Our phones are glued to our hands 24/7, and it’s the worst. Who knows what unique sights we’re missing because we’re too busy tapping at a screen to look up? Here are some places that take the temptation away and have banned phones – and they’re so beautiful and interesting, there’s no way you should be hunching your neck to stare at your phone anyway.
Green Bank, America
It’s illegal to use a mobile phone in this small American town, and even using a microwave could get you a ticking off. Green Bank, a beautiful town in the Allegheny Mountains in West Virginia, is surrounded by forest and is a base for researchers to listen to exploding galaxies at the edge of the universe. The noise emitted by them is so faint, it’s around a billionth of a billionth of a millionth of a watt. A mobile phone, even when it’s not being used, emits around three watts of sound and swamps the noise scientists are trying to pick up. Wi-Fi is also banned, and researchers often go door to door politely asking citizens to turn off appliances. Better go for a walk in the wilderness instead.
The Sistine Chapel, Italy
The guards in this famous place of worship yell: ‘No photo! No video!’ at visitors with alarming frequency. It’s a definite no-no for you to pull out your phone and start ’gramming your travels here. Luckily, there’s some incredible beautiful artwork on the ceiling that you should probably be looking at instead.
On a plane
Yes, this one is obvious, but it’s necessary to repeat. Flying is incredible. You are travelling at hundreds of miles an hour through the sky, the Earth spread below you like a picnic blanket. Make the most of getting a bird’s-eye view and watch the world go by from your window, have a nap, or get some serious thinking done. You might as well stop griping about not being able to scroll aimlessly and properly unplug for a change.
The American desert
The government has yet to install cell phone towers in large swathes of the American desert, so it’s impossible to keep in touch when you’re travelling across them as your phone won’t work. In areas around Las Vegas, Phoenix and Salt Lake City, it’s impossible to use your phone. Instead, watch the scenery roll by and enjoy the view of a horizon that isn’t interrupted by inane videos on social media.
If you’re lucky enough to get even the smallest glimpse of this locked-away nation, you shouldn’t waste it by staring at a screen. You can only bring your phone inside North Korea if it’s an approved model, you must get a North Korean SIM card and you can’t use it to contact anyone in North Korea. There’s only one mobile network and signal strength is unreliable.
Visitors to this famous museum are discouraged from using their phones and cameras, and instead are encouraged to sketch the artworks they’re gazing at rather than Snapchatting them. You can even get your hands on free paper and pencils to make memories in a non-digital format.
Artists are getting sick of gazing into a sea camera phones staring back at them. So they’re banning them. Alicia Keys goes even further, giving every concert attendee a sealed, lockable pouch they must place their phones into to gain access to the gig. The only way to check your messages is to exit and unlock the bag. Forget filming a wobbly video you’ll probably never watch again and concentrate on actually listening to the music you paid to see.
Elite Islands Resorts, the owner of multiple Caribbean resorts, has banned the use of mobile phones on its beaches. They want to promote full relaxation and the enjoyment of the gorgeous, white-sand beaches and, as a result, phones and laptops aren’t allowed within a half-mile radius of the main beaches. Better grab a pina colada and watch the waves instead.
At Petit Jardin, a restaurant in Saint-Guilhem-le-Désert, three hours northwest from Marseille, phones are completely banned. Rules are strict. A diner seen using a phone will be given a yellow card by a waiter, with a whistle blown loudly so other customers can see what they’re doing. Offend again and you’ll be given a red card and escorted from the premises. So eat your delicious French food without tap-tap-tapping on a miniature screen. Coca-Cola and ketchup are also banned in the restaurant.
Yala National Park, Sri Lanka
Phones were banned in this famous nature reserve in 2015. The rule comes after guides were using their phones to notify each other when they had spotted a leopard or another interesting animal. The guides were then driving their vehicles at rapid speeds to try and get a look, which was distressing for the wild animal. Additionally, the frequency and sound of mobile phones often disturbs the animals, so visitors are asked to keep them on silent. Anyway, it’s pretty dangerous to be focused on your phone with a leopard just around the corner. Put your phones away!
Digital detox resorts
If you want to get serious about ungluing your phone from your hand, head somewhere where they physically take it away from you. From sailing trips to yoga retreats to trekking through the wilderness, you can finally experience the world without a phone clutched in your hand.
Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip
meet our Local Insider
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A GUIDE?
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
WHAT DESTINATION IS ON YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET-LIST?
I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.