15 Strangest Places in the World That Don’t Seem Real

15 Strange Destinations Around the World That Don’t Seem Real

In some places, reality can be stranger than fiction.

The planet we call home is even more bizarre than you can imagine. Think intergalactic sanctuaries, mysterious ancient drawings, voodoo markets selling animal heads, and creepy doll islands. Travellers can even peek into the portal to hell right here on Earth. If you know where to look, you’re bound to come across places so baffling that you can’t help but question their existence. From mysterious natural wonders to crazy man-made projects, we’ve rounded up the 15 strangest places in the world you’d have to see to believe.

1. Nazca Lines – Peru

Hummingbird Nazca Lines in Peru

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Few places on the planet are as strange and mysterious as the massive drawings etched onto the deserts of southern Peru. The geoglyphs known as the Nazca Lines range from simple lines and swirls to more complex shapes like a hummingbird and a monkey. No one knows for sure why they’re there, although scientists theorise that most of the geoglyphs were made by the Nazca people who lived in the area around 1 to 700 AD. These days, many believe that the indentations were part of the ancient civilisation’s ritualistic practices. (Conspiracy theorists say aliens, though.)

The mystery is part of the allure, for sure. But travellers will find the age and sheer volume of the Nazca Lines captivating. The best way to see them is from the sky on a charter flight, but budget tourists may also see a couple from the viewing tower.

2. Greater Green River Intergalactic Spaceport – USA

A lonely public airstrip in the middle of nowhere, this bare landing field in Green River, Wyoming was decreed as a safe space for inhabitants of Jupiter fleeing from comet and meteor collisions. When NASA announced that Jupiter is on a collision course with space fragments in 1994, the concerned Green River residents decided to provide shelter for aliens escaping their home planet. Yes, the town officially changed the airstrip’s name to Greater Green River Intergalactic Spaceport.

The spaceport is unattended and only equipped with a solitary runway marked by a lone windsock. It continues to court alien visitors to this day (without much success), taking its place among the weird places in the world — and certainly the weirdest airstrips ever.

3. Darvaza Gas Crater – Turkmenistan

Darvaza Gas Crater in Deweze, Turkmenistan

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Who knew that the fiery gates of hell would be an actual tourist destination? Known as the Door to Hell, the Darvaza Gas Crater is a 70-metre-wide, 20-metre-deep burning crater in the middle of the desert, near the village of Deweze, Turkmenistan.

How did this happen? Well, details are murky, but the popular story is that a Soviet drilling rig collapsed into a large crater while searching for natural gas reserves. Fearing the release of poisonous gases, Soviet scientists set the crater aflame hoping it would burn out in a few hours. But that was back in 1971 — over 40 years ago. Incredibly, it’s still burning today and is definitely one of the strangest places in the world.

Travellers flock to this eternally burning firepit to get a glimpse of the so-called Gates of Hell. The sight is especially mesmerising at night when the flames are extra vivid and bright enough to be spotted kilometres away.

Also read: Turkmenistan Tourist Attraction ‘Gates of Hell’ May Close As Per Government Orders

4. Island of Dolls – Mexico

Strange Island of Dolls in Xochimilco, Mexico

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Step inside a nightmarish clearing deep in the woods where thousands of mutilated dolls hang from trees and hide amongst dense bushes. Myths abound in the uninhabited Mexican island of Xochimilco, with its visuals unbelievably macabre. Mexico has its share of weird attractions, but this one just may top the list.

Legend goes that these dolls were hung up by a reclusive Mexican man, Julian Santana Barrera. He believed that doing so would quell the tormented screams of the ghost of a small girl who drowned over 50 years ago and still haunts the woods today. Dangerous? Probably. Awesome photo opportunity? Undoubtedly.

Also read: Top 10 Most Haunted Places From Around the World

5. Socotra Island – Yemen

Dragon's blood trees on Socotra Island, Yemen strangest places in the world

Image credit: Andrew Svk

Hailed as the original Garden of Eden due to its isolation and unique biodiversity not found anywhere else in the world, this remote island in Yemen looks like a Dr. Seuss book sprung to life. Expect bulbous bottle trees and the ancient dragon’s blood trees, among many others. Leaving people very curious about its origins, the enchanting Socotra Island is definitely one of the weirdest places on Earth — and when we say weird, we mean it in the best way possible! This island is also home to a collection of caves and a number of shipwrecks.

