Have you ever seen a photo of something and just immediately thought that it just can’t be real? Sometimes a place looks straight out of a fairytale, other times it just looks like it should be sent straight back to the strange alternate universe that it came from. Some locations on our planet are incredibly unique and the diversity of our Earth is something that never ceases to fascinate and horrify travelers from every edge of the globe. From boiling pools of lava to enormous underground caves, to cities lost in time the world is full of obscure destinations for you to explore. Here’s a comprehensive list of the strangest, scariest, and occasionally the cutest places in the world.
50. Tunnel Of Love – Ukraine
This perfect tunnel of trees looks to be straight out of a fairytale. The train that runs through three times a day keeps the tunnel well preserved and offers its patrons a romantic ride. Legend has it that couples who walk through the tunnel will be granted one wish if their hearts are true. The changing colours of the season make this tunnel even more charming when the green leaves burst into life in spring and turn vivid shades of red and orange in the autumn.
49. The Giant’s Causeway – Ireland
Enormous basalt stacks that look carved by the hands of giants stretch across the coastline for three miles. 40,000 columns rose up through the Earth caused by an ancient volcanic eruption, or a very irritated giant, creating a causeway of fascinating stepping stones that span the gorgeous Irish coast.
48. Ruby Falls – Tennessee
Ruby Falls is just one of those waterfalls you’d never believe existed. Showering from over 145 feet inside a vast underground cavern. Illuminated from every angle, the mighty waterfall is truly a sight to behold.
47. Danakil Depression – Ethiopia
At the lowest point on the planet, Ethiopia’s Danakil Depression couldn’t be hotter, drier, or anymore petrifying. It’s one of the most extreme climates on Earth, and yet still life thrives. We haven’t yet found life on Mars (or have we), but this is probably the closest we’ve got.
46. Dadipark – Antwerp, Belgium
As creepy abandoned theme parks go, Dadipark has an especially eerie past. This dilapidated monstrosity was closed down after a young boy lost an arm. It now attracts photographers and urban explorers who find its overgrown swamps and rusty old rides fascinating.
45. Jigokudani (Hell Valley) – Hokkaido
Not to be confused with Jigokudani in Honshu where you’ll find serene bathing monkeys instead of the stench of sulphur. Japan’s hot springs are usually relaxing and welcoming spots where you can jump in, strip off your clothes and soak in the therapeutic waters. Noboribetsu, the town below Hell Valley is famous for them, but you wouldn’t want to place even a toe in the stinking hellish waters that feed them from the mountains above.
44. Loch Ness – Scotland
A freshwater loch in the Scottish Highlands known for the mysterious sea creature that haunts its depths. Is it a fish, is it a snake, is it a giant monstrous worm? No one knows. There’s not much chance of seeing this obscure conspiracy in the flesh, but the loch is incredibly scenic and a host of other wonderful flora and fauna thrive in the area.
43. Chernobyl Fallout Site – Ukraine
No list of strange places would be complete without mentioning Chernobyl. The catastrophic nuclear accident left the land in ruins. Radiation is still absurdly high on the Geiger counter, but it’s safe enough for people to take tours of the tragedy struck town. If you want to see something truly apocalyptic there is no other place like it.
42. Door To Hell – Turkmenistan
Sometimes called the Derweze Crater it is more often called by its more terrifying name – Door to Hell. A natural gas cavern collapsed in the early 1970’s, and to prevent the gas from escaping the locals set it on fire. Expected to burn out within a few weeks, it is still coughing and spluttering up pure hate thirty years later. Innocent gas crater or the door to the underworld? You decide.
41. Aokigahara Forest – Fujikawaguchiko, Japan
The forest deep in the Fujikawaguchiko lake district near Mount Fuji has long been known as the Suicide Forest. The sea of trees in so dense and the mossy ground muffles any form of sound, creating an eerie and unsettling vibe of pure silence. Which apparently makes it ‘the perfect place to die.’ Depressed Japanese businessmen are known to wander in, and never wander back out. The death tolls rise every year and the local police have taken to installing signs that read “Your life is a precious gift from your parents.”
