The top 25 landmarks in the world you have to check off that bucket list
It's official: Angkor Wat is the No.1 landmark in the world.
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TripAdvisor's Traveller's Choice Awards looks at the most popular and well-received landmarks, destinations and experiences in the world based on real user reviews.
In 2018, unveiled the top 25 landmarks in the world. No surprises here: Angkor Wat topped the list. Here's the rest of the stunners - all of which should be added onto your bucket list. That is, if you haven't seen them already.
TripAdvisor has not released an updated list for 2019 or 2020 (yet).
What's in this guide?
- Angkor Wat, Cambodia
- Plaza de Espana, Spain
- Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque Center, Abu Dhabi
- St Peter's Basilica, Italy
- Mezquita Catedral de Cordoba, Spain
- Taj Mahal, India
- Milan Cathedral, Italy
- Alcatraz, USA
- Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco
- Hungarian Parliament Building, Hungary
- StaromEstske NamEsti, Czech Republic
- Notre Dame Cathedral, France
- Corcovado - Cristo Redeemer, Brazil
- Eiffel Tower, France
- Tower of London, UK
- The Acropolis, Greece
- Temple of the Reclining Buddha (Wat Pho), Thailand
- Great Wall of Mutianyu, China
- Burj Khalifa, UAE
- Sydney Opera House, Australia
- Machu Picchu, Peru
- El Ateneo Grand Splendid, Argentina
- Notre-Dame Basilica, Canada
- Fushimi Inari-taisha Shrine, Japan
- Shwedagon Pagoda, Myanmar
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.
Plaza de Espana, Spain
One of the most iconic landmarks in Seville, Spain the Plaza de Espana is best hailed for its architecture. Drawing inspiration from the Reconnaissance and Moorish revival periods, it features colourful tiles, fountains and ponds.
Flowers bask in the open space, as do orange trees which Seville is particularly known for.
Pro tip: Due to its location Sevillian summers can be quite harsh so if you'd prefer to enjoy cool sightseeing weather aim to arrive in April or May.
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?).
Its 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.
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. Or, visit over winter where lines are non-existent.
Mezquita Catedral de Cordoba, Spain
Instantly Insta-worthy and candy for the eyes, the Mezquita Catedral de Cordoba is a heady mix of Gothic and Islamic architecture.
The architecture reflects its history, having served as both an Islamic mosque and a Catholic cathedral.
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.
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.
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 an eerie and haunted atmosphere.
Over the course of a few short years, Alcatraz has journeyed from being a military garrison to a military prison to being the home of Native American activists. Now it remains abandoned and open for tourists.
Pro tip: There's only one way onto the island: by boat and during peak season slots sell out quickly. Book yours early. Also, try and book a morning slot so you can enjoy more time on the island as there's no time limit on your stay. Outside of catching the last ferry back to the mainland, that is.
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.
Pro tip: Hire a bike and ride across the bridge for a fun day out. Continue on to the coastal suburb of Sausalito for lunch. Then take the ferry back with your bike for a diverse round-trip experience.
Hungarian Parliament Building, Hungary
No landmark commands the waterfront the way the Hungarian Parliament Building in Budapest does.
Opened in 1904, this century-old site still stands strong as the seat of the National Assembly of Hungary. It takes tourists on guided tours to marvel at its Neo-Gothic architecture and the historical relics that lie within, including the Hungarian Crown Jewels.
StaromEstske NamEsti, Czech Republic
Otherwise known as the Old Town Square in Prague, this historical space is a magnet for history lovers.
Moments from the famous Charles Bridge, it features the Prague Orloj astronomical clock, the Old Town Hall and the Gothic Church of Our Lady before Tyn.
Pro tip: Visit over Christmas to see the area lit up in Christmas Market fair.
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.
Due to a fire in April 2019, the cathedral is currently under restoration so you may prefer to hold off visiting until works are complete.
Pro tip: Approach it from the bridge to make the journey that much more spectacular.
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.
The statue is 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 check the weather before you check this one out. If it's rainy you'll hardly be able to see the statue, let alone the view, which is a disappointing sight to say the least.
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.
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.
Tower of London, UK
Perched on the edge of the water not a moments walk from Tower Bridge, Tower of London is steeped in history that many would know full well. William The Conqueror, Henry III, and Edward I all played parts in its creation, Henry VI was murdered here and Anne Boleyn lived here.
Today the crown jewels can be seen within its walls.
Pro tip: Score 2 for 1 tickets with a valid train ticket. With tickets costing £30.30 per person, if two are travelling you can catch the train here (a one-stop journey will do). Then, show your ticket at the ticket booth to get you both in for the price of one.
The Acropolis, Greece
No visit to Athens would be complete without taking in the magnanimity of the Acropolis.
Perched high above the city, it's pretty difficult not to spot this ancient citadel. This incredible architectural feat is home to the famous Parthenon as well as the Temple of Athena Nike
Pro tip: The lines at the base of The Acropolis always run long but if you're planning to visit multiple sites, you can purchase a multi-site pass from a ticket booth at a participating archaeological site including Ancient Agora, Roman Agora and Hadrian's Library) which typically have short or no line.
Temple of the Reclining Buddha (Wat Pho), Thailand
This is 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. These 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.
Great Wall of Mutianyu, China
Not the Great Wall itself, but rather a section of it that lies in Huairou County, a short distance 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.
Burj Khalifa, UAE
Welcome the tallest building in the world (to date). Standing at 828.8 metres (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.
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.
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.
Image: Buenos Aires Cuidad
El Ateneo Grand Splendid, Argentina
Library hound? There's none grander than El Ateneo Grand Splendid.
Housed within a former theare/cinema (the Gran Splendid), it retains much of the original architecture, including the dome which is decorated in the artistry of Italian Nazareno Orlandi.
Notre-Dame Basilica, Canada
We'll give you a moment to pick that jaw off the floor. This basilica is literally that beautiful. You'll find it in the Old Town of Montreal and once you enter you'll feel as though you've been transported to another time and place.
Lights sparkle and orchestral music plays in this enchanting space. It features a series of multimedia installations which come to light after dark.
Fushimi Inari-taisha Shrine, Japan
You'll have crossed paths with this traditional shrine and its maze like torii gates on social media, for sure.
Thousands of these gates stack together, building into a network of trails that lead toward the central buildings.
While you'll find Inari shrines throughout the country, this one in Kyoto in particular draws the crowds in for its forest trails, views from the summit of Mount Inarii on which is stands, and the beauty of its main buildings.
Shwedagon Pagoda, Myanmar
Also known as the Great Dagon Pagoda, Shwedagon Pagoda is arguable one of the most famous and iconic pagodas in the world.
Standing at 99 metres high on top of a hill, it can be captured from almost everyone in the city of Yangon. It's guided top boasts over 7,000 jewels including diamonds, rubies and sapphires.
This is an active Buddhist pagoda which welcomes followers to pray and worship on its grounds daily.
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