Confession time – I am an awful tourist.  I don’t mean that I am one of those annoying Australians who is loud and drunk (well not all the time), or a person who is disrespectful of local customs. 

I’m just not really good at going and seeing the touristy things.  Maybe it is because I travel so much and think “meh another building/monument…”  that I never get around to them.

However, ever since the fire that nearly destroyed Notre Drame, I have been thinking – what ones have I missed or are yet to see? And that I may have to force myself to go see them.

Read on for my favorites, which are pretty much non-negotiable must-sees for travelers to those cities, even this non-monument person has made an effort!

Eiffel Tower, Paris

It just is synonymous with Paris!  Look I am not taking anything away from the many breathtaking structures in Paris but think about it.  If you were a playing Pictionary or a word game and you had to use one building for people to guess Paris or even France, what’s it going to be?  Yeah, I thought so.

Up close there is a solid harshness to the structure, more like we expect from a bridge. Today it still towers over Paris, but imagine how insanely impressive it was 130 years ago.  For me, it is all about the nightly light show.  That is when the Eiffel Tower shines at her best for all to see.

Did you know the Eiffel Tower was initially built for an expo (that also marked the 100th anniversary of the French revolution) and was only going to stand for 20 years? 

Pyramids of Giza, Cairo

Still, so much mystery surrounds these icons.  Without the long history (constructed some 4,500 years ago), mystery and some mythology thrown in for good measure, these are just a heap of blocks piled on top of each other.

The Pyramids of Giza holds a pretty special place in my heart.  I remember history lessons at school when I first started falling in love with Egypt and the idea of traveling to such unbelievable exotic places.  Before you go, it is essential to understand some of the history and myths.  Only then will you get a full appreciation of how magnificent they are.  My words will never do credit to how I felt when I got to see this wonder. 

Colosseum, Rome

Even after being abandoned for centuries (yes centuries, not years) and pillaged for building materials, the Colosseum is instantly recognizable as one of Romes greats.  The base of the building covers about 6 acres and considering what it has been through in its 2,000-year history, and it is in pretty good condition. 

Like most other people, I associate the Colosseum with Gladiators and wild animals doing battle.  One part of me finds this horrific, but while wandering around this impressive stadium, I couldn’t help but think what a fantastic spectacle it must have been filled, 80,000 frenzied spectators. 

Fun fact about the Colosseum, it was originally watertight.  Why?  So they could flood it and hold mock naval battles of course.

Christ the Redeemer, Rio De Janeiro

Looking down over Rio from a perch atop Mount Corcovado is the impressive and unmistakable Christ the Redeemer statue.  I was quite surprised at my reaction and can honestly say was more than a little overwhelmed. 

It takes a bit of planning to get organized for this simple outing – but hey it’s Brazil – but well worth the effort.  We chugged up on the cog train – probably the most popular ascent – making our way up through the clouds to be greeted by this giant. I knew this statue was big but was not prepared.  Put it this way, at 5’5″, I am shorter than the status nose.  Something that I found out later – Christ the Redeemer is only the 5th biggest statue of Jesus in the world!

Unfortunately, on the day, the low clouds hung around, and we weren’t able to see any of the great views below.  Normally from this vantage point are magnificent views of the city and other famous points like Sugar Loaf Mountain and the mouth of Guanabara Bay. 


Get in early.  Any top attraction around the world means masses of visitors.  To avoid this, it is usually best to be up early and one of the first in line.  For some people, it is to have a few precious moments of tranquility and others to get a great shot without hundreds of your fellow tourists loitering in the background.

To hear more about Jacqui’s adventures, or even join her on one, go to her website and follow her on Instagram!

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