Remember how people in the past thought the 2000s were going to be a total space age? TV shows set in the early 2000s (looking at you, The Jetsons) showcased a world where hovercrafts and video chats were the norms. It took a little longer than Y2K, but these days we’ve definitely made it to a version of the future that the past was hoping for.
While we haven't yet set up life on Mars, there are destinations right here on our home planet that push the limits of our future-focused imaginations. Some are brand new, having sprung to life only in 2018. Others have been around for decades while still retaining 'hidden treasure' status. If you're passionate about exploring every breathtaking destination the world has to offer, you need to add these locations to your bucket list.
We've ranked 21 stunning destinations that look fictional but are absolutely real and ready to welcome visitors like you. Wishing you could fall into a real-life Tumblr travel post? Your wish has been granted! Looking for space-age vibes to match your futuristic Instagram aesthetic? We've got you covered. Check out the following locations and choose which one appeals the most to you.
Seeing is believing! If you don't believe your eyes while you scroll, go ahead and book your own journey to a destination listed below. Trust us: it'll be worth the trip. Or pass this article to a friend for a second opinion (and an eventual travel buddy). Onward to the future!
21 21. Habitat 67 in Montreal, Canada
Habitat 67 is a perfect example of that Jetsons-era retro-futurism come to life. It was designed in the 1960s by Israeli/Canadian architect Mosh Safdie in preparation for Expo 67, a massive world fair. Dignitaries visiting the fair from all over the globe were invited to stay in this completely unique accommodation.
"Not only revolutionary in its time, Habitat 67 has continued to influence architecture throughout the decades," reads Arch Daily. It's made up of 354 boxes. If that sounds boring, just look at how they're all configured. Safdie connected them with steel cables and chose their angles to maximize natural light intake. Gorgeous!
20 20. Druzhba Sanitorium in Yalta, Crimea
Crimea isn't known for its innovative skyscrapers or technologically-advanced architecture. It has a mainly rural landscape that helps make this huge disc of a resort appear even more futuristic than it would if you found it in the middle of a city. It's been described as a kind of "spaceship" design overlooking the sea.
Turkish spies once thought it was a military building, but Druzhba actually means friendship. It's a peaceful retreat designed to maximize the serenity of its visitors. Up in the flying-saucer-esque serenity pool, guests can see 360 degrees around themselves while stepping down into a series of shrinking triangle surfaces. Wild.
19 19. Eden Project in Cornwall, England
The Eden Project is essentially an indoor rainforest. Yes, you read that right. INDOOR. RAINFOREST. As if that wasn't cool enough, the whole place is nestled inside a massive crater that a meteor dented into our planet hundreds of years ago. When life gives you craters, make a stunning wildlife exhibition space.
The creators of The Eden Project wanted to make a space where families could learn about nature while enjoying musical performances and a safe, friendly community space. It hosts concerts, talks, and exhibitions about sustainability all within its sparkling geodesic dome structure. If you're ever in Cornwall, this striking piece of architecture will be impossible to miss.
18 18. Natural History Museum in Shanghai, China
Shanghai is a pretty futuristic city. It's got some of the world's tallest skyscrapers and fastest public transit options. Its Natural History Museum goes against the pack, using innovation to go lower and more sustainable as opposed to higher and less energy-efficient.
It's designed to spiral deep down into the ground like a giant nautilus shell. Visitors start on the top floor (essentially the ground floor) where they learn about mankind and geology. As they literally spiral down deeper into the earth, they walk through further reaches of natural history through more than 280,000 unique specimens and exhibits. Where better than the past to push the boundaries of modern architecture?
17 17. Gardens By The Bay in Singapore
You might recognize this place as one of the iconic locations we found in Crazy Rich Asians. Only the most extravagant and O.T.T. spots made it into that glam film, so you know this place is truly world-class. It's just something that you need to see if you ever take the trip of a lifetime to gorgeous Singapore.
Imagine 10,000 sunflowers blooming all together in a massive dome that you can view from within OR from above. Picture yourself wandering through a cloud forest; a misty wonderland of exotic plant species and colorful fogs. This sounds crazy, but it's all possible at Gardens By The Bay.
16 16. The Atomium in Brussels, Belgium
Like Habitat 67 (item 21 on our list) the Atomium was built as kind of a showpiece for a World's Fair. Created in 1958, it was meant to resemble - you guessed it - an atom. It's now a museum that you can actually explore when you visit Belgium.
