Even though it is the smallest continent on earth, Europe is arguably also the most diverse continent. It is home to a wealth of different cultures, has a fascinating and complicated history, and cooks some of the best food in the world.
It is this diversity that makes Europe so appealing to visitors (and Europeans themselves as well). The continent is dotted with extraordinary historic sites and natural attractions, many of which have been declared world heritage by UNESCO. Sometimes entire cities are considered world heritage; other times it’s a whole sea. Respective examples are Venice and the Wadden Sea.
In this new post, I’d like to share with you the five greatest UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Europe that I’ve visited so far. (I’ve seen many more, but these five particularly stand out from the rest.)
5 Great UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Europe That I’ve Visited
Stonehenge is probably the most well-known prehistoric site in the world. What most people don’t know, however, is that it is only a small part of a huge area dotted with more than 700 ancient monuments, processional pathways, burial mounds and stone and wood circles. That particular UNESCO World Heritage Site is known as Stonehenge, Avebury and Associated Sites. While Stonehenge is definitely worth visiting, it’s of equal importance to take a more detailed look around too.
Windmills of Kinderdijk, the Netherlands
The nineteen windmills of Kinderdijk, a small village a short driving distance from Rotterdam, are one of the most visited destinations in the Netherlands. In contrast with most windmills, these weren’t built to process grains or other foods, but instead were meant to pump flood water out of the surrounding polders. All nineteen windmills are originals and date from the 18th century, the largest concentration of historic windmills in the Netherlands. Although a couple of them can be visited, most of them are inhabited and can only be seen from the walking trails and bike paths.
Grand-Place of Brussels, Belgium
The Grand-Place of Brussels, Belgium, is one of the most spectacular world heritage sites in Flanders and Belgium. Dominated by the imposing Town Hall, the square is surrounded by beautifully decorated medieval guildhalls. It’s without a doubt one of the most stunning urban squares in the world.
Giant’s Causeway, Northern Ireland
The Giant’s Causeway is the only UNESCO World Heritage Site in Northern Ireland. Made up of tens of thousands of hexagonal basalt columns on the Antrim Coast, this is definitely one of Europe’s more striking natural wonders. The columns are the result of volcanic activity some 50 million years ago.
Western Fjords, Norway
UNESCO considers two fjords in western Norway to classify to be world heritage. It concerns the majestic Geirangerfjord and the spectacular Nærøyfjord, which is a sidearm of the Sognefjord. There are many more breathtaking fjords in western Norway and I’d suggest not limiting your time to those particular two, but spend more time exploring the rest of the region as well.