The Most Surreal Places You Can Actually Visit

The world is full of beautiful and mystifying places that look like they came straight from a fictional universe. Nature is capable of creating some of the most surreal locations on earth and those who are lucky enough to travel there are completely in awe of everything around them.

There’s something to marvel at on every continent such as vast and scenic islands, waterfalls taller than skyscrapers, and forests bursting with vibrant scenery. If you’re looking to take a trip unlike any other then check out these seemingly magical destinations.

What Makes The Frozen Ice Waves In Antarctica Turn Blue

a frozen wave crashing in the oceans
Wolfgang Kaehler/LightRocket via Getty Images
Wolfgang Kaehler/LightRocket via Getty Images

Although Antarctica is the most remote continent in the world it doesn’t mean that people can’t travel there. Their tourism is currently booming with many thousands of tourists visiting each year. One of the best sights to check out are the frozen ice waves.

The waves freeze when the ice compresses and traps the air out and they turn blue when sunlight passes through them. Scientist Tony Travouillon stated that it’s incredibly rare to see the blue part of the icebergs. Recently, it was reported that scientists are finding record warm water causing glaciers to melt.

Find The Most Beautiful Cherry Blossoms In Japan

the cherry blossoms on the bank of a river in Japan
Xinhua News Agency/Getty Images
Xinhua News Agency/Getty Images

Springtime in Japan is cherry blossom season. Known as “sakura” in Japan they are a symbol of renewal and the fleeting nature of life. Leading up to the blooming of the cherry blossoms there are officials who make sure the flowers are safe and protected, so they fully burst.

These pink and white flowered trees line the city streets for people to admire all season long. It’s customary to have special “hanami” picnics for the purpose of admiring the fully bloomed cherry blossoms. The cherry blossom leaves are actually edible and used in many traditional Japanese desserts, tea, and cocktails.

Why You Should See The Leshan Giant Buddha In Person

Tourists visit the Leshan Giant Buddha
VCG/Getty Images
VCG/Getty Images

In order to understand the scale of the Leshan Giant Buddha in the south of Sichuan Province in China you should notice that those are humans at the very bottom of the photo. The statue was originally commissioned in the year 713 and took almost a century to complete.

It stands at around 233-feet tall, which makes it the tallest stone-carved Buddha statue on record. It’s also incredibly fragile and is almost constantly under maintenance. If you look close enough you may notice that there over 1,000 buns in the Buddha’s hair.

Get Lost In Arizona’s Antelope Canyon

a view of the red rock formations in antelope canyon, arizona
Mladen Antonov/AFP via Getty Images
Mladen Antonov/AFP via Getty Images

A little east of Page, Arizona on Navajo land people can find the wondrous Antelope Canyon. It’s classified as a slot canyon, meaning there are long, narrow, and deep tunnels of sheer sandstone rocks anywhere you look. The canyon was formed by the erosion of Navajo Sandstone mainly due to flash floods.

These rock canyons have become one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world, but visitors must be aware that they can only go with a licensed tour group. Tourists should also know that there is both an upper and lower canyon that get visited separately. The upper is more for taking photos and the lower is better for exploring.

The Fly Ranch Geyser In Nevada Is Completely Man-Made

the fly ranch geyser erupting in nevada
Christie Hemm Klok for The Washington Post via Getty Images
Christie Hemm Klok for The Washington Post via Getty Images

Located in the town of Washoe County, Nevada is one of the world’s most exquisite geysers. The Fly Ranch Geyser sits at about 4,014-feet tall with an eruption height over five-feet. It was formed in 1916 when well drillers were looking for irrigation water.

About 48 years later another team of well drillers did the same thing, creating the cones and limestone seen surrounding the geyser. The geyser also contains a high amount of silica, which causes quartz to grow at a rapid pace inside. The Fly Ranch Geyser is only open from April to October each year where small groups can take nature walks to view it in its full glory.

Iguazú Falls Are One Of The Seven Wonders Of Nature

a rainbow in the middle of Iguazu Falls waterfalls in brazil
David Silverman/Getty Images
David Silverman/Getty Images

Right on the border of Argentina and Brazil are the extraordinary Iguazú Falls. These are the largest waterfalls in the world with 275 separate cliffs that stretch over 1.6 miles tall. Iguazú Falls was chosen to be one of the “New Seven Wonders of Nature.”

The Spanish Conquistador Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca was the very first person to note the existence of the falls in 1541. When Eleanor Roosevelt saw the falls in person for the first time she shouted, “Poor Niagara!” since Niagara Falls are about a third shorter than Iguazú Falls.

