Seven Weird and Wonderful Towns Around The World

No roads? No problems!

If you think that your own neighbourhood is strange, then this list will likely make you reconsider. From a town that has more cats than humans, to a village that has no roads – these pockets of the world may just tempt you to relocate to somewhere a little more weird and wonderful. 

1. Coober Pedy, Australia

Let’s start on home turf with this South Australian town that exists entirely underground. Coober Pedy came about in 1915 as an opal-mining hub and to this day is still the biggest opal mine in the world. You can find houses, stores, churches, galleries and even a 4-star hotel, all peculiarly built, you guessed it, underground. In a place where temperatures are sweltering during summer, it’s understandable the local residents would do anything they can to beat the heat.

2. Aoshima, Japan 

Fancy yourself a cat person? Then pack your bags and head to Aoshima. Here you’ll see cats wherever you roam, because the furry little creatures outnumber humans six-to-one. Originally, the cats were brought in to deal with mice that plagued fishermen’s boats, but the cats stayed and multiplied. The human residents are mostly pensioners, who have remained here since the Second World War. They go about their business while more than 120 cats rule the streets.

3. Slab City, USA

Visitors may find it tricky to find Slab City, because there are no signs offering directions, and that’s how the residents would like to keep it. What was once a World War II training ground for Marines, the camp was later abandoned. Only a handful of chemical company workers set up trailers and stayed put. From here, the off-grid community grew, made up of vans, campers and shacks, all without running water, sewers or electricity, housing people who refer to themselves as “slabbers”.

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4. Giethoorn, Netherlands

If you’ve ever dreamt of living your own fairytale, or wished you lived somewhere serene and peaceful, then you may want to consider moving to Giethoorn. Also known as “Venice of the Netherlands”, this magical village has no roads nor modern transportation, only canals. Locals get around by “whisper boats”, which have noiseless engines. The village’s website claims that “the loudest sound you can normally hear is the quacking of a duck or the noise made by other birds”.

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5. Monsanto, Portugal

Sticking to the fairytale theme, Monsanto is a boulder-friendly town. Here, the natural placement of the rocks determined the structure of the town. Rather than moving the boulders, the locals used them as walls, floors and even roofs, resulting in tiny streets carved from rock and granite and houses squeezed between giant boulders. This real life Bedrock is home to about 800 people, and the preferred mode of transport through the narrow cobbled streets is by a donkey.

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6. Chefchaouen, Morocco

The small town of Chefchaouen not only holds a rich history, with beautiful natural surroundings and wonderful architecture, it is most famous for being painted entirely in shades of blue. Nicknamed “heaven of the hillside”, the colour was introduced by Jewish refugees in 1930, who considered blue to symbolise the sky and heaven. The colour was then adopted by all residents, who repaint their homes every spring.

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7. Burano, Italy

If you’re a fan of the whole rainbow, not just blue, a move to Burano is probably a better fit. Long ago, the fishermen of this island painted their houses in bright colours so they could locate them through thick fog as they sailed home. The result is this rainbow-like town, bursting with colour. Fun fact; residents are required to send a letter to the government if they want to repaint their house. They are then sent a list of colours they’re allowed to use and risk jail time if they use the wrong colour.

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Editorial Producer – Pauline Morrissey

Photo Credits – insureandgo.com; Mark Kolbe; Thomas Peter/Reuters; Dawg Shed / VQR Online; Live Journal, Uhaiun; Getty; A Rey, Gu; Chris Hill