The Most Beautiful World Heritage Sites: Exploring Spectacular Cultural and Natural Wonders

Choose the Site you think is the most beautiful!

Author: Gregor Krambs
Updated on Sep 18, 2023 05:16
Welcome to StrawPoll, where opinions matter and every vote counts! Get ready to embark on a visual journey as we present to you a stunning collection of the most beautiful World Heritage Sites from across the globe. From the awe-inspiring Great Barrier Reef to the ancient marvels of Machu Picchu, we've curated a list that showcases the epitome of natural beauty and architectural wonders. But the power to decide the ultimate ranking lies in your hands! Cast your vote now for your favorite World Heritage Site, and if you think we missed a hidden gem, feel free to suggest a deserving contender. Don't miss the chance to participate in this epic quest to crown the most breathtaking World Heritage Site. Together, let's celebrate the diversity and magnificence of our planet's cultural and natural treasures!

What Are the Most Beautiful World Heritage Sites? (September 2023)

  1. 1

    Angkor Wat, Cambodia

    King Suryavarman II
    The largest religious monument in the world, this 12th-century temple complex is a masterpiece of Khmer architecture.
    Angkor Wat is a temple complex and the largest religious monument in the world. It was originally built in the early 12th century as a Hindu temple, but gradually transformed into a Buddhist temple by the end of the same century. It is located in Cambodia, and is now a World Heritage Site and one of the most popular tourist destinations in Southeast Asia.
    • Built: Early 12th century
    • Creator: King Suryavarman II
    • Religion: Originally Hindu, later transformed into Buddhist
    • Size: 162.6 hectares
    • Height: 65 meters
    Angkor Wat, Cambodia in other rankings
  2. 2
    This iconic white marble mausoleum is considered one of the world's greatest architectural achievements and a symbol of love.
    The Taj Mahal is a white marble mausoleum located in Agra, India. It was commissioned in 1632 by the Mughal Emperor, Shah Jahan, to house the tomb of his favorite wife, Mumtaz Mahal. It is widely regarded as one of the most beautiful buildings in the world.
    • Construction Period: 1632-1653
    • Architectural Style: Mughal
    • Materials Used: White Marble, Red Sandstone
    • Height: 73 meters (240 feet)
    • Length: 75 meters (246 feet)
    Taj Mahal, India in other rankings
  3. 3

    Machu Picchu, Peru

    The Inca civilization
    This ancient Incan city perched on a mountainside is one of the most awe-inspiring archaeological sites in the world.
    Machu Picchu is a sprawling fortress and temple complex from the Inca civilization, located high in the Andes Mountains of Peru. This ancient city is known for its unique blend of precise construction and stunning natural surroundings, making it a popular tourist destination and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
    • Location: Andes Mountains, Peru
    • Built: 15th century AD
    • Type: Fortress/temple complex
    • Size: 13 square kilometers
    • Elevation: 2,430 meters (7,970 feet)
    Machu Picchu, Peru in other rankings
  4. 4
    Petra, Jordan
    Diego Delso · CC BY-SA 3.0

    Petra, Jordan

    The ancient city of Petra, carved into the rock by the Nabataeans, is a stunning testament to the ingenuity of human civilization.
    Petra is a historical and archaeological city in the southern part of Jordan known for its stunning sandstone rock-cut architecture and ancient water conduit system. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most visited tourist attractions in Jordan.
    • Location: Southern Jordan
    • Date of construction: 312 BCE
    • Architectural Style: Hellenistic
    • Petra's Monuments: The Treasury, Monastery, Royal Tombs, Temple of Al-Deir
    • Water Conduit System: Innovative engineering systems that provided water for Petra’s citizens and agriculture
    Petra, Jordan in other rankings
  5. 5
    Stonehenge, United Kingdom
    Stefan Kühn · CC BY-SA 3.0
    This prehistoric monument, composed of massive standing stones, is a mystery that has fascinated people for centuries.
    Stonehenge is a prehistoric monument located in the English county of Wiltshire, about 3.2 kilometers west of Amesbury and 13 kilometers north of Salisbury. One of the most famous prehistoric sites in the world, it consists of a ring of standing stones, each around 4.0 meters high, 2.1 meters wide, and weighing around 25 tons. The stones are set within earthworks in the middle of the most dense complex of Neolithic and Bronze Age monuments in England, including several hundred burial mounds.
    • Constructed: 2500-2000 BCE
    • Total number of Stones: 83
    • Height of largest Stone: 9m
    • Height of smaller Stones: 4m
    • Distance between inner ring Stones: 10-12 ft
  6. 6
    This awe-inspiring natural wonder is one of the most famous and visited national parks in the world.
    Grand Canyon National Park is a massive natural wonder located in the state of Arizona, United States. The park is home to one of the most impressive and awe-inspiring canyons in the world, which stretches for 277 miles and reaches depths of over a mile. The sheer size and grandeur of the Grand Canyon make it a popular destination for tourists from around the globe.
    • Location: Arizona, United States
    • Size: 1,902 sq mi (4,926 sq km)
    • Length: 277 miles (446 km)
    • Width: 18 miles (29 km)
    • Depth: 6,000 ft (1,800 m)
    Grand Canyon National Park, United States in other rankings
  7. 7
    This vast coral reef system is home to a dazzling array of marine life and is one of the world's greatest natural wonders.
    The Great Barrier Reef is a natural wonder located in the Coral Sea off the coast of Australia. It is the world's largest coral reef system, stretching over 2,300 kilometers and featuring around 3,000 individual reefs and hundreds of islands. The reef is home to an incredibly diverse array of marine life, including over 1,500 species of fish, 600 types of coral, and countless other species.
    • Length: 2,300 kilometers
    • Number of reefs: Around 3,000
    • Number of islands: Hundreds
    • Marine life species: Over 1,500 species of fish and 600 types of coral
    • UNESCO World Heritage Site designated year: 1981
    The Great Barrier Reef, Australia in other rankings
  8. 8
    The Great Wall of China, China
    Severin.stalder · CC BY-SA 3.0
    This ancient defensive structure snakes across the Chinese landscape and is one of the most iconic and impressive feats of human engineering.
    The Great Wall of China is a series of fortifications made of brick, tamped earth, wood, and other materials, located in northern China. It was built along an east-to-west line across the historical northern borders of China to protect the Chinese empires against the raids and invasions of the various nomadic groups of the Eurasian Steppe. The wall stretches from Dandong in the east to Lop Lake in the west, along an arc that roughly delineates the southern edge of Inner Mongolia.
    • Length: 13,171 miles (21,196 km)
    • Height: Varies from 16 to 30 feet (5 to 9 meters)
    • Thickness: Varies from 13 to 16 feet (4 to 5 meters)
    • Age: Built between the 7th century BC and the 17th century AD
    • Material: Stone, brick, tamped earth, wood, and other materials
    The Great Wall of China, China in other rankings
  9. 9
    The Palace of Versailles, France
    ToucanWings · CC BY-SA 3.0
    This opulent palace and gardens, built by Louis XIV, is a stunning example of French Baroque architecture and design.
    The Palace of Versailles, located in Versailles, France, is an opulent royal palace built by Louis XIV built in the 17th century. It served as the seat of political power in France from 1682 until the start of the French Revolution in 1789.
    • Architect: Louis Le Vau, Jules Hardouin-Mansart, and Charles Le Brun
    • Construction period: 1661-1710
    • Construction cost: Approximately 2 billion French francs
    • Size: 67,000 square meters
    • Rooms: 2,300
    The Palace of Versailles, France in other rankings
  10. 10
    The Colosseum, Italy
    Diego Delso · CC BY-SA 4.0

