July 4, 2024 | Penelope Singh

Beautiful Places Hidden in Dangerous Countries


Beauty With a Side of Danger

Some of the world’s most dangerous countries—places we are urged not to travel to—are home to some of the most beautiful hidden gems.

From historical monuments and ancient cities to massive waterfalls and stunning national parks, these unsafe nations boast some secret oases we may never get to see in person.

Here’s 10 hidden gems in the most dangerous countries in the world.

Syria

Syria is a beautiful country. The people are lively, generous and helpful, and the cities are bustling with colorful markets and shops filled with cultural marvels. 

Sadly, Syria has been plagued by a deadly civil war since 2011. It is known as one of the most dangerous countries in the world, with many countries advising their citizens to avoid travel at all costs.

So, what beautiful hidden gem is hidden in this war-torn nation?

Damascus, SyriaBernard Gagnon, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons

Citadel of Aleppo, Syria

The Citadel of Aleppo is a large medieval fortified palace in the center of the old city of Aleppo, northern Syria. It is considered to be one of the oldest and largest castles in the world.

The castle grounds are surrounded by a 72-foot deep moat that dates back to the 12th century.

The Citadel is part of the Ancient City of Aleppo, an UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1986 CE.

Citadel of AleppoDima Moroz, Shutterstock

Iraq

Iraq is actually a stunning country, and home to many beautiful natural landscapes, including mountains, rivers, and deserts. 

However, it’s no secret that Iraq remains one of the most dangerous countries in the world, and also has extensive advisories against any and all travel there—especially for tourists.

The country has endured near-constant violence for decades, and while it stands as one of the most unsafe places, it is also one of the most historically important.

IraqOsama Shukir Muhammed Amin, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

Ziggurat of Ur, Iraq

The Great Ziggurat of Ur, which means “temple whose foundation creates aura”, is a Neo-Sumerian ziggurat—a pyramidal stepped temple tower.

It was built as a place of worship, dedicated to the moon god Nanna in the Sumerian city of Ur in ancient Mesopotamia. After more than 4,000 years, it is still well preserved in large parts as the only remainder of Ur in present-day southern Iraq.

Ziggurat of Ur IraqAbbas Al Yasiri, Shutterstock

Yemen

Yemen is said to be a diverse and stunningly beautiful country boasting green mountains, deserts, mud-brick villages, ancient ruins, and centuries-old traditions.

Sadly, it is yet another extremely dangerous country due to ongoing armed conflict, terrorist attacks, and kidnapping. The civil war in Yemen was started in 2014 and hasn’t stopped since.

A state of emergency was declared back in 2011—and is still in effect today. Many countries urge their citizens not to travel to Yemen.

Even still, Yemen is home to many gorgeous places and monuments, including a stunning royal palace.

Yemenakramalrasny, Shutterstock

Dar al-Hajar, Yemen

Dar al-Hajar is sometimes referred to as the Stone Palace or Stone House. It is a unique building that stands atop a large rock. Surrounded by gardens and fountains, local visitors call is a “mesmerizing oasis.”

It was built in 1920 as a royal palace summer retreat for the ruler of Yemen at the time.

This impressive building is considered to be one of the greatest examples of the Yemeni traditional architecture.

Dar al-Hajar, YemenMhmdArt, Shutterstock

Somalia

Prior to the civil war,  Somalia was a popular tourist destination for its immense natural beauty and pristine beaches.

However, today, it is extremely volatile with high threats of domestic terrorism—particularly in south-central Somalia and in the capital, Mogadishu. The rule of law is virtually non-existent.

Countries all over the world urge their citizens to avoid travel to Somalia at all costs.

With that being said, Somalia is home to some stunning hidden gems.

Mogadishu SomaliaMDart10, Shutterstock

Laas Geel, Somolia

Somalia is known for its stunning beaches and beautiful surroundings, but by far the best-known and most popular landmark in Somalia is Laas Geel—a series of caves that display hundreds of ancient Neolithic paintings.

The rock art in these caves are some of the best-preserved anywhere in the world and date back as far as 9000 BC.

laas geel Somaliaimeduard, Shutterstock

Libya

Libya is another beautiful country that is far too dangerous for most people to travel to, especially for tourism purposes. Long ago, the nation was green and lush and was inhabited by exotic animals such as giraffes and crocodiles. 

However, with ongoing armed conflict and a high risk of terrorist attacks, travel to Libya is not advised.

Foreigners remain an interest to extremist groups and are not safe in any part of the country.

Tripoli, LibyaDanie Nel Photography, Shutterstock

Tripoli, Libya

The capital city of Tripoli is a beautiful coastal city that is steeped in history and culture. It’s the largest city in Libya and is known for its stunning architecture, gorgeous beaches, and rich cultural heritage.

Tripoli is situated on a peninsula, which extends into the sea and is surrounded by sandy beaches and stunning cliffs.

Tripoli Old Town is one of the most popular attractions and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

TripoliHussein Eddeb, Shutterstock

Mali

Mali’s natural beauty extends far beyond its historical sites. It is said to be one of the most rewarding destinations in West Africa.

Sadly, Mali is a dangerous country ridden with war, kidnapping and banditry. Many countries urge their citizens to avoid all travel, including the capital of Bamako, which used to be the only safe spot for tourists.

Even still, this war-torn country showcases some impressive architecture. 

