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Top World Heritage Sites to Visit

The UK’s World Heritage Sites and monuments are celebrated on World Heritage Day each year on the 18th of April. Established by the International Council on Monuments and Sites, the focus is on the diversity of the cultural heritage of humanity. Plus the site’s vulnerability and the efforts required for their protection and conservation.
Yet, how can we celebrate them? Now the weather is warming up, we can give a UK world heritage site a visit in the sunshine. Also, we can travel abroad to admire the best in the world. Here are some of our favourite UK and World Heritage Sites around the globe.

Heritage Sites in the UK include:

  • Heritage railways such as Corfe Castle Station (Swanage Heritage Railway).
  • Historically listed buildings and architectural treasures. These include abbeys and palaces like Hampton Court Palace.
  • Ancient cathedrals and castles steeped in history and tradition, like Tintagel Castle in Cornwall.
  • Heritage cities like Durham, where the Cathedral was the first great Norman church in England.
  • Natural Heritage Sites, such as coastlines and islands like the Jurassic Coast in Dorset.
  • Maritime Heritage Sites – Liverpool is known as the Maritime Mercantile City
  • Tudor Heritage Sites, such as The Tower of London.

tower of London world heritage site

The UK’s World Heritage Sites Map

How many World Heritage Sites are there in the UK?

There are 33 World Heritage Sites in the UK. To discover the whereabouts of them all, look them up the on UK World Heritage Sites Map.

The city of Bath is one of the oldest UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the UK. Here, you can explore Roman ruins and 18th-century architectural features.

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World Heritage Sites in the UK

Bath, Somerset

Bath was added to the World Heritage Site List in 1987 and is a ‘cultural site’. It was given this title because it holds many cultural and historic attributes within a beautiful, landscape setting. Also, it’s a top location for a city break where you can admire many ancient things.

What can you see and experience in Bath?

  • Archaeology fans can explore ancient Roman remains. Inside the city, visit Goddess Sulis Minerva’s temple, which is home to Bath’s famous bathing complex.
  • Walk among 18th Century buildings and streets. The architecture and natural landscape complement one another throughout the town. For instance, admire Baths honey-coloured limestone crescents, squares and the circus. Each of these elements create a beautiful and classical city that has influenced UK developments since the Georgian era.
  • Hotfoot it to Bath’s healing, hot springs to sip the famous waters, before tucking into afternoon tea at the pump room restaurant. There might only be three hot springs but they’re the only ones in Britain! They also helped shape Bath into a booming city, which was a unique social setting in Georgian times.

North of Bath home to more beautiful country side is the Lake District…

Bath UK heritage site

The Lake District

The Lake District is one of our more recent World Heritage Sites, given the title on 9th July 2017. It became a World Heritage Site because its continued to follow a unique and traditional farming system of sheep and beef rearing over the last 1000 years.

The area also helped industrial towns grow and flourish by using natural resources, such as mines, to extract copper, lead, and iron. These traditional industries and systems have enhanced the area’s unique character. The character of the Lake District is distinctive. With its stone-walled fields and farm buildings, its continued to survive.

Things to do in the Lake District:

  • With your camera in hand and a set of binoculars, go wildlife watching in one of the Lake Districts’ hotspots. From red squirrels and deer to the creatures of the riverbank, spot some of the UK’s rarest animals during a farm stay. Some of the best places include Whinlatter Forest, Dood Wood, Haweswater RSPB Reserve. Plus, Ennerdale – an innovative rewilding project.
  • For something more unique take to the skies for a hot air balloon ride! Book one during a romantic break way to experience the beauty of the lakes than from the clouds. With three different destinations within Cumbria’s countryside to choose from, you’ll be spoilt for choice.
  • Visit Lake Windermere. If you’re looking for an outdoor activity for both the young and old, find some action on the water. Hire a boat for the day to row from the southern end of the lake. Also, you could canoe, kayak, and paddleboard during a leisurely weekend. However, for some quiet, go fishing. There are many different kinds of fish to be found in the waters of Windermere.

If you want to visit another UK Heritage Site with wistful waterside views head to Northern Ireland on the ferry from Liverpool.

