Learn more from locals
Our travel stories and itineraries (treks) make sure you have the best information to plan the perfect trip. Sign up today!
Already using trekeffect? Sign In

35 Surreal Places You Won’t Think Are Real

July 20, 2015

“Everything you can imagine is real.” – Pablo Picasso. While Pablo Picasso traveled throughout the world, he didn’t see every corner of the globe. And yet, he still saw enough to realize that all corners of the globe are filled with otherworldly visions, surreal places, and mesmerizing landscapes that seem beyond the realm of possibility.

These 35 surreal places prove that everything you could imagine in this world can and does exist, along with places you won’t believe are real.

 

1Lake Hillier, Australia

Lake Hillier may look like the site of a Pepto Bismol plant runoff, but the lake’s surreal coloring is due to a combination of a high saline content as well as salt-loving algae in the water. There are several pink lakes elsewhere, but none of them maintain their pink color year round regardless of temperature. Even the lake water in a bottle will still retain the famous and bizarrely gorgeous pink shade.

 

2Godafoss Waterfall, Iceland

Of all of Iceland’s waterfalls, Godafoss is one of the largest, and the most beautiful. Steeped in history and folklore, Godafoss is said to be the location the heathen gods were thrown when the country converted to Christianity. The waterfall is located on the river Skjálfandafljót, which is located in the middle of an ancient lava field. The combination of the an ancient volcanic lava field, the Nordic history, and the massive, clear waters rushing over the ledge make Godafoss waterfall seem like a scene right out of an ancient fairytale.

 

3Devil’s Tower, Wyoming

Devil’s Tower is one of the most surreal places to visit because of the context surrounding it. In the middle of gently rolling plains and hills rises this ancient geological rock to extraordinary heights. Devil’s Tower otherworldly nature have long been admired by the Native American tribes who lived in the area; many considered the spot sacred. Parallel cracks surround the rock around the entire perimeter, making it an attraction for rock climbers from around the world.

 

4Tosua Pool, Samoa

Located in Lotofaga village, Tosua Poo, or “Big Hole”, is every swimmer and beach lover’s dream within a dream. Swimmers can climb the 30ft drop into the water and enjoy swimming surrounded by lush, beautiful gardens.

 

5Sea of Stars, Maldives

The glowing luminescence of the Sea of Stars is caused by phytoplankton, but standing on the water’s edge you’ll swear that it is pure magic that causes the waves to light up. Visitor’s can visit the beautiful, surreal place at  Raa Atoll, one of Maldives’ islands.

 

6Salar De Uyuni, Bolivia

You will swear you are walking on the sky at Salar De Uyuni, located right in the middle of the Andres in Bolivia. The prehistoric lake dried up thousands of years ago, and all that remains is a the world’s largest salt flat. The reflection is caused by the wet season, when the entire salt flat is covered by a thin layer of water.

 

7Trolltunga, Norway

The “Troll’s Tongue” hangs over Lake Ringedalsvatnet in Skjeggedal. Visitors can hang over the lake at over 2000 feet and gaze into the beautiful Norwegian Fjord landscape. The ledge’s height give the viewer a larger than life look onto the breathtaking mountains and deep blue waters. The result is a view that seems more from heaven than from here on earth.

 

8Mendenhall Ice Caves, Alaska

Although the Mendenhall Ice Caves are located just outside of Juneau, once inside you will swear you are on a different planet lightyears away from planet Earth. Visiting this surreal place is not for the faint of heart; to visit you will need to kayak and then ice climb over and into the glaciers. Those who are brave enough to traverse the glacier are rewarded with stunning and incredible views.

 

9Hidden Beach, Mexico

Known as Playa de Amor, this beach is located on an island off the coast of Mexico. Besides being one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, this hidden gem can only be accessed through a fifty foot tunnel. If the swim in isn’t enough to make your forget the world behind, the actual beach will.

 

10Mammoth Cave, Kentucky

Mammoth Cave is too big to imagine; it is part of the largest known cave system in the world, and is another world all of its own. There have been over 350 explored miles of caves, and new areas are constantly being discovered. Stalactites, stalagmites, caves so deep they haven’t discovered the bottom, and fish without eyes are all part of the eerie underground world.

 

11Tunnel of Love, Ukraine

One of the most beautifully surreal places in existence, the Tunnel of Love is said to be as enchanting as it looks; according to legend, lovers who make a wish in the tunnel will live to see it become truth. The train tunnel, which still had a train run through it 3 times a day, is located outside of Klevan.

