Adventurers at heart know that travelling to the past is not as impossible as it sounds.
Sure, no time machine can rewind the clock, but the world is littered with beautiful remnants of the people that lived hundreds of years before us. And for those with wanderlust, that’s as good as time travel.
If you’re eager to see the most beautiful archaeological sites, keep reading—we have the perfect recommendations for you on each continent!
The ruins of the ancient city of Thebes are one of the most fascinating archaeological sites on Earth and perhaps one of the most recognisable sites to visit.
Located in modern-day Luxor, the archaeological complex houses not one but several ruins worth visiting. Some of the most well-known ones include the Valley of the Kings, Valley of the Queens, Karnak, Luxor, Tombs of the Nobles, and more.
Once an undisputed capital of Islam intellectualism, Timbuktu is shrouded in mystery and legends. From the 13th to the 16th century, it remained one of Africa’s most cosmopolitan cities thanks to the emblematic Koranic Sankore University.
Although a World Heritage Site, it is in danger of disappearing forever thanks to the continuous advancement of the Sahara.
See Also: Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania, The Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt, The Rock-hewn Churches of Lalibela in Ethiopia.
Standing high in the Andes Mountains and right by the Amazon basin, the Incan citadel of Machu Picchu is a picturesque sight.
Perhaps the most impressive symbol of Incan architecture, this jewel of pre-Hispanic times remained hidden during the Spanish colonisation and was only re-discovered in 1911. It features over 200 stunning structures made with polished dry-stone walls kept pristine.
At the heart of the Valley of Mexico lies Teotihuacan, the largest city in the Americas during its height and one of the continent’s most significant pre-Hispanic architectural sites.
You’ll find spectacular monuments within the site, such as the Temple of Quetzalcoatl, the Pyramid of the Sun, the Pyramid of the Moon, and beautiful murals decorating the city’s walls.
See Also: Lines of Nazca in Peru, Chichen-Itza in Mexico, Archaeological Park of Tierradentro in Colombia.
Located near the modern city of Xi’an, in China’s province of Shaanxi, lies the Qinshihuang Mausoleum—the tomb of the first emperor of a unified Chinese Empire, back in the 3rd century BCE.
Buried alongside him are thousands of life-sized soldiers and horses made of terra cotta, equipped with bronze weapons and chariots. Each is crafted to exceptional detail, with different faces and expressions, making the sight an imposing yet unique archaeological must-see.
Standing as the perfect combination of Assyrian and Hellenistic architecture, Petra is one of the world’s most renowned archaeological sites thanks to its imposing beauty and unique construction style—half-built and half-carved into the rock.
The rose-coloured sandstone is a stunning sight, and there are multiple ruins of numerous buildings, many of them still standing in outstanding quality.
See Also: Angkor Wat in Cambodia, Ellora Caves in India, Forbidden City in China.
When Mount Vesuvius erupted in 79 AD, it buried the cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum, alongside its inhabitants, under a thick layer of ash and pumice. But the tragedy allowed for a very unusual archaeological site—a perfectly preserved look at Roman life.
The ash conserved the city as it was, allowing a glimpse at rare sights such as murals, frescos, and even graffiti of the era. It humanises Roman life, showing that their cities were, perhaps, not too different from ours.
Located at the heart of Athens, the Acropolis is a famous citadel that contains some of the most emblematic monuments of Ancient Greece, including the awe-inspiring Parthenon, the Propylaea, the Erechtheion, and the Temple of Athena Nike.
Although they are ruins by now, they remain the face of Ancient Greece and an imposing sight to all who visit.
See Also: Roman Baths in England, Zaragoza in Spain, Nimes in France.
Oceania & The Pacific
Also known as Easter Island, this Polynesian island is well-known for its imposing moai—over 1,000 gigantic monolithic human statues representing the ancestors of the Rapa Nui people.
These sculptures are exceptional because, unlike most other cultures, the Rapa Nui crafted them without any external influence: their artistry is unique worldwide, making them instantly recognisable.
Littered with Aboriginal art dating back thousands of years, the Kakadu National Park is a jewel that highlights prehistoric rock art from human civilisation before the last ice age.
Out of all the significant sites within the park, Ubirr stands out as the most noteworthy. The rock art amidst the rocks displays prey animals from the era, and it was a continuous place of artistic expression for the Aboriginal inhabitants across 40,000 years.
See Also: Takiroa Rock Art Shelter in New Zealand, Nan Madol in Micronesia.
Found Your Perfect Destination?
These entries are just a glimpse of the many wonders humans have built across the millennia.
Time to plan for your dream vacation!