Showing your kids, the world through travel, is an excellent way to broaden their horizons, especially if you choose to see 30 breathtaking UNESCO Heritage Sites you should visit with kids. These areas hold some of the best history and while your kids are learning a lot, they will also be fascinated by the sheer beauty of the destinations you are seeing.
There are more than one thousand destinations around the world that have made it to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, so it is not always easy to determine which ones should be seen first or which ones are best for kids. That is why we came up with this handy list, so you can just start with the first one and continue checking them off as you continue with your travels.
30 Breathtaking UNESCO Heritage Sites You Should Visit with Kids
1) Galapagos Islands
Most people want to know what country had the first UNESCO World Heritage Site and the answer to that is Ecuador. The Galapagos Islands are comprised of nineteen islands and they can be found just over six hundred miles to the west of the
continent of South America. This area became famous after Charles Darwin visited back in 1835. He discovered the vast marine life and how many of those species lived only in this part of the world.
2) City of Quito
Those who ask the question, “What was the first city to be named a UNESCO Heritage Site?”, might be surprised to find out that the answer is the City of Quito. Quito is in the country of Ecuador and it was founded back in 1534. This city, which was once an Inca City, is surrounded by the hills of both Ichimbia and Panecillo. There are multiple cathedrals and churches within Quito, and you will love exploring them all. If time is short, it is recommended that you begin with La Capilla del Hombre, Iglesia de la Compania de Jesus, the Iglesia de San Francisco, and the Basilica del Voto Nacional.
3) Forbidden City
The Forbidden City is a UNESCO World Heritage Site in China and it is also the most visited UNESCO heritage site in the world. Approximately fifteen million people visit this site every single year, although that number is expected to continue to rise. Construction on the Forbidden City began in 1406 and was finally finished in 1420. There are nine hundred and eighty buildings
within the palace complex, which was used by the Ming Dynasty starting in 1420 and other emperors and their families until the Qing Dynasty ended in 1912. While this entire area is beautiful, the one building that you must take the time to explore in depth is the Palace Museum.
4) Giant’s Causeway
The Giant’s Causeway is a fascinating UNESCO World Heritage Site in Ireland. The forty thousand hexagonal columns of this volcanic formation were created more than sixty million years ago. Your kids will love the legend that goes along with these formations. According to the legend, Fionn MacCumhaill used his heroic strength to construct this bridge of pillars to attack the enemy over in the Scottish Hebrides.
One of the best UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Italy is the Colosseum, which is located in Rome. The massive amphitheater was where many gladiator death matches, chariot races, and executions were held during the Roman Empire. The construction of this building was completed in 80 AD and it has seating for fifty thousand people. This site has been carefully preserved over the years,
but caution should still be used to not disturb anything. Your kids will love the entire area, but their favorite part will be seeing the tunnels where the gladiators stayed as they waited their turn, as well as the cages where the elephants, tigers, lions, rhinos, and crocodiles were kept until they were released for the matches.
6) Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
There are multiple UNESCO World Heritage Sites USA, but one of the best for kids is Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. After all, what kid can resist seeing flowing lava and steam rising out of the craters! There are more than three hundred thousand acres to explore within this park and you can see part of it during ranger-led hikes. During your time there, you may also want to spend some time within the interactive centers and on the viewing platforms that have been strategically placed near some of the most active flows.
7) Serengeti National Park
Most children love animals, so you know they are going to love this UNESCO World Heritage Site in Tanzania! Safaris are the main mode of entertainment at the Serengeti National Park and when you take one, you will have the chance to see zebra, lions,
elephants, rhinos, wildebeest, hyenas, gazelles, jackals, and many other animals. The best time to visit this amazing part of the world is during the months of May and June, because that is when the migration takes place.
8) Dinosaur Provincial Park
One of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Canada is the Dinosaur Provincial Park and it is here that your kids can turn into budding scientists, as they explore the history of dinosaurs. There is no digging allowed, but you can still see the dinosaur species that have been discovered, as well as take part in the guided activities and fossil safaris.
9) Sian Ka’an
One of the best UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Mexico is Sian Ka’an. These Mayan ruins can be found on the eastern coast of the Yucatan Peninsula and your little archaeologists will love exploring El Castillo within the pre-Hispanic settlement of Muyil.
