It’s super common for travelers to have a list of places they want to see or a bucket list for a specific continent or country. If you’re like me, you want to see as many historic places as you can squeeze in! Looking for ideas for an epic history travel inspired adventure? Wondering what kinds of historical sites people are visiting after hitting the famous spots like the Roman Forum and the Acropolis? Whether you want an around-the-world adventure or are looking for something in your own backyard, here’s a giant list of 101 ideas for your next history-inspired trip. (Looking for more history travel inspiration? Check out the episodes of The History Fangirl Podcast for in-depth overviews of the history of some of the world’s most amazing and interesting places).
- Tour the White House.
- Host historians John Meecham and Doris Kearns Goodwin for afternoon tea.
- Take a driving tour of Gettysburg.
- Walk across the Selma Bridge to commemorate the fight for Voting Rights, then pop over to Birmingham to learn about its role in the Civil Rights Movement in Alabama.
- Go on a volunteer archeological dig at Cahokia.
- Take a bike tour of Mexican haciendas.
- Cruise the Northwest Passage in Canada.
- Visit the monuments to freedom erected by former slaves in Haiti after the revolution.
- Take a sunset walk around La Fortaleza and Old San Juan in Puerto Rico.
- Tour the earliest settlements by Europeans in the New World at St. George in Bermuda.
- Play old-school Oregon Trail while driving the Oregon Trail.
- Recover the lost history of America’s Black Pioneers and learn about the early stages of the Underground Railroad in Ohio and Indiana.
- Drink coffee at the first coffee plantations in southeastern Cuba.
- Visit the Mayan Ruins of Tikal in Guatemala at sunrise.
- Sail to Tayasal, the last Mayan city which wasn’t conquered until 1967 in Guatemala.
- Take in the Templo Mayor, the Aztec site dedicated to the God of Rain, mid rainstorm, in Mexico City.
- Hike San Antonio’s Mission Trail, seeing all five of the UNESCO-protected San Antonio Missions, including the famed Alamo.
- Trek one of these six alternative routes at Machu Pichu in Peru.
- See the tug of war between the Spanish and the Portuguese Colonial styles in Colonia del Sacramento in Uruguay.
- Have a low-key evening with Evita on Netflix and a bottle of Malbec in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
- Ride the century-old cable cars up to the top of the Sugar Loaf as part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Don’t worry, the actual machinery was updated in the 1970’s).
- Sail (or fly) to Ecuador’s Galapagos Islands and see the lands and animals that inspired Darwin to pen his theory of evolution.
- Taste history at the Mercado del Puerto, where parrillas have been serving Uruguayan barbeque cooked on open wood stoves for over a hundred and thirty years in Montevideo, Uruguay.
- Fly to Chile’s Easter Island to explore Orongo, the UNESCO World Heritage Site, to see the ruins of the Birdman cult.
- Visit the politely named Court of the Holy Office, the torture house with a dark past that served as the Palace of the Inquisition in Cartagena, Colombia.
- See the shipwrecked Lady Elizabeth which left Vancouver for Mozambique in 1912 but became stranded en route near the Falkland Islands and has been stuck in Whalebone Cove since 1936.
- Visit Ile du Diable, also called Devil’s Island, the French penal colony famed for abhorrent conditions, located on a jungle island circled by sharks, off the coast of French Guiana.
- See the Dutch influences on the continent with a visit the to seventeenth-century Dutch historic district in Paramaribo, Suriname.
- Envision life during the age of the dinosaurs with a visit to Dinosaur Dance Floor, which boasts six different kinds of dinosaur footprints including a section made by a baby Tyrannosaurus Rex nicknamed “Johnny Walker” near Sucre, Bolivia.
- Explore the central historic district in Quito, Ecuador, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the best-preserved Spanish colonial neighborhood in Latin America.
- Visit Coro, the early sixteenth-century colonial city that is the only remaining example of the fusion of Carribean, Spanish, and Dutch colonial architectural in Falcon, Venezuela.
- See over ten thousand years of human history at Quebrada de Humahuaca, which was a site for some of the earliest human settlements in South America. The site also served as an important caravan route for the Inca Empire, a communication link between the Viceroyalties of Peru and the Rio de la Plata, and was the site for important battles in the Spanish War of Independence in northern Argentina.
- See the monuments and pyramids of the Norte Chico culture at Caral-Supe, one of the earliest settlements in the Americas, near Lima, Peru.
- See the stunning fusion of European and Indigenous architecture in the sixteen wooden Churches of Chiloe on the Chiloe Archipelago in Chile.
- Hike the length of Hadrian’s Wall in northern England.
