Even though these towns and cities have been abandoned, they still offer much to see and experience to intrepid travellers wanting a destination a little less ordinary.
When the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant disaster occurred in April 1986, the town of Pripyat, home to more than 50,000 people, many of whom worked at the power plant, quickly became deserted. Now that the radiation levels have dropped significantly it is now possible to tour the town and surrounding areas.
The gold mining town of Bodie in the US state of California has around 100 deserted buildings that have been left much as they were 50 years ago when the last residents departed. This once thriving mining town had a population of nearly 10,000 but these days sees only tourists, howling winds and the occasional ghost.
Hashima Island, Japan
Once home to more than 5,000 residents, Hashima or Battleship Island as it is known due to its shape, lies off the coast of Nagasaki. With its abandoned apartment buildings still housing the personal belongings of its former residents, it will be familiar to James Bond fans as the lair of the villan Raoul Silva.
Tyneham Village, Dorset UK
Evacuated in 1943 by the Ministry of Defence in preparation for the D-Day landings, it is used to this day by the Ministry as a firing range. On the days when live firing exercises are not being undertaken, the village is open to the public.
The scene of one of World War II’s worst massacres where all but six of the towns 648 residents were killed, it has been preserved as a memorial. A sign at the towns entrance reads “Remember”.
Built in the late 1920’s by Henry Ford who wanted to establish his own rubber plantation to supply his factories. He recreated American suburbia in the heart of the Amazon jungle. The project was a huge failure and cost the industrialist over $20M. The abandoned town can be reached by boat by adventurous tourists.
Pyramiden, Svalbard, Norway
This coal mining settlement was founded by the Swedes in 1910 but sold to the Russians in 1927. The last of the coal was extracted from the mine in 1998 and the town was abandoned. Visitors can reach the town by boat or snowmobile.
From 1903 to 1957 Spinalonga was a leper colony, today it is a popular tourist attraction. Visitors can explore the abandoned colony as well as the 16th century Venetian fortress.
Mineral de Pozos, Mexico
Located in the central highlands, Mineral de Pozos and the hills surrounding the town are filled with spectacular ruins of hundreds of abandoned mines, some dating back to the 16th century.
Formerly a busy stop on the famous Route 66, the small town of Glenrio straddles the Texan-New Mexico border. It now lies virtually deserted since the I-40 interstate highway was built in the 1970s. Scenes from the 1930s Henry Fonda movie The Grapes of Wrath were filmed in Glenrio.
Machu Picchu, Peru
And of course, the granddaddy of all ghost towns is Machu Picchu in Peru. Located on the eastern slope of the Andes, nearly 8,000 feet above sea level, the site was abandoned in 1572 during the Spanish Conquest. It has now become one of the most visited ghost towns in the world, attracting over one million visitors a year.
Have you visited any of these ghost towns? Or have you explored any other towns you can add to the list?