Exotic Locations In The World That Are Off-Limits To The Public

By: Lauren Wurth | Published: Dec 12, 2022

The world is full of interesting places to visit, but some are forbidden. Travelers dream of seeing these sites—but what about those places that are off-limits? 

We’ve heard a lot about some of the coolest places in the world, but there are some locations we may never get to visit. Here’s a look at some of the most fascinating forbidden places around the globe.

Inside The Svalbard Global Seed Vault

The Doomsday Vault is a frozen, underground vault on the Norwegian island of Spitsbergen near the North Pole. It’s a vault for 102 million+ seeds from around the world in case of a natural disaster or any other catastrophic event should all plant life be destroyed.


Source: mentalitch.com/ Pinterest

The Svalbard Global Seed Vault, built to withstand any disaster and situated high above sea level, is designed to protect the seeds of food crops from destruction. Even North Korea and Russia have contributed seeds, despite their differences.


Morgan Island—South Carolina

Monkey-see, monkey-do! Well, maybe not quite. But rhesus monkeys are indeed in the United States—and if you’re surprised, so are most Americans! Appropriately enough, they call Morgan Island home. These primates were removed from Puerto Rico to protect them from an outbreak of the herpes B virus.


Source: iamat.org

The island was uninhabited before the monkeys landed. Now, it’s off limits for monkey enthusiasts—or any kind of tourist—for the protection of the animals. While they might look great in a selfie, they would not react well to people. A handful of researchers are given entry to this island.

Lascaux Caves—France

The Lascaux Caves, a UNESCO patrimony site, are not open to the public. In 1963, France banned visits to the caves because of a fungal invasion damaging the cave paintings. However, caves are an important part of history because they give insight into how humans first lived.


These caves house 600 prehistoric art samples containing some of the most well-preserved depictions of animals from 20,000 years ago. Although these caves are not open to the public, the Musée de la Préhistoire in Les Eyzies-de-Tayac displays reproductions of cave paintings.

Vatican Secret Archives

As the Vatican continues to keep its archives closed off from the public, historians will have to wait to see what treasures might be contained in the documents that were written as far back as the 8th century.


Source: metropolitanchapter.com/ Pinterest

We don’t know what’s in the Vatican’s secret vault. Some say it holds over 55 miles of shelves, but others say it’s filled with priceless objects and documents. Regardless, researchers are only allowed to access a certain number of documents at a time—it’s a pretty exclusive club.

Pluto’s Gate In Turkey—A Portal To Another Dimension

As the birthplace of many civilizations, Turkey has some of the best places to visit in the world. There are a few off-limits areas, though. One such area is Pluto’s Gate, which dates back to ancient times. Many have claimed to have gone there and never returned.


Source: vici.org

Researchers tested the “nothing can survive in Pluto’s gate” myth by throwing sparrows into the lake of CO2 and oxygen. The birds instantly died. Scientists then confirmed this legend by discovering that high levels of CO2 formed lakes inside the gate.


The Forgotten Island Of North Brother—NYC

It sounds like an idyllic place to live, but the island has a dark side. In the early 1900s, 1,000 passengers drowned when their ship sank. Later, the island was used as a quarantine for people with communicable diseases like Typhoid Mary.

Source: Untapped New York

Despite being deserted, the island of North Brother still attracts birdlife and is a haven for them. It remains unclear whether Mary Mallon or her ghost haunts the island, but if so, it would explain why we are forbidden to visit.


Darkest Indian Island: North Sentinel

For centuries, North Sentinel Island’s turquoise blue waters and white sandy beaches have captivated dreamers. But the island’s native inhabitants—the Sentinelese—have repelled outsiders with their violent hostility.

Source: Facebook

In the year 2004, a huge tsunami devastated the coastal regions of India. In order to assess the damage, a coast guard helicopter was sent over to North Sentinel Island. However, upon arriving, the pilot reported that men had emerged from the island’s interior and were shooting arrows at the helicopter.


Chichen Itza Pyramid In Mexico

Curious why this one is on the list? Although a lot of tourists come to visit the Pyramids of Chichen Itza every year, the area is forbidden to enter. People are only allowed to visit this area since you cannot climb to the pyramid’s top – this wasn’t the case until 2006. Unfortunately, a tragic accident occurred here, and it caused them to ban people from climbing to the top of the pyramid.


The pyramid has steps on both sides, but they have eroded with time, posing a great danger. Although it is not as fascinating as it was centuries ago, it is still breathtaking.


Area 51 In Nevada

We all know the famous Area 51 in the United States. It is believed that this mysterious location is used to harbor alien spaceships and other mysterious objects Also, there are rumors that authorities are using this area to examine a spacecraft that crashed in Roswell, New Mexico, which is another mysterious location.

