From Santa Claus to Hell: Six Destinations with Quirky Names Worth Visiting
How many times have you paused at a city sign, simply to snap a quick photo of its unusual or humorous name? Instead of just making a quick Insta-stop, we want to tempt you to spend some actual quality time and truly explore a few of these quirky destinations. From picturesque, peaceful villages to wonderful waterfalls and thrilling theme parks, many of these unusually named places are truly charming, with tons to offer every type of adventurer. With that in mind, Booking.com, the digital travel leader connecting travelers with the widest choice of unique places to stay, a range of must-do travel experiences and seamless transport options, presents six hand-picked destinations with unique names that are definitely worth more than a drive-by visit.
Unlike the hysterics of ancient Greek theater where the betrayed Medea takes revenge on Jason or a distraught Oedipus kills his own father, the tranquil town of Drama is surprisingly free of any, well...drama. Located in the Macedonian region of northeastern Greece, Drama is nestled among lush, rolling green hills, impressive waterfalls and miles upon miles of pristine nature to explore. The area is also known for having the lowest recorded temperatures in Greece, offering the unusual opportunity to ski on the slopes of nearby Mount Falakro, which is only about an hour’s drive away.
Every year the town of Drama hosts one of the most popular and charming Christmas festivals in Greece called Oneiroupoli, which literally means ‘dream city.’ Organized in an area of around 5 acres in the Drama’s municipal gardens, this magical event starts at the beginning of December and lasts the whole month. Travelers of all ages can browse the many stalls of the Christmas market for handmade gifts, enjoy the many sparkling lights and sample some of the local, seasonal delicacies.
Where to stay: Housed in an old tobacco warehouse, overlooking the city’s photogenic Agia Varvara springs, Hydrama Grand Hotel is a great base to explore Drama and the gorgeous surrounding area. According to Booking.com guests, one of the highlights of this modern hotel is that it still has some of its original features, such as exposed wooden beams, which contribute to its authentic, cozy feel.
With a town named Kissing, you might expect it to be overrun with lovesick couples holding hands as they stroll into a golden sunset, stealing non-stop smooches from each other. While certainly oozing with charm, you don't need to be a diehard romantic or even be in a relationship to truly enjoy all this bucolic Bavarian town has to offer. Just outside Augsburg, which is one of Germany’s oldest cities, Kissing offers beautiful small churches to discover and large public green spaces where visitors and locals alike can simply relax by the water. Or if you want to explore more of the surrounding countryside, you can follow one of the hiking trails or bike along one of the area’s many scenic cycling paths. If visiting during the summer months, a dip in the refreshing waters of nearby Lake Auensee is a must!
Where to stay: Situated in a tranquil location in the southwestern outskirts of nearby Augsburg, Villa Arborea offers a peaceful stay only a half-hour drive from the center of Kissing. The villa is also a great base to visit Augsburg, home to colorful, well-preserved medieval houses, stunning churches, and the emblematic watchtower of Perlachturm.
Unless you’re fluent in Welsh, the chances that you can pronounce the name of the next charming destination on our list are slim to none. Even then, it promises to be a real tongue twister. With one of the world’s longest one-word names (58 characters), coming in second after a hill in New Zealand with 85 letters in its name, Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch attracts travelers from all over the world. Although they can’t pronounce the full name of the village, they do love to get photographed in front of Llanfairpwll railway station. The village actually changed its name in the 1860s from the shorter Llanfairpwllgwyngyll in an attempt to attract more visitors. A rough translation of this Welsh word is “St Mary's Church in the Hollow of the White Hazel near a Rapid Whirlpool and the Church of St. Tysilio near the Red Cave." Say that five times fast!
Where to stay: Featuring a name you can actually pronounce, Y Gorsaf is a cozy vacation home with modern furnishings in the Anglesey region in Llanfairpwllgwyngyll. The property is a short drive from the remarkable Menai Suspension Bridge, a Grade I listed structure designed by Thomas Telford.
Contrary to what you may think, Obama did not take its name from the former President of the United States. Translated as ‘little beach’ in Japanese, this coastal city in Japan’s Fukui Prefecture became popular in the United States after the city’s public show of support for Barack Obama during the 2008 and 2012 US presidential elections went viral. Although the chance to spot the former president is low, finding Obama-themed souvenirs is guaranteed. Travelers who love traditional Japanese architecture will adore the Sanchomachi district with its elegant geisha tea houses and the traditional merchant's house “Sanchomachi Nagata.” Nature lovers can stroll around the golden beach or take a boat to Sotomo to admire the stunning granite cliffs and iconic stone arches.
Where to stay: Guesthouse OBAMA21:00 is a traditional Japanese style accommodation with a small garden and a communal lounge area to catch up with other travelers. If traveling by car, Booking.com guests staying at this property suggest to take advantage of the complimentary parking area, which is just a short walk from the property.
Santa Claus, Indiana, USA
Santa Claus might have his main residence in the North Pole, but have you ever wondered where he spends his summer vacation? About 4,000 miles away from the North Pole and famous for its jolly name, Santa Claus, Indiana actually receives thousands of letters for good old St. Nick during the Christmas period each year. The town even has an industrious group of ‘Santa's Elves’ (a group of volunteers) that try to reply to each and every one. This cheerful town is also home to the world's first theme park, opened in 1946 by a father of nine kids who wanted to create something special for children who visited the village expecting to meet Santa. Today the park offers exciting rides and slides for all ages, as well as shows and special events.
Where to stay: If you’re hoping to catch a glimpse of Santa kicking back in the off-season (aka summer), Lake Rudolph Campground & RV Resort is a traditional campground just a short drive away from the Santa Claus Museum & Village. It also offers a variety of fun activities like fishing, hiking or playing at the property’s on-site water park.
Welcome to Hell! Although this small Norwegian town’s name mostly likely stems from the Old Norse word hellir meaning ‘cave,’ travelers from around the globe love taking photos in front of Hell’s train station and cracking jokes like “see you in Hell.” As opposed to fire and brimstone, in this quaint village you’re more likely to experience a sub-Arctic chill and ice-covered roads. All joking aside, the city’s Blues Festival is also a big draw for many travelers to visit Hell, as every year music lovers from far and wide gather here during the first weekend of September.
Where to stay: Scandic Hell is a modern hotel with marvelous views of the surrounding fjords, just a few minutes away from Trondheim Airport and the center of Hell. It’s also only a half-hour drive from Trondheim itself (Norway's third largest city). After a ‘visit to Hell,’ travelers should not miss the colorful warehouses of Trondheim harbor or the charming riverside wooden houses of the Gamle Bybro (Old Town Bridge).