Discover UNESCO destinations around the world
02 October 2017
A UNESCO World Heritage Site is a site which has been nominated as an educational, scientific or culturally inspired area deemed so outstanding that it is worthy enough to preserve for the future heritage of humankind.
These sites also provide some of the most memorable travel experiences to be found anywhere on earth, so if diving in some of the world’s most valuable coral reefs or getting lost in prehistoric inclined forests of the Seychelles peaks your interest, then read on for our picks of the UNESCO sites worth including during your next visit to each respective country.
Great Barrier Reef, Australia
The most extensive coral reef ecosystem in the world, The Great Barrier Reef spans over 348,000 sq. kilometres and over 900 islands as part of a land and seascape maritime goldmine. Also listed as one of the Seven Wonders of the World, there are few superlatives that do justice to this diverse aquatic paradise which can even be seen from outer space.
Travellers will most likely experience this breaktaking destination from the pristine shores of The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, stretching from the charming town of Bundaberg to the tip of Cape York and containing some of the best diving spots when in search of huge varieties of fish, dolphins, whales, sea turtles and more.
Travel Counsellor Mark visited Australia and took several sites when exploring the Great Barrier Reef: "I deliberately booked the smaller Quicksilver catamaran for its more manageable size. A couple of the group did scuba diving while the rest of us opted for snorkelling. We stopped at three different sites to explore the variety of sea life and coral. The colours of the fish, coral and seascapes were breath taking."
While there are thankfully no moving dinosaurs left in the area, Dinosaur Provincial Park in Alberta’s Badlands, comprises a subtropical paradise brimming with scatterings of palm trees and giant ferns covering one of the most successful locations for unearthing fossilised dinosaurs.
Dinosaur Provincial Park, Canada
Over 300 specimens taken from the site are now housed in museums across the globe, with a visit to the site enabling you to take part in an active dig site to uncover even more. This authentic transportation into an environment that looked much as it did 75 million years ago, provides an unforgettable adventure for families visiting the Alberta region.
Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia
Along with the medieval fortress of Dubrovnik, Plitvice Lakes National Park ranks as the most visited site in Croatia. Situated in the mountainous Lika region encased part way between the coast and a two-hour drive from capital Zagreb, this protected national park contains a wealth of natural phenomena spread across 16 interconnected lakes and over 90 waterfalls of varying sizes. The assorted range of lakes, caves, caverns and forestry canopies can be visited at any time of year, with each visit providing a unique seasonal experience.
A more recent addition to the much sought-after UNESCO listed status having been added in 2008, Surtsey is Iceland’s youngest volcanic island emerged from a series of ocean floor eruptions in 1963 lasting several years, leaving in it’s a place one of the most filmed and researched islands in the world.
Scientists have studied its steady progress of harbouring life ever since, which now contains a wide range of plant and bird species which have been captured by the BBC and David Attenborough, and can be seen by travellers when taking part in a boat excursion around the Westman Islands.
Vallée de Mai Nature Reserve, Seychelles
Situated north-east of primary tourist island Mahe, an excursion out to the beautiful island of Praslin allows you to take in some preciously unique landscapes. Representing a natural attraction equally is mesmerising as the Seychelles beaches, Vallée de Mai Nature Reserve’s incredible forestry habitat is only one of two places where the famous coco de mer palm is grown, with hiking trails uncovering its dense forest canopy akin to stepping back in time to a prehistoric era.
Covering much of the interior of Praslin Island, some of the best hotels and guesthouses can be found nearby, making up a nature filled getaway particularly appealing to animal loving families wanting to spot rare tree frogs and endangered parrots.
Cape Floristic Region, South Africa
Spectacular views alone could place the southern-tipped Cape Point region of South Africa UNESCO-listed status, although it’s the high concentration of vegetation which makes this area one of the most significant biological areas on the planet.
The only florist province in the region, a varied range of terrain includes the Boland Mountain Complex and Table Mountain National Park, where you can find mesmerising ocean vistas, mountains and unique biodiversity all in the same breath.
Ha Long Bay, Vietnam
The 1, 600 soaring limestone rocks of Halong Bay have long been an enduring image when considering Vietnam’s majestic beauty. A visit to the bay encompasses feelings of another world, where sculpted valleys and emerald-hued hidden lakes seemingly untouched for thousands of years, with its ethereal aura juxtaposing with the skyscrapers of nearby Halong City. The bay is a key stop on many cruise-tours which also explore Cat Ba Island and set up onward trips to the equally captivating Lan Ha Bay.
Travel Counsellor Carol visited Ha Long Bay as part of a twin-destination adventure in Vietnam and Cambodia: "Junk boat tours and sea kayak expeditions take visitors past islands named for their shapes, including Stone Dog and Teapot islets. The region is popular for scuba diving, rock climbing and hiking, particularly in mountainous Cat Ba National Park, where we did a 5km cycle ride to a local village, which was great fun."
Central Highlands of Sri Lanka
A bona-fide bio diversity hot spot, the Central Highlands of Sri Lanka incorporating Knuckles Conservation Forest, Horton Plains National Park and the Peak Wilderness Protected area, sprawling over 2,500 metres of sea level and containing an abundance of flora and fauna which can be seen while exploring a range of rewarding trekking experiences observing breathtaking mountain scenery, vegetable gardens and terraced paddy fields.