Have Fun In The Sun At The Bahama’s Pig Beach

a pig swimming in the ocean
EyesWideOpen/Getty Images
EyesWideOpen/Getty Images

It’s not everyday that people can swim in the ocean with pigs. Big Major Cay in the Bahamas is home to about 20 pigs and piglets and a few stray cats and goats. No one is exactly sure how the pigs got on the island, but some think it may be from a group of sailors who dropped them off to cook later and never returned.

Now, the uninhabited Pig Beach has become a popular tourist attraction with groups getting the chance to swim and interact with the fun-loving pigs.

Skip Disneyland For The Neuschwanstein Castle In Germany

Neuschwanstein Castle surrounded by colorful trees
Karl-Josef Hildenbrand/picture alliance via Getty Images
Karl-Josef Hildenbrand/picture alliance via Getty Images

The Neuschwanstein Castle sits high on a hill filled with lush greenery in Bavaria, Germany. It was first commissioned by Ludwig II of Bavaria as a retreat and has been open to the public since 1886. Each year the castle expects around 1.5 million visitors with most of them coming during the summer.

The castle itself is a global symbol for the Romanticism era where literature, music, and intellect started a grand movement in Europe. If it looks familiar then you may be a true Disney fan because it served as the inspiration for Disneyland’s Sleeping Beauty Castle.

Journey Into The Tunnel Of Love

two people walking under trees that form a tunnel around railroad tracks called the tunnel of love
Sergei Supinsky/AFP via Getty Images
Sergei Supinsky/AFP via Getty Images

Visitors from all over the world come to see the Tunnel of Love in the small Ukrainian town of Klevan. This area dates back to the Cold War when Soviet forces planted trees alongside the tracks to hide themselves transporting equipment to a nearby military base.

It was originally an open space for trains and railroad tracks, but as the trees started to grow the trains that passed through shaped them. Now, the Tunnel of Love is highly popular with couples because it’s believed that if two people who are in love cross the tracks while holding hands all their wishes will come true.

The Grand Prismatic Spring Is More Than A Pretty Sight

grand prismatic spring in yellowstone national park with colors of orange, yellow, green, and blue
Inger Vandyke/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
Inger Vandyke/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

The largest hot spring in the United States and third-largest in the world can be found at Yellowstone National Park. Grand Prismatic Spring stretches 370-feet in diameter and is a whopping 160-feet deep. It was discovered by early European explorers and features most of the colors seen in the rainbow.

The colors were formed by something called “microbial mats,” which are microorganisms that grow around the edges of the mineral-rich water. These microbes have actually led to major medical and scientific advancements such as helping investigators solve crimes and NASA look for extraterrestrial life.

See The Bungle Bungles In All Their Glory

aerial view of the Bungle Bungles rock formations
James D. Morgan/Getty Images
James D. Morgan/Getty Images

These beehive-like rock formations are known as Bungle Bungles and they are located in the Purnululu National Park in Western Australia. It’s estimated that they formed between 350 and 375 million years ago when the earth’s faults were shifting. They most likely got their beehive shape from the desert winds and heavy rainfall.

Aboriginal people have lived among the Bungle Bungles for thousands of years due to their powerful connection to the landscape. People who venture to the Bungle Bungles can either go by themselves or with a guided tour on the various trails.

What Keeps The Salar de Uyuni In Bolivia Looking So White

visitors looking at The Salar de Uyuni near a cactus plant
Aizar Raldes/AFP via Getty Images
Aizar Raldes/AFP via Getty Images

The men in the photo aren’t gazing at snow on the ground because Bolivia’s Salar de Uyuni is the world’s largest salt flat. About 30,000 to 42,000 years ago the land was part of a prehistoric lake and when it dried it left behind a salt desert.

Salar de Uyuni sits at an elevation of almost 12,000-feet above sea level, so it might take a bit of time to adjust to the high altitude. Since this is a famous tourist destination there are a good number of hotels nearby built almost entirely of salt blocks.

Zhangjiajie National Forest Park Is For Those Who Love Heights

towering trees on cliffs in the Zhangjiajie National Forest Park with tourists standing below
Prisma by Dukas/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
Prisma by Dukas/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

In the Hunan Province of China, visitors can find the Zhangjiajie National Forest Park. It’s best known for its pillar-like rock formations that point toward the sky. One of the quartz-sandstone pillars was renamed Avatar Hallelujah Mountain because the creators of the 2010 movie Avatar were inspired by the landscape for the set.

The park features a 1,070-foot elevator called the Bailong Elevator, which is the world’s tallest outdoor lift with the capacity of lifting up to 50 people in less than two minutes. There’s also the Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon Glass Bridge that’s 1,410-feet long and 980-feet tall, making it both the longest and highest pedestrian glass bridge in the world.

