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10 fascinating places that tourists can’t visit

There are many interesting places in the world that are off-limits to tourists and travellers. These places may be restricted for a variety of reasons, including political tensions, cultural considerations or environmental concerns. Despite their inaccessibility, they remain fascinating to many people and are often shrouded in mystery and intrigue. This article looks at 10 of the most interesting places in the world that are currently off-limits to visitors.

Uluru, Australia

Uluru, also known as Ayers Rock, is a large sandstone rock formation located in the heart of Australia’s outback. It is considered a sacred site by the indigenous Anangu people and holds great spiritual significance for them. Uluru is a popular tourist destination, attracting millions of visitors each year who come to see the rock and learn about its cultural and spiritual importance.

However, despite its popularity, Uluru is currently off limits to tourists. In October 2019, the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park announced that it would be closing the rock to climbers from October 26th, 2019, in order to respect the cultural and spiritual significance of the site. This decision was met with both support and criticism, with some arguing that it was a necessary step to protect the sacred site, while others argued that it would have a negative impact on tourism in the area. Despite the controversy, the ban on climbing Uluru remains in place, and tourists are not currently allowed to visit the rock.

Lascaux Caves, France

The Lascaux Caves are a series of underground caves located in southwestern France that are home to some of the most well-known and well-preserved cave paintings in the world. These paintings, which date back to the Upper Paleolithic period, depict a variety of animals and figures, and are thought to have been created by the ancient Cro-Magnon people. The Lascaux Caves are a UNESCO World Heritage Site and are considered a priceless cultural and artistic treasure.

Despite their importance, the Lascaux Caves are cannot currently be visited by tourists. The caves were closed to the public in 1963 due to concerns about the impact of tourism on the fragile paintings and the cave environment. While a replica of the caves, known as the Lascaux II, was opened to the public in 1983, it has not been possible to visit the original Lascaux Caves since their closure. In recent years, there have been efforts to develop new technologies that would allow visitors to experience the caves in a more sustainable way, but it is currently not possible to visit the Lascaux Caves in person.

Ise Grand Shrine, Japan

The Ise Grand Shrine, also known as the Ise Jingu, is a Shinto shrine located in the city of Ise in Mie Prefecture, Japan. It is considered one of the most important and sacred sites in Japan, and is dedicated to the sun goddess Amaterasu Omikami, who is considered the patron deity of Japan and the imperial family.

Despite its popularity, the Ise Grand Shrine is not open to tourists. The shrine is considered a sacred site and is only open to practicing members of the Shinto religion. Visitors are not allowed to enter the innermost sanctuaries of the shrine, which are reserved for religious ceremonies and rituals. However, visitors are allowed to walk around the outer areas of the shrine and view the buildings from a distance. Despite its inaccessibility, the Ise Grand Shrine remains a popular tourist destination and a symbol of Japan’s cultural and spiritual heritage.

North Brother Island, USA

North Brother Island is a small, uninhabited island located in the East River between the boroughs of the Bronx and Riker’s Island in New York City. The island has a rich history, having been used for a variety of purposes over the years, including as a quarantine hospital, a drug rehabilitation center, and a home for tuberculosis patients.

Despite its interesting history and location in the heart of New York City, North Brother Island is currently off limits to tourists. The island has been abandoned for decades and is not accessible to the public. It is currently managed by the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation as a bird sanctuary, and access is restricted to authorised personnel only.


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Tomb of Qin Shi Huang, China

The Tomb of Qin Shi Huang is a mausoleum located in Lintong District, Xi’an, China. It is the burial site of Qin Shi Huang, the first emperor of China, who is best known for unifying the country and building the Great Wall of China. The tomb is located within the Mausoleum of the First Qin Emperor, a complex that also includes the Terracotta Army, a collection of over 8,000 life-size terracotta statues of soldiers, horses, and other figures.

Despite its historical and cultural significance, it is not open to tourists. The tomb has never been opened, and it is believed that it contains a number of valuable artifacts and treasures. The Chinese government has chosen to keep the tomb sealed in order to preserve its contents and protect them from theft or damage. However, visitors to the Mausoleum of the First Qin Emperor can view the Terracotta Army and learn about the tomb and its history.

North Sentinel Island, India

North Sentinel Island is a small, isolated island located in the Bay of Bengal in India. It is home to the Sentinelese, a tribe of indigenous people who have lived on the island for thousands of years. The Sentinelese are one of the last remaining uncontacted tribes in the world, and they have a long history of resisting contact with outsiders.

Due to the sensitivity of the Sentinelese culture and the potential risk to both the tribe and outsiders, North Sentinel Island is off limits to tourists. The Indian government has established a three-mile exclusion zone around the island and strictly prohibits any contact with the Sentinelese. In recent years, there have been a number of attempts to contact the Sentinelese, including by outsiders who have tried to visit the island, but these have all been met with hostility and violence. The Indian government has made it clear that it will not allow any further attempts to contact the Sentinelese and that the island will remain off limits to outsiders in order to protect the tribe’s way of life.