The Giant’s Causeway

Northern Ireland’s 8th Wonder of the World has been a World Heritage Site since 1986 and is of global geological importance. What makes The Giant’s Causeway unique is its 40,000 large, regularly shaped polygonal columns of basalt, which stand in perfect horizontal sections. This make it the perfect place to study basaltic volcanism. However, there are other giant experiences to have at The Giant’s Causeway as well…

Tours at The Giant’s Causeway

  • Learn how the landscape was formed in the fire and shaped by ice, before it was preserved in stone over 50 million years ago.
  • Listen to the myths, legends, and stories of the Giant’s Causeway and Coast to discover the true character of this magical place.
  • Peer at the ecosystems of the Giant’s Causeway on a conservation tour along the clifftop path.
  • Walk among the flora and fauna that continue to thrive in their unique habitat on the Causeway Coast.

The Giant’s Causeway also features in our favourite self-driving holidays blog, alongside the Outer Hebrides, which are not far from St Kilda in Scotland…

Giants Causeway Northern Ireland

St Kilda, Scotland

St Kilda is a tiny, isolated archipelago made up of five islands (Hirta, Soay, Boreray, Dun, and Levenish). Together, they sit west-northwest of North Uist, within the North Atlantic Ocean. The archipelago has held this status since 1986 because it’s a significant natural beauty spot and home to a large variety of birds.

In 2005, it was recognised for having an important cultural landscape too. Due to its structures, field systems, and traditional stone houses that have remained for 5,000 years for human occupation – in extreme conditions.

The best way to visit St Kilda is by boat from the Isle Of Harris in the Outer Hebrides or via the Isle of Skye in Scotland.

What can you do in St Kilda?

  • Go on a ferry boat cruise around the islands.
  • Stand at the top of vertical cliffs and sea stacks to gaze at over 1,000,000 birds who call St Kilda home.
  • Walk down the abandoned street on Hirta and reflect upon the life its ancestors may have lived before they were evacuated in 1930.

st kilda uk world heritage site


World Heritage Sites and UNESCO World Heritage Sites

As stated by the National Trust ‘A World Heritage Site is a cultural or natural landmark that has been recognized by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)‘.

World Heritage Sites are also universally important because they belong ‘to all the peoples of the world. Irrespective of the territory on which they are located’. Therefore, there are many for us to admire!

To find all the UNESCO World Heritage Sites across the world look up the UNESCO interactive map.


Top UNESCO World Heritage Sites across the Globe

Switzerland’s World Heritage Sites

To admire five beautiful World Heritage Sites in Switzerland, book the grand train tour of Switzerland. During your train holiday, you’ll cover Switzerland’s scenic railway routes. See the elegant Swiss Alps Jungfrau-Aletsch Glacier, Lavaux vineyards (30km long), and the beautiful castle of Bellinzona. To admire another Heritage Site via slow travel take to the water…

Switzerland Alps

The Alto Douro Wine Region, Portugal

Glide along the water during a Douro River Cruise. Throughout you’ll discover the dramatic scenery of a historical, 2,000-year-old wine route with a cool beverage in hand. Known as the ‘River of Gold’ by the Romans. The Douro river flows among mighty mountains, lush landscapes, and of course vineyards! For a little more pace switch a cruise holiday for one on a saddle.

World Heritage Site Portugal

The Kinderdijk UNESCO World Heritage Site, Holland

Hop over to Holland by train or ferry in spring. However, book a cycling holiday to cycle to the flourishing Kinderdijk UNESCO World Heritage Site. Kinderdijk is a Dutch village home to wonderful windmills and pumping systems. Each works together to keep its surrounding soil dry. When you visit you’ll discover how the Dutch have lived there for 1000’s of years! To find the village open The Numbered Junction Network Route. There is more than one path that will take you there. Why not pack a picnic with you? Tuck into it while sitting within a colourful tulip field.

Whether you wish to holiday in spring, summer or winter Norway is home to a World Heritage City which can be enjoyed whatever the weather.

World Heritage Site Holland

Bergen, an UNESCO World Heritage City

Bergen the capital of Fjord Norway became a World Heritage City due to its chocolate-box, clapperboard houses. Each is overshadowed by seven hills and seven fjords. The city itself is a great base to explore Norway. So, if you want learn more about Norway’s past, see its fascinating fjords, and the Northern Lights book more of many ferry trips from this historical seaport.

Bergen Norway


Travel Insurance for Cultural Holidays

Which World Heritage site will you visit around the world? Have you got a favourite you’re planning to visit during a staycation?  Wherever you venture to and whatever World Heritage Sites you visit during a cultural holiday, don’t forget to take Free Spirit UK Travel Insurance as well. We’ll help you travel, with confidence.

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