World’s top 500 sights revealed in Lonely Planet’s Ultimate Travelist 2015

The Temples of Angkor, Cambodia top the Ultimate Travelist compiled by Lonely Planet, followed by the Great Barrier Reef and Machu Picchu in Peru.

Temples of Angkor, Cambodia are No1 in the Ultimate Travellist
Temples of Angkor, Cambodia are No1 in the Ultimate Travelist Image by Mark Read, Lonely Planet

In this first-of-its-kind list from the world’s leading travel authority, Lonely Planet’s globetrotting community of staff and writers have ranked the 500 best places to see on the planet, creating the definitive bucket list for every type of traveller.

The Temples of Angkor in Cambodia were the undisputed champion, topping the list at number one. Described as the “Hindu heaven on earth”, this complex of more than 1,000 temples, shrines and tombs that form a virtual city of spires in the jungles of northern Cambodia, takes the crown.

The Great Barrier Reef, Australia, No2 in the Ultimate Travellist.
The Great Barrier Reef, Australia, No2 in the Ultimate Travelist. Image by Matt Monroe, Lonely Planet

To create Lonely Planet’s Ultimate Travelist, Lonely Planet’s team of travel experts and authors on the ground rated the world’s best mega-sights and hidden gems, bringing together this beautiful new book and what they believe to be the 500 best places to visit in the world.

Lonely Planet’s experts whittled down a list of every single sight featured in their tried-and-tested guidebooks to almost every destination on the planet until they had, in their view, the very best spots. Ranked in order of their brilliance, Lonely Planet’s Ultimate Travelist highlights the places the experts at Lonely Planet believe every traveller must experience.

Machu Picchu, Peru, No 3 in the Ultimate Travellist.
Machu Picchu, Peru, No 3 in the Ultimate Travelist. Image by Philip Lee Harvey, Lonely Planet

The British Museum in London , founded in 1753, comes in 15th on the list and includes artefacts that date back millions of years and was visited by over six million people last year.

It houses around eight million items and was included in the top 20 due to it being “the greatest treasure house of Europe”.

The Great Wall of China, No4 in the Ultimate Travellist.
The Great Wall of China, No4 in the Ultimate Travelist. Image by Mark Read, Lonely Planet

Several other landmarks from the UK and Ireland are also not to be missed. According to Lonely Planet, who have been guiding travellers on the road since 1973, 13 of the world’s all-time best places to visit are in England, 12 are in Scotland, 7 are in Wales, 4 in Ireland and 2 in Northern Ireland.

These include:

  • In England: the Lake District National Park (#36), The Tate Modern (#52), Stonehenge (#62) and the Eden Project (#281)
  • In Wales: Snowdonia (#181), St Davids Cathedral (#294) and the Brecon Beacons (#365)
  • In Scotland: Edinburgh Castle (#58), the Isle of Skye (#64) and Skara Brae (#134)
  • In Northern Ireland: The Giant’s Causeway (#103) and Titanic Belfast (#424)
  •  In Ireland: Brú na Bóinne (#224), the Cliffs of Moher (#378), Dublin’s Trinity College (#468) and the Rock of Cashel (#497)
The Taj Mahal in India, No5 in the Ultimate Travellist.
The Taj Mahal in India, No5 in the Ultimate Travelist. Image by Pete Seaward, Lonely Planet

To celebrate the release of Lonely Planet’s Ultimate Travelist, from Tuesday 18 until Saturday 22 August, three of the world’s finest sand sculptors will recreate five amazing sights from around the world on Peter’s Hill in central London (ECV4). For a limited time, people will be able to get a taste of some of the world’s most beautiful landmarks a little closer to home. The sights will unfurl before viewers’ eyes in a five-sided sand sculpture of grand scale. Over the course of five days, one new completed landmark will be revealed each day.

The Grand Canyon, USA, No6 in the Ultimate Travellist.
The Grand Canyon, USA, No6 in the Ultimate Travelist. Image by Mark Read, Lonely Planet

Tom Hall, Editorial Director of Lonely Planet, said “We are so excited about Lonely Planet’s Ultimate Travelist. This book has been years in the making and brings together the most compelling places in the world according to our team of globetrotting travel experts. Every traveller has got a list of places they simply have to see – places heard about, read about or dreamed about. Of course, what makes somewhere special is different for everyone and we’d love to hear about other people’s top spots. But this is our definitive list. And one we hope will inspire many other travel wishlists.”

The Colosseum in Rome, No7 in the Ultimate Travellist.
The Colosseum in Rome, No7 in the Ultimate Travelist. Image by Justin Foulkes, Lonely Planet

The top 20 of the Lonely Planet travel list is:

1. Temples of Angkor, Cambodia

2. Great Barrier Reef, Australia

3. Machu Picchu, Peru

4. Great Wall of China, China

5. Taj Mahal, India

Iguazu Falls, Brazil, Argentina, No8 in the Ultimate Travellist.
Iguazu Falls, Brazil, Argentina, No8 in the Ultimate Travelist. Image by Matt Monroe, Lonely Planet

6. Grand Canyon National Park, USA

7. Colosseum, Italy

8. Iguazu Falls, Brazil-Argentina

9. Alhambra, Spain

10. Aya Sofya, Turkey

Alhambra, Spain, No9 in the Ultimate Travellist.
Alhambra, Spain, No9 in the Ultimate Travelist. Image by Pete Seaward, Lonely Planet

11. Fez Medina, Morocco

12. Twelve Apostles, Australia

13. Petra, Jordan

14. Tikal, Guatemala

15. British Museum, England

Aya Sofya, Turkey, No10 in the Ultimate Travellist.
Aya Sofya, Turkey, No10 in the Ultimate Travelist. Image by Mark Read, Lonely Planet

16. Sagrada Familia, Spain

17. Fiordland National Park, New Zealand

18. Santorini, Greece

19. Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

20. Museum of Old & New Art, Australia