Between the 7 wonders of the world, places that should be considered world wonders and the 7 natural wonders, there are a lot of lists of must-see destinations. Sorting through the noise, here are our definitive picks of not-to-miss destinations that are as gorgeous on the exterior as they are rich in culture for a truly once-in-a-lifetime trip.
Great Pyramid of Giza
The only remaining Ancient Wonder from the original list, the Egyptian pyramid dates back nearly 5,000 years. Venture inside one of the Royal Burial Chambers and see the funerary boat of Cheops. View the Great Sphinx of Giza - a monumental statue carved from a single block of stone. The Great Pyramid is the largest of the three pyramids in Giza.
A physical, cultural and spiritual journey through the Andes Mountains in Peru, Machu Picchu challenges you to trek through nine different biozones, changing altitudes and varied terrain. Be inspired by the majesty of your surroundings and the knowledge that you are following in the footsteps of the ancient Incas. Mysterious and mystical, new discoveries are still being uncovered to this day.
The Taj Mahal was built by the Mughal Emperor Shahjahan (and 20,000 workers) to honor the memory of his beloved wife, Mumtaj Mahal. The perfectly symmetrical edifice is set amidst landscaped gardens on the banks of the Yamuna River. Its marble exterior reflects rose and golden tints at sunrise and sunset, while it is dazzling white during the day.
Great Barrier Reef
The world's largest reef system, the Great Barrier Reef off the coast of Queensland is renowned for its water clarity and coral formations that can even be seen from space. The Agincourt Reef lagoon is ideal for swimming and snorkeling and is amongst the best in the world for discovering marine life and nature’s beauty, a delicate ecosystem unlike anywhere else on Earth.
Timbuktu, a mysterious city in the West African nation of Mali near the Niger River and the Sahara Desert was a flourishing trading route for salt, gold, ivory and slaves. Today, the Great Mosque known as the Djinguereber Mosque is an important place for gathering and prayer as an intellectual and spiritual capital of Islam.
The Aurora Borealis, a natural light display caused by the Earth’s magnetic field is a truly magical wonder of nature. Visible near the Arctic and Antarctic equinoxes, the sheer beauty can only be described as meteorological phenomena as the sky is lit up in a prism of colors.
Great Wall of China
Stretching over 3,000 kilometers from the Shanhaiguan Pass on the eastern coast to the Jiayuguan Pass in the Gobi Desert, the Great Wall of China was constructed by the first Emperor to unify all of China in 221 BC. Qin Shihuang, had a workforce of up to a million people link previously existing walls from smaller kingdoms and build new sections, in order to keep out northern invaders by sheer magnitude of the ancient fortification.
Nicknamed La dame de fer (the iron lady), the Eiffel Tower is not only the symbol of France, but the most-visited paid monument in the world and one of the most iconic structures on the planet. Built in 1889 as the entrance to the World’s Fair, its nighttime lights show sets a lovely Parisian mood over the River Seine.
The Acropolis of Athens, a temple sacred to “Athena Polias” serves as a prominent war memorial. Currently nearing completion on a restoration project that has taken over 35 years, the goal was to restore the natural beauty and reverse the decay of centuries of attrition, pollution, and war destruction.
This 19th century gothic palace once serving as the personal residence of a reclusive king is now open to the public. The inspiration for “Sleeping Beauty,” this romantic medieval castle gives a reminiscent view of the old German monarchy and is one of the most popular place and castles in all of Europe.