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27 of the best off the beaten path travel destinations.
Whilst some countries experience overtourism, there are still plenty of incredible destinations around the world that are crying out for visitors. Off the beaten path travel destinations offer the opportunity of a more profound, richer, fulfilling, and immersive encounter. In this post, we have teamed up with fellow travel bloggers who also share a love of off the beaten path travel, to bring you the best countries to visit for a thrill-seeking adventure.
Africa off the beaten path travel
By Katie and Jake from Untold Wanderlust
A landlocked country located in Southern Africa, Botswana is the perfect off the beaten path travel destination for all kinds of travellers. Whether you’re a backpacker or a luxury lover, Botswana offers something for everyone. If you prefer a camping trip, just roll out your tent. Otherwise, you can easily opt for a luxury lodge. Botswana is often overlooked in favour of its more popular neighbours, South Africa and Namibia. However, Botswana was one of our favourite countries on our overland tour in Africa.
The landscape is defined by the Kalahari Desert and the Okovango Delta, making for a remarkable vastness in sightseeing. Furthermore, there are a plethora of safari opportunities. One of the must-do things in Botswana is an overnight excursion to the Okovango Delta. The area is truly magical. Floating down the romantic waterways whilst spotting hippos, elephants, giraffes, and everything in-between makes for the perfect day. To top it off, you will spend the night camping in the bush under a sea of stars. If a trip to the Okovango Delta still leaves you wanting more, an excursion to Chobe National Park should be on the cards as well. Whip out your binoculars and get ready to spot a leopard!
Contributed by Madhurima from Orange Wayfarer
I fell in love with Africa while travelling to Masai Mara during the Great Migration , a spectacular natural event.
The landscape, food, and culture were all different from what we have been shown in the media all through my life! Falling in love with the people of Africa was an instantaneous affair that crossed the language barrier with a genteel smile.
Africa also happens to be one continent with a rather relaxed visa norm for an Indian passport holder, a woman, and a freelancer. On my third visit to the continent, I visited Ethiopia and that was a life-changing experience in the true sense.
Ethiopia was never colonised. The people of the country are extremely proud of this fact. Add to that, they are extremely hospitable, and warm to Indians, since many of my countrymen serve in their health sector and educational institutes, and have an interesting cuisine that resembles a lot with the high spice quotient of my country.
Ethiopia is one of the handfuls of countries where the majority of the people follow Old Christianity. While the rest of the world celebrates Christmas, Ethiopia waits for Timket in January. The old rock-hewn churches of Lalibela are stunning examples of historic events that unfolded in the region. The walls and roofs of these churches are often dotted with the face of Jesus that flaunts Afro hair.
Not many know, but coffee was first introduced in Ethiopia. Drinking coffee is a ceremony here, with aromatic incense and old rituals filling up the air as you drink the strong concoction. The north of Ethiopia is made of highlands. Similan mountain range, one of the oldest UNESCO world heritage sites, sits here as a crown jewel with endemic red-breasted Gelada baboons. Proceed towards the North East and you will be welcomed by the sprawling depression of the Danakil region. Active volcanoes, lava lakes, and saltpans adorn this area. The Afar region is also home to plenty of historical evidence that went into the Earth as the great African rift arose. The first human hominid, Lucy, whose bones date back a few million years, were found here.
The south of Ethiopia houses plenty of old African tribesmen, especially by the banks of the Omo River. Visiting Omo Valley is heavily disputed. The hurricane tours often treat these tribal groups as a human zoo, such goes the allegation.
3. Sao Tome and Principe
Contributed by Heather and Peter Cole from Conversant Traveller
The remote islands of Sao Tome and Principe sit right on the Equator out in the Gulf of Guinea and off the west coast of Africa. Known as the ‘Chocolate Islands’, the archipelago was once home to hundreds of cocoa and coffee plantations, but after independence from Portugal in 1975, many fell into decline and were taken back by the rainforests that cover much of the land.
This tropical paradise is a favourite with nature enthusiasts, historians, and anyone who loves a good beach. Tourism is still relatively new here, so you’ll often go for several days without seeing another visitor outside of your accommodation. There are a few luxury hotels in Sao Tome and Principe , as well as guesthouses which should all be booked in advance of your holiday.
Day trips and local transportation can be arranged once you’re there, with 4×4 excursions, plantation visits, and diving all readily available. One of the best ways to explore Sao Tome and Principe is by joining a boat trip around the volcanic coast, stopping in sheltered bays for snorkelling and picnics on secluded beaches. Seeing the untouched shores and virgin forests feels like stepping back in time.
Contributed by Emma from Journey of a Nomadic Family
Sudan, in north-east Africa, is one of the most off-the-beaten countries we’ve been to and that is in part due to the financial sanctions placed upon it by America. Sudan is a cash-only country which makes it particularly difficult for foreigners and not only that, it is a two-currency country where you cannot order any local currency before you arrive.
You must also arrange your visa before arrival and it’s best to do it in person at Sudan’s embassy. However, once you have overcome those difficulties, Sudan will reward you with being a welcoming and fascinating country. It receives fewer than 15,000 travellers every year which means you’ll probably have most of its attractions to yourself.
Did you know that Sudan has 255 pyramids ? That’s over 100 more than Egypt, and although they’re not as big, they’re cleaner, cheaper, and by far more impressive than Egypt’s. As many are located in a desert, they glow orange and ripple in the sun. In fact, when we visited the Pyramids of Meroe, the historical site of Naqa & Musawwarat es-Sufra, the Nuri Pyramids, Old Dongola and Arkawit Gate, we were the only people there. This meant we received personalised tours from local guides and that our kids not only met friendly locals but learnt directly from them.
Sudan also has an impressive set of coral reefs which are found off the coast of Port Sudan. You can dive or snorkel with a local company, visit Mukawwar Island & the men who maintain the lighthouse and whilst you’re there, you should definitely visit the destroyed port village of Suakin.
If you’re looking for a true adventure in a country still unknown to the outside world, head to Sudan and revel in all it has to offer. It’s a delight!
Asia off the beaten path travel
Contributed by Jeremy from Cultura Obscura
Bhutan is an extremely off-the-beaten-path destination due both to its isolated location and the daily tourist fee most visitors have to pay. However, for those able to visit, it is well worth the effort and cost as Bhutan is one of the most beautiful countries in the world.
As Bhutan is so seemingly tucked away from the rest of the world, its cultural identity is much more prevalent and well-preserved than in most other countries. It has a purity of self that envelops you the moment you enter the region, either by flying into the unique Paro airport or by steadily climbing up into the mountains from the border.
You’ll see centuries of Bhutanese tradition everywhere you go; in the colours of the meticulously hand-painted buildings that line the streets, in the refreshing taste of local butter tea, and as you buy spices and crafts at the marketplaces, which is one of the best things to do in Thimphu, Bhutan’s capital city.
The most popular and culturally significant activity of all has to be hiking up to the Tiger’s Nest ; a mountainside temple and holy complex that looks as if it comes straight out of a fantasy novel.
6. Central Asia
Whilst Central Asia is not the name of the country but the entire region, we found it difficult to choose just one. Central Asia is made up of five “stans”: Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan. This region is truly fascinating, with a long history, mesmerising architecture, beyond-belief scenery, and intriguing culture, you have to at least visit once in your lifetime.
On a trip to Central Asia , you will find a plethora of activities and attractions to discover. Don’t miss the beauty of Big Almaty Lake in Kazakhstan, a scenic horse trek in Kyrgyzstan, the mindblowing architecture of Registan Square in Uzbekistan, and the Gates to Hell in Turkmenistan.
Our favourite part of our time in Central Asia though was our 5-day tour of the Pamir Highway in Tajikistan. 5-days of marvelling at a diverse range of scenery; sparkling lakes, snow-capped mountains, rolling green hills, the thrill of riding along one of the world’s most dangerous roads, and connecting with locals and learning about their lives and culture.
Contributed by Jiayi from The Diary of a Nomad
One of the most spectacular and underrated destinations on earth is Iran, a country filled with jaw-dropping architecture, an incredible history, breathtaking landscapes, and the most hospitable people. Unfortunately, not much of this is shown in the news or media, and that’s why Iran is unfortunately often overlooked as a tourist destination. However, a trip to this country will leave you truly amazed, and you’ll be wondering why more people aren’t visiting.
Some of the most beautiful places in Iran are the incredible mosques around the country. Nasir Ol Molk Mosque, for example, has a stunning natural light show in the morning when the sun shines through the colourful stained-glass windows, making their colours reflect on the floor. Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque in Isfahan is another architectural gem that will leave you speechless. The intricate blue and orange tiles inside this structure are a true work of art; it’s the reason this mosque is deemed by many as the most impressive one in the whole country.
Some of the other spectacular places to see in Iran are the desert town of Yazd, the charming city of Kashan, and the Kaluts desert. Make sure to also taste the local cuisine, especially the local kebab and the Isfahani biryani.
Contributed by Christian from Unusual Traveler
Iraq, the Cradle of Civilization , has slowly started to open up for foreign tourist once again after the country has been struggling with years of war and chaos (some parts of Iraq is still off limits). But these days things are improving so tourists can once again visit the ruins of Babylon and Ctesiphon, and now you can also visit some of the old private palaces belonging to Saddam Hussein. Most people will be surprised that it´s possible to have an ice-cold, locally made Baghdad beer next to the Tigris river or whilst visiting some of the holiest places in the world, Karbala and Najaf.
Iraq is not yet an easy country to visit. The visa is a bureaucratic nightmare, and you are required to have a local guide with you when travelling between places. If you do manage to obtain the visa and decide to visit Iraq, you will be surprised by how liberal and welcoming the locals are, though they are not yet used to seeing foreigners walking around the streets without armed protection.
Contributed by Poly Goy from The Wonderlusters
When it comes to time travel, Lebanon has few parallels. With a culture that goes back thousands of years, the country is literally an open-air museum. It has cities that stood the test of time and some of the most beautiful remains in the world.
Continuously inhabited since Neolithic times, Byblos has been closely linked to the legends and history of the Mediterranean region. You can’t overlook Sidon, which has been one of the most important centres of the Phoenician Empire as a crucial Mediterranean port. Beirut, the capital, is so beautiful, it has earned the nickname “Paris of the Middle East”.
Anyone who appreciates history must pay a visit to Baalbek to admire its colossal structures which are one of the finest and best-preserved examples of Imperial Roman architecture. Baalbek is one of the most beautiful places to visit in Lebanon.
Lebanon is among the few countries in the Middle East that embrace multiculturalism and religious diversity. The friendliness of the Lebanese people will leave an indelible mark on your heart. Moreover, Lebanese cuisine, which has influenced the gastronomy of the entire Mediterranean basin, is one of the most delicious in the world.
With its majestic landscapes, its overwhelming culinary traditions, and its rich and mixed history, this small country has everything to become your next big favourite.
Mongolia is a country that will forever hold a special place in our hearts. After staying well and truly on the popular banana backpacking trail in Southeast Asia the previous year, Mongolia was one of the first countries where we strayed into unknown territory. It’s safe to say that we fell in love with Mongolia, the ever-changing landscapes, the nomadic culture, and the yurt life cosying up by a log burner fire in the middle of nowhere. Just us and the stars! Despite Mongolia receiving more visitors year after year, the numbers of international tourists remain pretty low, making this landlocked country a must-visit for avid adventurers.
One of the main highlights of Mongolia is riding around in an old Russian minivan whilst taking in the open roads. The Gobi desert is also an unmissable attraction. The desert features Khongoryn Els dunes which you can climb to the top of for a fiery sunset. Also, take the opportunity of a scenic 2-day horse trek to Naiman Nurr. Ps. Don’t forget to keep your eyes peeled for snow leopards that are native to Mongolia.
Above all else, if you find yourself in Mongolia in the middle of July, don’t miss the famous Naadam Festival. The Naadam Festival is Mongolia’s biggest celebration and national holiday where locals from all over the country head to the capital Ulaanbaatar to partake in nomadic games; horse riding, wrestling, and archery. You will even see kids as young as 4 galloping away on their horses and taking part in the games. It truly is a unique sight.
Still not sold on Mongolia? Make sure to check out these reasons why you absolutely have to visit !
Contributed by Cecily from Groovy Mashed Potatoes
Oman is the perfect introduction to the Middle East. It is safe for tourists, so much so you can go on a road trip or even camp out in its exotic and unspoiled landscape. Oman’s nature is diverse with its barren mountains, expansive dunes and the azure Arabian Sea. There are so many breathtaking places to discover.
What also sets Oman apart is that it preserves its traditional architecture. Other Middle Eastern countries, such as Qatar or the UAE are ultra-modern, with their tall skyscrapers and record-breaking buildings. In Oman, you will observe a blend of ancient Omani-style architecture with contemporary buildings.
If you are up for an adventure, Oman offers once-in-a-lifetime experiences that will take you off the grid.
Must-do things in Oman :
- Take a road trip through Oman to experience Omani culture and explore its diverse landscape.
- Stay at Desert Nights Camp, a luxury desert camp in the remote dunes. Make sure to watch the sunset from the top of the dunes.
- Take a refreshing swim at Wadi Shab, an oasis in the hot desert with five natural pools.
- Go camping in the Jebel Akhdar mountains. You will need a 4×4 vehicle to get past the checkpoint. It is a great place to camp since it’s cooler up in the mountains.
- Have a campfire by the Arabian Sea at White Sands Beach.
- Walkthrough the magnificent Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque. The architecture will blow you away.
Enjoy this country rich in culture and natural beauty!
Taiwan should be at the top of the list of every travelling foodie. As night falls upon the capital city, the green hue from Taipei’s tallest skyscraper shines bright, signalling the opening of the famous night markets. The well-organized metro system allows for convenient access to every different market scattered across the city, so be prepared for a belly-busting journey. With so much food to choose from, as you patter through the crowded and narrow streets, it can be quite overwhelming to decide what to eat. A must-eat recommendation is a Taiwanese pepper bun (Hujiao Bing) from Rhoe Street Night Market. A freshly made, piping hot crispy bun with a juicy, sweet pork and onion filling.
Aside from an evening of food binging, the daytime offers some fantastic tourist attractions. Our favourite attraction by far has to be Beitou Hot Springs. Consider starting your trip here to feel fully rejuvenated, ready to tackle the rest of your Taiwan itinerary .
A trip to Taiwan isn’t complete without snapping a shot of some amazing architecture. Head over to Taipei 101, the famous tower, that some say resembles a tall stack of noodle boxes. Be sure to also visit CKS Memorial Hall square for epic views of the white marble buildings and surrounding gardens.
Contributed by Chris from Punta Cana Travel Blog
When it comes to countries, my most memorable off-the-beaten-path experience was for sure in Timor-Leste (also known as East Timor), a country in Southeast Asia that only recently (2002) gained independence. It was annexed by Indonesia and colonialized by Portugal before. This history already shows why Timor-Leste is so much off the beaten path. Technically, you could only visit Timor-Leste after 2010, as the country was plagued by civil unrest in the years previous.
Since then, an unexplored country is awaiting you like no other. To give you an idea: the big and famous booking.com only lists around 25 properties in the entire country. Most cities worldwide have more than 10,000 listings each…
And indeed, Timor-Leste is one of the biggest travel adventures you can have, probably only comparable with the remotest African countries. There is hardly any public transport (and if so, it is operated in trucks instead of busses), the roads in 90% of the country are either unpaved or are consisting of more potholes than tarmac, and accommodation has to be booked like 40 years ago: ask locals if they know someone or check out the local spokesperson to see if they can give you any recommendations. Internet, Lonely Planet, and other traveller reports (because there are hardly any) won’t help you in Timor-Leste.
Once you tackle those challenges, you will have the adventure of your lifetime. The highest mountain of the country, Mount Ramelau, the mountain villages of Nunurlau und Aimeta, or the east of Timor-Leste with Baucau and Jaco are possible destinations you can visit. If you are just looking for a soft adventure, you can take the ferry from Dili and head over to Atauro Island.
However, East Timor doesn’t feature a big list of things to do. It’s the country itself which is a big adventure!
A big plus when you visit: Timor-Leste is safe if you apply standard precautions for travelling in poorer countries. That’s an important condition to have a unique off-the-beaten-path experience in Timor-Leste!
Europe off the beaten path travel
Contributed by Vaibhav Mehta from The Wandering Vegetable
When you think of a European trip itinerary , you generally have mainstream travel destinations in mind like Italy, France, Switzerland, Germany, Rome, Spain, and the Netherlands. Rarely do you ever think of Armenia! But did you know that Armenia is the cheapest and the most budget-friendly European country to explore?
Armenia is an unexplored East European country that has to be on your travel bucket list. It offers you the perfect amalgamation of natural beauty, rich history, fantastic architecture, thrilling adventure, vibrant culture, and warm hospitality.
There are many things to do in Armenia, like the Amberd Fortress, Pagan Temple of Garni, Geghard Monastery, Sevan Lake, the spa town of Tsaghkadzor, Shaki Waterfall, and Areni village. You can also hike Mount Aragats or take a day trip to Tatev Monastery if you’re craving a bit of adventure.
The capital city of Yerevan, in particular, is a traveller’s delight. Some of the best things to do and see in Yerevan are the Republic Square, Genocide Museum, Yerevan Cascade, the Mother Armenia statue, and the Freedom Square.
When it comes to food, the local Armenian cuisine is incredibly diverse and lip-smackingly tasty. Not to forget, the delicious and exotic Armenian wines that make Armenia a wine lover’s paradise. The best time to visit Armenia is during May-June or September-October period.
Do not miss exploring Armenia as it deserves to be on your travel bucket list and punches much above its weight to pleasantly surprise you with its charm.
Contributed by Kristin from Adventures with Ensuite
It is easy to think of the countries in the Caucasus as similar to one another, but they all have their distinctive culture, food, look and feel. What makes Azerbaijan stand out from its neighbours is its strong Silk Road heritage and its modern architecture.
Sheki, located close to the border with Georgia, was once a major stop on the Silk Road from China to Constantinople. Whilst visiting the over-the-top decorated palaces, such as the Sheki Khan’s Summer Palace and the caravanserais that used to house hundreds of merchants travelling between the east and west, you can imagine what the town must once have been like. However, the main Baku tourist places are quite different. Baku has a small but atmospheric old town but the main reason to visit is the many futuristic buildings built using the country’s large oil wealth.
Two of the places not to miss are the Flame Towers and the Heydar Aliyev Centre. In addition to all its new and old architecture, Azerbaijan has some interesting natural sights, such as the mud volcanoes and rock art of Qobustan. Furthermore, there are many hiking opportunities in the mountain villages around Quba. Trekking is only possible in the summer months, but Baku has the most comfortable temperatures during spring and autumn. It gets oppressively hot during July and August. Winters can be cold and rainy in the capital, but if you’re looking for skiing opportunities this is a great time to visit the mountain resorts.
16. Bosnia and Herzegovina
Sarajevo embodies the word quaint like no other city we’ve been to. Walking the pristine, stone-paved streets, passing by tiny trinket stores, under archways, and through narrow passages is an enjoyable experience in itself. Nothing beats a stop for a dollar scoop of ice cream or enjoying a traditional Bosnian coffee as the crowds pass by.
Despite being overlooked by tourists, in favour of nearby powerhouses like Dubrovnik and Budapest, Sarajevo, Bosnia’s capital city, boasts a rich and important history. After all, Sarajevo is the epicentre of where World War 1 broke out, due to the assassination of Franz Ferdinand in 1914.
To end a perfect day, and welcome an even better evening, we recommend watching the sunset in front of the peach-tinted rooftops of Sarajevo. There are plenty of spots to choose from, however, our fav memories are from the Yellow Fort and the Avaz Twist Tower. After soaking up all the visual stimuli Sarajevo has to offer, it’s only fitting to dine out and order a famous Balkans classic; cevapi. If you’re on a wider trip, you also won’t want to miss Mostar; a cute, small city filled with steep stone stairways and alleys. There are so many things to do in Mostar . Shop until you drop for colourful trinkets from the market stalls and dine out at one of the romantic restaurants in the old town. The star of the show though is Stari Most Bridge, an Ottoman-arched bridge that crosses over the Neretva River.
Contributed by Ellis from Backpack Adventures
Kosovo is the newest country in Europe and became an independent state as recently as 2008. Its troubled path to independence is still the reason very few people will consider Kosovo as a travel destination. A pity, because it has lots to offer and is now also one of the safest countries in Europe.
