It’s hard to narrow down the most iconic places to visit as many famous landmarks and well-known tourist attractions exist. Still, selecting an ideal vacation spot can be a daunting task, given the vast array of captivating destinations available worldwide.
To help with travel planning, we’ve narrowed down this list of some of the planet’s most amazing places. Use these suggestions to craft your ultimate travel bucket list. From scuba diving in the great barrier reef to throwing a coin into the Trevi Fountain, here are the most iconic and famous landmarks to visit in the world.
Famous Landmarks in the World
Trevi Fountain — Rome, Italy
Rome’s a city with no shortage of icons, and one of the most visited in the city is the Trevi Fountain. It’s been a landmark of the centuries, and the fountain’s origins span back to Roman times. The fountain’s facade tells this story and pertains to the Roman’s taming of the water to bring life to their cities.
The original Roman aqueduct still supplies the fountain’s waters, so a visit feels like a step back in time and to the heart of Rome. We’ve visited the fountain several times, and the novelty is never lost. Legend has it that tossing a coin into the fountain will bring you back to the city. So many visitors do this that the city collects several thousand euros daily, which supplies food for those in need.
Eiffel Tower — Paris, France
The Eiffel Tower, or “La Dame de Fer,” is a true landmark of France, a bastion of Paris, and one of the most recognizable structures on earth. The lattice tower of iron was made for the 1889 World Fair in honor of the centennial of the French Revolution. While critical at first, the French have learned to love their icon, and it’s a must-visit for every traveler to Paris.
While it’s not why we love Paris, we’ve never regretted visiting the Eiffel Tower. Its towering image lies over the city’s Champ de Mars, a huge greenspace in its heart. As you stand before, it will leave you in awe of its architectural brilliance. You can look at the tower, but we suggest ascending to the top to get a bird’s eye view of the city. You can take an elevator or take a deep breath and climb the 1,665 steps to the top.
Great Wall of China – China
The Great Wall of China is legendary thanks to its extraordinary size at 13,000 miles long. It’s a historically significant achievement of architecture and has a profound impact on the history of China. The wall was built over several centuries and used by various Chinese dynasties to control its borders, emigration, and trade. It should be no surprise that, like almost every one of the landmarks on the list, it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The enormous monument elicits a strange feeling when you realize it was a place of suffering for many. Mass graves surround the walls, and some are present even inside the walls. Its formidable façade, long history, and tales of many battles make the Great Wall of China one of China’s most iconic places to visit. A walk along the wall is a must for any visitor to China and a challenge due to the steep steps.
Chichen Itza — Yucatan, Mexico
Chichen Itza is undeniably the most recognizable landmark of the ancient Mayan civilization. It’s a symbol of the Mayan civilization’s mathematical, astronomical, and architectural prowess. Its most iconic structure is the Kukulkan Pyramid, which aligns with the spring and autumn equinoxes. It’s widely celebrated worldwide and named one of the New Severn Wonders of the World.
Due to its location in the Yucatan Peninsula, the site is easily accessible and a super popular tourist destination. It’s a two-hour drive from the popular resort city of Cancun, and we visited while staying in Tulum, another popular resort town. Visiting the huge site requires a full day to appreciate as the scale and intricate carvings are mesmerizing. Chichen Itza is an unforgettable experience!
Mont-Saint Michel — Normandy, France
Mont Saint-Michel is a medieval abbey that sits atop a rocky island just off the coast of Normandy. The image of the abbey looks like something straight out of a fairytale, and the dramatic scene has inspired numerous artists. It’s a marvel of Gothic architecture with its defensive walls, towering abbey, spires, and flying buttresses. The scene has become France’s second most iconic place behind the Eiffel Tower.
When we visited Normandy in the Fall, we couldn’t make just one trip to the island as it was such a stunning scene. We returned three times a week, catching the abbey at different times of the day. Visitors can access the abbey via a long bridge from the mainland over the marshes that surround the island. A walk through its serene streets will stay with you forever. It’s one of our favorite sites on this list!
Taj Mahal – Agra, India
The Taj Mahal is arguably the world’s most beautiful symbol of love. This white marble mausoleum was built by the Mughal emperor, Shah Jahan, in 1631 to honor his wife, Mumtaz Mahal. Its flawless symmetry, intricate carving, and mesmerizing grounds evoke awe and admiration. The Taj Mahal’s grandeur is wild as it took 22 years and nearly 20,000 workers to complete.
