Wondering what to see in Europe? How about including the best UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Europe on your travel itinerary? Here are the top 95 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Europe recommended by travel bloggers. Included in this list are the best natural heritage sites in Europe and the most stunning UNESCO monuments in Europe.
Which are the best Europe UNESCO World Heritage Sites to visit? Look no more, as here is the perfect selection for you with all the cultural places to visit in Europe! The recommended 95 cultural sites in Europe have been split into a few articles so that each of these amazing UNESCO attractions in Europe get the same visibility. Listed below are the last 25 not-to-miss UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Europe, and here are the other articles in the series:
- UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Europe – part 1 (15 sites)
- UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Europe – part 2 (15 sites)
- Must-See UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Europe – part 3 (20 sites)
- The best UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Europe to add to your bucket list (part 4) (20 sites)
Once again, I am very grateful to all the travel bloggers who contributed to this amazing series of best world heritage sites in Europe.
The best UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Europe
Old Town of Tallinn, Estonia
Imagine a city of mediaeval townhouses, church spires and narrow cobblestone alleys, surrounded by a wall and watchtowers. Something like the drawings of cities on ancient maps. Chances are that the old town of Tallinn looks like what you saw in your mind, and that’s why it draws so many visitors.
Besides flying, there are long-distance buses to other Estonian cities, Riga, St Petersburg and beyond. Frequent ferry services between Helsinki and Tallinn make day trips an option. Finnish and British revellers flock to the city on Friday and Saturday evenings, so if they bother you, you may want to stay there on a business day instead. As for the best time to go, Old Town Days and Mediaeval Days turn Vanalinn into a carnival.
In the lower town, there are frequent performances in the main square in front of the town hall. During the short summer, market stalls fill the smaller squares; skating rinks take their place in winter. Besides eclectic cafes and tourist-oriented restaurants, there are also bookstores, ancient churches, and museums in watchtowers with intriguing names like Kiek in de Kök and Fat Margaret.
A visit isn’t complete without climbing Toompea, the most important part of the city. The Estonian Parliament sits in the castle on this hill. The magnificent Alexander Nevsky Cathedral is there too. as are several spots that give a commanding view of the lower town, the Gulf of Finland and the rest of Tallinn.
Old Town of Bruges, Belgium
by Gábor from Surfing the Planet; Facebook
Bruges is a picture perfect medieval town in Belgium with a look that seems to come out of a fairy tale. It’s not surprising that the whole Old Town was declared UNESCO Heritage site. While you visit the major things to see in Bruges, you will walk on narrow cobbled streets and along picturesque canals, and you will really think you are inside a medieval tale. There is amazing architecture to check out everywhere from Gothic and Baroque palaces and churches to small squares with old medieval houses. Market Square with its colorful houses and the Belfort Tower in the middle (don’t miss out on climbing this tower to enjoy the view) is probably one of the beautiful medieval squares in Europe. There are so many hidden corners that will amaze you: one of our favorites is the Begijnhof, a convent garden with its white houses, a place that is always calm even in high season.
Of course, you are not the only one who wants to explore Bruges, and expect serious crowds, especially in summer weekends. Our tip is to visit Bruges midweek, and preferably not in the high season. In a winter Wednesday (of course not around Christmas time) you can easily have this astonishing scenery almost just for yourselves. Bruges is easily accessible by public transport, since there is train connection with Brussels Airport, and you are not expected to enter the busy capital before getting to Bruges.
by Suzanne from The Travel Bunny; Facebook
In the shimmering Aegean Sea sits a circle of Greek island called the Cyclades. In the centre of the islands you’ll discover Delos, one of the most important mythological, archaeological and historical sites in Greece. This must-visit UNESCO site in Europe is the mythical birthplace of immortals; Apollo, god of light, truth and music and goddess Artemis. For over a thousand years Delos has been a sacred place and part of the world’s cultural heritage. It’s also stunningly beautiful.
The tiny island was inhabited from 3000 BC by a small population of just 25,000 people and abandoned by 300 AD. Today you can roam through the ruined streets, mansions and temples. The theatre once held up to 5500 spectators and The House of Dionysus is home to a beautiful mosaic showing Dionysus riding a panther. The remains of a massive statue of Apollo rest in the heart of the ancient remains but only the torso is left. A foot is now in the British Museum and a hand can be seen in the Delos museum along with many other pieces. Probably the most famous of Delos sights is the Terrace of the Lions which once guarded the island’s Sacred Way.