40. Spreepark – Berlin
Theme parks were usually built to thrill people, entertain people, or in the case of Spreepark scare them to death. Abandoned for over 10 years the park now lies in ruin on the South East corner of Berlin. A giant red ferris wheel looms over the fence as you approach the park now teaming with overgrown shrubs and vegetation. The full story of its downfall is largely unknown, but its rumoured to have something to do with a scandal that involved drug smuggling inside a magic carpet ride. Security has been tightened recently but official tours are offered on the weekend.
39. Jellyfish Lake – Palau
On the island of Palau is an incredible lake filled with jellyfish.
Most jellyfish are scary and not afraid to sting you. Swimmers usually should be wary when they are in reach of their tentacles, but these curious creatures are completely stingless. They don’t need stingers to catch food as they rely completely on photosynthesis, soaking up the suns rays to fuel their energy. The numbers are currently in decline but no one knows why. Conservation in the area is ongoing.
38. The Island Of Dolls – Mexico
This creepy forest in Mexico is filled with a thousand macabre faces of dolls hanging from the tree branches. The work of a troubled Mexican man who believed they would ward off the horrified screams of a girl who died there over 50 years ago. His legacy is preserved in the disturbing image of his mutilated doll garden, travelers claim to hear strange whispers in the trees and say the doll’s eyes follow their every move.
37. Centralia – Pennsylvania
Formally a thriving mining town that met a gruesome fate when a fire erupted in the mines, which due to the gas in the caverns still burns to this day. Centralia was the inspiration for the video game Silent Hill. Flecks of ash and pillars of smoke still rise up from the cracked grounds of the old roads. Centralia is now a ghost town, empty but for the few remaining residents that refused to leave their homes. Today, the abandoned highway has become a canvas for graffiti art and splashes of colour stretch for miles along the road.
36. Reynisfjara, Black Beach – Iceland
Gigantic rock stacks and ferocious Atlantic waves surround the distinctive black sands of Reynisfjara. Considered to be one of Iceland’s most beautiful black beaches, each corner of this intrepid land is more amazing than the next.
35. Devils Bridge – Germany
The fairytale look of this place is enough to attract any visitor, but the dome-shaped bridge that stretches across a lake is what it is famed for. The accurately constructed bridge spookily forms a perfect circular reflection from any angle it is viewed from.
34. Seljalandsfoss – Iceland
Iceland has no shortage of spectacular sights, a lot of them being fierce waterfalls, carving new paths through the land like forces of nature. This particular waterfall looks like an image from a storybook. Turn the page and enter a world of colour in a stream of water so beautiful it almost can’t be real.
33. Easter Island – Polynesia
Large and mysterious objects are scattered about the barren plains on Easter Island, but I promise you they aren’t giant chocolate eggs, its giant statues of heads. Its native name is Rapa Nui, rather boringly dubbed Easter Island because a Dutch explorer discovered it on Easter Sunday. Over 900 statues called moai litter the island. Their mysteries have been lost to time, but scientists are slowly trying to uncover the secrets of this lost civilization.
32. Figure 8 Pools – New South Wales
When the tide goes out, these mysterious shaped pools appear in the rock, each one forming perfect curved figure-eights. They’re perfect for taking a dip on a hot summer day in Australia, but can be treacherous if you catch the tide at the wrong time. It’s a bit of a trek through the surrounding forests to reach them so check the tide calendar and plan ahead.
31. Salar De Uyuni – Bolivia
The worlds largest salt flat creates an ethereal scene in Salar de Uyuni. When water gathers on the surface of this immense salt flat, it creates a giant mirror that reflects the perfect symmetry of the surrounding area, and any odd pose you wish to fashion. People come here to take quirky photographs and experience the vast nothingness on the stunning Bolivian horizon.
