Area 51, USA
Located in the Nevada desert, this U.S. military outpost is possibly the worst-kept secret in history. Beloved by UFO enthusiasts and conspiracy theorists, it’s rumored to house top-secret U.S. experiments alongside crashed alien technology.
Ilha da Queimada Grande, Brazil
This Brazilian paradise would undoubtedly be one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations if it wasn’t for the thousands of venomous snakes that currently call it home. Appropriately known as “Snake Island”, this land is swarming with more than 4,000 incredibly deadly reptiles, which is why it has never been opened to tourists.
Ise Jingu, Japan
The most sacred Shinto shrine in all of Japan, this revered site is off-limits to everyone except for high-ranking priests and members of the Imperial family. As if that wasn’t enough, the shrine is also demolished and rebuilt every couple of decades in accordance with Shinto beliefs, which means very few people have ever seen it.
Lascaux Caves, France
A landslide which clogged up the entrance meant that these French caves went undisturbed until they were rediscovered in 1940. Home to Stone Age wall art believed to be a staggering 17,300 years old, they quickly became a hotspot for tourists until experts warned that the visitors were ruining the priceless paintings. As a result, the caves were shut to the public in 1967—meaning the only way you can enjoy them is through photos.
Little Compton Street, UK
Look through a sewer grate in a certain part of London and you’ll see perfectly preserved signs for a Victorian-era road called Little Compton Street. The signs date back to a previously covered road that stood up until 1896 when the street level was raised and what was left of Little Compton Street was consigned to the depths.
North Sentinel Island, Andaman Islands
Located in the Bay of Bengal, this remote forest island is probably most famous for its inhospitable inhabitants. It’s home to the Sentinelese, a small tribe who have remained isolated from the rest of the world for more than 60,000 years. And they want to remain that way, so much so that they have been known to kill unwanted visitors.
Located 3,300 feet underground, this neutrino observation facility with its 130-foot-high stainless steel tank would be a Mecca for science buffs, if they were allowed to visit it.
Surtsey Island, Iceland
This island simply didn't exist until it sprouted from the ocean following a volcanic eruption in 1967. But rather than let tourists traipse through the rocky outpost roughly 20 miles south of the mainland, the Icelandic government immediately closed it to all visitors in order to examine how nature colonized the virgin land on its own.
Tomb of the Qin Shi Huang, China
The man who is generally acknowledged as the grandfather of the country we now know as China spent as much time planning for his death as he spent living life. After his death in 210 BCE, he was buried with more than 2,000 terracotta reproductions of his army, his family and his horses. But, while archaeologists have been allowed to investigate the site, Qin Shi Huang’s mausoleum itself remains off-limits to everyone by order of the government.
Vatican Secret Archives, Vatican City, Italy
The Secret Archives, located in the depths of the Vatican, are off-limits to all but a very small number of lucky individuals. They are thought to contain some 53 miles of shelving including documents dating back to the 8th century; among the more famous items in the collection are Henry VIII’s written request for a marriage annulment and letters from Michelangelo.