Even though Kosovo is not that big, it has a surprising amount of things to see and do for its small size. Kosovo has mountains, canyons, Ottoman towns, and ancient orthodox monasteries. Kosovo has something for everyone whether you love nature, culture, or good food.
For nature head to the little town of Peja with its bustling bazaar. This place is the gateway to the beautiful Rugova Canyon, one of the deepest and longest canyons in Europe. It’s on the way to the Accursed Mountains where you can go hiking in alpine sceneries and little mountain villages.
If you are more into the culture, you will love the multicultural city of Prizren. This small city was heavily influenced by the Ottomans and if you walk through the bazaar it definitely feels more east than west. There is the beautiful Sinan Pasha mosque and an ancient hammam. However, the city has churches and cathedrals as well, and the 14th-century Decani monastery is an easy day trip away.
At last, don’t miss Kosovo’s capital with its trendy cafes and great restaurants where you can indulge in Kosovo’s delicious food and meet its extremely friendly and welcoming people.
Contributed by Smita from My Faulty Compass
The tiny little country of Liechtenstein often escapes the radar of tourists when they are visiting Europe. However, pristine Alpine beauty and fascinating history make the country a wonderful place to visit.
Located between Switzerland and Austria, Liechtenstein is the 6th smallest country in the world. Spend a day driving around, or longer if you’d like to explore the beautiful hiking options during the summer or the fantastic ski slopes in the winter.
Despite its size, there are plenty of incredible things to do in Liechtenstein. 4 municipalities make up the country – Schaan, Vaduz, Triesenberg & Balzers – and all 4 of them have lots of fantastic places to explore.
Vaduz is the capital of Liechtenstein and the home to the famous Vaduz Castle. Perched on a hilltop, this castle has wonderful views over the Rhine Valley. Vaduz’s pedestrian street in Städtle is a lovely place to explore the local shops and Liechtenstein’s famous stamps.
Triesenberg is a beautiful mountain town with panoramic views over the hills and valleys. Balzers is another place famous for its castles. The Gutenberg Castle sits high above the town and makes for a beautiful spot to take in the views around.
Other than beautiful towns, Liechtenstein offers several amazing hikes, some of the most popular of which are the Liechtenstein Trail, a route connecting the municipalities, the Princes’ Way Hike, a high-altitude hike and the Princess Trail, a hike along a stunning ridge.
Contributed by Debjani from the Vagabong
Lithuania is one of the most beautiful off-the-beaten-path countries in Europe, at least on the Global Tourist Map. It is one of the Baltic countries which is steeped in war history and has been through a series of revolutions to acquire its independence from Russia until very recently in 1991. Lithuania is also one of the lesser expensive European Countries located in northern Europe and one can easily spend a week exploring this country. In the 14th century, Lithuania was the largest country in Europe. But at the end of the 18th century, the downfall of the Lithuanian kingdom was effectively split between Prussia’s and Russia’s empires. After the Lithuanian language, Russian is the most commonly spoken language as the country was under Russian rule for a very long time.
The people of Lithuania have gone through war oppression and have come out resilient. It is also a very small nation with a lot of potential for cultural/historical tourism, as people should be aware that the tragic holocaust past, where 91% of Lithuanian Jews were executed.
Vilnius is the capital of Lithuania and has three national parks inside the city, thus making it a natural hub. The old town of Vilnius also has beautiful old chapels and castles which are worth visiting.
One of the main dishes of Lithuania is Cepilinai which is made of Potato. So, for potato lovers, Lithuania is a food paradise. A few of the main tourist attractions in Lithuania, which can be covered through a day trip from Vilnius, are Rumsiskies, Klapeida, Kaunas, Trakai Castle, and Palanga Beach Town.
So, while planning a budget trip to Central and Northern Europe , Lithuania should definitely not be missed.
Magical fairytale castles, medieval cobblestone streets, bright red rooftops, and warm friendly people were our introduction to Romania. As soon as we arrived in Brasov, we knew we were going to love it. Despite Romania having a profusion of attractions, it is surprising that international visitors are not flocking to the country. Romania has to be one of Europe’s best-kept secrets.
Romania, home to Transylvania, isn’t all about playing hide and seek with Dracula. Although a trip to Bran Castle is a must. Visiting Bran Castle during the Halloween period should be on everyone’s bucket list. Aside from Bran Castle, make sure to head over to Pele’s Castle too. The architecture is magical! If you love the outdoors and nature, a drive along the mountain pass road, Transfăgărășan is a must. The road is so beautiful, it even made an appearance on BBC’s Top Gear in 2009. If fairytale castles and mountain roads aren’t enough, Timisoara has been voted the cultural capital of 2021! Timisoara is the second-largest city in Romania but has an artsy, laid-back vibe. Not only that, but you will also find plenty of divine cuisines to sink your teeth into. After all, Timisoara is home to 21 ethnicities and 18 religions.
Unlike cities in Western Europe, where mass tourism ascends on the cobbled streets, you will find a more peaceful setting in Ukraine. Ukraine still boasts the weird and wonderful in Lviv , amazing architecture in Kyiv, and sandy beaches in Odesa. One of the best draws to Ukraine though, is how cheap it is! Much cheaper than Western Europe, but still boasts all the fine attractions that you seek on a trip to the more popular European cities. Whilst it may seem a lot, that on average 14 million tourists visit Ukraine each year, when you compare it to almost 90 million visitors to France, you can easily see why Ukraine remains an off-the-beaten-path travel destination.
Whilst in Ukraine, it is obvious that no trip would be complete without a visit to the famous 1996 disaster site, Chernobyl. A trip to Chernobyl and the ghost town of Pripyat is a great addition to a Ukraine trip, especially for those who seek the thrill of abandoned places. Furthermore, don’t miss the mystique love tunnel in Rivne. The love tunnel , which is a train track that has been taken over by flourishing nature, is the perfect place for photographers.
North America off the beaten path travel
Contributed by Talek from Travel with Talek
Although just 90 miles from the southeastern coast of the U.S., Cuba seems like a million miles – and 60 years – away. Isolated from the U.S. due to an economic embargo and restrictive travel regulations, Cuba remains frozen in time.
The island is the biggest in the Caribbean. It is a culturally fascinating travel destination with largely intact colonial architecture, vibrant music, art, nightlife scene and jaw-dropping natural beauty.
Cuba’s capital city of Havana, founded in 1519 by Spanish conquistadors, is an intriguing collection of neighbourhoods. Old Havana, the easternmost, and oldest, part of the city is a UNESCO World Heritage site with winding cobblestone streets and broad leafy plazas surrounded by colonial buildings and museums.
Despite Havana’s charms, there is so much more to see in Cuba. The most visited cities outside the capital are Vinales with its tobacco plantations, Trinidad one of the best-preserved colonial towns, Cienfuegos, founded by French settlers from Bordeaux and Louisiana, Santiago de Cuba, the Pearl of the Caribbean and so much more.
With 9 UNESCO World Heritage sites, 6 UNESCO Biosphere preserves, and hundreds of protected nature areas, Cuba is a true wonderland worth visiting.
23. El Salvador
Contributed by Bistra and Nace from The Magic of Traveling
Everybody who we met on our trip to Central America advised us not to visit El Salvador. It’s dangerous, something bad is going to happen to you in that country. The only problem was none of those people had ever set foot there, so instead, we decided to trust those who did travel to El Salvador.
We started with El Tunco – the surfers’ paradise on the Pacific coast. Although it was a fenced resort town, we felt super safe and the only danger we could imagine was the danger of eating too many of the delicious pupusas (the traditional cornmeal flour flat cakes stuffed with cheese, veggies, etc.). So we decided to hire a driver and continue with the Ruta de Las Flores. The Flower Route takes you to volcanoes, mountains, waterfalls, and spectacular views. You stop by different villages on the route to experience how locals live, their traditions, and the history of the country.
After stumbling upon a typical Sunday fiesta in one of the villages, we got even braver and decided to take the local bus and travel to the second biggest city – Santa Ana. Santa Ana welcomes you with an endless street market and its beautiful downtown architecture. The cathedral and the theatre buildings are among the most beautiful in Central America. You can also hike the cherry on the cake – the majestic Santa Ana volcano which inspired the active volcanoes in Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s novella “The Little Prince”.
Contributed by Lozzy from Cuppa to Copa Travels
As the least visited country in all of Latin America, Honduras is well and truly off the beaten path. Only 850k tourists venture to this part of the world annually, but recently this number is very slightly beginning to grow. Honduras is unfortunately held back by its violent reputation – the major city of San Pedro Sula was named the murder capital of the world only a few years ago (it’s now dropped down to 15th in a 2020 study).
However, those who dare see past this will realise just how much this nation has to offer. The people are open and friendly, the prices are cheap and the landscapes are absolutely stunning. Honduras really does have it all, from paradise islands and world-renowned dive spots to ancient Mayan temples and sprawling cloud forests. Must-dos in this off-the-beaten-path country include kayaking the expanse of Lake Yojoa , ziplining through the mists of the mighty Pulhapanzak Waterfall, getting dive-certified in the Bay Islands and exploring the Mayan ruins of Copan.
While lots of the hostels in Honduras are basic, there are luxury resorts to be found – especially on one of the country’s Caribbean islands – which can give you a VIP experience for a fraction of the price of resorts further up the Central American coast.
Oceania off the beaten path travel
25. papua new guinea.
Contributed by John from Tulsatrot – Globetrotting Around the World
Hot, wet air greeted our arrival on the black tarmac of a city that The Economist ranked 139th least livable city in the world out of 140. That was Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, the capital of a country with over 750 spoken languages and tribes that have lived in isolation from the rest of the world.
A quick walk past the restroom stained with bright red betel nut supported this ranking.
Welcome to Papua New Guinea folks.
Within fifteen minutes, PNG quickly introduced us to what to expect over the next ten days, the unexpected in a southwestern Pacific country where comedy and menace live side by side.
Pigs are highly valuable in PNG. They serve as a form of currency. If you want to marry that special someone, true love requires swine. If you wrong another tribe, retribution is live poker. Visiting Karkar Island off the northern coast, pigs and comedy caught my eye in a newspaper title.
So when I saw “Pig Lover Nabbed” as one of the lead news articles on the front page of the national Papua New Guinea Post Courier, it caught my attention. Not only the content but the need to post that on the front page. “Was it a slow day in the newsroom?”
Another animal demands focused attention. PNG is home to the world’s most dangerous bird, the cassowary. It resides in the tropical forests, but by happenchance, one was at the same coconut and cocoa farm and fortunately, that single fascinating bird was behind a secure fence. The danger lies not in its multicoloured prehistoric head, but in the sharp menacing claws on its feet. It informed me of its prowess with a wicked gurgling howl. Sounded like my buddy’s first girlfriend.
PNG is a land rarely visited by tourists and they are often bird watchers and scientists, but a land ripe with fascinating attractions to explore.
26. Marshall Islands
Contributed by Erika from Erika’s Travels
The Marshall Islands, a sprawling archipelago nation that sits in the middle of the vast Pacific Ocean, is among the most remote and undiscovered countries in the world.
The far-flung country consists of 29 coral atolls that lie between Hawaii and the Federated States of Micronesia. Its tiny islands are so remote, that fewer than 5,000 visitors per year set foot on their sands.
If you are travelling to the Marshall Islands, chances are that Majuro will be your introduction to the country. The crowded capital island is the main gateway to the Marshall Islands and home to the country’s only international airport.
Unfortunately, while it is the most accessible atoll, Majuro is not the paradisiacal tropical island you might have dreamed about. The densely populated atoll is crowded, congested, and full of stray dogs.
Luckily, palm-fringed Arno Atoll is only a short boat ride away and connected to Majuro by 3x weekly boat service. Arno boasts turquoise water, swaying palms, white-sand beaches, and a slow pace of life that appears almost untouched by modernity.
There are almost no amenities on Arno Atoll, so it would be best to bring along food and necessities if you choose to visit.
Travelling around the Marshall Islands is not an easy affair. Outside of Majuro and Arno, the country’s coral atolls require time and money to visit properly. Transportation between the islands—whether by boat or by air—is unreliable at best. Unless you’re sailing around the Pacific with unlimited time, it is not the type of place where you can easily hop between destinations.
The Marshall Islands is a country that entices intrepid and adventurous travellers. It may not have the tourist amenities that can be found on other Pacific islands, but its rustic charm is precisely what makes the far-flung archipelago nation so special.
South America off the beaten path travel
27. uruguay .
Contributed by Erin from Sol Salute
Uruguay is a tiny, off-the-beaten-path country nestled between big brothers Argentina to the south and Brazil to the north, but Uruguay has just as much to offer! The capital city, Montevideo, features old European charm thanks to immigration from the early 20th century. The historic downtown is filled with original architecture and the central market is a must-visit for meat lovers.
The small town of Colonia del Sacramento is one of the most popular things to do in Uruguay. This tiny village was founded by the Portuguese and retains all of its original architecture and charm. It’s easy to visit as a day trip from nearby Buenos Aires but is worth a longer stay to explore the regional wineries between Colonia and nearby Carmelo.
Red wine is excellent in Uruguay and the wine region is underappreciated and waiting to be discovered. The real beauty of Uruguay is its Atlantic Coast. In the many beach towns here, there is something for everyone. Punta del Este is luxurious. It is a place to see and be seen in the warm summer months. It’s also one of the best places to be in South America for New Year’s Eve. Punta del Diablo and Cabo Polonio, further up the coast, cater to a more hippie, laid-back crowd. Go there to disconnect and sink into all of Uruguay’s undiscovered charms.
Essential travel resources
Travel Insurance – No matter where you’re travelling to, it’s a good idea to make sure you’re covered for any accidents or losses. We spent days and weeks searching for insurance, but most insurers would not allow us to take out a policy as we were already abroad. Our personal choice is Safteywing . You can opt for automatic monthly payments, just like a subscription. More importantly, it is available in 180 countries and can be purchased whilst already travelling. There is no cap on the duration of travel.
Visa – Before you travel to any country, make sure to check if you need a visa. iVisa is a fantastic website that is super easy and quick to use. Just type in where you are from. and where you are going. to check if you need a visa. If you do, you can quickly make an application online.
Accommodation – Booking.com is our go-to when looking to pre-book accommodation online. Booking.com tend to almost always have the best rates and a FREE cancellation policy for most properties.
Overland transport – Our go-to website for overland transport is Bookaway . Bookaway offers multiple forms of transport, from buses, mini-vans, trains, and ferries. The routes on offer are extensive and certainly cover most of the backpacker trails. Bookaway works a little like Skyscanner but for overland transport. You will find plenty of transport options from a range of companies. All you simply need to do is book online and receive your ticket by email. The email will contain essential information, such as where the bus leaves from and departure and arrival times.
Tours & Activities – If you want to book tours and activities online, make sure to check out Get Your Guide . Get Your Guide takes the stress out of booking activities abroad. You will also find a range of benefits, such as skip-the-line passes, lunch included in your tours, and so much more.
Travel tips ebook -Before you head off on your adventure, make sure to download our free ebook. It has a whopping 109 budget travel tips to help you make your hard-earned cash go further. Click here to download your FREE ebook.
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23 Amazing Off-the-Beaten-Path Travel Destinations to Visit in 2023
Wondering what are the most amazing off-the-beaten-path destinations to visit?
I asked fellow travel bloggers to share their favorite ones and the result was this massive guide to all the best unique destinations worldwide.
I hope they will inspire your wanderlust as they did to me. Here you will find many incredible destinations that you may never think about.
So without further ado, let’s dive into it.
Table of Contents
The Coolest Off-the-Beaten-Path Travel Destinations to Visit in 2023
1. guam – oceania.
An off-the-beaten-path destination that’s located in the Northern Pacific Ocean is the small island of Guam.
This island is known for its gorgeous beaches, verdant interior, and vibrant culture.
And since there are plenty of cheap public transportation options available, it’s relatively easy to navigate around the island, making it an excellent destination for solo female travelers to explore.
When visiting Guam, there are lots of natural attractions that you can enjoy! For example, a crowd favorite is Tumon Bay, where you can admire the picturesque views of crystal-clear waters. Or, to get a closer look at Guam’s lush interior and observe the native wildlife, hike along one of its numerous trails.
Swimming and snorkeling are also a must if you’re looking to have some fun in the water. However, you’ll want to do this on the northern side of the island to avoid crowds scaring away marine life.
For those interested in visiting the small island, fly into the Guam International Airport. And anytime is a good time to go because the island is fortunate enough to experience consistent tropical weather year-round. So if you’re looking for an exciting less frequented destination to explore this year, consider a trip to Guam!
Contributed by Kristin from Global Travel Escapades
2. Maine Coast – US
The state of Maine is wonderful but underrated, with hundreds of miles of beautiful coastline and lots of bucket-list hiking trails in places like Acadia National Park.
There are also a total of 65 historic lighthouses in Maine to see along the coast, and some of them will let you climb to the top of the light tower, while others will even let you rent the keeper’s house and stay overnight at the lighthouse, which is a great experience!
Summer is possibly the best time to visit Maine if you’re looking for the nicest weather, although spring can also be good if you really want to avoid crowds.
The most beautiful time to visit Maine would probably be during the fall foliage season, which usually peaks in October. The leaf colors are amazing during the fall!
Maine is one of the safest states in the U.S. so it’s also great for solo travelers or anyone looking for a safe place to vacation.
You can fly into the city of Portland if you want to get started sightseeing right away, or the Boston airport also has lots of flight options, which may be better in some cases. Overall, Maine is a great choice for underrated adventures!
Contributed by David & Intan from The World Travel Guy
3. Transylvania, Romania
If your idea of “off the beaten path” includes giggles and exclamations of “wait, is that a real place?” when talking about it, Transylvania should be on your list.
Transylvania, a vast interior region of Romania, is home to a dizzying variety of breathtaking landscapes, folklore, and traditional arts.
Although is off the beaten path, the tourist infrastructure is robust, and it’s easy to navigate, and there are plenty of places to stay for every budget.
For solo female travelers, Transylvania offers the opportunity to travel to an “exotic” destination while still enjoying the safety and comfort of traveling within the European Union.
Transylvania offers charming old towns, awe-inspiring castles, opportunities for outdoor adventure, and an assortment of incredible Romanian foods to try .
Although modern Transylvania won’t live up to the myths created by American cinema, you will find one of Europe’s largest bat colonies, unique Transylvanian architecture, and an incredible depth of culture and folklore.
Transylvania is a year-round travel destination, however, travelers should avoid visiting during Halloween when this budget-friendly destination suddenly gets very expensive and very crowded with tourists.
Buses are the most popular transportation in Transylvania, but traveling by train in Eastern Europe offers an opportunity to travel slower and enjoy the journey.
Contributed by Lynli Roman from WanderBig.com
4. Jardin, Colombia
Jardin, Colombia is a small town deep in the jungles of coffee country. It is a 3 to the 4-hour bus ride from Medellin, along roads that wind through the mountains.
The bus drops you close to the center of town, and you can easily walk to your accommodation.
The surrounding countryside is beautiful- with fields of palms, coffee and banana all around. You’ll also find some excellent local restaurants offering everything from tacos to Italian.
Jardin has a lovely central square that is lined with coffee shops, a central cathedral, and beds of roses.
Enjoy a cup of coffee at Café Macanas, then head out to explore the local area. This is a small, walkable, safe town for solo travelers.
One of the best things to do in Jardin is to visit a coffee farm- you’ll see the coffee plants, pick some beans yourself, learn about how they are processed, and then taste some coffee yourself.
Run by 5 th generation farmers, Finca Los Angeles is a great coffee farm to visit. They will help you arrange a taxi to and from their farm.
The best views of the town are from the Mirador Cristo Rey. It’s a lovely hike up if you are up for a stroll, or you can take a car or tuk-tuk up, you’ll see them buzzing around the main square.
There is a small café at the base of this Christ statue overlooking the town. You can sit with fresh juice or the dessert of the day and marvel at the town below you.
Closer to town, don’t miss the Reserva Natural Jardín de Rocas. These loud, odd-looking birds are the national bird of Peru.
To visit the red-headed rocas, also called cock-of-the-rock, head south on Calle 9. Just before the bright yellow bridge, turn down a steep road. You’ll see a wooden door to the preserve on your right.