Source: Space.com

On official records, 51 is used by the US air force and CIA as an experiment and trial space due to its remote location. If this is true, it will make sense why this area is so secretive.


Poveglia In Italy

I bet you have never heard a terrifying history more than that of Poveglia, Italy, and you would never dare go there even if you were allowed. Poveglia is located between Venice and Lido. It was used in the early 1700s as a quarantine facility for people with Bubonic plague. Most of those people who had this plague came here to die.

Marco Secchi/Getty Images

In the last century, Poveglia became a sanctuary for the mentally ill. There are rumors that doctors conduct terrible experiments on patients. Today, the island is left abandoned for a good reason because it is considered to be the most haunted place in Italy.


Mezhgorye In Russia

Russia is one of the largest countries, with hundreds of ghost towns and mysterious sites, and special places you can visit. Mezhgorye is one of the small hidden cities in the southern Ural mountains forbidden to visitors.


Two battalions patrol the town, and it is believed to be home to nuclear missiles, but that isn’t confirmed. However, it would make sense why this area is secret and under tight security, if this is true. The Kremlin claimed that the area is used as a bunker for Russian leaders and a vault for the country’s treasures.


Surtsey In Iceland

Surtsey, Iceland is the world’s youngest island after a volcanic eruption from 1963 to 1967. The area was closed to the public simply because researchers wanted to learn how the ecosystem forms without human interference.

Source: Curious Atlas

Researchers have observed fungi, birds, invertebrates, and molds. However, researchers cannot bring anything with them from the mainland since it will disrupt their research.


Niihau Island In Hawaii

Hawaii is among the world’s top destinations, but there exists a Hawaiian island where no visitor is allowed. You cannot visit Niihau Island because Elizabeth Sinclair purchased the land back in 1864. Since then, it has been privately owned by her family.

Source: TripSavvy

In 1952, there was an outbreak of polio, and to stop it from spreading, no one was allowed to enter or leave this island. The good news is that no one got sick on this island. To date, people need permission to visit the secluded island, but this is not easy even for the rich.


Heard Island Volcano In Australia

Heard Island Volcano is located between Antarctica and Madagascar, but it is within Australian territory. Although it looks like a good place to tour in this image, it is dangerous for the public to visit as it has an active volcano. In 2000, scientists noticed a huge lava flow from the volcano.


Furthermore, the island is known to have poor weather conditions, and the boat trip to get there takes two weeks even from the closest landmass. Only the National Geographic team and researchers are allowed to enter this island.


Fort Knox In Kentucky

Most of us have heard about Fort Knox, but only a few have managed to go inside. This place is one of the most heavily guarded locations in the world since it stores the largest portion of US gold reserves. It is also famous for its insane security measures, and none of the staff members are allowed to access the vault.


The building is made of concrete, lined granite, and reinforced steel. To access the vault, you will need a combination of security checks. Staff members only know one variety, so there would have to be a group effort to access the vault.


Bhangarh Fort In Rajasthan, India

Bhangarh Fort, Rajasthan, is not 100 percent forbidden. Visitors are not allowed to enter this place from sunset to sunrise. During the day, tourists can take photos of the beautiful Rajasthani architecture, but, as the sun sets, you will need to clear as fast as possible, especially if you are scared of ghosts.


The Indian government has deemed the fort haunted by ghosts since the 17th century. The legendary ghost stories and curses of this fort will send chills down your spine. Those daredevils who broke this rule disappeared mysteriously, so we wouldn’t recommend setting foot in this place after sunset.


Grand Shrine of Ise In Japan

There are over 80,000 shrines in Japan, but none of them are as important as the Grand Shrine of Ise. This shrine is the most expensive because of its architecture. Interestingly, the architect did not use any nails.


This type of shrine is built every 20 years to symbolize death and rebirth. No one is allowed inside as the place is so holy. Unless you are a priest or from the Japanese imperial family, you will probably only see it from the other side of the fence.


Mausoleum Of Qin Shi Huang In China

The tomb of the emperor Qin Shi Huang was discovered by luck when they found the terracotta army in 1974. To date, the tomb remains unexcavated. This was the most significant discovery of all time, but the Chinese are afraid to excavate it since modern technology could ruin the tomb. As a result, the Chinese government forbids people from accessing it.

National Geographic

All people know for now is that the tomb consists of complex networks, and it is filled with items that the emperor may need in the afterlife. There are also rumors that the tomb is full of booby traps to ward off invaders.


Pravcicka Brana In The Czech Republic

Pravcicka Brana was the most famous attraction in the Czech Republic until 1982. After that, it was forbidden to the public.


