Meenakshi Temple

7 Lesser-Known World Wonders

Travel is personal – your experiences are unique to you, and simply put, only you can decide on what your definition of a world wonder might be. Whilst the UNESCO lists are great for getting ideas, they simply cannot encompass all the wonders our world has to offer. That’s why we’ve compiled our own list, of lesser-known world wonders that we believe deserve a little more time in the limelight.

This isn’t yet another prescribed bucket list – just a springboard for you to muse upon. Create your own personalised 7 World Wonders and you'll enter our competition to win a trip a year to see all seven wonders - just head on over. 

Here are 7 of our favourite lesser-known world wonders, which we think deserve a bit more recognition.

Latvia's Beautiful Rundale Palace

Rundale Palace

Inexplicably overlooked, Rundale Palace is one of the grandest baroque palaces in Europe. In its chequered past it’s held many positions: Napoleonic hospital, First World War German stronghold, even a school. Now, this absolute architectural masterpiece is a museum thanks to millions of Euros of restoration work. The stunning landscape gardens, with French inspired rose gardens, fountains and perfectly pruned hedgerows, are a delight.

Discover the Baltics

Ethiopia’s Rock Hewn Churches

Step inside a wonder of a lost, ancient world. Away from the heat of the day, inside cool tunnels cut into the rocky, rusted-red hillsides of Lalibela in Ethiopia, you’ll find yourself fascinated by the architectural masterpiece of medieval Christianity that somehow, very few people know even exists. This is the rock-hewn churches of Lalibela, where places of worship have been cut from the very rock and white robed monks walk with stately grace.

Ethiopia in Depth

Ethiopia in Depth - Timkat Festival Departure 

Southern India’s Incredible Temple 

Meenakshi Temple

Who could fail to be intrigued by a huge, sprawling temple dedicated to a triple-breasted warrior goddess? If you’re wondering what to expect, then try to envisage nine huge gopurams towering more than 50 metres overhead, a brash, colourful jumble of tangled limbs of demon and deity alike, in a joyful cacophony of sculpture. This is a vibrant place; waft aside the heavy cloak of incense as you enter the 6-hectare temple complex and try to begin to take in the sheer scale of the ambition that comes with this temple, considered by many to be the pinnacle of southern Indian architecture. The Taj Mahal may steal the headlines, but Meenakshi temple will steal your heart.

South India Explored

Sri Lanka’s Ancient Rock Fortress

Cyclists by Sigirya

Sigiriya remains one of Sri Lanka’s most distinctive sights: an ancient rock fortress and pleasure palace, perched 200 metres high atop a huge rock column born of volcanic eruptions with nothing but a long wiggle of stairs to take you there. On the plateau an array of stories await you, as Sigirya tells you the stories of its many incarnations: as a pleasure palace, decorated with frescoes of nude women and some of the world’s oldest landscaped gardens and pools, as a Buddhist monastery to pause and meditate with views out over the lush jungle, as a fortress adorned with a ferocious carving of a lion.

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Ancient China's Terracotta Army

Terracotta Warriors

Many consider the pyramids at Giza the ultimate in ancient burials, but the thousands of Terracotta Warriors in Xi’an, China, are enough to rival any display of power and wealth. Undoubtedly one of the most exciting archaeological discovers of the 20th century, the army is a surreal but impressive sight: thousands of soldiers, hundreds of chariots and horses, generals and even acrobats and musicians, all part of a huge clay necropolis believed to be an incredible 98 kilometres squared.

Imperial China & Yangtze River Cruise

Cappadocia's Fairy Chimneys, Turkey

Southern Turkey’s weird and wonderful Cappadocia is one of the most whimsically beautiful rock formations you’ll ever see. The elements have created a landscape that’s truly enchanting, with flutes and funnels sculpted by the wind and rain in a rich, honey-almond coloured stone with a aura so magical that they’re often referred to as the Fairy Chimneys. Hidden away in these rocks you’ll find caves that were once hideaways for monks on the run, a series of unique cave hotels you can spend the night and a whole underground city that once thrived here. For a bird’s eye view, you can’t beat a hot air balloon at sun rise.

Highlights of Turkey

Colombia's Eerie Salt Cathedral 

Salt Cathedral, Zipaquira

A Roman Catholic cathedral, 200 metres below the surface of the ground, with white saline walls illuminated ethereal shades of blue and purple – this truly is a lesser known world wonder. The Salt Cathedral at Zipaquira is constructed within the hollowed out belly of an old salt mine, and it feels like the inside of a beast – the huge, cavernous rooms held up by wooden structures that look strangely like whale ribs. People have been excavating the valuable commodity of salt from these hills since the 5th century

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Visit the Lesser-Known Wonders

Ethiopian orthodox church at dawn, Addis Ababa

Ethiopia in Depth

Journey along Ethiopia's magnificent northern circuit, including Tigrai.

Guided Group, Tailor Made Adventures

15 days Incl. Flights
From £2,549
Activity Rating - Leisurely/Moderate
4.4 / 5

Discover Sri Lanka

Spend two weeks exploring the delights of this diverse and inspiring island

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16 days Incl. Flights
From £1,999
Activity Rating - Leisurely/Moderate
4.7 / 5
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Discover Sri Lanka - Premium

Spend two weeks exploring the delights of Sri Lanka, a diverse and inspiring island

Guided Group, Tailor Made Adventures, Premium Adventures

16 days Incl. Flights
From £2,499
Activity Rating - Leisurely/Moderate
4.8 / 5