Frequently Asked Questions
What is Atlas Obscura?
In an age where everything seems to have been explored and there is nothing new to be found, we celebrate a different way of looking at the world. If you're searching for miniature cities, glass flowers, underwater restaurants, gigantic flaming holes in the ground, bone churches, balancing pagodas, or 22-million-year-old cheese caves, Atlas Obscura is where to find them.
Atlas Obscura is an award-winning media and travel company. Widely celebrated for building the definitive, community-driven platform for discovering the world's hidden wonders, we also offer top-of-class storytelling, unique online and in-person experiences, and once-in-a-lifetime trips.
Our community-driven platform is the Atlas itself, a collection of more than 20,000 wondrous places around the world. It is a collaborative project. We depend on our community of explorers to help us discover amazing places and share them with the world. If you know of a curious place that's not already in Atlas Obscura, we want to hear about it!
Who can add places to Atlas Obscura?
Anyone, anywhere in the world can contribute to Atlas Obscura. We rely upon your eyes and ears to learn about all the amazing places we don't know about yet.
How do I add places to Atlas Obscura?
Get started by creating an Atlas Obscura profile. First, click the “Join” link in the main menu. After signing up, don't forget to add a profile photo and tell us about yourself.
To add a place, first search Atlas Obscura to double-check that your place has not already been added. If it has and you have more to add, simply click "Suggest an Edit” at the bottom of that place’s page. You can also add your photos to existing places.
To add a new place, click here or any of the "Add a Place" links throughout the site.
All contributions to Atlas Obscura are reviewed and edited by our editorial team before they are published. Sometimes it can take a few weeks for your submissions to be reviewed.
What makes a good Atlas Obscura place entry?
We are looking for the most unusual, extraordinary, strange, secret, surprising, or otherwise amazing places on the planet. Atlas Obscura place entries should have an element of the hidden and inspire a sense of awe and wonder—leaving you with an awestruck feeling of discovering something new. Submissions range in length, but always include an address or specific location, photos, and anything a visitor to the place should know. More details about what to include can be found below.
These contributions don't need to be in far away, exotic locations—we love learning about strange or interesting places in big cities and small towns as much as we love remote islands and vast deserts. Here are some good places to start:
- Natural wonders (such as fascinating rock formations, stunning waterfalls, or a bright pink lake)
- Extraordinary collections, libraries, and museums (such as the largest dog library in Europe or a museum dedicated to Japanese packaging)
- Secret histories (ordinary-seeming places with fascinating back stories, such as a bodega that was once home to an assassin’s guild)
- Places associated with amazing people (such as Nicolas Flamel’s former residence or the house where Moby-Dick was written)
- Catacombs, ossuaries, and unusual crypts or cemeteries (such as a seven-story mausoleum or tombs from the Ming Dynasty)
- Scientific labs and research facilities (such as one of the quietest rooms in the world or a 15th-century observatory)
- Abandoned places, ghost towns, and amazing ruins (such as a Texas ghost town where a goat is mayor or the abandoned abbey that helped inspire Dracula)
- Mysteriously preserved bodies and dead saints (such as an Italian chapel with relics from dozens of martyrs)
- Outsider art, self-built castles, and eccentric architecture (such as castle that is a monument to lost love or a sculpture made of old Cadillacs)
- Remarkable or unusual objects in well-known places or collections (such as the preserved middle finger of Galileo or the bust of Darth Vader carved into a cathedral)
Things to avoid:
- Things/places that no longer exist
- Private property or illegal entry places
- Famous places that are in the “regular” tourist guides
- Mundane places that are not particularly surprising or unique
- Any places that promote intentional direct contact with wild animals
What is Gastro Obscura?
Gastro Obscura is our destination for all things food-related: places to eat and drink, unique foods, stories, recipes, trips, courses, and more. We encourage our community to submit places that fall into this category, too.
What makes a good Gastro Obscura place entry?
Gastro Obscura places offer great food and drink in unexpected and extraordinary places. From an auto shop that turns into an amazing taqueria by night to the Swedish farm making the world’s only moose cheese, all Gastro Obscura entries have an element of the hidden or inspire a sense of awe and wonder. Gastro Obscura places don’t always need to be restaurants or bars; we’re also looking for food museums, street-food stands, monasteries, food statues, farms, and more.
There’s no exact formula for a perfect Gastro Obscura submission, but here are a few categories we’re excited about:
- Restaurants preserving disappearing or lesser-known culinary traditions (such as this New Mexico eatery specializing in pre-colonial Native American fare)
- Restaurants, bars, or food producers in awe-inspiring places (such as a bar that becomes its own island at high tide or a tiny restaurant in a 345-million-year-old cave)
- Places to eat or drink that provide a window into a small or underrepresented community (such as a cafe specializing in the cuisine of the displaced koryo-saram community)
- Restaurants or food producers that use local resources in an extraordinary way (such as a 22-million-year-old cave that ages cheese)
- Farms preserving disappearing agricultural traditions or pioneering innovative techniques
- Unique restaurants hiding in plain sight (such as this Bhutanese joint in a Queens billiards hall or an Eastern European eatery inside a strip-mall Russian banya)
- Unusual food- or drink-themed museums, collections, or statues
- Places to eat or drink that tell incredible stories or lesser-known histories (such as a broadcasting-tower-turned-restaurant with a rebellious role in the history of Dutch TV)
- Festivals that celebrate food in an extraordinary or unusual way (such as the Rolling in the Grits competition or the annual Oaxacan radish-sculpture festival)
- Restaurants or bars that feature amazing architecture or decor, or collections (such as an underwater restaurant or a bar that boasts an array of knockoff Star Wars merchandise)
- Remnants of forgotten food history, such as restaurants that are the last of their kind (such as historic dining cars or mimetic architecture)
Here are a few things to avoid:
- Gimmicky restaurants or bars
- Places that exoticize other cultures or traditions
- Chain restaurants, unless a specific location is exceptional
How do I add to Gastro Obscura’s database of unique food and drink?
