The 2015 TripAdvisor Traveller’s Choice Awards have made it official: Angkor Wat is the No.1 landmark in the world.
Here are the rest (and the best flights to get to them). Because they really should be added to your bucket list - especially if you consider yourself a traveller (and not a tourist).
Top 25 Landmarks
1. Angkor Wat, Cambodia
Eerie and majestic, Angkor Wat is a pilgrimage that must be taken by anyone venturing into Cambodia. The UNESCO World Heritage site is one of the finest preserved Ancient Cities and stretches over 400km2 in Angkor Archaeological Park. Highlights include the Temple of Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom, which isa Bayon temple.
Angkor Wat: Fly, Stay and Do
2. Machu Picchu, Peru
Perched high up on a mountain and accessible by foot or by a long, windy ride, Machu Picchu is the Ancient City of the Incas which remained hidden only up until the last century. If you’re fit as a fiddle, brave the 2-day Inca Trek through the jungle and wake up to the city as it glows with the sunrise from the Sungate.
Pro tip: Book Wayna Picchu tickets (the mountain you see in the background) early, as the number of hikers is capped daily.
Machu Picchu: Fly, Stay and Do
3. Taj Mahal, India
A constant on the Seven Wonders of World lists, the Taj Mahal is so highly acclaimed that one TripAdvisor user has been bold enough to claim that “you haven’t lived until you’ve visited it.” Built in 1632, the white marble mausoleum houses the tomb of the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan’s favourite wife, Mumtaz Mahal.
Taj Mahal: Fly, Stay and Do
4. Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque Center, Abu Dhabi
An absolute gem of the modern world, Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque Center may have only been completed in 2007, but it has already garnered much media attention (remember that controversial photograph of Rihanna posing in front of it? Yeah, you do). It’s wonders include 82 domes of seven different sizes and a library pregnant with classic Islamic books and publications.
Pro tip: This is a place of worship, so be respectful and follow custom or you may end up like Rihanna and be asked to leave the premises.
Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque Center: Fly, Stay and Do
5. Basilica of Sagrada Familia, Spain
Considered by this writer as the “Church that is never complete”, it’s been over 100 since its conception and Gaudi’s ultimate work is still “under construction”. An artwork in itself, carved sculptures of the testament riddle its facades, colourful florals top its spires and pillars resembling a forest of trees are housed within. Riddled with Catholic symbolism but crafted as a masterpiece, it’s one of the greatest creations of a single artistic mastermind.
Pro tip: Return time and time again to see what developments have been made.
Basilica of Sagrada Familia: Fly, Stay and Go
6. St Peter’s Basilica, Italy
According to Catholicism, St Peter’s Basilica houses the body of the disciple, St Peter, who is also known as the guardian of the gates to heaven. As an architectural piece, it is majestic, the domes stretch high above and may be climbed all the way, or can be accessed (half the way) via elevator.
Pro tip: Arrive in the early afternoon, this way you avoid the tour group crowds, or you may be in line for a while.
St Peters Basilica: Fly, Stay and Do
7. Milan Cathedral, Italy
Milan may be the capital of Italian fashion, but it also holds a capital “duomo” Cathedral in its square. An immense construction, it’s best viewed and photographed on the outside with its brilliant white facade leaving you absolutely flawed. Make sure you make the climb up to the top of the Cathedral for pristine views over the city.
Pro tip: Be careful in the square / forecourt: there are pigeons EVERYWHERE.
Milan Cathedral, Italy: Fly, Stay and Do
8. Alcatraz, USA
The infamous prison island off the coast of San Francisco is an undisputed “must visit” when in San Fran. It’s a completely alternate feeling from the other winners on this list, harbouring a more eerie and haunted atmosphere. Its journeyed from being a military garrison to a military prison to being the home of Native American activists and now remains abandoned and open for tourists.
Alcatraz: Fly, Stay and Do
9. Corcovado - Cristo Redeemer, Brazil
Watching over the city of Rio de Janeiro, is a giant statue of Christ the Redeemer who stands at an impressive 30 metres, which doesn’t include its 8 metre pedestal. Second only to its panoramic views of the city which include Sugar Loaf Mountain. Originally designed as a statue of Christ holding a globe, it now features Christ opening his arms to embrace the world instead.
Pro tip: If you’re travelling during winter, ensure the day of your trip is not a rainy one or you’ll hardly be able to see the statue, let alone the view.
Corcovado: Fly, Stay and Do
10. Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco
Another San Fran entrant and the only other bridge to have beaten our Sydney Harbour Bridge, the Golden Gate Bridge is named so as it spans the Golden Gate strait, connecting the city to Marin County. A symbol of the city, what makes this suspension bridge so exceptional are its eye-catching colours, impressive pillars (750ft) and magical views.
Golden Gate Bridge: Fly, Stay and Do
Golden Gate Bridge: Fly, Stay and Do
11. Eiffel Tower, France
The iconic symbol of France is visited by millions yearly and is unsurprisingly the most visited monument in Paris. Originally criticised when it was first erected in 1889 for its design, more than 100 years on it stand synonymous with the city. Guess it’s Alexandre Gustave Eiffel (designer) who is laughing now, haw haw haw.
Pro tip: Climb the tower if you wish, but for that picture perfect photo, your best bet is on the green of the Champ de Mars park which is stands inside.
Eiffel Tower: Fly, Stay and Do
12. Church of the Savior on Blood, Russia
Also known as the Church on Spilt Blood and the Cathedral of the Resurrection of Christ, this St Petersburg is a breathtaking part of Russian history. Architecturally it rivals other modern churches like Sagrada Familia, it is a feast for the eyes that features colourful pinnacles and brilliantly painted murals.
