7 of the World’s Most Unusual Towns


What makes your town or city unique? Is it the architecture, the people, the location, the atmosphere? Each of these 7 towns have something truly unique, and truly fascinating about them. From underground living to quirky names, click through to check out some of the world’s most unusual towns.

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1. Longyearbyen, Norway

Looking for the world’s northernmost church, university, ATM, or even blues festival? Check out this chilly Arctic town, located on an island just 600 miles from the North Pole. With months of darkness and a seemingly perpetual blanket of snow, it’s no wonder that so many of Longyearbyen’s 2,000 residents paint their homes such vibrant colors. Indeed, the striking contrast between the white snow and the colorful homes makes this sleepy town wonderfully unusual!

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2. Coober Pedy, Australia

In a place where temperatures regularly soar into the 90s and the 100s in the summer, it’s understandable that the residents of Coober Pedy, Australia would do anything they can to beat the heat. And, here, it’s all about living underground. Often referred to as the ”opal capital of the world,” more than half of this mining town’s residents live in homes in dug out caves on the hillsides, where temperatures are steady and a cool relief from the scorching heat outside. Building a “dugout” costs about the same as building a home on the surface, with the added bonus of not having to worry about all those high energy bills from air conditioning. Also underground? Shops, churches, and even a four star hotel!

Related: 8 Of the World’s Least Hospitable Places

Image Credit: Lodo27 via Wikimedia Commons


3. Maharishi Vedic City, Iowa

Oprah Winfrey dubbed this small town, and its neighbor, Fairfield, as the most unusual in the United States. And it’s no surprise why — the rolling farmland of Iowa is one of the last places you might expect to be the epicenter of transcendental meditation. Incorporated just over a decade ago, the town was designed using the concepts of Maharishi Sthapatya Veda, an ancient architectural design form based on Sanskrit texts. Most residents practice transcendental meditation at least twice a day. Non-organic food is banned by the city, which also runs its own organic farm.

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4. Neft Dashlari, Azerbaijan

Thirty-five miles off the coast of the mainland in the Caspian Sea lies the town of Neft Dashlari, population 5,000. But this is no island; rather, the town sits on an oil platform. The first operating offshore oil platform in the world, the residents of Neft Dashlari can enjoy the tree-filled park, bakery, library, and community center, when they’re not working in the oil industry or relaxing in their dormitory. As more and more oil deposits have been discovered, it’s grown bigger; there are nearly 200 miles of roadway built on top of landfill and dirt on this manmade island.

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5. Hell, Michigan

Does Hell freeze over? Well, Hell, Michigan certainly does! No one is quite sure where this town got its, erm, devilish name. One thing is for sure, though — Hell, Michigan residents sure do embrace the name! In Hell, you’ll find businesses like Hell in a Handbasket, a general store called Hell’s Kitchen, a restaurant, and Screams, an ice cream shop. Tourists can also play mini-golf, get married at the Hell chapel and even be the mayor for a day — all the more reason to go to Hell!

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Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons


6. CITE, New Mexico

Like any other town in the United States, the soon-to-be-built CITE will be full of highways, roads, homes, and commercial buildings. There will be an urban center, as well as suburban and rural areas. Homes have appliances and plumbing, the city has electricity. But nobody will live in CITE, or The Center for Innovation, Testing & Evaluation. A company called Pegasus Holdings is planning to build a mid-sized city not for living, but for testing green energy, transportation, wireless infrastructure, and first responder technology projects, among others. Modeled after Rock Hill, South Carolina, a city of over 65,000 people, this $1 billion project will allow for testing without interfering with everyday life in the real world.

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7. Thames Town, China

Twenty miles outside of Shanghai you’ll find a taste of merry old England. Built in just three years, Thames Town is modeled after a traditional English market town, and features a century-spanning pastiche of English architecture. Mostly comprised of single-family homes that were snapped up by investors and for use as second homes, a large percentage of the homes are not occupied full-time. And it’s not the only western-themed development in the Shanghai area — you’ll also find German, Dutch, Swedish, and Italian towns, among others.


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Image Credit: eiro via Flickr

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Alexandra Gundelfingen
Alexandra G.2 years ago

Thanks for this interesting article

Karen C.

Thanks---very interesting. I enjoined it.

Dimitris Dallis
Dimitris Dallis2 years ago

Thanks Katie.

Tim C.
Tim C.2 years ago


Antonella C.
Antonella C.2 years ago


Nikhil D
Nikhil Dutta2 years ago

I want to really check out Maharishi Vedic City, Iowa

Heidi Aubrey
Heidi Aubrey2 years ago

Thame Town China is oddly bizzarre.

Natasha Salgado
Natasha Salgado2 years ago

WOW!!! I'd probably avoid most of these for a visit but very interesting to know they exist!!!

Sandi O'Donovan
Sandra O'Donovan2 years ago

Must add some of these to 'my bucket list' might give the oil platform a miss though!

Donna Hamilton
Donna Hamilton2 years ago