 

12Giant’s Causeway, Northern Ireland

Located on the coast of Northern Ireland, Giant’s Causeway is the product of a volcanic eruption in ancient times. The result is a labyrinth of columns and steps. Legend has it that the causeway was built by giants; if you visit the site, you’ll find it hard to believe otherwise.

 

13The Great Blue Hole, Belize

A sinkhole located 40 miles from the coast of Belize, the Great Blue Hole is the largest formation of its kind in the world, and is nearly a world of its own. The sinkhole is a popular diving spot; the draw and allure of the diving into the very heart of the ocean captivates all who see it.

 

14Waitomo Glowworm Caves, New Zealand

Native only to New Zealand, the glowworns at Waitomo light up the caves and seem to be stars of another universe’s constellation. Visiting the caves includes a boat ride underneath the beautiful glow.  Nearly as mesmerizing as the glowworms themselves are the limestone rock formations that surround the cave in a host of sizes and shapes.

 

15Bamboo Groves of Arashiyama, Japan

The path through the Bamboo Groves seem to lead to another world outside of our own. The bamboo leaves and tree density filters the light and creates one of the most enchanting and surreal places to visit in Japan.

 

16Easter Island, Chile

The giant moai statues on Chile’s Easter Island have long been the source of speculation and wonder from a historical and scientific perspective. From a spectator’s perspective, the 900 statues among the island create enough wonder and intrigue to transport the viewer back 1000 years to the time of their creation.

 

17Namib-Naukluft Park, Namibia

The landscape of Namib-Naukluft Park in Nambia is hardly like any other park in our planet; the arid, extreme desert like climate has produced a surreal place full of harsh colors and strange yet alluring landscape. The sand dunes, which are some of the largest in the world, are so old that they have rusted away, giving the dunes an extreme red tinge. The trees, which died centuries when the water supply completely vanished, have simply burned where they are rather than decompose. The result is a harsh yet beautiful landscape.

 

18Door to Hell, Turkmenistan

The Door to Hell has never stopped burning since man first discovered it less than 50 years ago. The crater of flames is over 200 feet wide, and is located near Deweze, in the middle of the desert. The site was originally a Soviet mission to find natural gas reserves, but after the drilling rig collapsed, the Soviet’s set the new crater on fire, as they considered the site too dangerous to continue. The fire continues to this day, and continues to allure in visitors to gaze into its never ending flames.

 

19Grand Prismatic Spring, Wyoming

The Grand Prismatic Spring may only be the third largest hot spring in the world, but it is the first in terms of sheer beauty and color. The hot spring’s deep blue water is tinged with hot shades of red, yellow and orange; these shades are caused by bacteria in the water.

 

20Angkor Wat, Cambodia

The Angkor Wat is the largest religious monument in the world. the intricate detail in the ancient architecture, huge presence of deities, and lush green  surroundings combine to make it one of the most surreal places to visit.

 

21Zhangye Danxia Geopark, China

If Picasso could have created mountains, the result would be the landscape in Zhangye Danxia Geopark located outside of Zhangye, China. The beautiful layers of rock colors were slowly formed over 24 million years. The result is one of the most colorful and otherworldly landscapes in existence.

 

22Wisteria Flower Tunnel, Japan

If you have ever dreamed of walking through a fairytale, look no further than the Wisteria Flower Tunnel. Located in the city of Kitakyushu, the beautiful flowers grow directly overhead, creating a stunning tunnel of color and light in one of the most surreal places on earth. The tunnel is only open when the wisteria is in bloom, so be sure to visit in April for a journey into pure beauty of both scent and sight.

 

23Lake Bled, Slovenia

Lake Bled in Slovenia is what every adventure storybook is made of. From gorgeous snow-covered mountain peaks to lush forests, with a lake of vivid turquoise and an island dotted with old stone buildings, Lake Bled is like stepping straight into a fairytale.

 

24Red Sea Beach, China

What often makes different locations stand out as surreal places is the extreme coloring; those are the places where in our travels we stop and stare, not sure if what we see is real. There is no truer example of this than the Liaohe River in the fall as it winds through the wet marshlands of the Red Sea Beach. In autumn the grasses turn bright red, and thousands of birds migrate through on their way south for the winter.

