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25 Places Every Serious Traveller Should Have On Their Bucket List

Sometimes, the crowds of tourists are worth it.

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Travelling is all about getting off the beaten path and seeing unique and wonderful things.

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You want to explore, discover, and challenge your worldview. But sometimes, the beaten path is pretty great. Sometimes, you just gotta see things like the Eiffel Tower and the Vatican.

Every year, Trip Advisor releases their list of the highest-rated landmarks around the world, according to travellers. Here's this year's top 25 places you really shouldn't miss.

1. Angkor Wat, Cambodia

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This ancient Cambodian temple is the largest religious monument in the world. Built in the 12th century, it's located just north of the city of Siem Reap.

Top tip: Visit at sunrise, and climb to the top for an amazing view.

2. Plaza de Espana, Spain

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This magnificent square, located in Seville, is a truly breathtaking example of Spanish architecture at its finest. Take your time to sit near the fountain and people watch, or take a walk and explore the gardens.

Top tip: If you visit before 8am there'll be way less people around.

3. Sheikh Zayed Mosque, UAE

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This mosque in Abu Dhabi, completed in 2007, is made from striking white marble and is beautiful inside and out. It's one of those places which will really just fill you with peace and calm the whole time you're there.

Top tip: Make sure to wear long pants and sleeves when visiting, and women must wear headscarves.

4. St Peter's Basilica, Vatican City

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Most people who have visited The Vatican comment on its sheer size and breathtaking stature, and can't even put into words the feeling it inspires. It's the largest church in the world, and one of the holiest Catholic sites.

Top tip: It's definitely worth paying the extra few Euros to visit the top of the dome.

5. Mosque-Cathedral de Cordoba, Spain

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Starting life as a mosque in the 700s, and being converted to a Catholic church in the 1200s, this site has literally evolved over the years. Visitors describe it as a "church inside a mosque", and its blending of Moorish and Renaissance architecture is particularly unique.

Top tip: If you can get a guide who specialises in history, it'll make your visit 1000 times better.

6. Taj Mahal, India

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One of the most recognisable religious sites, the Taj Mahal near Agra is a white marble monolith on the Yamuna river. The UNESCO World Heritage Site is visited by 8 million people annually, but it's worth putting up with the masses of people to see it with your own eyes.

Top tip: Visit before daybreak to avoid the heat, crowds, and enjoy the amazing sunrise over the Taj.

7. Duomo di Milano, Italy

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This cathedral took six centuries to complete, which isn't too surprising when you get up close and see it for yourself. Its intricate and ornate external walls are matched only by the breathtaking cavernous space within.

Top tip: Climb to the roof for great views of Milan.

8. Alcatraz, USA

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It's impressive that an abandoned prison is up on this list with centuries-old cathedrals, which just goes to show how much Alcatraz is worth a visit. It's just a short ferry ride from San Fransisco, and actually has amazing views of the city from the prison.

Top tip: The audio tour here is top-notch and will really enhance your visit.

9. Golden Gate Bridge, USA

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San Fransisco is really getting the shout-outs on this list! The iconic Golden Gate Bridge can be crossed on foot or by bike, or get a great shot of it by hiking up Battery Spencer.

Top tip: Bring a jacket because damn, there's a cold wind around the bridge. Also make sure to check the forecast for fog before visiting.

10. Parliament, Hungary

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This impressive building is set right on the Danube river, so is perfect to admire on a walk by the water. If you do visit inside, you'll see the impressive 16-sided central hall.

Top tip: Come back at night and view the illuminated building from the river.

11. Old Town Square, Czech Republic

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This square in Prague is lined with old buildings and a clock tower dating back to the 1400s – the oldest one still in operation. It's pretty commercial and touristy but still a beautiful place to spend some time.

Top tip: Visit at Easter or Christmas when markets are set up in the square.

12. Notre Dame, France

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This 700-year-old Parisian cathedral is considered to be one of the best examples of French-Gothic architecture. Located right on the Seine, you can view it from outside or take a tour up one of the bell towers.

Top tip: Download the JeFile app to skip the queues snaking around the building.

13. Christ the Redeemer, Brazil

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Standing at the base of this towering statue gives amazing views over all of Rio. Catch the train up and spend half a day atop the mountain or, if you've got cash, take a helicopter trip around the statue.

