It is not exactly easy to get there. In fact, it might be one of the toughest trips you’ll take. But the payoff? Amazing. It is Ribbon Falls, located in the depths of the Grand Canyon in Arizona. To get there, you have to commit to either a day of full-on hiking on the Rim-to-Rim hike (24 miles on the Bright Angel and North Kaibab Trails), or a mule ride to Phantom Ranch, located along the Colorado River, and then an 11-mile round-trip hike. Either way, it’s almost guaranteed to be a hot and rugged trip. Once you do make it to Ribbon Falls, you’ll wonder why it took you so long to visit. Through a gap in the massive red walls is gushing water, gorgeous water. Green moss clings to the rock, and mist billows all around. Walking under the falls and looking out at one of the wonders of the world is a truly surreal experience!
23 | Pamukkale, Turkey
By Clelia Mattana of Keep Calm and Travel
Pammukale, Turkey – 50 Surreal Travel Destinations
Pamukkale is a surreal destination by definition. The travertine creating a huge white valley in the middle of nowhere, the bright turquoise color of the warm water in the pools and the surreal silence (this is if you go very early in the morning, which I highly recommend!) make this place one of my favorite destinations where I can really fantasize about an “out of this world” experience.
24 | Zaanse Schans, Netherlands
By Grietje of Travel Gretl
Zaanse Schans, Holland – 50 Surreal Travel Destinations
While exploring the world, we tend to forget the beautiful things our own countries have to offer! I am a Dutchie from the south, so the famous flower fields and windmills (western Netherlands) were no part of my childhood. But last year, I finally got to see the places so many tourists would describe as ‘typically Dutch’. And to be honest, I was quite amazed! This picture is from the Zaanse Schans. The mills are very well preserved, and seeing them besides the water in all their glory is definitely worth a detour when you’re in the Netherlands.
25 | Bayon Temple, Angkor Cambodia
By Ashley Erickson of The Traveling Gals
Bayon Temple – Siem Reap, Cambodia – 50 Surreal Travel Destinations
Bayon Temple in Siem Reap is part of the ancient city of Angkor Thom and close to the famous Angkor Wat. The most remarkable part about this temple is the 216 carvings of the same smiling, serene face. It is almost slightly creepy when walking around to see this face over and over again keeping watch over the Temple. When I was there, it was also very quiet walking around, making it feel even more surreal. The face is believed to be Jayavarman, a former Buddhist King in the 13th century, but no one knows for certain.
26 | Horta, Faial, Azores
By Jessica Johnson of MJ Sailing
Horta, Faial, Azores – 50 Surreal Travel Destinations
The Azores are an archipelago of islands 800 miles off the continental coast of Portugal. Faial, to the west, is referred to as the Blue Island for the number of blue hydrangeas that line everything from windowsills of shops to its green country roads. It’s largest city, Horta, is a popular harbor for sailors to stop on their way across the Atlantic. With spectacular views of the towering volcano of Pico just across the bay and a tradition of painting your yacht’s emblem on the sea wall, it’s easy to see why so many yachties make a visit here. Non sea folk also flock here for these same sights as well of tours of Faial to see its caldera (a large volcanic crater) and the Capelinhos. A volcano complex that includes 20 scoria cones and lava fields, as well as a refreshing pool of enclosed Atlantic water to take a dip in after your hike.
27 | The Laki Craters, Iceland
By Christina and Kevin of Wandering Wagars
The Laki Craters, Iceland – 50 Surreal Travel Destinations
The Laki Craters, also known as Crater Row is located deep in the heart of Vatnajökull National Park in Iceland and is the epicenter for Icelands most destructive natural disaster. Fire and lava spewed forth from the earth, tearing the surrounding land like a zipper for 25 kms and covering the country in ash. The nearby mountains offer a spectacular view that helps you bear witness to the scars ripped across the Icelandic countryside. Getting to the Laki craters is an adventure of its own that involves driving through small rivers and through the rough Icelandic interior. The area is filled with spectacular lava tubes and caves to explore as well as incredible opportunities for hiking.
28 | The Church of the Savior, St. Petersberg, Russia
By Marcela Faé of Fotostrasse
The Church of the Savior, St. Petersberg, Russia – 50 Surreal Travel Destinations
The Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood in St. Petersburg is an orthodox church and it was designed in the XVII century style by Alfred Parland with some elements of Classical and Modernist without forgetting the undeniable Barroque touch you can see around it. Inside the church everything is made of mosaics. I, myself, am a strong atheist but I have a crazy fascination with the beauty of every kind of worshiping center. The Russian orthodox churches took the 1st one position on “The most Beautiful Church I’ve Seen Awards
29 | The Buddha Park, Vientiane, Laos
By Nikki Godwin of Where is Noodles?