It’s a magnificent sight, one of those destinations that lives up to the hype. Few places are as humbling or inspiring as the Taj Mahal, and we left fully understanding why it is so widely celebrated. It’s also the third of the New 7 Wonders of the World on this list. If you’re planning a visit, we highly suggest planning to arrive at sunrise.
The Colosseum – Rome, Italy
As far as famous landmarks go, it doesn’t get much more iconic than the Colosseum. It lies at the heart of Rome and is a testament to ancient Roman strength, ambition, and ingenuity. Emperor Vespasian built the amphitheater in 70 CE on the site of what was once Nero’s Golden House. Its location symbolized a shift from the private luxury of previous emperors to colossal public works.
It remains an engineering feat as previous amphitheaters by Romans and Greeks were largely carved into the hillsides, but the Colosseum stands freely. It uses a complex system of groin vaults and could hold 50,000 spectators who game for gladiatorial combat. The magnificent structure was a place of atrocities that entertained the masses. As you enter the Colosseum, it’s easy to imagine the crowd’s roar as a man fights an animal, a prisoner is executed, or two gladiators fight to the death while the emperor watches. Undeniably, this is one of the top things to do in Rome.
Pyramids of Giza — Cairo, Egypt
The Pyramids of Giza are a true marvel from ancient times and one of the most famous landmarks in the world. They are the last of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World that remain, a remarkable feat considering they are over 4500 years old. The Great Pyramid was built for Pharaoh Khufu and is the largest and most iconic. It’s colossal at 146.6 meters tall, which made it the tallest human-made structure for 3,800 years! It’s estimated that it took 2.3 million stone blocks, which weigh a staggering 6 million tons together.
The engineering feat has sparked a constant mystery and debate within the scientific and archeological community. That’s not even getting into the numerous conspiracy theories that swirl around their creation. Regardless, discoveries are still being uncovered to this day, making these pyramids one of our world’s most mystical ancient wonders. They’re easily accessible from Egypt’s capital city, Cairo, and operate as a gateway to the ancient Egyptian world. Egypt has so many incredible heritage sites that we can not recommend a trip here enough. A river cruise down the Nile has been one of the best adventures for travelers for over a century.
Machu Picchu – Peru
The Mayans weren’t the only great civilization in the New World, as the Incans had an equal amount of extraordinary sites and achievements. The civilization’s greatest landmark is Machu Picchu, a magnificent site that has drawn travelers for decades. It dates back to the 15th century and is a testament to Incan’s skill and knowledge. It’s perched at 2,350 meters (7,710 feet) in the Andes Mountains of Southern Peru, between two sharp peaks, Machu Picchu and Huayna Picchu, adds to the former city’s dramatic scene. The surrounding lush landscapes and rich biodiversity add to the allure of the iconic place.
The mysterious site has long left many travelers mystified. How was it possible for the Incans to build such precise structures of granite without machinery or technology? After all, granite is one of the toughest rocks on the planet and almost impossible to work with using hand tools that were available at the time. The mystery of its origins, combined with the majestic backdrop of the Andes, makes for a true spectacle and a place that should be on everyone’s bucket list.
Christ the Redeemer — Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Christ the Redeemer stands tall over the vibrant city of Rio de Janeiro as an icon of the city and a world landmark. It’s one of the new Seven Wonders of the World, standing tall as a symbol of faith, artistry, and the enduring spirit of humanity. At 30 meters tall and set on Mount Corcovado high above the city, the Art Deco sculpture is visible throughout much of the city.
You can take the train, a van, or hike to see this magnificent statue up close. Once you are standing right next to it, you’ll realize how stunning it is and how difficult it must have been to erect just an enormous statue at such a height. The views from the statue out over the city are also spectacular! Which makes it well worth a visit on its own.
Acropolis – Athens, Greece
The Acropolis of Athens lies at the heart of what was once ancient Greece. The former citadel now stands as an icon of the former civilization’s knowledge of architecture and cultural influence on the world. Remanents of several ancient structures still stand, with the Parthenon being the most renowned. Its construction began in the 5th century BCE and was a Doric temple dedicated to the goddess Athena.
