One of the best parts about travel is seeing a site that makes your jaw drop. It could be a snow-capped mountain, a decadent cathedral, a historical monument, or even a well-known landmark.
Even if you’re an experienced traveller who prefers less crowded destinations, many world-famous sites are worth seeing.
Here are 12 spectacular landmarks every travel buff should visit.
The Sydney Opera House, Australia
You can’t miss the brilliant white arcs of the Sydney Opera House. The elegant building was completed in 1973 and designed by Danish architect Jørn Utzon. Thanks to him, it’s one of the most recognizable buildings in the world. It’s also Australia’s number one tourist destination, bringing in over 8 million people each year.
Christ the Redeemer, Rio de Janeiro
At the summit of Mount Corcovado in Rio de Janeiro stands the magnificent, 98-foot-tall Christ the Redeemer. After taking millions of votes into account, the New7Wonders foundation declared the Art Deco statue one of the new Seven Wonders of the World in 2007.
San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge, USA
The Golden Gate Bridge spans 1.7 miles across the Golden Gate Strait, the strip of water where the Pacific Ocean and San Francisco Bay meet. Joseph Strauss was the chief engineer of the bridge, which was completed in 1937. While the original 1922 design was deemed “ugly” by the local press, the bridge now sees more than 10 million visitors a year.
Machu Picchu, Peru
Machu Picchu sits 7,972 feet above sea level. American explorer Hiram Bingham brought the 15th-century Incan citadel and new Wonder of the World to worldwide attention in 1911. Though Peru and UNESCO have set a daily limit at 2,500 visitors, Machu Picchu attracts as many as twice that amount a day.
The Pyramids of Giza, Egypt
The Pyramids of Giza were built over 4,500 years ago and are filled with secret tunnels and chambers. They welcome millions of tourists each year and are one of the Seven Wonders of the World.
Taj Mahal, India
The Taj Mahal took 20 years to build and was completed in 1653. It was commissioned by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his deceased wife Mumtaz Mahal. The white marble mausoleum draws in about 7 million visitors each year.
Statue of Liberty, USA
The Statue of Liberty is recognized as a symbol of freedom and democracy. It was given to the United States as a gift from the French and installed in New York 1886. Lady Liberty stands 305 feet tall on top of her pedestal on Liberty Island.
Angkor Wat, Cambodia
Angkor Wat was built in the 12th century, and it’s currently the largest religious monument in the world. It’s the prime tourist attraction in Cambodia and even appears on the country’s flag. The landmark is a Buddhist temple.
Petra is recognized for its intricate rock-cut architecture and red stone. It was the capital of the Nabataean Kingdom, which lasted from the first century BC to the first century AD.
The ancient city was rediscovered in 1812 by Swiss explorer Johann Ludwig Burckhardt. Since then, the landmark has become a UNESCO World Heritage Site and Jordan’s greatest tourist attraction.
Easter Island, with its Moai statues, remains one of the world’s most fascinating sites. There are about 900 stone Moai across the island. The statues range in size; the tallest is 33 feet tall and weighs 82 tons. You can take a five-hour plane ride from Santiago, Chile, to visit the remote monoliths.
Eiffel Tower, Paris
The Eiffel Tower was erected in 1889 for the world’s fair in Paris. The landmark is over 1,000 feet high and was the tallest structure in the world until 1930, when the Chrysler Building in New York City was finished. Visitors can take in the Eiffel Tower from the lawn at its base or climb to the top to admire the city. It sees 7 million visitors each year.
Chichen Itza, Mexico
The name of Chichen Itza, a Mayan city on the Yucatan peninsula, means “at the mouth of the well of the Itza.” It was founded in the sixth century and includes a 79-foot pyramid with four sides, each with 91 stairs to the top, which combine with the top platform to create a total of 365 steps, representing the number of days in a year. It has since become one of Mexico’s most popular archaeological sites.