10 Off The Beaten Path Places To Visit In 2024
10 Off The Beaten Path Places To Visit In 2024
There are some amazing places to visit around the world. Just from the World Heritage Site lists, you’ll find 981 of them and most Bucket Lists will have places like Stonehenge, Machu Picchu and the Pyramids of Giza on them. Those are cool, but there are some even more unusual, magical, stunning and even eerie places that you probably didn’t know existed that should definitely make your own Bucket List. Here are a few of the strangest and off the beaten path places I’ve visited that you should put on your list for 2024.
Top Off The Beaten Path Places For 2024
This is not your dad’s list of places to visit. Some are borderline illegal to enter and others are in some pretty remote places. Some are just plain cool.
1. The Lost World Cave
Possibly one of the coolest places to abseil into, the Lost World Cave is aptly named, and one of my favorite exploring memories. This open cave system in Waitomo, New Zealand requires a 100m descent into a lush pre-historic world that time had forgotten. Once inside, this underground valley opens up to smaller caves that you’ll have to trek, wade, and swim your way through. For that you’ll be awarded with caverns filled with glow worms, fossilized whalebones, and maybe a few spiders. The only way in is with the crazy guys at Waitomo Adventures who will be your guide to one of the coolest adventures in New Zealand.
You’ve probably seen this artist’s other works on Tik Tok or Instagram in places like Bali, but off the coast of Isla Mujeres in Mexico is one of his earlier and perhaps eeriest projects. British sculptor Jason DeCaires Taylor created over 500 human figures modeled after locals of the island and dropped it in the waters as part of an installation that explores the thematic connection between man and nature. Over time these sculptures, capturing people in all kinds of positions, become a part of the sea as corals and algae grow over the concrete. In that sense, these figures are alive. When the waters are a bit murky and the visibility is poor, the atmosphere is frighteningly haunting when the figures just seem to appear out of nowhere.
This is a must-do dive if you’re in the Yucatan peninsula of Mexico and near Cancun or Isla Mujeres. If you aren’t certified to dive, there are options to snorkel this underwater museum as well. You can find some companies that do these trips here.
3. Salina Turda
This one is kind of hard to describe and I’m so glad that after all these years, it hasn’t really gone viral on Tik Tok or Instagram. Salina Turda is an amusement park and playground inside an old abandoned salt mine in Romania? Actually, that’s exactly what it is. Deep inside a salt mine in Turda is this wonderful attraction that includes a ferris wheel, mini golf, and little boats that you can take around a small lake. There is something about the air down there and knowing that you are deep deep down in the earth playing ping pong that instantly made this place a must do for me when I was traveling through Romania. Besides following the trail of Vlad The Impaler, aka Dracula, this was the main reason I came to the country.
4. The Wave
Another place frozen time in time. Over millions of years, nature shaped this piece of landscape between the border of Arizona and Utah with just wind and water. People come to Utah to visit the national parks and chase after the slot canyons. But The Wave is a lesser known site because they used to only allow 20 people a day to visit.
Nowadays, they allow up to 64 people or 16 groups, and most of the spots are allocated away via a lottery system 4 months in advance, and the rest via a morning lottery at the Land of Bureau Management office in Kanab held at 9 am the day before you want to visit. If you’re one of the lucky few, you will be treated to a spectacular surprise that not very many people have seen with their own eyes. To find out how I sort of went around the system, check out my post on Hiking The Wave.
Like the Stairway to Heaven in Hawaii, this is one of those your mileage may vary situation as far as getting in. If you’re in Bulgaria and want to take a chance, you can try your luck getting into Buzludzha. High up in the Central Balkan Mountain range that splits down the middle of Bulgaria is an abandoned Communist compound. During the height of Communism, leaders would gather in this building that looks exactly like a UFO from the outside. It’s been abandoned for nearly 30 years and closed off to the public, mainly because it is constantly falling apart and a potential danger for who all who enter.
To get in, you’ll have to sneak in through a broken hole off the right sealed off entrance of the building. Watch for the errant rebars jutting out from the concrete. On a windy day, the metal will rattle from the rooftop. Tread carefully and at your own risk. Even if you can’t or are too afraid to enter, the building from the outside is worth checking out.
6. The Catacombs
At the end of the 18th century, bones from the remains of over 6 million people were transferred nightly from the overflowing cemeteries surrounding Paris into an underground cave that’s part of the Mines of Paris tunnel network. Instead of just tossing the bones in there and calling it a night, the bones were arranged to form a museum of sort known as the Catacombes de Paris. It’s enough exactly off-the-beaten path, but most people don’t think of an underground cavern decorated with bones when they think of Paris. This is a must-do if you visit the City of Lights.
Oddly enough, despite being surrounded by skulls and bones in every direction, there is a beautiful and calming feeling when you walk through the Catacombs. I do recommend going on a guided walk that is a lot more informative and fun than just walking through this place alone.
For fans of the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit movies, this is a dream come true. The village of Hobbiton that was used in the movies was turned into a permanent set near Hamilton, New Zealand.
In the early morning, when the fog rolls through and the lights are flickering from the hobbit holes, you almost feel like you have to be quiet to keep from waking the hobbits. The set is surprisingly realistic. The gardens and vegetables are all real and you can even enter some of the hobbit holes. To see more from Hobbiton, check out my post on That Time I Was A Hobbit.
8. Jellyfish Lake
There is the one of the few places in the world where you can swim in a lake surrounded by an endless swarm of jellyfish AND not die. The magical location is in Palau and it’s called Jellyfish Lake. Despite being in the middle of the ocean, it’s surprisingly accessible with a 2 hour flight from the Philippines or a 4 hour flight from Tokyo. Stuck in this lake thousands of years ago when the glaciers melted, these golden jellyfish fed off the algae in the lake and have no evolved to no lose their stingers.
This makes it quite safe to swim here and see one of the most surreal sights in all the world. It’s also a great way to get over your fear of jellyfish. Check out my post on That Time I Swam With A Million Jellyfish to read more about this place.
The Temples of Angkor Wat in Cambodia is one of the most well known temple complexes in the world, but I’d argue that the lesser known temple of Bagan in Myanmar is more spectacular because of how spread out everything is and with a fraction of the tourists compared to Angkor Wat. At the height of the Burmese empire, there were over 10,000 Buddhist temples and pagodas. Today that number is somewhere closer to 4000, but no less impressive. From a hot air balloon or the top of a tall pagoda, you can watch the sun rise and light up an endless landscape of temples in every direction. Grab an e-bike and explore. You can go for miles and find temples with no one else around.
Iceland was all the rage a few years ago, but post-pandemic and with budget airline WOW Air filing for bankruptcy, Iceland isn’t really as high on people’s list of places to visit. The economics of all this means that there aren’t as many cheap flights to Iceland. But aside from that, the place is still just as beautiful and 2024 is arguably and even better time to visit since the crowds are a fraction of what they used to be a few years ago.
If you do a roadtrip on the Southern part of the Ring Road, at the end of it, because you turn north, is Vestrahorn and one of those places where being there is even more spectacular than any of the photos. Mountain meet ocean and the vastness of it all. Go here, because if you do, you’ll also end up seeing all the other amazing places on the road to Vestrahorn.
If there is one travel book I’ve browsed through time and time again for inspiration, it’s this one: Make The Most Of Your Time On Earth. Buy it like right now and you won’t be disappointed. Have you been to any other strange or unusual places that I should know about? If so, do share in the comments below or shoot me an email. I’m constantly adding to my Bucket List.
Updated on October 24, 2023