The Buddha Park, Vientiane, Laos – 50 Surreal Travel Destinations
A beautifully strange and unique place, the park is home to more than 200 religious sculptures, which are peacefully located in a meadow next to the Mekong River. It is the perfect place to while away a few hours, just wandering around viewing some of the bizarre sculptures influenced by a mix of Hinduism and Buddhism. There is no explanation of the history of the sculptures and their anonymity kind of added to the surreal atmosphere.
30 | Lake Louise, Emerald Lake, Peyto Lake, Canada
By Gemma of Two Scots Abroad
Peyto Lake, Canada
How do they get those lakes so blue? If you have seen Lake Louise, Emerald Lake, Peyto Lake, etc., in the Canadian Rockies you will know what I am talking out. The color of the water is eye popping, making it one of the most surreal destinations we’ve stumbled across in the past eleven months on the road in North, South, and Central America. I was fully expecting jaggy edged mountains, tall trees, maybe a bear sighting but was not prepared for the beauty of that water. If really want to get close to it, why not try the Polar Bear Swim challenge in Bow Lake?! We did!
31 | Pololu Valley, Big Island, Hawaii, USA
By Alexandra Korey of ArtTrav
Pololu Valley, Big Island, Hawaii, USA – 50 Surreal Travel Destinations
Pololu Valley is where the opening to Jurassic Park II was filmed, and indeed it is surreal. The view from the top is amazing, but it is absolutely worth the steep hike down the trail to the black sand beach, bordered by a thick forest. In the off-season you’re likely to share this place with just a few locals. I honestly think this is the most beautiful place I have ever been in the world.
32 | Kawah ijen, Indonesia
By Nina Ragusa of Where in The World is Nina?
Kawah ijen, Indonesia – 50 Surreal Travel Destinations
The treacherous hike through a volcanic crater named Kawah Ijen is the epitome of a surreal experience. While here, you’ll encounter dangers like breathing in the sulfuric smoke that billows from the earth, the pitch black conditions and fragile rocks that fall apart under your feet. So why would any visitor put themselves through this? How about the chance to see blue flames flowing out of the ground, incredible views, a sunrise over volcanos, a gorgeous but toxic green acid lake, and phenomenal terrain like you’ve never seen before.
33 | Dyrholaey Coast, Iceland
By Cora of The Path She Took
Dyrholaey coast – 50 Surreal Travel Destinations
The south coast of Iceland was completely surreal. I’m sure it already looks insanely beautiful all year round, but I got there just after one of the biggest snowfall ever, and it had transformed the whole coast into the perfect set for a sci-fi movie. The white waves, the black sand beaches and the sparkling snow, all the colors added up to create something completely unique and, frankly, very surprising. I still remember when I had my first view on the sea. The engine stopped and there was just a big silence in the car. “Wow” could not cover it.
34 | St. Basil’s cathedral, Moscow
Nic and Paul of The Roaming Renegades
St. Basil’s cathedral, Moscow – 50 Surreal Travel Destinations
Red Square was just as impressive and imposing as I had always imagined it to be. But as my eyes wandered to its far end I had to pinch myself. There is the glistening autumn sun stood the magnificent St. Basil’s cathedral. The colors just as bright as I had imagined and the onion domes just as wild and surreal. To be standing here almost didn’t feel real, this gingerbread like cathedral looks more like something from a fairy tale than harsh Russia. Venturing inside and the magic continued, we were immediately struck by the detail and intricacy of the murals and frescos that adorned every wall and ceiling of this maze like structure. A truly beautiful and surreal experience!
35 | Yosemite National Park, California, USA
By Carole of Berkley and Beyond
Yosemite National Park, California – 50 Surreal Travel Destinations
Being a native Californian, I have visited Yosemite National Park countless times. And every time I visit, I am awed yet again by its spectacular beauty. It is wondrous at any time of year, but my favorite time is the quieter time of fall. Perhaps the best way to get a feel for the overall splendor of this park is to take a walk across the valley floor, with the tall granite walls surrounding you, but I also especially enjoy the trail up to the base of Yosemite Falls and the huge boulders found there.
