UNESCO World Heritage status sites: 10 of the best

Peter Hitchcock, an Australian World Heritage consultant, chooses his favourite sites from around here and overseas.


A truly wild landscape covering about a fifth of the state with a huge diversity of scenery and biodiversity; definitely a world-class temperate wilderness complete with glacial landscapes, caves, lakes, wild rivers and fabulous forests. The tall eucalypt forests on the eastern side of the site are awe-inspiring and include the tallest flowering plants in the world, with trees up to 100 metres.

See: Six of the best day walks in Tasmania


Canaima National Park in eastern Venezuela comprises a grand sandstone landscape, including Mount Roraima, Conan Doyle's "Lost World"; many plateaux and buttes with constantly misty summits and many waterfalls cascading over vertical cliffs, including the highest waterfall in the world, Angel Falls.

See: A road trip through Venezuela


This site includes the most spectacular and interesting waterfall in the world, Iguazu Falls, on the international border between Argentina and Brazil. So complex and interesting, the waterfall alone deserves at least a few days to explore it by the many walking tracks and viewing points.

See: The amazing luxury hotel on the edge of Iguazu Falls


The architecture of what was originally a church was so brilliant for the 6th century that it became a model for Muslim mosques thereafter. Hagia Sophia was converted from being the world's oldest and largest church into a mosque but later into a national museum.

See: The world's great ghost cities


Byblos World Heritage site on the north coast of Lebanon is associated with the ancient harvesting of the Cedars of Lebanon on Mount Lebanon and despatch of logs by sea to ancient Egypt in biblical times. There's a well preserved original harbour and associated remains of ancient Phoenician buildings. It's also a site associated with the Phoenician alphabet, which laid the foundations of various modern scripts.

See: How Lebanon became one of the most exciting tourist destinations on Earth


The iconic marine karst landscape and waterway never fails to impress the visitor, especially when viewed from one of the tour boats operating through the maze of channels and islands. Should be on the top of the list for anyone visiting Vietnam.

See: How to do Halong Bay by kayak


As a memorial to the first atomic bomb blast used in war, this is a very sad site with a strong message about the horrors of atomic warfare. Notwithstanding, a visit to the site, including the ruins of the "Atomic Dome", can be educational and mind-changing. Excellent interpretative museum that can both shock and inspire the need to oppose any use of atomic weapons.

See: Japan Rail Pass - is it worth the money?


Undoubtedly one of the better known iconic mountain landscapes of the world, especially the glacially carved main valley. While overwhelming in scale, it is a user-friendly place with good walking tracks to vantage points.

See: America's six most awe-inspiring national parks


Easily accessible by vehicle, it is a spectacular glaciated mountain landscape capped by a massive tract of solid ice hundreds of metres deep. Any visit to western Canada should have this site at the top of the list. I would return to it again. And again.

See: The world's most jaw-dropping train journey now even better


The 17th century Old City of Quebec Site is a delightfully distinctive old city quite unlike anything else in north America; not surprisingly it is very French in character. Distinctive architecture high on an elevated landscape overlooking the harbour.

See: 20 reasons to visit Quebec City

See also: Australia 19 World Heritage sites - what makes them so special?
See also: Do travellers care about World Heritage status?