Three atomic hotspots (with glowing reviews).

CHERNOBYL, UKRAINE

After a reactor fire in 1986 unleashed clouds of radio active material across Europe, Chernobyl became the site of the worst accident of the nuclear age. The Ukrainian city is still shorthand for a deadly atomic wasteland. However, that's not put tourists off from visiting the area. In fact it's a huge draw. The abandoned city of Pripyat remains frozen in time. At a time when many Soviet buildings have been demolished or redesigned, this model town built for workers is preserved exactly as the day it was abandoned. The yellow ferris wheel at the heart of the city's funfair is one of its most eerie landmarks. Guided tours are now conducted by Chernobyl Tour into the heart of the exclusion zone from $218pp. Don't forget to pack a Geiger counter.

Chernobyl became the site of the worst accident of the nuclear age. Photo / Getty Images
Chernobyl became the site of the worst accident of the nuclear age. Photo / Getty Images

US NATIONAL ATOMIC TESTING MUSEUM, LAS VEGAS

 Area 51 relics in the National Atomic Testing Museum. Photo / Getty Images
Area 51 relics in the National Atomic Testing Museum. Photo / Getty Images

If you thought what happens in Las Vegas is wild, you should see what they got up to just 100km away at the Nevada Test Site. During the Cold War, mushroom clouds could be seen over the Strip from the 1021 test detonations. This Smithsonian-partnered museum located on East Flamingo Rd celebrates some of the wonders and horrors of the atomic age. Among the exhibits are pieces of pop culture memorabilia, a simulated detonation in the Ground Zero Theatre and the bizarre Davy Crockett Weapon System — a nuclear weapon launcher so small it could be transported by a small team of soldiers. $32 general admission with free tours of the NTS.

SELLAFIELD, UNITED KINGDOM

On the far side of the bucolic English Lakes where poet Wordsworth once "wondered lonely as a mushroom cloud" is the town of Sellafield. The Windscale nuclear reactor, which was part of the nuclear programme caught fire in 1957, causing a large-scale nuclear disaster. Then named Windscale, it changed its name to Sellafield in 1981 when associations became toxic — though the controversy lives on like so much background radiation. The ugly disaster took place in some of England's most beautiful scenery on the coast of the Irish Sea and the Cumbrian countryside. The final traces of uranium were removed from the reactor just 10 years ago. If you find the shadow of the cooling towers too oppressive, you can hike out into the romantic landscapes of Wastwater and Seatallan.

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