Claustrophobia is an irrational fear of being in enclosed or narrow spaces, and if you suffer with the condition, you’ll know that it’s not a huge amount of fun. Things can get pretty daunting when you don’t know where the exit is and, unfortunately, some of the world’s most popular travel destinations offer just the right environment to induce sweaty palms, making them no-go areas for wander-lusting claustrophobes.

While for most people, taking a vacation is one of life’s simple pleasures, Claustrophobia can be particularly difficult to manage while travelling. If you suffer from phobias, an upcoming trip might be fraught with worry rather than anticipation. With a bit of advance planning, however, there is no reason that your claustrophobia should prevent you from having the time of your life - just understand your triggers and know where to avoid.

So if you fall into this category then you might want to open a couple of windows before reading our rundown of holiday destinations that you definitely shouldn’t visit. Whether it’s underground caves in Mexico, squeezing into famous landmarks or vying for precious elbow space in the world’s most intense crowds, the following locations are a claustrophobic’s worst nightmare.

20 20. Crammed Inside An Elevator In The Eiffel Tower

The most renowned landmark in Paris (maybe even all of Europe), the Eiffel Tower is visited by around seven million people each year. That is a lot of people to fit inside the elevator and if infringement on your personal space triggers a reaction, it might be best to use the stairs as much as possible.

The number of people packed into an elevator starts to thin out as visitors stop to explore the various floors but they will still be full. In addition, you must mentally prepare for a long wait - in high season, you can queue for three hours. Suddenly, those 704 steps to the second floor don’t seem so unattractive.

19 19. Ascending The Pyramids Of Giza, Egypt

The Pyramids of Giza were constructed some 4,500 years ago, and the Great Pyramid of Khufu is the only one of the seven wonders of the ancient world that exists intact today. But if you suffer with claustrophobia, you’ll have to marvel this great wonder from the outside only. Seriously, don’t even consider venturing inside.

Going inside any of the pyramids requires an additional ticket purchase, and what you get for your money is the chance to enter a small opening on the side of the pyramid and practically crawl up a narrow tunnel, which ascends for several metres before reaching the Queen's Chamber. This leads onto another narrow passageway called the Great Gallery, and it’s really not all that great if you hate small spaces.

18 18. The Underground Scene In Budapest

Budapest is revered for its stunning architecture and grand museums. Less well known, however, is the vast network of more than 200 limestone grottos that lie below the metropolis. Urban thrill-seekers don headlamps and helmets to crawl through the small crevices in this subterranean labyrinth. Imagine wiggling through tight spaces, no larger than your hips, just to reach an even smaller space on the other side. No, not for you? Perhaps stay above ground and enjoy a good coffee instead.

17 17. An Ancient City Beneath The Ground - Turkey

A large city located 60 metres underground is not somewhere a claustrophobe wants to be. Ever. The ancient city of Derinkuyu in Cappadocia, Turkey, was carved into soft volcanic rock in the 8th-7th centuries B.C. by the Phrygians, and used to shelter from invasions. These days, it’s a fascinating draw for tourists from around the world.

This remarkable city is connected with other underground cities in the area by the tunnels, that extend for kilometres. The city even has a chapel, a religious school, storage rooms and refectories. Emergency exits, however, are lacking.

16 16. Rush Hour At The World’s Busiest Train Station, Japan

If rush hour at a busy train station brings you out in hives, then Japan’s Shinjuku Station in Tokyo will induce a full-blown anxiety attack.

Shinjuku takes busy to a whole other level and it is, officially, the busiest train station in the world.

Used by an estimated 3.65 million people a day, it serves as an essential transit hub for the Tokyo rail and subway network, as well as rail links throughout the greater Kanto region surrounding the capital.

Oh, and it's also packed full of enclosed spaces with hardly enough room to breath. Definitely one to avoid.

15 15. Spectacular Subterranean Networks Of Jerusalem, Israel

The Western Wall is impressive but descend underground and you’ll find a spectacular subterranean network of tunnels carved into the rock, and domed halls extending from the Western Wall plaza in the south, passing beneath the Muslim Quarter, and up to Dolorosa Street in the north.

