Over the last two years, vacations have been majorly scaled back, and we have instead turned to enjoying more… local pleasures.
But, if like us, your wanderlust has only grown during this time, the thought of having those big ‘bucket list’ travel experiences will be more attractive than ever.
Places like Machu Picchu, the Taj Mahal, and the Great Wall of China; those incredible UNESCO World Heritage Sites around the world that are ‘considered to be of outstanding value to humanity.’
Now that travel is starting to open up again and restrictions eased, Zitango started wondering. Wondering exactly which once-in-a-lifetime trip people around the world are itching to take the most.
Well, we have found out… using search data to track which UNESCO World Heritage Site each country has been searching for – and therefore wants to visit – the most!
The Taj Mahal In India Is The Most Searched For UNESCO World Heritage Site In The World Best
Widely considered one of the most beautiful buildings ever created, the Taj Mahal is a monument that signifies a husband’s love of his (favorite) wife and is a must-see destination for many tourists around the world. Millions of them in fact, with the marble mausoleum racking up a staggering 1.4 million searches each month. What’s more, the , which was designated in 1982, welcomes around 5.65 million people to admire its beauty each year.
What Are The Other Most Searched For UNESCO World Heritage Sites In The World?
Since its discovery by Hiram Bingham in 1911, Machu Picchu has been a popular tourist destination and caught the interest of history buffs, academics, culture vultures and backpackers. The annual number of tourists visiting the site has grown dramatically over the years, increasing from around 100,000 in the 1980s to around 1.5 million today. The UNESCO World Heritage Site, which was designated in 1983, sees around 1.1 million global searches every month and therefore takes second place in this study.
In third place is Rio de Janeiro, which actually only received the prestigious UNESCO World Heritage Site status in 2017. It’s not hard to see why it was designated, though, being an urban setting that blends harmoniously with surrounding natural landscapes. This perfect blend is no more evident than at the city’s most photographed monument, Christ The Redeemer, where a 98-foot art deco statue sits atop the breathtaking Corcovado mountain.
Want to know which other UNESCO World Heritage Sites secured a top 10 spot? Take a look at the list below.
And What About In Each Continent?
Italy’s beautiful coastal destination, Cinque Terre, achieved the overall top spot in Europe, securing first place in just under a quarter of European countries.
Middle East and Central Asia
The Taj Mahal won by an absolute landslide in Asia (which we’ve split across the design above and below for ease), with the UNESCO site being the most searched for in almost half of the countries on the continent.
Oceania and South & East Asia
Over in Oceania, it appears that people are keen to visit The Great Wall of China, with the landmark getting the most searches in Tonga, Papua New Guinea and Fiji.
It isn’t particularly surprising that most countries in South America are keen to visit Machu Picchu, with it being the continent’s most famous ruins. In fact, well over half of the nations search for the Peruvian landmark more than any other UNESCO site.
In Africa, the historic city of Rio de Janiero came out in the top spot, followed by Victoria Falls and the Taj Mahal.
North & Central America
In North & Central America, Machu Picchu is actually the most searched for UNESCO site across the continent, with over half of the countries searching for this above others.
And Which Other UNESCO World Heritage Sites Do Americans Want To Visit?
And what about Americans? Which UNESCO World Heritage Site do the United States want to visit?
Unlike the rest of the world, the Taj Mahal is not the most popular Site in the United States and it is actually Machu Picchu that takes the top spot. The Indian landmark did rank second though, followed by Stonehenge, Easter Island, the Great Wall of China and Chichen Itza, with the complete top 10 list below.
We created a list of over 100 of the most popular UNESCO World Heritage Sites around the world, which were taken from the official UNESCO website and several other high-quality sources. In order to keep the data fair, we searched for each UNESCO site using the exact phrasing used on the official UNESCO website - i.e. Cultural Landscape of Bali and Historic Centre of Rome, rather than just Bali or Rome.
Then, we scanned this list through Ahrefs to find the average monthly search volume for each UNESCO Site on the list in every country of the world.
The UNESCO site in each country that showed the highest volume (and was located in a country different from the country of search) was then taken as the one they most wanted to visit. The search volume data used shows how many times per month, on average, people search for the phrase in each country.
Countries where data was not available were omitted from the study.
Data correct as of March 2022.
A full dataset and source list are available upon request.