Travellers reveal their favourite 'alternative' must-visit landmarks

From a fairy-tale castle in Germany to houses in the UK carved into a cliff: Travellers reveal their favourite ‘alternative’ must-visit landmarks

  • Research among 1,000 UK globetrotters identified the alternative sights 
  • In the UK, these also include the Minack Theatre and Wilton’s Music Hall, London
  • The Tenement Museum in NYC allows visitors to experience 19th-century life

The ‘top 20 alternative must-visit landmarks’ have been revealed, with the list including a fairy-tale castle in Germany and houses carved into a UK cliff face.

It was drawn up after travel experts selected a list of lesser-known sights and 1,000 UK globetrotters were asked to pinpoint the ones they’d most like to visit.

Among them is Germany’s Burg Eltz, a fairy-tale-style medieval castle nestled in the hills and forest above the Moselle River in the west of the country.

Burg Eltz, a fairy-tale style medieval castle, in the west of Germany. It is nestled in the hills and forest above the Moselle River 

The Rock Houses, pictured, are homes carved straight into the rock amid a wildlife haven in Stourbridge in the West Midlands

The Kiyomizu-dera Temple, pictured, located in Kyoto. It was built to honour Kannon, the goddess of mercy

The Rock Houses – homes carved straight into the rock amid a wildlife haven near Stourbridge in the West Midlands – is also a popular choice. 

In addition to the Rock Houses, the UK is also represented by the Minack Theatre, an open-air theatre located on the Cornish shore not far from Land’s End.

Wilton’s Music Hall in London, which is one of the few surviving musical halls, is also among the British locations to make the list.

The Tenement Museum, which allows visitors to experience what it was like to live in the city in the 19th and 20th centuries, flies the flag for New York on the list. 

Australia, meanwhile, is partially represented by Ningaloo Reef, a world heritage-listed site that’s home to turtles, tropical fish, manta rays, humpback whales and whale sharks.

The Minack Theatre, pictured, is an open-air theatre located on the Cornish coast, not far from Land’s End

Wilton’s Music Hall in London, pictured, is also among the British locations to make the list

The Baths of Caracalla in Rome – considered some of the best-preserved ancient buildings from Roman times – is also an alternative bucket list destination, according to the study.

And so is the Kiyomizu-dera Temple in Kyoto, Japan – built to honour Kannon, the goddess of mercy. 

It’s an intriguing list, but some may wonder if some of the entries aren’t a little popular to be described as ‘alternative’ – Alcatraz, Toronto’s CN Tower and Kyoto’s world-famous ‘Golden Pavilion’, for example.

The study, conducted by Travelzoo – the master list of alternative sights was drawn up by some of its staff members – found a fifth of those polled actively prefer to visit lesser-known areas because they can experience them without any preconceived ideas of their own.

In addition, the research showed that visiting a particular place can have a profound impact on visitors as a fifth have been moved to tears by the beauty, wonderment or history of some corners of the globe.

The Tenement Museum in New York, pictured, which allows visitors to experience what it was like to live in the city in the 19th and 20th centuries

And 20 per cent even said their entire outlook on life changed after visiting some places.

Another three in 10 have been left speechless and a quarter have completely re-evaluated how they feel about a country.

Eight in 10 believe visiting a country’s landmarks and other areas of significance gives visitors a better understanding of its culture.

The OnePoll study also found that, despite the rise of social media and the internet, word of mouth is still the biggest inspiration for sight selection.

Four in 10 said they rely on recommendations from friends and family, however, a third will depend on Google and a quarter will use guidebooks.

Australia’s Ningaloo Reef, a world heritage-listed site that’s home to turtles, tropical fish, manta rays, humpback whales and whale sharks

The Baths of Caracalla in Rome, pictured, which are considered some of the best-preserved ancient buildings from Roman times

Social media has an influence, too, albeit not among quite so many travellers – 11 per cent have been swayed by something they’ve seen on Twitter, 18 per cent by Facebook and 16 per cent by Instagram.

James Clarke, general manager of Travelzoo, said: ‘We’re all familiar with those must-visit places – the Eiffel Tower, the Leaning Tower of Pisa and so on.

‘They are all truly amazing landmarks, but there are a growing number of travellers who want to see sights that aren’t quite so well-known.

‘Thankfully we are blessed with fantastic landmarks across the globe that are also well worth a visit – and that’s exactly what we wanted to show through this research. 

‘Visiting the alternative destinations listed in this survey provides a way for travellers to explore unfamiliar cultures and off-the-beaten-track landmarks to really gain a deeper understanding of the world.’ 

