Yes, the Eiffel Tower is very pretty. The Empire State Building has to be seen at least once. Ancient sites like Machu Picchu and Angkor Wat will always pull in millions of visitors a year. Everyone goes to Thailand’s beaches. But what if you’re looking for something a little different? What if you don’t want to go where loads of humans go?
What if you’re more curious about what alternative attractions the world has to offer? Well it’s lucky that you’ve got us, isn’t it? Here is our selection of the weird and wonderful, strange sights and oddities from around the globe. Some of them are heartbreaking, some of them are dramatic, some of them are beautiful, and some of them are just plain disgusting. Read on if you dare!
The Aral Sea and ships graveyard, Uzbekistan
If you’re looking for something really remote and a unique travel experience, pay a visit to the ever shrinking Aral Sea in the north of Uzbekistan. It’s a real mission to get to and you’ll feel like you’re going to drop off the edge of the world. An environmental disaster, the sea has been disappearing since the 1960’s because of various irrigation projects.
If you’re interested in abandoned places and urban exploration, try visiting the ships graveyard near the city of Aral, which is an eerie collection or rusting boats and vessels, left to rot and sitting in the dust of what is now a huge dessert. Tragically fascinating stuff, but we hope that one day that the projects to replenish this once huge lake are successful. If you’re into ghost towns, we suggest you try ghost boats!
The Tunnel of Love, Ukraine
The Tunnel of Love in Ukraine is one of those beautiful locations that you don’t believe exist until you actually see it. It’s usually to be found on “places to see before you die” lists, and we heartily concur. It’s a three to five kilometre stretch of railway near the town of Klevan, in the west of the country. It’s a natural, architectural marvel, with a literal tunnel of trees and foliage having been fashioned by passing trains that still trundle slowly along the tracks around three times a day.
And they need to go slow, the site is extremely popular with lovers who come to get down on one knee and propose in the beautifully romantic setting, with rose petals strewn over the rusting sleepers. We suppose that’s where the name comes from after all and there’s even a local man hanging around with an accordion to accompany any grand gesture with a love song!
The Museum of Hair, Cappadocia, Turkey
While most people come to the region for the world famous balloon flights at the crack of dawn, there’s also an incredible (and very unique) museum that you have to visit if you’re in the region. The Museum of Hair in Avanos is literally that – showcasing lockets of girls hair hanging from the walls and ceiling of the cave-like building. According to the story, the museum began over 30 years ago, when talented local potter Chez Galip received a lock of hair from a romantic flame as something to remember her by. Over the years and inspired by the gesture, women have left locks of their hair and a note with their contact details.
Today the museum has grown to an estimated 16,000 locks of hair and counting! Most definitely one of the strangest museums on the face of the earth! You’ll either love it or you’ll hate it – and we think it’s really, really creepy!
Abandoned Bobsled Track, Sarajevo
Before the tragic events of the wars in the former Yugoslavia, including the nightmarish “Siege of Sarajevo”, the city played host to the 1984 Winter Olympic Games. Today the city is littered with remnants and reminders of the festival of sport, many of them heartbreaking in the tragedy that befell during the conflict.
None more so than the spooky, abandoned bobsled and luge track on one of the surrounding hills overlooking the city. It’s slowly falling apart, but you can still walk down the length of it, with some incredible graffiti and street art adorning it’s curves and straights, eerily taken over by nature. You can still spot signs of mortar shell attacks and sniper positions, as you walk back down to the city below. Negotiate a taxi in the city to drop you off and just explore.
Carhenge, Nebraska, USA
As you might expect, Carhenge is a recreation of Stonehenge using – cars! Located near the city of Alliance, this bizarre attraction has been built entirely out of American classic cars, and covered in grey paint, supposedly to look more like rocks we can only assume?! Much like The Tunnel of Love, it’s usually gracing various books and publications regarding places to see before you die, and it certainly is well worth a visit.
Apparently, it was originally a monument in memory of the creator’s father but has since become a big tourist attraction, with a visitor centre opening a few years ago. Visit Stonehenge in England too and see which one you prefer!
Pripyat, Chernobyl, Ukraine
Possibly the world’s most well-known ghost town, Pripyat in the Chernobyl region of Ukraine was evacuated the day after the infamous nuclear power plant disaster in 1986. It has since stood empty, and has been reclaimed by nature and slowly crumbling into dust. Today you can only visit it on special tours, as the area is still highly contaminated with radiation – but it is safe to do so for short periods of time.
As far as urban exploration is concerned, it’s probably the number one location for budding adventurers and photographers of urban decay – with the striking abandoned Ferris wheel a popular shot. Around 49,000 people used to live here, but nobody ever will again. It’s somehow hauntingly beautiful and stands as a testament to human folly, as well as bravery in the face of disaster. A must-see for intrepid travelers looking for alternative attractions. Couple it with a visit to the Ukrainian National Chernobyl Museum in Kiev to find out how Europe was saved from an apocalyptic second blast. Chilling stuff indeed.
We’ve only scratched the surface of the weird and wonderful sights and attractions you can visit around the world, but these are some of our favourites. For more information, try visiting the awesome website “atlasobscura.com” which is a brilliant resource for all things odd you can visit on the planet. But if you’ve got any unique sights you’ve visited on your travels, drop us a line or let us know in the comments – we love to hear word-of-mouth advice for attractions that are off the beaten path and that might just freak us out too – the weirder the better!