6 Tourist Attractions Every Traveler Should See (at least once)

By Tom Miller, Kayak Critic
November 13, 2018

While “going off the beaten path” is a much tossed around phrase among travelers, there are some tourist attractions you absolutely must see. They are called attractions for a reason after all! These sites are not only impressive for their size, but their historical significance as well.

Particularly if you are visiting a destination for the first time, visiting the major tourist attractions can help provide cultural and historical context. They might be crowded, and you may not meet many locals in the area - but most tours and travel itineraries allow room for more “authentic” experiences as well as hitting the major sites.

Here are 6 of the can’t miss tourist attractions around the world:

1. Great Wall Of China

Great Wall of China

We all grew up with reading about the Great Wall of China, and why shouldn’t we? It is one of the new wonders of the world and a masterpiece of human construction. The wall was built many centuries ago - with limited resources - an incredible feat considering it's size! 

The Great Wall was built as a defensive fortification by the three states of Zhao, Yan and Qin. The wall went through many extensions and repairs over time. The construction drew heavily on the resources of the surrounding area. Armies of soldiers, prisoners, and local people contributed to the manpower needed to build the Great Wall. 

Even though today roughly 30 percent of the original wall has disappeared due human interaction and erosion, it's still an amazing sight, visited by thousands every year. 

See over 80 Great Wall of China tours »

2. Petra, Jordan

Petra in Jordan

Petra, the capital of the Nabataean empire, was constructed thousands of years ago. The color of the rocks and the way the light reflects upon them is terrific. It is incredible to think that the structure was built in 312 BC when technology was not what it is today and neither was the equipment.

Still, the people managed to construct such beautiful structures like The Treasury and the Monastery which are popular attractions for tourists from all over the world. You will find an abundance of temples, caves, and tombs that have been carved from the sandstone in the high desert.

The entire city of the ruins is a work of art and draws in millions of visitors each year. Petra is the perfect for people who are interested in archaeology and history.

See over 100 trips to Petra »

3. Machu Picchu, Peru

Machu Picchu Peru

The breathtaking stone-bordered Incan citadel, Machu Picchu, is located high in the Andes Mountains in Peru. If you are wondering whether the long hike to it is worth it, then yes! You can also take a bus to the top if you are in no mood to hike. These ruins were brought to everyone’s attention in 1911 by explorer Hiram Bingham. It is one thousand feet above the Urubamba River and is also a UNESCO World Heritage site.

The story of Machu Picchu is also very interesting and there are still many things about the site that remain a mystery. Researchers believe that Machu Picchu was a resort for the elite Incas and the number of people residing here was roughly 750.

The Incas probably started constructing it around 1430 AD. Ultimately Machu Picchu was abandoned when the Spanish entered Peru. Today you can take the famous Inca Trail and along the way, learn about Incan culture and history from archaeologists and historians.

See over 500 tours to Machu Picchu »

See over 90 Inca Trail hiking tours »

4. The Great Barrier Reef, Australia

Snorkeling in Great Barrier Reef Australia

Located in Australia, the Great Barrier Reef is the largest coral reef system in the world and takes over an area of 1,400 miles. The reef is a World Heritage Site that contains 900 islands and 3,000 individual reefs. The marine life in here is incredible.

This reef is so large that you can even see it up above from the space and 10 percent of the total fish species of the world can be found within the Great Barrier Reef. It is also among the Seven Wonders that exist in the Natural World. It is the obvious place to go if you want to go scuba diving and watch marine life. The underwater views in here are one of their kind and would be hard to find elsewhere. There are around thirty species of dolphins, whales, and porpoises that have been found in the Great Barrier Reef.

5. Taj Mahal, India

Taj Mahal in India

The Taj Mahal, in Agra India, is one of the most heavily trafficked tourist attractions in the world and yet it maintains a hold over all who visit. The beautiful building is constructed entirely of white marble, and was built in the early 1600s as a mausoleum for Mumtaz Mahal, the wife of Emperor Shah Jahan.

The architecture of the Taj Mahal is truly something to marvel at. The symmetry and smooth curves and lines are incredibly pleasing to the eye. The famous reflector pool in front creates a sense of calm and tranquility.

Especially for first time travelers to India this is a bucket list item that should not be passed up.

See over 100 trips to India that visit the Taj Mahal »

6. Valletta, Malta

Valletta Malta tours

Definitely the least well known on the list, Valletta is Malta’s capital and another UNESCO World Heritage site. Malta is an extremely picturesque country; literally every place look something out of a postcard. Fort Ricasoli in the city has been used in the filming of the popular TV show Game of Thrones and many other famous films.

This walled city dates back to 1565 and has a history of its own to tell. The best way to take in the beauty of Valletta is to roam around on foot. 

There are many intriguing historical buildings spread throughout the city. Keep an eye out for votive statues, fountains, and coats of arms engraved high up on parapets. The narrow side streets in the city are full of quaint shops and cafés. 

See over 30 Malta tours with Valletta »

About the Author

Tom Miller is a blogger and a nature lover. He is obsessed with traveling and adventures and that too with his family. He believes that water has a steady hold of him. He regularly writes about his experiences at http://kayakcritic.net/

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