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Discover the Best Places in the World with Lonely Planet's Ultimate Travelist

Iguassu Falls aerial

A couple of years ago the definitive coffee table book graced the Flight Centre editorial desk, and it hasn't left since. It caused intrigue, debate over a pizza lunch, and inspired us all to book our next holidays. Yep, you guessed it, that wondrous tome was Lonely Planet’s latest: the Ultimate Travelist. Much anticipated, this globetrotters’ guide ranks 500 of the best places on earth. Whether you agree, disagree or are indifferent, it makes for a fascinating read, especially for keen travellers. And with summer fading and winter drawing ever-closer, perhaps it’s time to add it to your Christmas wish list?

To give you a taster of what to expect, here’s the top 10:

1. The Temples of Angkor, Cambodia

What Lonely Planet said: “Even in a region as richly gifted as Southeast Asia, Angkor is something out of the ordinary – a literal representation of heaven on earth, hewn from thousands of sandstone blocks and carved floor-to-ceiling with legends.”

2. Great Barrier Reef, Queensland, Australia

What Lonely Planet said: “The reef is a psychedelic underwater playground for divers and snorkellers. Even above the surface this vital ecosystem enthrals all who visit.”

3. Machu Picchu, Peru

What Lonely Planet said: “Gawping down at Machu Picchu after a lung-busting four-day hike is a rite of passage for travellers to Peru. But it’s not the outrageously dramatic Andean setting, nor the way the city clings to impossibly precipitous slopes that makes Machu Picchu so mind-blowing – it’s the fact that no-one really knows what happened here…”

4. Great Wall of China

What Lonely Planet said: “It’s a myth that you can see the Great Wall from space, but when confronted by the sight of this endless structure stretching off into infinite distance, it seems almost impossible that this wouldn’t be true.”

5. Taj Mahal, Agra, India

What Lonely Planet said: “The ghosts of Mughal India wander the gleaming marble courtyards, drifting like shadows under archways and floating behind latticework screens. There’s no other building in India that so perfectly encapsulates the attitudes and atmosphere of its era.”

6. Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona, USA

What Lonely Planet said: “Lit by flaming sunsets, filled with billowing seas of fog and iced with crystal dustings of snow, the mile deep, 277-mile-long Grand Canyon is nature’s cathedral.”

7. The Colosseum, Rome, Italy

What Lonely Planet said: “Despite the gruesome shows that went on here, there’s no denying the majesty and grace of the arena. Less glam is what went on backstage: guided tours take the historically curious into the subterranean guts of the Colosseum where the full grunge, gore and filth of Roman gladiator combats come uncomfortably to life.”

8. Iguazu Falls, Argentina/Brazil

What Lonely Planet said: “These falls are mind-bogglingly mighty: tourist boats that ply the foaming plunge pools below look like matchsticks. Boardwalks also get you thrillingly close.”

9. Alhambra, Andalusia, Spain

What Lonely Planet said: “From afar, Alhambra’s fortress towers dominate the Granada skyline, the sheer red walls rising from woods of cypress and elm, set against a backdrop of the Sierra Nevada’s snow-capped peaks.”

10. Aya Sofya, Istanbul, Turkey

What Lonely Planet said: “It [Aya Sofya] is a huge, almost cosmic space, with a sense of vastness unmatched in its ancient era. Inside, the building reveals her treasures in stages: firstly soaring columns borrowed from ancient Greek and Roman cities; secondly, lofty galleries adorned with glittering mosaics. Then, the grand finale: the famous dome.”

Written by Alexandra Cronin (Gregg)

Once a roving local news reporter and now a travel-obsessed writer/sub, I'm head-over-heels for nature, wildlife and the ocean. When I'm not getting up close to animals and sea creatures, I'm seeking out the sets of my favourite TV shows around the world. 

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