Countries with the most UNESCO World Heritage Sites (28 July 2021)

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As at July 2021, there are 1,153 UNESCO World Heritage Sites dotted across the globe and something we often research when planning upcoming trips is which countries have the highest number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the world!

With 58 sites Italy takes the crown as the country with the most UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Until July 2021, it had an equal number of site to China (both had 55 UNESCO World Heritage Sites) but Italy had an additional three sites and China one site awarded during the meeting of the World Heritage Committee.

Europe dominates in the top 10 UNESCO countries with an impressive 226 sites across Italy, Germany, Spain, France and the UK. In total, there are 15 countries with over 20 UNESCO sites so if, like us, you are on a mission to visit every UNESCO in the world these countries are a good place to start!

This list reflects the latest count of countries with the most UNESCO World Heritage sites. It includes the latest sites granted UNESCO World Heritage status in 2021 and the 1 site which was delisted.

Countries with the most UNESCO sites: while this list is only intended to cover the countries with the most UNESCO sites it is worth noting that there are smaller countries with a high concentration of sites. If your goal is to visit as many sites as possible in a short space of time we’ve managed to visit 13 in Belgium during a three day visit, 14 during a week long South Korea road trip and ticked off hundreds while exploring Europe on a series of road trips.

Which countries have the most UNESCO World Heritage Sites?

1 | Italy: 58 UNESCO World Heritage Sites

Italy and China take the crown as the countries with the most UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the world. As the birthplace of the Roman Empire and the Renaissance, Italy has an abundance of culture: 53 of its 58 sites are cultural and 5 are natural.

July 2021: Italy had three sites inscribed to the UNESCO World Heritage list in July 2021. Padua was awarded its second Unesco listing for it’s fourteenth century fresco cycles. Italy also shares a UNESCO, the great spa towns of Europe, with Austria, Belgium, Czechia, France, Germany and the UK. Italy is included for the development of Montecatini Terme around its natural mineral water springs. The Porticoes of Bologna is the third site awarded a UNESCO and includes porticoes (private buildings for public use) from the 12th Century.

Number of UNESCO sites we’ve visited in Italy: 30 of the 58 UNESCO Sites

Our favorite UNESCO sites in Italy: Venice, the Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie which houses the Da Vinci masterpiece The Last Supper, the Colosseum, Val D’Orica and Pompeii.

UNESCO site we most want to visit in Italy: The Dolomites

The Colosseum
Pompeii

2 | China: 56 UNESCO World Heritage Sites

A late starter to the UNESCO game, China has powered up the UNESCO ranks with 56 sites now listed. When excluding UNESCO sites shared with other countries, China is the country with the highest number of unique sites.

July 2021: China had one site inscribed to the UNESCO World Heritage list in July 2021. Quanzhou: Emporium of the World in Song-Yuan China was added to the list. The site encompasses religious buildings, including the 11th century AD Qingjing Mosque, one of the earliest religious buildings, Islamic tombs and archaeological remains

Number of UNESCO sites we’ve visited in China: 3 of the 56 UNESCO sites

Our favorite UNESCO sites in China: The Great Wall of China

UNESCO site we most want to visit in China: Wulingyuan

The Great Wall of China

3 | Germany: 51 UNESCO World Heritage Sites

Stunning monuments, parks, cities and palaces throughout Germany help secure its spot as one of the most UNESCO heavy countries in the world with 48 sites.

July 2021: Germany had 4 sites inscribed to the UNESCO World Heritage list in July 2021. Mathildenhöhe Darmstadt was awarded a Unesco listing as recognition for its ‘testimony to early modern architecture, urban planning and landscape design’. It also shares a UNESCO, the great spa towns of Europe, with Austria, Belgium, Czechia, France, Italy and the UK. Germany is included for the development of Baden-Baden around its natural mineral water springs. The Frontiers of the Roman Empire – the Lower German Lines is another addition and is shared with the Netherlands and it comprises military and civilian sites and infrastructure that marked the edge of Lower Germany from the 1st to 5th centuries CE. The fourth site added is the ShUM sites of Speyer, Worms and Mainz – these cities are recognised for their role as centers of European Jewish culture in the Middle Ages.