Deadvlei, Namibia Is A Beautiful Place Without Life

bare trees against the desert backdrop of Deadvlei, Namibia
Dionys Moser/McPhoto/ullstein bild via Getty Images
Dionys Moser/McPhoto/ullstein bild via Getty Images

The orange background in the photo of Deadvlei, Namibia are the highest sand dunes in the world. This area was once a vivacious forest, but 900 years ago almost all life was cut short and it swiftly became a vast desert. The dunes are such a bright orange because over time they have rusted away.

The 1,000-year-old trees still stand because the air is too dry for them to decompose, so they remain bare and black from the sun. Tourists seek out this place because the desert skies are some of the clearest for sunrise and sunset.

Stop And Smell The Tulips In The Netherlands

an aerial view of a tulip field and a house in the netherlands
Laurens Lindhout/Soccrates/Getty Images
Laurens Lindhout/Soccrates/Getty Images

From mid-April until the first week of May a part of the Netherlands is transformed into a tulip wonderland. Although it’s such a short window to see the tulips in full bloom it’s definitely worth it. This aerial view of just one of the flower fields shows how many tulips are available to view.

The area between Haarlem and Leiden is considered to be the bulb district with over three billion tulips grown each year. Those who live in the United States and want a similar experience should check out the Carlsbad Flower Fields in California with over 50 acres of ranunculus flowers.

The Wave Is A Photographer’s Paradise

the wave
Mark Ralston/AFP via Getty Images
Mark Ralston/AFP via Getty Images

Arizona has some of the world’s most picturesque rock formations including the exclusive sandstone one called the Wave. It’s very fragile and only 20 people are allowed to walk through it daily. The Wave came together during the Jurassic age when U-shaped troughs intersected from erosion and wind.

Photographers say the best time for pictures is midday because there aren’t any shadows, but the early morning and late afternoon shadows can cause for some dramatically brilliant photos. Beware that hiking through the Wave can be quite challenging due to the weather and the lack of an established trail.

Take A Dip In The Pamukkale Thermal Pools

people swimming in the Pamukkale Thermal Pools along a white mountain
Archivio J. Lange/DeAgostini/Getty Images
Archivio J. Lange/DeAgostini/Getty Images

“Pamukkale” translated from Turkish means cotton castle and that’s exactly what the Pamukkale thermal pools in southwestern Turkey resemble. People from all over the world journey to these hot springs that can range from 95 to 212 degrees Fahrenheit. These may look like they’re surrounded by snow, but it’s actually white limestone deposited by the thermal waters.

Unfortunately, visitors are no longer allowed to swim in the hot springs, but a special swimming pool constructed near the site should hopefully suffice. Pamukkale has actually been a spa town since the days of the ancient Romans when they claimed the city of Hierapolis.

See The Rainbow At China’s Zhangye Danxia Landform

a mountain with numerous colors called Zhangye Danxia Landform
Visual China Group via Getty Images
Visual China Group via Getty Images

The Zhangye Danxia Landform, also known as rainbow mountains, almost looks like they came from a Dr. Seuss book. Luckily, it’s a real place in Gansu, China where different colored sandstone and minerals were pressed together for over 24 million years and stayed connected by tectonic plates.

The mountain range stretches for 200 miles in the Zhangye Danxia National Geological Park and is best viewed at either sunrise or sunset. Tourists can admire it at one of the four viewing platforms or take a sightseeing bus. The other side of the park features a place called Ice Valley that includes rolling hills and Buddha statues.

Enjoy Paradise At McWay Falls In California

a full view of the beach at McWay Falls
Marji Lang/LightRocket via Getty Images
Marji Lang/LightRocket via Getty Images

California contains some of the most stunning beaches on the planet and people can find one of them tucked away off the coast of Big Sur. Not only is the water at McWay Falls an eye-catching turquoise, but there’s also a gigantic 80-foot waterfall.

It can also be classified as a tidefall because the water will drain into the ocean during high tide. Since high cliffs surround the cove McWay Falls is only accessible by boat, but people can hike to its surrounding creek. Fans of Dr. Dre may recognize this location from his music video for “I Need a Doctor.”

Walk The Blue Carpet At Hallerbos In Belgium

blue flowers in a forest in Hallerbos
Emmanuel Dunand/AFP via Getty Images
Emmanuel Dunand/AFP via Getty Images

Hallerbos is a forest in Belgium where vibrant bluebell flowers cover the ground for a few weeks every spring. The contrast of the bluebells with the giant Sequoia trees makes for a refreshing walk in nature and a great landscape for photographers.

The time of day plays a big part in how the forest will look, so it’s best to go either within an hour after sunrise or an hour before sunset. There are plenty of trails to walk, ride a bicycle, or even go horseback riding. Tourists should remember to always stay on the paths while traveling through the forest.