The monumental statues, finely detailed temples, and intricate tiled mosaics of ancient cities reveal astounding insight into the cultures that produced them. Here are a handful of the most remarkable urban environments ever created—and we can give you special access to every one.
Angkor, Cambodia | View Itinerary
Just a few miles from the bustling city of Siem Reap is the World Heritage city of Angkor and its ethereal temple complexes. This World Heritage area spreads across more than 150 square miles and is home to former capitals of the Khmer Empire between the ninth and 15th centuries. Travelers on our Indochine adventure have the special opportunity to watch the sun rise over the complex of Angkor Wat (one of our adventurers shared his sunrise experience in this photo essay), then explore Angkor Thom, where finely detailed temples feature bas-relief carvings and colossal Buddha statues.
Petra, Jordan | View Itinerary
Dating back to 300 BC, Petra is one of the most dramatically improbable cities of the ancient world. More than 800 structures are carved into the red-rock canyons of Wadi Musa (the Valley of Moses), giving it the name “Rose City.” At its height, Petra boasted a population of 30,000 and an impressive irrigation system, but what may be most impressive is the massive façade of the Treasury. This monument features giant Corinthian-style columns and earned Hollywood fame as the set for Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade. On our Pyramids to Petra journey, we skip the day crowds and experience this site at night, by the light of 1,800 candles!
Machu Picchu, Peru | View Itinerary & Choquequirao, Peru | View Itinerary
The masterful designs of the Incas have long captivated explorers, archaeologists, and adventurers alike, and rightly so. Incomparable Machu Picchu stands as one of the new seven wonders of the world, and its sister site, Choquequirao, is still being excavated to uncover its marvelous structures. Both were built around the 15th century and later abandoned during the Spanish conquest, but thanks to their mountaintop locations, they remained essentially untouched until being rediscovered in the early 20th century.
Though the exact use of these complexes remains a mystery—they were either religious sites or royal estates—the architecture is absolutely awe-inspiring. We follow in the footsteps of the Incas as we hike to Machu Picchu on our Inca Trail to Machu Picchu journey; our Trip Leader, Kevin Floerke, is the perfect guide for our Choquequirao: Trek to the Cradle of Gold adventure, having taken part of many of the region’s archaeological digs.
Volubilis, Morocco | View Itinerary
In the ancient Roman city of Volubilis, intricate and beautifully preserved tile mosaics depict scenes animated with animals, humans, and gods. These fine works were discovered in the 19th century and gave fascinating insight to this one-time capital of the Roman-Berber Empire. On our Morocco: Camels to Casbahs adventure, we tour these expansive mosaics and the Roman columns that still stand at this haunting site before continuing on to Fez, which became the capital city after Volubilis.
Siracusa, Sicily | View Itinerary
Located on Sicily’s southeast shores, the founding of the city of Siracusa dates back to 734 BC. At its height, this Mediterranean port was more powerful than Athens, and unlike many other ancient cities, it still thrives today. On our Hiking in Sicily journey, we explore Siracusa’s ancient Greek and Roman sites and savor cuisine with Arab, Greek, and Italian influences.