- See a Shakespearean play at the Globe Theater in London, England.
- Sift through the Archives of the Crown of Aragon, one of the oldest in Europe, in Barcelona, Spain.
- Tour the beaches of Normandy and see where the Allies started the Liberation of Europe in northern France.
- Find the lock of Lucrezia Borgia’s hair preserved at the Biblioteca Ambrosiana in Milan, Italy.
- Sail a fjord in a replica Viking Ship in at the Viking Museum in Roskilde, Denmark.
- Tour the secret Soviet bunker hidden beneath a spa in Ligatne, Latvia.
- Make a special appointment to see the skull of Kara Mustafa Pasha, the grand vizier of the Ottoman Empire who lost the Siege of Vienna. On display for centuries, it has since been pulled from the exhibitions and sits in storage in Vienna, Austria.
- Eat a delicious lunch in the restaurant where Julius Caesar was assassinated (although it wasn’t a restaurant 2,000 years ago…) in Rome, Italy.
- Track every point on the Struve Geodetic Arc that Friedrich Georg Wilhelm von Struve used to calculate the exact size and shape of the earth in Eastern Europe.
- Walk the Comino de Santiago to the grave of Saint James in Santiago de Compostela, Spain.
- See one of the only monuments to Trans history in Barcelona’s Parc de la Ciutadella in Barcelona, Spain.
- Explore the history and art of Orthodox Monasteries in Rila, Bulgaria, Meteora, Greece, and Bucovina, Romania.
- Learn about Soviet life and photograph Chernobyl disaster with a day trip from historic Kiev to tour the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone and the Atomic Town of Pripyat in Ukraine.
- Go for a swim at Petrou tou Romiou, one of Cyprus’s prettiest beaches and the spot where Cypriots believe that Aphrodite emerged from the sea.
- Go on a pub crawl through the literary pubs of Dublin in Ireland.
- Climb to the top of the Acropolis to appreciate the achievements of the Golden Age of Athens, and then head to the Acropolis Museum to learn about millennia worth of destruction at the hands of Greece’s invaders in Athens, Greece.
- Explore the historic center of Istanbul, including the Hagia Sofia, the Blue Mosque, the Grand Bazaar, and the Theodosian Walls, to appreciate how the city has been at the center of history and politics for over seventeen hundred years. In Istanbul, Turkey.
- See the ruins of Carthage outside of Tunis, Tunisia.
- Take a Tunisian Louage south to the Great Mosque in Kairouan, the fourth holiest city in Islam, in Kairouan, Tunisia.
- Tour the Egyptian Pyramids and take a cruise on the Nile while pretending you’re Egyptian royalty.
- Think about the enormous span of human history in Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania, which covers human evolution all the way back to 2.1 million years ago.
- Visit one of the most interesting and unique mosques in the world at the Larabanga Mosque in Ghana.
- Visit Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela and other South African anti-apartheid protestors were imprisoned in South Africa.
- See the remains of Arab and Portuguese influence on the UNESCO World Heritage protected Island of Mozambique.
- Visit Mali’s famed Timbuktu and then challenge your friends to name the country you’re in. Count how many think the place isn’t real.
- Pick out which palace you prefer at the Royal Palaces of Abomey in Benin, where each of the twelve reigning kings built their own.
- Peer outside the Door of No Return on Goree Island in Senegal. Contemplate the horrors faced by millions of Africans being forced into generations of slavery and the lingering effects of slavery today.
- Explore Great Zimbabwe, the capital of the Queen of Sheba and important medieval ruins, near Masvingo, Zimbabwe.
- See the political and spiritual capital of the Kingdom of Kongo and see how African kingdoms had to change and adapt after incursions by European explorers began in the fifteenth century, in Mbanza-Kongo, Angola.
- See the Tin Mal Mosque, now abandoned, along one of the most spectacular drives in northern Africa, the Tizi n’Test, near Tinmel, Morocco.
- Visit the virgins who guard the Ark of the Covenant at the Chapel of the Tablet in Askum, Ethiopia.
- Head out to Man and Woman Lakes, two crater lakes on Mount Manengouba, believed to contain the spirits who control the weather and create local storms. Bathing in Man Lake is reserved for local Bakossi ceremonies, but foreigners are permitted to swim in Woman Lake. Near Bangem, Cameroon.
- Visit the shrines and sanctuaries dedicated to the Yoruba fertility goddess Osun at the Osun-Osogbo Sacred Grove in Osogbo, Nigeria.
- Scuba dive the Pharos Lighthouse in Alexandria, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, in Alexandria, Egypt.
