The elusive goal of visiting all World Heritage Sites

Last modified 15.11.2023 | Published 29.01.2018Travel

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For many years I have worked consciously to visit UNESCO World Heritage Sites wherever I travel. I first choose a place or a country to visit, then I look up which heritage sites that may be around when I get there. This is about the elusive World Heritage Sites.

In the past ten years I have on average added six sites to my log, in total 63 sites. Over a lifetime or so of travelling I have been to 159 sites. This year, in 2018, I plan to go to seven more places that have been designated by the UN organisation to be of universal value to mankind.

159 sites. In many respects this is kind of satisfactory, because it is a considerable number, and because the sites are all important places. Indeed, for my part they are located in 53 different countries. Certainly, I will not stop doing this, but there is one thought nagging me:

I will never be able to visit all sites. 

Today there are 1073 of them and the number keeps growing at a steady pace. As the figure below illustrates, my speed of visiting ever new sites will never outpace the number the World Heritage Committee is adding to the list each and every year. 


The growing gap


Really, this is not a big deal. I am not that keen on seeing them all, and I am happy that UNESCO is actively promoting this cause. Preserving our common cultural and natural heritage for future generations is important. I’m still happy with each and every site I get to. 

Sandalsand’s not so elusive World Heritage Sites are all found under this heading. Find UNESCO on this link.


The background image is from Bruges in Belgium, a world heritage site I visited in 2017. I revisited this post in 2022 and found that although my number of sites has risen to 181, the gap keeps expanding because of UNESCO’s even more expanding list.