Alternative must-visit landmarks list includes iconic British music hall and real-life Disney castle

Get off the beaten tourist track with these top 20 alternative sights

A poll has revealed the world’s top 20 ‘alternative’ must-see landmarks – including the castle that inspired Disney and an iconic UK music hall.

Extensive research among 1,000 British travellers identified the ‘off the beaten track’ sights they most want to see.

Among them is Germany’s Burg Eltz, a fairy-tale style medieval castle nestled in the hills above the Moselle River that is said to be the blueprint for the palace in Disney’s Cinderella.

Burg Eltz in Germany, the inspiration behind Disney's Cinderella castle

Burg Eltz Castle, Germany

The castle is owned and maintained by the Eltz family, who have lived there since it was built in the 12th century – all 33 generations of them.

The distinctive structure is surrounded by the stunning Eltz Forest, a popular destination for hikers.

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Three British landmarks made the list, including Wilton’s Music Hall, a Grade II listed building that Time Out rated the fifth most iconic building in London.

First used as a music hall in 1853, the historic building was saved from demolition in the 1960s. Today it hosts theatre productions and weddings, as well as offering guided tours.

Wilton's Music Hall, London

The grand interior of Wilton’s Music Hall, London

The study by Travelzoo also found a fifth of the 1,000 adults polled prefer to visit less known areas because they can experience them without any preconceived ideas.

James Clarke, general manager of Travelzoo UK, said: “We’re all familiar with those must visit places – the Eiffel Tower, the Leaning Tower of Pisa and so on.

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“They are all truly amazing landmarks but there are a growing number of travellers who want to see sights that aren’t quite so well-known.

“Thankfully we are blessed with fantastic landmarks across the globe which are also well worth a visit – and that’s exactly what we wanted to show through this research.”

In addition to Wilton’s, the UK is also represented by The Rock Houses, homes carved straight into the rock amid a wildlife haven in Stourbridge.

Kinver Edge Rock Houses, Stourbridge

The Rock Houses at Kinver Edge, Stourbridge

Dating from 1770 and inhabited until the 1950s, in recent years one of the houses has been restored to show just what life was like for residents in the 1930s – enabling visitors to experience a bygone era.

The Minack Theatre, an open-air theatre located on the Cornish shore not far from Land’s End, is also among the British locations to make the list.

Other desirable destinations include Australia’s Ningaloo Reef, a world heritage-listed site home to turtles, tropical fish, manta rays, humpback whales and whale sharks.

The Baths of Caracalla in Rome, considered some of the best-preserved ancient buildings from Roman times, and Canada’s CN Tower are other locations travellers are eager to see.

CN Tower, Toronto, Canada

CN Tower, Toronto, Canada

The study also found visiting a particular place can have a profound impact on visitors, with a fifth have been moved to tears by the beauty, wonderment or history of some corners of the globe.

Meanwhile, eight in 10 believe that visiting a country’s landmarks and other areas of significance gives you a better understanding of that place’s culture.

James Clarke added: “Travelzoo exists to provide its members with the inspiration to travel to new and interesting places.

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“Visiting the alternative destinations listed in this survey provides a way for travellers to explore unfamiliar cultures and off-the-beaten track landmarks to really gain a deeper understanding of the world.”

Want to tick off all 20 alternative landmarks? The complete list is as follows…

1. Alcatraz, California, USA: Former maximum-security prison located on Alcatraz Island in San Francisco Bay, off the coast of California – once home to the country’s most dangerous criminals.

2. CN Tower, Toronto, Canada: A renowned architectural ‘triumph’, this engineering wonder of the modern world offers entertainment and dining with views of the city.

3. The Baths of Caracalla, Rome, Italy: Some of the best-preserved ancient buildings from Roman times.

4. Minack Theatre, Porthcurno, UK: An open-air theatre, constructed above a gully with a rocky granite outcrop jutting into the sea.

5. Parliament, Budapest, Hungary: The Hungarian Parliament building, a celebrated example of Neo-Gothic architecture, is more than 100 years old.

6. The Tenement Museum, New York, USA: Experience what it was like to live in New York in the 19th and 20th centuries in these restored apartments.

7. Ningaloo Reef, Western Australia: World Heritage-listed site home to turtles, tropical fish, manta rays, humpback whales and whale sharks.

8. Carnac, Brittany, France: Best known for the Carnac stones, thousands of prehistoric standing stones.

9. Wilton’s Music Hall, London, UK: A Grade II listed music hall with original cast iron pillars, balcony and decor.

10. Plaza de España, Seville, Spain: Built in 1929, this is a landmark example of Spain’s Regionalism Architecture, mixing elements of the Baroque Revival, Renaissance Revival and Moorish Revival styles.

Plaza de Espana, Seville, Spain

11. The Rock Houses, Stourbridge, UK: A wildlife haven in the heath with unique homes carved straight into the rock.

12. Kata Tjuta, Australia: Ancient red rock formations which appear to change colour.

13. Lake Louise, Alberta, Canada: Known for its turquoise, glacier-fed lake ringed by high peaks and overlooked by a stately chateau. A great spot for hiking.

14. Kiyomizu-Dera Temply, Kyoto, Japan: Built to honour Kannon, the goddess of mercy, its beautiful hillside location offers spectacular views of the city and valley below.

15. Olomouc, Czech Republic: A great, lesser-know alternative to Prague, Olomouc is known for its architecture, culture and religious heritage.

16. Burg Eltz, Germany: A medieval castle nestled in the hills and forest above the Moselle River between Koblenz and Trier, which resembles a fairytale castle.

17. Beng Mealea, Cambodia: Also know as Bung Mealea, it is a temple from the Angkor Wat period, located east of the main group of temples at Angkor, Cambodia, on the ancient royal highway to Preah Khan Kompong Svay.

18. Kinkatu-Ji Temple, Kyoto, Japan: Built in 1397 as a residence for shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu, this ancient temple is completely covered in gold leaf.

19. Uxmal, Mexico: An ancient Maya city of the classical period located in present-day Mexico.

20. Christmas Island, Indian Ocean: Nicknamed the ‘Galapagos of the Indian Ocean’, the island is famous for its red crabs, sea birds, whale sharks and spectacular coral reefs.

Words: Rob Knight

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