The world is forever shrinking and sometimes it seems like there is nowhere left to truly get away from it all. But there are still some places off the beaten path—or just barely on it—that retain their allure simply by virtue of being difficult to reach. We’ve rounded up seven of the most remote and beautiful destinations on earth, guaranteed to be spectacular, well preserved and still somewhat… mysterious.
1. Deception Island, Antarctica
How remote is it? 11,963km from Toronto | 13,764km from London | 8,800km from Sydney
Why it’s worth it. North of the Antarctic Peninsula, there is an island so surprising that Jules Verne might have made it the mysterious secret base of the Nautilus in the seminal sci-fi novel 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea. With its protected interior port, the island is the partially submerged caldera of an active volcano. Despite its name, it has long provided a safe harbour for sailors being tossed about in stormy seas. Here, geothermally heated water makes it one of the few places in Antarctica that you can enjoy in your swimsuit.
Don’t miss. Exploring the remains of Hektor Whaling Station and the largest cemetery in Antarctica—both protected as Antarctic Treaty Historic Sites.
Getting there. Get yourself to Buenos Aires, where you can hop a regional airline or strap yourself in for a grueling 50-hour bus ride to Ushuaia. Once there, you’ll have to secure overnight passage through the infamous Drake to the South Shetlands. Prefer living the adventure to planning it? Let someone else handle the details.
2. Easter Island, Chile
How remote is it? 8,438km from Toronto | 13,628km from London | 9,154km from Sydney
Why it’s worth it. Although it's widely known and treasured, Easter Island is incredibly remote. The biggest tourist attractions here are the giant moai monoliths and, despite the island’s extreme geographic isolation, they’ve been calling to travellers for centuries. But the iconic statues on this UNESCO-protected island are only the beginning. Here, you can camp under the Polynesian stars, meet and interact with the inhabitants of the world’s remotest populated island, and explore its natural treasures on foot and by bike.
Don’t miss. Easter Island’s caves—the flow of the lava towards the sea formed channels that, when cooled, turned into caves. They were used by the Rapa Nui as shelter and places to perform rituals.
Getting there. Get yourself to Santiago, where you’ll be limited to flights from Chile’s national airline. From Chile’s capital, you’re looking at another six hours in the air! Prefer living the adventure to planning it? Let someone else handle the details.
3. Urumqi, China
How remote is it? 10,196km from Toronto | 6,224km from London | 10,764km from Sydney
Why it’s worth it. Once an important stop on the Silk Road, Urumqi has become a major commercial hub. The city holds the remarkable record of being the most remote from any sea in the world; it is 2,500km (1,554 mi) from the nearest coastline. Cyrillic signs and kebab stands lend the city a decidedly Central Asian feel; however, the majority of the city’s residents are Han.
Don’t miss. An overnight in a yurt with the local Kazakh minority in the nearby Tian Shan Mountains. This area looks more like the Swiss Alps, with towering snow-capped mountains and turquoise lakes, than somewhere in the middle of China. Spend time hiking, horseback riding, or just relaxing and soaking in the views.
Getting there. It might be remote, but Urumqi is served by a number of regional airlines. Get yourself to Beijing, where you can hop a regional airline or clear your schedule for a leisurely 33-hour train ride. Prefer living the adventure to planning it? Let someone else handle the details of your trip to China.
How remote is it? 14,318km from Toronto | 9,042km from London | 10,099km from Sydney
Why it’s worth it. Alright, it’s the fourth largest island in the world. But you’d be hard-pressed to find a wilder, more biologically diverse place. Wild landscapes, village culture, beaches—Madagascar might be an island but there’s nothing small about it. From endless jungles filled with endemic plants, rare birds, and endangered animals, to the white-sand beaches of the Malagasy islands and limestone karst formations of Ankarana, the island is an explosion of nature at each turn. Cut off from the African mainland 165m years ago, Madagascar evolved in isolation, leading to many unique and endemic species.