The indelible influence of ancient Greek architecture can be seen in the surviving complexes of the Acropolis in Athens, and it is one of the top sights in Greece. It’s an incredible site, but we recommend visitors stick to the shoulder months of May and October for the most pleasant weather with fewer crowds.
Petra – Jordan
Petra, originally known as Raqmu or Raqēmō, is a historic city nestled in the southern deserts of Jordan. The captivating city is often called the “Rose City” due to its incredible rock-hewn architecture. Most of the standing structures are carved from sandstone that gives off a warm, red hue. Entry to the ancient city is through the Siq, a 1.2-kilometer-long gorge that leads to the Khazneh (The Treasury). It remains an incredible site and one of our favorite iconic places ever.
The city was built by the Nabataens, nomadic Arabs, who used the city as a trading hub, capitalizing on the city’s strategic location along incense trade routes. They not only figured out a way to survive in the arid and rocky landscape but also learned to thrive using clever engineering and advanced water preservation methods. The city remains one of the most well-preserved cultural landmarks, a coveted archeological site that is essentially an entire city frozen in time. You will see houses carved into the mountains and walkways made from natural gullies and canyons.
The Brandenburg Gate — Berlin, Germany
The Brandenburg Gate, an 18th-century neoclassical monument in Berlin, Germany, symbolizes history, unity, and peace. King Frederick William II of Prussia commissioned it at the junction of Unter den Linden and Ebertstraße. With its Doric columns and classicizing reliefs, it echoes ancient architecture. As a witness to major events, it remains a beacon of European unity and peace. It is an icon of Germany, and every visitor to the country’s capital city likely stood before the gate.
The Golden Gate Bridge — California, USA
The Golden Gate Bridge is an icon of San Francisco and one of the most elegant in the world. Construction of the bridge in 1933 was an engineering marvel as it spans two miles across the Golden Gate, a narrow strait that is the entrance to San Francisco Bay. Crews braved treacherous conditions and shaped the huge towers over open water to create, at the time, the world’s tallest and longest suspension bridge.
Almost 90 years later, the bridge remains a landmark in engineering and the most beautiful in the world. Its beauty is partly due to its color, International Orange, which was picked because it blended in with the surrounding landscape and contrasted with the sky. Few other bridges can claim to be painted specifically with the landscape in mind. The surrounding coastline and the city of San Francisco are also wonderful and make for a great city escape.
Baalbek — Lebanon
The magnificent ancient ruins of Baalbek are found a two-hour drive from Beirut. Very little is known about the origins of this holy site, but it is widely believed to have been first built by the Phoenicians four millennia ago and then taken over by the Greeks, Romans, and then the Arabs.
What sets this structure apart is its colossal size. Standing within its huge stone walls and massive columns, overwhelming fear and awe will take root in your heart. The site makes you wonder how such a structure could have been created so long ago. The mind-bending mystery has led many to believe that giants indeed built Baalbek.t
Plitvice Lakes National Park – Croatia
Plitvice Lakes National Park is the oldest and largest national park in Croatia. It is also one of the world’s most beautiful, untouched wilderness reserves. The minute you step inside the park, you’ll feel like you have entered a different world. The water is so clear that you can reach out and grab a fish if you want. Well-maintained trails, stairs, and wooden bridges will take you around the park, inside water caves, and above gushing waterfalls.
Kilimanjaro — Tanzania
Words will fail you when you first lay your eyes on Mount Kilimanjaro. The highest free-standing mountain in the world, Kilimanjaro, is a wonder of nature. It sits almost on the equator, so if you climb it, you’ll start your journey in a hot environment. However, as you approach the summit at 5,895 m, you’d want to wrap up well, as temperatures at the top can be as low as -7 to -29 degrees Celsius, even in the summer.
Perito Moreno Glacier — Argentina
Perito Moreno Glacier is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that can be traced back to the last Ice Age. Located in Los Glaciares National Park, Perito Moreno is a nearly three million-year-old glacier that acts as a natural dam cutting off the South arm of Lake Argentino in the winter months. The glacier melts and cracks during summer, collapsing right before your eyes. A mere sample of the raw power of Mother Nature in full display.
