Yes, we have the 25 places you wish you could go visit but can’t! That may sound sad, but sometimes it’s probably for the best. Beach vacations are relaxing, and theme park visits can be exciting, but sometimes people want more out of their travels. They want something strange, maybe even a bit macabre. Unfortunately, the strangest parts of the world are often the least accessible. Their weirdness is kept tucked away from polite traditional society. Sometimes they’re just too dangerous for the average person.
Let’s face it, humans have a pretty bad track record when it comes to visiting places that can kill them. If you happen to be one of these journeymen, longing for a different type of holiday, we’ve done some research for you. While we haven’t uncovered any way into these forbidden locations (aside from being really rich) we can provide an overview and a few pictures of what you’d see if you could get in. Hopefully, that satiates the need to travel to the 25 places you wish you could visit, but can’t.
Lascaux Caves in Southwest France
These 20,000 year old cave contain close to 600 paintings made by people in the upper paleolithic era. They were unfortunately damaged by exhaled CO2 from tourists, so the French Government shut them down. You can however visit Lascaux 2, a replica of the Great Bulls, that’s located 200 meters from the original caves.
North Sentinel Island, Andaman Islands
The island is inhabited by between 50 and 400 Sentilese, who tend to rain arrows down on the heads of foreign ambassadors trying to make contact. They have now been protected by the Indian government.
Ise Grand Shrine, Japan
The Shrine has been in existence since 4 BCE, and during that time only, the priests and priestesses of the royal family have been allowed in. The shrine is dedicated to the sun goddess Amaterasu, and is demolished and rebuilt every 20 years in keeping with the Shinto idea of death and rebirth.
Club 33, Disneyland
If you can pay a $25,000 initiation fee and $10,000 annually for membership then you can join Club 33, one of the world’s most exclusive and secretive dinner clubs found in the middle of the happiest place on Earth. The club is a way for various celebrities to get a five star meal, a rare drink, and a chance to escape the mob of commoners down below on main street.
Metro 2, Under Moscow
Supposedly built by Stalin for the Russian Secret Service and top government officials, this rumored secret subway has never been proven to exist although people who worked on it have been interviewed. The railway supposedly connects the Kremlin, the Federal Security Service, Terminal 2 at Vnukovo International Airport, and an entire underground town in the district of Ramenki.
Mount Weather, Virginia
Basically the real version of the “doomsday” bunker you always see the President go in the movies, this underground compound, which is 48 miles outside of Washington D.C., contains a dormitory, meeting rooms, and even a place to store valuable art. Essential personnel and items are transported by helicopter in the event of a large scale attack.
Vatican Secret Archives, Italy
This one barley makes the list. The archives are technically accessible by anyone, but despite the near 50 miles of shelving, layman can only access documents made within the last 75 years. Conspiracy theorists talk of deeper, hidden archives, but there’s little evidence.
White's Gentleman Club, England
It’s not the kind of gentleman’s club you’re thinking. This London club doesn’t contain anything too special. A bar, English game, and a complete lack of women are among its features. It does boast an exorbitant entrance fee and members that are heir to the British throne.
Room 39, North Korea
North Korea is hardly known for its booming economy, but its leaders obviously stay well fed. This is partly due to the secretive Room 39. According to a number of defectors, the department runs counterfeiting operations, European insurance scams, and even sells black market Viagra.
RAF Menwith Hill, England
Run by the Royal Air Force in conjunction with the NSA, this place is said to be the most powerful and extensive monitoring station in the world. It hosts a number of large ground satellites that support early warning missile alerts.
Coca-Cola Recipe Vault, Georgia
There have always been rumors about Coca-Cola’s secret recipe, and in 2011 it was supposedly retrieved from the vault at a SunTrust Bank and transferred a few minutes down the street to the new World of Coca Cola exhibit. Visitors can now see the outside of the vault, complete with all of its security. Many people, however, believe that Coca-Cola is just monetizing the myth.
Area 51, Nevada
No list like this would be complete without Area 51. Rumors started circulating about the Nevada base in the 1950’s with the development of U-2 low flying aircraft. The new reconnaissance planes sparked UFO rumors that were only perpetuated by the happenings at Roswell. The base is active to this day, but no one, aside from its employees, know quite what’s happening there.
