You’ve no doubt heard people talk about the Seven Wonders of the World and wondered what, exactly, they are or where they are. The truth is that the original seven wonders, as established by the Greeks, don’t exist anymore except for one: the Pyramids of Giza. The Colossus of Rhodes, Lighthouse of Alexandria, Temple of Artemis and Diana, Tomb of Mausolus, Hanging Gardens of Babylon, and the Statue of Zeus at Olympia are either completely gone or just bits of rubble that have somehow survived the last few millennia.
In 2007, a new list was compiled (better late than never) via an online contest held by a Swiss company, the New 7 Wonders Foundation, in which 100 million people voted on the noteworthy buildings or structures that sum up the ultimate human achievement of the “modern world." Surprisingly, the Egyptian pyramids didn’t make the cut. But there’s a good chance you’ve heard of everything else that did make it on this list.
Shaving down the list of the “most wonderful things” in the world to just seven places isn’t easy and there’s bound to be some disagreement as to what belongs and what doesn’t, but 100 million people can’t be wrong. The New Seven Wonders of the World are spread out all over the globe, so it will take a few trips to visit them all, but it’s not nearly as difficult or as expensive as you might think.
Here are the places that made the list and the easiest way to visit them:
Probably the easiest location on the list can be visited as a day trip from Cancun, Mexico. These Mayan ruins are famous for their pyramids, an observatory-shaped building and Chacmool statues. You can rent a car from Cancun airport and drive three hours west or set up a tour excursion from your hotel. This trip is sometimes combined with a stop in a cenote (a swimming hole and cave diving destination) or the archaeological site of Ek' Balam.
Remember Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade? The iconic setting is actually a real place. You won’t find any Holy Grails or 4,000-year-old guys with swords, but the winding canyons and Maccabee-hewn rock buildings have to be seen to be believed. The easiest way to visit is to travel from Amman, Jordan by bus or car. Some travelers visit as a two or three-day excursion from Israel that’s got a fairly easy border crossing. You can combine this trip with a visit to the Red Sea or Wadi Rum, the filming location for Lawrence of Arabia. Summer temperatures can get ridiculously hot, so travel during cooler months or times of the day.
Considered by many to be the most spiritual place on earth, the Incan ruins are definitely a crowd pleaser. To get there, you have to get to Lima, a fairly inexpensive flight from Miami. Then you take a short flight to Cuzco. You might need a day or two to adjust to the high altitude (some hotels have oxygen tanks) before booking a taxi or bus to Aguas Calientes.
Great stops along the way include ruins in the Incan Valley, interesting markets and amazing salt pools. From AC, you take a bus ride to the famed archaeological site or hike the famous Incan trail for several days. There are a few steps involved, but the effort is well worth the amazing experience.
Great Wall of China
China is one of the best bargain destinations of the world at the moment. You can get a Chinese 10-year visa for $150 or travel visa free with a 24-hour stopover on the way to another Asian destination like Kuala Lumpur or Bangkok.
The two most popular, restored sections of the Great Wall of China are a short drive from Beijing, and in the off-season (November to early March), flights to Beijing can be found for as little as $375 from LAX. So, economically, this “wonder” is pretty easy to do. Once you’re in Beijing, you can take a bus or hire a taxi and combine your Great Wall visit with the Ming Tombs and other nearby attractions.
The poster child of India, this white marble mausoleum and mosque is the place that most people think of when you mention the country. There are plenty of great attractions in India and many first time visitors opt for the Golden Triangle Tour that includes Delhi and Jaipur as well as the town of Agra, where the shrine is located. A trip to India can sometimes be combined with a stop in Dubai or a European hub if you’d like to add an additional destination. India has a good railway network for adventurous travelers, or hire a private car if you don’t like crowds.
Christ the Redeemer
The world's most famous statue of Jesus rises high above Rio de Janeiro with arms spread wide open, maybe forgiving those people who got too wild at Carnival. Rio isn’t really close to anything else, except Buenos Aires and Iguasu Falls, but booking a trip there for Carnival can knock two things off your bucket list. From Copacabana, you can take the funicular to the top of the mountain or walk if you’re feeling ambitious.
Most trips to Italy include this iconic Roman amphitheater that's withstood the elements for more than 2,000 years. It’s not the only Roman colosseum left in the world, but it is the most visited, and easy to see in an hour or two. Admission to the nearby Roman Forum is also included with your ticket.
Unless you’ve been able to to set up the special underground tour, you’ll only be permitted to walk around the stands. There are plenty of great sites to visit in Rome—the city will keep you busy if you’re a history or art buff—but many people also opt to visit the Venice/Florence/Rome triangle as a good overview of Italy.