10 Culturally Rich UNESCO Sites

There are an impressive 1157 Properties on the UNESCO World Heritage List. That makes it hard to see them all in a lifetime. To help you decide which are worth visiting, we put together 10 popular destinations. Outstanding universal value, unique charm, and distinct cultural legacy were the main selection criteria.

To learn more about these UNESCO sites and many more download the Pinpoint Where app from the iOS App Store.

  to get Pinpoint Where   Download it from the iOS App Store

Go ahead and test your knowledge to see how many of the famous sites you recognise based on the following photos, before checking out the descriptions underneath each. Which have you been to? Which do you think are worth a visit? Guess from each image, and then find out what makes each of them special right below then mark them in the Pinpoint Where iOS App.

Let’s start out with an easy one:

Photo showing Antonio Gaudi's Basílica Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, Spain - first of 10 popular UNESCO sites worth visiting
Basílica Sagrada Familia, Barcelona – Bernard Gagnon

Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain 🇪🇸

The Catalan Capital with the Basilica that Keeps on Rising

Chances are, you recognised Barcelona‘s most famous Basilica Sagrada Família right away in the above photo. Famous architect Antonio Gaudí designed the church, under construction since 1882, and finally slated for completion in 2026. The building is a great example of the architect’s uniquely organic and at times bizarre style. Due to this unique approach, his body of work is widely seen as an exceptionally creative contribution to the heritage of modern times. For one, it is rooted in the particular character of his period, drawing from traditional Catalan sources. At the same time, it benefits from technical and scientific progress enabling new building techniques. To recognise his amazing creations, UNESCO designated no less than seven as World Heritage Sites. Parque Güell; Palacio Güell; Casa Mila; Casa Vicens; La Sagrada Familia; Casa Batlló; and the Crypt in Colonia Güell. All make the city exceptionally worth visiting.


Photo showing the Inuit Monument in Vancouver's English Bay Park - close to second of 10 popular UNESCO sites
Inuit Monument in Vancouver’s English Bay Park – Peter Graham

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada 🇨🇦

The Canadian City that Celebrates Indigenous and Coastal Beauty

In the photo above, taken from the Inukshuk monument at English Bay, the coastal city of Vancouver may be a bit harder to recognise. But it is a fitting image, as the city’s metropolitan area rests on indigenous territories, dating back over 10,000 years. Besides the above monument, artefacts such as the Brockton Point Totem Poles remind us of the city’s unique history. But that’s not all. In addition to its abundant culture, the city also brims with modern day attractions. For instance, Science World, FlyOver Canada, and Vancouver Lookout are fun to experience. Moreover, people enjoy going for walks in Stanley Park, on Granville Island, or through old charm Gastown to name just a few. UNESCO Biosphere Reserve Mount Arrowsmith close by is definitely worth a visit as well.

Photo showing Djurgårdsbron bridge in Stockholm, Sweden - close to three popular UNESCO sites
Djurgårdsbron bridge in central Stockholm – Holger Ellgaard

Stockholm, Sweden 🇸🇪

The Nordic Capital that floats On Water

In our mind, Stockholm is the most spectacular city in the North of Europe. For one, the city is located right in the midst of the largest archipelago in Sweden. Furthermore, there are the many picturesque waterways in central Stockholm itself. Impressively, the city encompasses no less than 14 islands and more than 50 bridges crisscrossing the extensive Baltic Sea archipelago. One great example is Djurgårdsbron bridge shown in the above photo. Equally beautiful are the quarters full of cobbled streets and beautiful buildings. Among them, the most popular is Gamla Stan (the old town), home historic sites, quaint shops, and stylish cafés. Last but not least, Stockholm boasts not one or two but three UNESCO World Heritage Sites near by. Drottningholm Palace, The Woodland Cemetary and Birka Viking Village are all popular tourist destinations in their own right.

Photo showing Duomo Cathedral in the Florence city center in Tuscany, Italy- an entire UNESCO World Heritage area worth a visit
Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore on Michelangelo Square in Florence – Florian Hirzinger

Florence, Tuscany, Italy 🇮🇹

The Italian City known as the Cradle of the Renaissance

You probably recognised Florence , the Tuscan capital world famous for its art, culture, and architecture. Built on the site of an Etruscan settlement, the city rose to economic and cultural dominance under the Medici. Especially in the 15th and 16th centuries, the Florentine dynasty functioned as inspired patrons of the art. They sponsored extraordinary artistic activity still predominant throughout the Historic Center to this day. In recognition, UNESCO designated the entire downtown as World Heritage Site. In its midst, Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore stands out in the above photo. Over 600 years of artistry brought fourth the work of great masters including Giotto, Brunelleschi, Botticelli and Michelangelo. Due to their impressive legacy, Florence is widely considered the cradle of the Renaissance.

Photo showing evening view across Carlton Hill towards Edinburg Castle - two more UNESCO sites worth visiting
Evening view across Carlton Hill towards Edinburg Castle – Chris Fleming

Edinburg, Scotland 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿

The Scottish Capital home to Queen Elizabeth’s Favourite Residence

The ancient city of Edinburgh goes all the way back to a Mesolithic camp site dated to 8500 BC. Archeologists also found traces of Bronze Age and Iron Age settlements on Castle Rock, Craiglockhart Hill, the Pentland Hills, and Arthur’s Seat. Because of all this history, UNESCO listed Edinburgh’s Old and New Towns as World Heritage Sites. The former in recognition of the unique character of the Old Town. The later to acknowledge the Georgian New Town, including adjoining Dean Village and Carlton Hill. The juxtaposition of the two contrasting historic areas captured in the photo above gives the city its unique character. Worthy of kings and queens, the city also offers lots of entertainment throughout the year. For instance, a series of festivals between July and September makes it fun for inhabitants and visitors alike to enjoy the city during the summer. 

