Here are 30 of the most mysterious destinations on the planet, culled from travel site Kayak.com. They range from the gates of hell and a real tunnel of love to Dracula’s castle and a waterfall on fire.
You don’t need to watch a science fiction or fantasy movie to see strange and legendary places — you can see them in real life right here on planet Earth.
There are places that look like they should be on another planet, eerie landscapes, geothermal wonders, and the stuff of fairy tales and nightmares. Here are 30 mysterious destinations, culled from travel site Kayak.com. They range from the gates of hell and a real tunnel of love to Dracula’s castle and a waterfall on fire.
Mineral-rich thermal waters reflecting the blue sky flow down petrified white travertine terraces in Pamukkale, a town in western Turkey. This Unesco World Heritage site is a striking natural formation. A thermal spa nearby was established about 2,200 years ago. The ruins of the baths, temples and other Greek monuments can be seen at the site.
Perhaps the world’s most famous prehistoric monument, Stonehenge goes back as far as 5,000 years. The unique stone circle was erected around 2500 BC. The stones stand as high as 30 feet, and are believed to have been transported from 20 miles away. They are arranged in a circle thought to have astronomical significance that is still being explored.
Bermuda Triangle: U.S, Puerto Rico and Bermuda
The region in the western part of the North Atlantic Ocean is legendary for aircraft and ships said to have disappeared under mysterious circumstances. The triangle is formed roughly by the three points of Miami, San Juan, Puerto Rico, and Bermuda. Those who have investigated say the instances of ships and planes disappearing is no more suspicious than most other places, especially given that the area frequently experiences hurricanes and storms.
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Tower of London, England
The famous fortress on the banks of the Thames in London is nearly 1,000 years old and has a long and grim history. It has been used as an armory, a treasury, a menagerie, a residence, the public records office and most famously, a prison. Two young princes, age 9 and 12 are believed to have disappeared here during the War of the Roses, and some of its most famous prisoners include Anne Boleyn, Guy Fawkes and Rudolf Hess, who served as Hitler’s second-in-command in the Nazi party. Above, ceramic poppies in an art installation pay tribute to soldiers killed in World War I.
Racetrack Playa, California
This dry lakebed in California’s Death Valley is known for its mysterious moving rocks —some as heavy as 700 pounds — that leave long trails in the dry, cracked dirt. Because the rocks often sit motionless for a decade or more, the phenomenon remained a curiosity, until 2014. Scientists, in what they suspected would be "the most boring experiment ever,” fitted 15 rocks with custom-built, motion-activated GPS units, waited a mere two years, and finally solved the mystery.
Castelul Bran, Romania
Bran Castle is a national monument and landmark in Romania. The fortress sits on the border between Transylvania and Wallachia. It is the only castle in all of Transylvania that actually fits Bram Stoker’s description of Dracula’s castle. Bram Stoker never visited Romania. He depicted Dracula’s home based upon a description of Bran Castle that was available to him in turn-of-the-century Britain.
Uyuni Salt Flat, Bolivia
What some call the world’s biggest mirror, these salt flats in southwest Bolivia are formed from a prehistoric lake that went dry. It covers more than 4,000 square miles. You can take a tour to the salt flats, and there’s even a hotel made entirely of salt.
This forest at the foot of Mt. Fuji in Japan is known as the Sea of Trees, because it is so dense. Though the forest is small, hikers often get lost and disoriented here, and the spot is famous among the Japanese as a place to commit suicide. The forest was featured in the 2015 film “Sea of Trees,” directed by Gus Van Sant, with Matthew McConaughey and Ken Watanabe.
Nazca Lines, Peru
About 250 miles south of Lima, Peru, is a 200-square-mile stretch of land known for its giant carvings of geometric shapes, birds, monkeys and humanoid figures scratched into the surface of the ground approximately 1,500-2,500 years ago. Scientists, using artificial intelligence, have recently discovered 143 previously unseen etchings, one of which, strangely, could be mistaken for a social media logo.
This ghost city in northern Ukraine was built to serve the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, until a nuclear reactor exploded in 1986 —one of the worst nuclear disasters in history. It is estimated that the area won’t be safe for humans to live for at least 20,000 years, and yet, tourists still want to visit it.
Cano Cristales, Columbia
This river in Columbia is often called "River of Five Colors" or the "Liquid Rainbow," because of its striking colors, which occur under certain conditions when colorful aquatic plants appear.
Bhangarh Fort, India
Some say this 17th-century fort in the Rajasthan state of India is haunted and cursed. It was built by a ruler for his son, and is full of temples, palaces, and havelis, and is steeped legend and superstition.
Old Faithful, Wyoming
People travel from all over the world to see the famous geyser in Yellowstone National Park, dubbed “Old Faithful” for its regularity of eruption, which is somewhat unusual in the geothermal world. According to the park service, the geyser has only lengthened the time between eruptions by about 30 minutes in the past 30 years. Today, park rangers post predicted eruption times on the geyser’s Twitter feed.
