Top 20 most unusual holidays around the world

By travelling like a local you're always going to experience things that other travellers pass by in their coaches. However, even by our standards these are some truly weird and wonderful holidays. (But don't worry, we also have suggestions for more conventional alternatives that are just as interesting!)

Genghis Khan warrior training

What is it? Head into the Mongolian grasslands for training in thirteenth century battle skills. Dressed in full costume and staying in felt gers (nomadic tents), learn bow and arrow making, how to shoot on horseback, how to herd and lasso horses and the battle tactics used by the great Khan.

Similar: Maasai warrior survivor training or Mongolian eagle festival and trekking holiday.

See also: Holidays with indigenous communities and in Mongolia or the Masai Mara.
Mirror cube treehouse

What is it? Hidden away in the Boreal forest of Swedish Lapland, land of the Northern Lights, are a collection of the most unusual treehouses we've seen. Choose between the Bird's Nest, Cabin, UFO, Blue Cone and the amazing Mirror Cube with reflects the surrounding trees.

See also: More conventional treehouses and cabins, or Lapland holidays.
Stay in a Turkish cave

What is it? An exquisitely restored eighteen-room troglodyte cave house in the heart of Cappadocia, Turkey. The hotel is located in a restored thousand-year-old Byzantine monastic retreat which offers modern conveniences without distracting from the spiritual feeling of the area which has been known to be inhabited for more than five thousand years.

Similar: Combine your cave stay with a hot air balloon ride over Cappadocia's surreal topography. Or, stay in Spanish cave houses in the village of Castillejar.

See also: Converted buildings or Turkey or Spain holidays.
Felt making in Scotland

What is it? Experience the entire process, from fleece to felt. Learn about Highland farming life styles and hand shearing, search for dye plants to naturally colour our fleece a rainbow of colours, and, after carding and felting, produce a felted piece of work.

See also: Holidays to learn traditional skills and crafts or something new, or Scotland holidays.
Transylvanian Count's guesthouse

What is it? The Count's guesthouses, dating back beyond the 1800s, have been extensively restored to regain their old charm and character in the years since we returned to Transylvania after 50 years of exile. Visit us in this unknown fairytale land, take a village tour by horse-cart to discover Transylvania as our great-grand parents knew it. Famous due to the fiction of 'Count Dracula', Translyvania has mountains, medieval villages, UNESCO World Heritage Sites and excellent Romanian wines.

Similar: Scottish Abbey, Italian castle or Indian heritage castle.

See also: Heritage places to stay and Translyvania holidays.
Learn how to mush huskies

What is it? See behind the scenes of a working Husky Farm. Learn about a musher's life and help take care of the dogs, building up a mutual respect that will make controlling them on your overnight husky safari much easier as you glide through stunning surroundings to a wilderness cabin with a traditional Finnish wood sauna.

See also: Dog sledding, winter activities or holidays in Lapland.
Family walk with a Donkey

What is it? What is the secret to making unexplored hidden mountains accessible to a family? ...a donkey! These affectionate animals have been part of our family for as long as we can remember and each has their own individual personality. Trained masters in the art of comedy, they love the company of humans, especially that of children, who they will encourage to keep on walking without sulking.

See also: Horseriding and family walking holidays, or trips to France.
Tree climbing

What is it? We meet you in our tree climbing field at a secret location in the Isle of Wight AONB. Once you have climbed as high as you want to go, you can hang out in the canopy and rest in the tree hammock before abseiling to the ground through the branches, where a picnic awaits you.

Similar: Go wild swimming in Slovenia's stunning glacial lakes, explore lush forest and magnificent waterfalls and visit Lake Bled, with its unique island church, cliff-top medieval castle and mountain backdrop.

See also: Forest or Slovenia holidays.
Live with a Berber family

What is it? Live with a family of Berbers in the breath-taking Moroccan Sahara. You won’t be watching desert life from a gas hungry 4x4, but will get out and live with the people, experience their life, make friends, and be part of the community. Help the family make fresh bread, join the family in the daily stroll to the local well with the family donkey or wander round the local village, meeting some of the local children or visiting the local shop. Take a camel ride into the Erg Chebi, ending at the 'oasis' where the family has a large nomad style tent. Watch the shooting stars in the clear night sky.

See also: Community insights holidays or Morocco or desert holidays.
Sleep in a railway carriage

What is it? Our railway carriage in the pretty village of St Germans in Cornwall sleeps two in a double bed. This is quirky living with character and has everything you need, including a wood-burning stove for cosy evenings in, an excellent village community shop and local pub serving food and real ales.

Similar: Lighthouse in Wales or Greek windmill.

See also: Converted buildings or Cornwall holidays.
Afghanistan holiday

What is it? Afghanistan hardly needs introduction; just the name is enough to have most politicians panicking, journalists packing and travellers salivating with expectation. Visit the extraordinary city of Herat, the famous mountain caves of Bamiyan, the breathtaking lakes at Band-e Amir, the historical northern towns of Mazar-e Sharif and Balkh as well as the famous Panjshir Valley, as welll as opportunities to witness traditional lifestyles from farming and pottery-making to silk-weaving and daily prayer.