This Russian town is closed by the government and is believed to house employees working on Mount Yamantaw, the location of what NATO suspects to be a large nuclear facility. Whatever secrets the mountain base, and its townspeople hold, the Russian government has been known to kill anyone who gets too close to them.
Snake Island, Brazil
Just off the coast of Brazil, this snake infested island lives up to its name and is off limits to visitors courtesy of the Brazilian Navy. The island is home to thousands of golden lance-head snakes. As the island is devoid of ground based prey, these vipers evolved to catch and instantly kill birds that land on the isle for rest. Their venom can kill a human within an hour. Their used to be a lighthouse keeper stationed on the island, but legend says the last one was killed when snakes slithered in through his bedroom window.
Among the planet’s youngest places, this North Atlantic island emerged from the waves following an extended volcanic eruption in the 1960’s. It is arguably the world’s most pristine natural habitat and only a few scientists have ever been allowed to venture there.
Google Data Center, Oregon
Someone with a nefarious agenda could easily manipulate Google’s data for dark purposes, and so this Google data center is guarded almost as well as Area 51. Non-employees are only allowed on “the floor” on rare occasions and with extreme supervision.
Tomb of Qin Shi Huang, China
This makes the list on a technicality. Tourists are allowed to view the famous terracotta soldiers at their excavation site as well as a number of other artifacts that have been recovered and placed in museums. However, due to the fear of damaging the tomb, large potions of the emperor’s burial chamber remain unearthed. This includes a full underground palace.
Bank of England Vaults, London
Most banks contain secure vaults, but only London’s has the distinct honor of holding one fifth of the world’s gold inside. The only way to get in here is with a key that is 35 in (90 cm) long, and the names of employees working at the vaults are kept secret.
Svalbard Global Seed Vault, Norway
Just in case some kind of Hollywood style apocalypse ever befell the Earth, this place would have the ability to bring it back again, at least the green part. Permafrost and thick rock ensure the 4.5 million varieties of crop seeds would stay frozen even if the vault lost power. Hopefully we can get through all that snow in a post Armageddon world.
Bohemian Grove, California
The Bohemian Club hosts a yearly July retreat for rich and powerful men to escape the commoners and be among nature. Reports from those who have infiltrated the meetings among the redwoods say they mostly consist of drinking and talking, however there is a confirmed druid ritual that takes place. Members say it’s simply meant as a “musical drama celebrating nature and summertime.” Future presidents and wealthy CEO’s are told to leave business behind, but this rule was supposedly broken when The Manhattan Project was organized at the Grove’s 1942 meeting.
Like RAF Menwith Hill, this satellite tracking station in the middle of Australia is a central point for spy satellite operations. The center is run by the combined forces of the U.S. and Australian government, and provides early missile detection for America and it’s allies.
Chapel of The Ark of the Covenant, Ethiopia
The Church of Our Lady Mary of Zion, located in the north of Ethiopia claims to house the famed Ark of the Covenant. If you haven’t watched Indiana Jones in a while, this is the four foot long box holding Moses’ ten commandment tablets. The church claims to have received the arc 3,000 years ago when King Solomon’s son brought it from his father’s home in Israel to his mother, Queen of Sheba’s domain. No one may enter the room the ark is held in aside from a single monk, who may never leave.
Woomera Prohibited Area, Australia
This place might not be for everyone. It doesn’t have ancient artifacts or powerful people drinking, just a lot of explosions. It’s the largest land testing range on Earth, so the reason it’s mostly off limits should be obvious.
For anyone looking to take the creepiest vacation possible, the abandoned town left in the wake of the Chernobyl disaster is a tempting option. It combines vintage soviet architecture with post apocalyptic overgrowth. It unfortunately remains somewhat radioactive, so you can’t stay for long. Although it is technically possible to enter the exclusion zone, you can only do so on special tours with an armed guard.
The Marianas Trench, Pacific Ocean
Unlike the rest of the list, this one isn’t off limits. It’s just really tricky to get to. It’s the deepest place in the ocean and only four people have ever made it to the bottom. If you happen to gain access to James Cameron’s submarine, you could check out the weird scaleless fish and giant amoebas in person. I’ll hedge my bets and say you can’t, so this counts for the list.
You love reading about travel, right? Keeping feeding your curiosity about exotic places, and read 25 Crazy Things You Will Only Find in Japan