Travel publishing powerhouse Lonely Planet has released its first ever ‘Ultimate Travel List’, comprised of the world’s top 500 destinations.
Lonely Planet’s staff brought together every single site mentioned in their guide books – no mean feat – and whittled them down to a relatively short list of 500.
Australia made the cut with the Great Barrier Reef at number two – on the same day Melbourne was voted the world’s most liveable city for the fifth year in a row.
Both natural wonders and man-made spectacles are included in the list.
Check out the top 10 below and just try to not catch the travel bug.
10. Aya Sofya, Turkey
Fly: From Sydney for $1289
Stay: At the Marmara Guesthouse for $28/night
See: This Byzantine church was built in 577, before being turned into a mosque in 1453 and later a museum in 1935. Go for the innovative architecture, religious significance and breathtaking beauty.
9. Alhambra, Spain
Fly: From Sydney to Madrid for $1300, then train to Alhambra
Stay: The Alhambra Palace Hotel Grenada for $175/night
See: Part palace, part fort, part world heritage site and lesson in medieval architecture, the first palace on the Alhambra site was built by Jewish grand vizier of one of Granada’s 11th-century Zirid sultans.
8. Iguazu Falls, Brazil-Argentina
Fly: From Sydney for $1700, then to Puerto Iguazú
Stay: At Hotel Monalisa for $78/night
See: Smack on the Brazilian/Argentine border, Iguazu Falls comprises hundreds of jaw-dropping waterfalls surrounded by spectacular national park. The noise alone makes for a powerful and visceral experience.
7. Colosseum, Italy
Fly: From Sydney for $1200
Stay: At the Hotel Navona for $210/night
See: Gladiators and animals alike fought to the death in front of thousands of exhilarated Romans at this historical site in the city’s centre. Go during off-season in order to really take it all in.
6. Grand Canyon National Park, USA
Fly: From Sydney for $1200
Stay: Close to the ground at Mather Campground for $20/night
See: Describing the Grand Canyon as some of the oldest exposed rock on the planet doesn’t quite cut it. You need to experience its immensity in person – more than four million did in the summer of 2012.
5. Taj Mahal, India
Fly: From Sydney to Delhi for $937, then bus to the Taj Mahal
Stay: At The Grand Imperial – Heritage Hotel for $210/night
See: Widely known as the world’s most beautiful building, The Taj was built by Shah Jahan as a memorial for his third wife, Mumtaz Mahal, who died giving birth to their 14th child in 1631. Now that’s love.
4. Great Wall of China, China
Fly: From Sydney for $707
Stay: At the Howard Johnson Paragon Hotel for $87/night
See: Winding and withering from east to west, the Great Wall was built as early as the seventh century to keep the Chinese empires safe. Certainly one of the most impressive examples of border control in history.
3. Machu Picchu, Peru
Fly: From Sydney to Cuzco for $2269
Stay: At the Hotel Wiracocha Inn for $48/night
See: The ancient Inca city of Machu Picchu sits at 2430 metres above sea level. The spectacular spot was abandoned by the Incas during the Spanish conquest, although luckily the Spanish never knew it was there.
2. Great Barrier Reef, Australia
Fly: From Sydney to Cairns for $149
Stay: At the Pacific Hotel Cairns for $150
See: It’s the largest living organism on earth and can be seen from space – but the Great Barrier Reef really calls for a close-up viewing. Thousands of reefs, hundreds of islands and 600 types of coral are waiting to be explored.
1. Temples of Angkor, Cambodia
Fly: From Sydney to Siem Reap for $619
Stay: At Angkor Spirit Palace fro $28/night
See: Taking the prestigious crown for the world’s must-see site are the temples of Angkor, which Lonely Planet describes as “heaven on earth” and culminates in the world’s largest religious building, Angkor Wat.
“Angkor is one of the world’s foremost ancient sites, with the epic proportions of the Great Wall of China, the detail and intricacy of the Taj Mahal and the symbolism and symmetry of the pyramids, all rolled into one,” said Lonely Planet of its “undisputed” winner.
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