Top 10 UNESCO World Heritage Sites I’ve visited (up to date)

Every year UNESCO World Heritage Committee gather to discuss the world heritage. One of their tasks is to discuss cultural and natural sites of outstanding universal value submitted by the state parties. If those sites meet one or more of 10 criteria they can be included on the World Heritage List. This year UNESCO World Heritage met for its 39th session in Bonn, Germany. Out of the 36 sites that were examined this year, 24 sites from Mexico, Italy, Korea, Jordan, France, Denmark, Iran, Turkey, Uruguay, Mongolia, Israel, Norway, Saudi Arabia, USA, Singapore, Japan, Germany, UK, China and Jamaica were granted world heritage status, increasing the total number of world heritage sites to 1,031. Up to date, I had a chance to visit 41 of them. Here is my pick of 10 sites (in random order) I liked the best:  

  • IGUAZU NATIONAL PARK & IGUAÇU NATIONAL PARK, ARGENTINA & BRAZIL
    The main feature of those two inscriptions to the World Heritage list are Iguazu (Iguaçu) waterfalls. They can be found at the border between Argentina and Brazil and are considered to be one of the most spectacular waterfalls in the world. Indeed they are spectacular!
    The waterfalls are surrounded by a lush tropical forrest, that is home to may rare and endangered species of flora and fauna.

Visited: November 2009
My favourite memory of a visit: seeing the wild toucan flying freely while walking past the spectacular cascades and rapids.

  • ŠKOCJAN CAVES, SLOVENIA
    The Škocjan caves are located in south-western part of Slovenia and are a stunning marvel of nature. This system of subterranean chambers is one of the largest in the world and features unique karst formations: the underground canyon, stalactites, stalagmites, limestone pools, travertine terraces et others. Entering the caves is like entering another world, a world that could have sprung directly from the mind of a fantasy author.


Visited: April 2010
My favourite memory of a visit: When walking the spectacular underground canyon with my friends, it felt like we found ourself inside the fantasy world of Lord of the Rings movie or books.

  • SWISS ALPS JUNGFRAU-ALETSCH, SWITZERLAND
    Majestic mountains, glaciers and valleys. Impressive landscape.  Do I have to say more?
    Visited: First time in February 2008, since then too many times to count all the visits.
    My favourite memory of a visit: When we were high up in the mountains and it started to snow while the rays of sunshine still shined through the clouds. The snowflakes shined as a tiny diamonds. Amazing sight, at amazing place.
  • SU NURAXI DI BARUMINI, ITALY
    The island of Sardinia is full of ancient archeological heritage. Su Nuraxi is the best preserved example of Nuragic civilisation that once occupied the island. The main feature of the archeological site is nuraghe, a special beehive-shaped type of defensive structure that can be found only in Sardinia.
    Visited:
     July 2013
    My favourite memory of a visit: When we were able to go inside the nuraghe and our excellent tour guide explained us all about the site and Nuragic civilisation on site. Definitely the best tour I’ve ever had at any archaeological site.  
  • HIROSHIMA PEACE MEMORIAL (GENBAKU DOME), JAPAN
    The Hiroshima Peace Memorial (Gembaku Dome) is only building left standing after atomic bomb exploded in Hiroshima on 6th August 1945. It has been preserved in the same state as it was after the explosion as a symbol of the most destructive force created by mankind.
    Visited: May 2015
    My favourite memory of a visit: Seeing the Gembaku Dome after visiting the Peace Memorial Museum and listening the survivor stories at the memorial library. That was the time I really realised how devastating the explosion of atomic bomb was and what an important reminder of that painful event in human history Gembaku dome is.
  • OLD CITY OF BERNE, SWITZERLAND
    Put together picturesque buildings, medieval arcades, fountains with colourful figures majestic cathedral and beautiful river and you’ll get one of the most charming towns in the world: Bern.
    Visited: First time in February 2008, since then too many times to count all the visits.
    My favourite memory of a visit: Eating ice-cream at the terrace by the cathedral with a stunning view to Aare river and the Alps in with my friend from the university.
  • HIERAPOLIS-PAMUKKALE, TURKEY
    Hierapolis-Pamukkale heritage site is located in south-west Turkey and is one of the 32 mixed sites on World Heritage list. It consists of ruins of ancient-spa city Hierapolis and Pamukkale, a natural landscape made up of  mineral forests, petrified waterfalls and a series of terraced basins. This site is one of the few in the world that combine exceptional natural landscape and exceptional cultural heritage and its amazing.
    Visited: September 2008
    My favourite memory of a visit: Watching a stray dog playfully running from one to the other basin enjoying the refreshing water.
  • HISTORIC MONUMENTS OF ANCIENT NARA, JAPAN
    In the 8th century Nara was Japanese capital. At that time a group of buildings were built that captured the political and cultural traditions of that era. Some of those buildings, including majestic Tōdai-ji temple, survived to today and are exceptional. Visited: June 2015
    My favourite memory of a visit: Feeding deers with deer cookies on the grounds of Tōdai-ji temple.
  • PARIS, BANKS OF THE SEINE, FRANCE
    Louvre, Eiffel Tower, Place de la Concorde, Grand and Petit Palais, The Cathedral of Notre-Dame… walking along this World Heritage site is like walking through the history of Paris. So many epic buildings at such a small area.
    Visited:
     First time in July 2012, since then too many times to count all the visits.
    My favourite memory of a visit: Strolling along the river Seine for the first time with my boyfriend.
  • MOUNT ETNA, ITALY
    Mount Etna is the highest Mediterranean island mountain and the most active stratovolcano in the world. It is a place where I asked myself if I am still on planet Earth. It’s wild, it’s unique and extremely interesting.
    Visited: August 2011
    My favourite memory of a visit: Hiking up the craters.
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26 thoughts on “Top 10 UNESCO World Heritage Sites I’ve visited (up to date)

  1. Bec J. H. says:

    Planning your travel around UNESCO sites is actually a great idea that I had never thought of. Usually I only find out if a place I visit is UNESCO listed when I arrive and it’s written on some information sign! I have just returned home from spending a few weeks in Europe and while I was there I visited Hallstatt, in the Salzkammergut area of Austria, and it turned out that that whole area was heritage listed as well (I had no idea!).

    Liked by 1 person

    • Urska says:

      I was the same before I got into heritage profession. I had no idea the site is UNESCO protected until I got there. But, since I’ve started working in that field, I am more aware of the listed sites. When planning my travels, WH list is one of my inspirations. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. backpackerlee says:

    Nice choices. I haven’t been to many of those. My favourite place off the top of my head would be Borobudur in Indonesia, or the temples of Kyoto. But there are so many to choose from. In Europe, those caves in SLovenia look cool!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Urska says:

      I liked temples of Kyoto a lot, but I liked those in Nara better. After all, they have deers there! 🙂
      Škocjan caves are amazing. I would highly recommend it if you ever visit Slovenia. 🙂

      Like

  3. Michelle Francisca Lee says:

    I’m also a UNESCO world heritage hunter! (that’s what I like to call it). you should go to Bellinzona, although I never been there

    Like

    • Urska says:

      Thank you for your kind comment. I agree with you. Though, I think some of the busiest WH sites lost their authenticity. Although are still beautiful places, the mass tourism destroyed authentic cultural experience the visitors once had when visiting.

      Liked by 1 person

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