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Love travel? The world’s top ten most intoxicating sights unveiled in new Lonely Planet superlist

5 - TajMahal2Pete Seaward - Lonely Planet.jpg

We’ve all got one; a list of the places we’d most like to see, visit and experience around the world. A personal wanderlust list. Now, the travel and adventure experts at Lonely Planet have published their own.

As you might imagine, it’s a hefty tome covering 500 destinations over 328 awe-inspiring pages. But where this list differs from the rest, is that each of the sights have been ranked according to votes from the Lonely Planet community.

Travellers, writers, photographers and wanderlusters were all given a shortlist of the most incredible sights ever featured by Lonely Planet – either in their magazines, books or on their website – and then asked to vote for their top 20.

Votes were counted and from the mystical Temples of Angkor and the Great Barrier Reef to the breath-taking Taj Mahal, the definitive list of the 500 best places to visit in the world has been compiled in a new book Ultimate Travelist.

Here are the top 10 wonders on the list to whet your appetite…

1. Temples of Angkor: Cambodia

Temples of Angkor in Cambodia

Voted the number one place to visit in the world by what Lonely Planet has called a ‘landslide’, Angkor Wat is considered the world’s greatest temple to the Hindu god Vishnu. Built from sandstone blocks and carved floor-to-ceiling with delicate images of deities, its intoxicating mystery and half jungle-swallowed walls remain the undisputed highlight among the area’s many ancient ruins.

Image: Mark Read


2. Great Barrier Reef: Australia

Great Barrier Reef Australia

The world’s largest network of coral reefs, the Great Barrier Reef contains 400 different types of coral and some 1,500 species of fish. Add to that 30 kinds of whales, dolphins and porpoises, plus six species of sea turtle and 17 kinds of sea snake, and it’s not hard to see what keeps drawing people to Oz. Rising sea temperatures however, are causing the ongoing bleaching and killing of the coral, so don’t wait too long to before checking this one off.

Image: Matt Munro


3. Machu Picchu: Peru

Machu Picchu Peru

Almost landing neck and neck with the Great Barrier Reef, a hike along the Inca Trail to see the enigmatic lost city of Machu Picchu is high on the list of most keen travellers. While theories abound as to the origin of the city – a retreat for royals, a temple for virgins, an alien landing pad – the truth remains hidden from visitors and archaeologists alike.

Image: Philip Lee Harvey


4. Great Wall of China: China

Great Wall of China - Lonely Planet

A maze of walls and fortifications stretching across 8850km of China’s rugged northern landscape, The Great Wall was constructed in phases over more than a thousand years. Though some do trek the entire length of its indestructible remains, many decide to explore just one section depending on what they’re after. For imperial grandeur, Lonely Planet suggests staying close to Beijing, for military precision; Gansu, or Inner Mongolia for timeless desolation.

Image: Mark Read


5. Taj Mahal: India

Taj Mahal India

Built by Mughal Emperor Shah Jaham as a mausoleum for his favourite wife, Mumtaz Mahal, the Taj Mahal’s hypnotic pull goes far beyond its acres of shimmering white marble, thousands in inlaid semi-precious stones and intricate Islamic carvings. Shrouded in the atmosphere of its era, the Taj is best visited at dawn says Lonely Planet, when the rampant crowds are yet to descend.

Image: Pete Seaward


6. Grand Canyon National Park: USA

Grand Canyon National Park

Hailed as nature’s cathedral, stare down at the Grand Canyon’s gape in the earth’s crust and you’re confronted with two-billion years of geological time. A mile deep and 277 miles long, the experience is nothing short of mind blowing. Hike through the national park, raft along the wild Colorado River, see black bears, elk and condors – or simply stand in quiet amazement.

Image: Mark Read


7. Colosseum: Italy

Colosseum Italy

Knowing that gladiators met in mortal combat at this 50,000 seat amphitheatre puts no small thrill into walking around the ancient Roman ruin. With 80 arched entrances and a complex maze of underground corridors, animal cages and ramps, a guided tour is a must to fully understand the gruesome depths of just what went on inside the colossal walls.

Image: Justin Foulkes


8. Iguazu Falls: Brazil – Argentina

Iguazu Falls Brazil and Argentina

The incredibly mighty Iguazu Falls thunderously celebrates the point where the Rio Iguazu plunges over a plateau to meet with the Rio Parana. Tourist boats will take you around the foaming pools below, while boardwalks allow you to get thrillingly close to the surging water. The whole display takes place amongst 55,000  hectares of subtropical rainforest where jaguars are known to roam.

Image: Matt Munro


9. Alhambra: Spain

Alhambra Spain

An enduring symbol of 800 years of Moorish rule in medieval Spain, Granada’s Alhambra palace dominates the city’s skyline. Its formidable red walls jut out of the cypress and elm tree woods, all set against the backdrop of the Sierra Nevada’s snow-capped peaks. Exquisitely decorated, sheer in size and complex in structure, this is a must-see worthy of any wanderlust list.

Image: Pete Seaward


10. Aya Sofya: Turkey

Aya Sofya Turkey - Lonely Planet

A church, mosque and museum in one, Istanbul’s Aya Sofya was built almost 1500 years ago by Byzantine Emperor Justinian I. He had demanded a cathedral that would eclipse the structures of Rome, and mimic the majesty of the heavens. His wish was delivered in the cosmic spaces and mosaic covered walls of the Aya Sofya. It was converted into a mosque in 1453 after the Ottoman capture of Istanbul, and deconsecrated in 1935 to serve as a museum.

Image: Mark Read


Lonely Planet Ultimate Travelist book

Lonely Planet's Ultimate Travelist is available now, £19.99, lonelyplanet.com

Top image: Taj Mahal by Pete Seaward for Lonely Planet / Words: Amy Lewis

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