Ours is a world full of stunning landscapes, fascinating wildlife, diverse cultures and, apparently, an array of interesting place names — that is, if you know where to look. While there is a certain power to naming things, the place names on this list show how there can be a lot of fun in it, too.
Of course, chuckling at some of the names below may seem a bit juvenile. But with the world the way it is, we could all probably use a little laughter.
So, let’s take a tour of some key towns and cities whose names are, as they say, a choice.
The prime destination for anyone who’s been told to go to hell, the small village of Hell is located in the Nord-Trøndelag county in Central Norway. Hell on Earth is currently home to around 1,500 people, and instead of burning in it, people tend to get chilly: In wintertime, temperatures can reach −13 °F (−25 °C).
The village of Hell is quaint. There are your Scandinavian houses, healthy gardens, and kids playing on the streets. As it turns out, Hell, Norway was named after the overhanging cliff caves in the area. Overhangs and cliff caves were called “hellir” in Old Norse. And if you’re wondering, the Norwegian word for actual hell is “helvete.”
Upon your arrival in Hell via train, you’ll soon spot a small building with a sign that reads, “Gods-expedition.” This seems like another interesting choice for a place named the way it is, but apparently, this is the archaic way to spell the contemporary Norwegian word “godsekspedisjon,” which means “freight forwarding.”
So what’s there to do in Hell? Aside from Blues In Hell, the annual festival held in September, tourists can also enjoy a short hike to Helleristninger, a site of animal carvings that date back to the Stone Age.
Another village, this time in the Urfahr-Umgebung district of Upper Austria, is Rottenegg. The place is named after the historic Rottenegg Castle, whose ruins are found just east of the actual village. The castle dates back to the 13th century and was built to guard the old trade route, but has since fallen into decay.
Ironically, the village of Rottenegg is known for its fresh air and beautiful landscapes. It’s surrounded by lush mountains that provide a great hiking experience, but you can also simply enjoy the 360° view from the village proper.
The locals are also big on culture. Aside from producing their annual play, the Mühlviertler Heimatverein Rottenegg also works to preserve folk dances and songs. Cabarets and concerts are also an annual attraction during the Rottenegg Cultural Summer Program.
Eighty Eight (USA)
An unincorporated town in Barren County, Kentucky, Eighty Eight was the center of a big celebration on August 8, 1988, or 08/08/88.
The local market had a special commemorative menu, which included 88-cent burgers (plus 4 cents tax, so change for a dollar would be 8 cents). People drove hundreds of miles just to visit, and a couple even got married at exactly 8:08 pm — on the eighth step of the town’s Refuge Church of Christ. Letters also came from across the country and around the world to get a special postmark from the Eighty Eight post office.
But why was it named that way?
The story goes that in the 1860s, the town’s first postmaster by the name of Dabnie Nunnally needed to give the town a name. The problem was, he didn’t really trust his own handwriting, and so thought that he could use a number instead, which would make the place name more legible when written on people’s mail. So, he reached into his pocket and counted his change. He had — you guessed it — 88 cents.
An alternate story is that the place was so named because it is located about 8.8 miles away from the neighboring town of Glasgow.
Either way, the town of Eighty Eight is part of the surprisingly long list of places in the world named after numbers. It includes the town of Hundred in West Virginia, Ninety Six in South Carolina, and the nearby community of Seventy Six, Kentucky.
Disappointment Islands (French Polynesia)
Despite the name, the small group of coral islands in the Tuamotu Archipelago in French Polynesia is one of the earth’s last paradises. The Disappointment Islands are made up of three islands, namely: Tepoto, Napuka, and Puka-Puka.
The first European recording of the islands was by Ferdinand Magellan in 1520, when he was on his way to colonize the Philippines. He had called them the Islas Infortunadas, or “the Unfortunate Islands,” because his team couldn’t find a good water source.
In 1765, the British explorer John Byron and his scurvy-ridden crew spotted the islands, tiny in the vast Pacific, and were excited to explore the white sand and get meat and milk from the coconut trees. However, they soon found that the coral shoreline and high surf meant that there was no safe anchorage. Plus, there was also the issue of spear-wielding natives, who were wary of invaders.
Byron had no choice but to sail away — but not before he sat down, got his pen, and named the place The Islands of Disappointment. Just colonizer things, I guess, but the name stuck, and may have played a role in keeping the islands sheltered from the rest of the world.
Over two and a half centuries later, the Disappointment Islands are still pretty hard to access. But for travelers with the opportunity and an open heart, you can learn about the names the locals themselves have given to their homes. Napuka, for example, is derived from “Te Puka Runga,” or “The Tree Where the Sun Rises.”
Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch (Wales, UK)
Nope, that’s not a keyboard smash — it’s an actual place.