Photo showing Kamigamo Shrine in Kyoto, Japan - part of the entire UNESCO World Heritage area.
Kamigamo Shrine, Kyoto – 利用者:663highland

Kyoto, Japan 🇯🇵

The Ancient Capital of Japanese Emperors for 11 Centuries

Easy to recognise, Kyoto is one of Japan’s oldest municipalities. Emperor Kanmu chose the city in 794 as the new seat of Japan’s Imperial Court. Following, Japanese Emperors ruled from Kyoto for eleven centuries. In 1868 however, the Imperial Court moved to Tokyo because of its more convenient location for trade with the West. As a result, Kyoto grew into Japan’s cultural capital and one of its greatest tourist destinations. In total, an impressive 2,000 temples and shrines surrounded by beautiful gardens give the city its special flair. One of the most photographed is Kamigamo Shrine, shown above. UNESCO included this shrine as one of the seventeen Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto. Other famous sites worth a visit include Arashiyama, the Geisha Quarters, and picturesque canals lining the streets of the ancient city.

Photo showing Sydney Opera House with the Harbour Bridge in the Background in Australia -another of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites worth a visit
Sydney Opera House with the Harbour Bridge in the Background – Adam.J.W.C.

Sydney, Australia 🇦🇺

The Down Under City famous for its Sail Shaped Opera House

Sydney, the most populous city in Australia, is absolutely famous for its Opera House. Seen in the photo, the world renowned landmark shines in all its evening glory, with Sydney Harbour Bridge in the background. In fact, the masterpiece of 20th-century architecture stands out day and night. The spherical shaped shells look like sails propelled by the wind. Because of this unique design, the Opera House was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2007. The second reason the youngest cultural site on the list was selected was the sheer construction achievement to realise the challenging design. In addition to this spectacular landmark, visitors also enjoy visiting the sparkling waterside life in Darling Harbour, with the Royal Botanical Garden nearby. Finally, Sydney Tower’s Skywalk platform offers stunning 360-degree views from high above.

Picture of Jal Mahal in Man Sagar Lake  in Jaipur, India, and UNESCO World Heritage Site
Jal Mahal in Man Sagar Lake in Jaipur, India – Firoze Edassery

Jaipur, India 🇮🇳

The City featured in Paul McCartney’s Song “Riding into Jaipur”

Jaipur, the walled capital of Rajasthan, is another UNESCO World Heritage Site worth a visit. Impressive buildings like the Jal Mahal seen in the picture above have given the city the reputation of being the Paris of India. Consequently, visitors come in droves to enjoy Jaipur’s fascinating mix of ancient forts and picturesque royal palaces. Beyond that, the main avenues of the city designed as markets continue to delight as vibrant bazaars. At the same time, the juxtaposition with modern shopping malls has made the city a popular tourist destination across the board. For those that cannot visit in person, there is another fun way to see Jaipur. You can check the city out as the great film backdrop in The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and sequel The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.

Photo showing Santiago de Chile in Winter - close to another of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites worth visiting of its shores
Santiago de Chile in Winter – Victor San Martin

Santiago, Chile 🇨🇱

The City famous for Crazy Rooftop Clubs with Dizzying Vistas

Santiago de Chile is one of the most spectacular cities in the Americas, nestled high up among spectacular mountain ranges. The photo above showcases the breathtaking views to be had from the Chilean capital in winter. In addition, the many art galleries, design stores and arts & crafts fairs throughout the city greatly contribute to its vibrancy. Further adding to the mix, inventive restaurants, bars and coffee shops are worth checking out as well. For instance, a must see while exploring the city is the colourful Mercado Central. All of this culture, energy and eccentricity makes Santiago feel like an old city with a renaissance flair. The city itself is not on the list (yet). But UNESCO recognised Rapa Nui National Park. Its enormous stone figures, known as moai, inspire visitors to check out the island off Santiago’s coast where the park is located.

Photo showing Cape Town, South Africa, with the Table Mountain in the Background - a member of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network
Cape Town with the Table Mountain in the Background – South Africa Tourism

Cape Town, South Africa 🇿🇦

The City Portuguese Explorer named the “Cape of Storms”

Cape Town is the legislative capital of South Africa, active in the UNESCO Creative Cities Network. The photo above shows the city with the fabled Table Mountain in the background. Thanks to its great geographic location, the city features spectacular nature, interesting history, and some of the most exciting wildlife in the world. This in turn makes it one of South Africa’s most popular tourist destinations. Furthermore, the city itself offers an abundance of fun activities from scouring markets to wine tastings. Best done in summer is the ascend up Table Mountain in a cable car for its breathtaking views. Close by are additional fabulous places worth a visit. They include the exquisite Cape Winelands in the interior, charming villages on the West Coast, and wildlife safaris all around.

This was our top 10 list. We hope you got inspired and learned a thing or two.

In fact, if you enjoyed the photos and want to keep testing your knowledge, download the iOS app “PinPoint Where!” It features great pictures across hundreds of categories. Beyond the great visuals with brief overviews for each place it links to details. Plus you can “fly” to the locations, mark places you have already seen, save favourites, and much more. You can even click through to book a trip to any of the great cities you consider worth visiting.

Also write us any time in case we missed something or you have additional suggestions at contact@bitwyze.com