Angkor Wat Temple Complex — Cambodia
Waking up before sunrise and making your way to the Angkor Wat Temple Complex may feel like a task, but once you witness its legendary silhouette, it will all be worth it. This highly distinguished religious monument is the largest in the world and Southeast Asia’s most significant archeological site. Once you enter, the complex will greet you with numerous temples scattered throughout the jungle. Nearly 70 of them. Some of them date as far back as the 9th century.
Great Barrier Reef — Queensland, Australia
The Great Barrier Reef is one of the largest coral reefs in the world and home to an extraordinary number of aquatic species. It is one of the few habitats in the world that allows the survival of large green turtles and sea cows. In recent years, the impact of global warming has killed off a sizable chunk of the Great Barrier Reef. Despite this, it is still the crown jewel of all coral reefs worldwide.
Sagrada Familia — Barcelona, Spain
It’s a well-known fact about Spain that the Sagrada Familia has to be the only unfinished structure in the world to lure such a large number of tourists. The Gothic architectural style and the intricate design of the massive edifice make it nearly impossible not to look at it. Designed by Antoni Gaudí in 1882, the construction of this iconic structure is still ongoing.
Burj Khalifa — Dubai, United Arab Emirates
You can’t think of Dubai and not picture Burj Khalifa. Rising into the clouds, this iconic skyscraper has been in plenty of movies already. At 828 meters, Burj Khalifa is the world’s tallest skyscraper, and you can go to the very top and see what the modern world looks like from high above. The building is a perfect mixture of Islamic architecture and modern innovations. In addition to offices and cafes, the building has 160 habitable apartments.
Vatican City — Rome, Italy
One of the most famous cultural landmarks is the Vatican City, which is officially the Vatican City State, a landlocked independent country, city-state, microstate, and enclave within Rome. Vatican City might be the smallest sovereign country in the world, but it has a lot going on. It’s true; you can circumnavigate the country on foot in less than an hour, but you wouldn’t want to.
As is common knowledge, Vatican City is the center of the catholic church and home to the world’s largest church, St. Peter’s Basilica. Then there’s the Vatican Museum and so many spots with cultural and historical significance that you’d want to visit them all.
Sydney Opera House — Sydney, Australia
One of the most world-famous landmarks resides in Sydney, Australia. No one realized how fitting it would be to design a structure resembling ship sails and situate it next to a harbor until Jørn Utzon. This stunning building is a world-renowned performing arts venue and one of the most recognizable man-made structures in the world. When we think of Sydney, we picture the Sydney Opera House.
Big Ben — London
It’s a London fact that Big Ben, London’s symbolic clock tower, is one of the most iconic timepieces the world has ever seen. It might look like a medieval tower from the outside, but the clockwork hides the engineering genius of the early Victorians. It has stood the test of time, making it one of the world’s most iconic and recognizable landmarks.
The Grand Palace — Bangkok, Thailand
The Grand Palace in Bangkok is the crowning jewel of Thailand. The stunning palace was built in 1782 and was once the residence of the Thai monarch. Its ornate decorations and lavish features leave no doubt that the palace was made fit for a king. You can explore its vast grounds and marvel at its intricate architecture.
The Galapagos Islands — Ecuador
The Galapagos Islands isn’t your usual tourist destination crowded by spectators. It is one of the few places left on our planet still largely untouched by humans. The island locals are giant tortoises and marine iguanas found sunbathing on rocks or on the beach. Cut off from the rest of the world, it was here at the Galapagos Islands that Charles Darwin found evidence supporting the theory of evolution. One of the best ways to experience the Galapagos is on a Galapagos Cruise that takes you to all the magnificent sights.
Serengeti National Park – Tanzania
Your world adventures aren’t complete unless you visit the mesmerizing Serengeti National Park. One of Tanzania’s most treasured natural parks, it is home to the greatest array of wildlife on the planet. Come here to see as many safari animals as possible in one of the best places to safari in Africa. Visiting the park and spending a night in its wilderness is an adventure unlike any other and the ultimate African Safari experience.
The Amazon Rainforest
Who hasn’t heard of the Amazon? It’s the largest rainforest in the world, covering over 2 million square miles in the heart of South America. It’s home to countless species of plants and animals, some of which can’t be found anywhere else on Earth. It’s an amazing place to explore, but also crucial for the health and sustainability of our planet.
