Are you in the mood for an epic journey filled with enigmatic wonders? Well, I sure hope so because you’re about to discover the top 10 historical places in the world!

The Taj Mahal, the Giza Pyramids, the statues on Easter Island… these are just a few of the many sites around the world that are shrouded in culture, history, and (of course) a hefty dose of mystery! Indeed, archeologists are still on the fence about how several of these sites came to be, and the murky origins only add to their allure.

Several of these places have even made their way onto the highly coveted list of New Wonders of the World or UNESCO World Heritage Sites – and you’ll quickly understand why after seeing these awe-inspiring places for yourself.

But enough talking and let’s jump straight into it!

The Top 10 Historical Places in the World

Whether you’re looking for the best places to travel to or simply want to soak up some ancient history, here are 10 historical sites that you may wish to add to your bucket list!

1. Pompeii

  • Entrance fee: $17.50
  • Hours: 9 a.m. to 5.30 p.m. (April to October), 9 a.m., to 3.30 p.m. (November to March) 
  • Address: Via Villa dei Misteri, 2, 80045 Pompei NA, Italy

Let’s start off with one of the most famous historical places in the world!

Located an hour from the city of Naples by train, the ruins of Pompeii are especially known for their harrowing history. Not only was the city completely destroyed by Mount Vesuvius back in 79 CE, but the volcano completely covered the village in pumice stone fragments. As such, you’ll get to explore an exceptionally well-preserved site that’ll give you a glimpse of what ancient life was like in Pompeii.

Visitors can even explore traditional Roman houses, amphitheaters, cafes, boutiques, temples, and even an ancient brothel. On a more gruesome note, you will also see casts of the victims, still encased in ash.

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Pompeii attracts millions of visitors each year, so I would advise you to visit in the off-season if you’d like to avoid the crowds. While the Forum does feature a cafeteria, bringing your own drinks and snacks is also a good idea since the site is quite large. Otherwise, you’ll need to walk a bit to get food. Speaking of walking, be sure to don your comfiest shoes.

Keep in mind that there are three entrances to Pompeii. The Porta Marina entrance is the more popular option since it’s quite close to the Pompei Scavi – Villa Dei Misteri train station. Travelers staying in modern Pompeii will probably find it easier to use the Porta Anfiteatro entrance since it’s closer to the town. Alternatively, you can also check out the Piazza Esedra entrance which tends to be less crowded.

Traveling on a budget? Well, you’ll be glad to know that entry is completely free on the last Sunday of every month!

Where to stay: Napoli Central Station Studio – The Napoli Central Station Studio offers spacious family rooms, airport shuttle, and daily breakfast.

2. The Great Wall of China

view of the great wall of china one of the best historical sites in the world
Morning on the Wall after a campout.
Photo: Sasha Savinov
  • Entrance fee: $5.82 (adults), $2.91 (children and seniors)
  • Hours: 9 a.m. to 4.30 p.m.
  • Address: Huairou District, China, 101406

Here’s one that needs exactly zero introduction!

Originally conceived in the 3rd century, the Great Wall of China is often said to be one of the most amazing engineering feats on the planet! The longest wall in the world, this historical landmark spans over 8,800 kilometers. Each year, several million tourists and locals alike flock to the wall to marvel at the incredible structure and soak up the lush scenery that surrounds it.

While the Great Wall of China lies in a somewhat remote area, it’s less than two hours from the capital, perfect for travelers looking for exciting things to do in Beijing.

Now if you feel up to the challenge, you can even check out the Wall at Jiankou, which is said to be the steepest area. No ticket is needed to explore this area of the wall, and it tends to be quite desolate because it’s not commercialized.

Alternatively, you can always explore the Mutianyu Hiking Trail which also takes you across the wall’s steeper (albeit stunning) restored sections. Once you reach Mutianyu, you can even hop on the toboggan slide to slide your way down the wall!  

Bear in mind that there aren’t any restaurants or shops around the wall so be sure to bring some snacks and plenty of water along – especially if visiting in summer. More popular sections like Badaling can get insanely packed on Chinese holidays and on the weekends.

Where to stay: The Great Wall Courtyard Hostel – Commanding a great location near the Badaling section, this hotel offers comfortable rooms, rental facilities, and an on-site restaurant.

3. Machu Picchu

The beautiful Machu Pichhu experience
Epic group photo in an epic location!
Photo: Will Hatton
  • Entrance fee: $45
  • Hours: N/A
  • Address: Andes Mountain, Peru

If you’d like to visit one of the most famous historical places in the world, you really can’t go wrong with a trip to the iconic Machu Picchu! 