TOP 20 ALTERNATIVE MUST-SEE LANDMARKS 

Parliament, Budapest  

The Hungarian Parliament building, a celebrated example of Neo-Gothic architecture.

It’s more than 100 years old.

The Hungarian Parliament building in Budapest 

Alcatraz, San Francisco 

A former maximum-security prison located on Alcatraz Island in San Francisco Bay, off the coast of California – once home to the country’s most dangerous criminals. 

Carnac, Brittany  

The French town of Carnac, in Brittany, is best known for harbouring the largest collection of prehistoric standing stones in the world.

There are more than 3,000 in total across three fields on the town’s outskirts. It’s believed that some date back to 5000 BC.

Otherworldly: Prehistoric stones in their thousands can be found outside Carnac

Minack Theatre, Cornwall 

An open-air theatre, constructed above a gully, with a rocky granite outcrop jutting into the sea. 

Plaza de Espana, Seville 

Built in 1929, Plaza de Espana is an example of Spain’s Regionalism Architecture, mixing elements of the Baroque Revival, Renaissance Revival and Moorish Revival styles. 

The Plaza de Espana in Seville, which has a mix of architectural styles

The Tenement Museum, New York 

Experience what it was like to live in New York in the 19th and 20th centuries at the museum’s restored apartments. 

Ningaloo Reef, Western Australia 

A World Heritage Site on the opposite side of the country to the Great Barrier Reef that is home to turtles, tropical fish, manta rays, humpback whales and whale sharks.

Kata Tjuta, Australia 

Kata Tjuta, also known as the Olgas, is a group of large ancient red rock formations in Australia’s Northern Territory. It comprises 36 domes over eight square miles, with Mount Olga, at 3,497ft, being the tallest.

The ancient red rock formations of Kata Tjuta, located in Australia’s Northern Territory

Wilton’s Music Hall, London 

A Grade II-listed music hall with original cast iron pillars, balcony and decor.  

Lake Louise, Canada 

A turquoise, glacier-fed lake ringed by high peaks. A favourite spot with hikers.

Lake Louise, pictured, a turquoise, glacier-fed lake in Alberta, Canada 

Kiyomizu-dera Temple, Kyoto 

Built to honour Kannon, the goddess of mercy, its beautiful hillside location offers spectacular views of the city and valley below.

Olomouc, Czech Republic 

A city known for its architecture, culture and religious heritage.

The Czech city of Olomouc, which is known for its culture and religious heritage 

Burg Eltz, Germany 

A medieval castle nestled in the hills and forest above the Moselle River between Koblenz and Trier. It resembles a castle from a Disney fairy tale.

Beng Mealea, Cambodia  

Beng Mealea, or Bung Mealea, is a temple from the Angkor Wat period to the east of the main group of temples. It is located on the ancient royal highway to Preah Khan Kompong Svay.

The Beng Mealea temple in Cambodia. It is located on the ancient royal highway to Preah Khan Kompong Svay

CN Tower, Toronto 

A 1,815ft tower that has been described as an ‘architectural triumph’ and ‘an engineering Wonder of the Modern World’. It offers entertainment and dining with views of the city. 

Kinkaku-Ji Temple, Kyoto 

Built in 1397 as a residence for shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu, it is completely covered in gold leaf. 

The Kinkaku-Ji Temple in Kyoto, pictured, was built in 1397

The Baths of Caracalla, Rome 

Some of the best-preserved ancient buildings from Roman times.  

Uxmal, Mexico 

Uxmal is an ancient Maya city that is a designated Unesco World Heritage site, located in Mexico. It was once one of the largest cities on the Yucatan Peninsula with a population of 20,000. The biggest and most recognisable structure in Uxmal is the Pyramid of the Magician, which is 131ft tall. 

The ancient Maya city of Uxmal, pictured, which is located in Mexico

The Rock Houses, near Stourbridge 

A wildlife haven, which features unique homes carved straight into the rock. 

Christmas Island 

Nicknamed the ‘Galapagos of the Indian Ocean’, the island is famous for its red crabs, sea birds, whale sharks and spectacular coral reefs.

Christmas Island, pictured, which is famous for its red crabs, sea birds and spectacular coral reefs 

Source: Travelzoo.

Methodology: Experts from Travelzoo – across seven different countries – collated a list of lesser-known landmarks. These sites were selected based on gaps in the public’s knowledge of these stunning areas/landmarks and their under-representation in current travel media. Adults who are frequent travellers were then invited to select the ones they would most like to visit – with the option of adding any alternative landmarks of their own. 

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