Dark Tourism: 5 Destinations Around the World

By: Guest Author
Fotokon / Shutterstock

Dark tourism isn’t a new concept, but it has been getting more popular over recent years. Some travelers are consumed by wanderlust for places of death and woe. They love locations that were previously nuclear-blast sites, radiation zones, and concentration camps.

Most people love traveling. However, some people prefer to embark on the road less traveled. 

Visiting these places allows them to satisfy their curiosity while learning more about what had been. If this is something that won’t give you the creeps, then here are some of the most popular dark-tourism destinations worth visiting.


1. National September 11 Memorial and Museum (USA)

Getty Images / Matthew Carroll

The memorial ground is where the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center previously stood. The September 11 terrorist attack in 2001 killed thousands of people, cementing a collective trauma over the nation. One can say that the impact of the attack is unparalleled, which encouraged more people to guard themselves and their homes with firearms and useful accessories.

The National September 11 Memorial and Museum remembers and honors those who were killed and features various artifacts and exhibits, evoking different reactions from every visitor.

With New York being one of the most visited cities in the world, it’s no surprise that tickets for this memorial site are often sold out. Thus, it is smart to book ahead of time.


2. Chernobyl Exclusion Zone (Ukraine)

Rusty and decaying bumper cars in the abandoned amusement park of the ghost city of Pripyat inside the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, Ukraine. Pripyat was evacuated on the afternoon of April 27th of 1986, 36 hours after the Chernobyl Nuclear Plant disaster.
Getty Images / ©2019 Francisco Goncalves

In 1986, there was an explosion involving the No. 4 nuclear reactor of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant during a simulated safety test. Flaws in the reactor design were the main cause, but the supervisor breached the protocol too. The combination of these two created a chain reaction in the power plant, leading to a destructive end.

Recently, HBO released a TV miniseries, Chernobyl, which sparked more interest from travelers. Social-media influencers even flock the zone to take Instagrammable photos, which are debatably a gesture of disrespect to the lives affected by the misfortune.

Adding to the story’s morbid factor is the fact that an amusement park was set to open shortly after the explosion. To this day, a merry-go-round and a Ferris wheel remain standing, as if a remnant of what could have been a place of joy.


3. Auschwitz Concentration Camp (Poland)


During World War II, one of the largest Nazi concentration camps was Auschwitz. More than a million people were murdered in that place alone, making it one of the darkest spots to visit in the world.

A trip to the Auschwitz Concentration Camp in Poland can be profoundly emotional yet educational. Imagine seeing the victims’ belongings and realizing how, for a moment, they were carrying with them a little bit of hope.  

While it may be overwhelming to be in a place that has seen the most horrific things, it is essential to remember the past and learn from it. 

The Auschwitz Concentration Camp offers free admission. 


4. NRA’s National Firearms Museum (USA)

John M. Chase / Getty Images

The USA is known for its freedom and firearms, and tourists can take a look at its vast collections in several gun museums. Museums such as the NRA’s National Firearms Museum are considered dark-tourism destinations. This one does highlight items connected to tragedy, death, and atrocity.

Visitors will be able to see different types of firearms and take a closer look at the details of each. The museum also educates guests about the responsibilities of owning and buying a weapon like the AR-15, also known as America’s Rifle.

The NRA’s National Firearms Museum is not for those who find guns extremely upsetting, so take caution. 


5. Pompeii Ruins (Italy)

The ruins of Didyma are located at a short distance to the northwest of modern Didim in Aydin Province, Turkey. They contained a temple and oracle of Apollo, the Didymaion.
Getty Images / Nick Brundle - Photography

The eruption of Mount Vesuvius in AD 79 covered the city of Pompeii with volcanic ash. The ash and lava preserved the town for centuries before it was excavated in recent times. Aside from being a site of death and devastation, it is also a significant archaeological find. 

Pompeii is one of the oldest dark-tourism spots in the world. The fossilized bodies never fail to fascinate tourists. The haunting facial expressions of the dead are windows to what the townspeople must have felt at the time of the eruption.

There are still unexcavated areas of Pompeii at present, which add more mystery to the whole ordeal. Who knows what sort of information will be discovered there? 


Dark Tourism Will Carry On

Many people may not understand the appeal of enjoying dark sites. Still, the significance and the rich history of these places are enough reasons to visit them because dark tourism isn’t about enjoying tragedy. It’s a journey of looking back at the past to take caution and bring lessons into the future.