Ilha da Queimada, Brazil

Ilha da Queimada, also known as Snake Island, is a small, uninhabited island located off the coast of Brazil in the Atlantic Ocean. The island is home to a number of venomous snakes, including the Golden Lancehead Viper, which is one of the most venomous snakes in the world. The snakes on the island are so dangerous that the Brazilian government has declared the island off limits to tourists.

Despite its inaccessibility, Ilha da Queimada remains a fascinating and mysterious place. The island’s snake population is thought to have evolved in isolation, and the Golden Lancehead Viper is found nowhere else in the world. The snakes on the island are so venomous that they are able to melt the flesh around their bite wounds, which has led to the island’s ominous nickname. While it is not possible to visit the island, it remains a source of fascination for many people who are interested in its unique wildlife and isolated ecosystem.

Surtsey Island, Iceland

Surtsey Island is a small, uninhabited island located off the southern coast of Iceland. The island was formed in 1963 when a volcanic eruption created a new island out of the sea. Surtsey Island is a unique and fragile ecosystem, and it is considered a valuable scientific resource.

Due to the importance of Surtsey Island’s ecosystem and the potential impact of tourism on the island, it is currently not open to visitors. Access to the island is strictly controlled by the Icelandic government, and only a small number of scientists are allowed to visit the island each year. The goal of these visits is to study the island’s ecosystem and understand how it is changing over time. While it is not possible for tourists to visit Surtsey Island, it remains a fascinating and mysterious place that is of great interest to scientists and nature enthusiasts.

Dulce Base, USA

Dulce Base is a rumored underground military facility located in Dulce, New Mexico. The existence of the base has been the subject of much speculation and conspiracy theories, with some people believing that it is a secret government research facility that is involved in a variety of activities, including the development of advanced technologies and the study of extraterrestrial life.

Despite the intrigue surrounding Dulce Base, it is not open to tourists. The base is said to be highly secure, with access restricted to authorized personnel only. While there is no official confirmation of the base’s existence, it remains a source of fascination for many people who are interested in conspiracy theories and the possibility of secret government programs. Despite its inaccessibility, Dulce Base continues to be a topic of discussion and speculation, with many people wondering what secrets it might be hiding.

Svalbard Global Seed Vault, Spitsbergen

The Svalbard Global Seed Vault is a secure underground facility located on the Norwegian island of Spitsbergen in the Arctic Circle. The vault was established in 2008 as a way to preserve the world’s plant diversity and ensure that seeds can be preserved for future use. It is operated by the Norwegian government and funded by a number of organizations, including the Global Crop Diversity Trust and the Nordic Genetic Resource Center.

Despite its importance, the Svalbard Global Seed Vault is not open to tourists. Access to the facility is restricted to authorized personnel only, and it is not possible for the general public to visit. While the vault is not open to visitors, it has attracted a great deal of attention from the media and the public, with many people interested in its role in preserving the world’s plant diversity. Despite its inaccessibility, the Svalbard Global Seed Vault remains a vital resource for scientists and researchers working to protect the world’s plant life.

Paul Johnson

Paul Johnson is Editor of A Luxury Travel Blog and has worked in the travel industry for more than 30 years. He is Winner of the Innovations in Travel ‘Best Travel Influencer’ Award from WIRED magazine. In addition to other awards, the blog has also been voted “one of the world’s best travel blogs” and “best for luxury” by The Daily Telegraph.

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  1. There’s probably a whole lot more to this one than a post.

    I can imagine Ben Foggle or Simon Reeve using their charm and daring to somehow get behind the scenes and screens for each of these destinations. Even with the failures it would make for a great TV series.

    1. I think you are probably right, Nick! A TV series with either of those two would be fascinating, as they could bring their insights get behind the scenes and screens. I would definitely tune in for that!

    1. Hi Jane – indeed. These forbidden destinations do present a challenge to adventurous travellers. I can definitely see why some of our readers would want to visit these fascinating places. It just goes to show how human nature is drawn to the unknown and mysterious.

  2. Unfortunately, over tourism can be a big problem. Sad that we can’t visit these places but necessary for their survival.

    1. But on some of these places the ban should have come into place much earlier. Uluru should have been protected many decades ago.

    2. I’m inclined to agree – Uluru’s cultural and spiritual significance to the indigenous people of Australia makes it an important site that deserves preservation for future generations to enjoy and appreciate.

  3. While Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park is closed to rock climbers, (as it should) the article suggests one can not visit up close and personal. We were there last November and had a wonderful time walking around both mountain ranges and slightly into the gorges. Some of the trails are quite challenging.

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