Church of the Savior on Blood: Fly, Stay and Do
13. Notre Dame Cathedral, France
French for “Our Lady of Paris” (Notre-Dame de Paris), this building has been hailed as being one of the finest examples of French Gothic architecture. From sculptures to stained glass it can be studied for hours by the curious mind and, like many other churches and cathedrals, you are able to climb up its towers for a close-up view of its bells and gargoyles.
Pro tip: Approach it from the bridge to make the journey that much more spectacular.
Notre Dame Cathedral: Fly, Stay and Do
14. The Alhambra, Spain
One of the Moorish wonders of the south of Spain, The Alhambra sits high above the city of Granada. In a word, it is exquisite and has been hailed as featuring the country’s most well known Islamic architecture. Split into two tour segments, book your ticket early or arrive early to secure your “entrance time” and wander the gardens until your allocated time.
Pro tip: Follow the mass of people climbing onward and upward to get to the entrance of the Alhambra. It’s not as difficult to find as many believe it is!
The Alhambra: Fly, Stay and Do
15. Hagia Sophia (Ayasofya), Turkey
A trip to Istanbul would not be complete without feasting your eye on Ayasofya. It has been the home to multiple religions, including Islam and Christianity and now stands as a museum of history.
Pro tip: If the line at Ayasofya is too long and you wish to wait it out, hop across the road to view the Basilica Cistern - an underrated peak at the hidden network of cisterns beneath the city.
Hagia Sophia: Fly, Stay and Do
16. Charles Bridge, Czech Republic
The postcard image of Prague in the Czech Republic is that of the Charles Bridge - so remember to bring your camera. Built from the 14th to 15th Centuries, it features a continuous alley of Baroque-style statues from Christianity and connects the Lesser Quarter of Prague to the Old Town.
Pro tip: When deciding whether to take public transport or walk to the Cathedral, the only choice is walk. Across the Charles Bridge, naturally.
Charles Bridge: Fly, Stay and Do
17. Great Wall of Mutianyu, China
Not the Great Wall itself, but rather a section of it that lies in Huairou County, a short distance away from the city of Beijing. What makes this section in particular so significant? Aside from connecting Jianjou and Lianhuachi, it’s one of the best preserved sections of the Wall itself and sits almost completely surrounded by forest.
Great Wall of Mutianyu: Fly, Stay and Do
18. Lincoln Memorial and Reflection Pool, USA
Immortalised in marble and overlooking a pristine reflecting pool in Washington, DC, Abraham Lincoln sits tall at approximately 19 feet. Visited by the millions every year (and one Lisa Simpson at least once in her lifetime), he’s a symbol of leadership and freedom.
Pro tip: Spend some time in the park - there’s so much history to be found here.
Lincoln Memorial: Fly, Stay and Do
19. Burj Khalifa, UAE
Welcome the tallest building in the world (to date). Standing at 828.8 metres tall (what a number), Burf Khalifa was constructed in 2004 and sits in Downtown Dubai. And if you’re having problems seeing it, there must be something wrong with your eyes because it stands out like crazy.
Pro tip: Get in early (before 5pm) for less crowds and less moolah. Prime time is 5pm-7:30pm.
Burj Khalifa: Fly, Stay and Do
20. National September 11 Memorial & Museum, USA
Erected on the site of the Twin Towers of New York City sits a National Memorial to honour the victims of 9/11. Two fountains encompass the spaces where each tower stood and are etched with the names of those who died. A “Survivor Tree” which was recovered from the rubble of the tragedy also sits in the complex as a stark reminder of the event.
Pro tip: Admission is free on Tuesdays after 5pm, however you will have to book these in advance from 9am the day prior. Tickets are limited.
National September 11 Memorial: Fly, Stay and Do
21. Temple of the Reclining Buddha (Wat Pho), Thailand
One of the three major temples in Thailand's capital, while all are spectacular in their own way, the Temple of the Reclining Buddha commands attention measuring 15 metres in height and 43 metres in length. Its most impressive feature however is its feet, which are inlaid with mother-of-pearl comprising of 108 individual panels each symbolising various aspects of Buddha.
Pro tip: Don’t limit yourself to Wat Pho, dedicate a whole day to the temples. You won’t regret it.
Temple of the Reclining Buddha: Fly, Stay and Do
22. Chichen Itza, Mexico
One of the ancient ruined cities of the Mayan people, the temple of Chichen Itza is perhaps the most famous located in Mexico. It features a square pyramid with steps of 45 degrees leading up to its summit. One of its most remarkable features is the statue of the head of the serpent deity at the base of the northeastern staircase. During the spring and autumn equinoxes, the shadows hitting the staircase make it seems as those the serpent is “wriggling” down the stairs.
Chichen Itza: Fly, Stay and Do
23. Sydney Opera House, Australia
Woohoo! We made it onto the list. Australia had to pip somewhere and where she does, it’s for the Opera House. Brimming with iconic architecture, TripAdvisor users have called it the “Taj Mahal of Oceania”. What do you think?
Pro tip: Take the stroll around the front of the Opera House for a view of the Sydney Harbour and then continue your walk through the Botanic Gardens for a sunny afternoon out.
Sydney Opera House: Fly, Stay and Do
24. Petronas Twin Towers, Malaysia
Kuala Lumpur’s Twin Towers scrape the sky creating a beautiful archly with their connecting bridge which stands at 170 metres above the crowd. And yes, you can walk across it, tower to tower, if you dare.
Pro tip: Closed Mondays so plan accordingly.
Petronas Twin Towers: Fly, Stay and Do
25. Panama Canal, Panama
Named one of the seven wonders of the modern world by The American Society of Civil Engineers the Panama Canal has played a significant role in history, connecting the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans to open up international marine trade for the country. At 77.1 kilometres long, today it takes just over 20-30 hours for ships to pass through.