6. The Giant’s Causeway – Ireland

The Giant's Causeway in Ireland

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Legend says giants used to walk this land and created The Giant’s Causeway, a collection of around 40,000 uniformly shaped basalt columns rising from the sea in Northern Ireland. Climb the hills and get a glimpse of this epic UNESCO World Heritage Site. Although stories of giants seem ridiculous, it’s almost easy to believe the tall tales at the sight of these ancient rocks.

Although it’s one of the strangest places in the world, the truth is a little less romantic: A massive volcanic eruption 60 million years ago released an incredible mass of molten basalt that cooled and solidified into this unique landscape. Set against the tranquil backdrop of mountains and the sea, The Giant’s Causeway is as beautiful as it is weird.

7. Akodessewa Fetish Market – Togo

strangest places in the world

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With over half of the population practising indigenous beliefs, it’s no surprise to find the world’s largest voodoo fetish market in the West African country of Togo. The Akodessewa Fetish Market (Marche des Feticheurs) isn’t your typical farmer’s market. Instead of gourmet snacks and colourful flowers, you’ll come face to face with shrunken heads, animal skulls, pieces of flesh, dead birds, and other peculiar items when exploring Akodessewa

Before you dismiss them as trivial and creepy, know that these are coveted ingredients for traditional healers. Voodoo practitioners from all over the continent travel to Togo to hunt for talismans, medicinal tonics, and even charms to break curses in this open-air market. If you enjoy travelling to the weird places in the world, Akodessewa should be next on your list. 

8. The Republic of Molossia – North America

Republic of Molossia sign

Image credit: Kevin Baugh

Micronations are no new phenomenon but the Republic of Molossia is quite special. Founded by His Excellency President Kevin Baugh in 1999, Molossia is located in the western United States and is comprised of two pieces of land in Dayton, Nevada that make up about 6.3 square acres. With a population of 30 humans and four dogs, this nation boasts its own space program, navy, currency, and even its own time zone. It also has unofficial claims on a part of the sea off the coast of Mexico… and on Neptune as well. Go figure.

This micronation isn’t recognised by any of the United Nations member states. But they do accept tourists! If you’re drawn to offbeat and weird attractions, it’s worth spending half a day exploring the only republic in the world with an official currency tied to the relative value of cookie dough.

Also read: 10 Youngest Countries in the World Every History Buff Should See!

9. Crooked Forest – Poland

strangest places in the world

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You’ve probably never seen pine trees like these before! Crooked Forest is a picturesque grove of 400 pine trees, all uniformly curved at the base of their trunks. Like many of the other weird places in the world, Crooked Forest is inexplicable. Some suggest the oddly shaped trunks resulted from being buried under snow in their infancy, while others say humans deliberately shaped these trees when they were planted nearly a century ago. The mystery behind these peculiar trees is still unsolved, but it’s fun to speculate — and the protected area is a pleasant spot for a stroll in northwest Poland

10. Ōkunoshima (Rabbit Island) – Japan

Okunoshima Rabbit Island Hiroshima Japan

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An island inhabited by hundreds of adorable wild rabbits? Yes, please! Ōkunoshima or Rabbit Island in Eastern Hiroshima is a popular tourist destination in Japan for families and animal lovers. No one knows how these feral animals ended up on the island, where the Japanese Imperial Army also manufactured poison gas during the Second World War. Some say they were released by school children in the 1970s, while others believe that they’re descendants of the rabbits used as test subjects for chemical weapons. No matter their origins, we can’t say we’re not charmed by this island full of fluffy rabbits.