The island, which sits 3.5 km south-west of Mykonos, is just 5 km long by 1.3 km wide. The only way to explore the ancient shrine is on a day trip by boat from Mykonos.
Getting to Delos
Boats leave for Delos from the Old Port of Mykonos daily, weather permitting, except Monday when the site is closed to visitors.
The first boat to Delos leaves at 9:00 am and the last one at 12:50 pm. The first boat returns to Mykonos at 11:00 am and the last at 3:00 pm when the island closes to visitors.
It’s hot on the island with little shelter so take water, a hat and sunscreen. The only toilet facilities are in the museum.
Piazza del Duomo, Pisa, Italy
by Kirralee from Escape With Kids; Facebook
Piazza del Duomo, also known as Piazza dei Miracoli, in Pisa, Italy is one of the most recognisable European UNESCO sites due to its remarkable bell tower, the Leaning Tower of Pisa. But, while this extraordinary tower is the focus for most visitors, it is the exquisite medieval architecture of all four complementary buildings – the bright white marble on a sea of lush green grass – that led to its poetic name, the Meadow of Miracles.
The Baptistery, Duomo, Leaning Tower and walled Cemetery make up this enormously popular architectural marvel. The first building you see is the circular Baptistery. This and the magnificent Duomo beside it were so influential on 11th – 14th century architecture that a new style was created – Pisan Romanesque. The carvings on the outside of these buildings are stunning. Inside the Baptistry is relatively simple, but has wonderful acoustics. Take the time to go inside and wait for the attendant to give a brief demonstration by singing a few notes that reverberate beautifully throughout the building.
Pisa is easy to access from Florence 1.5 hours away or as a cruise excursion from the port of Livorno half an hour away. It is an essential stop on any visit to the Tuscany region of Italy. Book ahead for tickets to walk up to the top of the Leaning Tower. The lean, together with the 300 spiralling steps, make this a challenge too good to refuse! But keep in mind that from June to September the weather can be very hot, so best to visit either side of these dates.
Located in the Provence-Alps-Côte D’Azur and Languedoc Regions in Southern France, the Camargue is a 300 square mile Natural Park and UNESCO World Heritage Site made up of agricultural fields, primarily for rice and other grains, and marshy waterways ideal for birds to thrive. The region is known for its culturally and historically rich towns, such as Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, a pilgrimage site at the end of May and again in October, when thousands of people flock to the seaside town to celebrate the patron saint of gypsies, and Aigues-Mortes, a walled city used as the port of travel for the Crusaders in Medieval times.
The wildlife of the Camargue also makes the region especially unique. For centuries, white Camargue horses have roamed the marshes in herds, some of which you can still see today. You can book with a local ranch to go on horseback over dunes and marshy waterways to experience the wildness of the region, learn about the local history, and appreciate the landscape and wildlife from a different perspective.
Over 200 species of birds reside in or pass through the Camargue every year, and the area as a whole serves as an important stop-over site for wintering and migrating birds. The bird that garners the most attention is the Greater Flamingo, thousands of which flock to the region in the springtime. This time of year is best for viewing breeding birds, it is not yet too hot, and the hordes of tourists have not yet arrived.
The easiest way to get to the Camargue is by car, as the public bus schedule is very limited and no trains go further south than Arles. If you’re feeling especially adventurous, you can rent a bike and go the journey into the region on two wheels instead of four!
Natural Park of Marisa del Odiel, Huelva, Spain
by Kaylie from Happiness Travels Here; Facebook
Often called the secret coast by Spanish tourist sites, not many people have heard of Huelva. Tucked down in the south-west corner of Spain, Huelva is a fabulous find for food, beach and nature lovers and it is here that you will find the Natural Park of Marisa del Odiel, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. The salt ponds and large estuary are home to thousands of migrating birds, the ones that attracted our visit were the ballerina-like flamingos.
A small visitor centre with an exhibition about the park and the bird life introduces visitors to the area and staff here will direct you to the best place to view flamingos, spoonbills, herons and the other aquatic bird life that call the park home.
