A museum filled with locks of strangers’ hair, castles inhabited by monsters, swimming pools filled with beer…who comes up with these things? Find out for yourself. (And remember, it’s always best to prepare for the surreal by basing yourself in reality. Book your flights in advance and invest in some travel insurance.) Europe is home to some of the most bizarre and obscure attractions in the world. If you’re looking for an utterly unique and sensationally strange holiday, consider adding some of these attractions to your itinerary.
Out of the Box Oddities
• Museum of Broken Relationships, Croatia – What would it look like if you had a room filled with all the physical remnants of your past relationships? The Museum of Broken Relationships explores this idea, displaying gifts and tokens exchanged between lovers who have since parted ways. This melancholy collection includes items such as wedding dresses, lingerie and dental floss, and provides an intimate look into one of the most human emotions in the world: heartbreak. • Avanos Hair Museum, Turkey – When the friend of a Turkish artist and potter was about to move, she left him a lock of her hair so he would never forget her. This was his inspiration for creating Avanos Hair Museum, a museum of memories and remembrance. Now filled with over 16,000 samples of hair, the majority of women who tour the museum leave a lock of their own behind. • Beer Swimming Pool, Austria – If you love beer, you’ll love this swimming pool. Located in the cellar of a brewery, a former fermenting vat has been turned into a bath filled with freshly brewed beer that is warmed to a toasty temperature of 32C. Although swimming in this beer is supposedly wonderful for your skin, drinking it isn’t recommended. If all this is making you thirsty, don’t worry – the Austrian brewery will provide ice cold beer you’re more than welcome to down. • Renegade One Man Church, Spain – In 1961, a man dying from tuberculosis made a deal with the Virgin Mary: if she spared his life, he’d build a cathedral in her honour. When he survived, he remained true to his promise and, using any materials he could scavenge, has been building the church ever since. The cathedral is wobbly, lumpy and completely handmade – and he’s still working to this day. You can visit this one-man church for free, and will likely run into the 90-year-old architect himself as he works tirelessly to complete his tribute. • Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, Ukraine – What’s a little radiation poisoning compared to a lot of history? Those fascinated with the nuclear accident that destroyed Chernobyl will enjoy learning all about the effects the disaster had on the people who worked and lived in the area. During this visit, you can see the ghost town of Pripyat, the ‘red forest’ (pine trees that have turned a strange reddish orange due to the radiation) and a nuclear reactor. • Dracula’s Castle, Transylvania – Visit the home of the real-life Dracula to see where Bram Stoker got his inspiration. Bran Castle was where Vlad the Impaler once lived – swing by and sink your teeth into the horror and history. It’s bound to be a bloody good time for all vampire enthusiasts.
Reality really can be stranger than fiction and these are certainly some of the strangest places out there. And, since you’re about to be braving nuclear radiation and vampire-filled castles, it’s a good idea to see if you can find some monster- and nuclear disaster-inclusive travel insurance. Europe and all its weird, wonderful and out of the way attractions are waiting – and you really do have to see them to believe them.