The tunnels run along approximately 488 metres and guided walks will pass by Second Temple era homes, ancient cisterns, constructions from the Muslim period, an aqueduct from the Hasmonean period and more. Its narrow tunnels and passageways are a historian’s dream.

If you suffer from claustrophobia, however, the tight and constricted space is certain to bring you out in a cold sweat.

14 14. Dining Under The Sea In The Maldives

Constructed in Singapore in 2004 and then transported to the Maldives, where it was lowered into the water, the Ithaa Undersea Restaurant will leave you gasping in awe - or just gasping, if you’re not keen on confined spaces.

One of seven restaurants at the Conrad Maldives Rangali Island Hotel, Ithaa is the world’s first all-glass undersea restaurant. Dine five metres below the surface, savour the panoramic views of an Indian Ocean coral garden, and enjoy Maldivian-Western fusion fine dining. Prices aren’t cheap, but then you’re paying for once-in-a-lifetime experience.

13 13. Stay Away From The Dome In Rome

Even if you are not religious, St. Peter’s Basilica is a must-see in Rome. Located in the Vatican City, it's one of the largest churches in the world and climbing its spectacular 132.5-metre dome provides visitors with views to die for. That is, unless they have claustrophobia, in which case the dome of St Peter’s Basilica should be avoided at all costs.

The entrance to the dome’s steps is to the right of the basilica and the climbing of its 320 steps isn’t easy – the staircase is narrow, the walls are slanted and it can become crowded and stifling.

12 12. The Riviera Maya’s Amazing Underground River, Mexico

Little over an hour south of Cancun, near the town of Playa del Carmen, is Rio Secreto, an extensive system of caves and cenotes unlike any others in the region. This stunning underground river boasts thousands of dramatic stalactites and stalagmites and stretches approximately eight miles.

You don't need a dive certification to explore - you just have to walk and float through the caves, which sounds rather relaxing, doesn’t it? However, in order to reach these caverns, you must first travel through dark, cold and narrow water-filled passageways.

The whole experience will  leave claustrophobes begging to see daylight again.

11 11. Sleeping In Confined Spaces In Japanese Pod Hotels

Ever fancied a snooze in one of those cryo-chambers you get on Hollywood spaceships? No? Then maybe Japanese-style pod hotels aren’t for you.

These unusual hotels are pretty much what they sound like: lodging made up of small pod rooms that come complete with only a bed, lighting and some storage space.

The convenient hostels are designed for busy professionals who work late and just need a bed for the night. The only problem is, the pods are little bigger than a coffin, which won’t be everyone’s idea of a good night’s kip.

10 10. The Cradle Of Humankind In South Africa

Declared a World Heritage site in 1999, the Cradle of Humankind is an area around 50km north west of Johannesburg where some of the most significant hominid fossil discoveries in the world have been made.

It looks unremarkable on the surface, where a modern glass centre, containing geology lessons, welcomes visitors. But that’s where claustrophobics should end the tour because a trip down to the major fossil sites that lie beneath is not for the faint-hearted. Expect damp stairways, caverns and sweaty palms.

9 9. Squeezing Through Spooky Gulch Passageway - Utah, USA

Spooky Gulch is a short slot canyon hike in the Grand Staircase-Escalante area in Utah. The famous passageway is a popular location for tourists, and it’s easy to see why - unless, of course, squeezing yourself sideways through a 10-inch gap isn’t your ideal outdoor activity.

Spooky is well-named and pretty famous for how dark it gets when deep in a slot, and for the panic-inspiring quality of its extremely narrow walls. So narrow, in fact, it’s recommended you ditch your backpack and suck in your stomach. It makes for some pretty awesome holiday pics, though.

8 8. Waiting, And Waiting... And Waiting In Line At The Empire State Building, New York

Soaring 1,454 feet above the heart of Midtown Manhattan, the world-famous Empire State Building offers unobstructed panoramic views of New York City. No trip to the Big Apple is complete without ascending this famous landmark, which attracts around four million people annually.

