Hey there! So, you've got a bit of wanderlust, and you're looking for some awe-inspiring spots to add to your travel bucket list? How about you step away from the classic beach-and-resort vacations, and try something more unique this year? For instance, try visiting one or two UNESCO World Heritage Sites. These spots are pretty to look at, but they're also full of history, culture, and natural beauty that you've got to see to believe.

And because we're all about keeping things fresh and avoiding those tired travel cliches, here's a list of five UNESCO sites that are anything but ordinary.

1. Gyeongju Historic Areas, South Korea

South Korea is fascinating wherever you go, but Gyeongju offers a true window into the royal past of the country. This city paints a vivid picture of a bygone era with its abundance of ancient sites, royal tombs, and Buddhist art. Not to be missed are the serene surroundings and magnificent stone carvings of the Bulguksa Temple and Seokguram Grotto.

5 Most Beautiful UNESCO World Heritage Sites to Put on Your Bucket List - The Wise Traveller - Gyeongju Historic Areas, South Korea

The historical environment of Gyeongju is a stunning fusion of man-made and natural elements, with each garden and trail narrating a different chapter from the region's rich cultural heritage. Take this time to de-stress, take a deep breath, and soak up the serenity and magnificence of antiquated customs and buildings.

2. Venice and its Lagoon, Italy

The city of canals, Venice, is a marvel of cultural and architectural grandeur. Its technical marvel of a foundation testifies to the adaptability and inventiveness of humankind. The famous gondola excursions highlight the enduring beauty of this floating city and offer a look into a life lived on the water.

5 Most Beautiful UNESCO World Heritage Sites to Put on Your Bucket List - The Wise Traveller - Venice

Venice is a unique destination because of its ability to combine the grandeur of its past with the energy of the present. It will capture your heart like no other place, whether it's the breathtaking Basilica of San Marco, the energetic Carnival, or a peaceful moment spent gazing out over a tranquil canal. It’s a city that essentially grew out of the sea to become a gem of cultural heritage and a monument to human ingenuity.

3. Al-Ula, Saudi Arabia

AlUla is a breathtaking testament to nature's artistry and human history, nestled in the deserts of Saudi Arabia. This ancient city is not just a site; it's a doorway to the past, where stunning rock formations and remnants of old civilizations tell tales of days long gone. This magical Saudi Arabia museum is the main attraction, offering visitors a chance to dive deep into the region's rich heritage through immersive experiences that bring history to life.

5 Most Beautiful UNESCO World Heritage Sites to Put on Your Bucket List - The Wise Traveller - AlUla, Saudi Arabia

Here, every stone, carving, and landscape narrates a story of trade, culture, and survival in one of the most mesmerizing natural settings. Watch as the past and present converge, offering insights into misunderstood Saudi Arabia and the enduring legacy of human civilization amidst the stark beauty of the desert.

4. Angkor Wat, Cambodia

As a colossal monument of architectural and spiritual magnificence, Angkor Wat represents the soul and heart of Cambodia. The world's largest religious structure, this huge temple complex is an incredible feat of Khmer engineering and dedication. A journey through time can be had by strolling around its expansive grounds and climbing its towers, where every stone and carving speaks of strength and faith.

5 Most Beautiful UNESCO World Heritage Sites to Put on Your Bucket List - The Wise Traveller - Angkor Wat - Cambodia

Angkor Wat's silhouette against the sunset or rising sun is a famous representation of serenity and beauty that symbolizes the coexistence of the divine and humans. This location mixes spirituality and history, while provoking guests to consider the fleeting nature of empires and the enduring force of belief.

5. Great Barrier Reef, Australia

The Great Barrier Reef is as beautiful as it is important for the natural world. This huge marine ecosystem (the planet's largest coral reef system, btw) is a brilliant underwater tapestry brimming with life. With thousands of species of marine plants and animals calling it home, it presents a unique chance for exploration and learning.

5 Most Beautiful UNESCO World Heritage Sites to Put on Your Bucket List - The Wise Traveller - Great Barrier Reef

Entering the reef via diving or snorkeling is like entering a living kaleidoscope of hues and forms, with every coral and organism contributing to the delicate equilibrium of the reef. Floating amid the breathtaking variety of fish, turtles, sharks, and corals is a life-changing experience that provides a deep connection to the fragility and complexity of the natural world.

These UNESCO sites will not only make your travel journal more diverse and colorful, but they will also open up a whole new world of knowledge and experiences. If you’re looking for something unique, mind-opening and inspiring to do in 2024, pick any of these destinations, pack your bags and keep us all posted on your explorations.

Sophia Smith is a lifestyle blogger, graphic designer and travel enthusiast. She is very passionate about eco-friendly and green topics, sustainable travel, eco beauty, and conscious business. Sophia's other hobbies centre around her love for yoga, wellness rituals and living in balance with nature. She loves sharing meaningful content that inspires people. Sophia has contributed to a number of publications including Eco Warrior Princess, Sivana Spirit, Carousel, Cause Artist, Austin Fit Magazine, Awaken, Literally Darling, Stay at Base, and Read Unwritten