The main purpose of a UNESCO designation is to promote worldwide support for historic and culturally-significant sites. The new UNESCO World Heritage sites announced each year also provide an opportunity to learn about beautiful locations that most of the world has never heard of. Here are 10 of the 21 new UNESCO sites that deserve a spot on your bucket list.
New UNESCO World Heritage Sites 2017
This tiny, pedestrian-only island is located off the coast of Xiamen in southeastern China, and only 20 minutes away by ferry from the major city. The former international settlement is home to famous beaches and a blend of architectural styles.
Taputapuatea, French Polynesia
Taputapuatea is located on Ra’iatea Island and is home to one of the new UNESCO World Heritage sites, the marae complex, which was the ceremonial center of the ancient ma’ohi civilization. You can visit the cultural site, but the heritage location also includes surrounding forests, valleys, a lagoon, a coral reef, and part of the open ocean.
Los Alerces National Park, Argentina
Located in the Andes of northern Patagonia, near the Chilean border is Los Alecres National Park, a newly designated natural property. Here you’ll find super-clear lakes, glacial landforms, and dense forests. This new site is one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites that’s still in pristine condition.
The English Lake District, United Kingdom
Experience the true English country side at one of the new UNESCO World Heritage sites in Europe. Not visited by many tourists, the northwest section of England is full of valleys, mountains, and of course, lakes. Here you’ll find quaint houses, small towns, and winding roads.
Found in southwestern Turkey, this incredible archaeological site is home to the temple of Aphrodite and surrounding marble quarries. As one of the new UNESCO World Heritage sites in Eastern Europe, it also includes the remains of other temples, a theatre, an agora, and two bath complexes.
Tarnowskie Gory, Poland
This lead, silver, and zinc mine is located in the heart of Europe’s central mining district. It’s worth a day trip if you’re visiting Krakow (less than two hours away). The underground site includes the mines, shafts, steam water pumping station, and underground water management system. Although mining stopped in the early 1900’s, evidence of the mines still exists and you can go underground to see it for yourself.
Sambor Prei Kuk, Cambodia
This temple zone was once the capital of the Chenla Empire from the late 6th and early 7th centuries. The archeological site of Sambor Prei Kuk consists of a walled city and 10 octagonal temples, as well as other temples decorated in sandstone elements typical of the era.
Discover Africa’s modern city, Asmara, the capital of Eritrea. The entire city has been declared a new UNESCO site, giving you more reason to explore the colonial Italian architecture that’s reminiscent of the Art Deco-era. The diverse city is home to churches, mosques, and synagogues and is a true picture of modernist urbanism.
Historic City of Ahmadabad, India
The historic city of Ahmadabad is located in the state of Gujarat, India. The walled city was built in the 15th century and presents incredible architecture, from the Fort gates to Hindu temples. As one of 35 UNESCO World Heritage sites in India, Ahmadabad should be on everyone’s list of places to see in the country.
Hebron/Al-Khalil Old Town, Palestine
This new site in the West Bank was one of the UNESCO World Heritage sites added to the “World Heritage in Danger” list this year. While there is some controversy in regards to which country this site belongs to, its religious and cultural significance trumps any political conflict and is worth adding to your bucket list.
More from SmarterTravel:
- Amazing UNESCO World Heritage Sites in North America
- 12 Most Beautiful National Parks in the World
- 9 Places That Aren’t on Your Bucket List (But Should Be)
We hand-pick everything we recommend and select items through testing and reviews. Some products are sent to us free of charge with no incentive to offer a favorable review. We offer our unbiased opinions and do not accept compensation to review products. All items are in stock and prices are accurate at the time of publication. If you buy something through our links, we may earn a commission.