Also read: 16 Unique Things to Do in Japan for an Unforgettable Trip

11. Roopkund (Skeleton Lake) – India

Roopkund Skeleton Lake in Himalayas India

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Roopkund, better recognised as the Skeleton Lake, was first discovered in 1942 by a British forest guard during World War II. Situated at an altitude of 5,029 metres in the Himalayas, Roopkund is a frozen lake littered with hundreds of unknown human remains. After much investigation, it’s been found that all these people died due to a blow to their heads — but no one knows why or how. Recent studies show that this was due to a hailstorm. Yet, research has also indicated that the remains are from three groups that died in two separate events.

12. Plain of Jars – Laos

Plain of Jars Xieng Khouang Province Laos

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This is another odd one. Megalithic stone jars with no known history are peppered across the Xieng Khouang Province in Laos, clustered in groups from one to a hundred. Human bones, stone lids, and discs have been found around these huge cylindrical jars, leading to the conclusion that they were once a part of ancient funeral ceremonies. Local legends say otherwise — that the jars were used to brew potent rice wine for giants. Shrouded in mystery and laced with intrigue, the Plain of Jars is one of the strangest places in the world, where the answers are best left to the imagination.

13. Avanos Hair Museum – Turkey

strangest places in the world

Image credit: Nevit Dilmen

Inside the basement of a renowned ceramic shop in Avanos, Cappadocia lies an exhibition of human hair samples. Walk into the Avanos Hair Museum or Chez Galip Hair Museum, displaying locks of hair from more than 16,000 women around the world, alongside notes with their names and contact information. What’s more, ten randomly chosen women win an all-expenses-paid trip to the owner’s hometown every year in appreciation of their contributions. 

As the story goes, a friend of Turkish potter Galip Körükçü moved out of Avanos and left him a lock of her hair as a memento. Women passing by Galip’s pottery shop felt so moved by this that each one also left him some of their hair, too. Eventually, the shop collected enough hair to create an entire museum! What started out as a simple farewell gift between the ceramic shop owner and his beloved friend escalated into a pretty bizarre situation that’s now one of the oddest museums and weirdest places on Earth.

14. Lake Hillier – Australia

strangest places in the world

Image credit: Yodaobione

Lakes don’t usually come in shades of bubblegum pink, but this one does! Thanks to the presence of colourful bacteria and algae, Australia’s Lake Hillier is a delightful pink colour that makes it as eye-catching from above as it is from the shore. When flying over the Recherche Archipelago, you’ll see the pink hues stand out even more as it sits right beside the brilliant blue ocean.

15. The Museum of Broken Relationships – Croatia

Welcome to the home of broken hearts. The Museum of Broken Relationships in Zagreb, Croatia is a sanctuary for lost love and goodbyes. At face value, the items displayed are mundane and unremarkable: teddy bears, love letters, high heels, and so on. Heartbreak looks different for each person — there’s even a prosthetic leg on display.   

Unsurprisingly, the museum was borne out of a failed relationship. When Croatian artists Olinka Vistina and Drazen Grubisic broke up, they decided to create a museum that can house the relics of failed love affairs, including their own. Weird, but anyone who’s ever had a broken heart can understand, right? Donations poured in, first from friends, then from locals, and eventually from all over the world. For the heartsick and lonely, there may be some comfort in the Museum of Broken Relationships.

Also read: How My First-Ever Solo Trip to Bali Healed My Broken Heart

Over its lifetime, some very peculiar things have developed on Earth, leaving people simultaneously puzzled and intrigued. As travellers, we’ve found that the strangest places in the world can also be the most interesting. The only question is, how weird can you go? Share your weirdest travel experiences on Facebook!


Featured image credit: Andrew Svk | Unsplash

About Authors

Annabel Pang
Annabel Pang

Annabel is a final year English student at NTU wit a h00d playlist. She's no Mary but she's defintely poppin'. Bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, Annabel is a part-time jedi and a force not to be reckoned with. Also a huge foodie with spectacular vernacular. Tread gently.

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Celia Grace Nachura
Celia Grace Nachura

There are very few things Celia won’t do for a good story, but her favourite ones always involve the beach, animals, or any type of outdoor activity. She’s been writing for as long as she can remember, and can usually be found typing away at home with her cute dogs at her feet. Away from work, she spends most of her time trying out every hobby she can get her hands on, from running to crocheting to baking (she’s pretty okay at most things that don't involve cooking).

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