Ring the call button and a woman will let you in and take a small admission charge for your visit. The garden is usually open from 3-5:30 in the afternoon when the birds are most active.
The best time to visit Jardin is in the dry season, which is from December to February, and from July to September.
It rains a lot in Jardin, so you’ll notice all the café tables are overhand on the main square. Carry a rain jacket with you for any surprise showers.
Contributed by Cynthia Matthews von Berg from Sharing the Wander
5. Olomouc, Czech Republic
Olomouc , the sixth largest city in the Czech Republic can be found in the Eastern part of the country and gets usually overlooked by tourists.
The city with a uniquely beautiful historical center has everything one might want to see in Europe, yet without crowds.
Olomouc’s heart is made up of two interconnected Squares. There’s a stunning city hall and a UNESCO site of 20 years – the Holy Trinity Column built in the 18th century. The whole city center is dotted with incredible fountains – the oldest comes from the 17th century!
What’s more, the city center is encircled by greenery. There are wild parks, groomed parks, botanical gardens… There are so many angles to Olomouc!
You can find cafés of all styles, Baroque churches, lots of street art, and a unique smelly variant of cheese called Tvarůžky.
Olomouc is a student city – students represent a third of the inhabitants. That becomes apparent, especially in summer. There’s still a lot going on, just with fewer people. It’s a real balm for the soul especially after visiting Prague in summer.
It’s easy to get to Olomouc from Prague by direct train – it takes up to 2.5 hours. Once there, you can even walk everywhere, or hop on a tram. Olomouc is safe for everyone including solo female travelers.
Contributed by Veronika from Travel Geekery
6. Gdansk, Poland
While not many people may put Poland at the top of their list, the city of Gdansk makes for an excellent off-the-beaten-path destination!
This small city sits right near the Baltic Sea and is perfect for those who love to spend their time walking and enjoying the sights.
The architecture of the Old Town truly makes the city a hidden gem. There are plenty of things to do in Gdansk as the city also holds a lot of history.
When you visit, you’ll learn that Gdansk is the amber capital of the world, so you will find many stores selling authentic amber jewelry pieces and collectives.
You can also visit the Amber museum inside the city, to find out the history and many interesting facts about this natural phenomenon. Gdansk is a very safe and walkable city. It is well connected by public transport, but most of the time you will only need to walk, as everything is in or around the Old Town.
While summer is always a great time to visit, Gdansk is also a lovely destination for fall, as it tends to be pretty sunny and has perfect timing to see the fall colors.
Contributed by Jori from The Tejana Abroad
7. Big Island, Hawaii, USA
The Big Island of Hawaii is less popular than the islands of Ohau and Maui , but it has so much to offer and is a very special place to visit with volcanoes, rainforests, and unique black, green, and white sand beaches.
The winter months of December to April are the best months to travel to Big Island due it its warm temperatures, as compared to the freezing winters elsewhere.
Winter is also the whale-watching season and an opportunity to see majestic whales.
Flying to the Kona International airport is the best way to reach Big Island. Getting a rental car is the best way to explore Big Island.
Big Island is a great destination for solo female travelers as most popular places are always busy with tourists, thus making it safe to explore.
Most tourists stay in the beach town of Kona or the resort area of Waikoloa. There are a lot of things to do in Kona like snorkeling with the manta rays, visiting the National Historic sites to learn about Hawaiian history, and hiking the Captain Cook Monument.
The town of Hilo is in the eastern region of the Big Island and has amazing rainforest hikes to see waterfalls like the Akaka falls and Rainbow falls.
The Volcanoes National Park has a lot of unique hikes like the Kilauea Iki trail. The black and green sand beaches in the southern part of the island are very unique to Big Island and worth the drive.
Contributed by Anu Agarwal from Destination Checkoff
Central Asia is an up-and-coming travel destination. And, Uzbekistan is at the heart of it, rich in history, culture, and culinary delights.
Recently opened to the world again, the cities of Uzbekistan were once key parts of the Silk Road.
As such, the design of the cities and the cuisine represents a fusion of cultures also influenced by Uzbekistan’s Soviet past. It really is a place like no other.
Getting around the country is easy with its cheap and convenient train network. Tashkent is the industrial capital that was once a Soviet stronghold.
Take a trip to the markets and visit the TV tower for sweeping city views.
From Tashkent, you can take the train to 3 beautiful Silk Road cities: Samarkand, Bukhara, and Khiva.
All are full of stunning temples, complexes, forts, and towers that can be wandered for hours.
Make sure you check out the Registan in Samarkand, the Ark of Bukhara, and the walled old city of Khiva.
Come with plenty of spare room in your bag though, you’ll definitely want to pick up a few souvenirs.
Gorgeous hand-made pillows and blankets as well as traditional clothing, ornaments and keepsakes, all make for great gifts to others or yourself.
The best time to visit Uzbekistan is in late spring when the temperatures are pleasant but not sweltering and attractions aren’t yet crowded.
Uzbek locals are kind and welcoming to international visitors and the country feels safe. Although, there isn’t really a backpacking scene yet or any hostels outside of Tashkent.
That said, Uzbekistan’s tourism industry is only going to grow. With good accessibility to neighboring countries, Central Asia is really putting itself on the map as the next big travel destination.
Contributed by Zoe from zoegoesplaces.com
Georgia, the country, is a beautiful place to explore and an excellent choice for solo female travelers.
It’s affordable; the Georgian people are friendly and welcoming; the food and wine are fantastic, and getting around by local transport is simple, albeit a little scary, on some of those windy mountain roads.
Begin your journey in Tbilisi, Georgia” s capital. Explore the fascinating old town, take the cable car up to the Narikala fortress, and then wander back down past waterfalls to the famous spa district.
On your way back down, be sure to visit Tbilisi’s beautiful botanic gardens.
From the city, head up to the mountains around Kazbegi for some great hikes and snowy vistas. It’s possible to visit Kazbegi as a day trip, but to appreciate the region truly, spend a few days in the mountains.
And while you’re there, be sure to visit the Gergeti Trinity Church, high up in the mountains.
Then head south to Sighnaghi , a gorgeous little town in Georgia’s Kakheti region, an area famous for its wine.
Visit the local wineries, explore the town’s narrow streets, and admire the incredible vistas with the Caucasus Mountains as a backdrop.
The best time to visit Georgia is during spring or autumn. Winters can be brutally cold and summers stifling hot.
Contributed by Sarah from Life Part2 and Beyond
10. Alausi Ecuador
Alausi is a beautiful mountain village that is nestled picturesquely in the Chimborazo Province of Ecuador .
Most travelers visit Alausi as a LONG day trip from the colonial city of Cuenca to take the zig-zagging ride on the Devil’s Nose Train. For those who love to get off the beaten path, this traditional town warrants much more than a few hours.
Alausi is considered to be one of Ecuador’s “pueblos magicos,” a program that helps bring awareness to overlooked cultural areas in the country.
Alausí is charming, inviting, and safe for solo female travelers. The walkable streets are colorful and a delight to stroll.
There are many incredible things to do in Alausi . Adventurous travelers can opt to hike the breathtaking trail to the Devil’s Nose, rather than hop on the train.
Stop in one of the many local shops selling handmade artisan goods and the daily indoor market offers fantastic and authentic Ecuadorian cuisine.
Relax in one of the inviting plazas, or appreciate the many spectacular viewpoints, like the Mirador San Pedro.
The best time to visit Alausi is on a Sunday when the entire town turns into a bustling and lively outdoor market.
Communities from all across the province come to sell anything and everything you could possibly think of and eat at the plentiful food stalls on the streets.
Alausí is spoiled by being surrounded by untouched beauty. Take a day trip to the pristine lakes of Lagunas de Ozogoche.
Advanced trekkers can experience the remote and isolated first three days of the Great Inca Trail.
The challenging trail follows the ancient Inca road system to the Ingapirca ruins.
Contributed by Megan from Packing up the Pieces
11. Yerevan, Armenia
Yerevan is the capital city of Armenia. At different times Armenia fell under the rule of various other nations, including Roman, Turkish, Persian and Russian rule.
Elements of each period can still be seen and felt today in Yerevan.
The city is a perfect blend of traditional Armenian culture and history against modernization. It’s budget-friendly and vibrant, and generally safe for solo females.
Yerevan is where many tourists will enter the country, and deserves a spot on every Armenia itinerary .
From the historic Blue Mosque to the stunning Republic Square to the somber Armenian Genocide Memorial Complex, there is a lot to see here.
And, though a relatively obscure travel destination, there are plenty of tourist sights within walking distance of the city center.
The summers in Yerevan can be sweltering, and winters can see snow. Therefore, the best time to visit is during the spring and fall.
During these months, the weather is pleasant for exploring the city. If you head outside of Yerevan, this is a great time for hiking and camping, too.
The best way to get around the city is by rideshare apps or taxis. For long distances, travelers can grab a spot in shared vans called marshrutkas .
And, if you are able, the best way to explore farther corners is by rental car.
Contributed by Monica from This Rare Earth
12. Eguisheim, France
At the foothills of the Vosges mountains in eastern France, lies one of the most off-the-beaten-path travel destinations, Eguisheim.
This quaint town is known for rows of colorful medieval houses, pristine hiking trails, and endless vineyards.
It even holds the title of the most beautiful town in France. There’s no denying that it’s small, but there are so many things to do in Eguisheim .
Not only that but it’s perfect for solo female travelers.
Meander along the cobblestone streets and stop in a traditional brasserie for some hearty Alsatian cuisine.
Or rent a bike and explore the lush vineyards that surround the village. Then, if you’re feeling adventurous, bike or walk the Route des 5 Châteaux.
You’ll pass the Three Castles of Eguisheim as well as two other impressive ruins.
It’s an uphill climb, but your efforts will be rewarded with magnificent views over the region.
Of course, no trip to Eguisheim is complete without sampling a glass of Alsatian wine. There are several wine cellars and restaurants that offer tastings in town.
While it is a year-round destination, the best times to visit are from May to June.
During these months houses are decorated in hanging baskets full of red, pink, orange, and white flowers.
It looks like a fairytale. Then, to get to Eguisheim, you’ll first need to get to Colmar. The nearest international airports are in Paris and Basel.
And from there, trains run regularly to Colmar and take one to two hours. Buses and taxis are available at Colmar’s train station with an average travel time of about 15 minutes.
Contributed by Jen from Dabbling in Jet Lag
13. Jaffna, Sri Lanka
If you wish to travel off the beaten path in Asia, then head to Jaffna, a hidden gem on the northern shores of Sri Lanka.
Leaving behind painful memories from years of civil war and unrest, Jaffna is making its way towards becoming a coveted travel destination.
Jaffna is a treasure house of history, culture, and natural beauty. There are many amazing things to do in Jaffna including visiting the colonial Jaffna Fort that is 400+ years old and checking out the Public Library, a place that stands as a poignant reminder of Jaffna’s turbulent past.
You can hop through numerous Hindu temples in Jaffna. The prettiest ones are the Nallur Kandaswamy Temple, Naguleswaram Temple, and the Nagapooshani Amman Temple on Nainativu island.
For an insight into local culture, be sure to head to the Yalpanam local market where you can shop for local food and palmyra handicraft as well as spot some stunning street art.
The best time to visit Jaffna is from January – March when the weather is cool and dry. However, if you’d like to experience the festive spirit, visit Jaffna in August when locals celebrate the 25-day Nallur Annual Festival.
The easiest way to get to Jaffna is by train from Colombo. You can also do a road trip from Colombo to Jaffna. The road trip is dotted with beautiful vistas and can take 9 – 10 hours.
Contributed by Soumya from Stories by Soumya
14. Cadiz, Spain
One of the most underrated destinations in Spain is the southern city of Cadiz. In fact, it is the oldest continuously inhabited city in western Europe.
In the shade of Seville, it has all the Andalusian charm of the capital of Andalucia, but on top of that, it is a coastal city with a laid-back atmosphere.
Among the locals, you can hear them refer to the province as Cadifornia due to the great surf and there is no arguing that there are absolutely breathtaking beaches in Cadiz .
The best season for enjoying the beaches is between June and October/November. Besides that, Cadiz boasts enchanting cobblestoned streets, a stunning cathedral, a Roman Theater, and you can climb the 45-meter-tall Tavira Tower for sweeping views of the city and its coast.
This is the only remaining watch tower that is open to the public. But Cadiz also boasts a whole lot of green space and is perfectly walkable.
While you always have to watch up for pickpockets in crowded areas, Cadiz is a fairly safe city to travel to for solo female travelers and there is a number of vibrant hostels to connect with other travelers.
There is no airport in Cadiz, but there is a train connection from both Seville and Jerez de la Frontera which are the closest airports.
Contributed by Linn Haglund of Amused by Andalucia
15. North Macedonia
North Macedonia is probably the most underrated and overlooked country in the Balkans (or even in Europe) yet it offers plenty to see and do.
While the majority of tourists who actually decides to visit North Macedonia tend to stop only in the quirky capital Skopje and the stunning Lake Ohrid (one of the most beautiful places in the region), there are so many more great and diverse places to visit in Macedonia .
You can enjoy their breathtaking mountains, ancient sites, centuries-old monasteries, charming towns, and unusual architecture and everything is scattered in a relatively small area, making it easy to see all the country has to offer.
Unfortunately, some of the sites are available only by car but even if you decide to rely on public transport only you still can see a lot.
North Macedonia is also one of the safest countries to visit, also for solo female travelers, with friendly and welcoming locals and a rather low crime rate.
And since it’s still not so popular you don’t need to worry about many scams aimed at tourists. The best time to visit North Macedonia is between May and September.
However, if you go there in late summer / early autumn you will be accompanied by the view of drying peppers and the smell of this roasted vegetable everywhere you go – it is the most common ingredient in the local cuisine, and September and October are months when the whole country is stocking it up for upcoming months.
Contributed by Kami from MyWanderlust
16. Bari, Italy
Bari is the beautiful seaside capital of Italy’s Puglia region and often flies under the radar compared to bigger cities, like Rome.
Situated along the Adriatic Sea, Bari is a historically important harbor city that changed hands under many rulers, including the Romans.
Today, it is enthralling to wander the tangled streets of Old Town Bari, as well as a stroll on top of the remaining sections of its defensive wall.
Visitors will notice locals socializing in chairs outside their homes and enjoy smells emanating from households and tiny restaurants.
The best things to do in Bari include admiring the architecture, learning about the history, and exploring the food scene.
Old Town Bari is made up of a maze of streets, where there are hidden squares, beautiful archways, and ancient cathedrals to uncover.
To learn about Bari’s history, the best place to start is by visiting Bari Cathedral, which dates back to the 11 th century.
For 3 euros, visitors can even wander beneath the structure to see the ruins of an excavated Christian basilica, a mosaic floor, and part of a Roman road.
Finally, Bari is a wonderful foodie city and a great place to do a food tour. This is the perfect opportunity to try local specialties like focaccia, orecchiette pasta, and fresh octopus.
Visitors can reach Bari by flying into Bari International Airport. While it is possible to rent a car from the airport, it might be better to take the 17-minute train and avoid the city’s crazy traffic.
The best time to visit Bari is in late spring or early fall, when the crowds are thinner and the temperatures are not sweltering.
Although Old Town Bari used to be known for rampant petty crime, the city has really cleaned up over the past decade and is perfectly safe to wander today.
A solo female traveler would feel perfectly fine wandering the Old Town.
Contributed by Theresa McKinney From Fueled By Wanderlust
17. The Georgia Coast
The Georgia Coast is known for its beautiful barrier islands, and Cumberland Island National Seashore is one of the most untamed and secluded options of them all.
The island is only accessible by ferry, and no more than 300 visitors are allowed each day. It’s quite possible to go for a stroll along the beach and not even run across another person!
Even though the island is remote, it’s still quite safe for solo travelers.
The slim possibility of running across a wild boar or alligator is the biggest concern, but the ferry captain will provide helpful tips for avoiding them.
You can bring a bike across on the ferry to cover more ground on the island, but if you don’t, you’ll be exploring using your own two feet! Vehicles are for island residents only.
Cumberland was once home to some of the wealthiest families in America, and many remnants of their presence are still visible today.
Visit the Dungeness Ruins and the Plum Orchard Mansion to get an idea of how the Rockefellers lived or stay overnight at the luxurious Greyfield Inn, which was home to the Carnegies.
Its grounds are dotted with stunning Southern live oaks and the inn’s library is filled with first editions from the Carnegie family library.
If you prefer less luxurious options, Cumberland Island also has two beach campsites and three options deep in the maritime forest.
Be sure to make reservations well in advance since campsites book up quickly!
Summertime is probably the worst time to visit; it’s uncomfortably hot and the “no-see-ums” (annoying biting gnats) are out in full force.
Note that August and September are peak hurricane seasons, and you will have to evacuate if one comes along.
The island is nicest in November and early spring. Since it’s a maritime forest, the island stays green year-round.
Contributed by Erin from Savannah first timer
18. Stanley, Idaho
The tiny town of Stanley, Idaho serves as the gateway to the epic Sawtooth Mountains, a range whose dramatic peaks rival the jaggedness of the Tetons.
If you’re an outdoor lover, Stanley is perfect for you, given the sheer volume of hiking, camping, and other activities that will take you into the Great Outdoors.
So, as long as you’re a solo female traveler who doesn’t mind hitting the trail or pitching a tent on your own, Stanley will be perfect for you.
The area has countless hiking trails, many of which snake past one of the literally hundreds of glacial lakes in the surrounding valley.
For example, the Alice Lakes trail passes three stunning alpine lakes, climbs craggy mountain peaks, and provides sweeping views over the Sawtooth Valley.
Once you’re done exploring its hiking trails, Stanley has something perfect to help you relax- hot springs!
You’ll find several picturesque and undeveloped hot springs sprinkled around Stanley, along the Payette and Salmon River, where you can soak in their steamy waters and take in the natural beauty around you.
To reach Stanley, fly into Boise and make the two-hour and 45-minute drive east along the Ponderosa Pines Scenic Byway.
The drive itself is absolutely jawdroppingly beautiful and you’ll pass several hot springs, like Pine Flats and Kirkham, that are worth a stop along the way.
Stanley has its charms, regardless of the season you visit, but unless you enjoy the snow and bitter cold, visiting from July through September will be your best bet. The skies will be clear and the temperatures perfect for exploring Stanley’s epic scenery.
Contributed by Jess of Uprooted Traveler
19. Nagaland, India
For an off-the-beaten-path travel destination head over to Nagaland, India.
Nagaland is a state located in northeast India. It became the 16th state of India in 1963. Numerous tribes live in the area and conflict between them and the government of India has been ongoing for many years.
While in Nagaland visiting the local tribes in the area is quite possibly the best experience to have there.
Plan to stay in the capital city of Kohima. Native Stories offers clean rooms at a fair price and ideal location.
You can reach tribes in the area by taxi and bus. Be sure you know how you’re getting back to Kohima *before* leaving. Arrange a return trip with your taxi driver and or make sure you know the bus schedule in advance. (Note that buses can be infrequent and undependable).
If you’d like to spend a night or two visiting a tribe, the best thing to do is talk to the chief and ask for a place to stay.
The chief will frequently offer you a place to stay with them. If not that, they’ll likely know a local within the tribe who would let you sleep under their roof.
As a worst-case scenario, plan to camp (or makeshift camp, ie sleeping outdoors) for a night or two.
Be advised that this isn’t a destination best suited for women traveling solo. Traveling in a group of three preferably with at least one male would be ideal.
Contributed by Chelsea from Adventures of Chels
20. Ninh Binh, Vietnam
Vietnam is already a bit of an off-the-beaten-path destination in Southeast Asia, with most people choosing to visit Bali or Thailand.
However, Vietnam is an incredible place to visit, with delicious food, friendly people, cheap costs, and gorgeous landscapes.
In Vietnam, Ninh Binh is a hidden gem, seeing far fewer tourists than other cities and destinations.
Ninh Binh is special because it’s an area filled with rivers, streams, and waterways that are lined with cattails, rice fields, and lush tropical vegetation.
But, the real star of the area is the limestone mountains, known as karsts. These cliffs rise dramatically, providing a surreal landscape of winding waterways through narrow valleys.
Exploring this beautiful area on a boat tour is simply a must-do activity, and the local guides navigate you expertly to ancient shrines, through caves, and around these memorable vistas with skill.
