15 Weird & Unique Places to Visit In the World

Let me tell you, there are some truly bizarre places around this whacky world of ours where people have somehow carved out a life for themselves.

We’re talking real off-the-beaten-path places that make you wonder, “How the heck do folks live here?!” From underground dugouts to cliffside dwellings to man-made floating islands, these communities thrive in environments most of us would never dream of calling home.

So pack your imagination and sense of adventure, because we’re about to take a trip to 15 of the strangest, wildest, unique places to visit in the world that people have managed to settle down in. Just a warning though – these places are definitely not for the faint of heart!

1. Coober Pedy, Australia: An Underground Wonderland

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In the scorching Australian Outback, where summer temperatures can fry an egg at a sweltering 113°F, the dugouts of Coober Pedy offer a cool underground escape. We’re talking homes, hotels, shops and churches all carved into the hillsides here, folks!

With opal mining attracting folks from all over, this spot has grown into a quirky melting pot over the years. And get this – they’ve even got an 18-hole golf course without a blade of grass in sight.

2. Katskhi Pillar, Georgia: A Literal Pillar of Faith

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Imagine having your morning commute involve scaling a 130-foot pillar of rock by rickety ladder to get to your front door. That’s life for the monk Maxim, who resides alone atop the Katskhi Pillar in Georgia.

With barely enough room for a chapel and wine cellar up there, you have to wonder if Maxim regrets opting for such an extreme exile from society. But hey, who needs modern conveniences when you have faith, right?

3. Setenil de las Bodegas, Spain: A Town Carved from Stone

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Talk about making the most out of your surroundings! The folks of Setenil de las Bodegas in Spain have created an urban playground by carving their homes directly into the cliffs. We’re talking houses with natural rock ceilings here, mis amigos.

This spot has been inhabited since prehistoric times, but its unique architecture really took shape during the 12th century. And based on the name, which refers to multiple failed invasions, it seems these ingenious structures also kept enemies at bay. Kudos, Setenil.

4. Shibam, Yemen: High-Rising In the Desert

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Yemen’s ancient mud brick skyscrapers look like something straight out of a sci-fi flick, rising up to 100 feet high. With steep winding alleys and dense urban planning, the 16th century walled city of Shibam was practically custom built to withstand the desert elements.

Its tall towers must have been quite the spectale for ancient visitors venturing through the arid landscape. Today, Shibam still stands tall as a living testament to architectural innovation.

5. Hanging Temple, China: Don’t Look Down!

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One wrong step at Hengshan’s legendary Hanging Temple and you may find yourself plummeting down the sheer cliff face. But remarkably, this awe-inspiring temple complex has persevered since its construction over 1,500 years ago.

Inside you’ll find a mind-bending network of rickety wooden platforms and narrow passageways that link the 40 rooms precariously embedded into the rockside. call me a scaredy cat, but this is one attraction I’ll enjoy admiring from a safe distance.

6. Guadix, Spain: The Cave Life Chosen

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Imagine cozying up in your very own luxurious hobbit hole, carved straight into the cliffs! That’s everyday living for the folks of Guadix, Spain, where around 2,000 inhabited cave dwellings offer the appeal of underground living with modern amenities.

Talk about the best of both worlds! These cave homes stayed cool in summer and toasty in winter long before central air and heating.

The Annual Cuevas Festival celebrates these unique dwellings and their rich history.

7. Meteora, Greece: Monasteries In the Sky

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At the Meteora monasteries, monks and nuns lead lives of devotion atop precipitous peaks souring nearly 1,300 feet into the Greek sky.

Simply gazing up at these sanctuaries perched on pinnacles of sandstone is enough to give you vertigo. Impossibly built without modern technology, Meteora still conjures visions of meteoric mystery and magnetism.

But beware – only the surefooted and spiritual-minded should dare to ascend the dizzying steps. Leave the acrophobia at home!

8. Bandiagara, Mali: From Dizzying Heights to Riverside Roots

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Along a 150-mile expanse of escarpment, the villages of Bandiagara climb over 300 feet up into sheltered alcoves and natural strongholds hidden in the cliff rock. Within these lofty dwellings, generation upon generation of Dogon people have maintained their community, culture and connection to the land.

