While the world can feel small at times, it contains an endless number of amazing wonders for travelers to explore. However, there are some places on this planet that even the most intrepid explorers will never get a chance to visit. They’re not necessarily difficult to access—they’re just off-limits.
From seemingly unknown islands to top-secret government facilities, these 25 places might be totally cool, but they are also totally forbidden to tourists. Check out just what you’re missing…
1. North Sentinel Island, India: The indigenous tribe of North Sentinel Island does not take kindly to visitors. It doesn’t matter if you come in peace; they will rain down arrows upon you. That’s why India has forbidden visitors from going to visit.
2. Lascaux Caves, France: The 20,000-year-old cave paintings located in the south of France were being damaged by the carbon dioxide exhaled by tourists. To preserve the paintings, the government has closed off the site to visitors.
3. Ise Grand Shrine, Japan: Only Shinto priests and priestesses to the royal family of Japan are ever allowed in this sacred temple. It’s also torn down and rebuilt every 20 years in keeping with the Shinto philosophy.
4. Club 33, Disneyland: If you can afford to pay $20,000 as an initiation fee and $10,000 annually in dues, then you might be able to nab a seat at one of the most exclusive supper clubs in the entire world.
5. Metro 2, Russia: This secret subway system underneath the city of Moscow was the brainchild of Stalin himself. Though the government has remained mum about Metro 2, some people who helped create it have revealed its existence.
6. Mount Weather, Virginia: Located 48 miles outside of Washington, D.C., in the Blue Ridge mountains, Mount Weather is the underground facility where the President would be kept in case of a doomsday-type emergency. Photos of the interior, however, are hard to come by.
7. Vatican Secret Archives, Vatican City: While the name makes it clear that you aren’t welcome inside of the Vatican’s secret archives, you can absolutely request to view any document they hold that is over 75 years in age.
8. White’s Gentlemen’s Club, London: This exclusive gentlemen’s club is the most prestigious in England. In order to be invited to join their ranks, you’ve got to be male, a member of the royal family, or someone else in a position of power.
9. Room 39, North Korea: This top secret government building is said to be the heart of countless illegal operations. How illegal? Well, that depends: how does counterfeiting and practicing insurance fraud sound to you?
10. RAF Menwith Hill, England: The Royal Air Force, with the help of the NSA (yep, you read that right), run this monitoring center. It is said to be one of the most comprehensive in the entire world. Have you ever gotten the feeling someone was watching you? It was probably someone working here.
11. Coca Cola Recipe Vault, Atlanta: For decades, the top secret recipe to this popular soda was locked inside a bank just down the street from the Coca Cola headquarters. They have since created a vault of their own for storing the recipe.
12. Area 51, Nevada: No list about forbidden places is complete without Area 51. The United States Air Force base is where, for years, people have theorized that research and experiments have been conducted on aliens and UFOs.
13. Mezhgorye, Russia: This top secret town doesn’t welcome visitors. That’s probably because the town was established as a place for employees at the nearby major nuclear facility to live… and hide from NATO.
14. Snake Island, Brazil: This island’s name isn’t an accident. There are more than 5,000 different types of venomous snakes living on this island, making it totally unpleasant, if not downright uninhabitable, for anyone who is not a snake.
15. Surtsey Island, Iceland: This is one of the newest islands on planet Earth. It recently emerged after a volcanic eruption in the 1960s and it is in near pristine conditions. Iceland wants to keep it that way, and only a few scientists have been allowed to visit the island so far.
16. Google Data Center, Oregon: If there is one thing Google takes seriously, it’s security. Their data center in Oregon is probably more well-protected than Area 51, and as far as we know, there aren’t even any alleged UFOs here!
17. Tomb of Qin Shi Wang, China: The Chinese government has been intensely protective of the tomb of their first Emperor, Qin Shi Wang. The tomb contains the famous terra cotta soldiers, but what else it holds we may never truly know.
18. Bank of England Vaults, London: In order to access the vaults, you need a key that is more than 35 inches long! Getting the key itself would be a problem, since the names of people with access to vaults is a strictly kept secret.
19. Svalbard Global Seed Vault, Norway: If all of the plants in the world were ever to be wiped out, the seeds stored in this top secret vault could literally bring the Earth back to life. Even countries who have contributed seeds are not granted access, though!
20. Bohemian Grove, California: More myths than truths are known about the West Coast secret society of elites. They are rumored to have single-handedly begun the entire Manhattan project. Many ex-presidents have been among its members, as well.
21. Pine Gap, Australia: Controlled by the Australian and United States governments, Pine Gap is home to a satellite monitoring facility. These aren’t any old satellites, either. Pine Gap is central in receiving and transmitting spy communiques.
22. Chapel of the Arc of the Covenant, Ethiopia: This chapel is said to house the Arc of the Covenant, which contains the 10 Commandants as handed down to Moses. Other than the priest who tends the church, no one else is allowed to enter.
23. Woomera Prohibited Area, Australia: This is the largest bomb testing stretch of land in the entire world. Rather than risk people stumbling into the wake of a bomb, the government went ahead and made it known just how off limits the place was in its very name.
24. Propiyet, Ukraine: While you can technically get into Propiyet, you might not want to visit this tiny town in the Ukraine. That’s because it is literally the most radioactive town in the entire world. Definitely give it a miss.
25. Mariana Trench, Pacific Ocean: While the Mariana Trench is not exactly “forbidden,” it’s not easy to get to, either! This trench is the deepest in the entire ocean if you can believe it. Only three people have successfully visited it.
You probably wouldn’t want to venture to some of these totally forbidden places even if you could! Snake Island, anyone? Venomous critters or not, some of them seem pretty interesting…