstone National Park
Recognized as the first national park in the US, Yellowstone is also one of the first 12 sites to be named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1978. What makes Yellowstone so special is a combination of the geothermal activity which accounts for the hot springs and geysers, the spectacular landscape, and a large amount of megafauna which inhabit the park.
Featured in our Northwest National Parks tour >
Situated between the Red Sea and the Dead Sea, Petra was a major caravan center for the incense of Arabia, the silks of China, and the spices of India. Petra is half-built, half-carved into the rock, and is surrounded by mountains riddled with passages and gorges. It is one of the world’s most famous archaeological sites, where ancient Eastern traditions blend with Hellenistic architecture.
Featured in our Journey Through Jordan tour >
Plitvice Lakes National Park
Croatia’s oldest and largest national park is made up of 16 interconnected lakes that tumble into each other creating a series of stunning waterfalls. Picturesque wooden boardwalks criss-cross the lakes, creating a fairytale-worthy environment where you can get right up close to the fabulous natural beauty.
Featured in our Jewels of the Adriatic tour >