To round out your day in Ninh Binh , you have other amazing experiences to try, like climbing to beautiful viewpoints, exploring ancient temples, and admiring pagodas.
And to top it all off, the area is designed for exploration by scooter and cycling through the peaceful countryside.
The most beautiful time to visit Ninh Binh is in June when the lotus flowers bloom. These pink blossoms are gorgeous and fill the lakes in the area.
For the best weather, visit in March and April or September – November, as you will have lower temperatures and be in the dry season.
Contributed by Stephanie of The Unknown Enthusiast
21. Rodrigues Island, Mauritius
People often think that the island country of Mauritius constitutes only one island. Ooh boy, they’re missing out!
The archipelago of Mauritius comprises several other islands, but Rodrigues is the one that’s easiest to visit.
Many people – even Mauritians themselves! – think that two days on the second island is enough, but actually, there are tons of things to do in Rodrigues to warrant a four-month stay.
Rodrigues has a lagoon that’s twice as big as the island itself. Many activities are on the water, such as kayaking and kitesurfing.
This remote island’s biodiversity is incredible, with parks where you can learn about the Rodriguan megabats, medicinal plants, and giant tortoises.
The culture of Rodrigues is also unique within the context of the Mascarene islands; hotels organize traditional music and dance nights ( sega tambour ) and there are monthly sailing regattas in pirogues .
It’s a small island where there’s little news and even less crime. It’s a good destination for traveling women to rest and recharge as it is quiet and safe.
If you’re staying longer than a week, people will quickly learn your face and name. It’s easy to travel around the island by rental scooter, bus, hitchhiking, or even on foot since it’s small.
The best months for learning how to kitesurf are June till August (winter) and the most beautiful month for blooms is mid-November till mid-December before the cyclones come.
Getting to Rodrigues can be done by domestic flight from Mauritius.
There is also a passenger/cargo ship called the Mauritius Trochetia , though it’s tricky to get a cabin and the schedule is irregular.
A one-way ship journey to the tiny island capital Port Mathurin takes three days.
Contributed by Iris Veldwijk from Mind of a Hitchhiker
22. Fujian Province, China
Beautiful Fujian province, situated halfway between Hong Kong and Shanghai, is often overlooked by visitors to China.
That’s a pity, as Fujian is just gorgeous, with incredible food and fantastic cultural and natural attractions.
The lucky ones who visit Fujian usually start their trip in the coastal city of Xiamen. Xiamen is a major transportation hub with high-speed trains to the rest of China.
As the hub of Xiamen Airlines, the city is also well-connected to the rest of the world.
Spend a few days exploring subtropical Xiamen’s artsy neighborhoods, colorful temples, gardens, beaches, hot springs, and the former treaty port on Gulangyu island.
Leaving Xiamen, you’ll be indeed off the beaten path. Catch a bullet train to the Wuyi Mountains for a few days of hiking, bamboo rafting, and drinking some of the best tea in the world.
The Wuyi Mountains are home to hundreds of tea gardens growing the famous Da Hong Pao, Oolong, and Wuyishan Rock Tea between the domed peaks, so make sure to visit a teahouse to experience this quintessential part of Chinese culture.
Another highlight when visiting Fujian province is the Hakka Tulou villages. These UNESCO-recognised villages are known for their unique doughnut shapes clan houses.
Spend a day or two in Yongding county and get a driver to take you for a tour of the Hakka villages.
A trip around the Hakka villages in rural China at its best – something that only a few foreign visitors get to see.
Fujian has a subtropical climate and can be visited year-round. March to June is tea harvesting season, so that will be the best time to visit the Wuyi Mountains.
As elsewhere in China, Fujian is exceptionally safe, even for solo female travelers.
Contributed by De Wet & Jin from the Museum of Wander
23. Muiden, the Netherlands
An often overlooked gem in the Netherlands that is an incredible place to visit is the small town of Muiden.
Muiden lies about a half hour outside of Amsterdam, making it a great choice for an afternoon away from the city during your time in Amsterdam .
You can take a train from Amsterdam Central Station to Muiden, or you can even take a leisurely countryside bike trip there!
The charming town of Muiden is the perfect place for travelers of all kinds from families to solo female travelers and beyond.
The town is walkable, so once you’re there, feel free to explore at your leisure!
The number one thing you want to do is tour the Muiderslot- or Amsterdam Castle. This medieval structure was built by Count Floris in 1280.
Today, the entire castle still stands, and visitors can walk the ramparts, climb up towers, and explore throne rooms and other castle areas. In addition, beautiful gardens and a moat surround the area.
When you’re finished at Muiderslot, walk about five minutes down the stunning cobblestone streets toward the center of town. Here, you’ll find local restaurants and cafes with dining alongside the water.
While dining, you can enjoy the breeze, watch local passersby, and admire the swing bridge and boats that are always frequenting the Vecht.
The fall or spring is the perfect time to visit Muiden. This is when tourists in Amsterdam and the nearby areas are at their lowest, but the weather is still refreshing and enjoyable. The blooms and water are especially beautiful in April and May.
Contributed by Taylor From Traverse With Taylor
24. Tasmania, Australia
Australia is a very popular destination for nature lovers and those who love a road trip. If you want to travel to Australia and also get off the beaten path, then Tasmania is a perfect choice.
The island state of Tasmania is located 240km off the south coast of Australia and can be reached by taking a 10-hour ferry ride from Melbourne.
You can also fly to Hobart or Launceston if you prefer to get there quicker.
A visit to Tasmania will reward you with unique and spectacular landscapes, untouched wilderness, and wildlife that can’t be seen elsewhere.
Tasmania is a very safe place to travel and makes an excellent destination for solo female travelers.
The best way to see the highlights of Tasmania is by doing a road trip.
With a wide range of scenery and short drives between each stop, having your own vehicle will allow you to easily experience the best of Tasmania.
Some of the top attractions that can’t be missed on a road trip through Tasmania are hiking Cradle Mountain, swimming in the turquoise waters at the Bay of Fires, taking in the incredible views of Wineglass Bay, coming face to face with a Tasmanian devil and so much more!
Due to its southern location, Tasmania has a cooler climate than the rest of the country.
For the best chance of having warm and dry weather, you should plan to visit Tasmania during Australia’s summer, between the months of December – February.
Contributed by Ann From The Road Is Life
25. Vis Island, Croatia
Even as Croatia becomes increasingly popular as a tourist destination, there is still an opportunity to get off the beaten path within the country.
Vis Island, Croatia is one of the lesser visited Croatian islands you can get to from Split.
Vis Island only opened up for tourism in 1989, as it was formerly being used as a Yugoslav military base.
In more recent years, Vis Island was used to film the sequel of Mamma Mia in 2017!
The island has plenty to offer tourists, especially those who prefer a quieter scene compared with nearby Hvar or Brac which are known more as party islands.
The easiest way to get to Vis Island is by boat. You can take a ferry or catamaran from the port of Split to Vis Island for 6.50 euros and arrive within a couple of hours. We booked our trips with Jadrolinija.
The best way to get around the Island once you’re there is to walk, or rent a scooter or bicycle. If you want to travel to the other side of the island or a further distance for dinner you can get a taxi at one of the taxies stands around town.
While visiting Vis Island, be sure to book a Blue Caves tour, spend some time swimming, and eat plenty of wonderful food.
Find a place that serves traditional peka dishes (be sure to book in advance as these dishes take time to prepare!).
Contributed by Nausheen from Globe Gazers
Best off-the-beaten-path travel destinations: Final Thoughts
Pheww! Glad you made it through this long list of incredible off-the-beaten-path travel destinations.
I am sure you have found something that caught your attention to include in your bucket list.
On the contrary, if you think we have been missing something, please share it with us.
About the Author, Founder & Editor
Hello there! This is Isabella, the author of this blog, and a cat lover and restless traveler. I am an Italian expatriate in Mexico, but I am now traveling full-time in and out of Mexico. After 7 years of living in Cancun, I have decided to leave my fancy job and explore the world, at a slow pace, one country at a time. Among my favorite countries so far, besides Mexico of course, are Ecuador, Peru, Guatemala, Ireland, Portugal, Norway, and the list goes on…
Never travel without TRAVEL INSURANCE! I use, and recommend, SafetyWing
23 Epic Off-The-Beaten-Path Travel Destinations: Why You Should Travel Off The Beaten Path In 2023
- Last Updated: November 17, 2023
What’s the most unusual destination you’ve ever visited? Have you ever wanted to see more of the world, but been daunted when it comes to actually planning a trip to somewhere a bit more off the beaten track?
Taking the road less travelled can be an incredibly enriching experience. And yet, so many of us tend to stick to the same tried-and-tested holiday spots. I think this is a real shame.
Those who only ever visit the “standard” destinations are missing out on so much .
I’m not saying that countries like France or Italy aren’t worth visiting – they definitely are.
Paris is a beautiful city. The villages of Provence are idyllic. The vineyards of Tuscany are gorgeous. And the Colosseum is simply stunning.
But the world is such a huge, varied place and there are so many incredible off-the-beaten-path travel destinations to discover.
I strongly recommend not limiting yourself to the “obvious” choices. Instead, get out there and explore some of the lesser-known places around the world.
A lot of places you’ll probably see in your Instagram feed are over-touristed. They’ve become over-crowded, over-priced, and (in my view) over-rated.
I’ve travelled a lot in the last 12+ years. I have a lot of treasured and special travel memories. And almost all of them are from times when I was travelling off the beaten path.
In this post, I’ll explain why I love to travel off the beaten path, and why I think you should do it too. I’ll also tell you a little bit about some of my favourite offbeat travel destinations.
Benefits of Travelling Off The Beaten Path
Some of the following benefits tend to overlap; but, in a nutshell:
It can be more rewarding: Travelling off the beaten path can be an immensely rewarding experience. Not only is it liberating to escape from the crowds that plague popular tourist hotspots, offbeat travel also offers you the chance to immerse yourself in local cultures, enjoy different cuisines, and uncover hidden gems.
You’ll have unique experiences: Getting off the beaten path gives you an opportunity to explore places many people don’t even know exist. You’ll find yourself in places untouched by mass tourism, allowing you to enjoy unique and authentic experiences that you’ll remember forever.
You’ll meet new people: Away from the tourist traps, you’re much more likely to have meaningful interactions with locals who will share their culture with you. You’ll probably meet a more interesting range of fellow travellers too.
You’re more likely to have a positive impact: By avoiding destinations with mass appeal, you’re less likely to contribute to the negative impacts of over-tourism, such as crowding, inflated prices, and environmental damage.
You’ll learn more about the world: Travelling to “alternative” destinations gives you amazing insights into different cultures, histories, and ways of life. It might even give you a new perspective on where you live, too.
My Favourite Off-The-Beaten-Path Travel Destinations
Here are 23 of my favourite off-the-beaten-path travel destinations. I’ve been to all of them and can highly recommend each and every one of them to anybody who wants to see a slightly different side of the world.
The next time you’re planning a trip, I recommend stepping out of your comfort zone a little and exploring one (or more!) of these amazing places.
Step outside of the tourist bubble. You might just be surprised at what you find.
Looking for off-the-beaten-path places to visit in the UK? Check out these 44 UK Hidden Gems .
Jaffna, Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka is a lush, tropical island paradise just off the southern tip of India. With stunning beaches, varied scenery, delicious food, and a diverse wealth of cultural heritage, this small island nation offers an incredible range of unforgettable experiences.
Most visitors tend to stick to a fairly well-trodden route. They visit the beaches and surf spots of the southwest and southeast, Ella, Kandy , and/or the “ Cultural Triangle ” in the centre of the island.
Most visitors do not make it up to the far north of the country. But you should – it’s awesome.
Jaffna is the capital of Sri Lanka’s Tamil-speaking Northern Province and offers a unique cultural experience that’s totally different from the rest of the country.
In fact, the whole place feels much more like India than the rest of Sri Lanka. Although it’s different from India in many ways too. I’ve never been anywhere else quite like it.
I spent a week in Jaffna in March this year, and it was definitely one of the highlights of my time in Sri Lanka. Despite being heavily damaged during the Sri Lankan civil war , Jaffna has made an impressive recovery and is now a safe and welcoming destination.
There are plenty of things to see and do in Jaffna , including visiting the ancient Nallur Kandaswamy Kovil temple, which is the most important Hindu temple in Sri Lanka. I was warmly welcomed into the evening puja ceremony here – and showered with gifts of food afterwards.
I don’t know a huge amount about Hinduism, but the whole thing was a very powerful experience and one that I will remember forever.
Jaffna Public Library is another of the city’s major landmarks. You can also explore the Jaffna Fort, which was built by the Portuguese in the 17th century, and take a stroll through the colourful markets, where you’ll find a variety of local fruits, vegetables, and spices.
But perhaps the best thing about visiting Jaffna is the food. Jaffna cuisine is known for its spiciness and unique flavours. In my opinion, it’s hands down the best food in Sri Lanka.
One of the things that struck me most about Jaffna is that you hardly see any other foreign visitors there. I think I saw 5 in a whole week. Authenticity score: high.
If you’re looking for a destination that’s very much off the beaten path and offers a unique cultural experience, Jaffna should be on your radar.
Check out my comprehensive guide to surfing in Sri Lanka .
If you’d like to see a totally different side of Europe, I highly recommend a trip to Albania .
I spent a couple of months living in Albania last year. It’s one of my favorite countries in the world and is definitely one of the most underrated gems in the Mediterranean.
Located in the western Balkans, north of Greece and east of Italy, Albania was closed to the outside world for much of the 20th century. Happily, those days are very much in the past, but the country still feels wonderfully undiscovered.
In the south of the country, the Albanian Riviera is home to some of the best beaches in the Mediterranean. This gorgeous stretch of coast is kissed by the impossibly-clear calm turquoise waters of the Ionian Sea, and framed by dramatic mountains.
Inland, you’ll find beautiful and well-preserved fortified Ottoman towns and castles, such as Gjirokaster and Berat. The modern, quirky capital of Tirana is packed full of fantastic restaurants , bars, museums, and galleries, and is surrounded by serene mountains, forests, and lakes.
Bordering Montenegro and Kosovo in the north, the dramatic Albanian Alps are a paradise for hikers and nature lovers, with several national parks and other protected areas.
Albania rewards adventurous travellers more than any other European destination I’ve ever visited. The people are warm and incredibly hospitable, the scenery is breathtaking, and (best of all) in many places you’ll be the only foreign tourist in sight.
Mexico (beyond Cancun and the Riviera Maya)
Mexico is a massive country with a huge variety of destinations to explore, but sadly many people only ever visit the heavily touristed areas around Cancun and the Riviera Maya .
Beyond this relatively small stretch of coast, and the wider Yucatán peninsula , there’s a world of stunningly diverse, exciting locations awaiting you in Mexico.
Despite its reputation for crime, the majority of Mexico is perfectly safe to visit, provided you take the usual, sensible precautions.
My personal favorite Mexican state is Oaxaca, on the country’s southwest Pacific coast.
It’s an incredible region with stunning beaches, a vibrant and colourful colonial capital (Oaxaca City, or “Oaxaca de Juárez”), and some of the best food in the country. In fact, Oaxaca is considered to be one of the culinary capitals of Latin America.
Another great state to explore, Chiapas runs along the border with Guatemala and shares more with its southern neighbour than with the rest of Mexico. It’s a wild and ancient land, with spectacular mountains, colourful waterfalls , and some wonderfully unspoiled beaches .
The picturesque city of San Cristóbal de las Casas is perched high in the mountains and is a fascinating place to learn about the local Indigenous communities who live in this area.
Or, if you’re more of a big city person, Mexico City is one of the most vibrant, cultured, and fun-loving capital cities in the world. Check out the elegant Condesa neighborhood, home to some of the city’s best restaurants, galleries, and bars.
Don’t miss the National Museum of Anthropology , which is one of the best museums I’ve ever visited and contains a giant collection of artifacts from Mexico’s pre-Hispanic civilizations.
Mexico is a wonderful place to explore, and I’m confident you’ll find something that you love if you step a little off the beaten path there.
Kazakhstan is an enormous, diverse country and Almaty, the former capital, is a fascinating cultural melting pot. Of all the cities I’ve visited in the world, Almaty is probably the one that surprised me the most.
Nestled in the shadow of the snow-capped Tian Shan Mountains, Central Asia’s “Big Apple” is a modern and cosmopolitan city with an incredible natural setting.
The city has a unique blend of Russian, European, Central Asian, Chinese, Middle Eastern, and Mongolian influences, due to its historically strategic location on the Silk Road.
The Green Bazaar is a great place to stock up on local produce, spices, and traditional ingredients from around the region.
Take a stroll through the lush and beautifully landscaped Panfilov Park, which is home to a beautiful Orthodox cathedral made entirely from wood, plus a number of sculptures and other monuments.
One of the most memorable experiences you can have in Almaty is to take a trip to the Arasan Baths. This spa complex contains a range of saunas, steam rooms, plunge pools, baths, and even a Moroccan-style hammam, all housed inside an amazing building with traditional Central Asian architectural features.
From just outside the city, you can take a cable car up to Shymbulak, a high-altitude mountain resort, where you can ski in the winter or hike in the summer.
If you have a little more time to explore, the area around Almaty is home to some of the most spectacularly wild and untamed mountain scenery, with soaring peaks, pristine rivers and lakes, and expansive steppe grasslands.
The dramatic Charyn Canyon (the “Grand Canyon of Central Asia”), picturesque Kolsai Lakes National Park, and the vast and otherworldly Altyn-Emel National Park are all breathtaking and (relatively) accessible from the city.
This place is a million miles from the “Kazakhstan” of the Borat movies and an amazing gateway to a captivating and unique region that’s a long way off of most people’s travel radar.
Namibia is a vast, sparsely populated country in southern Africa. It’s one of the safest African countries to visit, one of the easiest to explore independently, and home to some of the most incredible natural scenery on the continent.
In the southern Namib Desert, Sossusvlei is a spectacular place known for its endless sea of towering sand dunes, some of which are among the tallest in the world.
Next to this is the impossibly photogenic Deadvlei, named for the remains of ancient acacia trees that have been petrified by the intense heat and dryness.
In the north of the country, Etosha National Park is one of the largest national parks in Africa and one of the best places for spotting wildlife.
As well as the “Big Five” (lion, leopard, black rhinoceros, elephant, and African buffalo), you have an excellent chance of seeing a host of other stunning species here, including zebra, giraffe, wildebeest, cheetah, and ostrich.
For a truly unforgettable experience, hire a 4×4 fully equipped with camping gear (roof tents are amazing, even if you don’t usually like camping ).
Head to Spitzkoppe, an ancient granite outcrop that rises dramatically 5,600 feet from the Namib desert, and spend a night there under the stars. The night sky here is spectacular beyond words.
Kyrgyzstan is a landlocked country in Central Asia known for its rugged landscapes and nomadic traditions. The country is often called the “Switzerland of Central Asia” because of its epic mountain scenery, glaciers, canyons , and crystal-clear lakes.
When I visited Kyrgyzstan, I hiked in the Tien Shan Mountains, rode horses through high-altitude pastures, stayed in traditional yurts, and was blown away by the warm hospitality and kindness of the local nomadic communities.
If you’re looking to get off the beaten track and explore a country that offers a unique blend of natural beauty, nomadic culture, and adventure, Kyrgyzstan is the perfect destination.
The capital city, Bishkek has a fascinating blend of cultures, with nomadic sheepherders brushing shoulders with suited business people, merchants, and everybody in between.
One of my favourite things about visiting Kyrgyzstan is the opportunity to experience the traditional nomadic way of life.
The Kyrgyz Community Based Tourism Association is a fantastic organisation and offers a range of tours, homestays, workshops, and other activities that allows you to explore the unique culture of Kyrgyzstan in an authentic (and sustainable) way.
Kenya (outside of fancy safari resorts)
Kenya is rightly known for its world-famous safari experiences and luxurious safari lodges . However, there’s so much else to explore in this unforgettable East African country.
I’ve spent several weeks in Kenya, and it’s definitely one of my favourite countries on the continent.
It’s an incredibly diverse place, both scenically and culturally. From the coral-fringed beaches of the Indian Ocean to volcanic landscapes, ancient forests, and mountainous highlands, Kenya has a huge range of natural landscapes that will take your breath away.