There are many other things to do in this area that your kids will love, so make sure you plan a little snorkeling, kayaking, and even a canal tour excursion.
10) Göreme National Park
Göreme National Park is one of the better UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Turkey and this is where you can see volcanic forms that are called fairy chimneys. There are villages carved into these forms and they are quite the sight to see. Your children might not be too thrilled to explore the entire Göreme Open Air Museum, but they will get through it if you promise to do a valley hike or take a hot air balloon ride afterwards.
11) Yosemite National Park
When Yosemite National Park was deemed a UNESCO World Heritage Site USA, it was because of all the jagged peaks, the massive valley, and the u-shaped canyon. A walk, or drive, through this park shows exactly how the glaciers formed so much of this land
many years ago. The best time to visit this UNESCO Heritage Site is during the spring, because that is when the waterfalls are flowing the best.
12) Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone National Park is one of the original UNESCO World Heritage Sites and it has been on the list since 1978. There are at least ten thousand geothermal features within this park, but the most famous is Old Faithful. Your kids will be willing to stay for hours, as you continuously watch the infamous geyser shoot up in the air in regular intervals. Don’t forget to take the time to see the rainbow-colored hot springs and the wildlife though, because they are just as interesting and unique as the geyser.
13) The Taj Mahal
The Taj Mahal is one of the breathtaking UNESCO World Heritage Sites in India. While many people may say that this site is not their favorite, no one can deny how iconic it is. This building was constructed during the middle of the 17th century and you must
see this mausoleum made from marble at least once during your lifetime. After all, you may not see something so elegant and luxurious ever again!
14) Great Barrier Reef
When it comes to UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Australia, the Great Barrier Reef is probably the best. This super-long natural wonder is filled with nine hundred islands and plenty of marine life. While you can swim and dive near the reef, you may prefer to go out in a boat with the kids. This will ensure that you can see all the beauty without worrying about where everyone is in the water. Of course, if you want a unique view of the Great Barrier Reef, you can always choose to take a plane ride over top.
15) Hoi An
Hoi An is a fabulous destination and it is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Vietnam. Hoi An Ancient Town is an excellent
place to start your journey in this city, but then make sure that you take the time to see the riverside, the Japanese covered bridge, the Van Duc Pagoda, and the Hoi An Museum of History and Culture.
16) The Parthenon
The Parthenon is an incredible UNESCO World Heritage Site in Greece and it can be found within the Acropolis of Athens. The temple was dedicated to Athena, who was a goddess. The construction of this structure began in 447 BC and it is considered the most important ancient Greek monument to survive. It has been carefully preserved, so despite the slightly ruined form, you can imagine how amazing this attraction was all those years ago.
17) Grand Canyon National Park
In case you haven’t figured it out already, parks are number one on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites USA! The Grand Canyon National Park was added to this list back in 1989, thanks to its rich geological history and the breathtaking landscape.
There is more than two billion years of history to explore within this park, but your kids might be fascinated the most by the stunning views. A Fossil Discovery Walk is offered by the rangers over at the South Rim every morning, so get up and moving early if you want to participate.
18) Mount Fuji
Out of all the sights in Japan, Mount Fuji is one of the country’s most important symbols. This area was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Japan back in 2013 and it is must-see for everyone who loves to see these spectacular parts of the world. While the Fifth Step is the best place to visit for the views, there are many other viewing spots around the mountain to see the gorgeous sights.
19) The Royal Cave Temple at Dambulla
There are currently eight UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Sri Lanka, but that doesn’t mean that more will not be added in the future. The Royal Cave Temple at Dambulla is one of the best ones to visit with kids, because there are five caves filled with more than one hundred and fifty statues of Buddha to explore.
As you are walking around, you will also discover more than one thousand paintings of Buddha on the ceilings, as well as four statues of gods and goddesses and three statues of Sri Lankan kings. It is important to remove your shoes before entering, so you may want to prepare your kids for this in advance.
