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Rocky Mountains, Canada
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Revealed: the most beautiful Unesco World Heritage Sites

The results were determined by high-tech eye-tracking software

Liv Kelly
Written by
Liv Kelly

After Unesco announced last week that 42 new locations were to become world heritage sites, a ranking of the most captivating ones has been released, courtesy of Explore Worldwide

From ancient cities, to national parks, the Taj Mahal to the Statue of Liberty, the growing collection of protected landmarks is full of some pretty awe-inspiring places. So how were the most beautiful of all decided upon?

The tour operator shortlisted 52 of the most recognisable Unesco sites, making sure all the continents were included. Now this is the sciencey bit – Explore Travel used eye-tracking tech to measure the average gaze duration on each landmark from each participant, to find out which captured their gaze the quickest, and for the longest. Pretty clever, right?

According to their method, the most beautiful Unesco World Heritage site is Pontcysyllte Aqueduct and Canal in Wales, which had viewers fixated for an average of 31 seconds. You can read more about it here

In second place were the majestic Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks, a vast region of glaciers, waterfalls, caves and of course, mountains. Banff, Jasper, Kootenay and Yoho are the four national parks in question, which are popular with hikers and skiers, and wildlife lovers. 

Rio de Janeiro, with all its vibrancy and glorious surroundings, ranks as the third most captivating Unesco site in the world. The striking contrast of the mountains and beach with the vastness of the sprawling city is likely why the place is so eye-catching. And then there’s the grandeur of Christ the Redeemer looking over the place, too. 

Here are the top twelve most beautiful Unesco sites in the world

  1. Pontcysyllte Aqueduct and Canal, Wales
  2. Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks, Canada
  3. Rio de Janeiro: Carioca Landscapes between the Mountain and the Sea, Brazil
  4. Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia AND Maloti-Drakensberg Park, South Africa
  5. Island of Mozambique, Mozambique
  6. Ancient City of Sigiriya, Sri Lanka
  7. Ankor Wat, Cambodia AND Historic Centre of Oaxaca and Archaeological Site of Monte Albán, Mexico
  8. Sceilg Mhichíl, Ireland
  9. Petra, Jordan
  10. Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto (Kyoto, Uji and Otsu Cities), Japan

Did you see that Iceland will soon be implementing a tourist tax?

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