More often than not, we travel to a destination with a specific landmark in mind. Whether it’s touching down in Rome to marvel at the ancient Colosseum, or trekking for three whole days to take in the magnificent ruins Machu Picchu with your very own eyes.
While exploring off the beaten track is like sugar for our soul, ogling at the world’s most famous attractions is just as important. No matter how “touristy” they are. Our most famous landmarks are a reminder of what humans are capable of, displaying impressive feats of engineering, design, purpose and skill.
TripAdvisor has just released its definitive list of the world’s most popular landmarks for 2017. Based on its website reviews, the ranking includes some obvious picks, lots of religious structures and some you wouldn’t even have picked. Have a look at which ones you’ve been to, or need to add to the list:
#1 Angkor Wat, Siem Reap, Cambodia
Angkor Wat is the largest religious monument in the world. It’s centuries old and still so well maintained, with an atmospheric sense of grandness. A must-see in South East Asia. We’re not at all surprised it topped the list.
#2 Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque Centre, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
The spectacularly impressive Sheikh Zayed Mosque is the most important site for worship in Abu Dhabi. It was only completed 10 years ago, but it’s impressive design has drawn prestige status from around the world.
#3 Mezquita Cathedral de Cordoba, Cordoba, Spain
Another enormously grand must-see mosque in Spain’s glorious city of Cordoba. While Sheikh Zayed is famed for the sweeping monochromatic floors and walls, Mezquita Cathedral de Cordoba is a kaleidoscope of warm colours and cultural influences.
#4 St. Peter’s Basilica, Vatican City, Italy
The great St. Peter’s Basilica is an entire museums worth of artwork and history within itself. Jaw-dropping stuff.
#5 Taj Mahal, Agra, India
The most grand physical love story ever told, the Taj Mahal attracts tourists from all around the world for its stunning beauty and heart-wrenching tale.
#6 Church of the Savior on Blood, St. Petersburg, Russia
Almost like a candy castle in its colours and design, you can find Church of the Savior on Blood as part of Moscow’s famous Red Square.
#7 Great Wall at Mutianyu, Beijing, China
The Great Wall is a stunning vestige of both history and ambitious human endeavours.
#8 Machu Picchu, Machu Picchu, Peru
So popular that the site has to usher tourists through in shifts, Machu Picchu is not only set among a stunning natural landscape and offers a glimpse into the ancient world of the Inca tribes.
#9 Plaza de Espana, Seville, Spain
The large architecturally renowned square sits as Seville’s most impressive drawcard. The mixture of renaissance with a uniquely Spanish influence make Plaza de Espana a terrific sight to spin around slowly and behold.
#10 Duomo di Milano, Milan, Italy
Italy has it’s fair share of impressive Duomos, but Duomo de Milano is by far the most impressive of the lot.
#11 Golden Gate Bridge, San Francico, California
One of the — if not the — most iconic bridges in the world. Golden Gate Bridge is all about west coast California, American dreams and long, wistful sunsets.
#12 Lincoln Memorial, Washington DC, District of Columbia
Even if you’re not familiar with American history, walking into the Lincoln Memorial and staring up at Lincoln’s great marble statue will take the breath right out of your throat.
#13 Eiffel Tower, Paris, France
The Eiffel Tower is so popular around the world because it’s emblematic of the impossibly chic Parisian life. Not to mention the baguettes, clothes and long lunches that come with it. Bonjour, mon ami!
#14 Parliament, Budapest, Hungary
Sitting right on the river, Budapest’s Parliament is a beautifully chaotic cluster of turrets, windows, arches and domes that stretch on for what feels like miles.
#15 Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris, France
Immortalised by Victor Hugo’s hunchback that lived in the bell tower, Notre Dame is an amazing feat of architecture that took literally centuries to finish. Oh, and you can totally visit Quasimodo up in the bell tower, too.
#16 Corcovado Christ the Redeemer, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Overlooking Rio with his open arms, Christ the Redeemer is the iconic protector of the city.
#17 Big Ben, London, United Kingdom
Arguably the most famous clock in the world, you haven’t travelled until you’ve heard Big Ben’s bells toll.
#18 Acropolis, Athens, Greece
Ancient Greece is where it all began for us humble humans, and walking around the Acropolis really makes you realise just how far we’ve come.
#19 Main Market Square, Krakow Poland
Krakow has risen in popularity over the last couple of years for its old European charm and extremely cheap food and hotels. Krakow’s Main Market square feels like a hidden gem.
#20 El Ateneo Grand Splendid, Buenos Aires, Argentina
El Ateneo Grand Splendid is a lavish theatre-cum-bookstore that attracts tourists who speak every language around the world. While the other finalists on the list are a testament to enduring structures, El Ateneo is a testament to the endurance of literature and words. *wipes away a small tear*
#21 Temple of the Reclining Buddha (Wat Pho), Bangkok, Thailand
The largest Buddha statue in all of Thailand, the Reclining Buddha is 46 metres long. The tranquil face and gold-plated body attract people from all around the world to pay their respects.
#22 Burj Khalifa, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
The tallest building in the world. Need we say more?
#23 Fushimi Inari-taisha Shrine, Kyoto, Japan
Get lost in the calming orange and twisting illusion of Japan’s most famous shrine. By far one of the most memorable walks you’ll ever go on.
#24 Ruinas Mayas de Tulum, Tulum, Mexico
The 13th century Ruinas Mayas de Tulum are most popular for their place perched above the endless blue ocean. It’s ticking off the history and leisure of your travel list at once.
#25 Sydney Opera House, Sydney, Australia
It’s us! We made it! Look at that beauty. Of course she made the list. While only just inching in there, the Sydney Opera House will always be number one in our hearts.
Josephine is a staff writer at Junkee Media. You can find her words on AWOL, The Cusp, food she bagsed in the fridge.