Mali, Djenne MarketFerdinand Reus, CC BY-SA 2.0, Wikimedia Commons

The Great Mosque of Djenné, Mali

One of the most famous places in Mali is The Great Mosque of Djenné. It is also one of the most important landmarks in Mali and is one of West Africa’s most significant UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

It is an architectural masterpiece and is the largest mud-brick building in the world. 

The Great Mosque of DjennéJeff Overs, Getty Images

Afghanistan

Afghanistan is known to have very beautiful landscapes, incredibly national parks, and all around stunning natural beauty.

Unfortunately, it is also one of the most dangerous counties on the planet—in fact, as of 2024 it is the most dangerous country in the world.  

As with all the other countries on this list, Afghanistan is ridden with ongoing armed conflict that is a high risk to tourists. Travel is not encouraged in any form.

So, what is the most beautiful place in Afghanistan that we can enjoy from afar?

Kabul SkylineCasimiri, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons

Nuristan, Afghanistan

Nuristan Province is located in northeastern Afghanistan. This mountainous region is known for its unique culture and untouched natural beauty.

From picturesque valleys, rugged mountains, pristine rivers and dense forests, it is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers.

The people of Nuristan live a traditional lifestyle that includes living off the land as much as possible. Their culture is remarkable in every way.

Nuristan, AfghanistanFazlullah Akhtar, Shutterstock

South Sudan

South Sudan boasts a wealth of natural beauty, including fertile savannas, vast wetlands, and a stunning range of wildlife.

However, South Sudan is listed in the top 10 most dangerous countries in the world. With concerns for public safety and security, travel and tourism is not advised. There is a serious risk for civilians and foreigners in all parts of the country.

But if you happen to live in South Sudan, there’s one particular park you will want to add to your bucket list.

John Garang Square in JubaJens Klinzing, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons

Boma National Park, South Sudan

Boma National Park remains one of the top destinations in South Sudan. It is a protected area in eastern South Sudan near the Ethiopian border, and is known for its unique and diverse landscapes, which include beautiful savannah grasslands, forests, and swamps.

It is also home to a wide variety of wildlife, including elephants, lions, leopards, and antelopes. Local visitors can enjoy game drives, bird watching, hiking, and even camping in the wilderness.

South SudanLabaa Africa

The Democratic Republic of Congo

The Democratic Republic of Congo is Africa’s second-largest country by area, and is home to some absolutely stunning landscapes, volcanoes, lakes and mountain ranges.

Sadly, it is also one of the most dangerous countries in the world and travel and tourism is not recommended. With ongoing armed conflict and foreigners being main targets, many countries urge their citizens to avoid the country entirely.

So, what’s the most beautiful place in Congo that we may never visit?

, Democratic Republic Of The CongoOasisk., CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons

Kiubo Falls, DR Congo

Aside from the stunning national parks, botanical gardens and incredible mountain ranges, the top destination in Congo might just be Kiubo Falls.

Kiubo Falls are considered one of Congo’s hidden gems. The falls, which stand just shy of 200-feet, are surrounded by forest that has largely been untouched and very well preserved.

Around the area visitors can explore countless hiking trails, and take a dip in the calm waters of the Lufira River—which the Kiubo Falls tumble into.

Kiubo Falls, CongoKD Dijkstra, Flickr

Ukraine

Ukraine is a stunning country overall, with beautiful landscapes, ancient churches, impressive mountain ranges, and a whopping seven World Heritage Sites.

Sadly, due to the Russian military invasion, Ukraine is no longer a safe country to visit. In fact, countries all over the world strictly advise their citizens to avoid all travel, especially for tourism.

But if we ever get the chance to go back to Ukraine, there is one top destination we don’t want to miss.

Ukraine KyivРоман Наумов, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

Lemurian Lake, Ukraine

Lemurian Lake, also known as “Pink Lake”, or “The Dead Sea of Ukraine,” is a small lake in Ukraine that is known for its stunning pink water. It is a natural phenomenon that is said to have healing characteristics.

The pretty hue is a result of an algae that produces large amounts of beta-carotene. It also has a high salt content reaching 35%—higher than the Dead Sea.

The color and salt content changes throughout the year based on weather conditions, but the lake is constantly filled with incredible bird life, making it a paradise for bird lovers and nature enthusiasts.

Lake LemuriaQ-lieb-in, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons


READ MORE

Top Three Hotels For Adventurers

If you’re looking for unique thrills, an average hotel just won’t cut it. For an unforgettable vacation, check out one of these amazing adventure hotels.
June 13, 2023 Kaddy Gibson
Gros Morne National Park

Five Incredible Destinations For Nature Lovers

If you’re looking to embrace the call of the wild and experience breathtaking views, check out these great nature destinations.
June 13, 2023 Kaddy Gibson
St. George's Church

The Creepiest Abandoned Attractions

Despite their ominous origins, these abandoned attractions have become some of the world’s most popular tourist destinations.
June 13, 2023 Kaddy Gibson
internal-vienna

Destination Of The Day: Vienna

With an abundance of beautiful architecture, fine art, and historical attractions it's easy to see why Vienna was once considered the capital of the world.
June 14, 2023 Kaddy Gibson
internal-louvre

Destination Of The Day: Paris

With rich history, beautiful streets, and world-renowned cuisine, it’s no wonder why Paris is among the top tourist destinations.
June 14, 2023 Kaddy Gibson
bali_internal

Destination Of The Day: Bali

Bali is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world, but don’t let that stop you from visiting this beautiful Indonesian island.
June 14, 2023 Kaddy Gibson