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Dylan Thuras

Intrepid coauthor of the New York Times #1 bestseller, Atlas Obscura: An Explorer’s Guide to the World’s Hidden Wonders

Dylan Thuras is the cofounder and creative director of, the encyclopedic online guide to the weirdest and most wondrous places in the world that gets more than five million visitors each month. He is also the coauthor of the #1 New York Times bestseller Atlas Obscura: An Explorer’s Guide to the World’s Hidden Wonders, which has over six hundred thousand copies in print, and of The Atlas Obscura’s Explorer’s Guide for the World’s Most Adventurous Kid.

His pursuit of the unusual began as a teenager exploring abandoned buildings in the Midwest, and this pursuit eventually took him and his wife to Budapest for a year to experience Eastern Europe’s obscure and fascinating locales. But it was one memorable moment while visiting a large, baroque, and totally deserted church in Bologna, Italy, that truly informed the rest of his adventures. Dylan noticed a strange little side door and a buzzer on the wall. He rang it, the door slid open as if by magic, and he found himself face-to-face with St. Catherine of Bologna, a 500-year-old relic/mummy seated on a golden throne and surrounded by the bones of other dead saints.

“It’s always worth investigating the strange little door,” says Dylan—which may be just down the block. “It’s easy to get local’s blindness, but if you make yourself get out there, you’ll find stuff. That’s the idea behind Atlas Obscura—that within a couple of miles of you there’s probably something pretty awesome.”

In partnership with writer and fellow travel enthusiast Joshua Foer, Thuras realized that creating a way for curious travelers to find the hidden wonders of the world seemed like a heck of a lot of fun, and in 2009, Atlas was born, followed by Atlas Obscura (the book), which celebrates over 700 of the strangest and most curious places in the world. From natural wonders like the dazzling glowworm caves in New Zealand or the baobab tree in South Africa that’s so large it has a 15-seat pub inside, to architectural marvels, including the M.C. Escher–like stepwells in India. And mind-boggling events, like the Baby Jumping Festival in Spain, where men dressed as devils vault over rows of squirming infants. Not to mention the Great Stalacpipe Organ in a Virginia cave. A new book, The Atlas Obscura Explorer’s Guide for the World’s Most Adventurous Kid releases in fall 2018.

For speaking engagements, Dylan can customize his talk to include the location and/or personal interest of his audience. He has spoken at conferences around the world, including SXSW, DMAI, the Circumnavigators Club, Applied Brilliance, the New Yorker Festival, Explorer’s Club, TEDxVerona, and the Congress for Curious People in Madrid, about discovery, wonder, and the changing nature of travel. And Atlas hosts hundreds of unique events across the country every year.

Speaking Topics

  • Mapping Out Atlas Obscura: The life-changing effects of traveling to the strange, often overlooked yet most fascinating places in the world.
  • Magic in the Mundane: How even the most humble places hold the seeds of wonder, and why wonder and curiosity matter more now than ever.
  • The Modern Adventurer as Storyteller: Smartphones, Google, and what it means to be an explorer and travel writer in the age of information.
  • Seeing Your World Through New Eyes: How local exploration can be as rewarding as traveling to distant lands.
  • Uncertain Terrain: Thoughts on starting and growing a digital media company in a shifting digital world.
  • Through the Hidden Doorway: Why strong community and real-world experiences are essential parts of any modern media company.


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