36 | The Maldives
By Lauren of The Traveller’s Guide By #ljojlo
The Maldives – 50 Surreal Travel Destinations
The vivid hues of blue, green and turquoise make Maldives mesmerizingly beautiful. Even on a windy day with a chance of rain the colors are oh so incredible. You often find yourself daydreaming not believing it is real or that you are actually fortunate enough to be lapping up the luxury that is the Maldives. The astonishing fact is you need to head under the water for even more beauty. Between the corals, colors, fish and sea turtles this is where the magic happens.
37 | Tellaro, Italy
By Jessica of Travel to be Alive
Tellaro, Italy – 50 Surreal Travel Destinations
If there’s a surreal – and not crowded! – place in the world, that is “Tellaro”. It is a picturesque village situated on the west coast of Italy, kind of magic, with its typical houses and its sparkling view over the sea. What keeps it so special is that the wave of tourism has not swallowed the town yet and it has preserved its original look. The village is very little and truly romantic at the same time. Walking through the narrow alleys, watching the fishermen in the distance and waiting for the sun to set you’ll be transported back in time. This is Italy as you’ve always imagined it.
38 | Valle de Cocora, Colombia
By Taylor Record of Once We’re Young Travel
Valle de Cocora, Colombia – 50 Surreal Travel Destinations
Valle de Cocora in Colombia’s coffee region is a place so surreal, that it will make you believe in mermaids, yetis, and the Loch Ness herself. Just outside of Salento, you can experience sky-high wax palms and watch as clouds swallow the surrounding mountains. Embark on a 5 hour trek to experience the wonder of one of the world’s most bizarre landscapes.
39 | Newfoundland, Canada
By Danielle Ditzian of Like Riding a Bicycle
Newfoundland, Canada – 50 Surreal Travel Destinations
This photo was taken in the middle of the summer in Newfoundland, Canada – a ridiculously stunning island in Canada with the kindest people you will ever meet! I was hanging out in a tank top and shorts, just checking out the icebergs. How much more surreal can it get? The icebergs float down from Greenland in the spring, and if you’re lucky, you can still catch a glimpse when the warm weather comes around in the summertime. It was hard to believe this was a real thing, and I couldn’t help but stare in awe, wondering how huge that iceberg was below the surface.
40 | Serengeti National Park, Tanzania
By Soumya Nambiar of Travel Books Food, Photo Credit: Nishanth Nottath
Serengeti National Park, Tanzania – 50 Surreal Travel Destinations
Africa changes you forever, like nowhere on earth. Once you have been there, you will never be the same. But how do you begin to describe its magic to someone who has never left it? How can you explain the fascination of this vast, dusty continent, whose oldest roads are elephant paths? Could it be because Africa is the place of all our beginnings, the cradle of mankind, where our species first stood upright on the savannahs of long ago?
41 | Spiti Valley, Himachal Pradesh, India
By Rishabh and Nirali of GypsyCouple
Spiti Valley, Himachal Pradesh, India – 50 Surreal Travel Destinations
Think of untamed mountains, meandering rivers, treeless plains and a monastery in the middle of it. We aren’t talking about the mystical Shangri-La but an equally mystical land called Spiti. The still clear water of Chandratal Lake in Spiti Valley and the reflection on it gave it a feeling of a looking glass to a whole different world and we decided to pitch our tent there.
42| Sapa, Vietnam
By Elena Nemets of Travelability
Sapa, Vietnam – 50 Surreal Travel Destinations
If you plan your trip to Vietnam, you should definitely consider spending at least couple of days hiking in the northern part of the country and visiting villages near the town of Sapa. Mountains made by nature and rice terraces cultivated by hard work of local people together make a dramatic scenery (and fifty shades of green!). Sapa itself is worth visiting mainly because of the local market. Here the women from local tribes, wearing colorful traditional costumes which are different for each tribe, sell handmade clothing and handicrafts.
43 | Erg Chebbi, Morocco
By Kylie of Between England and Iowa
Erg Chebbi, Morocco – 50 Surreal Travel Destinations
The Sahara Desert is a landscape that looks like it should belong on another planet. No matter what direction you look in, it’s just miles and miles of bright orange sand dunes, there are no roads, paths or human creation (other than the Bedouin tent that’s home for the night), even footprints are erased almost instantly. It makes you feel so small and peaceful, you can’t help but just sit and stare out at the vastness. When the sun comes up, shadows are cast across the dunes, the light and dark meeting at the peak in a defined line. The wind blows rippled patterns on the flatter parts of the dunes, it’s a constantly changing environment. It’s an amazing place!
