There are lots of rather strange spots around the world for those who appreciate the offbeat, quirky and downright bizarre. Even if you tend to be more mainstream, some of these destinations should really be experienced at least once in a lifetime. From extraordinary places home to some of the planet’s most fascinating creatures to underground towns and unique cities, be sure to put these on your future travel itinerary.
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Galapagos Islands, Ecuador (Nearby Hotels)
The Galapagos lie 600 miles off the coast of Ecuador in the Pacific, and were never linked to the mainland, so to get there, species had to have floated, swam or flown in. With the larger mammals at the top of the food chain unable to make the journey, the lack of predators allow wildlife to thrive. Many creatures here have never learned to fear humans and appear practically tame. Snorkel alongside the marine iguanas that swim through the sea, and then snort the saltwater right out of their noses. Gently walk among the resident sea lions and the Galapagos giant tortoise, many of which may be older than you, with a lifespan of 150 years old or more. Other fascinating species including the Galapagos penguins, blue-footed boobies and the flightless cormorants which shed their wings through evolution. There is no other place like it on Earth.
Freetown Christiania, Denmark (Nearby Hotels)
Freetown Christiania is a unique community in Copenhagen that’s a must-visit for the hippie-at-heart. An alternative neighborhood, it’s a society within a society and open to the public, with locals even offering guided tours. Founded by hippies in the early 1970s, it’s an entirely car-free, eco-friendly colony, entirely outside of the jurisdiction of the Danish government. Enjoy live music at local venues, browsing the art galleries, and checking out the stalls that sell art sorts of handmade crafts along with illegal hash.
St. Michael's Mount, England (Nearby Hotels)
While many people are familiar with Mont-Saint-Michel in France, St. Michael’s Mount is lesser-known yet just as impressive as one of the most stunning historic sites in the United Kingdom. Located in beautiful Cornwall, at low tide, the causeway appears from the sea making it accessible by foot. Follow in the steps of pilgrims, setting out from the beach at Godolphin Arms, walking across the ancient cobble causeway that stretches from the mainland to the island. During high tide, boats are available to ferry visitors, leaving for the ancient harbor from landing points along the shore at Marazion. Once here there are eateries and fun shops to enjoy, including some that sell mouth-watering Cornish fudge.
Coober Pedy, Australia (Nearby Hotels)
This truly bizarre town was built underground, constructed out of old abandoned mines. It lies virtually in the middle of nowhere out in the Australian outback, some 500 miles away from the coastal capital of Adelaide. The homes were built this way after miners who were working the world’s largest opal mine realized that this was the only option for remaining protected from the searing heat of the sun. The temperatures are so sizzling here, as high as 125 degrees Fahrenheit, it would be impossible to live like traditional dwellers above ground.
Aoshima "Cat Island", Japan (Nearby Hotels)
It has a strange mix of abandoned buildings and countless felines, with more humans than cats. There are around 100 of the animals, outnumbering people six-to-one, and you won’t find any hotels, Airbnbs, restaurants, shops or even vending machines here. You may want to bring some treats with you as once you arrive, there will be plenty of new furry friends eager for your attention and food.
Icehotel, Sweden (Nearby Hotels)
Spending the night in a hotel made entirely out of ice certain makes more a rather unique experience. Icehotel Sweden brings this opportunity for more adventurous travelers in one of the world’s most breathtaking winter wonderlands. To check in, you’ll have to hop on a snowmobile or a dog sled, but that’s all just part of the fun. When it’s time for bed, you’ll lie down on an ice block bed, but don’t worry, they come with thermal sleeping bags and reindeer hides to keep you warm. The deluxe suite includes a private sauna, while others have the colorful northern lights projected on the ceiling. The property is one of the best places for viewing the actual aurora borealis, and it hosts an annual art exhibition too, , along with bars and restaurants that are all carved from ice.
Nazca Lines, Peru (Nearby Hotels)
Head to Peru and you can witness one of the mysteries of human civilization. Situated on an isolated, arid plateau less than 200 miles from the capital city of Lima, the massive ground drawings measure as much as 660 feet. As to why they exist is still unknown, but the precise art work in the over 70 “Nazca lines,” includes detailed animals like monkeys, fish, birds and llamas, most of which can only be witnessed while flying above in a plane, or from observation towers. The Nazca culture is believed to have created them by removing red stones that covered the ground, leaving the white earth beneath visible, but the remains, how did the primitive civilization achieve such a feat on such a grand scale when they had no way of viewing them from above?
El Valle de Anton, Panama (Nearby Hotels)
El Valle de Anton is a sleepy mountain village with a very unique location. It sits within the world’s second largest volcano crater at three by five miles wide, surrounded by lush emerald slopes just two hours from Panama City. Created some five million years ago after a volcanic eruption, today, it serves as a natural sanctuary filled with hiking trails and waterfalls, hot springs, butterfly farms and markets selling handcrafted goods. It also happens to boast both the famously “square” trees, a group of cottonwood trees that have grown with square trunks, and the nearly extinct golden frog.