Victoria Falls — Zambia and Zimbabwe
Victoria Falls, Africa’s most famous waterfall, is one of the greatest marvels of nature located on the borders of Zambia and Zimbabwe. While many waterfalls are on our planet, few are as dramatic and beautiful as Victoria Falls. Although not the highest nor the widest, it is the largest sheet of falling water that, upon impact, creates a cloud of smoke and thunder in the air. A sight to behold!
Neuschwanstein Castle — Bavaria, Germany
This 19th-century castle seems to have come straight out of every fairy tale book you might have read as a kid. It features a romantic, fairytale-like design inspired by Wagnerian operas and medieval architecture. However, there’s more to this castle than meets the eye, and to get its full story, you have to visit in person.
Sistine Chapel — Vatican City
The Sistine Chapel is the magnum opus of Renaissance artists and one of Italy’s most visited tourist attractions. Built from 1477 to 1480, the chapel lures the crowd because it is ancient, has stunning frescoes by Michelangelo and other renowned artists, and is a joy for those who appreciate art and history.
Mount Everest — Nepal
The formidable Mount Everest is the highest mountain peak in the world. Most people check it off their bucket list once they glimpse the peak. However, a few do not rest until they have surpassed the most dangerous and challenging climb of all – reaching the summit of the world.
Niagara Falls — Canada and USA
Niagara Falls is not the tallest waterfall in the world, nor does ardent beauty surround it. Yet, millions of visitors visit the majestic falls every year. The sheer power of Niagara Falls, the close access, and the fact that it is straddling the border between Canada and the USA make it such a world-famous spot.
Red Square — Moscow, Russia
Once you focus on the stunning Red Square of Moscow, you’ll carry that memory for the rest of your life. Pictures and words do not do justice to the vibrant colors of the St. Basil’s Cathedral, the Kremlin’s historic architecture, and the Red Square’s cobblestone pavement.
Table Mountain — Cape Town, South Africa
Table Mountain serves as an ever-watchful eye on Cape Mountain. Wherever you go in Cape Town, there it is! As the name indicates, the mountain has a flat top, and it rises 3500 feet above sea level. You can take an exhilarating cable car ride to the top and enjoy the breathtaking panorama of the city and the coastline or hike up and around Table Mountain! The mountain has flora and fauna, and you might see a cute fuzzy rock hyrax while hiking.
Dubrovnik Old Town — Croatia
The breathtaking baroque buildings, churches, monasteries, and limestone streets of The Old Town of Dubrovnik will take you back to Medieval times. You’d feel like you stepped back in time the second you crossed the threshold of Pile’s Gate, dating to 1537. If you are a Game of Thrones fan, you will instantly recognize this town as King’s Landing.
Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park — Northern Territory, Australia
Uluru is an enormous red rock of sandstone that rises 348 meters above the ground. It’s not just the rock’s enormity and unique appearance that makes it special but the fact that it’s nearly 500 million years old. Staggering. The rock is also sacred to the local Aboriginal people of the area. Where Uluru is a singular rock with a flat top, Kata Tjuta is a rock formation with sandstone domes. We suggest waiting for the sun to set to enjoy the changing colors of the rock.
Tourist Attractions and Famous Landmarks FAQ
Where is the most famous monument?
There are many famous monuments worldwide, so it isn’t easy to pinpoint one as the most famous. However, some of the most well-known monuments are the Eiffel Tower in Paris, the Great Wall of China in China; the Taj Mahal in India; the Colosseum in Rome, the Statue of Liberty in New York and the Pyramids of Giza in Egypt.
What is the most photographed Famous landmark?
One of the most photographed famous landmarks in the world is believed to be the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France.
What is the most iconic Tourist Attraction in the USA?
As you might expect the most popular and recognizable landmarks in the USA include the Statue of Liberty in New York City and the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco.
Where is the most visited Famous Landmark in the world?
The most visited famous landmark in the world is the Eiffel Tower in Paris. It’s estimated that the tower receives over 7 million visitors annually, which makes it one of the most popular tourist attractions in the world.
What is the most natural iconic place in the world?
There are too many natural wonders to name, but mother nature has shown her finest work at the Grand Canyon in Arizona, the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, Mount Everest in Nepal, and Victoria Falls between Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Plan For Your Trip
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