There are more than 1,000 UNESCO World Heritage sites spread across the globe, encompassing locations as diverse as Ethiopia and Iceland. Competition among nations to have their historic ruins and pristine wildernesses appear on the list is fierce as an appearance brings with it prestige, tourist numbers, and protection. World Heritage status is also a guarantee of commitment for both the host country as well as the other nations that have signed the treaty to save the location in the face of a natural disaster, conflict or environmental degeneration. At present, there are 1,073 properties on the list along with 193 nations that have signed the treaty.

01Machu Picchu, Peru

Backpacker standing in contemplation on the Inca Trail above Machu Picchu, the most visited travel destination in Peru fbxx / Getty Images

Arising from a forest to a height of almost 8,000 feet above sea level, Machu Picchu is the Inca Empire's masterwork. Built in a verdant mountain setting above the Urubamba river, the ruins have been restored to the appearance they must have had when occupied during the 16th century. The more fit among tourists can choose to reach the ruins by taking a guided tour to reach the site, while a more accessible option would be to take a bus from the town Aguas Calientes, located at the bottom of the hill.