When cruising the world you may wish you could visit some of the places you’ve heard about in stories. Perhaps you’ve dreamed of journeying to the fantastic Atlantis, or experiencing Asgard, home of the gods? We believe, all over the world you can find examples of these mythical places in real life. In this article, we find some of the best alternatives to mythical locations you can visit on a cruise holiday.
Mythical Places in the real world:
You should travel to Tromsø, Norway
In Norse mythology, Asgard is home to the gods. This land, described as being up in the heavens, is connected to Earth with a beautiful bridge of light. It is thought to be filled with gold and silver mansions, Valhalla, the hall where the greatest Norse warriors gather, and an abundance of indulgences.
We believe, Tromsø, a city in northern Norway, is the perfect place to experience the other end of that bridge. It’s one of the best places in the world to witness the beautiful Northern Lights and remains a historic centre for all of Norway. If the bridge to earth from Asgard were to lead anywhere, we imagine it must be here.
We spoke to Vanessa, blogger at Nordic Wanders, who told us why the city is so beautiful: “Tromsø is so stunning because of its location as an island in the fjord, surrounded by dramatic mountaintops on either side. Despite its scenic surroundings and location in the Arctic Circle, Tromsø is also a true city, though, and as such, offers plenty of culture and cuisine. In short, the city gives you the best of both - Arctic wilderness and Norwegian city life, which makes it a great place to visit if you’re the kind of person who likes to do it all when on vacation.”
Vanessa then told us what she’d recommend for someone visiting Tromsø for the day: “That depends very much on the season you visit. In winter, going for a whale safari and hunting the Northern Lights is a must, while in summer, a hike in the mountains should definitely be on your itinerary.
“One thing that you shouldn’t miss regardless of the time of year of your visit, however, is a trip with the cable car Fjellheisen to the city’s most beautiful viewing platform on Mt Storsteinen!”
You should travel to Machu Picchu, Peru
The city of El Dorado is one of the most sought-after mythical places in history. This rumoured city of solid gold, hidden somewhere deep in the South American jungle, fuelled many hopeful expeditions throughout time. In the 16th and 17th century explorers, including Sir Walter Raleigh, pined after the prize of a golden city.
For a hidden city in the South American jungle, we suggest you look no further than Machu Picchu. This incredible Incan city in Peru is thought to date back to the 15th century and is thought to have been the home of Incan emperor, Pachacuti. During the sunrise and sunset, a beautiful golden light is cast over the ruins, and we are sure that anyone who sees it may, for a second, believe every brick in front of them is crafted from solid gold.
We spoke to Nicole, travel blogger at Go Far Grow Close, who told us about how it felt seeing Machu Picchu for the first time: “Honestly, I had low expectations. I thought that we would find ourselves in a tourist trap being harassed by vendors and pushed through a pre-set travel route. However, I was absolutely blown away by my first view of Machu Picchu and the whole experience. We climbed onto buses at Aguas Calientes, the town below Machu Picchu. It climbed precariously up the mountain on switchbacks. All I could do was close my eyes to the death-defying drop below us. Once at the top, we walked along a path, still unsure at what we would see.
“And then… Machu Picchu is totally exposed all at once and it is a mind-blowing scene: Beautiful rugged and green mountains and valleys surround you and ruins are everywhere. There is so much to explore and learn about. I never felt like I was just another person seeing it. It felt authentic - like it had only been discovered in the last few years and we were one of the first to go.”
Nicole then spoke to us about why she thinks Machu Picchu feels so mythical: “I think it is the intersection of the stunning natural beauty, the incredible preserved ruins, the fact that they are scattered all over the mountain top, and that you cannot see them from any vantage point (below or from the side) until you round a corner and then, you are literally slapped in the face with this unbelievable scene. You end up pinching yourself wondering whether you are truly seeing what is in front of you. It feels magical.”
You should travel to Athens, Greece
Although Mount Olympus itself exists, the exact location of mythological Olympus is highly debated. Due to its height, Mount Olympus is commonly referred to as Olympus, however, the two aren’t necessarily the same. Home to the Greek gods, Olympus was described by legendary author Homer as a “heavenly threshold.” Although Mount Olympus is thought to have been this place, all that remains today is a mountain.
We believe to get close to the Greek gods, divert the mountain altogether and instead visit Athens. This city, a juxtaposition of new and old, is filled with relics from the old world, with gifts from the new. Here you’ll be able to see temples, ruins and monuments, all built in dedication to the gods.
We spoke to Laurence Noah, one half of the team at Finding The Universe, who told us what inspired him to visit Athens: “Athens is such a culturally important destination with so much history to explore, I feel it's a destination everyone needs to visit once. I wanted to walk the streets myself to see the city where concepts like democracy were first mooted, and see such incredible sights as the Parthenon.”
Laurence then spoke to us about the combination of new and old in the city: “Athens is a city with an incredibly vibrant culture, especially the cafe culture. This modern day culture is always overlooked by the old, with reminders of ancient Greece all around you. This is especially true with the Parthenon, which sits atop the Acropolis, and seems to hover in view wherever you go in the city, reminding you that Athens has been here for a long time, through the rise and fall of civilizations, and will likely be here for many years to come!”
We also spoke to Olivia Christine Perez, a blogger at O. Christine, who aims to inspire travel and the pursuit of wellness. Olivia blogged about her time in Athens, Greece. She told us what it was that inspired her to go: “I have a friend from Crete and was visiting on holiday. I thought, ‘I can't possibly come to Greece and not see such a historically significant city like Athens!’ So I made sure to spend a few days exploring Athens, too. I love learning about history through the exploration of ruins.”
Olivia then told us what she loved most about Athens: “I am inspired by how effortlessly landmarks of Ancient Greece weave into modern day life. Upscale dining with the Acropolis as a backdrop? It's almost surreal! Athens is a special place; I appreciate how its well-preserved monuments and ruins are almost meditative.”
You should travel to Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Atlantis is the best example of a mythical lost world. A paradise hidden in the ocean, Atlantis was originally envisioned by Plato but now its reality is constantly questioned. The nation was described as being a complete eutopia, filled with modern technology, incredible flora and a rich culture, which was all destroyed in a freak event of nature.
We believe Dubai is Atlantis’ modern day parallel. As one of the richest cities in the world, it’s filled with incredible architecture, beautiful landscapes and modern technology. This amazing city is a truly incredible place, and until you’ve been there you can never truly imagine what the energy feels like. Under the hot Arabian sun, you’ll enjoy a modern-day vista.
You should travel to Pyay, Myanmar
Finally, the amazing Shangri-La. A Utopia described in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary as: “a remote beautiful imaginary place where life approaches perfection.” The term first appeared in the novel Lost Horizon by James Hilton. First published in the 1930s, the book describes a Utopia lost in the Tibetan Himalayas.
Second to this, we think Pyay in Myanmar is the perfect alternative. Located on the Irrawaddy River, the town south of the Himalayas is hidden from the rest of the world. This beautiful town may be one you’ve never heard of, but the raw history of it is something incredible. Pyay was a booming trading town in the 1700s, but before that it was the ancient Pyu capital of Thayekhittaya. When there, you’ll be gifted with beautiful temples and a rich culture unlike anywhere else.
And there you have it, some fantastic alternatives to mythical places. We have plenty of cruise holidays that visit these inspiring places just waiting for you. Contact us today.