Twenty years ago, the idea of visiting Chernobyl would have sent chills down your spine. Now, it’s an experience many travelers are actually adding to their bucket lists. Indeed, tourism at Chernobyl has been steadily on the rise, and visitors are now able to access one of the area’s most highly radioactive sites — the control room. To visit the control room of reactor 4, visitors must wear protective suits, helmets, and masks, and they’re limited to five minutes inside the room. Afterward, you must submit to two mandatory radiology tests to ensure you haven’t been overexposed to radiation.
While visitors to the site only receive two microsieverts of radiation exposure, the control room contains radiation at 40,000 times the normal level. It looks almost identical to how it did in 1986, although many of the contaminated plastic control knobs have been removed. This heightened level of radiation exposure is why visits to the control room are so short, and why radiology tests are required.
Tourism to Chernobyl has largely been made possible by the $1.6 billion New Safe Confinement dome covering the contaminated reactor building. Ukraine has been developing Chernobyl into a full-fledged tourist destination, building new tourist routes and waterways in the area, with plans to upgrade radiation checkpoints.