    The Colosseum, Italy

    Vespasian and Titus
    This ancient amphitheater, built in Rome in 80 AD, is a testament to the power and glory of the Roman Empire.
    The Colosseum is an ancient amphitheatre located in Rome, Italy. It is considered one of the most iconic landmarks of the city and one of the greatest examples of Roman engineering and architecture. The Colosseum was originally used for hosting a variety of events such as gladiatorial contests, public spectacles, and mock sea battles. Today, it stands as a popular tourist attraction and a powerful symbol of Rome's rich cultural heritage.
    • Location: Rome, Italy
    • Construction started: 70 - 72 AD
    • Construction completed: 80 AD
    • Architectural style: Roman
    • Height: 48 meters
    The Colosseum, Italy in other rankings

Missing your favorite Site?


Ranking factors for beautiful World Heritage Sites

  1. Natural beauty
    The site's overall natural beauty, including its landscape, flora, and fauna, as well as the presence of unique or exceptional natural features, such as waterfalls, mountains, or rock formations.
  2. Cultural value
    The cultural importance of the site, such as its historical significance, the presence of outstanding architecture, or its role in the development of art, science, or technology.
  3. Integrity and authenticity
    How well the site has been preserved and maintained, as well as its authenticity, in terms of the extent to which it represents its original condition and appearance.
  4. Rarity or uniqueness
    The site's rarity or uniqueness in terms of its natural or cultural features, which may include being the best example of a particular type of site, or representing a unique or rare ecosystem, habitat, or cultural tradition.
  5. Representativeness
    The extent to which the site represents a particular type of cultural or natural heritage, or a specific period in history.
  6. Visitor experience
    The quality of the visitor experience, including the accessibility of the site, the quality of the facilities and services, the level of interpretation and information available, and the overall experience of visiting the site.
  7. Educational and scientific value
    The potential for the site to contribute to scientific research, education, and public awareness of cultural and natural heritage issues.
  8. Sustainable management and conservation
    The effectiveness of the site's management and conservation efforts, including its legal protection, the involvement of local communities, and the use of sustainable tourism practices.
  9. Synergy with other sites
    The extent to which the site can be combined with other heritage sites in the area to create a more comprehensive and appealing tourist experience.
  10. Global recognition and appeal
    The site's international recognition and reputation, as well as its attractiveness to potential visitors.

About this ranking

This is a community-based ranking of the most beautiful World Heritage Sites. We do our best to provide fair voting, but it is not intended to be exhaustive. So if you notice something or your favorite Site is missing from the list, feel free to help us improve the ranking.


  • 179 votes
  • 10 ranked items

Voting Rules

A participant may cast an up or down vote for each Site once every 24 hours. The rank of each Site is then calculated from the weighted sum of all up and down votes.

More information on most beautiful world heritage sites

World Heritage Sites are cultural or natural landmarks that have been deemed significant and valuable to the entire world by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). These sites are considered to be of immense importance to humanity, and their preservation is essential to maintain the cultural and natural diversity of our planet. UNESCO has designated over 1,100 World Heritage Sites across the globe, ranging from historic monuments, cultural landscapes, and natural wonders. These sites are recognized for their outstanding universal value and are held in high regard by people all around the world. In this article, we will explore some of the most beautiful World Heritage Sites that are a testament to human creativity, history, and nature's wonders.