30. Eternal Flame Falls – New York
Natural gases leaking from a crevice in the rock formation keep this ghostly flame permanently lit, despite struggling against the wet rock behind a tumbling waterfall. Magic is the only possible explanation.
29. Bioluminescence – Vahdoo Island
Bioluminescent algae actually gather in many places around the world, but one of the most famous locations is Vahdoo island. During a heavy swell of bioluminescent plankton, the sea glimmers with a glowing blue light after dark as the waves bob and ebb against the shore. The clever little algae creatures can track the daylight, and only emit their strange blue glow after dark. Any form of movement causes the plankton to gleam, and thrashing about in the ocean does not harm them but is great fun.
28. Christmas Island
Though the name suggests otherwise, this place is more famous for being covered in giant red crabs than woolly red hats. Located off the coast of Australia, the island has some incredible beaches. In the breeding season, everything turns an ominous shade of red, as millions of baby crabs hatch and cover every surface of the land. Those videos you see with people holding wriggling piles of tiny red crabs were filmed here. If you’re a big fan of crabs it’s Christmas every day on this obscure island.
27. The Mountain Sphinx – Romania
This giant rock formation has an uncanny resemblance to a certain mythological creature, the Egyptian Sphinx. Classed as one of the seven wonders of Romania, this 40-foot tall boulder apparently guards a mysterious energy field that envelops the surrounding land. Several hiking trails lead up to the great Sphinx, or you could just take the cable car.
26. Houtouwan – Shengsi Islands, China
Houtouwan is an abandoned fishing village that mother nature literally took back into her leafy grip. After the settlement was abandoned, every single house was slowly taken over by moss and ivy. The lush vegetation has engulfed every building in its green fingers and Houtouwan is now a stunning show of nature and possibly the greenest village in the world. The nearby locals don’t sell fish anymore but are happy to sell you water to quench your first as you wander around this mesmerizing town.
25. Vágar Island – Faroe Islands
One of 18 islands in the Atlantic archipelago, this peaceful island packs a punch when it comes to impressive landscapes. 41 mountains, 4 lakes, and 3 waterfalls make up this rugged and beautiful island that showcases nature at its best. The pretty village of Gasadular has one of the prettiest waterfalls on Earth, cascading down the rocky cliff edge and into the ocean. On very special nights you can even spot a glimpse of the Aurora from this uniquely special spot.
24. Ellison’s Cave And Fantastic Pit – Georgia
Ellison’s Cave is magnificent, but you wouldn’t want to be stuck at the bottom of this cave drop. Looking up from the depths with a total vertical descent of 1,063 feet, the cave is so high that light is just a tiny pinprick on the ceiling above. Inside the cave is a series of pits that serious boulderers travel far and wide to conquer. Cavers first have to descend the aptly named warm up pit, before reaching the site of Fantastic Pit, scramble through a tiny space named the Attic, and emerge to tackle yet another formidable obstacle, Gigantic Pit. Only experienced cavers tackle the collection of pits known as the Dark Fantastic inside Ellison’s cave.
23. Lake Natron – Tanzania
Usually, lakes are teeming with life and create whole ecosystems for flora and fauna. But you wouldn’t want to take a refreshing dip in this lake. This one is a little more formidable, and any animal that enters the terrifying lake water will meet its untimely death. The high volumes of sodium bicarbonate in the lake basically causes the creatures bodies to calcify. Turning them into living statues that float creepily on the surface of the lake.
22. Zhangjiajie National Forest Park – Hunan Province, China
Remember those weird floating islands in Avatar? The inspiration for those is a real phenomenon in China. A series of rock pillars that stand tall amidst a scenic landscape of dense jungle and forest. Though they aren’t actually floating, they’re occasionally shrouded in mist that gives them a real otherworldly aura.
