Best of the World: Cultural and Historical Journeys to Undertake in 2021

From discovering traditional Chinese shanshui in Tonglu, lessons in jazz and local legends in Spain's Vitoria-Gasteiz and archeological delights in Koreas's Gyeongju—embark on a cultural and historical ride through the world.  
Best of the World: Cultural and Historical Journeys to Undertake in 2021
Donggung Palace overlooks the serene waters of Wolji Pond in Gyeongju, Republic of Korea. Photo By: MarudTravelPhoto/Shutterstock

Gyeongju, Republic of Korea

This ancient Korean kingdom still glitters

Named Korea’s Culture City of East Asia 2021, Gyeongju is more commonly known by its nickname: “the museum without walls.” The city, located at the southeast corner of the Korean peninsula, is home to an astonishing abundance of archaeological sites, thanks to a nearly thousand-year reign as capital of the ancient Korean kingdom of Silla (57 B.C. to A.D. 935).

Protected as a UNESCO World Heritage site, the Gyeongju Historic Areas are a captivating collection of Buddhist art from this golden age. Among the treasures: temple and palace ruins, stone pagodas, rock carvings, a superb eighth-century statue of Buddha, and about 150 Silla nobility burial mounds, some up to 75 feet high.

Gold, silver, and gilt-bronze crowns, jewellery, and other glittering artifacts excavated from the tombs are displayed in the Gyeongju National Museum’s “Silla the Kingdom of Gold” exhibit. Virtually tour the exhibition hall for an inside look at the lavish lifestyles of Silla royalty.


—Bo-yeon Lim, Nat Geo Traveler Korea


‘Best of the World’ is a comprehensive list of 25 destinations on the rise in 2021, and has been reported by the global editors of National Geographic Traveler. Read all the entries on our digital forum or new National Geographic Traveller India app here.