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9 New UNESCO World Heritage Sites You Won’t Want To Miss

Added to the list are volcanoes, tea plantations, Viking fortresses, and more.

Si Thep Historical Park, Thailand, UNESCO World Heritage Site
Hi, I'm Jacqueline!

Jacqueline Kehoe is a freelance writer and photographer with work seen in National Geographic, Thrillist, Travel + Leisure, and more. Find her out on the trails or at jacquelinekehoe.com.

A World Heritage site is a celebrated and protected space named by UNESCO for having impressive cultural, natural, or historical significance. The 2023 WHC (World Heritage Committee, that is) added 45 sites to the UNESCO list last year, bringing the total to 1199 sites across the globe. Of those fresh 45, we’ve selected some of the top ones travelers shouldn’t miss. From cultural displays to natural wonders, these are nine new UNESCO–listed sites and how to best explore them.

1. Ancient Tea Plantations of Pu'er, China

tea plantation, pu'er, china, unesco world heritage site
Tea is the second most consumed beverage in the world after water.Photo Credit: ArtWell / Shutterstock

A dive into the world’s most beloved drink: tea.

The world has been drinking tea for centuries, and its origins can be traced back to Jingmai, China. The only tea-related UNESCO–listed site, visitors can explore the Ancient Tea Plantations of Pu’er (one of the world’s most popular, longstanding teas) by basing out of Jinghong on the China/ Thailand border. It’s a 3.5-hour drive to the village of Jingmai, where visitors can witness tea pickers scaling the ancient tea trees and, naturally, partake in traditional tea tastings.

2. Bale Mountains National Park, Ethiopia

Bale Mountains National Park, Ethiopia, UNESCO World Heritage Site
Species like the bale monkey and Ethiopian wolf make their home in Bale Mountains National Park.Photo Credit: Roger de la Harpe / Shutterstock

A look into Africa’s most varied terrain.

Bale Mountains National Park showcases the gamut of nature, from grasslands, woodlands, meadows, tropical rainforests, and volcanoes. This national park, which is about 250 miles (400 kilometers) from Addis Ababa, is also critically important for species like the bale monkey and Ethiopian wolf.

For the best experience, visitors should explore this vast and wild place with a guide. Tours regularly span three to seven days, ensuring those lucky enough to be here have enough time to hike, camp, spot wildlife, and properly soak in this slice of African beauty.

3. Funerary and memory sites of the First World War, Belgium and France

Funerary and memory sites of the First World War, Belgium and France, UNESCO World Heritage Site
This addition to the World Heritage list comprises 139 individual sites across Belgium and France.Photo Credit: Uwe Aranas / Shutterstock

Reflect on the Great War and its lasting scars.

Encompassing 139 sites across Belgium and northern France, the funerary and memory sites of the First World War seek to enshrine into memory the lives lost in this unprecedented global battle. Seeing them all would take months, but for an immersive introduction, visitors should start around Verdun, where an 11-month skirmish became one of the war’s bloodiest events. Hop on a tour to make the most of the area, including paying visits to the former battlefields and the trenches.

4. Hopewell Ceremonial Earthworks, Ohio, US

Hopewell Ceremonial Earthworks, US, UNESCO World Heritage Site
These indigenous ruins date back between 2,000 and 1,600 years ago.Photo Credit: Zack Frank / Shutterstock

Witness some of the best-preserved Indigenous ruins in middle America.

Marking the United States’ 25th UNESCO–listed site, the Hopewell Ceremonial Earthworks features eight Indigenous sites showcasing earthen mounds built between 2,000 and 1,600 years ago. The best base to explore them is Columbus, Ohio; after exploring the city’s attractions, hop in the car and follow the Ohio River, weaving past these special areas. Though all are worth exploring, Hopewell Culture National Historical Park and the Newark Earthworks are particular standouts.

5. Si Thep, Thailand

Si Thep, Thailand, UNESCO World Heritage Site
If you like Angkor Wat in Cambodia, you'll love Si Thep in Thailand.Photo Credit: Pakpoom Phummee / Shutterstock

Discover the lost Dvaravati style and culture.

