Good news for all of you history buffs out there. Your quest for ancient ruins, sacred wonders, and world-famous landmarks need not be squandered at an all-inclusive resort. It’s not as challenging as one might think to choose a vacation destination with historic highlights.
Here are ten prime vacation spots for history lovers…
1. Yucatán Peninsula, Mexico
If you like to lounge on a stunning beach between your explorations of ancient Mayan ruins, Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula offers a perfect blend of both. In Cancun you’ll find the world renowned ruins of Chichen Itza and Cobá. And in nearby Merida you can follow the Puuc trek and explore the many Mayan delights—such as the Uxmal ceremonial grounds and pyramids.
2. Athens, Greece
Athens is the premiere site of Greek myth. Here, you can trace the origins and stories of Greek immortals—like Zeus and Poseidon. As one of the world’s oldest cities, you’ll discover history galore. Start with the Acropolis of Athens, explore the famous Parthenon, check out the seats at the Old Olympic Stadium, and if you have time for a dip in the gorgeous azure waves, it’s a pure bonus.
3. Petra, Jordan
If Indiana Jones inspired your adventurous side—the city of Petra, scene of the fictional hero’s Holy Grail quest will certainly get your whip spinning. Petra sits carved into a canyon in Arabah, Jordan, where, as the real story goes, was uncovered in 1812 by a Swiss explorer. Today, Petra is among the New Seven Wonders of the World.
4. Rome, Italy
It should be no surprise to find Rome on this list of top historical cities. Not only is it the birthplace of one of the world’s most influential civilizations; it’s also the site of ruins of ancient Rome—such as the Colosseum, The Roman Forum, the early Christian Catacombs of San Callisto, Palatine Hill, the Baths of Caracalla, Villa dei Quintili, and the remains of Port of Ostia Antica.
5. Machu Picchu, Peru
Well worth the 4-day trek, Machu Picchu is all that remains of the lost Incan civilization in Peru before it was ravaged by the Spanish. You can explore the “Lost City of the Incas” along with hordes of other tourists. So it’s best to plan a day trip and arrive early to get the biggest bang for your efforts.
6. Bejing, China
A reminder of the emperors who once ruled this vast empire, Bejing is home to a plethora of Asian culture and influence—such as the Forbidden City, the Ming Tombs, and the Great Wall of China, which almost fully-preserved, dates back to the glorious Ming Dynasty.
7. Angkor Wat, Cambodia
A stunning example of Khmer architecture, the Angkor Wat Temple dates back to the early 12th century. Constructed by Cambodia’s King Suryavarman II as the state capital, the temple holds many unique bas-reliefs (colonettes carved in sandstone) and devatas (elaborate Hindu carvings of deities).
8. Budapest, Hungary
The picturesque city of Budapest still harbors many of the forgotten Roman and Medieval sites—although many are now found in ruins. However, you can still take a step back through history amid the Roman-inspired Aquincum to Matthias Church, and the medieval Buda Castle and museums.
9. Agra, India
Obviously, the Taj Mahal is India’s most famous and celebrated ancient structure. However, Agra, a short train excursion from Delhi, offers an abundance of historical architecture for the history buff. Remnants of the Mughal Dynasty and one-time Indian capital of Fatehpur Sikri still linger like ghosts in this thriving city.
10. Cairo, Egypt
Cairo is steeped in the remains of ancient Egypt and the inspiring civilizations that were responsible for modern day marvels such as the Pyramids of Giza and the Great Sphinx, which will have you scratching your noodle over the possibility of the construction. The 481-foot building, which took almost 20 years to build, was once considered the tallest man-made structure in the entire world—and that was without the use of cranes or modern machinery.