An All Unesco Heritage Round-the-World Trip

Maybe the world’s most famous UNESCO Heritage site.

I love Unesco. Not only are they integral in recognizing and protecting historic and natural marvels around the world, they give people a good reason to venture to unknown locations along their international journeys. Plus the word just sounds good on your tongue. Unesco. It’s like what dark Brazilian chocolate or a Pisco Sour would be if they were a humanitarian organization. On my last trip I was able to check off 8 different Unesco World Heritage sites from my list in a month, and not once did they let me down.

If you happen to be a history buff, a geographile, or have a particular penchant for the overly scenic, an “All Heritage World Tour” may be your thing. Even if you don’t make World Heritage sites the primary MO for your trip, there’s no way to lose if you make a point to see some along the way.

There are three different varieties of World Heritage site as chosen by Unesco: cultural, natural and a “mixed” class which includes elements of both. Each are stunning in the spectacle they offer and each will give you both photo opportunities and education about how humanity and nature have worked in concert down through the ages.

Because just about every traveler I know enjoys looking at beautiful things, I’ve put together a sample RTW trip that brings together a love of traveling with a love of protected gems.

It’s not easy to select a handful UWH sites from a list of over 1000 amazing places but to keep it on topic, I’ve put together a trip an average AirTrekker might be interested in taking. The following trip is to be taken as a recommendation bearing in mind economy, efficiency and, above all, value – a way to get the most for your money.

The table below shows the airport cities involved in the trip, the actual site name and how far it is from its airport city.  To get more info about the UWH site listed below copy/paste the name into the Unesco website’s search bar. There’s a ton of info on each place.

Closest Hub Airport World Heritage Site Name Location
San Francisco, CA, USA Redwoods National Park 3 hours north by car
Miami, FL, USA Everglades National Park 1 hour east by car
Barcelona, Spain Palau de la Música Catalana and Hospital de Sant Pau City Center
Carcassonne, France Historic Fortified City of Carcassonne City Center
Arles, France Roman & Romanesque Monuments, Arena City Center
Athens, Grece The Acropolis and Parthenon City Center
Cairo, Egypt Ancient Thebes 8.5 hour overnight train
Dar es Salaam, Tanzania Stone Town of Zanzibar 2 hours north by speedboat ferry
Muscat, Oman Bahla Fort 1.5 hours southwest by bus
Bombay, India Victoria Terminus City Center
Hampi, India Group of Monuments 5 – 30 minutes by moto-rickshaw
Jaipur, India Jantar Mantar City Center
Agra, India Taj Mahal City Center
Kathmandu, Nepal Kathmandu Valley Surrounding landscape
Bangkok,  Thailand Historic Town of Sukhothai 7 hours north by train/bus
Siem Reap, Cambodia Angkor 20 minutes north by moto-rickshaw
Luang Prabang, Laos Town of Luang Prabang City Center
Kunming, China Old town of Lijiang 4 hours northwest by bus
Hong Kong, China Historic center of Macau 1 hour west by ferry
Hong Kong, China Kaiping Diaolou 2 hours west by bus/train
Kona, Hawaii, USA Hawaii Volcanoes National Park 30 minutes by car


The following is the AirTreks suggested route based on value and efficiency:

San Francisco – Miami – Barcelona – overland to Nice – Athens – Cairo – Dar es Salaam –  Muscat – Bombay – overland to Delhi – Kathmandu – Bangkok – overland to Siem Reap – overland to Luang Prabang – Kunming – Hong Kong – Honolulu – San Francisco

Below is the TripPlanner solution to the itinerary above. Just think, 21 Unesco World Heritage sites plus a 17-stop, 4-continent trip around the world for under $7000 including all taxes and fees. Pretty sweet.

(Click here to submit or tweak this trip with TripPlanner)

World Heritage RTW

If you’re interested in doing a trip like this, or if you have your own Unesco World Heritage trip you’d like to do, pinpoint the locations on their map, add them to ours, and start the ball rolling. Or else just call one of our Personal Travel Consultants and see what they thing. Don’t forget to pack your camera. You’re gonna want it.

 – Taj Mahal image by the author