CNN named it one of the most bizarre buildings in Europe, and we'd have to agree. It's not built like anything we've ever seen before! The Atomium is 165 billion times bigger than an actual atom, but otherwise precisely the unit cell of an iron crystal. If you're someone who believes in the healing potential of crystals, this is one major way to step inside your crystalline fantasy.
15 15. The Thermal Pools in Pamukkale, Turkey
Pamukkale's thermal pools are surrounded by rocks and sands so white, they look like little pieces of the iceberg. Travelers love to thrill their followers by posting pictures of themselves in bathing suits soaking in the sun from what looks like somewhere in the Arctic.
This part of Turkey has been a "spa town" since ancient times when people would come from far and wide to soak in the clear blue waters of the thermal pools. That's still true today - millions of people visit annually. The word Pamukkale means 'Cotton Castle' in Turkish, and it's easy for everyone to see why. Visit to bathe in your very own castle on a snow white plateau.
14 14. The Crooked House in Sopot, Poland
There was a crooked man who had caught a crooked mouse, and they all lived together in a little-crooked house - or something like that, right? We wonder if the creators of this architectural marvel were inspired by that nursery rhyme when they built The Crooked House in Sopot, Poland.
This building, also called Krzywy Domek, was designed as an homage to children's book illustrator Jan Marcin Szancer. This Polish artist made whimsical storybooks with fantastical beasts and magical themes. It's easy to see magic in the twists and turns of the Krzywy Domek's shops. Visit it for some great pictures and great shopping.
13 13. The Church of Hallgrimur in Reykjavik, Iceland
This church belongs to a future where simple, striking silhouettes reign supreme. It's so sleek that it almost looks like it was designed for intergalactic travel, like a rocket ship with wings. Either that or it looks like it was carved from the sharp tooth of some shark species that has evolved into gigantic proportions. Let's hope there aren't any of those in the actual future.
Hallgrimur Church is 244 feet high, making it one of the tallest structures in all of Iceland. If you've ever visited Reykjavik, you've probably noticed it starkly jutting up out of the skyline. Inside the church is a massive pipe organ that also echoes the shape of the exterior architecture. Very cool.
12 12. Lake Hillier in Middle Island, Australia
Surrounded by eucalyptus trees on Australia's Middle Island you'll find a 3.7-acre pink lake. It might look like a toxic waste pool or a pond that someone dumped Kool-Aid mix into but this lake's coloring is actually 100% natural. It comes from a certain kind of salty microalgae that thrives under the lake's surface.
This lake is about 10 times saltier than the ocean and fully surrounded by a thick crust of salt buildup. The crust will get on you if you swim in Lake Hillier, but we think it'd be worth it for this once-in-a-lifetime pictures it would provide you with a backdrop for. Who'd have thought a naturally pink lake would exist in 2018? Not us.
11 11. The National Library in Minsk, Belarus
Belarus' national library was designed in 1989 but didn't get completed until 2006. The amount of work and innovation that went into it suggest that it could have been made to fit into a landscape of many years in the future. The unique shape is called a rhombicuboctahedron, which we think could make a convincing supervillain's lair.
In reality, it's a sanctuary for learning, relaxing, and reading. What's more appealing than that? If you'd like to read or study in a truly unique and visually interesting location, you can't go wrong with a visit to the National Library of Belarus.
10 10. Cubic Houses in Rotterdam, Holland
Breaking into the top ten on our list are the Cubic Houses near Rotterdam in The Netherlands. They look to us as if aliens tried to create a suburban neighborhood without really understanding earth's spatial constraints. It's almost dizzying to observe!
This space was designed by architect Piet Bloom to maximize living space with minimal space available on the ground. It was built as a new means of high-density living that allows people to make the most of their vertical property. Pretty cool, as long as you don't mind being snug tight against your neighbors. Architectural philosophy aside, the Cubic Houses are interesting to explore (both inside and out).
9 9. Fly Geyser in Nevada, the USA
Looking at the Fly Geyser you might not quite understand it. Is it a Star Wars kind of water monster leaping up from its swampy home? Is it a hand-crafted palace shining somewhere in the Middle East? Is it a delicate water fountain on some millionaire's front lawn? The answer is no to all of the above. This is a completely natural phenomenon: a desert geyser.