This little town, a gateway to the Arctic wilderness, is home to about 2,400 people from roughly 53 different countries. Its unique, remote location makes it a good spot to see the Northern Lights, glaciers, and the reindeer and polar bears that wander nearby. While the town is small and has just one grocery store, it is well equipped for tourists, with a broad range of restaurants, bars, pubs, hotels, guesthouses and tour guides offering a host of arctic wilderness activities.
Hashima Island, Japan
The 16-acre Hashima Island is an abandoned offshore mining facility, with a Shinto shrine. It was developed by the Mitsubishi Corp., (MSBHY) and was once packed with about 5,000 residents. Today it remains a symbol of Japan’s rapid industrialization and forced labor. It has been abandoned since 1974, and is a tourist attraction.
Dusky Seaside Sparrow
Discovery Island, Florida
The home of the last known Dusky Seaside Sparrow before it died in 1987, and was declared extinct in 1990, is an 11.5-acre island in Bay Lake, Fla., and is owned by The Walt Disney Co. (DIS) - . Now abandoned, the island used to be an attraction with a variety of animals and birds, including Capuchin monkeys, lemurs, vultures, toucans, cranes, flamingos, alligators and tortoises. Disney did not say why it closed the island in 1999, but it was reported that maintenance costs were high and attendance was poor. Today the island can be seen from some of Disney’s resorts near Magic Kingdom.
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Magnetic Hill, Canada
According to the New Brunswick, Canada tourism site, here’s what you do: drive to the bottom of this world-famous hill, take your foot off the brake and your car will roll uphill in defiance of the laws of gravity. If you’ve been to one of these magnetic or gravity hills before, you probably already know the simple explanation to this mystery.
Moeraki Boulders, New Zealand
Koekohe Beach in New Zealand is famous for these large, almost perfectly spherical boulders scattered along the shore. They are actually concretions that have been exposed through shoreline erosion from coastal cliffs, but are a fascinating and beautiful sight.
Darvaza Gas Crater, Turkmenistan
This 230-foot-wide hole in Turkmenistan has been on fire since 1971. Naturally, folks refer to it as “The Gates of Hell,” because that is a great name, but the stodgy geologists call it Darvaza Gas Crater. It is a natural gas field that collapsed into a cavern, and the geologists— who do like an occasional bit of fun — set it on fire to prevent the spread of methane gas. It’s been burning ever since.
Sanatorium Beelitz-Heilsatten, Germany
The history of this large hospital complex is even more eerie than it looks. Originally a sanatorium for people with fatal lung diseases, it was later used as a military hospital during World War I and Adolf Hitler himself was treated there in 1916. During World War II, wounded Nazis were treated there until the Soviets took it over. It remained a hospital until 1990, and today is mostly abandoned and decaying.
Next stop on the Abandoned Germany tour is this defunct amusement park in East Berlin. It operated from 1969 to 2002, when the owners went broke.
Monte Roraima: Brazil, Venezuela and Guyana
This is the tallest tepui, a flat-topped, cliff-edged mountain like a mesa in Venezuela's great plains. It juts out of the ground and is often surrounded by fog, creating the appearance of a floating island. Scientists are studying the ecosystem here because it is unique. Exactly how did the frogs get up there? This is a real-life Lost World.
A 200-acre English garden of azaleas and rhododendrons in Germany is home to this 19th-century bridge that, when reflected in the water, forms a perfect circle.
Spotted Lake, Canada
Located in the southern part of British Columbia, a few miles north of the Washington state border, this mineral lake is a sacred site of the indigenous people here, and believed to have healing properties. The lake contains dense deposits of salts and minerals, and when much of the water evaporates in summer, it reveals these colorful spots. The lake is protected because it is a cultural and ecologically sensitive area.
Eternal Flame Falls, New York
Once an obscure attraction, this place may be rapidly falling victim to the ravages of Instagram. At the base of a small waterfall in Western New York is an emission of natural gas, which can be lit to produce a small flame. (Hence the name, Eternal Flame Falls... although sometimes the flame goes out.)
Tunnel of Love, Ukraine
A stretch of railroad and an apparent lack of pruning has turned a 2-mile stretch of train tracks into a magical tunnel of trees. The tunnel is a popular place for couples to walk, in between train runs, and it changes colors according throughout the seasons.
Jellyfish Lake, Palau
Jellyfish lake, a lake on a lonely island in Palau, is filled with mildly stinging jellyfish. Because the lake is isolated from the ocean, the jellyfish have no predators, and have evolved to become different from their ancestors. You can swim here but not scuba dive. Oh, and there might be alligators.
John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, Oregon
Take a step back 40 million years in eastern Oregon at this mysterious site of geological formations such as painted hills and Sheep Rock, rugged beautiful scenery and prehistoric fossil beds. Wildlife here include antelope, badgers, marmots and sandhill cranes. The fossil beds here are so loaded, they hold an entire chapter of Earth’s history, a post-dinosaur age of mammals including rhinos, saber-toothed tigers, sloth, elephants, beardogs and giraffe-deer. In Oregon.
Sea of Stars, Maldives
At certain times of the year, bioluminescent phytoplankton in the reef glow with the movement of the water, creating an enchanting Sea of Stars. This magical place was featured in a scene of the 2012 Ang Lee film “Life of Pi.”