Dark Tourism

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Dark Tourism

Discover dark tourism sites from around the world, discover the best ways of getting there and buy fights there with Alternative Airlines.

What is Dark Tourism?

Dark Tourism involves travelling to places which are associated with death, disasters and tragedy. These are often places which have been affected by war, nuclear disaster sites, genocide sites, or human tombs. Although many of these places are considered taboo, people are still drawn to visit because of an adrenaline rush, a fascination, gaining a deeper understanding for the past, to get a better idea of the experience and to learn from the past, including about culture and the significance of the event.

Why do people visit Dark Tourism sites??

For most people, there is a morbid curiosity with sites of dark tourism. They want to see the consequences of humans actions and how they can destroy lives, from murder or the result of technology gone awry. It is also to get an understanding of what victims went through. For some sites, such as Chernobyl, it can also be used to understand the culture from a time capsule of history which is now frozen in time.

What is Responsible Dark Tourism?

It is important when visiting any of these places to be responsible and respectful. At any of these places, it is important you show your respect for those who have tragically lost their lives or suffered horrors. We've collected some tips for responsible and respectful travel when visiting these sites.

Taking photos

Although taking photos isn't forbidden at most of these places, and you may wish to capture the photos, you should aim to use photos taken to educate others. For example, capture only images which provide a narrative or insight into what took place. This means that in most places, you should refrain from taking selfies or happy family pictures, and ensure you show respect to the location.

Be prepared for emotions

Most people comment that when they visit these dark tourism destinations, they are overwhelmed with emotions which they may not be prepared for. This may not be only sadness, but potentially anger. Although you can't fully prepare for what you will see, you can prepare by knowing that you will experience a range of emotions.

Bring a tissue

Relating to the previous point, most people are sure to shed a few tears at these places so you can prepare with some tissues in advance.

Do your research

To fully get the most out of visiting one of these dark places, you should educate yourself beforehand as to what happened at these places. It will not only help you prepare emotionally for what you may experience, but also understand the history of the place better.

Respect other visitors

You should respect all other travellers also visiting the destinations and not pass any judgement. This is because some people may have relatives or know people who were victims of the site. Don't pass judgement on other's reactions, as other people and cultures show emotions in different ways to you.

Don't take items

When visiting, make sure you don't touch or take items home with you. Leave the place exactly how you left it, so that others who visit after you can experience the same.

9/11 Memorial, New York, USA

The National September 11 Memorial & Museum is the memorial in Downtown New York City which commemorates the September 11 attacks from 2001 and the Bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993. It is located at the World Trade Centre site, the former location of the Twin Towers which were destroyed during the 2001 attacks. The site features two large water reflecting pools which are located in the footprints of where each tower stood. The names of the 2,977 victims who died in the attack are remembered in the parapets surrounding the waterfalls.

The site is a popular destination, with an average of 9,000 visitors per day who come to remember the victims of the attacks.

Closest Airport to the 9/11 Memorial

There are three major airports which are located in New York City. These are John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK), LaGuardia Airport (LGA) and Newark International Airport (EWR). Each is similar distance from the city, so it often depends on the airline and route you are flying, which determines the best airport for you.

Airlines that fly there

The airlines that operate from these airports include United Airlines, Frontier Airlines, Delta Air Lines, American Airlines and Alaska Airlines.

Auschwitz, Poland

Auschwitz was the largest and most deadly Nazi concentration camp, and is the best-known and most notorious from the Second World War. This destination is of great significance of its role in the Holocaust, and the horrors that occurred to over 1.5 million of its residents including malnourishment, forced labour and of course the gas chambers.

Today, Auschwitz is a memorial site and museum which attracts visitors from around the world. It is known as the 'epitome of all dark tourism', and is estimated to have over 1 million visits annually to this Polish site.

Closest Airport to Auschwitz

The closest airport to Auschwitz is Kraków John Paul II International Airport (KRK). From here, you will likely need to book a tour guide to the site as it is about an hours drive away.

Airlines that fly there

There are a lot of European Airlines that fly to KRK, including Ryanair, Wizz Air, LOT Polish Airlines and Scandinavian Airlines.

Chernobyl, Ukraine

Chernobyl is an abandoned nuclear power plant site which exploded in 1986. This Ukrainian site is world-famous, and there are tours to the exclusion zone of Pripyat. Find out more about visiting this site, and how to get there with our page 'Flights to Chernobyl'.

Fukushima, Japan

Fukushima is a nuclear power plant located in Japan, which was the site of a nuclear disaster in March 2011. Following a powerful earthquake measuring 9.1 on the Richter scale which triggered a Tsunami killing 15,000 people, the flood walls at the Fukushima Power Plant were breached, triggering the nuclear disaster. In the time that followed the disaster, over 150,000 residents were evacuated from the 12mile exclusion zone.

Although the area remains uninhabited, people can now visit the exclusion zone on guided tours, where people can see the abandoned lives that people left behind during the evacuation, and the nature that is slowly claiming back the land.

Closest Airport to Fukushima

Fukushima Airport (FKS) is a small airport which still operates domestic flights despite being damaged by the disaster. Alternatively, most tours to Fukushima operate from Tokyo, of which the best airport to fly to would be Haneda Airport (HND) or Narita Airport (NRT).

Airlines that fly there

Fly to Fukushima from Osaka or Sapporo with ANA or Ibex Airlines. Alternatively, ANA, China Southern, Air China and Japan Airlines all fly to Tokyo

Hiroshima, Japan

Hiroshima was the site where the world's first atomic bomb, Little Boy, was dropped by the American aircraft, Enola Gay, in 1945. This created the infamous mushroom cloud image that most people will be able to envisage when thinking of Hiroshima. The result of the atomic bomb was a massacre in which people were instantly incinerated or wiped out from the blast and radiation, with the estimated total deaths of Hiroshima and the subsequent atomic bomb on Nagasaki standing between 129,000 and 226,000. Even to this day, survivors of the bomb are still suffering from radiation exposure such as cancers and birth defects.

People visiting the city of Hiroshima can see the spot where the atomic bomb exploded, which has been preserved as a skeleton of a building. There is also the Children's Peace Monument, which is a symbol of all the child victims which were affected by the atomic bomb. The Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park is a public park with monuments to victims scattered around the park, all of which is quiet and sombre.

Closest Airport to Hiroshima

Hiroshima has its own airport, Hiroshima Airport (HIJ) which is found 50km outside of Hiroshima.

Airlines that fly there

Fly to HIJ with airlines such as Japan Airlines, All Nippon Airways and Air China.

Pompeii, Naples, Italy

Pompeii is a famous world-heritage site, and is one of Italy's most popular tourist attractions. In 79 AD, the nearby volcano Mount Vesuvius erupted and destroyed the nearby town of Pompeii, burying it in lava and volcanic ash. The site is partly excavated, revealing the preserved Roman history and culture beneath. This is a site of dark tourism because it is believed that more than 16,000 people died as a result of the 79 AD eruption. Some of these bodies have decomposed over time, which left a human-shaped hollow space under the ash, which was later filled with plaster to recreate the petrified bodies.

2.5 million tourists visit this site annually, including seeing the petrified bodies and the lives they left behind when they died.

Closest Airport to Pompeii

Naples International Airport (NAP) is the closest airport to Pompeii.

Airlines that fly there

Fly to NAP with airlines such as easyJet, Jet2.com, Lauda, Alitalia, Ryanair and Volotea.