6 unusual attractions in Europe you probably didn’t know existed
No matter how well you think you know Europe, there’s always another surprise around the corner. From unusual dwellings to underwater museums, there’s a lot more to many places than meets the eye. So with your Eurail Pass in hand, head off the beaten track and see how many of these 6 unusual attractions in Europe you can visit.
1. The upside-down boat village
Équihen-Plage used to be one of the best fishing spots in northern France. Once they were no longer seaworthy, old fishing boats lay upside-down on the shore until locals decided to repurpose them by converting them into small houses.
Almost every boathouse in the village was completely destroyed by the Second World War, but many of the locals were dedicated to preserving their culture and history. The community of roughly 3,000 people restored some of the old boat houses and started constructing new ones.
Today, Équihen-Plage consists of family-friendly camping sites, pleasant vacation homes, cozy cafés and interesting local museums. It is also a stone’s throw away from Boulogne-sur-Mer. Here you can pay a visit to Nausicaá National Sea Centre, one of France’s top 10 tourist attractions and the largest aquarium in all of Europe.
2. The Disgusting Food Museum
The Disgusting Food Museum is located in the Swedish city of Malmö and it is definitely not for the faint of heart. This unusual attraction features up to 80 different dishes from all around the world. Some of the exhibited delicacies include Durian, a foul-smelling fruit from Thailand, and Casu Marzu, a maggot-infested cheese from Sardinia. The main message is that the idea of disgust is a cultural construct, since one culture’s idea of disgusting may be another culture’s delicacy.
While touring the museum, you can discover the origins of some of the world’s most ‘revolting’ foods. It is essentially the food tour that nobody asked for, yet the one many are most curious about.
You’re allowed to sample some of the dishes that capture your attention – if you’re brave enough, that is. The museum has a chalkboard which keeps track of the last time a visitor threw up. If you happen to upchuck a national delicacy, you get the honour of updating it.
3. The submerged Museo Atlantico
Museo Atlantico is the world’s first underwater art museum. You’ll find it in the coastal town of Playa Blanca on the Spanish island of Lanzarote.
Created by Jason deCaires Taylor with the intent to advocate for marine conservation, the underwater world is populated by over 300 life-sized sculptures, with many based on local residents. The sculptures are designed to create environmental awareness, as they change colour over a period of time and become cocooned in coral reefs that act as homes for many new organisms.
The museum also plays a key role in preventing the extinction of coral reefs. The first sculptures submerged in 2016 are already home to diverse marine life, including schools of sardines, sea urchins, octopuses, and other sea creatures.
4. Berlin’s abandoned theme park
In the southeast of Germany’s capital lies an abandoned amusement park. Known as Spreepark, the park covers 70 acres and is hauntingly beautiful. To understand what it feels like, picture a scene from a scary movie where one of the swings in the park starts rocking back and forth without anybody touching it. Think creaking ferris wheels and rusty rides, giant models of dinosaurs and flickering neon signs.
Spreepark still features many of these, along with fading graffiti and piles of garbage gifted by rampant partygoers who flock to this unusual attraction, especially around Halloween. The dilapidated park was also featured in the 2011 thriller movie Hanna, and has certainly gained more recognition as a result.
Despite being abandoned for the last decade, weekend tours of Spreepark are popular, though there has been discussion of rebuilding the park and using it to promote art and culture within the city of Berlin.
5. The hand-painted Polish village
The hand-painted village of Zalipie is Poland’s most colorful village. The tradition dates back to the 19th century, where the women in the community painted floral designs to disguise soot-covered surfaces and imperfections in their homes. The paint was either a mixture of dumpling fat or powdered dye and milk and the brushes were made out of hair from their cows’ tails. It has now become an annual tradition to repaint the houses after the Feast of Corpus Christi.
The women in the town took inspiration from nature and local folklore, so the paintings are often large and colourful and the houses richly decorated. One of the most famous painters of Zalipie, Felicja Curyłowa, has a museum dedicated to her memory.
Today, Zalipie’s tradition continues and the uniqueness of the village and its traditions are kept alive through exhibitions, festivals, competitions and of course, fresh coats of paint.
6. The island soccer stadium
The Henningsvær Idrettslag Stadion is a breathtaking soccer ground on the island of Austvågøya in Norway. The ground has no stands and hosts local amateur football practice. The fishing village is home to only 500 people, and the ground is surrounded by fishermen’s cabins and endless racks of drying cod.
Due to its stunning location, the area offers endless opportunities to go diving, snorkelling and mountain climbing. With a view as breathtaking as this, it’s no surprise that the archipelago draws in many tourists every year, but the stadium itself is still not that well known.
Looking for more unusual places in Europe? Here are a few ideas…
- 8 haunted places in Europe that will freak you out
- 8 weird museums in Europe you just have to see
- Best cities in Europe for urban exploration