With vibrant cities full of culture, history, and architecture there’s plenty to explore off the beaten track in Kenya .
You can hike in the lush green Aberdare Mountains, visit the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Lamu Island, or explore the bustling markets of Nairobi and Mombasa.
Lake Nakuru National Park is one of my favourite places in Kenya. It has an enormous population of pink flamingos, which can be seen from miles away. The park also offers you the chance to see other wildlife such as zebras, giraffes, and rhinos up close.
If you’re looking for a real adventure, head to the remote northern regions of the country, such as Marsabit, Lake Turkana, and the Chalbi Desert, where you’ll experience the unique cultures of the various Indigenous tribes and communities that live there.
No matter what type of traveller you are, Kenya has something for you.
To get off the beaten path in Cuba , head to the eastern half of the island. This region is particularly rich in culture, history, and unique experiences, but is often overlooked by tourists.
One of the main highlights is Santiago de Cuba, the second-largest city in the country, and the birthplace of the Cuban Revolution. This vibrant city is filled with history, music, and delicious food.
Take a stroll through the Parque Cespedes, visit the Casa de la Trova bar for incredible live music, or explore the Castillo de San Pedro del Morro, a 17th-century fortress that offers stunning views of the Caribbean Sea.
Another must-see destination in eastern Cuba is Baracoa. This small, picturesque town is located on the northeastern coast of the island and is known for its beautiful beaches, historic architecture, and unique cuisine.
The Sierra Maestra mountain range is the highest in Cuba and is home to Pico Turquino, the highest peak on the island. You can hike through lush forests and explore waterfalls and scenic lookout points.
Finally, the beaches in eastern Cuba are some of the best in the Caribbean. Playa Pesquero, located near the town of Guardalavaca, offers crystal-clear water and perfect white sand.
Eastern Cuba is a diverse and fascinating region that is definitely worth exploring.
Located in northeastern India , Sikkim is a small state sandwiched between Nepal, Bhutan, and Tibet. It offers a staggering range of natural beauty, with towering snow-capped mountains, sparkling lakes, and dense forests.
Sikkim has several national parks and wildlife sanctuaries. One of the most popular is the UNESCO-listed Khangchendzonga National Park , which is home to a diverse range of flora and fauna, including the magnificent snow leopard.
I went trekking in Sikkim a few years ago, and it’s honestly one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been. Trekking to the base of Khangchendzonga, the world’s third-highest mountain, was pretty tough going, but oh so worth it.
The views from up there are truly breathtaking. You can see for miles and miles across the Himalayas, surrounded by an unbroken sea of snow-capped peaks.
You can also explore the state’s rich cultural heritage. Sikkim is an important centre for Tibetan culture, and there are several spectacular monasteries to visit, including Rumtek and Pemayangtse.
It’s also worth spending some time in the state capital, Gangtok. This vibrant city is surrounded by mountains and has a mix of modern and traditional architecture and culture. There’s some great Nepali food here too!
If you have time, I also recommend checking out the small towns of Pelling and Yuksom. These both offer amazing views over the snow-covered Himalayas and a few historical monasteries that you can visit.
Finally, if you’re looking for some relaxation, Sikkim is home to several hot springs that are believed to have medicinal properties. The Yumthang Hot Springs , located in the far north of the state, is one of the best.
Romania is another European country that offers a wealth of history, culture, and natural beauty, but is often overlooked by travellers. I first went there a few years ago, and have been raving about it ever since.
There’s so much to see and do in Romania, and the best way to explore the country properly is to hire a car and go on a road trip .
The central region of Transylvania contains many of Romania’s highlights, including the atmospheric medieval cities of Sibiu and Brasov.
Visit the fortified Saxon town of Sighișoara, with its iconic 13th-century clock tower, citadel, colourful buildings, and narrow cobbled streets.
Another of my favourite places in Transylvania is the Transfăgărășan Highway.
One of the best driving roads in the world, this epic mountain road winds its way up and over the Carpathian mountains (i.e. the Transylvanian Alps), with hundreds of corners, steep hairpins, and some seriously incredible views.
Also, if you have more time to explore, check out Vama Veche , a bohemian party town on the country’s Black Sea coast.
Oman is a country of contrasts, from its rugged coastline and vast deserts to its bustling cities and traditional villages.
Whether you’re looking to lose yourself in an endless sea of dunes, relax on a pristine beach, or learn about the country’s rich cultural history, Oman has something for everyone.
It’s definitely worth spending a day or two exploring the historic forts and castles of Muscat, the capital city. Other highlights include the beautiful Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque and the atmospheric Mutrah Souq.
Take a trip to Nizwa, an ancient and very scenic oasis town that’s famous for its 17th-century fortress.
Then head deep into the Wahiba Sands. It’s Oman’s section of the Rub ‘ al Khali (or “Empty Quarter”), a vast sandy desert that occupies most of the southern third of the Arabian Peninsula.
Here you can experience warm Bedouin hospitality by staying in a traditional desert camp (the stars here are unreal).
Oman is another country that’s perfect for a road trip . It’s also possible to drive to Oman from Dubai . I’ve done this and it’s (relatively) straightforward.
Latvia is a small country located on the Baltic Sea. Its capital city, Riga , is full of amazing Art Nouveau, Soviet, and Modernist architecture.
One of my favourite areas of the city is the Riga Central Market. It’s the largest market and bazaar in Europe and is housed inside five enormous 1920s German zeppelin hangers.
It’s totally unique and an amazing place to explore. There’s some great food to be found here too.
Climb to the top of “Stalin’s Birthday Cake” – a skyscraper housing the Latvian Academy of Sciences – for one of the best views in the city.
Beyond the city, Latvia has several national parks, including Gauja National Park, where you can hike, bike, or kayak through pristine forests and rivers. Or simply relax and enjoy the beauty of the Baltic countryside.
On the edge of the park is Sigulda, known as the “Switzerland of Latvia”. This charming town offers stunning views of the Gauja River Valley and is home to several medieval castles, including the impressive Turaida Castle.
One particularly unique place to visit is Cinevilla Studios , just outside of Riga. This purpose-built backlot is essentially a large outdoor movie studio, created for filming the movie Defenders of Riga. It contains replicas of historical buildings and reconstructions of Riga in 1919 and resembles an outdoor museum.
There’s nowhere on Earth quite like Ethiopia . This vast country in the Horn of Africa is one of the most diverse, culturally rich countries I have ever had the pleasure of visiting. I’ve been to Ethiopia two times and can’t wait to return there again.
It’s an ancient place. As the only country in Africa that was never properly colonised, Ethiopia retains a particularly rich cultural heritage that’s still seen in everyday life, from traditional clothing to music, religion, food, and language.
Ethiopia is a melting pot of East African and Arabian cultures, with a unique form of Orthodox Christianity, numerous different languages, and some of the best coffee in the world.
One of the highlights of Ethiopia is undoubtedly its breathtaking landscapes. From rugged mountains to lush jungles, burning deserts to crystal-clear lakes, the variety of beauty on display here is off the charts.
The Simien Mountains National Park offers some of the best hiking in Africa, with spectacular views of the surrounding valleys and opportunities to spot rare wildlife such as the Ethiopian wolf.
The Danakil Depression is one of the most otherworldly places on the planet – a geothermal wonderland of colourful hot springs, sulfurous volcanoes, and salt lakes.
But visiting Ethiopia isn’t just about its natural beauty – it’s also a land steeped in history and culture. The country has a rich and diverse heritage, with archaeological sites, museums, and monuments that offer a window into its fascinating past.
Lalibela is one of the most famous of these sites, with its incredible rock-hewn churches dating back to the 12th century. The ancient city of Harar and the impressive castle at Gondar are also definitely worth seeing.
And of course, there’s the food! Ethiopia’s cuisine is rich, varied, and utterly delicious.
Estonia is another small Baltic state known for its natural beauty and rich history. I loved exploring the country’s medieval towns, picturesque countryside, and pristine beaches.
The capital city of Tallinn is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with a well-preserved medieval Old Town that looks like something straight from a fairy tale. Wander through the atmospheric backstreets, visit the hilltop Toompea Castle, or take in the incredible views of the city from the Tallinn TV Tower.
In the southwest of the country, Soomaa National Park is a nature-lover’s paradise, with large areas of forest, wetlands, and rivers to explore. You can go hiking , kayaking, canoeing, snowshoeing, or even bog walking. Keep an eye out for lynx, elk, wild boar, bears, wolves, and golden eagles.
Another great place to visit in Estonia is the island of Saaremaa, located off the country’s western coast. It’s known for its untouched beaches, unique architecture, and peaceful countryside.
It’s no secret that Brazil has no shortage of paradise beaches and gorgeous coastal scenery.
But rather than sticking only to the internationally-famous and popular spots (Copacabana, Ipanema, Lopes Mendes, etc.), why not head a little off the beaten path and explore an area that mostly only locals know about.
Ubatuba, a coastal region of São Paulo state, is located just 40 kilometres southwest of the attractive colonial town of Paraty . However, despite its relative accessibility, most foreign visitors don’t make it out this way. Which is a shame, because it’s incredible.
Surrounded by the forested Serra do Mar National Park, and with picture-perfect white sand beaches and clear turquoise bays, Ubatuba is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been.
It’s a perfect spot for long walks on deserted beaches, diving and snorkelling in the crystal-clear water, surfing , paddle boarding, kayaking, or simply relaxing and soaking up the chilled tropical vibes.
My favourite beach in the area is Praia da Almada , although there are loads of other great ones too.
Turkey (Northern and Eastern)
Turkey is a fascinating country that spans both Europe and Asia. It’s a popular holiday destination, although it’s also fairly easy to get off the beaten track here. All you need to do is head north, and east!
The road between Amasra and Sinop is one of the most amazing coastal drives I’ve ever done, and I’d definitely recommend it if you have your own transport. Along the way, you should stop off in as many of the attractive small towns and villages as you can.
One must-visit destination in northeastern Turkey is the ancient walled city of Trabzon, on the Black Sea coast. The city is known for its historic Hagia Sophia Museum (not to be confused with the Istanbul one), a former church that dates back to the 13th century, and its neighbourhoods built into the hillside.
Nearby, the spectacular Sumela Monastery is perched high up on the side of a vertical cliff. From here you can enjoy great views out over the surrounding valleys, with their dense pine forests and numerous waterfalls.
Heading further east, the city of Erzurum offers a range of historic attractions, including the Çifte Minareli, a 13th-century madrasa, and Erzurum Castle, which dates back to the Byzantine era. The city is also known for winter sports, including skiing and snowboarding in the surrounding mountains.
Also, don’t miss the ancient ruined city of Ani. Known as the City of 1001 Churches, Ani used to be the medieval capital of Armenia and was one of the most important trading outposts on the Silk Road.
Today, it lies ruined and forgotten, its crumbling buildings looming dramatically from a lonely plateau in Turkey’s far northeast.
Despite its historical and archeological significance, very few tourists make it out here. When I visited, I was the only person there and had this awesome place all to myself. You should definitely come here – it’s well worth the effort!
In the wild and picturesque region of south-eastern Turkey, Lake Van is surrounded by snow-capped mountains and traditional villages. It’s the world’s largest soda lake and is home to a diverse range of wildlife.
If you’re after some serious adventure, you can climb the 5,136m Mount Ararat, Turkey’s highest mountain and the legendary resting place of Noah’s Ark. The climb isn’t very difficult in a technical sense, although the altitude makes the final section quite challenging.
There are many other incredible off-the-beaten-path travel destinations in northern and eastern Turkey, these are just a few of my favourites.
If I had to pick the most offbeat place I’ve ever been, it would probably be Somaliland .
Somaliland is a self-declared state in the Horn of Africa. It declared independence from Somalia in 1991, but this isn’t recognised by the international community. So technically it’s an autonomous region of Somalia.
Although the local people will be at pains to remind you of the stark differences between Somaliland and Somalia. Unlike the rest of Somalia, Somaliland is a relatively well-functioning, stable democracy. It has its own parliament, currency, public bodies, police, and security forces.
Most areas of Somaliland are fairly safe to visit. For adventurous, open-minded, and respectful tourists, it’s a fascinating and extremely rewarding place to explore.
One must-visit destination in Somaliland is the Laas Geel cave paintings . These ancient colourful paintings are thought to be between 5,000-10,000 years old and depict people, cows, and various other animals.
They’re some of the most important cave paintings in all of Africa and provide fascinating insights into prehistoric farming, culture, and religion in the region.
The capital, Hargeisa is vibrant and bustling, with a thriving arts scene and an array of restaurants serving delicious Somali cuisine. Check out some of the local markets, which offer everything from traditional textiles to camel milk.
You can also explore the ancient port city of Berbera. There is a huge beach here and you can swim in the clear, warm waters of the Gulf of Aden ( sans pirates).
It’s a pretty amazing place.
Far more people visit Antarctica each year than Somaliland. If you’re looking for a destination that’s about as far off the beaten path as you can get, this place would be a good bet.
Georgia is a fascinating country located in the Caucasus region, at the crossroads of Europe, Asia, and the Middle East.
Its capital, Tbilisi, is a cosmopolitan and highly liveable city known for its historic old quarter, sulfur baths, Orthodox churches, and panoramic views from the Narikala Fortress.
My favourite part of the country, though, is Svaneti. This mountainous region is the highest inhabited area in the Caucasus. It’s a spectacularly beautiful place, running along the northern border with Russia, with snow-covered mountains, glaciers, crystal-clear streams, and green meadows full of wildflowers.
The small town of Mestia is the capital of Svaneti and the main gateway to the region. Nestled high up in an alpine valley, Mestia is a paradise for outdoor lovers and adventurous travellers. It’s a dream destination for hiking, skiing, rafting, and canyoning.
Given its remoteness and physical isolation, Svan culture is quite distinct from the rest of Georgia. The region is also known for its mysterious 1,000-year-old towers, medieval churches, and its untouched villages that seem totally frozen in time.
Photos just don’t do this place justice, it’s somewhere that you really need to see to believe.
Most visitors to Croatia head straight to the sparkling Dalmatian Coast, and to the ancient walled cities of Dubrovnik and Split . True, these places are spectacular and definitely worth visiting.
However, Croatia’s capital, Zagreb, also has a rich history, vibrant culture, and is significantly less touristy. It’s also much cheaper to eat and drink out here.
I visited Zagreb in December last year and loved the city’s traditional markets (especially Dolac Market – amazing food), cozy restaurants, welcoming bars, and positive vibes. It reminded me quite a lot of Vienna, only friendlier and more relaxed.
The city is divided into two parts: the Upper Town (Gornji Grad) and the Lower Town (Donji Grad).
The Upper Town, also known as the Old Town, sits on top of a hill and has distinctive medieval architecture, narrow cobblestone streets, and various historical landmarks, such as St. Mark’s Church, the Stone Gate, and the Croatian Parliament.
The Lower Town is the modern, commercial centre of Zagreb, with wide avenues, bustling squares, and elegant architecture from the 19th and 20th centuries. Here, you’ll find many shops, restaurants, and cafes, as well as cultural institutions like the Croatian National Theatre.
One of the most unusual features of Zagreb is Grič Tunnel, which runs all the way underneath the Upper Town. Built as a bomb shelter and secure transport link during World War II, the tunnel is 350 metres long and has an eerie, unique atmosphere.
Today, Grič Tunnel is used for art exhibitions, immersive light and sound shows, and other cultural events.
A short walk from Ban Jelačić Square (the city’s main square and meeting place) you’ll find Valhalla Beer Bar , my favourite bar in Zagreb. The craft beer here is excellent.
Bosnia & Herzegovina
Bosnia & Herzegovina is another of my favourite European countries. Located in the heart of the Balkans, it’s a land of beautiful scenery, rich cultural heritage, and warm, friendly people.
One must-visit destination in Bosnia & Herzegovina is the city of Mostar, known for its iconic Ottoman Stari Most bridge, which dates back to the 16th century. It was destroyed in 1993 during the Bosnian War , but then rebuilt in the years after.
Sarajevo, the capital city, is a fascinating and incredibly atmospheric place. It has many important historical sites, such as the Latin Bridge, where Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated in 1914 (leading to the start of World War I).
Spend some time exploring the Old Town, also known as Bascarsija. This area is full of narrow streets, traditional Ottoman-style buildings, and markets selling everything from handmade souvenirs to fresh produce.
I also recommend taking the gondola up into the mountains above the city. Here you’ll find the former Olympic bobsledding course and various hiking trails through the pristine forest. I love how calm and peaceful it is up there, despite it being very accessible from the centre of the city.
For a particularly authentic and fun local experience, don’t miss a night of drinking and live music at Sarajevska Pivara Brewery . They have an enormous wood-paneled bar and the (delicious) beer comes straight from the brewery itself, right next door.
Outside of the cities, Bosnia also has a huge amount of natural beauty. Some of my favourite other spots in the country include Blidinje Nature Park, Jayce Waterfalls, Kravice Waterfalls, and the Blagaj Tekke – a historic Sufi monastery built into a cliff.
Bosnia is amazing, add it to your list!
The southern African country Zimbabwe is itself a relatively off-the-beaten-path-travel destination, despite it being full of natural wonders (Victoria Valls being a case in point). However, if you do find yourself there and want to get even further away from other tourists, head over to Chimanimani.
Chimanimani is a breathtaking region in the eastern part of Zimbabwe, bordering Mozambique. The area is dominated by the beautiful Chimanimani Mountains, which offer some of the most spectacular views in the country.
Here you’ll find lush forests, sparkling rivers, and cascading waterfalls. It’s a paradise for hikers and nature lovers, with several hiking trails, ranging from easy walks to challenging treks that take you through pristine wilderness and past rugged rock formations.
I went hiking here a few years ago and loved every second of it.
One of the most popular attractions in the area is the Bridal Veil Falls, an impressive waterfall that cascades down from a height of over 50 metres. You can take a refreshing dip in the pool at the bottom of the falls or take a hike up to the top for even more breathtaking views.
The whole area is protected and is home to a variety of wildlife, including baboons, klipspringer antelopes, and rare bird species.
Malawi is known for its beautiful untouched landscapes, including along the shores of Lake Malawi.
One of the African Great Lakes, it’s the fifth-largest freshwater lake in the world by volume and is home to more fish species than any other lake in the world.
I’ve camped on the shores of Lake Malawi – it was incredible.
Another highlight of Malawi is its national parks, including Liwonde National Park and Nyika National Park. Here you can spot elephants, lions, leopards, hippos, and a range of other iconic African wildlife.
The country is also rich in traditional culture, and you’ll experience music, dancing, and crafts such as wood carving and basket weaving playing in most places that you go.
Malawi is affectionately known as the “Warm Heart of Africa” because of its welcoming people. People stopped me in the street just to say hello and welcome me. It’s a wonderful place.
Note: As of May 2023, there’s currently an armed conflict occurring in Sudan between rival factions of the military government. It is not a safe place to visit at the moment.
However, I’ve still included it in this post because it’s an amazing country to explore and hopefully will be safe to visit again soon. I visited Sudan in 2011 and have very strong memories of my time there.
First off, the Meroe Pyramids are out of this world. They’re smaller than the ones in Egypt but, unlike the Egyptian ones, you’ll probably have them entirely to yourself. I slept inside one of them.
These ancient pyramids were built by the Kingdom of Kush between the 8th century BC and the 4th century AD and are some of the most impressive ancient structures in the world.
The capital city of Khartoum is home to the National Museum of Sudan, which houses a vast collection of artifacts and exhibits that showcase the country’s ancient history, including the ancient Kingdom of Kush and the Nubian civilisation.
Sudanese cuisine features a variety of dishes made from spiced lentils, chickpeas, vegetables, and meat, often served with a traditional fermented flatbread called Kisra.
Very few tourists visit Sudan. Those who do are rewarded with a fascinating and rewarding destination that has a unique blend of history, culture, and natural beauty.
Final Thoughts on Travelling Off The Beaten Path
The next time you’re planning a trip abroad, I really recommend exploring somewhere a little different, beyond the typical tourist destinations.
Any of these places would be a great place to start. Don’t let the fear of the unknown stop you from experiencing the wealth of what the world has to offer.
Travelling off the beaten path is so incredibly rewarding. It’s something that I urge everybody to do at least once.
A word of warning though: adventurous travel is addictive!
