Historical Treasures in Unlikely Places: 12 Sites Worth the Visit Despite Their Surroundings

There are plenty of historical sites in major cities, but sometimes, you have to go out and look for hidden treasures. From dangerous climbs to long travel times, we’ve compiled some ancient wonders that are well worth the effort of getting there.

1. Pyramids of Giza

Pyramids of Giza
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While many consider the Pyramids a must-visit, they’re also in a dangerous tourist location. Crime is rampant, especially targeting visitors. However, the Pyramids are an awe-inspiring and unforgettable site, so they’re worth the visit; just be vigilant and prepared.

2. Stonehenge

Dusk over Stonehenge near Salisbury in the Wilshire countryside
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Many people don’t realize that Stonehenge can be a 3+ hour drive from London, so it’s a bit of a commitment. Once you get out there, there isn’t much else to do, so it’s all about the rocks! It may sound like a lot of effort to see some old stones, but they’re mystical, majestic, and worth it.

3. Huayna Picchu

Young tourist climbing Huayna Picchu (Machu Picchu, Peru)
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Huayna Picchu is a mountain in Peru with manmade stairs that lead to the top. It’s an incredible place, but climbing to the top can be dangerous and effortful. The hike is roughly three hours long, and the stairs are steep and treacherous, but the view and experience are worth it.

4. Mount Everest

Mount Everest, Nepal
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Visiting Mount Everest in any capacity can be risky, but even hiking up part of this mountain can be a life-changing experience. The mountain itself is amazing, but the history of hikers and expeditions is also extremely moving and inspiring.

5. Mount Rushmore

Classic view of Mount Rushmore
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Many people think of Mount Rushmore as a top tourist destination in the US, but it’s a somewhat odd location. The Black Hills region doesn’t have much going on aside from the faces of past presidents, but this historic and massive monument is well worth the trip to the relatively bland area.

6. Koguryo Tombs

Tomb of the Ancient Koguryo Kingdom, the UNESCO World Heritage
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The Complex of Koguryo Tombs is a historic and significant site where many ancient people are buried. The tombs contain stunning ancient wall paintings that will inspire and amaze you, but they are located in obscure parts of China and North Korea, making them challenging to visit.

7. Kingdoms of Bagan

Hot air balloon over plain of Bagan in misty morning, Myanmar
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Bagan is an ancient city capital located in Myanmar. It would likely be more famous without the country’s status as a rogue nation. Despite political and international issues, the city is home to phenomenal kingdoms and mesmerizing palaces that date back to the early second century BCE.

8. Baalbek

Bacchus temple at the Roman ancient ruins of Baalbek, Lebanon
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Baalbek is another sensational ancient city that people don’t visit as much because of the tumultuous state of Lebanon. The ancient Phoenician city is an important pilgrimage site where you can see magnanimous temples and the ruins of a once-powerful civilization.

9. Tikal

Temple of the Great Jaguar at Tikal. UNESCO world heritage in Guatemala
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Tikal is an ancient city that can be found in the rainforests of Guatemala. The historical site has the gravitas of the ancient Mayan ruins, combined with the beauty of flourishing greenery, but can be hard to reach. It’s marked as culturally and naturally important due to its archeological treasures and vibrant biodiversity.

10. Bikini Atoll Nuclear Test Site

Nuclear reactor
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Visiting places like Chernobyl and Hiroshima can be extremely dangerous, but the Bikini Atoll Nuclear Test Site is a slightly safer place to learn about the history of nuclear testing and warfare. Visiting this site gives tourists an understanding of the power of nuclear testing and its impact on its surroundings without risking substantial exposure.

11. SGang Gwaay

Historic Totem Poles, Sgang Gwaay, Ninstints, Haida Gwaii, BC, Canada
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SGang Gwaay, also known as Ninstints, is a Haida village site off the north coast of British Columbia, Canada. Located on Anthony Island, this historical site can seem random and difficult to visit, but it’s also one of the most mysterious and distinct places to soak up ancient history.

12. Plovdiv

PLOVDIV, BULGARIA - APRIL 28, 2023: Panorama of central pedestrian streets of city of Plovdiv, Bulgaria
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Plovdiv is an ancient city that dates back to 4,000 BCE. It’s located in Bolivia, which is rife with ongoing social and political tensions and high crime, but these ancient ruins are worth the visit. It’s the sixth-oldest city in the world and Europe’s oldest. The ruins feature a stunning amphitheater that offers a once-in-a-lifetime experience for visitors.