Top tip: Check the weather before heading up, as fog or clouds will ruin your view.

14. Eiffel Tower, Paris

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While you can get a ticket to travel up to the top of the tower, you can also enjoy this wonder from the base for free. Pack a picnic and sit in the park, or visit at night time to watch the sparkly lights.

Top tip: The night light show takes place every hour on the hour, for about five minutes.

15. Tower of London, UK

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Even if you're not a history buff, this is still a must-see in London. Take a guided tour to hear about all the things that happened in each room you visit, and stop off at the Weapons Museum for a pretty cool insight into medieval armies.

Top tip: It's pretty pricey but you can usually find 20% vouchers if you scour the internet.

16. Acropolis, Greece

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Climbing the hill up to the Acropolis mightn't be fun in an Athens summer, but the view at the top is well worth it. Make sure you wear good shoes!

Top tip: If you're visiting any other sites in Athens, you should definitely buy a combination ticket. The lines at the Acropolis are always super long, so buy it at a smaller, less-visited site nearby like the Temple of Olympian Zeus.

17. Temple of the Reclining Buddha (Wat Pho), Thailand

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Wat Pho, one of the largest and oldest temples in Thailand, is also home to the 150-metre-long reclining Buddha. It's worth setting aside an hour to explore the grounds, as there are many beautifully-designed buildings, paths, and gardens.

Top tip: Take the boat across the river and visit the smaller, but just as stunning, Wat Arun while you're there.

18. Mutianyu Great Wall, China

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This is a section of the Great Wall, located just north of Beijing. Surrounded by beautiful scenery, it was first built in the mid-sixth century. If you don't want to walk, you can get a cable car up and back.

Top tip: Once you've finished sightseeing, take the toboggan back down the hill – it's way more fun than the cable car or walking.

19. Burj Khalifa, UAE

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The tallest in the world, this building in Dubai is more like a vertical city than just a regular old tower. Take an elevator to the top to admire the view (bring a jumper!), or hang out at the bottom to watch the choreographed Dubai fountain.

Top tip: If you want to head up to the top, spring for the pricier ticket to the 148th floor. It's a much nicer vibe up there with a lounge and drinks, and way shorter lines.

20. Sydney Opera House, Australia

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You don't even need to go inside the Opera House to admire its beauty and architectural prowess. That being said, taking a tour of the building will teach you a lot about its history and the performances that have been held there.

Top tip: Walk around to Mrs Macquarie's Chair for amazing views of the Opera House and the Bridge, or head to Opera Bar for a nighttime cocktail.

21. Machu Picchu, Peru

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It's up to you how you view this historic ruin – do the four-day Inca trail and reach Machu Picchu's Sun Gate at sunrise, or get the more leisurely train up into the mountains. Either way, you'll be rewarded with unforgettable views.

Top tip: Do not underestimate the effect the altitude may have on you! Take it slowly and let your body acclimatise for a few days in Cuzco before visiting Machu Picchu.

22. El Ateneo Grand Splendid, Argentina

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This giant bookstore is truly one of the most beautiful in the world. Housed in an old theatre, the stage and curtains still remain, as do the ceiling frescos and intricate carvings.

Top tip: Check out the theatre boxes which have been turned into little reading rooms.

23. Notre-Dame Basilica, Canada

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Not to be confused with the French cathedral, Montreal's Notre Dame is a beautifully-decorated Gothic Cathedral from the 1800s. What makes it unique is the ornately-decorated interior, coloured in blues, purples, reds, and gold stars.

Top tip: If you can, check out the choreographed light show inside the cathedral. Or just watch it on YouTube.

24. Fushimi Inari-taisha Shrine, Japan

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This shrine to the Japanese god of rice, Intari, is set in the foothills of a mountain, so get ready to climb some hills. You'll walk through bamboo groves and along paths up to the mountain. It's pretty packed at the bottom but the further you go, the less people there are.

Top tip: Don't take the same path down the mountain as the one you took up.

25. Shwedagon Pagoda, Myanmar

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This golden stupa, located in Yangon, is a 2,500-year-old Buddhist structure. Viewing it with your own eyes, and roaming around the site is a pretty humbling experience.

Top tip: You can't wear shoes, so bring a bag to carry them in. Also it might be better to visit early or late, as the ground can get quite hot.

An earlier version of this post had an incorrect image for the Plaza De España. Sorry!