The world's most wondrous sights and sites, manmade and natural, from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe! In other words, to paraphrase the bestseller, more than 900 places to see before you die (better get hopping!).


cover photo: Hans Reniers/Unsplash

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UNESCO World Heritage candidates in Gaza, Palestine

Ramez Habboub This narrow strip of land along the Mediterranean coast between Israel and Egypt is tiny – just 141 square miles/365 sq. kilometers (about the size of Las Vegas or the British city of  Sheffield) – and with a population of nearly 2.1 million, making it one of the world´s most densely packed territories. And Gaza has of course massively been in the news since October 7 because of the tragic and horrific reasons with which by now we´re all too familiar. And when it comes to spots…

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Conquering Israel´s UNESCO World Heritage Masada

  Itamar Grinberg/Israeli Ministry of Tourism Israel is truly a land of exceptional sights – and sites – from top to bottom. But roughly two hours south of Jerusalem, one of its most evocative (and popular) high points, so to speak, looms in the Judea desert some 396 metres (1,300 feet) above the shores of the Dead Sea. Masada (Hebrew for fortress) is an imposing UNESCO World Heritage Site, and after Jerusalem the most visited spot in the country. At this rugged fortress complex, excavated in…

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Saqqara is just one of many UNESCO sites in Egypt

  Witthayap/Dreamstime And now it's time to move beyond museum remnants to the actual tombs, crypts, statues, and pyramids which beggar belief. Furthermore,  although excavation of these ancient sites began in the early 1800’s, they still continue to this day with new archaeological discoveries being made all over Egypt. In fact, just several months ago in Sakkara (also spelled Saqqara), a sprawling complex of temples, pyramids, and crypts amid miles upon square miles of monochromatic…

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Cuba's photogenic UNESCO World Heritage Viñales Valley

  marcin jucha For visitors to Havana, one of the most popular day and overnights trips besides colonial wonder Trinidad is a visit to the far west of Cuba, the mostly rural province of Pinar del Río (whose locals, by the way, have over the years endured much teasing by other Cubans as guajiros – "country-bumpkin" peasants – though at least these days inaccurately, as far as I’ve been able to tell).  It’s home to not only the eponymous city – which makes for a charming visit in its own…

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  • UNESCO recently designated 42 new sites as World Heritage, and it seems that the designation is actually a mixed blessing. In the days after 1,500-year-old site of Si Thep in Thailand´s north was added to the list, 20,000 tourists descended and caused havoc
    Tourists quickly swamped 1,500-year-old ruins in Thailand after they were named a UNESCO site, prom…
    Tourists descended on Thailand's Si Thep, an ancient town around 1,500 years old, after it was named a UNESCO site this month.
  • In researching one particular UNESCO site, I came across this BBC piece from several years back about what exactly makes a heritage site worthy of its designation:
    What is a Unesco World Heritage site?
    A report has revealed that the number of World Heritage sites affected by climate change has nearly doubled in three years.
  • As far as I can tell, Thrillist isn't in the habit of covering UNESCO sites, but find out why they made an exception for this city in Malaysia:
    Things to Do in Georgetown, Malaysia - Thrillist
    Penang is a mix of Chinese, Indian, and Malay cultures with amazing cuisine. Here are the best hotels, street art, and restaurants in Penang’s capita…
  • The traditional Romanian women's blouse, the "ia", was in December 2022 amongst the latest additions to UNESCO's Intangible World Heritage list, but its local manufacturers are under threat from cheap Chinese imports. Radio Free Europe recently covered the issue here:
    Romania's Traditional Clothing Makers Call For Action After UNESCO Listing
    Producers of Romania and Moldova's traditional blouse, the ia, hope its recent addition to UNESCO's list of intangible cultural heritage will boost c…
  • Sadly, UNESCO just added three sites to its "endangered" list, in Lebananon (the 1962 trade fair grounds in Tripoli designed by Oscar Niemayer), Ukraine (Odesa's historic centre), and Yemen (kandmarks of the ancient Kingdom of Saba - the last two because of conflict, the first because of neglect/lack of maintenance:
    Three sites 'in danger' added to UNESCO World Heritage List
    The historic center of the Ukrainian port city of Odesa was added to UNESCO's World Heritage List as well as its list of sites "in danger" on Wednesd…
  • Last week the Washington Post recently marked the 50th anniversary of the UNESCO World Heritage Site program by publishing a look at two dozen sites in the USA:
  • One of six UNESCO sites in Pakistan, in southeastern Sindh province a bit over six hours from Karachi, Moenjodaro dates back some 5,000 years to the Bronze Age, and is one of the world's oldest preserved human settlements:
    Pakistan UNESCO site Moenjodaro badly damaged by flooding
    One of the world's oldest preserved human settlements has been significantly damaged by torrential rain in Pakistan as the country battles the worst…
  • Tourism to Algeria is still fairly under the radar, but apparently in the past decade the country still ranks in the top five most visited countries in Africa. And part of its allure, besides the welcoming people, is its many historic, cultural, and natural treasures - and there are no fewer than seven UNESCO World Heritage Sites here, with another six on the tentative list. Learn more about them at
    Algeria - UNESCO World Heritage Convention
    Algeria - UNESCO World Heritage Convention
  • Of the 1,154 sites on the UNESCO World Heritage list to date, 52 in Africa, the Americas, Asia, Europe, and the Middle East are currently listed as endangered for various reasons, including war/civil strife, environmental degradation, neglect, and encroachment by development which compromises some sites' historical/cultural integrity. Here's that troubled list:
    UNESCO World Heritage Centre - List of World Heritage in Danger
    UNESCO World Heritage Centre
  • Plenty of non-Portuguese have heard of fado, but very few of this country's other UNESCO World Heritage song tradition, called "cante alentejano" - polyphonic, a capella, and named after the region where it originated, the Alentejo, which borders Spain. Here's a UNESCO video which gives a good overview:
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