Walking tracks throughout the park lead to covered pavilions where you can sit, rest and shelter from the sun while watching the birdlife. We sat for a long time and watched as the flamingos worked their way across the shallow water. Dipping their heads into the water feeding and then lifting to reveal their bright pink plumage underneath, barely rippling the water as they walked in unison.
The UNESCO reserve stretches down past salt marsh, estuaries, creeks and tidal islands to a long sand spit, here you will find the remote El Espigón beach. Spend time here watching the nesting birds in the protected dunes or take a dip in the clean waters of this tranquil beach.
San Gimignano in Tuscany, Italy
by Nikke from My Travel in Tuscany; Facebook
Imagine driving along a panoramic road in the countryside of Tuscany, Italy, surrounded by vineyards and wheat fields when an old village and its high towers on top a hill suddenly appears behind the last curve. This is San Gimignano, UNESCO World Heritage site since 1990, and considered the Manhattan of the Middle Age when seventy-two towers stood out against the blue sky.
Today only thirteen towers remain but the village still maintains its beauty and medieval charm, protected by its well-preserved walls. Start your tour of San Gimignano from the gate of Porta San Giovanni, look up to the sky to admire the ancient palazzi and look for the towers. Enjoy pottering around between squares and little narrow alleys, taste of one the best gelato in the entire world at the gelateria in the central Piazza della Cisterna. Climb the Torre Grossa, the highest in town, to get a 360 degrees view over amazing landscapes, and enter in the little “San Gimignano 1300 museum” to see a perfect handmade reproduction of how the city was seven hundred years ago. My secret tip is to wait for a colored sunset in peace and silence sitting between the olive oil trees just outside the Rocca di Montestaffoli.
The best way to reach San Gimignano is by car. It is easily reachable from Florence or Siena in less than an hour. A visit to San Gimignano is always a good idea, but I suggest avoiding July and August when the weather is so hot and it’s packed of tourists.
by Jennifer from World On A Whim; instagram
Toledo, Spain is sure to be one of your favorite sights in Spain. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is a walled city seated atop a gorge that overlooks the river Tajo. During the Middle Ages, Muslims, Christians, and Jews all coexisted peacefully and was consequently known as the “city of three cultures.” Today, those religious influences are still very much a part of the general landscape. The city of Toledo is very accessible from Madrid as it is only 70 km outside of Spain’s capital city, and therefore, quite a popular day trip. You can take a train from the main train station in Madrid, Atocha, or a bus from Plaza Elliptic. Both options are inexpensive and take a similar amount of time.
This is a city that can absolutely be visited year round; however, just like anywhere else in Europe, May and September are probably the best months to to avoid crowds and harsher weather. Once in Toledo, you should plan to walk around the historic centre and get lost among the city streets. If you’re feeling adventurous after trying the octopus (pulpo) and various types of meat in Madrid, you should try the traditional dish, partridge stew, for lunch or a pork dish called carcamusa. Highlight attractions in Toledo include the Mirador del Valle, La Catedral Primada and El Greco museum and monastery. You can also purchase a variety of souvenirs from the plethora of medieval shops aligning the streets including swords and marzipan sweets.
The Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, Wales, UK
by Tom from Travelling Tom; instagram
The Pontcysyllte Aqueduct is an interesting UNESCO world heritage site located in Wrexham, Wales in the UK. It is a navigable aqueduct that carries the Llangollen canal across the River Dee into North East Wales. It is the oldest and longest navigable aqueduct in the UK, and the oldest in the world.
The Aqueduct is an incredible sight, it’s certainly bigger in person than it looks in photos. Perhaps the best thing about the aqueduct is that not only it is navigable by canal boat, you can walk across it too. This makes for excellent views across the Welsh countryside, and allows you to marvel at the construction as you walk across!
If you’re in the North West of England, Pontcysyllte isn’t too difficult to find. You want to head to Chester, and then the aqueduct is only a short drive from there. This being the UK, no matter when you visit, it’s liable to rain. Any time of the year is fine to visit, although you should get better weather if you go during the summer months.
The Pontcysyllte Aqueduct is a lesser known UNESCO site in the UK, but it’s one you certainly shouldn’t miss out on!