One of the New Seven Wonders of the World, Machu Picchu is a can’t-miss while traveling in Peru. Once an important cultural hub for the Incas, this city was abandoned by its inhabitants after the Spanish invasion. It was rediscovered in the early 1900s and was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site back in the 1980s.

An absolute sight to behold as it rises dramatically between the Amazon Basin and the Peruvian Andes, Machu Picchu is an incredible legacy of the ancient Inca civilization. The site consists of over 79,000 acres of valleys, peaks, and slopes, all crowned by La Ciudadela which towers more than 7,800 feet above sea level.

What makes Machu Picchu even more special is that it’s home to around 200 different structures, speckled across stone terraces and steep ridges.

There are two ways to access the site: you can either hop on the Peru Rail and Inca Rail trains or hike the Inca Trail – something that I can absolutely recommend if you feel up to the challenge! If you want to hike, bear in mind that this trail has an elevation of over 13,000 feet so it’s important to ensure that you won’t have any issues with the altitude.

While it’s possible to get your tickets at the gate, believe me when I say you really don’t want to do that. Machu Picchu can get pretty packed which is why most travelers choose to plan their trip and make all their bookings at least 6 months in advance. In high season, the Inca Trail hike can fill up at least a year in advance. It’s also important to know that only a limited number of people are allowed to enter the site at a time for conservation purposes.

Do remember to bring your passport along since you will be asked to present it along with your ticket.

Where to stay: Supertramp Hostel – Supertramp is a fantastic hostel that offers both dormitories and private rooms just a short walk from Machu Picchu Station.  

4. The Pyramids of Giza

Visiting the Pyramids of Giza in Egypt
Visiting the Pyramids of Giza!
  • Entrance fee: $19.50
  • Hours: 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.
  • Address: Al Haram, Giza Governorate 3512201, Egypt

Okay, first thing first: forget all those close-up images you’ve seen of the Pyramids towering over a desolate desert landscape, the perfect epitome of peace and serenity.

 In reality, the Pyramids of Giza you’ll see on your Egypt trip are surrounded by touts and tourists jostling each other to get the perfect IG picture. Vendors will most likely approach you from all sides, selling everything from lucky charms to camels.

Is it still worth the trip, you ask? Hell, yeah!

After all, let’s not forget that this is the last surviving wonder of the ancient world that we’re talking about – not to mention one of the most mysterious historical places in the Middle East. Archeologists reckon that the pyramids were built by several thousands of workers – although there’s plenty of dispute regarding both the placement and movement of those perfectly chiseled stones.

Not only are the pyramids over 3,000 years old, but all three of them align with the three stars of the Orion’s Belt constellation. Adding to the mystery, the pyramids have several tiny little chambers that can’t even be opened.

When touring the pyramids, you really want to set aside at least half a day to properly take everything in. Contrary to popular belief, it’s possible to explore the interior of all three – although you’ll need to get a separate ticket for each one. It’s super important to know that you’re no longer allowed to climb the pyramids though. Breaking this rule can result in a permanent ban from Egypt or even up to three years in prison.

 In my opinion, winter (October through March) is the best time to visit to avoid the overwhelming summer heat.

Where to stay: Giza Pyramids Inn – Located just a 20-minute walk from the Giza Pyramids, this top rated hotel boasts various room configurations, an on-site restaurant, concierge service, and barbecue facilities.

5. Petra

man on a donkey in petra jordan
You’ve never seen a historical places quite like this…
  • Entrance fee: $70
  • Hours: 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. (summer), 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. (winter)
  • Address: Southwest Jordan

Speaking of the Middle East, did you know that traveling to Jordan means you get to see one of the most historical places in the world? Another one of the New Seven Wonders of the World, Petra officially became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1985.

Known for its dramatic architecture that was carved directly into a canyon, this site is found in Arabah. If you’re wondering why the structure looks familiar, well that’s because it was heavily popularized by the third Indiana Jones movie.

While Petra was only discovered in the early 1800s by an explorer from Switzerland, archeologists believe that the site was inhabited in the 4th century before being abandoned.

Most travelers visit Petra for a few hours as part of a day trip. Having said that, it’s good to know that this is an absolutely immense site and if you want to properly take everything in, it’s a good idea to set aside a full day. Every Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday, it’s open until late in the evening – Petra by night makes for quite the experience indeed! You’ll be treated to a mesmerizing light show until 10.30 p.m.

