The World’s Most Visited UNESCO Heritage Sites

Forbidden City gets more visitors than any other UNESCO World Heritage place.

There are over 1,000 World Heritage Sites scattered around the world. These places have outstanding universal value and are grouped into cultural, natural, and mixed sites. Oftentimes, when places are chosen as World Heritage Sites they are able to be preserved when they would otherwise be destroyed through human and animal activities.

UNESCO World Heritage Sites are often important tourist draws. The most popular of sites can receive up to 10 million visitors annually.

Forbidden City is the most visited UNESCO World Heritage Site in the world, having averaged around 15 million visitors annually since 2012. In 2016 alone, the site received more than 16 million visitors. The Forbidden City, which is located in Beijing, China, is a palace complex that was in use from the Ming Dynasty in 1420 to the end of Qing Dynasty in 1912.

The Great Smoky Mountains in the southeastern United States receive over 11 million visitors annually. The mountain range is part of the Appalachian Mountains. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park which was established in 1934 and is the country’s most popular national park. The mountain range is home to about 187,000 acres of old growth forest which is the largest on the eastern side of the Mississippi River.

The list of popular World Heritage Sites is incomplete without mention of the Great Wall of China. Built to protect the Chinese against raids and invasion from the Eurasian Steppe, the wall is made of stones, bricks and wood. The Great Wall of China was designated a World Heritage Site in 1987 and currently receives over 10 million visitors.

Although the cost of maintaining these sites is significantly high. However, more and more people are encouraged to visit these sites and sample their rich history.