Bordeaux is one of the many cities that are listed as Heritage Sites and it is one of the more than forty UNESCO World Heritage Sites in France. You will love this area for the wine that it produces, while your kids will love running through the riverfront park and wandering through the pedestrian only areas.
21) Old Town of Avila
The Old Town of Avila is one of the best UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Spain and it is a charming area that your family will love exploring. This city was founded during the 11th century and the fortifications, complete with nine gates and dozens of semicircular towers, have been carefully preserved.
As you walk around the streets, you will feel as if you have been transported back to the Middle Ages. The churches, palaces, and other buildings look the same as they did back then. The San Vicente Basilica can be found outside the walls, and it is a must-see item that must be on your list along with the Convent of Saint Teresa.
There is so much to see within Mittelrheintal, which is one of the more than forty UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Germany. This area runs alongside the River Rhine and it goes all the way from Bingen to Koblenz. There are plenty of medieval towns and castles to see during your visit, but a few that should definitely be on your list include Burg Rheinstein, Deutches Eck, Rüdesheim, and Bacharach.
23) Cultural Landscape of Sintra
The Cultural Landscape of Sintra is easy to reach and you can easily see this UNESCO World Heritage Site in Portugal during a day trip from Lisbon. There are numerous palaces to see, but the one that stands out the most is the Palácio Nacional da Pena.
This palace offers extraordinary views that seem to never end. The caves and grottos at Quinta da Regaleira are wonderful too, but it will be the underground walkways that capture the attention of your kids.
24) Medina of Marrakech
The Medina of Marrakech is one of the best UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Morocco. This vibrant city is full of adventures and you will find yourself spending hours wandering around the side streets and hanging out in Jemaa el-Fna Square tasting the traditional cuisine. A few places to add to your itinerary include El Badii Palace, Ben Youssef Madrasa, and Bahia Palace.
25) Archaeological Landscape of the First Coffee Plantation
There are only nine UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Cuba and while your kids may like a few of them, you won’t go wrong with a visit the Archaeological Landscape of the First Coffee Plantation. This area can be found at the base of the Sierra Maestra,
which is inside the Guantanamo Province. This preserved site shows how coffee was grown and harvested during the 19th century, which will be fascinating to any coffee lover or kids that like to know how things work or are made.
26) Thungyai-Huao Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuaries
The Thungyai-Huao Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuaries are part of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Thailand. There are six hundred thousand hectares within this sanctuary, and it can all be found along the Myanmar border. You will see many different types of animals here, including a few endangered species.
27) Bialowieża Forest
This forest is one of the many UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Poland and it will be one that your kids love exploring. You can hike or bike along the trails, but if you want to see the true beauty, you must take a tour of the areas that are only possible to see
with tour guides. Everyone in your family will have fun guessing which oak trees are five hundred years old and you can always offer a reward to the person who spots the European bison first.
28) Kilimanjaro National Park
Mountains are all over Africa, but Mount Kilimanjaro is the tallest one of them all. Therefore, it is not surprising that this area has made it onto the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Africa. You probably will not hike up the twenty thousand feet to the summit, since you have kids with you, but that doesn’t mean that you cannot see this magnificent attraction and take part in some of the other activities nearby.
29) Historic Salzburg
Historic Salzburg is one of the many UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Austria and it is well-known for its baroque architecture.
This area in the Alps is very well preserved and there is so much to learn about when you are there. In between visits to the nearby attractions, make sure you spend a little time on the Alpine trails, because the views are stunning.
30) Tongariro National Park
There are only three UNESCO World Heritage Sites in New Zealand, but they are all truly fabulous! At Tongariro National Park, you will want to spend a little time venturing over to the three active volcanoes. Those volcanoes are Mount Tongariro, Mount Ruapehu, and Mount Ngauruhoe. This land has been significant to the Maori people, so make sure you learn about the spirituality of the land and the people in that community. As the oldest park in the country, you may want to consider doing a hike or two, so you do not miss out on any of the best sights.
These are the 30 breathtaking UNESCO Heritage Sites you should visit with kids during upcoming vacations. There is no right or wrong way to tackle this list, so just choose a site and then cross it off and move on to the next one that you choose. You can also get the kids involved and have them take turns picking which one interests them the most.