Ever heard of dark tourism?

Ever heard of dark tourism?
Photo by Peter Lam CH / Unsplash

Not everyone likes sunshine and daisies. Some prefer the darker things in life, like dark clothes, dark music and... dark travel destinations?

So what is a dark tourist? Simple, they are normal people who prefer to skip the usual beach and hiking holidays in favor of slightly more ominous destinations like Chernobyl or historical battlefields. People who want to learn more about the sad, disturbing, and sometimes horrific events that have take place all over the world.

Dark tourism is by no means a new trend. In fact, scientists in Scotland who coined the phrase in 1996, believe the idea has been around for centuries. For instance, there is evidence that onlookers watched The Battle of Waterloo from their carriages, just a short distance away from the fighting.

You might be wondering why someone would want to spend their holiday surrounded by death and depravity. For some, it's a way to connect with their family history (descendants of Holocaust survivors will often visit museums as a way to experience what their family members went through). For others, it's a way to educate themselves and understand the events that took place.

Some of the most popular dark tourist sites in the World include;

  • Pompeii, Italy
  • Catacombs - France
  • Auschwitz - Poland
  • Phnom Penh, Cambodia
  • Hiroshima - Japan
  • Berlin Wall - Germany
  • Chernobyl, Ukraine
  • Eyjafjallaj√∂kull, Iceland

Here are some things to keep in mind when visiting a dark tourist destination:

  • Avoid the usual "touristy" behavior; Don't take smiling selfies next to a grave site or make jokes while visiting a Holocaust museum.
  • Show respect; Most of the World's dark sites have seen death and destruction. Treat the site with respect and reverence that is expected.
  • Make it educational; Take the time to learn about the history, the events that took place and why they happened.

If you are looking for more information or inspiration, check out the Netflix series "Dark Tourist" where journalist David Farrier visits dark tourism spots around the world.