Vilnius Historic Centre
By Mary from a Mary Road; Facebook
Vilnius Historic Centre or also known as Vilnius Old Town is located right at the heart of the capital of Lithuania. In 1994, UNESCO recognised this part of the city to be on their heritage list. When you visit Vilnius, you will walk around and see all the buildings that managed to survived after invasions and war that Lithuania had to go through – enough reason why you should visit this city. There are different buildings that come in Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque, and Neoclassical style where the local government are working hard to preserve. The best time to go is during the summer for a much better weather for your trip. Lithuania is pretty affordable compared to other parts of Europe. There are a lot of hostels in Vilnius that you can stay for as low as 5 euro per night. You can easily fly from major cities in Europe like Copenhagen, Germany, Amsterdam, Rome, and England.
Ushguli is one of the highest continuously inhabited settlements in the whole of Europe. The group of four villages collectively known as Ushguli make up the Upper Svaneti UNESCO World Heritage Site, which is a must-visit for any traveller in Georgia. Arriving in Ushguli is like stepping into the scenes of a history book – one that’s still full of life and soul. With crumbling buildings and no other signs of civilisation for miles, it’s a truly unique experience that will be like nothing you’ve seen before.
Staying in one of the local guesthouses and getting to know the few locals who still live there only adds to the experience. In these makeshift barn-style homes, every dinner is a family dinner and you are one of the family. The electricity in town only comes on at 6pm and you’ll have nothing but amazing views and friendly interactions for entertainment.
You’ll be pleased to sit down and unwind with your new friends and family after the bumpy journey there. The road to Ushguli is only short but can take over two hours to drive because of the narrow tracks and unstable terrain. It’s a frightening ride, but one that really puts into perspective just how remote the settlement of Ushguli is. Unless you’re a very confident driver, it’s worth hiring one of the local taxis to drive you there – or enjoying the long hike up.
Nærøyfjord – Unesco Protected Fjord, Norway
Nærøyfjord is on the UNESCO World Heritage List for a reason, you know. It’s the narrowest and the loveliest branch of the mighty, longest and the deepest fjord in Norway – Sognefjord.
The most admired, loved and dramatic of all the fjords in Norway is Nærøyfjord. The fjord is beautifully emblazoned with towering mountains, little charming mountainside farms, dangling valleys, overwhelming waterfalls, and rustic hamlets. The cruise through Nærøyfjord is like your wildest imagination come true.
The only sound you hear is of the waterfalls crashing into the fjord and the only sight you see is of the virgin nature putting up the vivid show just for you. There are quite a number of waterfalls along the Nærøyfjord but Kjelfossen is the most imposing of all.
We were lucky enough to spot the goats grazing over the fjord-side slopes and seals playing hide and seek around our boat.
Every season is a perfect season to visit Nærøyfjord. We experienced the fjord landscape emitting golden light in the night less night during summer season. Winter offers snow-covered peaks and frozen waterfalls while spring and autumn present the fjord landscape in their own unique way.
We loved the Fjord Safari through the Aurlandsfjord and the Nærøyfjord wherein we stopped by at the traditional village of Undredal and tasted the local goat cheese. Our guide was fun to be with. He shared interesting tales and facts about the Norwegian Fjords.
There are many boat tours and cruises available to experience the stunning Nærøyfjord but I’d strongly recommend the kayaking tour to savor the awesome fjord landscape up-close. Kayaking and boating tours mostly start from Flåm or Gudvangen. Hiking the mountains encircling the fjord offers the panoramic view of the fjord that must not be missed.
Flåm is comfortably connected by land, air and water transport. You can reach Flåm by bus, car, taxi, boat or train from Oslo or Bergen. It takes around 3 hours (166km) from Bergen and 7 hours (354) from Oslo to reach Flåm. The nearest airport is at Haukåsen. One way or round trip ferry from Bergen to Flåm is perfect for the laid-back travelers.
Diocletian’s Palace, Croatia
Diocletian’s Palace is not really a palace, but rather a fortress due to its massive size. It was built in the beginning of the 4th century AD by the Roman Emperor Diocletian. It’s situated in the coastal city Split in Croatia, and is one of the croatia’s most visited tourist attractions.
After the Romans abandoned the site, the palace stood empty until the 7th century when local residents escaped the invading croats. The fortified walls gave a good protection, and since then the palace area has been inhabitated. Still today, you can see locals living here, even though it has become quite a touristy place in recent years.
