Are you looking for a unique place for your next vacation? Some of the most fascinating places that you can travel to and stay in are among the most ancient cities in the world. From temple spires rising from lush jungle mists and Egyptian tombs to historic cobblestone streets and fabulous museums, the world of antiquity offers an opportunity to walk in ancient footprints and experience the past at a new level.
1. Angkor Wat, Cambodia
Stretching over a 500-acre Angkor Archaeological Park, the Angkor Wat temple complex rises out of the surrounding jungle like a mirage. In the 12th century, the Khmer people created a miniature universe in this place. Over one million people lived there.
As a result, a breathtaking city emerged, a vast historical site with towers, moats, and stone walls carved with exquisite bas-reliefs depicting a divine array of Hindu deities. These murals show a lot about a long-gone way of life, from epic stories to everyday tasks like making food.
You can visit the site more quickly if you hire a tuk-tuk with a private driver to ride through the complex’s nearly 250 miles of jungle.
It’s worth getting up early to experience the morning quiet and capture the city in the spectacular sunrise luminescence. Then, consider visiting for fewer crowds and some fantastic sunset views at sunset.
You can also wander through some of the smaller temple areas to escape tourists and explore off the beaten path to add highlights to your trip.
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2. Athens, Greece
This city is a place where you can feel the heartbeat of the ancient world. Athens is an ancient city that helped shape the western world’s history.
Inhabited for 7,000 years before 1400 BC, Athens headed up the bustling city-states in ancient Greece. Important advances in science, literature, philosophy, and drama came from this lively metropolis.
Today, you can also experience Athens’ central location, filled with echoes of ancient cultural exchange, travel, and commerce.
The Parthenon, the Temple of Olympian Zeus, and the city’s best arts, media, culture, and entertainment events are all worth seeing.
3. Rome, Italy
The ancient city of the emperors has cobblestone streets, beautiful ruins, beautiful museums, delicious food, and a lot of history around every corner.
Check out the 2,000-year-old Coliseum that rises from the modern city’s center. Don’t miss the Vatican, ancient catacombs, or the Roman Forum, a magical landscape of ruins that created a marketplace plaza between the Palatine and Capitoline hills.
4. Tikal, Guatemala
If you’re thirsting for an Indiana Jones-worthy adventure, jet off to this Mayan citadel buried deep in the jungles of Guatemala.
Over a thousand years old, the Tikal complex is a UNESCO World Heritage site that will elevate your trip to the next level.
Wander the temples, palaces, and places around the site to feel how ancient this place is. Stepped Mayan pyramids rise out of the forest’s canopy while wild jaguars and pumas hunt in the nearby jungle.
You can also walk the ancient causeways between the sporting courts, temples, and stone palaces around the central plaza. They connect the city’s 3,000 structures, where you can view Mayan towers emerging from cloudy, golden sunrises.
5. Cairo, Egypt
Experience ancient history up close as you navigate Cairo’s hectic streets. Suddenly, the Great Sphinx and the pyramids of Giza loom up close by.
At 22 million people, Cairo easily counts as one of the largest global cities that grew up around one of the most ancient urban centers.
Dive deep into antiquity by touring the 4,500-year-old tombs at Giza or visiting the Egyptian Museum of Antiquities, filled with a beautiful collection dating back to the earliest people who lived along the Nile.
It’s the perfect way to finish off your trip. You can visit some of the city’s cultural treasures, such as one of the oldest universities, beautiful Islamic art, and hidden Coptic artifacts.
The Blond Abroad offers great advice on traveling in Egypt.
Photo by [Andreea Ch].