- Backpacking In Somaliland: Something A Bit Different (2023)
- Trekking In Sikkim: A Secret Himalayan Paradise (2023)
- Wilpattu National Park Safari Travel Guide: The Wild Side Of Sri Lanka (2023)
- Gjipe Beach: The Hidden Gem of the Albanian Riviera (2023)
The Perfect Albania Road Trip: This Place Is Epic! (UPDATED 2023)
- Vama Veche: Bohemian Party Town On The Black Sea (2023)
- 4 Of The Best Day Trips From Almaty, Kazakhstan (2023)
- Boca Del Cielo, Chiapas: An Unspoilt Pacific Paradise (2023)
IMPORTANT: Never travel without travel insurance!
Here are three companies that I’ve used , and thoroughly recommend :
- HeyMondo – the best value travel insurance provider on the market. They cover virtually every country in the world, they have an easy-to-use app , and their policies are straightforward and upfront , with minimal (often no) deductibles and excesses.
- SafetyWing – if you’re a digital nomad like me, it’s essential that you have suitable insurance. It’s super flexible and affordable , you can sign up for as little or as long as you want, and can activate and deactivate it whenever you need to.
- World Nomads – for adventurous travellers , covers 200+ activities that many other insurers won’t, such as skydiving, heli-skiing, rock climbing, rafting, scuba diving, cliff jumping, and kiteboarding (not available for residents of every country – check here ).
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- This FREE 1-hour SEO training video is the best place to start. (I also took their full course which taught me most of what I know today about SEO.)
- Bluehost is by far the best website hosting provider for beginners. Click here to get started with Bluehost !
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- I’m Alex Tiffany. Former corporate city robot; lifelong travel addict.
- I’m on a mission to make adventurous travel accessible to all.
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74 Best Off The Beaten Path Places To Visit 2024
Last Updated on November 17, 2023
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With over-tourism a big and important factor in today’s travel world it’s time to travel smarter and travel to underrated or totally off the beaten track places.
I have asked 73 travel bloggers for their top off the beaten track travel recommendations all around the world that allow travellers to dive into local culture and get out of their comfort zone.
This is a HUGE collection of the 74 best off the beaten path destinations (I, of course, included my own pick) from all around the world, including Europe, Southeast Asia to Central Asia, South America to North America, and more!
Whichever continent you are thinking of travelling off the beaten path to next year, check out the table of contents and find a location to check out!
Here are 74 underrated and off the beaten path places to visit in 2024 (and beyond).
Table of Contents
Travel Off the Beaten Path in Europe
See a map of all these off the beaten path destinations in Europe here .
Anita’s Top Pick: Old Qepara, Albania
Albania in itself is lesser known as tourism is still relatively new to the country, but my top pick within is Old Qeparo , located along the Albanian Riviera .
This off the beaten path village is perched on top of a mountain overlooking the Ionian sea. There’s no visitor centres and not lots of places to eat, in fact, there’s only 1 or 2! And you won’t see many fellow travel bloggers talk about this place because most people don’t know it exists.
After the fall of communism in the ’90s, this village was abandoned as many families moved away from Albania to look for a more steady life.
These days the village is half-abandoned as some families now live there, but many of the houses still stand derelict.
Old Qeparo has a real charm and lets you step back into a traditional Albanian village. It’s incredibly unique and very beautiful and one of the best places to visit in Albania.
From old Qeparo you can drive down to lower Qeapro which sits right on the beach and gives you a few restaurant and accommodation options.
If you are looking for countries where you can enjoy the best off the beaten path vacations in Europe, Albania is the place for you.
📚 P.S. Grab access to my Travelling Albania Guide to get a comprehensive insight into more places to visit in Albania (including secret spots that are not recommended in the usual guides!)
Now let’s dive into the other 73 amazing off the beaten path travel destinations in Europe and beyond!
1. Karkonosze Ranges, Poland
Suggested by Overhere
There are many spectacular mountains in Poland, but the Karkonosze range is the most interesting (and probably the most underrated) mountain range in this part of Europe!
Protected as Karkonoski National Park, this area is a natural gem and one of the best off the beaten track destinations in Europe.
The highest mountain in Karkonosze is Sniezka – it reaches 1603 metres. It is easily accessible by foot, the trail is nice and safe, suitable also for hiking families with children.
At the top of the Sniezka mountain, there is a famous meteorological observatory.
Another popular hiking destination is Szrenica mountain (1362 metres). Hikers appreciate this trail because of its beauty and moderate difficulty.
Generally, Karkonosze has very “instagrammable” mountains – there are many interesting land formations.
Amphitheatres, peculiar rock formations, and waterfalls make this region a true playground for photographers and all other nature lovers.
History aficionados should visit Chojnik castle. This medieval monument is located on the Chojnik hill (627 metres).
Walking to the castle takes about 20 minutes. It was built in the XIV century but burnt down in 1675.
Then, the castle was rebuilt and now is part of Karkonoski National Park and home to the biggest crossbow tournament in Poland.
The most popular tourist resorts in Karkonosze mountains are Karpacz and Szklarska Poreba. Both are more like villages, small, but lively.
Karpacz and Szklarska Poreba offer many tourist attractions besides hiking and are known for health invigorating climate and elegant SPA hotels.
2. Cullen, Scotland
Suggested by Faramagan
When most tourists think of Scotland they picture Edinburgh or Glasgow but I’m going to let you in on a little secret – the small, rural fishing village of Cullen where I grew up.
Cullen is nestled on the outskirts of the Scottish Highlands – exactly one hour from Aberdeen airport and one hour from Inverness airport.
There is no train station and only a local bus once every hour or so.
Situated on the Moray Firth coast it is home to award-winning ice cream and the world-famous Cullen Skink soup – a seafood chowder-like dish that is made from fish likely caught less than an hour up the road.
Neighbouring the beautiful golf course is Cullen beach.
The jewel in this village’s crown, Cullen beach’s golden sands rival tropical islands and during the Summer months you are guaranteed to spot a dolphin or 2 jumping in the bay.
The best part is that you will unlikely meet another person as you venture to the opposite end of the beach to the Bow Fiddle Rock – around a 1-hour walk.
You may recognise the Bow Fiddle from a screensaver or postcard but very few have photographed this stunning formation in real life.
The village is part of a handful of North East villages that speak the Scot’s dialect of Doric, so no visit is complete without an amusing chat with a friendly local who, if you’re lucky, might point you in the direction of a few more hidden gems.
3. Lyon, France
Suggested by Nomadic Boys
One of our favourite off-the-beaten-path places to visit is Lyon in central France. This is France’s 3rd city and is also famous for being the country’s gourmet capital.
Lyon has some of the finest restaurants in France, (locally called “bouchons”) along with so many different cheeses, cured meats, and wines.
The centre of Lyon is very pretty to explore, particularly “Vieux Lyon” – the Old Town. It is made up of really cute narrow cobblestone streets and beautifully preserved old buildings.
The Presqu’île neighbourhood of Lyon is another gem – always alive with atmosphere, many cafes, bars, and restaurants as a result of the large student population
The main annual highlight of Lyon is the 4-day “Fête des Lumières” Light Festival when the city comes alive with an array of impressive and dramatic light displays every evening.
It began as a celebration of “Thanks” to the Virgin Mary who allegedly protected the city and spared it from a serious plague in 1643.
Lyon is a popular holiday destination for French nationals. However more recently, it is growing in popularity with international tourists to France looking for something more than Paris.
🛌🏼 Click to check out the best accommodation in Lyon here
4. Dutch Beaches, The Netherlands
Suggested by Amsterdam Wonderland
It may seem unusual to suggest that the entire coastline of a Western European country is “off the beaten path” but there’s no question that the beaches of the Netherlands are one of the most underrated of Europe’s gems.
Running all the way from Belgium to the Wadden Sea Islands, you’ll find 440km of wide sandy beaches, meandering dunes, hip beach bars, and clean shallow waters.
Those who are looking for a real ‘off the beaten track’ experience should head up to the Wadden Sea where poetic-sounding islands like Terschelling and Schiermonnikoog form a national park with few cars and numerous cycling paths, bird sanctuaries, and simple accommodation and campgrounds.
The Fresian archipelago is a World Heritage site, and a wonderful place to explore.
Or for something a little more vibrant, why not hit the beaches of North and South Holland.
Bloemendaal is hugely hip and hosts top-class DJs at pavilions styled like the beach clubs of Ibiza and Bali.
For something more family-friendly head to Zandvoort with its row of beach bars that are packed with surf clubs; incredible food including fish trucks that pull up on the sand and cushioned deck-beds for serious relaxation.
In Winter things turn cosy and club-like when locals snuggle down with a hot chocolate or a glass of wine.
Further down the coast Noordwijk and Scheveningen attract the residents of Leiden and the upmarket set of Den Haag offering a plethora of pavilions from laid back to high end each with its own unique atmosphere.
Wherever you head, be sure to get there before word gets out. It definitely won’t be long until it does!
Luckily, there are lots of amazing and unique things to do in The Netherlands to make your trip extra special.
5. Asturias, Spain
Suggested by Travelswithtalek
Officially known as The Principality of Asturias, this small province in the north of Spain is often overlooked.
Visitors to Spain tend to concentrate on the more popular and well-known cities like Madrid and Barcelona.
But there are other lesser-known areas with amazing natural beauty, history, and regional cuisine. Asturias is one such location. It is Spain’s most underrated province.
The weather in northern Spain differs from that of the Iberian Peninsula in that it is greener, cooler, and lusher due to higher rainfall.
This makes for dense forests, thick foliage, and spectacular national parks like Picos de Europa, a hiker’s paradise.
The capital city, Oviedo, is a major historic centre boasting Roman structures from the 1st century and medieval monuments.
It is also well known as a centre of gastronomy where you can find regional dishes such as Fabada Asturiana, a hearty stew with white beans and vegetables.
Having a local beer is also one of the best things to do in Spain .
Asturias is a place you’ll want to get to before it is discovered and prices begin to rise.
6. Bucharest, Romania
Suggested by Something of Freedom
Despite being the capital of Romania, Bucharest is an often-overlooked destination.
This makes it a brilliant off the beaten path destination, considering the city has a rich history, a pleasant Old Town, wonderful architecture, a vibrant nightlife, and more!
There are a number of great things to do and see in Bucharest , many of which are within easy walking distance of each other.
Whichever way you turn you’re likely to find some lovely architecture or a historically significant site.
Perhaps the most impressive spot in the city is the Palace of Parliament – the second-largest administrative building in the world!
There’s plenty more to see though, including the towering Arcul de Triumf (Arch of Triumph), the stunning Romanian Athenaeum, the Instagram-famous ‘Umbrella Street’, a wonderful fountain show and much, much more.
If that’s not enough to convince you to visit, then it’s also worth noting that Romania is very affordable, especially compared to other European destinations.
Those searching for cheap off the beaten path vacations in Europe will fall in love with Romania.
With plenty of incredible things to see on a relatively tight budget, Bucharest is a great off the beaten path destination.
7. Laguardia, Spain
Suggested by Travelling Around Spain
Simply due to its privileged location of being part of the Basque country while overlooking the Rioja valley from its lofty position makes it worth a visit.
But once you pass through the gates into the town of Laguardia it is as if you have passed into a medieval kingdom that time has forgotten.
There are caves under the town that are now wineries and can be visited. In the past, these caves and tunnels were used as escape routes or hiding places for the villagers during military battles.
Every street is picturesque and the views over the Rioja valley with the Cantabria mountains behind can’t be beaten.
As Laguardia is in the best region of Spain for gourmet food and at its skirts is the world-famous wine—the Rioja—I don’t even need to begin to tell you about the quality of restaurants in this little village.
Suffice to say that you can’t go wrong with a visit to Laguardia.
8. Sicily, Italy
Suggested by Life is a Trip
Sicily seems to be slowly becoming the latest hype in European travel. It is pretty, it is affordable. And then, of course, there is Sicilian food!
From beaches to volcanoes and big cities to picturesque villages, the Italian island has lots to offer to the visitor.
Arguably the best way to make the most out of your stay is by taking off the beaten path road trips through the stunning countryside.
In fact, this is one of the best things to do in Italy .
One of the most memorable stops in Sicily is the fishing village of Marzamemi which offers postcard pictures galore.
But more than that, it is a great place to indulge in the Sicilian way of life with great food, stunning ocean views, and relaxed locals.
Once you’ve eaten all the arancini and photographed all the colourful houses, drive 20 minutes North and enjoy a beautiful nature reserve with an abandoned tuna factory and lots of birds.
You’ll be taking lots of pictures again, promise!
9. Sintra, Portugal
Suggested by Travel Like a Prince
Whether you love history, hiking, or food, Sintra is the place to go. Located less than an hour’s train ride from Lisbon, this town boasts a plethora of things to do.
With roots that include occupations by both the Romans and the Moors, the area boasts many cultural influences in the architecture, which is evident in the local castles.
Pena Palace is colourful and gorgeous with its stunning tile and inner courtyard.
Whether you choose to hike or ride up to the Castle of the Moors, you will be stunned by the breathtaking views as you walk along the stone walls.
Quinta da Regaleira, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, includes a gorgeous palace, but a walk through the grounds should be high up on your list – be sure to find and traverse the initiation well!
The centre of town is comprised of quaint streets with wandering alleys. Walking through them is a treat as you can visit various boutiques and restaurants.
Souvenir shops with handmade jewelry and tile and Portuguese bakeries with tasty pastel de nata await. Sintra offers so much within a small footprint.
Whether you go for the day or stay in a historic Airbnb, it is definitely worth the easy jaunt from Lisbon.
🛌🏼 Click to check out the best accommodation in Sintra here
10. La Garrotxa, Spain
Suggested by My Adventures Across the World
Talk about Catalonia, and everyone immediately thinks about Barcelona and Costa Brava, or about Girona at most. Mention La Garrotxa , however, and chances are you’ll get a blank stare.
A popular destination for local and regional tourism, this lovely region located between the Pyrenees, Costa Brava and France, has yet to be discovered by the masses.
Only Besalù, quite possibly the prettiest village in the region, is known to the masses – and even then, it’s hardly a crowd.
Yet, La Garrotxa is packed with places to visit and things to do. Other than Besalu, there are other beautiful medieval villages (Santa Pau is one of the best-preserved ones).
Hiking is as good as it gets, with trails ranging from the easy ones of La Garrotxa Volcanic Zone Natural Park (by the way, there are around 40 extinct volcanoes in the area) to the most difficult ones of the Pyrenees.
Art lovers will be happy to visit the many art galleries and admire examples of art nouveau scattered around the region; and the beautiful, isolated Romanesque-style churches add a romantic touch.
Last, but definitely not least, the food in the region is excellent, with fantastic local products which are used to create unique “volcanic cuisine” recipes.
If you’re looking for off the beaten path vacation ideas in Western Europe, you need to add La Garrotxa to your bucket list.
11. Gorlice, Poland – Eastern Europe
Suggested by Travel Geekery
I had never heard of Gorlice in Poland even though I’ve lived in a neighbouring country for most of my life.
And even bigger was my surprise when I found out how important strategically the region was in Europe’s history.
Gorlice is a unique little corner just about 2 hours drive from Krakow in the Lesser Poland area but remains largely unexplored by foreign travellers.
This region is rich in oil. So rich that in fact, it was right here where the world’s first oil mines were built!
But don’t imagine an industrial production straight from the start – in the 16 th century when crude oil made its natural appearance by seeping from the ground, the people started simply collecting it in buckets.
Only a few decades later proper use for the crude oil was identified and inventions, such as the famous one of a kerosene street lamp, were made.
In 1914 Gorlice witnessed one of the most decisive battles of the First World War, the so-called Battle of Gorlice.
But it’s not just about oil and historical fights in Gorlice.
The region abounds in natural beauty, a collection of UNESCO-protected wooden churches, and at least one incredible mansion: the Palace of Dlugosz Family.
Gorlice has a nice city center with a town hall tower offering beautiful views of the Beskid hills around.
You’ll also find a high number of quality restaurants serving predominantly Polish food in a stylish setting.
12. Donegal Town, Ireland
Suggested by XYUandBEYOND
Donegal Town is a very small city located in the southwest area of Donegal County. Donegal has been named the coolest place on earth by National Geographic.
Right on the Wild Atlantic Way Donegal Town is hard to miss, but many tourists simply drive-through and don’t take a moment to enjoy its charms.
Donegal Town has a castle, a fabulous boat tour of the harbour and you may even see the seals during the music and singing that always takes place.
There’s mighty craic to be had in town with live music on most nights, more pubs to visit than you can shake a stick at.
The best gastropub in Ireland The House is here, not to mention some of the finest Mexican food outside of Mexico at La Fiesta. You can even stay at a Castle on the beautiful Lough Eske.
Pay your respects at the famine graveyard and then visit the ruined abbey down by the harbour before you take that boat trip or head to any of the blue flag beaches that surround the town.
Surfing is “grand” as they say around here.
There are some brilliant walks around town where you can learn the history of the area. Or perhaps you fancy a good hill walk in the famous Bluestack Mountains.
Not only that but it makes a brilliant stop on the way to see all the rugged, timeless beauty of the Wild Atlantic Way coastline and the highest sea cliffs in Europe at Slieve League.
13. Orvieto, Italy
Suggested by Our Escape Clause
Perched high above the rolling countryside of Umbria, the hilltop town of Orvieto, Italy is easy to visit as a day trip from popular Florence or Rome–and yet it feels worlds away from both.
Home to a stunning cathedral, its own wine, impressive Etruscan ruins, and dozens of picturesque streets and lookouts that look exactly like an Italian storybook, Orvieto is the perfect small-town getaway while in Italy.
While you’re there, be sure to:
- Climb down into the beautiful St. Patrick’s Well
- Tour the underground
- Step inside the impressive cathedral
- Climb the Torre del Moro for some of the best available views of Orvieto and the surrounding Umbrian countryside.
Be sure to also save a little time for Orvieto’s impressive history: it may be a small town these days, but that wasn’t always the case.
Orvieto was one of the most important cities for the Etruscans, and much later in history, also served as a residence for the Pope!
14. Sofia, Bulgaria
Suggested by Alternative Travelers
Sofia, Bulgaria is off the beaten path for most travellers, yet the capital city truly has something to offer every type of traveller. Sofia has a deep and rich history and has been inhabited since 7000 BC.
The history can be seen throughout the streets, with old temples and walls literally jutting out of the sidewalks. The architecture tells the city’s story, with beautiful churches dating from nearly every era.
Rugged mountains serve as a stunning backdrop to the city and are great for day trips or as a stepping stone for longer trips in the Bulgarian countryside.
For the partygoers, Sofia has a well-known nightlife and clubbing scene that doesn’t stop until the sun comes up.
Foodies can explore the many traditional Bulgarian restaurants, craft coffee shops, outdoor cafes, vegetarian tea houses, and much more.
Bulgarians are known for their hospitality and Sofia locals will go out of their way to help out travellers in their city.
Best of all, travelling in Sofia is affordable and the city is easy to get to, with cheap flights to the rest of Europe and rail and bus connections to other Balkan countries.
🛌🏼 Click to check out the best accommodation in Sofia here
15. Matala, Crete, Greece
Suggested by Downbubble
Matala is a tiny beach town on the south coast of the Greek island of Crete that most miss off their Cretan itinerary – and they shouldn’t!
It takes around 3 hours from the more popular resort side of the island (the North near Heraklion and Hersonissos) to drive there.
The drive itself is beautiful and takes you through mountains, past wine country, and the lesser-visited Minoan Historical site of Phaistos.
Once you reach Matala you can park your car and leave it for the rest of your visit, as the town is essentially pedestrian only!
You can walk to Matala’s main beach after a delicious fresh seafood lunch and view Matala’s main attraction: the Roman Burial Caves.
These are cut into the impressive sandstone cliff which makes this beach more like a calm, sheltered bay.
If you stay in Matala you can enjoy market style shopping and then the many alfresco bars and restaurants with sea views and the next day walk over the cliff 1km to the Red Beach, which is clothing optional and of course boasts beautiful red sand.
We can vouch that Matala is unmissable after ending up buying toothbrushes and staying 3 nights when we had only intended to visit for an afternoon!
16. AHR Valley, Germany
Suggested by Moon Honey Travel
When people think of Germany’s drinking culture, they automatically think of Beer Halls and Oktoberfest. The thing is Germany has an equally wonderful wine culture that is often overlooked.