It became a UNESCO world heritage monument in 2006, and is a part of the UNESCO world heritage of the old town in Split.
The best time to visit this interesting place is probably between May and early June, or even better in September/Early october. Then you will avoid a lot of the crowds, and get a more historical feeling while wandering the stone streets within the fortified walls.
Don’t miss the main sqaure, where you can see “the emperor Diocletian” in a daily act at 12 o clock. Next to the main square you also have the vestibule where you can hear local singers.
by Josie from Josie Wanders; Facebook
Siena is a small city in Tuscany, Italy. In 1995, the historic centre of Siena was added to the UNESCO World Heritage list. Perched on top of a hill and based around the central Piazza del Campo, Siena is a picturesque Italian town. It is well known for it’s beautiful black and white cathedral, the Duomo. Taking over 200 years to build, it was intended to be the biggest in the world but didn’t quite make it by the time it was finished.
Siena is also famous or it’s horse race, the Palio, which began in the seventeenth century and is still held twice a year. The Contrade (or wards) of Siena compete fiercely as the horses charge around the Piazza del Campo.
To learn more about Siena during your visit, there are quite a few good museums available. The Museo dell’Opera del Duomo specialises in sacred artworks and the Museo Civico is the place to go to see local Sienese art. You can also visit the Santuario Di Santa Caterina Da Siena, the home of Saint Catherine.
While there is plenty to do in Siena, my favourite past time was taking a seat in one of the bars or restaurants around the Piazza del Campo, enjoying an Aperol Spritz and watching the world pass by. Some of the places offer seats on the second floor balcony, for an even better view. Don’t forget to try some of the delicious local gelato too.
The best time to visit Siena is during summer, from April to October. If you would like to visit while the Palio is being run, book early and expect crowds, but the four day party will be worth it!
Kinderdijk Windmills, The Netherlands
by Constance from The Adventures of Panda Bear; instagram
If you’re like me, when you think of the Netherlands, you automatically think of Dutch windmills and tulips! Kinderdijk is, by far, the best place to see windmills in the Netherlands and it also happens to be a beautiful UNESCO World Heritage site.
The Kinderdijk Windmills UNESCO World Heritage site in the Netherlands is made up for a network of 19 windmills and is surrounded by foot and bike paths which you can use to easily explore the area. Throughout the centuries, the windmills there have been used to remove water from the land into the river, and in times of drought, transfer the water back into the soil. This requires the use of pumping stations in addition to windmills. Today, you can visit two windmills that are museums as well as the pumping station which is also now the visitors center.
Kinderdijk can be visited throughout the year, but the opening hours are longer during the peak season which begins in March and ends in October. In September there is even an Illumination Week when the windmills spotlit to glow in the dark. One thing to keep in mind when visiting is that the Netherlands is VERY windy, you would be wise to be prepared with a windbreaker. And of course bringing an umbrella never hurt either, you’ll be out in the open and Dutch weather can be a bit unpredictable!
The Kinderdijk Windmill network is a great day trip from Amsterdam. You can easily get to Kinderdijk via a combination of public transportation either by train & bus and train & waterbus from Rotterdam or Dordrecht. The most convenient option would be to drive there directly by car.
The Roman Emperor Hadrian’s Villa, Italy
by Tom from Travel Past 50; instagram
The Roman Emperor Hadrian’s Villa (Villa Adriana in Italian) in Tivoli is definitely worth a day trip from Rome. It makes a great adjunct to your visit to the Roman ruins within the city.
The site of Hadrian’s Villa in the mountains near Rome was chosen for its cooling breezes and for the abundance of water. Aside from naturally occurring streams it’s also near several aqueducts which carried water from the mountains to Rome. Consequently, the Villa features extensive landscaped gardens and multiple large pools.
The Villa, and that word might be an understatement, expands over 80 hectares (200 acres) and so takes at least a couple of hours to explore it all.
Unfortunately, Hadrian’s Villa is a ruin, and the opulence which once must have reigned is long gone. Although some of the statuary has been restored, most was carried off long ago. Luckily, some of it ended up in the Capitoline and Vatican Museums in Rome.