Cambodia may be known for its ancient structures like Angkor Wat, but nearby Thailand has its fair share of archaeological sites, too. The town of Si Thep is a great example: Visitors can see an ancient moated town, with monuments like Prang Si Thep, the main temple built in Khmer style, and Khao Klang Nai Temple, built as a Dvaravati Mahayana Buddhist temple (look for the stuccos and motifs at the bottom of the stupa).

Si Thep is best visited from Lopburi—one of Thailand’s oldest cities—where visitors can book a tour to explore the “monkey temple.” Or, visit during a 6-day tour, along with Ayutthaya, another UNESCO–listed site and example of exquisite Dvaravati architecture.

6. Zagori Cultural Landscape, Greece

Zagori Cultural Landscape, Greece, UNESCO World Heritage Site
This region of Greece is full of 15th-century villages.Photo Credit: MNStudio / Shutterstock

Scout out ancient villages and stone pathways.

Near the Albanian border, the newly UNESCO–listed site Zagori Cultural Landscape can be found in Epirus, a region in northwestern Greece that’s full of traditional villages from the 15th century. It’s a mountainous world of stone: stone bridges, stone homes, stone paths, stone staircases, and more.

Vikos (and the beautiful Vikos Gorge, Koukouli, Mikro, and Megalo Papingo are just four villages that mandate exploring—there are many more. Hikers will also have plenty to do here, traversing the region’s plentiful stone footpaths, ideally with a guide.

7. Viking Age Ring Fortresses, Denmark

Viking Age Ring Fortresses, Denmark, UNESCO World Heritage Sites
These fortresses are 1,000 years old.Photo Credit: Jesper Bylov / Shutterstock

See how the Vikings defended their turf.

If you’re looking for a day trip from Copenhagen, consider a visit to Denmark’s UNESCO–listed Viking Age Ring Fortresses, made up of five defense works erected 1,000 years ago under King Harald. The easiest one to access is Trelleborg, the hub of Viking ring fortresses. Partially reconstructed to aid imaginations, visitors can explore tall earth and stone ramparts, four access gates, a moat crossed by small wooden bridges, a small museum, a cemetery, and beyond. Find it near the modern city of Slagelse, about an hour from Copenhagen.

8. Talayotic Menorca, Spain

Talayotic Menorca, Spain, UNESCO World Heritage Site
The Talayotic cultures of Menorca predate the Roman Empire.Photo Credit: Israel Hervas Bengochea / Shutterstock

Tour the island that blossomed before the Roman Empire.

The small Spanish island of Menorca may be known for its beaches and laid-back vacation vibes, but now it just might be known for its UNESCO–listed history. Nine clusters of Bronze Age and Iron Age archaeological sites dot the island, each showcasing an isolated building technique that ended with the invasion of Rome.

Since the sites are spread out, visitors should book a tour or plan on renting a car or e-bike. Torre d’en Galmes (the largest and best-preserved settlement) tops the list, though Talati de Dalt, Torralba d’en Salort, and the Cala Morell necropolis are also well worth a visit.

9. Northern Martinique, France

Northern Martinique, France, UNESCO World Heritage Site
The site includes Mount Pelée and the Pitons.Photo Credit: Kevin DBoitrelle / Shutterstock

See Martinique’s lush rain forests, volcanoes, and glacial lakes.

Technically, two sites—the volcanoes and forests of Mount Pelée and the Pitons of Northern Martinique—are now on Martinique’s UNESCO list. Beyond containing incredible biodiversity in the Lesser Antilles, these landscapes are renowned examples of the life cycle of volcanoes.

Visitors can book a tour to explore the northern region of this Caribbean island, usually visiting waterfalls, black-sand beaches, and cultural points such as the Balata Cathedral, designed to replicate Paris’s Sacre Coeur. Avid hikers can also hike up the iconic and lush Mount Pelee, though they should be prepared for a particularly wet 4-mile (6.5-kilometer) trek.

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