44 | Bay of Fethiye, Turkey
By Sophie Nadeau of Solo Sophie
Bay of Fethiye, Turkey – 50 Surreal Travel Destinations
The town of Fethiye is built on the site of ancient Telmessos and is surrounded by rock tombs, cliff cut temple like tombs that rise high above the surrounding sea and villages alike. The bay is surreal: sandy beaches line the mountain studded horizon and in the sea, a bright turquoise, it’s not unusual to see turtles swimming along the surface of the crystal clear water.
45 | Wadi Rum, Jordan
By Aleah of Solitary Wanderer
Wadi Rum, Jorden – 50 Surreal Travel Destinations
Wadi Rum in Jordan is one place that stands out in its magnificance. Its vastness and surreal beauty can definitely make any visitor gawp in awe. I was especially lucky in that I got to witness the sunset there, and the glorious sight of the sun turning the desert as red as the land in Mars rendered me speechless. Witnessing such magnificence of nature is indeed the reason why I travel.
46 | Abu Simbel, Egypt
By Laura Lynch of Savored Journeys
Abu Simbel, Egypt – 50 Surreal Travel Destinations
One of the most surreal places I’ve ever been is Abu Simbel in the dessert of Egypt. Built as a temple complex by Ramesses II sometime during the 1200s BCE, Sometime after its glory days, it was completely covered in sand and wasn’t rediscovered until 1817. In the 1960s, the building of the Aswan High Dam would have completely submerged the temples and they would have been lost forever if they hadn’t been relocated to a cliff side behind the original site. Abu Simbel is an incredible sight to see. It is one of the most dramatic and stunning temples in the world and we’re lucky many times over that it still exists for us to visit.
47 | Dunn’s River Falls, Jamaica
Howard Blount of Backroad Planet
Dunn’s River Falls, Jamaica – 50 Surreal Travel Destinations
Dunn’s River Falls near Ocho Rios, Jamaica, is one of those rare waterfalls that flow directly into the ocean, or in this case the Caribbean Sea. Countless terraced levels and lagoons allow visitors to safely ascend from the beach to the top of the falls. Although I climbed the falls in the company of family and strangers, I found myself immersed in a confluence of sparkling sunlit droplets and multi-level cascades, all wrapped in lush tropical foliage. In one word: Otherworldly!
48 | Tawang, Arunachal Pradesh, India
Anna Phipps of Global Gallivanting
Tawang, Arunachal Pradesh, India – 50 Surreal Travel Destinations
I’d been traveling around India for over a year and thought I had seen it all… and then I visited the remote, tribal regions in North East India. After a couple of days of a bumpy journey through the mountains we finally made it to Tawang. As I stood amongst the soaring Himalayan mountains, fluttering prayer flags and colorful monasteries watching the people go about their life as if the modern world did not exist it was hard to believe that I was still in India and not in Tibet. It did not surprise me when I learned that this region used to be part of Tibet and today in this unexplored part of India the people are still free to practice their colorful, peaceful and fascinating Tibetan religion and culture. It was like steeping back in time and a surreal, beautiful and serene experience.
49 | Panajachel, Guatemala
By Francesca Collins of Two Backpacks One Adventure
Lake Atitlan in Panajachel, Guatemala – 50 Surreal Travel Destinations
Panajachel, Guatemala, located on Lake Atitlán. Panajachel (known as “Pana” among the locals) is perfect for any traveler that craves calm, relaxing, good-for-your-soul vibes. Head out in your kayak for a sunrise tour of the lake and revel in the beauty of the three volcanoes that lie along its border, Volcán Atitlán, Tolimán, & San Pedro. When you aren’t taking in all of Pana’s natural beauty, take a walk around the local markets, get a bite to eat at a lake-side food stall, or grab your yoga mat and take a class at one of the many locations available around town or on the lake. There is no way that you can leave this town feeling anything other than totally at peace with the world and your life.
By Sonal and Sandro of Drifter Planet
Hampi, Karnataka, India – 50 Surreal Travel Destinations
Situated in lush green part of South of India, Hampi was the ancient capital of Vijayanagara, a.k.a., “A Forgotten Empire” and is famous for its ruins that are a UNESCO world heritage site. However, more than the ruins, it was Hampi’s bizarre landscape that took our breath away. The landscape is made of many miles of boulders heaps that appear to be precariously arranged.