Also, much of the marble facades and many of the remaining statues were removed in the 16th Century by the Cardinal Ippolito d’Este to his own Villa d’Este five kilometers away. So, you can visit some of Hadrian’s home there, although you won’t recognize it.
To take your day trip to Hadrian’s Villa, take the train to Tivoli from Rome’s Tiburtina Station. The train leaves about every hour and cost about €6 round trip. You’ll probably want to take a taxi to the Villa from the train station. It’s about 5 kilometers away.
Lake District, UK
by Anna from My Travel Scrapbook; Facebook
Standing on the rocky ground on top of a windy hill, take a moment to scan the horizon. There are breath-taking mountains as far as the eye can see. Large, slender lakes lie sleepily in the valleys known as dales. Little hamlets of stone houses can be seen dotted across the landscape. The Lake district is truly a place of beauty, literature and adventure!
Situated in the north of England, the lake district is the UK’s newest UNESCO site. Long protected as a national park this UNESCO site is best explored with the help of a car. Pack your hiking boots, swimsuit, camera and book a sleepy cottage in one of the many quaint villages.
There are innumerable things to do in the Lake District. There is something for everyone for the romantic couple, the inner artists, the adrenaline junkies, the sailors, the writers and ramblers alike.
Avid hikers will adore the thousands of trails past waterfalls, over hills all with spectacular views. Extreme explorers will appreciate the various scrambles and climbs whilst ramblers will still be spoiled for choice for less challenging routes.
As the apt name of the national park suggests, it would be an error to visit this part of the UK without venturing closer one of its 16 lakes. Kayak, sail, swim or dive in one of the fresh glacial lakes.
Literature and history fans will not be disappointed either. Peter Rabbit was born here in Beatrix Potter’s imagination. Wordsworth wrote many a lovely poem whilst strolling amidst the landscape. Unless your own inner artist or writer and feel inspired by the beauty of the lake district.
It is not a bold claim to say that the Lake District one of Europe’s most beautiful and culturally rich sites.
The Dolomites, Italy
Many people visit South Tyrol in Italy to see and climb The Dolomites, a gorgeous rock formation that has been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site. I am usually not a fan of UNESCO sites because of the amount of tourists I have to share the space with, but The Dolomites was a pleasant exception during my visit in the shoulder season. Rock climbing is the most popular activity (naturally!) but you may also enjoy wine, apples, and Thanksgiving feasting in the region.
I did Via Ferrata, a fixed-route climb equipped with cables and ladders in The Dolomites and I highly recommend that. One straps oneself in to climb up and often rappels down. The climb was fun and not too difficult. Surely it varies based on your fitness and experience, but it seems you never can truly run out of via ferratas to try. The view is nothing short of spectacular, and it was really amazing to see how the mountains sharply rise up above the tree line.
To see The Dolomites without the crowds, go during shoulder season, which is in the autumn. From any major train station, take the train to Bolzano. I recommend staying at Hotel Greif, which had the most amazing breakfast buffet!
Madinat Al Zahra (Cordoba) Spain
By Naomi from Probe around the Globe; instagram
Unesco recently added 20 new World Heritage Sites to their lists. One of them is the Spanish site of Madinat al-Zahra (also called Medina Alzahra or Medina Al Zahara) near Cordoba.
The archaeological site of Madinat al-Zahra shows you the history of the amazing city built by Caliph Abd al Rahman III around 940 AD. When you visit, you can walk through the streets of the city, marvel at the arches and take in the grand views of the hills surrounding Cordoba. The city was only used for 35 years and after being sacked, it fell to ruins. It was long forgotten until 1910. The city of Madinat al-Zahra doesn’t carry the name of the caliph who built it. Legend has it that one of the many wives of the caliph was Syrian and called Az-Zahra. She was his favorite. She longed for her beloved Syria. As a present to her, he built the palace and surrounded the grounds with lovely blossom trees and parks. In spring time, the white blossoms would drift on the wind, making it look like snow, resembling the snow-capped Syrian mountains. The city was called after her.
If you visit today, you can find an extensive museum near the car park. In the museum, you buy your ticket to get on the shuttle bus that drives you up to the actual ruins. If you walk through the Unesco site of Madinat Al Zahra, you walk through the city. With its Basilica, offices and market square surrounded by porticos. Pay special attention to the decoration of the house of the prime minister, as it has elaborate design details that takes you back a 1,000 years.