See also: Iraq holidays, extreme adventures and cultural tours.
Camel Fair in India

What is it? Camel, cattle and horses are still traded in their thousands here. Coinciding with the full moon, the fair attracts up to 300,000 people and is also home to countless craft stands. Spend two days soaking up the atmosphere including the final day of the festival where devotees bath in the lakes and visit temples.

See also: Festivals, camel safaris in the desert or India holidays.
Sweden's most primitive hotel

What is it? A natural refuge for silence, wilderness and adventure in a beautiful forest setting just a couple of hours from Stockholm, your hut has no electricity or running water. Hike, swim, pick blueberries and mushrooms or relax by a campfire. You have a good chance to see wild moose and beavers, and your kids can learn about Sweden's wildlife and nature with our experienced guides.

Similar: Take a wild food holiday. Forage for greens in stunning Scottish Highland scenery, cook a wild lunch and have an evening feast. Experiment with ancient ways of cooking; try outdoor bread baking and clay baked fish.

See also: Wilderness, cooking, Sweden or Scottish Highlands holidays.
Scuba diving in Antarctica

What is it? Combine a classic Antarctica cruise with an opportunity to dive, exploring icebergs and viewing penguins from a different angle as you negotiate the icy waters and discover the secrets of Antarctica below the surface. For climbers, there are also literally hundreds of unclimbed peaks to choose from. For everyone else there are no shortage of photographic possibilities or to simply savour the natural beauty, rich diversity of wildlife and clustered castles of icebergs and steep glaciers that characterise the shoreline.

See also: More traditional diving destinations, or Antarctica cruises.
Voodoo Trail

What is it? Meet African royalty and witness tribal dancers fall into trance-like states as you enjoy an immersive authentic cultural experience like no other. An expert will guide you through the stunning landscapes of Benin, Burkina Faso and Togo, helping with the cultural and lingual hurdles, ensuring you come away with deep insight into the origins of Africa's mystical animist religions.

See also: Cultural Africa holidays.
Ice hotel

What is it? This 'igloo hotel' sleeps around 80, with suites and a bar (including the glasses) all made from snow and ice! The hotel is decorated with ice sculptures, creating a fairytale-like atmosphere. If it gets too cold warm up in the hot tub and sauna next door. Take a trip through the wilderness on a husky-driven sled, try snow shoeing, learn about the Sami culture and look out for the Northern Lights.

Similar: After a day of winter skills training help construct a comfortable communal snow-hole lit by flickering candles! Wake up to the soft light of a Cairngorm dawn and a pristine winter wonderland.

See also: Norway holidays and unusual places to stay.
Ethiopia festivals

What is it? Festivals in Ethiopia are colourful events with plenty of pageantry, music and dancing. In January we attend Timkat, the most important festival in the calendar, which celebrates Epiphany. In September we attend the Meskal festival which has been celebrated for over 1600 years. Ethiopia is a unique and secluded country. It has never been colonised by a European power, and as a result the people have retained a strong cultural identity and are renowned for their warmth and hospitality. It possesses some of the most impressive architecture found anywhere and some of the finest mountain scenery in Africa.

See also: Ethiopia and festivals holidays.
Fun vintage camping experience

What is it? A unique campsite of Airstream caravans, run by a couple who were previously circus artists! Facing the Pyrenees mountains, there are fantastic views, easy walks and bike rides in the surrounding lakes, forests and typical French villages, and medieval castles to visit. We organise vintage events, nights with live acts at the 'Apollo Lounge' bar and food from the oragnic farmers around us.

Similar: Sleep in a converted 1970's Airstream, cool down in the natural pool, catch up on some reading in the cabin or pop out in the 2CV. Located amidst 50 acres of private park in south west France, 30 minutes from St Emilion.

See also: Campsites & caravans or France holidays.
Paris' literary bad boys

What is it? Revisit 19th century Paris to hear about the bohemians who squatted in the Louvre, hotels where Oscar Wilde resided, the drinking den where Rimbaud wrote his poems and the salon where Baudelaire and his friends ate cannabis. Walk on into the 20th Century to visit the original Shakespeare and Co., frequented by Hemingway and James Joyce, and finally, to the 'Beat Hotel' where Beat Generation writers lived in artistic squalor and wrote some of their great works.

Similar: San Fransisco literary and arts tour, Jane Austen tour or Paris portrait, fashion, cinema or artistic tours.

See also: City breaks, unusual city tours or France holidays.
Ice sculpture festival

What is it? The Harbin Ice Festival in north-east China showcases magnificent ice sculptures, many built on an awe-inspiring scale, depicting well-known buildings, animals, gardens and scenes from Chinese folklore. See the incredibly dextrous sculptors at work and, after dark, watch the sculptures come to life in a dazzling display of light and colour.

See also: Festivals or China holidays.
Want more? See our unusual places to stay or browse our countries and most popular holiday types.
Written by Justin Francis
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