Atlas Obscura

Discover the world's strange and wondrous side. Tag us or use #atlasobscura for a chance to be featured!

This once-thriving hotel in the Swiss Alps couldn't compete with climate change.  Hotel Belvédère, nestled in the Furka Pass of the Swiss Alps, was once the perfect spot for travelers looking to explore the Rhône Glacier. But as the glacier receded, so did its number of visitors. While it once hosted party-goers and adventurers, and even the likes of Pope John XXIII and Sean Connery (it makes a brief appearance in Goldfinger!), the serene little spot is now closed indefinitely. 📸: Photo regrammed from @daventuree , our new Instagram obsession.
Our travelers ate their way through Tbilisi, Georgia with @culinarybackstreets on a recent Atlas Obscura trip. Together, we embarked on a gastronomic adventure in the birthplace of wine during rtveli—the grape harvest—Georgia’s most inspiring time of year. 📸: Photo courtesy of traveler Michael Ageno #AOTrips
What’s your favorite way to get around a new place? A bus? A bike? A car? Do you prefer the peace of private travel or the immersion of public transportation? This train car is from the Kyiv metro in Ukraine. 📸: Photo by @rrrudya (check out her gorgeous feed!) via AO favorite @accidentallywesanderson.
Over the last 440,000 years, the Great Sand Dunes of Colorado have shifted and blown in gusts to heights of 750 feet, making them the largest dunes in North America. Besides the great beauty of the windswept ocean of sand, the arid landscape runs directly up to the feet of the Sangre de Cristo Range, a narrow strip of the Rocky Mountains, where the ecosystems collide. 📸: Photo regrammed from @greatsanddunesnps
This stunning bell tower in West Walton is a grade I listed heritage building, which means it’s a “building of exceptional interest” to England’s historic society. @forgottenheritage had the chance to climb up inside it and explore the inner workings of the bells themselves - swipe right to step inside the tower! 📸: Photos by @forgottenheritage
Standing guard on the coast of England near Dorset, are the massive Old Harry Rocks. The sea stacks formed somewhere around 65 million years ago from the buildup of plankton and other microorganisms, and are made completely of chalk. They look a bit like someone ran out of time while painting the land around them. 📸: Photo regrammed from @uwo via @beautifuldestinations.
Legend has it that the Old Man of Storr was a giant who lived on the Trotternish Ridge. When he was buried after his death, his thumb remained partially above ground, forming this 160-foot pinnacle rock formation in Scotland. (Can we just add, if your thumb looks like this please see a doctor.) 📸: Photo by Atlas Obscura Places Editor @kerrymwolfe
Pickle ice cream! Would you try it? @girleatworld , explorer and gourmand, used our Gastro Obscura food database to find something unusual to try while she was visiting New York City, and pickle soft serve piqued her interest. The briny ice cream acts as a cooling chaser to spicy meals, and is extremely refreshing.
Enchanted by this photo @jeremybomford captured of an arctic fox in Iceland. And he described it so beautifully: “Sly eyes, intelligent and unforgiving. Pointed ears, picking up even a whisper of sound, and his thick paws, gently padding through the landscape.” The Arctic fox is the only canid with fur on its foot pads, and its coat is the most insulating of any mammal. When most people think of an arctic fox they think of it as pure white, but in the summer the foxes turn brown and grey.
The Rhône Glacier has lost almost a full mile of coverage in the last 100 years or so. The 11,000-year-old glacier has been known to recede as much as 10 centimeters in a day, and consistently loses about 130 feet a year. To slow the melting process, it has been covered in blankets. A 300-foot long grotto was carved into the glacier allowing guests to journey inside, a practice which dates back to as early as 1894. The grotto can no longer be securely carved into the dwindling ice, and is getting shorter and smaller every year. 📸: Photo regrammed from explorer and photographer @daventuree
The Fairy Glen isn’t one of the Isle of Skye’s most popular attractions—in fact, it remains quite well hidden—but it’s completely enchanting. Visiting it can feel as though you've stepped out of Scotland and into a magical realm. Although the unique geological formation is actually the result of a landslip, the otherwordly landscape looks just like the kind of place you’d expect to find faeries. The natural rock formations, cone-shaped hills, and scattered ponds and waterfalls are all within one small area, making it seem as though it’s the shrunken version of a larger-scale geological wonder. Most people assume the stone spirals are created by travelers - but who’s to say it wasn’t mischievous faeries? 📷: Photo regrammed from intrepid traveller @jack_anstey , h/t @matadornetwork
This leggy wooden lighthouse is the only active lighthouse in Burnham-on-Sea, England. As such, the unusual stilted structure is both a beloved local landmark and a much-needed beacon. At low tide the lighthouse is on land, and beach walkers can stroll right up to the structure, but at high tide it’s surrounded by four to five feet of water. 📸: Photo by Oliver Herbold.
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