Pravcicka Brana was closed because of its accelerated erosion, which would cause the beauty of the park to collapse. Although banning people from the area will not completely stop the erosion, it has helped to slow down the process.


Bohemian Grove In The United States

If you want to enter the 2,700 acre camping ground in Monte Rio, California, you will have to be a member of the Bohemian groove club. This club is an exclusive all-gentleman’s club. Every year in July, the Bohemian grove hosts some of the world’s most prominent men for a two-week retreat.

Wikimedia Commons

Some of the Bohemian club members include presidents, government officials, artists, and business leaders. Whatever happens in this club remains top secret, and you cannot talk about business while you are on these camping grounds. Because of these rules, most people wouldn’t want to be part of this club anyway.


The Dome of the Rock In Jerusalem

The Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem, Israel, is one of the holiest places in the world for a few religions, dating back to the first century. The Temple Mount, which is located in the golden-topped shrine, is a significant feature in the Jerusalem skyline.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

However, there are too many rules surrounding this place, like if you are not a Muslim, you cannot enter the building, but you can get a closer look at it during the visiting hours.


The Coca-Cola Recipe Vault In The US

Since the 1800s, the iconic Coca-Cola soda has been a beloved soft drink. The beverage is known all around the world with many flavors unique to particular countries, but the United States is the one that has the secret Coke formula.


The incredibly secretive and secure vault is not only armed by guards, but also requires a hand scan and secret combination as well. With all the security, the secret Coca-Cola recipe would be impossible to access. However, it definitely makes us wonder whose hands open the vault.


The Queen's Bedroom In The UK

You may find it weird to think about someone’s bedroom being a tourist attraction to visit. However, when you are the Queen of England, people are curious about every aspect of your life. People are allowed to take tours to the Queen’s primary Buckingham residence, but her bedroom is off-limits.


This residence has been in England’s monarchy since 1837, and only one person has tried to break into the Queen’s room. Michael Fagan scaled a 20-foot wall and wiggled through a sewage pipe to break into the Queen’s room to win a bet with his friends.


Disney Club 33 In California

If you are a Disney fan, this might bother you a little bit. Disney’s Club 33 is the most exclusive club in the Disney empire, and Walt Disney created it to entertain his business associates. Sadly, Walt never got a chance to use the club since he passed away before the project was completed.

Disney Tourist Blog

Despite Walt’s death, the club opened anyway, and it used to be the only place in the park that served liquor. The only way to join the club is through an invitation and a $100,000 check to solidify your membership. On top of that, there are $30,000 annual fees.


Royal Air Force Menwith Hill In The UK

Although there is no clear information on what the Royal Air Force facility is used for today, we know it was once used as an intelligence-gathering facility and for espionage during the Cold War.

Wikimedia Commons

This secret facility opened in 1954, and it has driven many conspiracy theorists crazy for years. What goes on behind that barbed wire? And what is with those golf-ball shaped structures? We may never know.


U.N. Buffer Zone In Cyprus

The U.N. created the “Buffer Zone” during the rise of the civil war between the Turkish and the Greeks. This zone in the capital was meant to separate the two communities after they agreed to the ceasefire.

Wikimedia Commons

The area became no man’s land, and everything was frozen in time. People abandoned whatever was inside those walls. Note that this area is not yet a historical site.


Church Of Our Lady Mary Of Zion In Ethiopia

Many rumors surround the Church of Our Lady Mary of Zion, like the Ten Commandments are hidden here within the Ark of the Covenant. Another rumor is that only one person was allowed to see the Ark of the Covenant. For this reason, most of us will never know if this is true.

Wikimedia Commons

The person who is allowed to see the Ark must be an appointed guardian monk who a predecessor can only choose. The church dates back to the 4th century, and the church grounds have the remains of the Emperor of Ethiopia. We hope the monk will write a book to tell the secrets hidden within those walls to the rest of the world.


Chernobyl's Exclusion Zone In Ukraine

Unless you want to suffer from cancer or radiation burns, we wouldn’t say Chernobyl’s Exclusion Zone is a great place to visit. In 1986, after Chernobyl’s nuclear disaster, evacuations began, but it was too late. The damage had already spread to an 18 mile radius, turning the area into a ghost town.

Wikimedia Commons

Even 36 years after the disaster, Chernobyl is still off-limits due to high levels of radiation. Some people get special permission to visit this ghost town, but it is not easy even for those who have money.


Mount Weather Emergency Operations Center In The United States

Mount Weather Emergency Operations Center is the safest place in the world for any event. It would be the first place government officials would choose to hide in case of an apocalypse.

Wikimedia Commons

These bunkers were built during the Cold War, and they were designed to protect government officials and national treasures. Today, the building is entirely off-limits to the public. Only those who help run it are allowed on the inside.