- Enjoy sunrise at Angkor Wat in Cambodia before heading off to explore the rest of Angkor’s historic temples.
- Take a floating tour of Trang An, called the Halong Bay on Land, to see the gorgeous Confucian temples in Vietnam.
- Visit the eleventh century Temple of Literature, the oldest university in Vietnam located in Hanoi.
- Spend a day checking out the famous Buddhist temples in Bangkok, Thailand including the Temple of the Emerald Buddha and the Temple of Dawn.
- Take a walking pilgrimage on the Kumano Kodo Trail in Japan.
- Climb the 1200 steps to the top of Sigiriya to see the ancient palace ruins in Dambulla, Sri Lanka.
- Explore the city-state of Singapore to learn about its unique history after independence from Malaysia.
- Hike the Baekdu Daegan Trail, the spiritual center of Korean mountain spirit worship and an important area for all local prominent religions. The trail runs the length of the Korean peninsula, but one of the highlights, the temples on Mount Jirisan, is located on the South Korean portion and is reachable to outsiders.
- Visit all four pilgrimage sites of the Char Dham, a pilgrimage route that all Hindus are required to undertake, located in the far north, south, east, and west of India.
- Explore the history of the Silk Road by traveling through Azerbaijan and seeing fire temples, crude oil spas, and Shia pilgrimage sites, all of which had elevated prominence due to the numerous travelers spreading the word after traversing the ancient route.
- Take a trek through the steppe, staying in yurts and riding horseback, to see what life was like as a nomad in rural Mongolia.
- Attend the biennial World Nomad Games, to see how modern nomads carry on the sporting traditions of their Central Asian ancestors, including horseback riding, falconry, and Kok-Boru, a sport where riders battle for a goat carcass. Held in various locations, the games in 2018 were held in Kyrgyzstan. They are expected to move to Turkey in 2020.
- Visit the secret underground printing press that Joseph Stalin used to create his propaganda in Tbilisi, Georgia.
- Explore the Russian Far East by train via the Trans-Siberian and Trans-Mongolian railway systems in Siberia, Russia.
- Tour the Forbidden City, where the Chinese emperors lived for over 500 years, in Beijing, China.
The Middle East
- Celebrate Christmas at the Church of the Nativity, where Christians believe Jesus was born. Pick between the three different Christmas celebrations held there annually due to the different calendars used by different Christan sects. In Bethlehem, West Bank, Palestine.
- See the ruins of the lost city of Petra in southern Jordan and see its sister site Mada’in Saleh in Saudi Arabia.
- See how Judaism, Christianity, and Islam are literally layered on top of each other while exploring the Old Town in Jerusalem.
- Visit the architecturally unique ninth-century Great Mosque of Samarra in Iraq.
- Remember the victims of the Ottoman Turks by visiting Martyr’s Square, named for the Lebanese nationalists executed in 1916. The square also served as the dividing line for the two sides during the Lebanese Civil War. In Beirut, Lebanon.
- Feel like you are in a life-sized sand castle with a trip to the sixth-century historic city of Arg-e Bam in Kerman Province, Iran.
- Visit the eleven penal colony sites spread across Australia which collectively comprise the UNESCO World Heritage site Austrailian Convict Sites.
- Take the long drive from Alice Springs to Uluru, the famous rock site which is sacred to the local Aboriginal Pitjantjatjara Anangu. The site includes important rock art and ancient paintings. In the Northern Territory, Australia.
- Visit Tamaki Maori, a village where Polynesians have lived since the thirteenth century, in Rotorua, New Zealand.
- Visit the three sites associated with Chief Roi Mata’s Domain, one of the most remote UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the world, in Shefa, Vanuatu.
- See the civilization that was created by the surviving mutineers of the HMS Bounty on Pitcairn Island.
- Visit the South Pole Flag Mast like the true badass you are, remembering all the people who fought to see the South Pole and the team that planted it in 1965.
- Find the bust of Vladimir Lenin, placed by a team from the USSR, in 1958.
- Journey to the Inexpressable Island Ice Cave to see the seal bones and other remains from the 1912 team that was forced to erect the ice cave and winter on the island.
- See where Shackleton’s crew waited four brutal months to be rescued at Point Wild on Elephant Island.
- Observe for signs of paranormal activity at Whalers Bay on Deception Island, where abandoned buildings and a buried cemetery give the uninhabited island an extra spooky flair.
- Sail from South America to Antarctica by passing through Drake’s Passage, named after English explorer Sir Francis Drake.
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Have You Undertaken any Epic History Travel or History-Inspired Trips? Leave the Destination and a bit about it in the Comments so other History Travelers can get inspired!
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