But with so many visitors comes very little personal space. In fact, there’s no room to swing a cat in the vast queues, and waiting times can be up to two hours at peak times. Then there’s also the jam-packed elevators to contend with. So it’s no wonder that for people with claustrophobia, the whole experience might just seem a bit much.

7 7. Views From The Monument, London

Designed by Sir Christopher Wren and Dr Robert Hooke, and completed in 1677, this 202ft high colossal column remembers the Great Fire of London and celebrates the city which rose from the ashes.

Standing at the junction of Monument Street and Fish Street Hill, this impressive structure invites over 150,000 visitors each year. While climbing the 311 spiral steps will be rewarded with one of the best views over the London, there’s not a lot of space and there’s no way to turn back. If this doesn't sound like your cup of tea, maybe skip it and grab an actual cup of tea instead.

6 6. Toronto's Famous CN Tower, Canada

One of the world’s tallest towers, this sheer stiletto defines the Toronto skyline. A glass-fronted elevator whisks you up 1,135 feet to the outdoor observation platform in a dizzying 58-seconds. If you’re feeling brave, you can ascend another 33 floors for three more look-out levels. The ultimate, vertigo-inducing view is at 1,465 feet.

If this doesn’t sound so bad for claustrophobics, then perhaps it’s worth remembering the other two million tourists who also want to experience the iconic landmark. Expect two-hour queues and crowded spaces.

5 5. Disney World: The Most Magical Place On Earth. Really?

A trip to Walt Disney World is high on many family holiday lists but the reality is that you have to be prepared to wait in line. A lot. The crowds at Disney World are legendary. In fact, Magic Kingdom is the most visited theme park in the world and attracted a whopping 20.45 million tourists in 2017. So if you really want a piece of the magic, you’re going to have to give up some personal space in return.

If you want to avoid crowds, visit when the schools in the United States are in session. Usually the last week in January, the first week or two of February, and September have the smallest crowds.

4 4. The Deepest Known Cave In The World, Georgia

With a staggering depth of 7,208 feet, Krubera Cave is the deepest known cave in the world. To put that in perspective, imagine six-and-a-half Eiffel Towers stacked on top of each other underground.

Located in the Arabika Massif, taking a guided tour of the cave will make you feel like you’re living in Jules Verne’s Journey to the Centre of the Earth. But with artificial lighting, stalactites and stalagmites, confined spaces and a deep, black underground lake, it will feel more like a living hell for claustrophobics.

3 3. The Annual Hajj Pilgrimage To Mecca, Saudi Arabia

An estimated two million Muslims from around the world arrive in Saudi Arabia for the start of the annual Hajj pilgrimage, which occurs from the 8th to 12th (or in some cases 13th) of the last month of the Islamic calendar.

All able-bodied Muslims are expected to make the journey at least once in their lifetime and due to the huge numbers expected, safety measures have been implemented. Sadly, crushes and stampedes in recent years have occurred.

2 2. The Empire Of Days Passed, Beneath The Streets Of Paris, France

Paris might be the city of love, but below the city streets is large labyrinth of underground tunnels and passageways that snake across the French capital. Inside them rest the remains of more than six million people.

By the 17th century, Paris’ cemeteries were overflowing. The solution was to put the bodies in the tunnels that had existed beneath the streets of Paris since the 13th century, remnants of a time when limestone quarries were mined to build the city.

Some of the tunnels are lined to the ceiling with skulls and bones, but that will be the least of your fears if you’re scared of small spaces.

1 1. Big scenery - small gondola: Sugarloaf Mountain, Brazil

More than 37 million people have ridden this Rio gondola since it opened in 1912. It’s made numerous television and film appearances, too. Remember the 1979 Bond film Moonraker, and the metal-toothed villain who fights on top of a cable car? That’s Sugarloaf.

Admittedly, you won’t have to fist-fight bad guys on the roof of this popular attraction, but if you’re claustrophobic, you will have to fight your nerves as you’re confined inside the small car as it scales the 395-metre-high mountain. The journey to the top of Sugarloaf Mountain is divided into two stages, each lasting three minutes, with each cabin able to carry 65 passengers.

References: livescienceshinjukustationviatorriosecretobritannicadisneynews