Don’t miss. The hands-down superstars of this wild performance are the endangered lemur, of which 90 per cent of the surviving global population is found only here.
Getting there. If you want a challenge, boats are available from Madagascar’s Toamasina on the east coast to Mauritius via Réunion. However, with regular flights from Paris to Antananarivo, we won’t hold it against you if you opt for to fly! Prefer living the adventure to planning it? Let someone else handle the details.
5. Lake Baikal, Russia
How remote is it? 9,176km from Toronto | 6,567km from London | 10,561km from Sydney
Why it’s worth it. Located in south-central Siberia, not far from the Mongolian border and surrounded by mountains, forests and wild rivers, Baikal is an immense and breathtaking area of natural beauty. It’s the world’s oldest and deepest freshwater lake, containing roughly 20% of the world's unfrozen surface fresh water. In fact, it contains more water than all the Great Lakes combined. It is also among the clearest of all lakes, and thought to be the world's oldest at 25m years.
Don’t miss. The lake is home to more than 2,000 species of plants and animals. Two-thirds of which can be found nowhere else in the world, like the earless nerpa—one of the world's only freshwater species of seal.
Getting there. The three main points of access to Baikal are Irkutsk, Ulan-Ude, and Slyudyanka. While you can get to Irkutsk and Ulan-Ude by plane, most travellers opt for the Trans-Siberian railroad. Prefer living the adventure to planning it? Let someone else handle the details.
6. Svalbard Archipelago, Norway
How remote is it? 5,388km from Toronto | 3,053km from London | 14,570km from Sydney
Why it’s worth it. From close-up encounters with icebergs and glaciers to the region’s plentiful wildlife, the Svalbard Archipelago is best explored by ship, on foot and via Zodiac. Roaming polar bears, lounging seals, grazing reindeer, and colonies of birds all co-exist in this harsh land most dare only to explore a few months of the year. Svalbard is so remote, it’s home to the Global Seed Vault, which provides a safety net against accidental loss of diversity in the event of a major regional or global catastrophe.
Don’t miss. Polar bears usually top the list of must-see animals, but the islands abound with reindeer, arctic fox, walrus, and extensive seabird breeding colonies.
Getting there. Get yourself to Oslo, where you’ll hop a flight north of the Arctic Circle to the city of Tromsø. Because there is no regular boat transportation between the Norwegian mainland and Svalbard, you’ll have to catch a flight to Longyearbyen, Svalbard’s largest settlement. Prefer living the adventure to planning it? Let someone else handle the details.
7. Perth, Australia
How remote is it? 18,143 km from Toronto | 14,470 km from London | 3,934km from Sydney
Why it’s worth it. A city of close to two million, Perth might seem an outlier among its peers in this list; however, it offers up remoteness and beauty in spades. Perth is Australia’s (and many say, the world’s) most isolated city, almost 4,000 km from Sydney by road, a four-hour flight from the east coast and in a different time zone (Western Standard Time) to the rest of the country. That said, Perth's pristine parkland, nearby bush, and river and ocean beaches (there are 19 within the metropolitan area), make it a perennial favourite of "world’s most liveable cities" lists. So it’s worth the effort!
Don’t miss. Kings Park and Botanic Garden is one of the world’s largest and most beautiful inner city parks. Enjoy sweeping views of the Swan and Canning Rivers, the city skyline and the Darling Ranges to the east. It’s rich in Aboriginal and European history, and contemporary culture.
Getting there. The three-day journey to Perth from Sydney aboard the Indian Pacific is stuff legends are made of; however, Qantas flies daily from all capitals as well as Alice Springs. Ready to hit up the world’s most remote city with a population in excess of one million? Check out this tour of Western Australia.
Where to next?
So, where to next? Share your travel plans below. If a far-flung favourite didn't make the list, join in the comments and let us know. Safe travels!
Originally published on June 8, 2015. Last updated February 22, 2017.