Number of UNESCO sites we’ve visited in Germany: 14 of the 51 UNESCO sites

Our favorite UNESCO sites in Germany: Bamberg and Cologne Cathedral

UNESCO site we most want to visit in Germany: Hamburg Wadden Sea

Muskauer Park

4 | Spain: 49 UNESCO World Heritage Sites

Europe still dominates the UNESCO listings with 5 of the top 10 countries with the most UNESCOs being based in Europe. Spain has a compelling mix of culture and a diverse range of stunning natural landscapes and boasts 49 UNESCOs.

July 2021: Spain had one site inscribed to the UNESCO World Heritage list in July 2021, the 200 hectare cultural landscape of Paseo del Prado and Buen Retiro in Madrid. It includes Jardines del Buen Retiro (Garden of Pleasant Retreat), the Fuente de Cibeles and the Fuente de Neptuno fountains, and the Plaza de Cibeles.

Number of UNESCO sites we’ve visited in Spain: 21 of the 49 UNESCO sites

Our favorite UNESCO sites in Spain: Poblet Monastery, Santiago de Compostela, Works of Anton Gaudi, and Palau de la Música Catalana and Hospital de Sant Pau, Barcelona

UNESCO site we most want to visit in Spain: Ibiza

Parque Güell, one of Gaudi’s work
Hospital de Sant Pau

5 | France: 48 UNESCO World Heritage Sites

History, culture and well-preserved sites make France number 5 in the list of countries with the most UNESCO sites. France has 48 sites: 42 cultural, 5 natural and one mixed.

July 2021: France had 3 sites inscribed to the UNESCO World Heritage list in July 2021. It was included in the new UNESCO listing, the great spa towns of Europe, with Austria, Belgium, Czechia, UK, Germany and Italy. France is included for the development of Vichy around its natural mineral water springs. The Lighthouse of Cordouan, a masterpiece of maritime signalling, was also added to the list together with Nice, winter resort town of the Riviera.

Number of UNESCO sites we’ve visited in France: 18 of the 48 UNESCO sites

Our favourite UNESCO sites in France: Mont-Saint-Michel, Versailles, Vézelay, Champagne and Provins

UNESCO site we most want to visit in France: Gulf of Porto

Mont Saint Michel
Versailles

6 | India: 40 UNESCO World Heritage Sites

India has a rich culture and an abundance of art and architecture and it is home to 40 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the 6th most UNESCO listed country in the world and the UNESCO jewel of Asia.

July 2021: India had two sites inscribed to the UNESCO World Heritage list in July 2021. Rudreshwara Temple, also known as Ramappa Temple, located 200km north-east of Hyderabad was added to the list. The ancient city of Dholavira: a Harappan City was also added.

Number of UNESCO sites we’ve visited in India: 0 of the 39 UNESCO sites

UNESCO site we most want to visit in India: Taj Mahal

7 | Mexico: 35 UNESCO World Heritage Sites

A mix of nature and culture mean Mexico has been awarded 35 UNESCO World Heritage Site listings, the highest number in the Americas and the 7th in the world.

Number of UNESCO sites we’ve visited in Mexico: 5 of the 35 UNESCO sites

Our favorite UNESCO sites in Mexico: Xochimilco, Teotihuacan, Chichen Itza, Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve

UNESCO site we most want to visit in Mexico: Campeche and Oaxaca

Things to do in Tulum
Sian Kh’an
Chichen Itza

8 | UK: 34 UNESCO World Heritage Sites

The UK has an impressive 34 UNESCO World Heritage Sites with 31 located on the mainland and 3 in its overseas territories. The UK is home to some of the hardest to reach UNESCOs – Gough and Inaccessible Islands are part of the Tristian a Cunha archipelago, the most remote archipelago in the world. Henderson Island is part of the Pitcairn Islands in the South Pacific and is remote, only accessible by boat and requires explicit permission from the Pitcairn Island Council to visit.

