Dracula’s Castle (Romania)

Yes, this is a real place. Situated on the border of Transylvania and Wallachia, this is the castle in which Dracula lived in Bram Stoker’s famous tale. It is also thought to be home to Vlad the Impaler, but that has been proved to be false. What is not false however, is that in 2007, at $140 million, Forbes ranked the castle as the second most expensive house in the world. Head north on the DN1 from Bucharest to the castle, which is now open as a museum to tourists who can explore the interiors individually or on a guided tour. 

The Kunstkamera (Russia)

Located opposite the Winter Palace, on the University Embankment in St Petersburg, this museum was established by Peter the Great in the early 1700s. A ‘collection of natural and human curiosities and rarities’, it was originally curated to investigate biological deformities and therefore counteract Russia’s fear of monsters. While there might not be supernatural ghouls in the museum, what’s in there is still pretty gruesome. Expect to see conjoined twins, lots of strange things in jars, and an actual bull’s eye. 

Electric Ladyland – Fluorescent Art Museum (Netherlands)

Named after Jimi Hendrix’s third and final album, this small museum is just as trippy. Less than 10 minutes’ drive from Amsterdam’s central station is a celebration of all things fluorescent. The world’s only fluorescent art museum exhibits the owner’s psychedelic sculptures on one side and various luminous objects on the other. There are fluorescent rocks, fluorescent money, fluorescent ID cards. You even have to wear special slippers to enter.

Utter Inn (Sweden)

Part hotel, part art installation, this “floatel” lets you experience what it’s like to live underwater. A project from artist Mikael Genberg, it consists of a one room, quaint, typically Swedish house, floating in the middle of Lake Malaren. After being escorted by Utter staff, guests can relax the inflatable boat to explore some of the vacant islands on the lake. The real appeal lies however, in the underwater bedroom, which has been described as a reverse aquarium, as it provides panoramic views of the lake and its wildlife. Utter Inn is an hour and a half’s drive up the E18 from Stockholm.

Museum of Broken Relationships (Croatia)

Dedicated to the failure of loving relationships, this rather depressing museum in Croatian capital Zagreb, exhibits personal objects left over from former lovers, accompanied by brief descriptions. The “museum” began as a traveling collection of donated items and has had collections exhibited in London and Los Angeles, but since then has found a permanent location in the beautiful baroque Kulmer palace in the Upper Town of Zagreb. Driving is a great way to see the city, but remember that roads in Croatia are often subject to tolls, although they are relatively cheap by Western European standards.

Avanos Hair Museum (Turkey)

A pottery centre in central Turkey has created the Hair Museum, although calling it a museum may be a bit of a stretch as its “displays” are just thousands of locks of hair, all from female visitors.The story goes that the local potter was bidding farewell to a friend of his when he asked for something to remember her by, so she cut off a piece of her hair to leave. He put it up in his shop, and told the story to the visitors who passed through. Not to be outdone, other women who enjoyed the story left a piece of their hair as well. Avanos is just over three hours’ drive south from Turkish capital, Ankara. 

Baarle-Hertog (Belgium/Netherlands)

What if your living room and your kitchen were in different countries? Presenting Baarle-Hertog, a Belgian town just over 50km drive from Antwerp, and actually located 5km inside the Netherlands. Starting in the early 12th Century, medieval lords began swapping land, resulting in a complex series of enclaves and borders. Parts of the town are now in Belgium, and parts in the Netherlands, and in one incredible instance, the border runs directly through one house’s front door. Just remember your passport if you’re going to the cornershop.

Hill of Crosses (Lithuania)

Ever been on a pilgrimage in Northern Lithuania? Thought not. You might as well start with this eerie landmark. Roughly since 1831, people have been travelling to a mound to leave crosses, crucifixes and statues of the virgin Mary on a hill. The result is spectacular and rather spooky, collection of religious objects, the total number of which has been estimated at over 100,000. This is made even more amazing, and weird, by the fact that no one really knows why the practice began.The hill is 12km north of the central city of Šiauliai along Hwy A12 near the village of Jurgaičiai.

Museum of Funeral Carriages (Spain)

As bleak as it sounds, the standard hearse and funeral procession slowing down traffic on the M25 isn’t something you look forward to. But if you want to see how you can transport a coffin in style, turn off the Ronda Litoral at Exit 13 and head to this museum in Barcelona. The collection has 13 really quite beautiful funeral carriages, six coaches designed to carry the relatives, as well as three classic motor hearses. With some dating back to the 18th century, all the pieces are historically, culturally and artistically significant, and provide a wonderful overview of how funeral customs have changed in Barcelona over the centuries.

Karosta Prison (Latvia)

What do you look for in hotel? Soft pillows? Good customer service? What about verbal abuse in a prison cell? Well if you’re into the latter, get yourself to Karosta Prison. This former World War Two prison has been turned into a hotel, and for only $16 a night, guests can endure the ‘full prisoner experience’. Not only do you get to sleep in a prison cell, but the guards/hotel staff will hurl abuse and death threats at you, force you to exercise, and even subject you to interrogation. If that doesn’t get you going, maybe the hearing the cries of despair from other “inmates” will. Karosta is just a short drive north on the A9 from Liepāja, a city on Latvia’s Baltic coast. 

Words: Car hire expert Conor Meany from leading car hire comparison website, Holiday Autos