Landmarks have a way of getting stuck in our brains before we ever see them. Take the Eiffel Tower: its singular spire has been reproduced on countless postcards and t-shirts, and featured so often in TV and movies that it’s instantly recognizable, even for those who have never set foot in Paris. Landmarks and monuments like this become synonymous with a destination—think New York’s Empire State Building or the Sydney Opera House—while also functioning as a top attraction.
When it’s time to cross these iconic sights off your bucket list, consider Travel + Leisure’s expertly written, constantly updated guides as your key to finding the world’s most famous monuments and landmarks.
A monument can represent any man-made sculpture or structure that pays homage to an event or figure—from temples and ancient cities to bridges and statues—and encapsulates a particular chapter of history. Often designed with an artist’s eye, and commissioned by famous political leaders, many monuments act as a centerpiece for a village or city and offer a reference point for knowledge-hungry travelers.
In America, the Lincoln Memorial is considered by many to be the country’s most famous monument, though more offbeat structures like California’s Salvation Mountain or a stacked circle of automobiles in Nebraska known as Carhenge often possess just as much allure. Around the world, monuments like those in Budapest’s Memento Park recall a country’s dark past, while the historic compound of Bo Kamp in Cape Town is a rare glimpse at pre-1850 South African architecture.
In London, a tour of Kensington Palace provides fascinating insight into one of the capital’s most distinguished royal residences. Meanwhile, in Sicily, a meticulously preserved amphitheater demonstrates the engineering ingenuity of ancient Greek civilization. Landmarks can take many different forms: from Japan’s Mount Fuji to Niagara Falls, natural landmarks fill travelers with just as much wonder and astonishment.
Wondering when the best time is to trek up to the iconic Christ the Redeemer statue overlooking Rio de Janiero? Perhaps you’re looking for a private, behind-the-scenes tour of Dubai’s Burj Khalifa, one of the tallest buildings in the world? Wherever you’re going, Travel + Leisure has already mapped out the best landmarks and monuments for you to see, with details on when to visit, which guides to contact, and what makes them so unique.