Today let’s focus on the lucky number seven (and no, I’m not talking about a Vegas trip). I’m talking about the seven continents. One of the beautiful aspects of travel is its ability to be so many different things. A camping trip can be a way to reconnect with nature, a trip to Cabo or Ibiza can show you a party like you’d never imagined, and a trip back home can lead to some nourishing family time. But for me, I have to say my favorite has always been the culture trip.
These are the trips where you get to see another part of the world, and not just see what the environment looks like but get a sense of the history, art and customs of a place and people. It requires a certain lens, you’re not just walking in the shoes of others but also learning the rhythm of their dances and the flavors of their dishes. When we travel this way, the connective power it can have is astounding—in a miraculous way it can turn strangers into family.
So, we decided to highlight one amazing cultural site from each continent. Now please don’t get me wrong, there are literally thousands of amazing cultural sites on every continent (well… maybe not Antarctica but you get the point). And by no means am I saying these seven examples are each the best cultural site on their respective continents—thinking in terms of better or worse when it comes to something this nuanced is just a matter of personal preference.
That being said, I did decide to dig up some less conventional choices here—so don’t expect to see the Pyramids or the Acropolis (though I highly recommend the classics). I hope that even one of them may inspire you to get out there and see a little more of the world.
It was hard to choose just one destination in India (or all of Asia for that matter) to highlight, there’s an abundance of gorgeous temple sites with just as much history across the nation—but Rani-Ki-Vav’s location right on the banks of the legendary Saraswati cemented it’s spot on our list. Once buried beneath the Saraswati, the intricate carvings of the structure have only been rediscovered in the last 100 years.
Once upon a time—around 2000 years ago to be precise—the Kingdom of Aksum was the most powerful state between Rome and Persia. Today some of the ruins of the Kingdom’s capital still stand and are centered at Ethiopia’s northern border. You can visit the ancient cities’ large obelisks, ruined castles and ancient tombs and get a glimpse at what was.
The castle estate of Mont-Saint-Michel was once a part of the mainland, but as the coast of Normandy has risen the site has become an island! Sometimes you can walk directly to the castle across the beach, other times you’d need a boat to cross, all depending on the tides. For this reason it served as both a strategic castle in wars with England and an ideal prison during peace times.
This site is a bit different from the others on this list, it’s not an old world settlement or anything that’s been built by people. Uluru is one of the most sacred sites to the aboriginal Australian peoples who lived close by. Beyond its outward beauty Uluru is filled with natural springs, hilltop pathways and indigenous cave paintings. Just don’t take any rocks from the site home with you, they say it’ll leave you cursed!
Old Havana, Cuba
In the heart of Havana is the Old district, an area that has retained the architecture of the city’s storied past—with styles that range from Art Deco to Baroque and buildings that span back to literal fortresses from the city’s colonial origins. If you’re looking to visit a modern city with old world flair, this is a great choice.
Machu Picchu, Peru
Can you tell I’m a sucker for ancient civilizations? Like the ruins of Aksum, Machu Picchu is a landmark of a previous civilization, thought to have been built by the Incan emperor Pachacuti as an estate around 1400 AD. Its location in the mountains is full of breathtaking views, so prepare to be wowed by more than just the ruins.
The South Pole
Alright, I’m half joking with this one but honestly if you’re the rugged adventurer type this may be on the bucket list. This is less a cultural site than it is an integral part of the planet earth! To have ventured here and back is an accomplishment, so don’t forget to take a picture at the Ceremonial South Pole on your way out.