I invite you to trade in your imaginary beer stein (Maß) for a green-stemmed Roman wine glass (Römerglas) and explore the untouristed Ahr Valley with me.
The Ahr Valley, a region in Rhineland Palatinate and North Rhine-Westphalia, is Germany’s largest red wine growing region.
Here, you’ll find delicious Spätburgunder (pinot noir), Portugieser, Dornfelder, and Frühburgunder wines. If you don’t fancy reds, the Ahr produces some of the best blanc de noirs in the world.
The best way to experience the Ahr is by hiking the Red Wine Trail (Rotweinwanderweg). The trail weaves through vineyards and drops into idyllic wine-making villages.
Think of it as a pub crawl with some hiking.
As you bounce between wine taverns and different wine villages, remember these simple phrases:
- “Prost” (Cheers)
- “Ich hätte gerne ein Glas Wein” (I would like a glass of wine)
- “Bitte noch ein Glas” (Please one more glass)
- “Danke sehr” (thank you very much).”
17. Bergamo, Italy
Suggested by Travel with Mei and Kerstin
Located in the alpine Lombardy region of Northern Italy, the city of Bergamo is less than 50 km away from Milan, and about 30 km from Lake Como.
Most people visit it during a day trip, but there are enough things to do and see in Bergamo to stay there a whole weekend.
In fact, this lesser-known Italian town has two cores: the medieval center encircled by a Venetian wall in the Città Alta (or Upper Town), and the modern 19th-century city in the Città Bassa (or Lower Town).
Since the most impressive sites in Bergamo are located in the Città Alta, we recommend starting the trip in this medieval hilltop district.
Once arrived at the Piazza Vecchia, you’ll be mesmerised by the sumptuous façade of the 18th century Cappella Colleoni, as well the extravagant Baroque interior of the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore.
To enjoy a panoramic view of the city, make sure to climb up the Campanone Tower. The entrance fee is included in the ticket to the Palace of the Podestà, one of Bergamo’s History Museum.
So if you’re a history buff like us, you might want to visit this museum as well, where you’ll learn a lot about Bergamo’s past, dating back to the Roman times.
The most romantic time in Bergamo is actually in the evening when you can stroll through narrow cobblestone alleys with your lover, after tasting local specialities such as Casconcelli alla Bergamesca at a candlelight dinner.
🧳 MUST-HAVE: Before you head out on your trip, make sure you have travel insurance. My #1 recommendation is SafetyWing !
18. Funen, Denmark
Suggested by Nordic Travellers
Copenhagen, the capital of Denmark, is regularly mentioned in magazines, on travel blogs, etc as a fantastic place to visit. But there is so much more to Denmark than the capital.
Located between the island of Zealand and mainland Denmark, you find Funen – also known as the garden of Denmark.
The landscape on Funen is dominated by rolling hills, orchards, beautiful castles, hedgerows, and thatched, half-timbered farmhouses.
And south of Funen, you find the scenic South Funen Archipelago – a haven for people who enjoy to gear down and spending time in nature.
Funen and the surrounding islands also go under the name Bike Island because of the many bike paths.
By 2020 the tourism council hopes that Bike Island is the preferred bike destination in Northern Europe.
Although Funen is flat like a pancake, many people also enjoy walking/hiking on the many trails in the area. The most known one is the 220 km long Archipelago Trail.
19. Svaneti, Georgia
Suggested by The Sandy Feet
Strung along the Russian border in the country’s northeast, the densely forested mountains of Svaneti are one of Georgia’s most magnetic destinations and a perfect choice for an offbeat adventure.
Cloaked in a perpetual blanket of atmospheric mist that wraps around the rugged peaks, it’s a place steeped in history and incredible natural beauty.
Between the folds of the mountains lie steep glacial walls that feed the region’s rivers, lush meadows carpeted by wildflowers and a skyline of jagged peaks glimmering with fresh snow.
Perhaps the most curious sight of all, however, are the tiny villages that can be found dotted throughout the region.
Rising high above each cluster of homes, the koshi, the crumbling stone towers of Svaneti have become an icon of this remote corner of the Caucasus with the upper regions now protected under UNESCO.
Svaneti is a veritable hiking mecca, but for those not big on adventure, it’s a wonderful place to enjoy from the window seat of a rattling marshrutka or on an afternoon stroll through any of the region’s picturesque villages.
20. Alsace, France
Suggested by Adventures of a Carry-On
Alsace, France’s smallest region, borders both Germany and the landlocked country of Switzerland, and is defined by the Rhine River in the east and the Vosges mountains in the west.
Though rich in culture, history, and beauty, I’m often surprised how many people have never been there or have no idea where it is.
Due to its geographic location, Alsace was at the center of several wars bounced between Germany and France. Finally, after WWII, Alsace no longer had an identity problem.
However, you will find German influences in the cuisine and especially the architecture. The half-timbered houses and colourful shutters make the medieval villages in this region extra charming.
Colmar is one of the three largest cities in Alsace and I think most people will agree, the most captivating.
With a compact historic city center, canals, and window boxes that bloom year-round, Colmar was named a top destination by Lonely Planet.
However, unless you go in the summer, or during the ever-popular Christmas markets, you’ll still find it mostly devoid of the crowds which flood places like Provence and Paris.
With friendly people, a gastronomic culture, and one of the prettiest wine trails in the world, Alsace gets my vote as one of the best and least-touristed regions in Europe.
🛌🏼 Click to check out the best accommodation in Colmar here
21. Cantabria Region, Spain
Suggested by Stingy Nomads
Cantabria region in Northern Spain is overshadowed by the more famous Basque Country and Catalonia.
Not many foreign tourists come here and it’s a pity because there are many interesting places off the beaten path to visit and cool things to do.
The region offers a great combination of the sea scenery and the mountain landscape making it a perfect place for those who like outdoor activities and water sports.
Santander – the capital of the region is one of the most beautiful cities in this part of Spain with amazing sandy beaches, beautiful architecture and delicious food; seafood and fish dishes, countless restaurants and tapas bars, pastry and ice creams.
It’s a great starting point for exploring Cantabria.
The best way to explore the area is to rent a car in Santander and drive along the coast stopping at small beach towns on the way.
It’s possible to walk all the way along the coast as well following the Camino del Norte one of the pilgrimage routes of the Camino de Santiago. You’ll need about a week to cross Cantabria on food.
There are several must-visit towns in Cantabria; Santillana del Mar – a charming little town 7km away from the sea and 2km away from the famous Altamira Cave.
Castro Urdiales – a beach town with a beautiful Old Town by the harbor. Comillas is another beach town with the impressive Pontifical University and the Capricho palace by Gaudi.
Most of the beach towns offer good surfing spots with many surf schools and rental places.
Cantabria is famous for its food; grilled or fried calamari, soups and stews from seafood, fish, lamb, or beef, different sorts of cheeses (quesos cantábricos), cheesecakes (quesada) and pastry.
The region is a great place to come for a family holiday, an adventure vacation, or a city break.
22. Ispra, Italy
Suggested by Radically Ever After
Ispra is a small town on the eastern coast of Lake Maggiore, in the mountainous province of Varese in north Italy. From Milan’s Malpensa Airport, this quiet town is a 23 km drive.
One of those way-off-the-radar towns where three cars seen together amount to rush hour and a fifteen-minute drive is given the forethought reserved for a long road trip.
For all the massive tourism and consequent pick-pocketing in its big cities, here lie quiet pockets of Italy the world has yet to pick.
The most scenic spots in Ispra are along the walkway that lines Lake Maggiore, the longest of the lakes in Italy’s Lake District.
Its waters sprawling languorously into Switzerland, the beginnings of the Swiss Alps show up on the horizon as you walk along the edge of this lake.
Pre-alpine mountains, Mediterranean vegetation, and the Italian penchant for beauty add up to several postcards-on-steroids moments here.
Small-town Italy lends itself seamlessly to slow travel, provided you have the meandering curiosity and sturdy shoes for it.
Long train rides, longer bus rides, and even longer walks in the woods will lead you to places that seem well worth the trouble.
All the more because these are well-kept secrets and hidden corners not yet marked on maps.
Let the roads, some obscure signage, and broken Italian lead your way, instead of a perfectly pinned red balloon on your phone’s screen.
Who knew ‘No routes found’ can be the sweetest three words your phone ever shot at you?
🚗 Travelling Europe by car? For the best prices on car hire in Europe, opt for Europcar .
23. Istria, Croatia
Suggested by Nylon Pink
I am a huge foodie and Croatia is one of the most excellent food destinations in the world, although it hasn’t yet received all the recognition that it deserves.
Dubrovnik, Croatia is steadily becoming the hottest place to visit in Croatia because of its starring role in the mega-hit Game of Thrones.
However, if you are looking for killer undiscovered holiday destinations and you love to eat, you’ve gotta make Istria Croatia one of your bucket list destinations.
Not only is Istria temperate in climate and brimming with endless breathtaking sea views but it’s a much more affordable destination as compared to nearby Italy.
The Istria region of Croatia is famous for it’s black and white truffles, olive oil (rated the top in the world), and wine. What more do you need out of life!
Make sure to go truffle hunting with the truffle dogs and relax seaside with a generous glass of wine.
🛌🏼 Click to check out the best accommodation in Istria here
24. Galicia, Spain
Suggested by A World to Travel
Along with the Northern Spanish regions of Asturias, Basque Country, and Cantabria; Galicia is bathed by the Cantabric sea in its Northern coast and by the Atlantic Ocean – like Portugal – on its West coast.
Raw and unique, this land has not suffered the over-tourism that affected other Spanish regions such as the Mediterranean coast, the main cities and surroundings, and Andalusia.
Unknown to many, if the weather is not the main factor why you travel (as it can rain all year round), you should make visiting this land a priority ASAP.
Affordability, great cuisine, awe-inspiring nature both near the coast and inland, Unesco recognized old towns such as Santiago, and monuments like the Roman Lugo walls are slowly putting the word out there.
And with traditions like The Way to Santiago de Compostela, and warm locals among many other attractions, it won’t take long until it becomes famous on its own. You’ve been warned!
📸 PRO TIP: My go-to camera for all my travels is the Sony A7iii – I highly recommend it!
Suggested by Luggage and Lipstick
Off-the-beaten-path? Heck, this country doesn’t officially exist! Unrecognized by the United Nations, this tiny sliver of territory self-declared its independence from Moldova in 1991.
Once part of the USSR, they carry on as though they are still part of the Motherland and have repeatedly asked (and been refused) to re-join the Russian Federation.
To say the country is quirky is an understatement.
Tiraspol, the capital, offers lots of green public squares, colourful European architecture, and statues of Lenin everywhere.
At the main parade square there’s an old Soviet tank and an ornate orthodox church, and if you position your camera just right you’ll get both in your photo.
Where else could you tour a caviar factory, tour, and sample award-winning cognacs, and have a cappuccino in the Mafia café.
Do try the savoury borsch beet soup and tartine, a mouth-watering dessert made of layers of paper-thin sesame seed wafers, rich mascarpone cream, and sweet glazed strawberries.
But stay clear of the chocolate-covered balls – the inside is lard.
Be prepared for the red tape at the military checkpoint into the country, but the upside is the stamped visitor card they give you back shows the Russian version of your name in Cyrillic.
Suggested by Journey Maxx
Greenland. The great white sheet of ice is often seen from 30,000 feet above. The halfway point of air travel between Europe and North America.
But having always only seen it this way, how about seeing Greenland for real?
Visiting the UNESCO World Heritage ice fjord of Ilulissat and Disko Bay in the summer months is a beautifully surreal experience.
Even more so when staying in one of the Hotel Arctic’s metal igloos that overlook these great sheets of ice.
When entering the room welcomed by a soundtrack of waterfalls and birdsong and all things zen, this may be the perfect place for when you want to disconnect and escape from the grind.
The town of Ilulissat itself feels like embracing life at a slower pace.
Colourful houses and buildings are scattered around the place, each colour historically representing different types of establishments many centuries ago according to various sources.
For all the cliched multi-coloured houses and streets of those who “do it for the ‘gram”, then look no further than here for the perfect photo. Perhaps the forerunner of it all?
In truth, there is no doubting the undisputed highlight.
With various boat tours available, no trip is ever complete without a full day sailing along Disko Bay and experiencing a close encounter of the iceberg kind.
Where else can you see close up how vast an iceberg looks below the water? Dramatic ice formations of various sizes, cliffs with the most vertical edges. Also, the feeling of calm. Stillness in time.
Where the only noises you will really hear are the calls of the seagulls or the sound of a ship’s horn. The unusual experience of daylight at midnight. This is where to escape the summer crowds!
27. Bolsward, The Netherlands
Suggested by Visiting the Dutch Countryside
The Netherlands is a country that is very famous for cities such as Amsterdam and idyllic villages like Giethoorn. But there are plenty of more cities and villages to explore. One of them is Bolsward.
Bolsward is a small city in the Northern province of Friesland. Bolsward is a must-visit when you want to explore The Netherlands beyond the crowds.
The city of Bolsward is one of the 11 cities in Friesland that have their city rights and there is plenty of things to do. From walking alongside beautiful canal houses to picturesque canals.
And from a beer tasting at the brewery of Bolsward of Us Heit to the random hello’s you get from the people of Bolsward.
While Bolsward is a city, it feels like a village. If you’re a fan of going off the tourist paths and want to explore the real The Netherlands, then visiting Bolsward is a great idea.
🛌🏼 Click to check out the best accommodation in Bolsward here
28. Oristano, Sardinia, Italy
Suggested by Chasing the Unexpected
While the Italian island of Sardinia might be famous for its northern Emerald Coast or southern Cagliari capital, the central province of Oristano is usually an under-the-radar destination.
All around Oristano province are many little villages and towns that make for a fantastic trip.
If you move towards the island’s western coast, you will see beautiful, pristine beaches lapped by azure and crystal waters in places like S’Archittu, Is Arutas and San Giovanni di Sinis.
On the other hand, if you stay inland, you can visit towns like Seneghe, Ghilarza, Sedilo, Cabras, and discover the local traditions, dishes, festivals, as well as an untouched natural landscape.
Oristano province boasts also important archaeological sites like:
- Tharros, near Cabras, from Phoenician and Roman origins
- The Bronze-age tower and village Nuraghe Losa, near Abbasanta and Ghilarza towns
- The Roman thermal baths in Fordongianus
- The sacred well of Santa Cristina, a sacred area and sanctuary dating back to the ancient Sardinian Nuragic civilisation.
With a fascinating combination of natural scenery, historical landmarks, and archaeological sites, as well as great restaurants serving traditional dishes unknown to most foreign travellers, in Oristano, you can have a truly off-the-beaten-path and unforgettable holiday.
29. Krusevo, North Macedonia
Suggested by Learning to Breathe Abroad
Krusevo is the highest town in North Macedonia. This quaint red-roofed town sits perched on top of a hill with incredible panoramic views of the valley below.
This is an all-year-round destination with ski chairs lifting those winter sportsmen to higher peaks, while the forested mountain surrounding the town offers fantastic hikes to those wanting to get one with nature.
Not to be outdone by the outlandish monuments in the capital city of Skopje, Krusevo has its own garishly weird Makedonium monument, dedicated to the Ilinden Uprising against Ottoman domination.
It looks almost spaceship-like with colourful murals surrounded by a sea of mushroom-like objects protruding from the ground. Something that needs to be seen to be believed!
The towns winding cobbled alleyways will lead you in a mazelike fashion past houses with the blue trimmings the town is famous for.
In summer the fruit trees hang laden with ripe apricots, blueberries and plums to feed you during your ramblings.
As with most old towns, the centre is where life happens, with bustling cafes and restaurants. It’s here you can share a coffee with the locals while kids run around and sleepy street dogs doze at your feet.
🛌🏼 Click to check out the best accommodation in Krusevo here
30. Orkney Islands, Scotland
Suggested by Through an Aussies Eyes
The Orkney Islands are one of the most underrated places Scotland has to offer.
This archipelago is located just north of mainland Scotland and has approximately 70 islands and only about 20 of those islands are inhabited.
History is one of the main draw cards that the Orkneys have to offer.
The history ranges back to the Neolithic period where you can see such wonders as Skara Brae which was a small village that was uncovered by a storm in 1850 but the mystery is that it was abandoned but no one is really sure why.
If you are more into modern history, then you can’t look past Scapa Flow. This is where the British had a Naval Fleet during both of the World Wars.
You can actually scuba dive over the Churchill Barriers, which are ships that were purposely sunk to keep enemy submarines out.
Other areas that are a must see is the Ring of Brodgar, Maeshowe, St Magnus Cathedral and to try and catch a glimpse of a puffin on a number of islands between May and August.
31. Kazbegi, Georgia
Suggested by Travel Drafts
Kazbegi is a district of Georgia located on the slopes of the Caucasus mountains, roughly 157 km from Tbilisi, the capital.
This region of Georgia is an incredible tourist destination, especially for nature lovers. It is surrounded by mountains and the Kazbegi National Park is the ideal spot for trekking and mountain climbing.
To get to Kazbegi from Tbilisi you will need to travel through the Georgian Military Road.
This scenic road has breathtaking views and interesting attractions along the way, like the Sulfur waters, the Russia-Georgia friendship monument, and the Ananuri Fortress complex.
The route itself is a brilliant reason to visit Kazbegi, although you have plenty to do in Kazbegi.
The main reason people visit this region is to hike the Caucasus, in particular, Mount Kazbek.
Mount Kazbek is a dormant volcano with 5047 mt of altitude, you can appreciate the views of the mount from the town of Stepantsmida.
Besides hiking one of the top things to do in Kazbegi is going to the Gergeti Trinity Church. This church was built in the 14th century at an altitude of 2170 mt and it is mind-blowing.
Kazbegi is definitely a hidden gem that has the most beautiful spots in the world.
32. Welsh Marches, England
Suggested by A Packed Life
If you go as far west in England as you can manage without crossing the Welsh border, you’ll find the Welsh Marches.
Following the line of Offa’s Dyke, the Herefordshire and Shropshire border is a land with a long history.
The countryside is punctuated with rolling hills, giving way to small and picturesque villages such as Church Stretton, dubbed Little Switzerland for its clear, crisp beauty.
Here you can go walking in the magnificent Shropshire Hills or try gliding. There are many castles to explore along these borderlands, and villages full of Tudor timbered cottages.
Head to Ludlow, and you’re in the place John Betjeman described as the loveliest town in England.
A centre for all things foodie, with great restaurants and local produce, Ludlow is also the home of beautiful timbered and Georgian buildings plus a large collection of independent shops.
The spectacular Ludlow Castle was the original home of the Princes in the Tower, and now hosts many festivals including the renowned Ludlow Food Fair.
At one point, Ludlow ruled Wales, showing you the breadth of its influence. It’s a place so magical that a visit there will be a total treat whatever time of year you visit.
Travel Off the Beaten Path in Asia
See a map of all these off the beaten path destinations in Asia here .
33. Varkala, Kerala, India
Suggested by Pandareviewz
The quiet coastal town of Varkala, lying on the outskirts of Trivandrum city, is an absolute hidden gem of Kerala tourism.
This beautiful town filled with breathtaking natural wonders and soul-awakening religious monuments is on every backpacker’s dream destination.
Take a dip at the Papanasam beach, the which is believed by Hindus to wash away one’s sins.
If that does not convince you, head out to any one of the numerous hot springs and Ayurveda resorts that are found here, for rejuvenating your tired bodies.
Hike your way to top the Varkala Cliffs, which offers some stunning views of the Varkala coastline.
The Arabian sea, in all its majesty, can be best viewed from the cliffs and don’t miss out on watching the sunset. You can have some really good time at the cafes here at the cliff top during the evenings.
This picturesque town, apart from its ayurvedic and nature-based tourism, is a hub for religious pilgrimages.
The Sivagiri Mutt, which is the final resting place of social reformer Sree Narayana Guru, is frequented by millions of believers each year.
Visit this religious retreat to know more about his teachings on religion and God. Not far away from the Mutt, is the famous Janardanaswamy Temple, a 2000-years old temple, devoted to Lord Vishnu and Lord Hanuman.
This hilltop shrine, one of the few temples devoted to Lord Hanuman in South India, is the perfect example of the magnificent Indian temple-architecture.
Best visited during the months from December through March, this rapidly-growing town is full of life and the locals are well-known for their hospitality.
