10 countries with the most UNESCO World Heritage sites

Every year, through a list of nominations adhering to certain established criteria, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) declares a number of locations around the world as heritage sites to be protected and preserved. As of 2017, there are 1073 World Heritage sites declared in 167 states.

The Taj Mahal is a white marble mausoleum located in Agra, Uttar Pradesh, India. It was built by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his third wife

Here are the 10 countries that house the most UNESCO World Heritage sites:


Co-protagonist of the Classical era, home to the Roman Empire, plunged into the dark period of the Middle Ages to later flourish in the Renaissance period. With such rich cultural history, it’s no wonder Italy tops the list with 53 sites (and counting) considered worthy of being World Heritage.

The more adventurous travelers can opt to trek the country’s natural landscapes, while history fanatics can go in search of artifacts, braving the endless archeological sites of the Roman Empire and mentally reconstructing scenes of gladiator fights.


Equally rich in culture and history, on the other side of the globe, another top-contender with 52 World Heritage sites sitting on its territory, is China, with more than 4000 years of recorded history in its timeline.

Land of mythological dragons, cruel emperors long-gone and kung fu movies, China’s sites include Imperial palaces and tombs of past dynasties, ancient cities and villages, buildings and monuments, and of course, countless natural parks, rivers, lakes and mountains.

Summer Palace, in Kunming Lake Seventeen arch bridge,Beijing, China


With its long warring history and the early cultural domination of the Romans and the Moors, Spain is unsurprising the next country on this list with 46 sites to be protected.

Besides historical caves, preserved Romanic remains and important archaeological sites, old town and national parks, Spain boasts of cathedrals, churches and modernist buildings that are inconceivable masterpieces of art.

Parc Güell. Garden complex with architectural elements situated on the hill of el Carmel.


The world’s most visited country, France is home to 43 preserved sites, one being this year’s new addition located in their overseas territory of the French Polynesia.

Palaces, cathedrals, castles, medieval towns, be transported back in time to when Kings ruled and live your own adventures accompanied by France’s national products, baguettes, cheeses and wine.

Mont Saint Michel, Normandy, France.
Notre Dame Sunrise


Despite its dark historical role, Germany is now one of the most culturally-diverse country and a popular destination for both business people and leisure tourists alike.

Deutschland is not just beer fests and sausages. It boasts of 42 heritage sites that includes mines, factories and a world famous opera house. Immerse yourself in culture of all categories and learn about the industrial history that has made its profound mark on our society today.

The Cologne Cathedral (Kölner Dom) from below.


The second most populous country in the world and one of the fastest developing countries, India is home to 36 incredible sites that includes (attention fans of trains)… a fully operational group of 3 mountain railways!

Discover the intense culture and heritage of a society that blends the past and the present, religion and philosophy, while at the same time incorporating globalization. This would be a fascinating trip to be to be included in your bucket list.

Taj Mahal, Agra, India


Latin America’s representative in this list, Mexico proudly hosts 34 sites to preserve (and counting). Party-lovers would be happy to know that one of the sites is an agave landscape and tequila facilities, where you can find out how long it takes for agaves to grow and learn to truly appreciate your bottle of tequila.

As you go back in time on your visits to ancient Mayan sites and natural biosphere reserves, be prepared to experience the Mexican concept of real time. Let’s just say that you should just relax and never be in a hurry in Mexico.


United States

A land so well-known there is no need for any kind of introduction, the United States of America is home to an impressive number of breathtaking natural landscapes and formations, which is no wonder why around half of its current 23 protected sites are National Parks. The other half include Native American and Latin American historical towns, as well as Aztec ruins and monuments and sites from American History.

That trip to the USA is going to be a long one if you try to include all these UNESCO sites to your itinerary!

Yellowstone Lake as seen in the winter from the West Thumb Geyser Basin at Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

(*) World Heritage Lists source: http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/

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Vanessa Godoy

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