The likes of the Eiffel Tower and Machu Picchu aren’t the only famous landmarks worth seeing — far from it. Those heavily trafficked spots draw the bulk of the tourists, but there are plenty of lesser-known but equally mind-blowing sights to behold. Let these seven landmarks you've likely never even heard of be your guide as you plan your next trip.
1. Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia
Talk about an enchanted forest! The Lord of the Rings trilogy might have been filmed in New Zealand but Croatia's Plitvice Lakes National Park pulls off Middle Earth pretty well. A dream destination for hikers and wanderlusters alike, there are 16 terraced lakes, a limestone canyon and plenty of waterfalls to chase. As Croatia's largest national park, it's a popular spot come summer but if you want the park (almost) to yourself, plan an autumn visit. Arrive early and stay late.
2. Banaue Rice Terraces, the Philippines
Bali isn't the only dream destination where rice terraces are a plenty: Banaue Rice Terraces in the Philippines give new meaning to the term "hard work," as they're completely hand built. Not only is this landmark 2,000 years old, but the terraces span more than 4,000 square meters. So you understand: That's the size of Los Angeles! Thanks to the handiwork of indigenous Filipinos who simply needed an effective way to feed their people, tourists can now gaze upon this man-made wonder.
3. Grand Staircase-Escalante, Utah
This year marks the 100th anniversary of the National Parks Service, so why not plan a road trip through Utah? The state is home to five national parks plus a slew of other national monuments like the Grand Staircase-Escalante. The mega-monument spans close to 3,000 square miles of backcountry and is typically split into two sections: the Escalante Canyons and the Grand Staircase. If you're up for the challenge, give canyoneering a shot. It's a full body workout that lets you see nooks and crannies you'd otherwise miss.
4. The Bungle Bungle Range, Australia
If you've never heard of the Bungle Bungle Range before, you're not alone. These natural carvings found in Western Australia's Purnululu National Park date back 350 million years, but it wasn't until 1983 that they were "discovered." This cluster of orange and black striped domes almost resemble big beehives. Travelers can opt for a scenic flight over the park or take a hike for a closer look. Along the way, you'll see a fair share of rock art, exotic wildlife, tropical pools, and more.
5. Tin Mal Mosque, Morocco
Morocco is home to some of the world's most stunning Mosques... but seeing one doesn’t mean you’ve seen them all. The Tin Mal Mosque is partly concealed in the High Atlas mountain range, 60 miles outside of Marrakech. This now roofless ruin was built in 1156 as a place of worship — and while it’s clearly seen better days, it’s still a beauty. Nowadays, both Muslims and non-Muslims are welcomed inside. Sculpted ceilings and detailed plasterwork await your awed eyes!
6. El Calafate, Argentina
Not to be confused with Argentina's wine region called Cafayate, El Calafate is the gateway to Los Glaciares National Park. Thanks to Patagonia being one of the top destinations in the world, Calafate’s appeal has also shared the spotlight as of late. Surprisingly enough, flamingos are really common here, making for quite the contrast in backdrops. Many people visit in the winter months, which is summer for us in North America. Make sure you make it to Perito Moreno glacier: It's a must-see.
7. Sognefjord, Norway
There are no shortage of fjords in Norway, but Sognefjord is by far the most impressive. As the world's second-largest fjord (Norway's largest), Sognefjord has peaks more than a mile high. To maximize your time, fly into Bergen since the fjord extends from the coast a little north of the city. Afraid of heights? We can’t say it won’t be scary but the view from the top is definitely worth the climb.
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