Hikers may also wish to check out the Al Khubtha trail which takes nearly three hours to complete but provides some truly spectacular views of the Treasury. For something more challenging, you can also check out the Place of Sacrifice trail which requires nearly five hours to trek.

Since Petra is covered by rocky and sandy ground, you’ll really want to grab some hiking boots for your visit. In light of Jordan’s conservative culture, it’s also advisable for both men and women to keep their knees and shoulders covered. There’s hardly any shade around, so be sure to pack plenty of water, sunscreen, and a hat.

The easiest way of reaching Petra is from Aqaba, located in southern Jordan. Over there, you’ll find plenty of JETT buses and one or two-day tours at affordable prices.  

Where to stay: Dweik Hotel 2 – Offering a prime location near Aqaba Castle and the beach, Dweik Hotel 2 features comfortable rooms and private shuttles to Petra. 

6. Stonehenge

Wiltshire Stonehenge on a sunny day with fluffy clouds in the sky
  • Entrance fee: Free
  • Hours: 9.30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Address: Salisbury SP4 7DE, United Kingdom

Whether you’re looking for the best day trips from London or simply want to feast your eyes on one of Europe’s most popular historical places, Stonehenge certainly will not disappoint!

First things first: this ancient site lies just 2.30 hours from London by train, but if you’re pressed for time, you may consider making Salisbury your home base, since it’s just 20 minutes away.  

According to historians, Stonehenge is over 4,500 years old – although its origins are still unclear. Some researchers believe that the site was actually a temple built by prehistoric people. What adds to the mystery though is that the megalithic structure is made up of massive Welsh stones. …And nobody knows how the builders managed to drag them all the way to the English countryside!

Each stone weighs around 25 tons and measures approximately 7 feet wide and 13 feet tall – which only adds to the enigma. 

 While the actual circle of stones is fenced off, you can still walk around Stonehenge and admire its unique architecture from afar. Like all popular attractions, you’ll want to grab your tickets in advance since this epic histroical site attracts over a million visitors every year. It’s also important to know that tickets are timed in half-hour increments. They cover access to the site, shuttle transfer, and access to the visitor’s center.

Where to stay: The Wheatsheaf – A quintessential British Bed & Breakfast, The Wheatsheaf offers double and family rooms just 11 kilometers from Stonehenge.

7. The Colosseum

A person looks out over the colosseum in Rome
You’ve not been to Rome until you’ve been here!
Image: Nic Hilditch-Short
  • Entrance fee: $24.20 to $ 31.88
  • Hours: 9 a.m. to 7.15 p.m. 
  • Address: Piazza del Colosseo, 1, 00184 Roma RM, Italy

If you’re wondering why the Colosseum made this list of top historical sites, wait until you see those ruins for yourself!

As the largest amphitheater in ancient Rome, the Colosseum could once hold up to 80,000 people. Whether you’re a history buff or simply a fan of the Gladiators, the ruins of the Colosseum absolutely warrant a visit. This amphitheater was built around C.E. 70 and 72 as part of an attempt to revitalize the city.

Getting there is quite easy since the Colosseum is found just two kilometers from the Termini Station or one kilometer from Rome’s city center. If you’re taking the metro, hop on Line B and get off at the Colosseo exit.

While it’s free to tour the site from the outside, you do need to get a ticket to check out the interior. It’s advisable to buy skip-the-line tickets online otherwise you may be waiting in line for several long hours. Be careful with your belongings when waiting outside the Colosseum since this area is prone to pickpockets.

After your visit, I highly recommend that you pop over to the Forum next door, another historical site that once served as the epicenter of the Roman Empire. Some companies offer combo tickets that cover both the Colosseum and the Forum.

Where to stay: Generator Rome – Located right in the heart of the Eternal City, the Generator Rome hostel lies close to Termini Station and the Colosseum. You’ll have a choice of common or private rooms.

8. The Taj Mahal

young will hatton at taj mahal one of the most beautiful historical sites in the world
Perhaps the most magnificent historical site on this list…
Photo: Will Hatton
  • Entrance fee: $14
  • Hours: 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. (closed on Fridays) 
  • Address: Dharmapuri, Forest Colony, Tajganj, Agra, Uttar Pradesh 282001, India

Romantics, rejoice!