21. Dead Vlei Trees – Namibia
You’d be forgiven for thinking this whimsical landscape was a painting, but it exists in this exact likeness in the Namib desert. The rolling orange sand dunes create a surreal backdrop for the twisted and blackened tree stumps dotted through the parched desert sand.
20. Christ Of The Abyss – Italy
The giant statue of Christ the Redeemer looms benevolently over Rio, but this lowly version of Christ sits at the bottom of the Mediterranean sea off the coast of the Italian Riviera; one of three statues placed in various locations. From the depths of its resting place, Christ’s arms are raised towards the surface, attracting more attention from crustaceans and curious fish than people.
19. Grand Prismatic Spring – Wyoming
This is one hot spring that isn’t exactly inviting you to dip your toes in for a lulling soak. From above, this ominous looking hole in the Earth looks straight out of Dante’s Inferno. Perhaps the seventh level of boiling hell. It’s the biggest hot spring in the US and is situated within Yellowstone National park. Although strange, it truly is a wonder to behold.
18. Cappadocia – Turkey
A far off part of Turkey known for two things: a geological phenomena called fairy caves, and hot air balloons. Famous for some of the most romantic sights on Earth, Cappadocia sees hundreds of hot air balloons released every sunrise and sunset over the barren land full of sandstone pillars known as the fairy caves, you can even book a night and stay inside some of them. Cappadocia is the perfect spot to whisk away on your honeymoon. What better way to woo your loved one than to whisk them up in a balloon over some of the most beautiful scenery in the world. Throw in a basket of strawberries and champagne and you’re gold.
17. Meteora – Greece
The Greeks have worshipped the Gods for generations, and the Gods have always had impeccable taste in destination homes. At Meteora, natures grandeur comes together to form a magical, mysterious and extraordinary amalgam of man’s relationship with the celestial. If the impressive rock formations aren’t enough to inspire a deep sense of awe from the land, the monasteries built precariously on top of them surely will be.
16. Valley Of The Dolls – Nagoro, Japan
In this sleepy little town there are more life-size dolls than people. One day a caring artist decided to make a doll in tribute to a lost friend. After another, and another, at some point she decided not to stop. Now the small village is a creepy homage to the lost souls and repopulated with woollen dolls.
15. Antelope Canyon – Arizona
This canyon cave is a mecca for inspired photographers. At the right moment, light shines into the vast empty space like a beacon from heaven. You can only enter on organized tours but the natural beauty of this place is worth the appreciation.
14. Blood Falls – Antarctica
Blood red water cascades from a river mouth in Antarctica like the aftermath a recent massacre. Scientists have discovered that it doesn’t have such an ominous cause after all, and is in fact due to heavy amounts of oxidized iron in the brine saltwater formed under the ice.
13. Hallerbos (Bluebell Forest) – Belgium
There are many forests in the world that come alive with the daintily pretty bluebells every April, but one of the most beautiful of all of them resides in Belgium. The winding paths, tall, thinly spaced trees, and dense packs of bluebells make this forest more magical than most.
12. Huashan Mountain – China
Commonly known as the world’s most dangerous cliff walk. At times you’ll find yourself clinging on to simple steel pegs in the cracks of the mountain rock or narrow planks that form the precarious walkway. Not a hike for the faint-hearted, but the views are completely worth the moments of adrenaline and risk of death.
11. Blue Lake – Tasmania
Once a deep mining hole that was filled in with water, Blue Lake is known for its mysteriously opaque blue depths. As beautiful as it looks to the eye, it’s not the best place to go for a dip. The high mineral content from the surrounding limestone gives it the lustrous tropical blue hue, but make it heavily toxic. A lovely place for a picnic instead of a swim.
10. Devil’s Arse (Peak Cavern) – Castleton, England
The mouth of this cave apparently resembles the backside of a certain satanic character according to the locals. Inside, stalactites and stalagmites galore stick to the walls and ceilings. The temperature drops way below that at the surface, making the hellish theme even more prominent. In winter the deeper sections filled with underground lakes even freeze over. In the summertime, it’s a little more welcoming with film screenings happening inside the cosy cavern.
