The top 10 best ancient sites around the world include iconic Roman ruins, Egyptian pyramids, and archeological wonders dating back thousands of years. The most visited sites were calculated by Visited, a travel map app with over 1.5 million users. You can mark off places you’ve been, set travel goals, find new bucket list destinations, and get a customised map of your travels using the Visited app.
These are the top 10 most popular ancient sites to visit according to Visited:
1. The Colosseum, Italy
Rome’s famous Colosseum is the most visited ancient attraction in the world. This oval amphitheatre opened in 80 AD and remains the largest such arena on the planet. The massive structure sits in the middle of Rome, in Italy. Inside the Colosseum, up to 50,000 spectators could be seated – they enjoyed the shade from a retractable awning whilst watching the shows. This marvel of ancient architecture hosted gladiator matches, animal hunts, and large-scale theatrical performances.
2. The Acropolis, Greece
The Acropolis is the second most popular ancient site in the world. This old hilltop citadel towers above the city of Athens in Greece, and is home to different buildings, including the iconic Parthenon, which was completed in 432 BC and was dedicated to the Greek goddess Athena. The Parthenon is a worldwide symbol of ancient Greece, democracy, and Western civilization. Its intricate sculptures that adorn the walls are renowned for their artistic quality.
3. Pompeii, Italy
Pompeii is an ancient Roman city that was decimated by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 A.D. Located a few hours south of Rome near the coast of Naples in Italy, the buried city is now an expansive archeological site that offers glimpses into the daily lives of ancient Romans. There are many different sites to peruse at Pompeii, including two theatres, the Garden of the Fugitives (a tribute to 13 victims who were trapped and killed during the volcanic eruption), a massive amphitheatre, and Casa del Fauno (House of the Faun), one of the largest villas in the ancient city.
4. Stonehenge, England
Stonehenge is a prehistoric monument located in Wiltshire, England. This ancient wonder is one of the most famous prehistoric sites in the world, and remains enshrouded in mystery to this day. Stonehenge consists of giant vertical stones with each one weighing about 25 tons – it dates back to the Neolithic and Bronze Ages. The UNESCO World Heritage Site was designed to align with the movements of the sun and mark the sunrise at the summer solstice, and the sunset at the winter solstice.
5. Athenian Agora, Greece
Athenian Agora is the fifth most visited ancient site in the world according to the Visited travel app. The agora in ancient Greece was a marketplace, social and political hub, and gathering spot for local people. The ancient Agora of Athens (also called the Classical Agora) includes elegant columns and marvels of ancient architecture as well as a museum exploring the history of Greek democracy located in the Stoa of Attalos.
6. Chichen Itza
Chichen Itza in Mexico is the top ancient site in the Americas and the sixth most popular ancient destination in the world. These much-loved Mayan ruins are located on Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula and give glimpses of life in the ancient city that thrived from 600 A.D. to the 1200s. The old city includes a step pyramid, known as El Castillo or Temple of Kukulcan, as well as stone carvings, and landmarks such as the Temple of the Warriors and the Wall of the Skulls.
7. The Great Pyramid, Egypt
The Great Pyramid at Giza is one of the greatest achievements of architecture. It’s located outside Cairo in Egypt, and is the oldest and largest of all the ancient pyramids. The impressive structure is one of the Seven Wonders of the World and is the seventh most visited ancient site. The pyramid was built between 2500 and 2450 BC by Pharaoh Khufu as a tomb for himself. Today it houses the most extensive collection of hieroglyphics in the world.
8. Machu Picchu, Peru
Machu Picchu is the eighth most popular ancient attraction. This iconic symbol of the Incan Empire sits high in the Andes Mountains above the Urubamba River Valley, not far from the city of Cusco. The Incan citadel dates back to around 1450 AD. Often called the “Lost City of the Incas,” the complex includes three primary structures, called the Intihuatana, the Temple of the Sun, and the Room of the Three Windows. You can also climb Huayna Picchu for breathtaking views back down over the citadel in the clouds.
9. Tulum, Mexico
Tulum is the ninth most visited ancient site in the world and the second most popular site in Mexico. Tulum is home to the ancient Mayan city ruins that date back to the 13th-century. The old walled settlement is located on the eastern side of the Yucatan Peninsula, in the state of Quintana Roo. The ancient site overlooks the sparkling blue ocean and has incredible views of the surrounding jungle.
10. Roman Baths, England
The Roman Baths are well-preserved ancient Roman bathing facilities in the city of Bath, down in Somerset, England. During the era of Roman Britain, a temple was constructed on the site between 60 to 70 AD. There is a Roman Baths Museum that documents more than 2,000 years of history surrounding the ancient gathering place. You can stroll around the site, and get a feel for what Roman life was like here back in the day.