The large-ish village with an even larger name is located in the Isle of Anglesey in Wales and has been there since the Neolithic era. According to local legend, a tailor had named the village this way as one of the world’s first publicity stunts. It worked, and the village is visited by plenty of tourists looking to take pictures by the very long village signages.
Translated to English, the Welsh name of Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch means: “St. Mary’s Church in the hollow of white hazel near a rapid whirlpool and the Church of St. Tysilio near the red cave.”
It’s also often shortened to Llanfair Pwllgwyngyll or simply Llanfair PG. If you’d like to attempt to say the whole name, you can use this weatherman’s flawless performance as a reference.
Interestingly, it’s only the world’s second-longest place name at 58 letters.
The actual longest is the 85-letter Taumatawhakatangihangakoauauotamateaturipukakapikimaungahoronukupokaiwhenuakitanatahu, which is a little romantic. In Māori, the hill’s name means: “The summit where Tamatea, the man with the big knees, the climber of mountains, the land-swallower who traveled about, played his nose flute to his loved one.”
The Trinity of Tedium (USA, Scotland, and Australia)
The Trinity of Tedium refers to three sister towns: Boring in the USA, Dull in Scotland, and Bland in Australia. These three have also named themselves The League of Extraordinary Communities.
An unincorporated community along the foothills of the Cascade Mountain Range, Boring, Oregon is named after William Harrison Boring. Born in Illinois, William was a Union Army veteran who began farming in the area in 1874. He also donated land for the first school in the community.
Despite its name, there’s plenty to do in Boring, the largest of the three sister towns. For instance, you can meet some alpacas at the Starr Alpaca Farm, participate in the annual “goth float” (as in, black swimsuit and heavy eye makeup) along the Clackamas River, or hike the beautiful Cazadero trail.
Meanwhile, Dull is a village in Perth and Kinross, Scotland. Its name may have derived from the Welsh word dôl, which means “water-meadow.” Like its sister town, Dull is ironically home to many interesting attractions, including safaris and white water rafting.
The story goes that a Scottish traveler named Elizabeth Leighton had been on a cycling holiday in Oregon back in 2012. After passing by a sign for the town of Boring, she went ahead and told the Boring Community Planning Organization about the town of Dull. And so, the Dull and Boring sisterhood began.
Last but certainly not least, Bland Shire in rural Australia completed the trinity in 2013. The county was named after William Bland, a surgeon, politician, farmer and inventor. He was also a transported convict after he was found guilty of the decidedly not bland crime of manslaughter.
But he also contributed a lot to the political and medical fields in early Australia, and so his memory has been enshrined in the form of a whole shire. If you ever find yourself in Bland, there’s lots of colorful art and fascinating heritage to absorb.
Batman is the name of both a Turkish province and its capital city, so named because of the nearby Batman River. The city was once a sleepy village called Iluh. But in the 1950s, the discovery of oil in the area led to rapid growth, and the area became known as Batman City.
As for the name itself, there are several explanations. In Turkey and nearby Persia (now Iran), a batman is an ancient unit of measurement. One batman is around 16.96 pounds. Some English dictionaries still define the word this way, and not as a caped crusader with lots of money and muscles. Others, meanwhile, believe that Batman is the shortened version of Bati Raman, a nearby mountain.
In 2018, some 26,000 people signed an online petition to reshape the city’s boundaries to more closely resemble the superhero Batman’s symbol.
Eggs and Bacon Bay (Australia)
Located in the Australian island state of Tasmania, Eggs and Bacon Bay is a tiny town with just over a hundred residents.
Of all things, the town takes its name not from protein sources, but from a wildflower that grows in the area. The eggs and bacon flowers are colored in streaks of yellow and red — hence their name. It’s home to the Eggs and Bacon Bay Beach, a 400-meter stretch of sand that’s perfect for family trips.
In 2016, PETA unsuccessfully petitioned to change the town’s name to “Apple and Cherry Bay” — a move that Huon Valley deputy mayor Ian Paul described as “ludicrous.”
This is where this article takes a turn for the juvenile. Previously a hub for whale hunters from the Middle Ages until the 19th century, the town of Middelfart is the municipal seat of Middelfart Municipality in Denmark.
The town is named this way because of its unique location: It’s at the narrowest crossing point of the Little Belt, or the strait between the island of Funen and the Jutland Peninsula. The town’s old name was Mæthælfar, which is a combination of the old Danish word mæthal (meaning “middle”) and far (“way”).
There’s not much known about why this small town in Yonne, Burgundy is named the way it is. The word means the same in both French and English, and maybe no one in the idyllic area ever thought to complain. There doesn’t seem to be much to do in terms of travel, either.
Interestingly, one French translation of the slang phrase “middle of nowhere,” is “trou du cul du monde,” which means — pardon my french — “the asshole of the world.”
Have you ever stumbled upon an interesting place name? Let us know in the comments!