9 Breath-taking UNESCO World Heritage Sites You Can Visit on a Cruise


When a landmark or area is gilded with such beauty and cultural prestige that they’re protected by law, you know you’re in for a treat when you see it up close in person. With over 1,000 UNESCO World Heritage Sites across the world, there’s no shortage of these stunning cultural highlights to choose from.

From historic monuments to whole swathes of land, UNESCO’s collection of legendary sites has something for every type of traveller, whether you’re a bit of a history buff or just love to broaden those travel horizons. Here, we’ve collected nine incredible UNESCO World Heritage Sites from around the globe that you can visit on your next cruise holiday.

  1. The Acropolis of Athens, Greece

 Athens, Greece

Standing above the Greek capital like a king overseeing its royal subjects, the Acropolis of Athens proudly fills the skyline with an incredible selection of historically-significant buildings, such as the Parthenon, the unbelievable temple made from gold and ivory, built to honour Athena Parthenos, the goddess symbolising power and status.

With stunning views of the surrounding area and an almost-tangible atmosphere to soak up, the Acropolis offers plenty of photo opportunities amidst a historic, culturally-incomparable part of the world. A must-see site to tick off your travel checklist.

  1. Historic Centre of Florence

Florence, Italy.

Not an individual site per se, but an area of European excellence with some real cultural credentials to its name. Six centuries of art, architecture and history mean there’s plenty for inquisitive types to gorge on here, including perhaps its most famous resident: Michelangelo’s David at the Galleria dell’Accademia. Visit the Pitti Palace, site of 500 Renaissance paintings, or take a stroll across the Ponte Vecchio bridge before indulging in a spot of retail therapy in its many-splendored array of jewellery shops and quaint, chic boutiques.

  1. Great Wall of China

Great Wall of China

We don’t think any list of UNESCO World Heritage sites would be complete without mentioning the Great Wall of China. A storied fortification that’s both a testament to the country’s military prowess and striking architectural vision, the 5,600-mile wall is a popular tourist highlight for good reason. Nestled amongst verdant peaks and hills, it stretches through a swathe of north China provinces, affording lucky visitors some seriously incredible views, whichever part of the wall you find yourself walking on.

  1. Taj Mahal, India

Travel and people photography.

The must-see monument – built as a tomb for the deceased wife of emperor Shah Jahan – still remains as one of the world’s most picturesque World Heritage sites. Considered by many to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience, the building truly is a thing of beauty, flanked by ornamental gardens complete with flowing fountains. Ripples of the Taj reflect in its waters, casting the pristine marble and semi-precious stones that make up its outer walls in a glistening new light.

  1. Dubrovnik, Croatia


This pristine, much-lauded walled city has been raking in tourist plaudits long before it became a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1979. Since then, its popularity as a destination for those looking for a city with real wow factor continues to grow. Frequently called one of the most beautiful places in Europe, as well as the ‘pearl of the Adriatic’ for its waterside location, Dubrovnik is dotted with some of the last remaining Renaissance-style buildings in the world as well as modern Baroque churches. With plenty of boutiques, bars and restaurants to try out while you’re here, Game of Thrones fans should take note, too: there are more than a few filming locations in this neck of the woods.

  1. Pompeii, Italy


Amongst Italy’s alluring romance and undeniable style, be sure to make time for the storied history of Pompeii during your visit if you can. Located at the foot of Mount Vesuvius, the spectre of its destruction via volcanic eruption looms large, a chilling reminder of its annihilation in 79AD. As eerie as it is impressive, this surprisingly well-preserved city lets visitors wander around shops, cafés, amphitheatres and temples, though it’s worth buying an audio guide to fully understand the historical significance of the city. For an archaeological experience like no other, Pompeii has it all.

  1. The Great Pyramids of Giza, Egypt

 Scene for Giza Pyramids

The last remaining example of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World still in existence, Giza’s Great Pyramids are another archaeological splendour that budding explorers should endeavour to visit. In addition to its iconic pyramids, visitors can also wander around nearby cemeteries and get a look at the Great Sphinx statue while they’re here, too. Over 4,000 years on, questions still surround these monolithic monuments, though the sheer size, scale and shape of these wonders stand as incredible testament to the vision and abilities of ancient Egypt.

  1. The Banks of the Danube, Hungary

Hungarian parliament in sunset.

With human settlements stretching back all the way to the Palaeolithic Age, the banks of the Danube stake their claim as one of the globe’s most storied World Heritage sites. Originally the site of Aquincum, the Roman city which itself comprises two separate cities: Buda on the right bank, and Pest on the left. You guessed it, the city combined to form Budapest in 1873, and has since become a superb urban landscape with all manner of architecture, history and culture to enjoy. River cruises passing through usual stop for a night, so be sure to enjoy the best of what Budapest has to offer while you’re here.

  1. The Galapagos, Ecuador

Galapagos National Park, Ecuador

Akin to nature’s own science lab, the Galapagos Islands are full to the brim with incredible landscapes, and a unique array of species and wildlife, many of which can’t be found anywhere else in the world. An almost mythical part of the world, the Galapagos have so much in store for visitors, whether you’re taking in its postcard views or looking to spot a rare species of animal – the only limit is your own curiosity.

Looking to make your next voyage a truly memorable one? A visit to any of these iconic, picturesque sights is sure to make for a holiday to remember – why not check out our latest cruise deals on the Cruise1st homepage, or give our friendly customer care team a call on 0808 2746 777.



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Claire has worked in the travel industry since leaving college in 1994. One of this blog's most regular contributors, Claire covers cruise news and industry trends.

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