Wherever you travel on your gap year, sightseeing and day trips will feature somewhere along the way, simply because there are some things you just cannot miss, even if you’re aiming for an off the beaten track experience. No one should visit Peru, for example, without seeing the ancient Inca ruins at Machu Picchu, just as no one should visit the Australian Outback without checking out Uluru (Ayers Rock).
Some of the best sights are free, but you need to know the best times to see them. Other sights require a charge, but it’s usually well worth it. Check out our country pages for advice on the top sights in specific regions, and click on the tab above to see our top ten sights around the world.
Top ten sights to see on your gap year
Australia has so many world class tourist sights, but Uluru (formerly known as Ayers Rock) tops the lot. It is one of those things that just has to be seen to be understood; no pictures can do the thing justice (not that that should stop you from trying!)
Milford Sound, New Zealand
Most of New Zealand is eye-wateringly scenic, but Milford Sound, famous for its pristine mountain peaks reflected in a mirror-like lake, take things to a whole new level. If you see just one sight in New Zealand make sure it’s this one.
Halong Bay, Vietnam
Words cannot come close to evoking the splendour of Halong bay, one of the most beautiful areas of this little orb we spin around on. The best way to experience it is on a junk boat cruise, ideally for 3 nights.
The Golden Palace, Thailand
A staggering feat of architecture, the deliciously gaudy Golden Palace in Bangkok, the capital of Thailand, is one of the most impressive buildings in Asia. Give yourself a whole day to explore; the palace and grounds are enormous!
Angkor Wat, Cambodia
This ancient complex of Khmer temples in the heart of the Cambodian jungle looks like something from a Tomb Raider movie. One of the most iconic sights in the world, Angkor Wat simply cannot be overlooked if you’re in the region.
Taj Mahal, India
Probably the most famous building in the world, the Taj Mahal was built in the 17th Century and has been causing jaws to drop for its entire existence. It was built by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan to commemorate his late wife.
You will have seen countless pictures of Egypt’s ancient pyramids, but nothing can substitute seeing them with your own eyes.
Christ the Redeemer, Brazil
Gazing over Rio de Janeiro, easily the most scenically located city in the world, the enormous Christ the Redeemer statue cannot be missed. It is the most iconic sight in Rio, which in turn is the most iconic city in South America. Don’t miss it.
Machu Picchu, Peru
Machu Picchu was once an Inca settlement but is now a series of incredibly atmospheric ruins draped across a ridge in the midst of absolutely stunning mountain scenery. Part of the fun is getting there: walk the Inca Trail to do it, widely regarded to be one of the world’s best hiking routes.
Golden Gate Bridge, USA
The enormous Golden Gate Bridge, which spans San Francisco Bay and the Pacific Ocean, is one of the most impressive man made sights in the world. For much of its history it was the largest bridge in existence, and is still loved for its aesthetic quality.