But don’t look down – the muddy Niger River slinks by far below. Though life here seems treacherous to outsiders, the Dogon have made the Bandiagara cliffs their safe and sustainable home.

9. Aogashima, Japan: A Village In a Volcano’s Crater

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Talk about secluded! Japan’s Aogashima Island is a volcano within a volcano surrounded by dense foliage and towering cliffs in the Philippine Sea. Here a tiny population of 160 tenacious residents dwell in a small village confined inside the volcanic cone, accessible only by helicopter or supply ship.

The outside world may have forgotten Aogashima, but clearly its isolated inhabitants have not forgotten each other. Their close-knit community perseveres, sustained by what limited resources the island offers.

10. Castro, Chile: Rainbow Cottages on Stilts

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On the shores of Chile’s Chiloé archipelago, a rainbow-hued village of stilted houses known as palafitos seems to float along the water’s edge. Though no longer necessary, these brightly painted dwellings on pilings recall Castro’s maritime past.

For a bygone taste of life on the water, visitors can spend a night in one of the village’s cozy stilt guesthouses, gazing at the Pacific tides below.

11. Slab City, USA: Off-the-Grid Living at Its Finest

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Craving unlimited freedom away from the manicured lawns and nine-to-five grind of suburbia? Slab City awaits with its community of RV dwellers living completely off-grid in the California badlands.

Limited only by their imaginations and resourcefulness, these desert residents have built a scrappy, eccentric village from the remains of a WWII training base.

Forget your notions of plumbing, electricity and environmental codes. Out here, Slab City’s only rule is that there are no rules.

12. Maunsell Sea Forts, UK: Ghostly Wartime Relics

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Rusting away eerily in the Thames and Mersey estuaries, the long-abandoned Maunsell Sea Forts still stand vigil as if awaiting phantom troops from WWII. These former anti-aircraft and naval defense platforms seem straight out of dystopian science fiction, rising from the sea on stilt-like legs.

Once tactical strongholds, today these decaying iron giants are deserted save for seabirds perching atop the silent fortifications. They remain an unsettling reminder of Britain’s lonely stand against invasion.

13. Turf Houses, Iceland: Viking-Era Earthen Homes

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Iceland’s turf houses conjure images of hardscrabble Viking homesteads hunkered down against the bitter northern elements.

Built partially underground from thick slabs of turf, these insulated dwellings withstood centuries of storms while snugly sheltering generations of Icelanders.

Today a revival of these biodegradable, eco-friendly structures highlights their continued relevance and rustic charm.

14. Uros Islands, Peru: A Village Built of Reed

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Could you imagine building an entire functioning village virtually from scratch? That’s reality for Peru’s Uros people, who construct their remarkable floating islands using only layers of buoyant totora reeds.

Talk about ingenuity! Their homes, boats and entire way of life center around harvesting the versatile reeds. And they say necessity is the mother of invention!

15. Tristan da Cunha: Life on the World’s Most Remote Inhabited Island

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Over 1,700 miles from the nearest human settlement, this volcanic island is undoubtedly the most far-flung inhabited place on our planet. With just 250 intrepid souls toughing it out in this isolated southern Atlantic outpost, Tristan da Cunha stands as a remarkable testament to human resilience and self-sufficiency.

Good thing its people seem to thrive in tight-knit communities and pristine natural environments! Because there certainly aren’t many other lifestyle options out there.

Wow – what an incredible assortment of resourceful, adaptable and downright daring communities, wouldn’t you agree? From desert high-risers to volcanic hermits to underground urbanites, these places

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Martha A. Lavallie
Martha A. Lavallie
Author & Editor | + posts

Martha is a journalist with close to a decade of experience in uncovering and reporting on the most compelling stories of our time. Passionate about staying ahead of the curve, she specializes in shedding light on trending topics and captivating global narratives. Her insightful articles have garnered acclaim, making her a trusted voice in today's dynamic media landscape.