July 2021: the UK had two sites inscribed and one site removed from the UNESCO World Heritage list in July 2021. It was included in the new UNESCO listing, the great spa towns of Europe, with Austria, Belgium, Czechia, France, Germany and Italy. The UK is included for the development of Bath around its natural mineral water springs. Liverpool lost its UNESCO World Heritage status. The Slate Landscape of Northwest Wales was the second UNESCO to be added and illustrates the transformation that industrial slate quarrying and mining brought about in the rural environment.

Liverpool – Maritime Mercantile City, was removed from the UNESCO list due to what was described as ‘the irreversible loss of attributes conveying the outstanding universal value of the property’. The UK has also been warned that Stonehenge will also be at danger of losing its listing if the development of a proposed road tunnel goes ahead.

Number of UNESCO sites we’ve visited in the UK: 20 of the 34 UNESCO sites

Our favourite UNESCO sites in the UK: Giant’s Causeway, Bath, Blenheim Palace

UNESCO site we most want to visit in the UK: St Kilda

Giant’s Causeway

The Forth Bridge

9 | Russia: 29 UNESCO World Heritage Sites

Russia is number 9 with 29 UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Its forests, mountains, volcanoes and lakes mean it has the fourth highest number of natural sites in the world with 11 natural sites and its intricate history has resulted in 18 fascinating cultural sights.

Number of UNESCO sites we’ve visited in Russia: 0 of the 29 UNESCO sites

UNESCO site we want to visit the most in Russia: Western Caucasus, Wrangel Island and the Kremlin and Red Square in Moscow

10 | Iran: 26 UNESCO World Heritage Sites

With the addition of two new UNESCO sites, Iran has taken over the 10th spot having shared it with the United States until now. It has 24 cultural and 2 natural UNESCO World Heritage sites.

July 2021: Iran was awarded two new sites in the 2021 UNESCO listings. The Trans-Iranian Railway in Iran was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in July 2021. It connects the Caspian Sea in the northeast with the Persian Gulf. The cultural landscape of the Hawraman/Uramanat is remote and mountainous and is testament to the traditional culture of the Hawrami people.

Number of UNESCO sites we’ve visited in Iran: 0 of the 26 UNESCO sites

UNESCO site we most want to visit in Iran: Soltaniyeh and Bam in Iran

US, Brazil and Japan also have over 20 UNESCO each

The US, Brazil and Japan boast 24, 23 and 25 UNESCO World Heritage Sites within their borders respectively making them a rich choice for UNESCO hunters. However, the United States is due to withdraw from UNESCO so its time on the list might be limited.

Australia and Canada have 20 sites each.

Number of UNESCO sites we’ve visited in the USA: 8 of the 24 UNESCO sites

Our favorite UNESCO sites in the USA: The Grand Canyon and Yosemite

UNESCO site we most want to visit in the USA: Glacier Bay National Park

Grand Canyon

Number of UNESCO sites we’ve visited in Brazil and Japan: Japan 10 and Brazil 1 of the UNESCO sites in each country

Our Favorite UNESCO Brazil and Japan: Christ the Redeemer in Brazil and Shirakawa-go, Nikko and Mount Koya in Japan

UNESCO site we most want to visit in Brazil and Japan: the Ogasawara Islands in Japan and Iguazú Falls in Brazil

Mount Koya, Sacred Sites and Pilgrimage Routes in the Kii Mountain Range, Japan
Rio de Janeiro
Christ the Redeemer, Brazil

10 thoughts on “Countries with the most UNESCO World Heritage Sites (28 July 2021)”

  1. This is article does not outline concentration of world heritage sites . Of course larger countries have more sites – that is stating the obvious. Yet the largest concentration of world Heritage sites is tiny Malta -3 world heritage sites in an area no larger than a city suburb and has free standing buildings older than Stonehenge

    Reply
  2. Hi i am from iran (persia) . Why don’t you travel to Iran? It is a beautiful country with Kind and hospitable people. Don’t pay attention to the political news of the media. They are very different from the reality of Iran and Iranians(persians).

    Reply

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