This particular geyser is famous for its eye-catching shape and sky-high water sprays. It's located on private property that is often opened up to travelers, specifically during Nevada's yearly Burning Man Festival. We can understand how Burning Man participants have spiritual epiphanies after witnessing this marvel.
8 8. Museum of Contemporary Art in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
I want to believe! If a flying saucer touched down onto South America and rolled out its own runway, we're sure that this is what it would look like. Extra-terrestrials would be right at home within its panoramic observation decks that barely touch the ground. For now, this building is an art museum.
Rio de Janeiro's Contemporary Art Museum is just as impressively artistic inside as it is outside. It's worth a visit for anyone who loves great art and architecture! Stroll through its spiraling halls to take in every masterpiece, or simply stand in the shadow of the building and feel like you're about to get beamed up to Mars.
7 7. Lotus Temple in Delhi, India
This temple is a 10 million dollar structure built for practitioners of the Baha'i faith. It was the last of seven major Baha'i temples built around the world, and one of the most spectacular. With a delicate yet clearly defined shape, it's plain to see where this temple gets its name.
The Lotus Temple's shape is not only significant to the Baha'i religion, but it's also special to Muslims, Hindus, Jains, and Buddhists. It's also simply beautiful to behold, no matter what your religious affiliations are. Bring fresh lotuses to the Lotus Temple for luck and release them in one of the temple's pools - you won't be disappointed.
6 6. Hidden Beach in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
This beach is truly hidden. It's got crystal blue waters and a soft sandy shore all within and beneath a giant cavernous hole in Puerto Vallarta. Travelers might not notice the beach within this island's gaping hole until they reach its rim. On the other hand, savvy travelers plan their trips to Mexico with this beach in mind.
It's a hidden treasure, perfect for couples and families looking for a more intimate beach location than most of Puerto Vallarta's island shores have to offer. It's got a cool combination of shade, sun, and surf that you can't find anywhere else - and that some visitors don't find at all. Out of sight, out of mind! It's a perfect hideaway.
5 5. Hotel Inntel Zaandam in Amsterdam, the Netherlands
Remember how Rotterdam's Cubic Houses look like they were made by uninformed aliens? This location gives us similar vibes. It looks as if humans of the future wanted to create a cute, quaint Nordic cottage home, but couldn't imagine anything appropriately small. It could have also been designed by a glitchy computer program.
We won't fault this building for its size, however. The future is all about high-density living, a list item 10 explained. You could fit dozens of comfortable travelers into the Hotel Inntel Zaandam, and that's precisely what it was made to do. Visit it yourself the next time you're in The Netherlands.
4 4. The Maze Building in Dubai, UAE
Maybe in the future, humans will be able to shift their center of gravity so that they can climb buildings like Spiderman! Who knows? We can dream! If that ever becomes the case, Dubai's Maze Tower will be even more entertaining than it already is.
Travelers could become real Maze Runners and scale this tower by making their way through the light-up maze. For now, we can only do the maze with our eyes as we observe this building from afar. If you're ever in Dubai, snap a selfie in front of the Maze Tower to earn some lasting views on your socials. It's so tempting to try to complete!
3 3. Metalmorphosis in North Carolina, USA
Have you seen any of Ridley Scott's iconic Alien films? The most recent in the franchise (Prometheus) involves a super-intelligent race of aliens called the "engineers" who are responsible for creating life as we know it. This fountain calls to mind the powerful, primordial, and predatory engineers who formed human features in their own image.
Of course, it's also just a giant human head. But isn't there something sleek and futuristic about a mechanized face that's larger than life? This one moves and circulates water in a public square on the USA's fast-paced east coast. Keep your eyes out for it if you visit (and make sure it's not keeping its eyes on you).
2 2. Temppeliaukio Church, Helsinki, Finland
Most of the items on this list look like they belong to a future in which the world is peaceful and architectural innovations have continued to progress to more and more impressive heights. Our number two location is very different. It looks to us as if it belongs to a post-apocalyptic time when the only safe dwelling places are subterranean.
Temppeliaukio Church is built right into excavated rock! Its interior walls are made of raw rubble, giving it a seriously rustic feel. The bare and resilient rock faces kind of give this space a timeless feel, but we definitely think it belongs firmly in a (preferably fictional) future.