When we launched our database of amazing food and drink in 2017, it was originally sourced from the contributions of our community of readers and travelers. While we received some wonderful contributions this way, we’ve since changed our approach, and the database is now written by in-house writers and paid freelancers. If you are a freelance writer and would like to pitch a food or drink that might be a good fit for the database, please email your pitch to email@example.com.
What information should my place entry include?
Tell the story of the place and describe in your own words what makes it unique. What is unusual or fascinating about this place? What makes it worthy to be included in Atlas Obscura? Always lead with whatever is the absolutely most interesting thing about the place and keep it short and punchy.
We want to inspire wonder and curiosity. Places should make people think “‘Wow!” and compel them to go explore. The voice should be encyclopedic yet interesting, and a little wit is always welcome.
Please do not include copyrighted or copied material in your entry. We’re looking for a short, original description of why you think the place is interesting, so we cannot accept a block of text copied from Wikipedia or another existing website, even if it’s your own. Submissions containing copyrighted or copied material cannot be published.
We are a science-minded, nerdy, nature-loving, history-obsessed website! Avoid listing pedantic details about a place like a textbook or a travel brochure. We are not advertising for these places, we are just explaining why they are awesome, obscure, or amazing. Place entries should never be first-person accounts.
I added a place and it hasn't appeared on the site! What's up?
There are a number of reasons why we may not have published your submission, the most common being simply that we haven't gotten to it yet—we often receive more entries than we can edit quickly.
All submissions are reviewed by our editorial team, and not every submission is guaranteed to be published. If our editors have any questions about your submission, they may reach out to you to ask for more information or clarify details. You should hear from us within a couple of weeks, though it may take a few more weeks for an approved place to be edited and published.
The more complete your submission is, the more likely it will be published. We almost always give precedence to submissions with at least three good photos and a detailed description. Places that are a strong fit with Atlas Obscura’s mission are also given priority. This includes areas that may be underrepresented in the Atlas, both geographically and culturally. For example, we already have quite a few places in New York City, but we’re working on expanding our coverage of cities such as Nairobi and Hanoi (though certainly not limited to those!).
You can save a draft of your place while you’re working on it and let us know when it is ready. Once you’ve officially submitted, the draft will be locked for editing while our editorial team takes a look. We may send you a message asking for more information, details, or photos if necessary. You can find your pending submission in your profile under the “Added” tab.
Some submissions are not a fit for Atlas Obscura. Reasons that we might pass on a place include:
- The submission is a duplicate, e.g. the place already exists in the database
- The submission is in many guidebooks, e.g., the Eiffel Tower
- The submission is unverifiable, e.g. your grandmother's gnome collection
- The submission is fictional or no longer exists, e.g., Atlantis
- The submission is too broad, e.g. Buenos Aires
- The submission is an ad for a business, e.g., the TGI Friday's with the interesting drink special
We are always happy to discuss any questions you have, so feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What are your photo guidelines?
We love clear, original photos of a place’s unique or interesting aspects as well as wider shots that provide context. A place must have at least a few good photos in order to be published, but the more the better.
All photos submitted to Atlas Obscura must be legally available for use. If you’ve been to the place yourself, remember to include any photos you took. Otherwise, you can look for photos licensed Creative Commons (they must also be available for commercial use), in the public domain, or used with explicit permission (if you’ve secured permission from a photographer, please email a record of this permission to email@example.com). Remember to credit the photographer, and include a link to the image.
If you don’t have photos of your own, here are some places where you can find copyright-free images:
- The Creative Commons search
- Wikimedia images
- Flickr (filter by “Commercial use allowed” or “US Government Works”)
- Government websites/Public Domain
What makes a good photo:
- Horizontal orientation is best
- At least 640 pixels x 400 pixels, though bigger is always better, up to 4,000 pixels
- Free to use under copyright
- Available for commercial use
- No watermarks or date marks
- No people in the photo unless they are essential (a chef making a dish, for instance)
My entry changed from what I submitted! What happened?
During the review process, our editors sometimes need to make changes to a submission, including changing the title, adding additional details or perspectives, fixing grammar and spelling, correcting facts, or adding new photos.
Once a place has been published, other members of the Atlas Obscura community will have the ability to submit edits that may result in further changes to the text and/or images in a place entry. All changes to the text are reviewed by our editors, and may take a day or two to show up on the site.
If you have any questions about edits made to your entries, feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I submitted photos, but they were not used. What gives?
Some of the common reasons for a photo not being used include:
- The photo is too blurry
- The photo featured too many people
- The photo is too small
- The photo is not of the correct location
- We cannot find the copyright information
- We do not have the rights to use the image
- The photo included a watermark or visual accreditation
- The existing photo set was adequate
Again, we are always happy to discuss any questions you have, so feel free to email us at email@example.com.
I am more interested in writing articles than place entries, how do I get involved in that?
We're always looking for submissions from freelance writers and photographers. Check out our pitch guidelines.