The ruins of Madinat Al Zahra are located 8 km outside the city of Corboba. It’s easy to find if you drive there yourself, but frequent buses run to the turn-off too. You can also take a half day trip from Cordoba with a tour guide. The sight itself is free to visit for European citizens, or €1,50 for people from outside the EU.
by Kami from My Wanderlust; Facebook
Bardejov is one of the most charming towns in Slovakia. Hidden in the valley in north-east of the country, close to the border with Poland, Bardejov made it to the UNESCO World Heritage List in the year 2000 as the perfect example of a fortified medieval town, typical for the urbanisation in this region. Besides the old town UNESCO also appreciated the Jewish suburbs that were built around the 18th century synagogue.
I visited Bardejov in the June weekend few years ago. From the very first moments I knew this place is a gem yet not many seemed to know about it as for most of the time the town was just empty. The rows of colorful houses, the city walls (until now 9 towers and 2 gates remained, giving Bardejov the nickname “Slovak Carcassonne”), interesting museums and charming streets make the town a perfect weekend getaway. Be sure to climb the tower of Saint Giles church – the views from there are amazing and show you very well why Bardejov made it to the UNESCO list.
But Bardejov is also a great place to relax, slow down and enjoy the time off. If you want to really rest a nearby spa Bardejovske Kupele is your place to go. Even the famous Empress Elisabeth of Austria, known as Sisi, used to come here and among many beautiful buildings you can see the place where she always stayed. If you’re looking for an unknown gem of Central Europe then Bardejov is a place for you! I’m sure you will enjoy the place as much as I did!
Alhambra Granada in Spain
Alhambra Granada in Spain is mesmerizing beyond words! There is a list of places to see inside Alhambra – The Nasrid Palace being the most attractive one. The exterior is totally deceptive of what is inside. Royal residence, Nasrid Palace was established in the Alhambra in 13th century. Court of the Golden Room, Court of Myrtles, Hall of Ambassadors or Throne Room, from there proceed to Courtyard of Lions, Hall of Kings, Hall of Two Sisters… more… the journey is magical.
Other places worth visiting are: Generalife Garden, Palace of Charles V, and Alcazaba. The entire tour can easily take 4 to 5 hours depending on your pace.
Generalife seemed ideal for gardening and it was used as a place of rest for the Muslim royalty. Built between 12th and 14th century it was designed as a rural villa in the vicinity of the Alhambra. Walking tour in Generalife Gardens can easily take 2 hours. Most important point to be kept in mind is your ticket timing for Nasrid Palace. Nobody reminds you the expiry of ticket timings. The complex is huge, so make a route plan for the visits.
Charles V, a traveling monarch in the 16th century fell for the beauty of this beautiful place Alhambra. Palace of Charles V also known as Palacio de Carlos in Spanish, was built in 1526. I somehow felt this monstrous building looks out of place among the beautifully manicured Arab structures.
Alcazaba is the oldest and most ruined part of Alhambra. You get exotic views of Granada city and plenty of exercise climbing steep stairs to top and wonderful views to photograph, the tour is worth every second of it.
Ticket counters are open from 8.00 to 18.00. But it is advisable to buy tickets in advance, sometimes several months in advance. Even guided tour tickets get sold off fast. Alhambra general, this is the only ticket which allows you to see Palacios Nazaries during day. They sell just 325 tickets per day for the same day visit. You have to reach ticket counter really early by 6.30 to get the Alhambra general tickets or chances are that you will return disappointed.
San Marino, Italy
San Marino is one of the smallest countries in the world and claims to be the oldest republic. Tourism is the main industry in this small country, and just like anywhere in Europe, the peak time to visit San Marino is during the summer months.
San Marino’s border is completely enclosed within Italy; however, it maintains an open border policy with its much larger neighbor. To get there, you will have to drive, or take the train, to the Italian city of Rimini, the only gateway to San Marino.
A regular 40-minute bus ride takes you from Rimini’s main train station to the San Marino capital, with some stops in smaller towns within San Marino. The capital city bears the same name as the country. The majority of San Marino’s historic city center, along with Mount Titano, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
After getting your optional passport stamp at the visitor’s center, it’s interesting to just get lost here by wandering around in historic San Marino. You can visit many of the country’s museums and go climbing along the scenic fortress of Guaita.
