• Elinor Zucchet

6 places that will make you feel like you're on a different planet

Updated: Feb 21, 2020


Looking for a complete change of scenery for your next trip? Sometimes, there is no need to travel to the other side of the world (or to space!) for an “out of this world” feeling. So check out these 6 places which will make you feel like you’re on a different planet.


Iceland

Iceland is one of my favorite countries in the world, precisely because it is absolutely unique and out of this world. Reykjavik airport stands on the volcanic Reykjanes peninsula, and you will land in the middle of a black lava field, making you feel like you are getting off a space ship rather than an airplane. The famous Blue Lagoon is also nestled in the middle of black lava rocks, and you can easily forget that you are on earth, lost in the middle of the impossibly blue water and white fumaroles. You will see geothermal activity virtually everywhere on the peninsula, and some desolated lakes with monsters, trolls and elves as the only inhabitants.


Keep driving on the road 1 towards other volcanic sites like Hveragerði or take a side excursion to Landmannalaugar, and swim in a hot stream with colorful volcanic displays as a backdrop. Visit the troll-shaped rock formations on Vik Beach at sunrise, and admire the white glaciers contrasting with the black lava fields and lava rocks covered in green moss at Skaftafell National Park.


For the ultimate out of this world experience, spend some time at Jökulsárlón. For me, it is THE most beautiful place I have ever seen, and I can promise it will not leave you indifferent. At the foot of the perfectly white Vatnajökull glacier, covering a black volcano, black and white icebergs of different sizes and shapes float on a deep blue lake. Stay there for a few hours as you listen to the cracking ice, and try to spot the friendly seals playing around these incredible icebergs, made of glacier ice and volcano sand. The lake empties into the ocean and some icebergs are often stranded on the black beach. In the morning mist or afternoon twilight, this is a sight you will never forget.


Lanzarote, Canary Islands, Spain

Who says Spain says sun and beaches, right? Well, Lanzarote has all that, but the landscape might surprise you. First of all, a bit of geography. The Canary Islands belong to Spain but they are located in the Atlantic, off the Moroccan coast. Therefore, the weather is lovely year-round. And Northern Europeans love it. But outside of the main tourist destinations, the island remains wild and unspoiled, mostly covered by a thick lava layer and volcanic rocks which will definitely make you feel somewhere between Mars and the moon, but definitely not in Spain. A visit to Timanfaya National Park is a must, but make sure to book a hike several months in advance. Otherwise, you will be stuck on a bus as free hiking is not allowed.


But my favorite part of the island is the North. Less tourists, spectacular beaches such as Famara, great local restaurants and the icing on the cake: La Graciosa. You can reach this tiny, lovely island by ferry from Orzola. And you will find a quiet village with sandy streets, no concrete and almost no cars, and beyond… white beaches, volcanoes and dunes. Climb the Bermejo mountain for unrivalled view of La Concha beach and the surroundings. And if it’s too hot (you won’t find any shade on this island), head to the turquoise and calm waters of La Francesa beach.


Yellowstone, US

Yellowstone has the largest geothermal area in the world, and if you visit the park outside of the high season, you will definitely feel on a different planet. Watching animals like buffalos and bears evolving among the fumaroles is a sight you are unlikely to see elsewhere. Some geysers and pools have impossible colors, like deep blue, turquoise green or even orange.


At the Grand Prismatic Spring, the steam itself reflects the rainbow colors of the pool, making you feel like you are in some kind of parallel fantasy world. Make sure to stay a few days to really enjoy all the geothermal activity as the area is huge, and come soon: indeed, tourist pollution is constantly affecting the colors of the thermal pools!


Waitomo caves, New Zealand

Often overlooked by visitors, the Waitomo Caves, on New Zealand North Island, will take your breath away and surely make you feel like you are traveling in space. The first part of the visit will show you interesting limestone formations. Until there, nothing unique. But once on the boat, you will enter a silent and dark universe, lit up by thousands of glow worms.

The feeling is hard to describe and you will notice that everyone remains absolutely speechless. The boat will quietly make its way towards the exit, and it might be a little difficult to adjust to daylight – and earth again! For a thrilling experience, you can also try black water rafting in the caves to float and swim underneath “galaxies” of glow worms.


Not enough? Head to Tongariro National Park for the ultimate "Mordor" experience!


Lofoten islands, Norway

I have decided to list the Lofoten islands in this ranking as they are just too beautiful to be real. To me, that’s what heaven or Neverland would look like! Located in the Atlantic Ocean but connected by road to Norway’s mainland, the islands are surprisingly easy to get to but feel extremely remote, especially outside of the summer. The Lofoten are way above the Arctic Circle but the landscape has nothing to do with what one would expect at this latitude: high and rugged peaks, white sandy beaches, turquoise water and green meadows dotted with sheep wandering free around the islands. The imposing silence is only broken by the sound of the ocean and the birds.


The scarce inhabitants live in grass roof houses or in red fishing cabins called “rorbu”, and are certainly not afraid of solitude. The Lofoten’s sky is clear and unpolluted, lit up by the midnight sun in summer and the northern lights in winter. It is a perfect spot to cure severe stress and just step outside of this world for a few days… or a month!


Swedish Lapland

Lapland is a region stretching over four countries: Norway, Finland, Sweden and Russia. I personally prefer Swedish Lapland as Norwegian and Finnish Lapland are more developed for tourism, and Russian Lapland is not well connected. From Stockholm, there are daily flights to Kiruna, where the adventure begins. In order to experience the extreme Lapland, come in winter. Temperatures often drop below -30°C, but if you plan good clothing and shoes, you will be okay. This freezing feeling is actually stimulating and thrilling!


You will feel like you are on another planet when you enter the Ice hotel, built every year by ice sculptors from all over the world. The nicest rooms even have lights and sometimes sounds, and the whole building an authentic masterpiece. Complete your experience with a mushing trip and lead your pack of half-wolf dogs through forests and frozen lakes. The only sound you will hear is the heavy breath of the dogs, and maybe some howling wolves! In winter, days are extremely short and you will soon be plunged into an eerie blue polar light, like some kind of eternal dusk. When the night finally falls, layer up and stay outside for nature’s most magical show: the northern lights. Are you sure you are still on earth?


If you’re lucky enough to visit all these places that will make you feel like you’re on a different planet, you will see some of the most unique sceneries in the world. But don’t worry; space tourism is on its way to become a reality!

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