9. Kolmanskop – Namib
Kolmanskop is a ghost town in Southern Namibia that’s a haven for photographers and physicists alike. The once grand German settlement lies lost to the sand dunes, the bones of a forgotten village. The buildings jutting out of the sand are the only sightings in the desolate landscape. Kolmanskopp was raised up in the diamond boom and fell back to the desert when it faded, to eventually be engulfed by the sands of time.
8. Railway In Hanoi – Vietnam
At first glance, it seems like we have a runaway train on our hands as the bull-like structure careens through a busy street in Hanoi. But this is an actual train track that literally squeezes through the narrow commercial area full of shops and general hubbub. People have to huddle against the wall as the locomotive passes to avoid being involuntarily amputated.
7. Lençóis Maranhenses National Park – Brazil
Sand Dunes with a twist, the kind of mirage you hope is real when you’re lost in the desert. This expanse of desert in Brazil is actually a real-life oasis. Deep pools are created between the dunes and visitors can dive into them with a hop, skip and a jump; or sandboard down the hills into the refreshing waters. Bring your own inflatables.
6. Okunoshima Island – Japan
An island entirely inhabited by rabbits. More and more of the fuzzy creatures pop up every year, rabbits are weird like that. The legend of Okunoshima is that it was once the base of a bunch of secret experiments involving poisonous gas. Then one day a group of school children landed on the island and set all the captive rabbits free from their cages. The old factory stands in ruins in the middle of the island and the rabbits continue to roam free. If you fancy being covered in rabbits for the day, fill yourself a bag full of carrots and hop on the ferry to the island.
5. Chocolate Hills – Philippines
The Chocolate Hills are geological phenomena in the Philippines. Over a thousand natural hill mounds rise up out of the ground like Hershey’s chocolate kisses. Viewed from the highest point in Carmen Town they seem to carry on until the end of the Earth like an enormous bumpy chocolate bar.
4. Hand Of The Desert – Chile
There’s a giant hand in the middle of the Atacama Desert. Why? It’s a high five from the people of Antofagasta, Chile. The hand rises 36 feet out of the sand and can be seen for miles waving at visitors from the barren expanses of the desert. Strangely, there is an opposing hand located 1,200 miles away in the Atlantic coastal resort of Punta del Este. The sculptor called it Man Emerging to Life, the locals call it Monument to the Drowned or just, The Hand.
3. Blue Moon Valley – Southern China
A strange yet beautiful turquoise stream cascades down a set of circular stone steps to pool in rivers and gullies at the bottom. Local legends believe this incredibly scenic valley with the mesmerizing water gets its blue hue from the hands of the Gods, but it’s just a chemical tint that it got from the copper ions in the water. Set against the stark mountainous region of the Himalayas and framed by green forests and meadows, Blue Moon Valley is one of the most impressive landscapes in the world.
2. Yongma Land – South Korea
The days of queuing for rides and munching on popcorn are long behind at Seoul’s only abandoned theme park. Fortunately, it’s still a spectacle for those chasing urban exploration and is actually one of the few abandoned theme parks that allows visitors to roam free. For a small fee, a security guard will let you roam the park at your leisure. Since the park was used in a video for a famous K-Pop band, it has become a mecca for die-hard fans as well as thrill-seeking tourists.
1. Golden Bridge – Vietnam
Ever wondered what it felt like to be held up by the hands of Gods? Your dreams can now come true in the Ba Na mountains of Vietnam. Two enormous hands hold up a dainty footbridge with sweeping views of the land beyond. Take a stroll along the walk and lean over the abyss below.
The hands give the appearance of giant moss-covered boulders, as if they sprung up straight from the mountain, though are actually made from steel and fibreglass.