Culture vultures travel the world looking for destinations rich in history. But where do you go for the oldest inhabited places on the planet? That’s what we’re finding out with this guide, which features the oldest destinations in the world. So get your history books out and prepare to soak up some serious culture with the oldest and continuously habited places on earth.
Beirut, Lebanon 🇱🇧
Five thousand years of civilisation were unearthed when Beirut was evacuated in the 1990s. That means the city dates back to around 3,000 BC. and was even home to the most prominent law school in the Roman Empire before it succumbed to an earthquake in AD 551. Today, its unique mix of old and new and war and peace make it an intriguing travel destination.
Lisbon, Portugal 🇵🇹
Lisbon is a popular tourist attraction in Portugal, whether you’re visiting from near or far. It also happens to be one of the oldest destinations in the world and dates back to 1,200 BC. Up until the 16th century, people even believed that it was the edge of the world. It’s not, of course, and over the centuries, the city has evolved into a thriving place to live and visit. There aren’t many places in Europe with as much culture and history as Lisbon.
Luxor, Egypt 🇪🇬
It shouldn’t come as a surprise to learn that a destination in Egypt is one of the oldest in the world. The country famous for the pyramids is also home to the ancient city of Luxor, which was the capital of Egypt during the New Kingdom. Established in 3,200 BC, it started as a small trading post and became one of the wealthiest cities in the Egyptian Empire. Today, it’s home to many ancient structures, such as the Karnak and Luxor temples. The ruins of Thebes is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and attracts thousands of tourists every year.
Athens, Greece 🇬🇷
It’s clear to see Athens’ heritage once you’re in the city, a place inhabited for more than 7,000 years. Ottomans, Byzantines, and Romans have all left their mark in a city that’s the homeland to philosophers, writers, playwrights and artists, including Socrates and Hippocrates. There’s history everywhere you look in the capital of Greece, from the Acropolis of Athens to the Parthenon and Temple of Olympian Zeus.
Plovdiv, Bulgaria 🇧🇬
Plovdiv is an ancient city in Bulgaria dating back to 7,000 BC. It was annexed by the Romans in AD 46, who built streets and towers and helped bring the city in line with other modern cities. Today, many of the ruins remain, including the Roman theatre of Philippopolis, the Architectural Reserve of the town and Nebet Tepe, one of the hills where the city was founded.
Argos, Greece 🇬🇷
Greece is home to its fair share of ancient destinations, such as Argos. In addition to Athens, Argos was first inhabited in 5,000 BC, which means it has had over 7,000 years of continuous inhabitants. At one point, the Greek government thought about moving the Greek capital to Argos but eventually chose Athens. The city is also popular in Greek mythology and is believed to be the birthplace of Perseus, the son of Zeus. Today, Argos is home to 22,000 people, making it one of the smaller city populations in the world.
Varanasi, India 🇮🇳
Head to Varanasi in India to find a city more than 5,000 years old. Formerly known as Benares, Varanasi is a religious and cultural centre located in northern India. The city is famous for its production of silks and brocades with gold and silver thread work, as well as its toys and bangles made of glass and ivory. Throughout the year, there are several religious festivals taking place in Varanasi.
The oldest destinations in the world
Discovering a city’s history is one of the many fascinating aspects of travelling, especially if you’re somewhat of a history buff. And the places on our list are the oldest in the world, meaning you can take in the history and see how they’ve evolved throughout the centuries.