Ten places created as isolated escapes that became tourist attractions

Some notable tourist destinations have been inadvertently created by people who just wanted to get away from it all.

WALDEN POND, USA

In the 1840s the philosopher Henry David Thoreau built himself a hut in the Massachusetts woods and retreated into nature for two years – though he was only a short walk from town, and didn't mind occasional visitors. He spent his time writing his influential book Walden about the pared-down, self-reliant, meditative life. Now Walden Pond is so swamped with visitors that open-water swimming has been banned. See nps.gov

TAGHAZOUT, MOROCCO

Taghazout located 19 km north of Agadir in Morocco, is a world famous surf spot. You can stroll in the small fishing port and discover the houses all provided with terraces to enjoy the ocean and beautiful sunsets. iStock image for Traveller. Re-use permitted. traxx-online-distant
Brian Johnston socially distant destinations getting away from it all

Photo: iStock

One of the stops on the mid-twentieth-century Moroccan hippie trail, Taghazout was sought out by those keen to social distance from the disapproving, and enjoy an alternative, hash-fuelled lifestyle. No surprise that laidback surfers later moved in. Now only slightly tinged with old hippy-dom, Taghazout has become a well-known surfing and tourism town where winter-escaping Europeans clutter the beach, and hotels overflow with domestic visitors in summer. See visitmorocco.com

ASPEN, USA

dinner time at the Woody Creek Tavern, a funky restaurant famous a hangout of gonzo journalist Hunter Thompson; near Aspen; Colorado
traxx-online-distant
Brian Johnston socially distant destinations getting away from it all
Getty Images

Photo: Getty Images

This once down-at-heel Colorado silver-mining town began to attract counterculture residents in the 1960s and, most famously, the renegade journalist Hunter S. Thompson in the 1970s. His notorious watering hole Woody Creek Tavern (above) remains almost unchanged, but Aspen is now the go-to destination for well-heeled winter wanderers who think skiing involves expensive cocktails and handbag shopping. The actual skiing is amazing, even if now sedately mainstream. See aspensnowmass.com

AMARNATH CAVE, INDIA

Amarnath, Jammu & Kashmir, India - July 18, 2006: Pilgrimage to the holy Amarnath cave in Kashmir Himalayas. Amarnath cave is a Hindu shrine located in Jammu and Kashmir, India. It is dedicated to Shiva. The cave is situated at an altitude of 3,888 m. Amarnath cave shrine is considered to be one of the holiest shrines in Hinduism. iStock image for Traveller. Re-use permitted. traxx-online-distant
Brian Johnston socially distant destinations getting away from it all

Photo: iStock

This high-altitude cave in the Himalayas of northwest India, blocked in by snow in winter, is an important Hindu pilgrim site believed to be the abode of the god Shiva. It was once visited only by hardy wandering ascetics looking for meditative retreats. Now over half a million oxygen-deprived Hindus arrive in the short summer months for the arduous multi-day glacial trek by foot or pony. See anantnag.nic.in

LINDERHOF, GERMANY

Linderhof, Germany - July 7, 2013: View to the south-north axis of the central complex of Linderhof gardens and park. The garden has the form of three terrace gardens, crowned with a round temple and embellished in the romantic style. The Park around the gardens in the English Landscape style. Tourists are visiting Linderhof Castle. King Ludwig II was fascinated by the French residence of the Sun King Louis XIV. The Park around the palace is a small version of the Versailles Park. iStock image for Traveller. Re-use permitted. traxx-online-distant
Brian Johnston socially distant destinations getting away from it all

Photo: iStock

Advertisement

When the shy, romantic-minded King Ludwig II of Bavaria wanted to get away from it all, he retreated to this alpine hunting lodge. His favourite getaway has just a few rooms, pimped up with startling rococo cherubs. The surrounding Italian and English gardens soon give way to forested hills where the king could roam alone. It's now a popular tourist destination, though not as crammed as nearby Neuschwanstein. See schlosslinderhof.de

LUSHAN, CHINA

beautiful winter landscape on lushan mountain, a famous tourist destination in China iStock image for Traveller. Re-use permitted. traxx-online-distant
Brian Johnston socially distant destinations getting away from it all

Photo: iStock

Lushan, a gorgeous mountain region between Poyang Lake and the Yangtze River in eastern China, was once a remote outpost favoured by ancient Chinese scholar-poets fleeing the pressures of court life to eagerly embrace the Daoist joys of nature. It's now a national park and World Heritage site draped in cable-cars and crisscrossed with hiking trails, though still a wonderful collection of misty peaks, waterfalls and temples. See cnto.org.au

HOLY ISLE, SCOTLAND

Holy Isle, in Lamlash Bay, near the Isle of Arran off the west coast of Scotland. A typical looking Scottish island with crystal clear seas. This island is now, however, home to a Buddhist community (the monastery is visible bottom left). iStock image for Traveller. Re-use permitted. traxx-online-distant
Brian Johnston socially distant destinations getting away from it all

Photo: iStock

No better place for early Christian hermits and monks to self-isolate than on a remote lump of rock off the west coast of Scotland. Today the island is scattered with monastic ruins and grazed by ponies and goats but has been "discovered" by international Buddhists who come here to sink into meditation, mindfulness and yoga retreats run by the Centre for World Peace and Health. See holyisle.org

LAKE DISTRICT, ENGLAND

Ullswater lake curves through the mountains of the English Lake District at Glenridding, looking down on the lake from the crags of Birkhouse Moor. iStock image for Traveller. Re-use permitted. traxx-online-distant
Brian Johnston socially distant destinations getting away from it all

Photo: iStock

Considered remote and adventurous in the early Victorian era, this scenic region was soon attracting Romantic poets such as Wordsworth and Coleridge, keen to escape mundane urban life and scribble about dancing daffodils. It became a staple of the Victorian tour, and today hosts 15 million visitors annually. Its website even issues live "carpark status" warnings for anyone who imagines they're getting away from it all. See lakedistrict.gov.uk

MT SINAI, EGYPT

Steps going up from St.Catherine Monastery to Mount Sinai, Egypt. iStock image for Traveller. Re-use permitted. traxx-online-distant
Brian Johnston socially distant destinations getting away from it all

Photo: iStock

This biblical site where Moses purportedly received the Ten Commandments has for centuries been a pilgrim destination and retreat for penitents. A few monks and nuns have huddled in fortified St Catherine's Monastery since 330. Today, Mt Sinai is a staple of the backpack circuit, while tour groups visit on overnight excursions from Cairo. Even the hot, steep sunrise hike to the summit is well-tramped. See egypt.travel

MONT-SAINT-MICHEL, FRANCE

Le Mont Saint-Michel tidal island in beautiful twilight at dusk, Normandy, France iStock image for Traveller. Re-use permitted. traxx-online-distant
Brian Johnston socially distant destinations getting away from it all

Photo: iStock

How to maintain your distance from the eternal troubles of the Middle Ages? By building a town and monastery on a Normandy rock, surrounded by sea except at low tide. Its turrets and spires rise like a picture from a medieval illumination, but these days Mont-Saint-Michel has become one of France's most-visited destinations. The massive architecture, fortifications and sea views are stupendous, but so are the crowds. See ot-montsaintmichel.com

See also: Highest, hottest, wettest: The world's record-breaking, most extreme places

See also: I've been to 322 World Heritage sites: Here are the 20 best to visit

Comments