 

25Glacier National Park, Montana

Located in both the United States and in Canada, Glacier National Park spawns both countries as a last remains of the ice age that helped carved the mountains that cover the West Coast. Travelers can still awe in wonder at mountain glaciers and the lakes that have been created by them; a sight that is as rare as it is powerful.

 

26Socotra Island, Yemen

Over 200 miles from the mainland, Socotra Island is one of the most strange and surreal places you can visit. The harsh, hot climate and isolation from the mainland has resulted in plethora of strange animals and plants, which have uniquely adapted throughout centuries to survive the harsh climate. The island has long captivated history’s powerful explorers, such as Marco Polo, Alexander the Great, and even the Queen of Sheba. Today it still draws in adventurers to discover its dragon blood trees and steep cliffs.

 

27Marble Caves, Argentina

Located in a glacial lake between Chile and Argentina, the Marble Caves are breathtaking to those who venture to the solid marble peninsula to gaze inside. The caves have been carved out over thousands of years, due to the lake’s waters crashing up against the marble. Those who wish to visit this surreal place can only reach it by boat, as the caves are as remote as they are beautiful.

 

28White Desert, Egypt

Egypt’s White Desert, located near the town of Farafra, looks more like the scene from a sci-fi fantasy film than it does a place here on earth. The sparkling white desert sands almost give the appearance of snow, although daytime temperatures stay year round in the 80s and 90s. Bizarre rock formations scatter the surreal landscape, while the sun glints off the sand to create dazzling colors.

 

29Fly Geyser in Nevada

Fly Ranch Geyser began as a well to drill down into the earth for natural resources. Eventually the thermal waters rose through the cracks and holes created by the drilling. Increased drilling in the area increased the water pressure; with the increased flow of water came minerals that began to build upon each other until the present day strange shape of the geyser evolved.

 

30Hvitserkur, Iceland

This natural made rock formation, jutting out from the Atlantic Ocean, is one of the most isolated and surreal places in the world. Originally the plug of a volcano, the dragon shaped island stands 50 feet above the water. Legend has it the rock is the remains of a troll who was turned into stone as the night ended and the sun shone upon him.

 

31Perito Moreno Glacier, Argentina

While most glaciers around the world are receding at a rapid pace, the Perito Moreno Glacier is growing quickly at nearly 7 feet per day. The giant glacier is already massive, standing at around 200 feet tall. The glacier spans the lake, and the water’s pressure on both sides of the glacier create a constant tension that often breaks off chunks of the glacier. The result is an impressive icy landscape that is constantly changing and molding with time.

 

32Thermal Springs, Turkey

These thermal hot springs are located in Pamukkale, Turkey. Pamukkale translates to “cotton castle”, and no better words could be used to describe this surreal place. The circular pools are layered one on top of each other, cascading down the cliffs, creating a terrace of beautiful colors and waters that are said to be capable of great healing.

 

33Uluru, Australia

Also known as Ayers Rock, this giant sandstone plateau in the middle of one of the most desolate landscapes in Australia. Uluru is over 200 miles from the nearest town; the seer size and complete isolation make it one of the most dramatic and surreal sights in Australia. Uluru is covered in ancient cave drawings and paintings, as the Australian Aboriginal have believed the rock to be sacred for centuries.

 

34Grand Canyon, Arizona

Over a mile deep and 277 miles long, the Grand Canyon earns its name as one of the largest canyons in the world. The Colorado River has carved through the gorge through millions of years, and the exposed layers of rock and color variations have created one of the most foreign landscapes in existence. This surreal place has long been home to Native American tribes, and still attracts millions of visitors to view and hike the canyon’s rim.

 

35Mount Roraima, Venezuela

Part of Mount Roraima’s charm is its unique and bold shape; although a mountain, the over 1000 foot cliffs surrounding the plateau make it easier to believe it was a table for the gods rather than a mountain created by nature. This surreal place is located on the borders of Venezuela, Brazil, and Guyana.  The cloud banks that drift beneath the mountain make it feel like you are on an island in the clouds, completely in a world of your own.
Inspired to visit one of the most surreal places on earth and let your imagination run? Go to Trekeffect to plan your visit, make travel arrangements, and more!

Alternative Text
Bryn Wied
Bryn Wied is an outdoor enthusiast and serious travelaholic. She explores every inch of the globe in her Sanuk flip flops with her favorite travel buddy/hubby Matt. Matt and Bryn live in California where they blog, surf, snowboard and raise kids in between road trips and camping adventures.