Why are we attracted to dark tourism?* 

Dark tourism isn’t something new, however, it has only recently been given the official name after years of being a unique interest for certain travellers. Dark tourism is the act of travelling to a location that has an unusual or turbulent history and is a multi-million pound industry, with more and more travellers choosing to visit dark tourism locations every year.

Popularity of dark tourism

The growth in popularity has seen an increase in documentaries and various television shows around the topic of dark tourism, where hosts and presenters travel to some of the most popular locations and discover the troubled history for themselves. This has led to a further increase in travellers in these locations and sparked many a debate on whether dark tourism has a place in the world and why it’s so popular.

Should dark tourism exist?

While some people may disagree, dark tourism absolutely has a place in the travel industry and does more good than it does harm. Not only does it bring these awful periods in history to light but only by providing the necessary education do we reduce the chances of disasters happening in the future and it is an important aspect of preserving and honouring the memories of those who needlessly suffered.

Of course, there are dark tourism sites that are run for negative reasons, usually just to earn a profit without care for the locals or those that lived through atrocities, but I’ve provided some suitable locations to inspire your next trip as a dark tourist.

London

London, United Kingdom

The capital of the UK and its most densely populated city, London is full of dark tales and mysterious history. Visit one of the many long-standing graveyards such as Highgate or Cross Bones, drop by the Tower of London where Guy Fawkes and Ann Boleyn lived their final days or learn something new on a historic walk around London’s creepiest locations, where you can learn about the history of Jack the Ripper or chase the ghosts of London past.

Paris

Paris, France

Considered the country of love, France also hides some very dark secrets. In particular, the long-winding labyrinth of catacombs that reside below the city of Paris. Here, several million Parisians have been laid to rest, of which their bones can be seen lining the walls of the catacombs. Visits to the catacombs are expected to last an hour and tickets should be bought in advance as the location is one of the most popular in the world.

Amsterdam city break

Amsterdam, Netherlands

Not only home to beautiful canals and what, at first glance, seems to be the whole world’s supply of bicycles, the city of Amsterdam is also home to the Anne Frank House, another popular location with dark tourists from around the world. The Anne Frank House is where Anne Frank hid with her family from the Nazis during the Second World War and where she wrote her famous diary, the original of which is in the museum for visitors to see.

Pripyat

Pripyat, Ukraine

Ukraine is a beautiful country but is home to one of the world’s most popular dark tourism sites – Chernobyl, the site of one of the world’s worst nuclear accidents that took place in 1986. The nearest town of Pripyat remains a ghost town to this day and it’s recorded that the area will remain unsafe for inhabitation for centuries to come. Visitors can take part in specially arranged tours across an area of 35km but must carry special devices that measure radiation in the air and prevent visitors wandering into potentially deadly radiation zones.

Travelling to a dark tourism site?

If you are planning on travelling to one of the above locations or planning a dark tourism journey of your own, make sure you behave appropriately. These locations, whilst they allow for photographs, are not somewhere you should be taking happy holiday snaps and you should be respectful of the history and those that lost their lives. As more tourists forget the rules and act inappropriately at these locations, we run the risk of losing these important historic destinations and preventing others from learning and helping to prevent disasters in the future.

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