As you might imagine, staying in San Marino “proper” can be very expensive. If you are trying to keep to a budget, consider staying in the smaller towns in San Marino, like Serravalle and La Dogana. You can even stay in Rimini, Italy. A day trip to the capital of San Marino is just a shot bus ride away.
La Roque Saint-Christophe, Dordogne, France
by Tracey from PackThePJs; Facebook
La Roque Saint-Christophe, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the Dordogne, France, is a ‘city’, a refuge, built by the ‘People of the Cliffs’ thousands of years ago. The city is a kilometre long and 80 metres high. It’s a living example of how mankind lived in prehistoric times, and how it was adapted into a valuable fort in the Middle Ages. They believe that, at one point, La Roque had 1,000 people living there.
The visit is a self-guided tour – and it’s 100% pet friendly if you are travelling with dogs. You are taken on a ‘journey’ through the city – the areas assigned as the slaughter house, the butchery, the kitchens, the carpentry area – even the chapel. There’s also a reconstruction of early civil engineering machines. The views from La Roque are outstanding too!
by Lindsay Nieminen from Carpe Diem OUR Way; Facebook
The Ancient city of Ephesus on Turkey’s West Coast is an excellent example of a Roman port city and today you can see remains of great structures from the Roman Imperial period. The two main structures are the Library of Celsus and the Great Theatre.
It is also home to the Temple of Artemis, one of the 7 Wonders of the World, although little remains except the site where it once stood.
Historically, Ephesus was also an important site for Christianity.
One of my favourite things to marvel at when visiting ancient Roman cities around the world are their advanced water systems and aqueducts. You can also see these at Ephesus
Ephesus can be visited any time of year, but crowds peak in July and August months. However, we visited in July and while there were crowds, it was not unmanageable. If you want a shot of the library without any visitors taking shade under the massive walls, then do not arrive in the middle of the day in July (like we did). About 50 people were enjoying a reprieve from the hot sun when we arrived.
How to Get there:
Ephesus is about 90 minutes south of Izmir by train. The train cost 7 TL (less than USD2) to go to Selcuk, the nearest station, and then we walked about 500 meters to the bus station that would take us to the site. The bus was about 15 minutes and cost 3 TL. You can also take a coach bus, but the price is up to 4x higher. But it is faster as it does not make as many stops as the train.
There are also plenty of tour companies that will take you to Ephesus from just about any major tourist spot if you prefer an air conditioned coach ride.
You can expect to spend 1 to 2 hours max to see everything at Ephesus.
The Jungfrau region in Switzerland
by Michael Gerber; instagram
The Jungfrau region in Switzerland, located in between the beautiful peaks of the Swiss Alps is, in my opinion, definitely one of the most beautiful UNESCO World Heritage sites in Europe. Even the pure beauty of its nature, mountains and incredible views would be reason to add them, however, there is so much more behind it.
The Jungfrau region is home to the biggest glacier in Eurasia and an important place for researches about the climate change. Additionally, it is possible to get up to almost 3’500 meters (to the Jungfraujoch – Top of Europe) by train and explore this unbelievable place on your own, including many valuable information and an ice palace.. And all of this basically next to the incredible “Great Aletsch Glacier”.
If this not enough for you there are also several other options, such as skiing (in winter) or hiking some of the most beautiful trails around Lauterbrunnen or Grindelwald. I personally did a helicopter flight over the Jungfrau region, which allowed me to see all the stunning peaks and glaciers from another perspective. We even landed on a remote glacier, which was an experience I will never forget.
To me as a Swiss guy, the Jungfrau region is full of beauty and worth a trip for every kind of traveler.
As you can easily see, there are so many UNESCO Sites in Europe to discover! From fjords to protected lakes and areas, from old towns to awesome buildings and monuments with a historical significance. There are UNESCO World Heritage Sites in all countries in Europe, so you will definitely find a special one to include on your travel itinerary. The tips for visiting UNESCO Heritage Sites in Europe included in the articles in this series will allow you to better plan your visit to Europe and your trips to cultural heritage sites in Europe. Remember to read all the articles in the series (links included at the beginning of this article) to see the best 94 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Europe.
Enjoy your travels!