No travel bucket list is complete without iconic landmarks including India’s Taj Mahal, Barcelona’s Sagrada Familia and Angkor Wat in Cambodia. Whether you’re planning a travel adventure for 2020 or further ahead, these are the destinations everyone should aim to visit once in their lifetime…
1. Eiffel Tower – Paris, France
Considered one of the most romantic cities on Earth, there is an abundance of reasons to visit Paris, but the Eiffel Tower has to be one of the top attractions. At 324 m tall, it towers over the city and can be seen from miles away. Whether you capture a picture of the tower itself, see the incredible glass floor of the 1st floor, or take the time to climb to the top and see the stunning panoramic views, it is a must-see in Europe.
2. Angkor Wat – Siem Reap, Cambodia
One of the top landmarks everyone should visit is the masterpiece of Angkor Wat. The majestic structure is Cambodia's most beloved and best-preserved temple. The 500-acre site is one of the largest religious monuments in the world and represents the architectural pinnacle of the Khmer Empire. It has remained a place of worship since its founding in the 12th century.
3. Sydney Harbour Bridge – Sydney, Australia
Standing at 134 m above water and 503 m long, the bridge stretches between Sydney's central business district and the North Shore, carrying trains, cars and pedestrians alike. Visitors can climb the heritage-listed bridge where they will be rewarded by views of the city skyline, harbour and the Opera House, which is one of the other iconic landmarks in the country.
4. Machu Picchu – Machu Picchi, Peru
Located 8,000 ft high in the Andes, Peru's famous lost city is one of the most famous and spectacular ruins in the world. This UNESCO World Heritage site is one of the most familiar symbols of the Incan Empire, and is guaranteed to thrill even the most well-travelled backpackers. Its sheer scale and audacity will require careful route planning.
5. Colosseum – Rome, Italy
The Colosseum in Rome really is a sight to behold! The oval amphitheatre was built between AD 72 and AD 80 and was constructed for the purpose of entertainment. Up to 70,000 spectators would gather to witness gladiator matches and animal hunts. See the Hypogeum, which functioned as holding rooms for animals and gladiators before their fights, the wooden arena covered by sand that used to cover the Hypogeum, and the third tier of the Colosseum, which offers fantastic views of the amphitheatre and Rome.
6. Taj Mahal – Angra, India
Standing majestically on the banks of the River Yamuna, India's national treasure is a symbol of love and romance. The Taj Mahal’s pure white marble, exquisite ornamentation and precious gemstones make it one of the most sought-after tourist destinations in the world. However, once you find out the love story behind its construction its beauty is given a new light. Its name was inspired by Mumtaz Mahal, Shah Jahan’s beloved wife who died during childbirth of their 14th child, and the monument is a tomb that contains her body today.
7. Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque – Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
As well as the stunning courtyard, which features the largest marble mosaic in the world at 180,000 square feet, the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque boasts four 350-ft tall minarets, which can be seen across the Abu Dhabi skyline and from each of the bridges joining Abu Dhabi to the mainland. The impressive mosque is one of a few that is open to tourists in the region.
8. Empire State Building – New York, US
Completed in 1931, the Empire State Building is one of the most impressive attractions in New York City. The 102-story skyscraper stands at 1,454 ft tall and has been featured in a number of TV shows and movies, including 1933 film King Kong and Sleepless in Seattle. The ground-floor interior alone is impressive, with the lobby's stunning art deco ceiling murals resulting in it being designated a historic landmark by the Landmarks Preservation Commission. If you're feeling adventurous, take a ride up the mast in a Glass Elevator to the 102nd Floor Observation Deck. There, you'll be greeted with panoramic views of the city, but be warned, it's not for the faint-hearted!
9. Basilica of the Sagrada Familia – Barcelona, Spain
Despite being a few years away from completion, the magnificent Sagrada Familia is one of the most visited sites in the world, considered to be the most visited monument in all of Spain and Barcelona’s most iconic landmark. Famous modernist architect Antoni Gaudi began construction of the basilica in 1882 and devoted much of his life to it until his death in 1926. Its completion is expected almost 100 years after the architect's death.
10. Alcatraz – San Francisco, California
Often referred to as The Rock, Alcatraz Island was home to a federal and military prison until 1963. During the 29 years it was in use, the prison – which is located offshore in the San Francisco Bay and 1.5 miles from San Francisco, California – was home to some of America's most notorious prisoners. Today, the island and its lighthouse are open to visitors and are so popular that there can be a several day wait for tickets.
11. St Peter's Basilica – Vatican City, Italy
Italy's most spectacular cathedral is located within the Vatican and boasts many masterpieces, including Michelangelo’s Pietà, his soaring dome, and Bernini's 29m-high baldachin over the papal altar. It remains one of the two largest churches in the world, and is admired for its Renaissance sculpture as well as its fusion of Renaissance and Baroque architecture. The design, construction and decoration of St Peter's involved more than five of the greatest architects in Italy.
12. Corcovado, Cristo Redentor or Christ the Redeemer – Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
At 98 ft tall, the giant statue of Jesus Christ towers above the vibrant Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro and earned itself a place in the top ten landmarks of 2015. Boasting spectacular views of the entire city, many tourists would argue that a round the world trip is not complete without a visit to the mountain.
13. Milan Cathedral (Duomo) – Milan, Italy
An exceptionally large and elaborate Gothic cathedral found in the main square of Milan, the Duomo di Milano is one of the most famous buildings in Europe. It is the largest Gothic cathedral and the second largest Catholic cathedral in the world and its dazzling white facade is definitely worth a photograph – it took nearly six centuries to complete.
14. Plaza de Espana – Seville, Spain
Plaza de Espana is one of the most impressive buildings in Seville, and a must-see when visiting the city. Known as the “Venice of Seville”, tourists visit in their droves to see the grand Renaissance-style building, which has a 500-metre canal running along the perimeter that you can travel along by boat for a romantic experience.
15. Golden Gate Bridge – San Francisco, California
Once called "the bridge that couldn't be built", San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge is the city's second entry in the top 10 and attracts between nine and ten million visitors every year. Known for its orange colour, the suspension bridge crosses from the city to the Marin headlands for nearly two miles – and has been linking the two since 1937.
16. Parliament – Budapest, Hungary
Previously named one of the top world landmarks by TripAdvisor, the Parliament building in Budapest wowed visitors due to its neo-Gothic architecture and imposing presence on the banks of the Danube River. Tourists can even book guided tours to explore within the beautiful building.