This white-marbled mausoleum in Agra isn’t just incredible to look at, but this historic place also has a romantic backstory. It was built by Emperor Shah Jahan during India’s Mughal rule to honor the memory of his beloved wife. The Taj Mahal’s construction began in 1632 AD and was completed in 1648 AD. Nowadays, this monument is regarded as a symbol of the Mughal Emperor’s undying love to his wife.

Both a New Seventh Wonder of the World and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Taj Mahal is surrounded by an expansive courtyard that contains a mosque and a guest house. From personal experience, I can attest that it absolutely lives up to the hype. You can’t miss it while backpacking India!

You’ll find several tour companies offering day trips from Delhi. Alternatively, you can always get on a train from the Agra Cantt railway station or catch a bus to the Idgah Bus Station, which is located around six km from the site.

Owing to the massive crowds, I would personally avoid visiting on public holidays or weekends. In my experience, Mondays and Tuesdays are the best days to visit the Taj, especially if you can head there early in the morning when it’s less crowded.

To protect the marble from pollution, vehicles are not allowed within 500 meters of the monument, so keep that in mind if you’re renting a car.

Where to stay: Joey’s Hostel Agra – Located just a short walk from the Taj Mahal, this hostel offers a choice of mixed dorms or private rooms, along with a shared kitchen and currency exchange services.  

9. Chichén Itzá

three people stood in front of Chichen Itza smiling on a sunny day
Chillin’ at Chichén Itzá.
Photo: @Lauramcblonde
  • Entrance fee: $26
  • Hours: 8 a.m. to 4.30 p.m.  
  • Address: Yucatan, Mexico

The pre-Hispanic city of Chichén Itzá stands out as one of the most important tourist archeological sites you can see while traveling in Mexico. Home to numerous temples and sinkholes with spiritual significance, this epic place once housed a large population of Mayan people.

At its prime, this historical landmark used to be the most inhabited city in the Yucatan Peninsula.

Nowadays, the site still holds remnants of ancient Mayan wonders like the Sacred Cenote, the Temple of the Warriors, the Great Ball Court, and the iconic El Castillo step pyramid.

Because it’s located near the humid Yucatan jungles, Chichén Itzá stays hot virtually all year long. The site is also prone to frequent rainfall. As such, I would advise you to visit in the dry season (November through April) when the weather is slightly less wet. You may also wish to avoid visiting in December because this is when Chichén Itzá is at its busiest.

Since Chichén Itzá is one of Mexico’s main tourist draws, getting there is very easy: you can either join a Chichén Itzá tour from Merida or take the ADO bus from Cancun that’ll take you to the site in just three hours.

Where to stay: Hotel Tequila Cancun – This centrally located hotel boasts comfortable accommodations, a shared kitchen, and proximity to Playa Las Perlas Beach.

10. Rapa Nui National Park

Rapa Nui National Park head stones
  • Entrance fee: $80
  • Hours: 24/24
  • Address: Easter Island, Valparaíso, Chile

Located on Easter Island, a special territory of Chile, Rapa Nui National Park is known for its Moais. Made from volcanic ash, these monolithic figures measure between six and 65 feet. According to historians, these human-like structures were sculpted by the Rapa Nui people between 1250 and 1500.

Despite intensive archeological research, this is one of the many historical places that are surrounded by a hefty dose of ambiguity. For starters, very little is known about the transportation and purpose of these structures- which only adds to the mysterious allure of the place.

Now, I do have to point out that Easter Island can be quite an expensive destination. This is because the island is super remote, and tickets from the mainland can be costly. Rest assured that it’s still possible to visit without breaking the bank though.

For starters, be sure to book your flight well in advance since last-minute fares can go up to $1200. You can also use the on-site campground facilities to cut back on accommodation costs.  

Summers on Easter Island can be pretty humid with both sunshine and rainfall, so be prepared for all sorts of weather!

Where to stay: La Casa del Kori Hostal – Offering private and dorm rooms alike, this hostel boasts a dining area, shared kitchen, daily breakfast, within close proximity to Rapa Nui Park.

Final Thoughts

In this chaotic world, there’s nothing quite like escaping to a destination filled with glorious sights that provide some much-needed respite from the daily grind.

Now, if you absolutely need to choose one from the top 10 historical places in the world, then Machu Picchu has my vote! Not only is it a dream come true for hikers, but it is an absolute marvel to behold as it rises high above the cloud forest.

Happy exploring!

A group of backpackers walking the inca trail to Machu Picchu.
Off to the Inca Trail…
Photo: @Lauramcblonde

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