One of the world's most ancient cities, Jerusalem's historical, cultural and religious significance is incomparable. The Israeli capital's major sites include the Old City, the Wailing Wall, Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Via Dolorosa and Dome of the Rock.
Idris the 1st founded Morocco's fourth largest city in 789. The maze-like Medina, Fez' medieval walled city, is exceptionally well preserved and a wonderful place to absorb the captivating atmosphere of this crowded, scintillating city, home to striking examples of ancient Islamic architecture.
For those willing to see and explore, a visit to Bangkok can be a fun and enriching lesson in Thai history and culture. Some key attractions include the Temple of the Reclining Buddha, Temple of the Dawn, the Jim Thompson House and the two-century-old Grand Palace, featuring a majestic emerald Buddha.
With a street grid laid out by Kublai Khan in the 13th century, Beijing is filled with history. Tiananmen Square contains a memorial to the Heroes of the People, the Mao Zedong Mausoleum and the spectacular Forbidden City palace. Slightly outside of town, the Ming Tombs are the burial grounds of 13 dynastic emperors.
A rare combination of age-old tradition and a dynamic modern state, Hong Kong boasts many remarkable historical attractions. Be sure to visit the Peak Tower, the Po Lin Monastery with the largest outdoor bronze Buddha in the world, the Man Mo Temple and the Hong Kong Museum of History.
Tourists have shown an increased interest in the past, so Singapore has restored much of its Chinatown district, including the Thian Hock Keng temple, with its impressive warrior door gods and the city's oldest Hindu national monument. The Kranji War Memorial is a tribute to the casualties of the Second World War.
Shanghai's Pudong district looms on the Huangpu's east bank, a soaring, futuristic marvel of a modern city. On the west bank, atmospheric Puxi boasts sights such as the waterfront Bund, with its colonial buildings, and the French Concession, with its bustling, leafy streets and lovely Art Deco architecture.
Tokyo can't be judged from the outside, since those expecting ancient monuments will instead be greeted with modern drabness. The Imperial Palace, still home to the Emperor, shouldn't be missed, and the Edo-Tokyo Museum details the city's history. Sensoji Temple is the city's oldest, and the Tokyo National Museum holds the largest collection of Japanese art in the world.
Capital of India since 1911, New Delhi's stately modern architecture sets a sometimes startling contrast to the twisting streets of Old Delhi. Sites of historical importance abound, from the home where Gandhi lived and died to the complex of Mughal buildings that comprise the tomb of Humayun.
Once simply a scatter of island fishing villages, today chaotic Mumbai is India's largest city - and one of stark contrasts. The British swaggered in, in 1665, and ruled until 1947. The birthplace of Indian cinema, a slew of film festivals light up Mumbai's myriad cinema screens during the year.
Kyoto was spared from WWII air raids and atomic bombing on account of its outstanding beauty. Only Rome has more designated World Heritage Sites than the former Japanese capital. Old Kyoto's alleys of traditional narrow houses, known as "houses for eels", fill historic geisha quarter Gion Corner.
The cultural and political centre of Japan in the 5th century and beyond, this performing arts hub is a perfect base for exploring Western Japan. The shrines and temples of Kyoto, Nara and Koya-san are within easy day trip distance and the city itself offers fascinating sites, including Osaka Castle.
Once the centre of a mighty empire, the world's largest city and the gateway to the Silk Road, today the Shanxi provincial capital offers intriguing glimpses into its glorious past with sights such as its 7000 terracotta Qin Bingmayong Bowuguan warriors and soldiers and the Tang palace walls.
There is evidence of over two millennia of habitation in Kolkata, the former British colonial foothold on the marshy Ganges and Brahmaputra deltas. The captivating former capital boasts a plethora of ornate, architecturally diverse buildings, lively festivals and a vibrant artistic community.
Remote Bhutan first allowed the world a peek inside in 1974. With four millennia of habitation, the Himalayan kingdom offers a trove of archaeological treasures, including many ornate temples and dzong fortresses. Isolation has preserved the heavily Buddhist-influenced culture of the last Shangri-La.
The near otherworldly Himalayan kingdom of Nepal can trace its history back to the 7th century and the arrival of Kirati sheepherders. Today, misty temples perch on rugged ridges, monasteries peer over deep valleys, faded by centuries, and Kathmandu's Old City brims with ancient Buddhist temples and ornate palaces.
The capital city of Puerto Rico and by some measures the oldest city in the United States, San Juan was established nearly five centuries ago by Spanish settlers. Old San Juan continues the tradition of the colonial town, where the historic fort of El Morro and mansion of La Fortaleza still stand.
The New World starts here: The first cathedral, university and hospital in the Americas opened in Santo Domingo, on the Dominican Republic's south-central coast. Numerous city sights pay tribute to the isle's rich history, including the Castle of Columbus and the museums of the Cultural Plaza.
Island heritage overflows in Jamaica, from the former seaside banana capital of Port Antonio to reggae legend Bob Marley's former Kingston home. Even natural attractions come with cool history: The age of stalagmite-filled Green Grotto Cave at Runaway Bay is estimated at 500,000 years.
Jacobean and Georgian buildings built from pink and white coral, Gothic churches and pirate castles with ornate ceilings dot the Barbados landscape. Two of the must-see buildings are stately St. Nicholas Abbey in St. Peter and the sugar plantation Drax Hall in St. George, both dating to the 1650s.