In short, Varkala truly captures why Kerala is called God’s own country!!
🛌🏼 Click to check out the best accommodation in Varkala here
34. Siquijor, Philippines
Suggested by Owl Over the World
Siquijor is a small and remote island that not so many travellers are visiting on their trips to the Philippines. Those who visit, however, fall in love with its mysterious charm and the lazy days spent by the beach.
Despite its small size, there are many things to do in Siquijor island .
Exploring the island on a motorbike is essential, as well, taking the courage to jump from the famous Siquijor cliff jump platform at the Salagdoong beach resort.
🎒MUST HAVE: Whether you’re going to a tropical location or going camping, take this small portable hammock with you. You won’t regret it!
While in Siquijor, you can also enjoy some of the most beautiful sunsets, planktons, and even some good Filipino party.
Siquijor island is known for its reputation of being hunted and with its stories about witchcraft.
The Spanish who colonized the island called it the ”fire island” and they believed that the island has risen from the ocean in a massive storm.
Interested to visit? You should definitely include it on your Philippines itinerary.
35. Dili, East Timor
Suggested by The Round The World Guys
One of the youngest countries in the world, East Timor, struggled for decades for its independence. That day came in 1999, when it broke free from Indonesia.
Fast forward twenty years later, the country is still largely undiscovered on the tourist trail, but it is definitely worth your time to consider.
The capital, Dili, is a charming small town, with friendly locals and under-developed tourist attractions. There are several interesting things to do in Dili that you have to check out.
Start your journey in Dili at the large Jesus statue of Cristo Rei, Tasi-Tolu Altar, and the Dili Cathedral, which highlights East Timor’s legacy of Catholicism from the colonial Portuguese.
The late Pope John Paul II visited these landmarks in 1989.
History buff can visit Santa Cruz Cemetery and the East Timor Resistance Museum and Archives. Here, you’ll learn about Timor Leste’s independence and why the struggle was worth it for them.
Don’t forget to check out the local Tais market, where you can purchase a colourful ceremonial Tais cloth as a unique souvenir.
You can also visit the Alola Foundation, a non-profit organization, with workshops where local women learn how to make these traditional cloths as a way to empower themselves and their families.
36. Muang Ngoy, Laos
Suggested by Horizon Unknown
Many travellers on the road from Dien Bien Phi in Vietnam take the slow boat journey straight to Luang Prabang, Laos. This means they miss one of Laos unknown gems, a small called Muang Ngoy.
This tiny village is known by few travellers, and even though the town consists of on the dusty, bumpy dirt road, there’s so much to experience here.
Trekking to a number of other villages is possible in under one day. Meeting friendly locals and the local community is possible along the rural roads.
There are a few restaurants to sit down and enjoy a very tasty and affordable meal. There is even a small, but incredibly refreshing pond to relax in after a potentially exhausting hike.
If you spot a small cave along the main road, that’s where this tiny pool of water is waiting!
Muang Ngoy is reached via slow boat from the northern Lao town of Muang Khua and makes a perfect day or two stopovers before continuing to Luang Prabang.
Suggested by My Feet Will Lead Me
Perhaps not on most people’s travel list, Bhutan has been isolated and protected from the influence of tourism until recently in history.
Only since the 1970’s has the country allowed a small number of foreigners visitors.
Surrounded by India and Tibet, the tiny remote Buddhist kingdom is known for its pristine and dramatic natural scenery, its stunning fortresses and monasteries such as the famous Tiger’s Nest, as well as their concept of “Gross National Happiness.”
Travel to Bhutan is highly regulated by the government with the policy of “High Value, Low Impact Tourism” to have a minimal effect on their environment and culture.
All visitors to Bhutan must travel as part of an organized tour with an approved company.
There is a minimum daily charge of $250 US per day to visit, which covers all costs of the driver and guide, accommodations and meals, and your visa and temple permits.
Part of that money goes to social programs like free health care and education for citizens of Bhutan. Only foreigners of India, Bangladesh, and Maldives do not require a visa or organized tour.
The only other exceptions are guests who are invited by “a citizen of some standing” or with a volunteer organization.
Bhutan values environmental conservation and has pledged to remain carbon neutral. They currently have a negative carbon footprint by absorbing nearly 3 times more carbon than they emit.
By mandating that their country maintain at least 60% forest cover, Bhutan has made itself a model for the rest of the world when it comes to how we should approach climate change.
Anyone who loves cultural heritage, authentic architecture, protected natural areas, or mountain trekking will surely be in their element in Bhutan.
38. Jeonju, South Korea
Suggested by Linda Goes East
If South Korea hadn’t been on your travel radar, it surely caught some attention after the 2018 Winter Olympics.
While most people head to Korea to visit the vibrant capital of Seoul, there is another true hidden gem you should visit when traveling off the beaten path in the country.
The lovely city of Jeonju in the country’s southwest is one of the most beautiful you can possibly visit.
Featuring more than 800 traditional Korean houses called “hanok”, Jeonju offers visitors a unique insight into Korean culture and history.
You can not only enjoy delicious local meals or sample traditional Korean tea at these hanok, but you can also spend the night and sleep like the Koreans did a long time ago: on the floor with cosy floor heating.
Some of the must-see sites and attractions in Jeonju include the Gyeonggijeon Shrine, built in 1410 and home to the most important Korean royal paintings in history, Jeonjuhyanggyo, a Confucian school, and Hanji Museum showcasing the art of traditional Korean papermaking.
Jeonju is also often referred to as the food capital of Korea. You can find some of the most delicious variations of Bibimbap (mixed rice and veggies), as well as Makgeolli, a type of rice wine.
As you can see, Jeonju is a great place to visit combining history and culture with amazing food.
It’s also categorized as a “slow city”, promoting a relaxed way of travel – the complete opposite of bustling Seoul.
🛌🏼 Click to check out the best accommodation in Jeonju here
39. Bukit Lawang, Indonesia
Suggested by An Epic Education
The name Bukit Lawang isn’t on the lips of every traveller. Yet for wildlife lovers and other eco-tourists, it should be. This small town in Northern Sumatra lies next to Indonesia’s Gunung Leuser National Park.
In addition to monkeys, monitor lizards and wild peacocks, this is also one of a dwindling number of habitats for orangutans.
Since the 1970s, semi-wild orangutans have been released into the park afterlife in captivity.
You can visit a feeding station where many orangutans frequent. However, we recommend hiring a local (and licensed) guide to take you jungle.
There are day treks as well as multi-day affairs where you camp in the rainforest. Some tours trek in and trek out, but if you can find a small group tour that returns by river, take it.
Once you’ve hiked for hours in the steamy forest, it’s a joy to wade into the cool water and coast over rapids back to town on a raft made of inner tubes.
Tubing the river is another fun thing to do in Bukit Lawang, and there are some interesting caves nearby as well. That said, the main reason to visit Bukit Lawang is for up-close encounters with wildlife.
Judging by the growth of the palm oil plantations surrounding the area, it’s hard to say just how much longer these encounters will last.
40. Xinaliq, Azerbaijan
Suggested by Backpack Adventures
Xinaliq is the highest village of Europe inhabited by people who believe they are the descendants of Noah.
It is surrounded by incredible mountain beauty and it is the perfect place to go hiking on trails that are truly off the beaten path.
You might wonder how come you have never heard of this place in the mountains of Azerbaijan. Actually, this is not surprising.
The post-Soviet country remained hard to get into with a bureaucratic and expensive visa regime.
Then in 2017, they introduced the simple and cheap e-visa in the hope to increase tourism in the country. This makes it the perfect time to visit Xinaliq.
While more and more tourists visit Azerbaijan’s capital Baku and the old silk road city Sheki, the mountains remain an unexplored gem.
Tourist infrastructure is still developing and requires a sense of adventure and flexibility.
The homestays in Xinaliq are still basic reflecting the harsh life high up in the Caucasus, but show an intimate insight into the culture of its inhabitants.
Most of them herd sheep’s and now try to supplement their income by welcoming travellers in their home.
The people of Xinaliq are proud on their unique culture that is quite different from the rest of Azerbaijan.
Their language ketsh is not related to any known language family and although they are muslim in practice their religion is mixed with old animistic traditions.
There is fear that their way of life is disappearing with better economic opportunities in the city.
But when you see the beautiful mountain scenery around the village it is also easy to understand why so many people decide to stay.
41. Yokote, Japan
Suggested by Inside the Travel Lab
For towering snowy sculptures, people head to Sapporo in Japan.
But the city of Yokote dazzles in a quieter way in winter: more than 500 igloos pop up like mushrooms each year for the February Kamakura Festival.
With fewer than 100 000 residents, Yokote is usually the kind of city that just goes about its business in the Akita prefecture north of Tokyo. It has a recreated castle, rooftops curling up into the air.
An art museum. A Manga gallery. And a permanent exhibit dedicated to the annual Kamakura.
The traditional igloos are short, squat and round, large enough for around three people to sit inside. But that’s just the beginning.
Nowadays, you’ll find heart-shaped igloos, Donald Duck-shaped igloos, party-sized igloos, and uneven little igloos built by the local school.
Older children wait inside, serving sweet hot drinks to locals and foreigners alike as part of a tradition that dates back at least 400 years. But you have to time it just right.
As soon as the snow begins to melt, the “snow thumpers” arrive and, quite literally, overnight the igloos disappear. This is truly one of the best local experiences.
🛌🏼 Click to check out the best accommodation in Yokote here
42. Bario, Borneo
Suggested by The Beau Traveler
Bario is located close to Sarawak (Malaysia) and Kalimantan (Indonesia) border in Borneo. Known as Kelabit Highlands, it is the home for the indigenous tribe Kelabit, who were headhunters up to 1920s.
If you’re particularly interested in ecotourism or cultural tourism, as well as some internet detox, Bario is a good place to go.
The internet connection here is quite limited to the point that you have no choice but to just connect with people around you. Going offline is always a great opportunity to dive into different cultures.
As it might be considered a secluded area, please mind that there is no ATM service or money changer in town.
It’s always best to do the budgeting in advance there to avoid running out of money while you’re there.
Rice, pineapple, and salt are some of the notable products from Bario in terms of agriculture, and every year they will have Bario Slow Food Festival (Pesta Nukenan) to showcase their food and cultural heritage in the summer.
So many local people here offer their homes for home stays. For a better experience in Sarawak, you can even find accommodation in one of the traditional longhouses.
Suggested by My Wanderlust
After years of difficult and expensive visa procedure now it’s finally easy to travel to Uzbekistan .
The country is definitely worth all the effort to get there: stunning architecture, delicious food and extremely hospitable people – it’s one of a kind destination.
Uzbekistan is known for its magnificent Silk Road cities: Bukhara and Samarkand, as well as the walled town of Khiva – all of them are part of the UNESCO World Heritage List.
They look like from a fairy tale, with some of the most beautiful buildings you will ever see. When visiting Uzbekistan don’t miss the capital city – Tashkent – too.
You can find one of the most beautiful metro stations there – they look like underground museums.
Until recently it was forbidden to take pictures in Tashkent metro but this has changed too and now you are free to use your camera freely there.
Now it’s the best time to visit Uzbekistan – you should go there before the whole world discovers how great a place it is!
44. Kampong Cham, Cambodia
Suggested by Can Travel Will Travel
Located right on the riverbank of the River Mekong in the east of Cambodia is the relatively unknown sleepy riverside town of Kampong Cham.
This charming tranquil town very seldom makes it onto the itineraries of people visiting Cambodia and when it does it’s often just as a stopover to break up the journey to another destination.
I visited Kampong Cham in 2017 on a short break from Siem Reap where I was living.
My main reason for visiting was that I’d heard it had the longest bamboo bridge in the world and this was certainly true when I visited.
Unfortunately, the bridge washes away every rainy season, meaning an annual rebuild.
I believe (and I may have been misinformed) since my visit that it has sadly been replaced by a permanent concrete bridge, never to be rebuilt.
However, don’t let this deter you from visiting though as this quaint town and its surroundings have plenty more to discover.
In the town itself, you’ll find a gorgeous riverfront promenade, colonial buildings and back streets, and pagodas to explore.
Rent a bicycle, motorbike or tuk-tuk and you can visit some of the many interesting sites that aren’t too far away from town.
There are many different pagodas including Phnom Pros and Phnom Srey, an eco-tourism village and closer to town is a French Watch Tower and the wonderfully friendly and peaceful Koh Paen Island.
If you want to visit a truly authentic Cambodian town, Kampong is a perfect option.
45. Zamboanga City, Philippines
Suggested by Tara Lets Anywhere
The Philippines is a favourite among backpackers for its tropical islands and lush mountains, but even so, most travellers skip out of Mindanao due to stigma.
It’s unfortunate because most of the region is safe and offers interesting destinations, one of which is Zamboanga City.
Zamboanga City is considered the centre of the whole Zamboanga Peninsula.
It is named Asian’s Latin City – you can walk along the streets and see ancestral buildings dating back the Spanish period and mingle with locals who speak Chavacano, a Spanish creole.
This is in addition to Filipino and English languages, so those of you who only speak English won’t have much of a language barrier. It’s also the home of various local tribes who have migrated from all over the peninsula over the past decades.
Zamboanga City is basically a melting pot of cultures, and this is visible on the city’s cuisine, products, and arts & crafts.
When you visit Zamboanga City, the best things to do include:
- Going on a city tour to see its landmarks
- Visiting and buying traditional woven products from the Yakan tribe
- Driving out to see the nearby natural attractions – Merloquet Falls, Sta. Cruz islands which include the famous Pink Beach, and Once Islas.
Zamboanga City is definitely one of those places that deserve to be visited more this year.
46. Nan, Thailand
Suggested by The Lazy Trotter
Forget about Phuket, Bangkok or Chiang Mai.
If you are looking to experience the most authentic side of the land of smiles, you should head to Nan, which is a real hidden gem of Northern Thailand.
Once in Nan, you will have the chance to dive into the most authentic traditions and pace of this region of Thailand, which is still far from the crazy patterns of mass tourism across South East Asia.
Located about 700 km from Bangkok, halfway between Chiang Mai and Luang Prabang, Laos, this Thai city will greet you with the majesty of its temples and the colours and flavours of its night market, where you will find plenty of yummy Thai food to taste.
While visiting Nan you will also have the chance to explore one of the near coffee plantations – which in the past were used to grow opium – and observe the beauty of the landscapes of these stunning hills at the border with Laos.
🛌🏼 Click to check out the best accommodation in Nan here
47. Tamhini Ghat, India
Suggested by Homosapien
Tamhini Ghat is a beautiful place located at a distance of 90 miles from Mumbai, India.
It is a great escape from the hustle and bustle of the daily routine, leaving all your worries behind and heading to this awesome weekend gateway spot.
The best time to visit Tamhini Ghat is during Indian monsoons as this is the time when most of the scenic waterfalls and the mountains come alive and the countryside is filled with lush green trees.
The word ‘Ghat’ means a passage of curvy roads within the mountains, so this is more of a huge mountainous road trail lined up with numerous waterfalls between the towns of Mulshi and Tamhini.
It is part of the Sahyadris which is a 1600 km long and vast mountain range parallel to the west coast of India.
Tamhini Ghat is full of treks and trails which tourists go onto, to further locate the mountain tops and other waterfalls which are not on the built-up roadway.
The scenic route also has villages against the beautiful backdrop of the mist-filled mountains. I enjoyed every second of it and I must tell you how.
I went with my friends which doubled the fun and the craziness.
We stopped at various waterfalls along the way, got all soaked up as everyone does there, enjoyed some hot Kande-Bhaje (delicious Indian Cuisine which is gorged upon, mostly after the rains) and had tea afterwards.
I would suggest not to miss any of this, to get more fun out of this trip to Tamhini Ghat.
48. Darvaza Crater, Turkmenistan
Suggested by Jack and Jill Travel
Darvaza Crater, or “The Gates of Hell” is a large sinkhole in the Karakum Desert that has been on fire for over 40 years.
It started out as a drilling accident where a the existence of an underground cavern caused a drilling rig to collapse.
Gas started leaking and somebody thought it was a good idea to light it on fire to burn the gas out. 40 years later, it’s still on fire.
The crater is the country’s most popular destinations and many visitors take advantage of its 5 days transit visa to make a beeline to see the crater.
Travelling outside the capital isn’t allowed in Turkmenistan, so hiring a local guide through an authorized tour company is required. The visit usually involves an overnight camping close to the crater.
I highly recommend it since it’s especially spectacular at night.
Travel Off the Beaten Path in the Americas
See a map of all these off the beaten path destinations in the Americas here .
49. Pinar del Rio, Cuba
Suggested by Bacon is Magic
When most people visit Cuba they first head to the beaches and then they visit Havana. But Cuba is a large country with diverse geography and there is so much more to see.
The Pinar del Rio region is home to the UNESCO areas of Vinales and Las Terrazas Cuba .
There are no oceanside beaches but it’s home to Cuban cowboys, cotton and tobacco fields and former coffee plantations.
It’s an incredibly lush region and only a couple hours from Havana.
It’s possible to take a day trip but two nights are best, first to stay in Las Terrazas which is 90 minutes away and then Vinales to take a horseback ride through the tobacco farms.
While you can go to the beach in so many other countries, you can only have an experience like this here.
Suggested by The Crowded Planet
One of my favourite destinations this year was Guyana – a place that definitely counts as ‘off the beaten path’, since most of my friends didn’t even know where it was!
Guyana is a country on the northern coast of South America , right next to Venezuela and Brazil.
It’s the only English-speaking country in South America, and it has a distinctly Caribbean vibe especially along the coast, where 90% of inhabitants live.
The rest of the country is covered in savannah or rainforest and it’s incredibly wild and offbeat – we spent a week camping, off-roading and horse riding around the south of Guyana and never saw a single tourist.
So, if you love adventure, definitely add Guyana to your bucket list!
51. Lençóis Maranhenses, Brazil
Suggested by Mscgerber
If you want to get off the beaten track South America has some of the most amazing untouched areas – And Brazil is proof of that.
When talking about Brazil everybody thinks of Rio de Janeiro, the impressive waterfalls of Foz do Iguacu or the Amazon region.
Yet, despite huge masses of tourists travelling to Brazil every year, you can still find some hidden gems, that showcase the beautiful nature and culture of this country.
One of those places is Lencois Maranhenses, which is located in the North East of the country in the state of Maranhao.
I reached the Lencois Maranhenses National Park from Sao Luis with a 4-hour bus ride.
The National Park is located in a remote area of the country, with no nearby airport – therefore you’ll be able to experience this amazing place with less tourists than you’d expect.
The most famous part of the National park is the huge sand dunes, which are filled with rainwater.
It is impossible to describe this place in words, but it’s truly magic and honestly one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen in my life.
To experience Lencois it is recommended to visit the region after the rain season. The best months are July & August.
While the sand dunes are clearly the main attraction of the Lencois Maranhenses National Park, there are various other activities available, such as boat rides or ATV tours.
52. Jerico, Colombia
Suggested by Wander-Lush
Tourists have blazed a trail through Colombia’s Zona Cafetera, connecting small towns and plantations with the spectacular Cocora Valley.
A touch further north, three to four hours by road from Medellin, there are more townships that are every bit as vibrant and enchanting, but remain off the tourist track.
One of these, Jerico, is a charming town of about 12,000 people. Jerico missed out on a mention in the latest edition of Lonely Planet, so there’s probably a few more years before mainstream tourism arrives.
Jerico is close to the spot where Colombia’s first coffee trees were cultivated. There is still a thriving cottage industry in the hills surrounding the town, and visitors can organise to tour local farms.
The lush valleys also present opportunities for hiking, paragliding, and other outdoor activities.
The layout of Jerico is similar to most small towns in Colombia’s Antioquia Department: Trendy cafes and local drinking holes skirt a pleasant town square, with the main Catholic cathedral at the head.
Beyond the plaza, Jerico’s steeply pitched streets are filled with gift boutiques and workshops, many making and selling carriels —multi-pocket leather bags that constitute part of Colombia’s ‘coffee region uniform’.
Jerico might be small (the close-knit community vibe is one of its greatest assets), but it also has an innovative spirit.
Alongside historic churches and museums, the town boasts excellent contemporary dining, chocolate-making and coffee-tasting workshops, ecotourism offerings, and a multipurpose creative space that hosts live music.
🛌🏼 Click to check out the best accommodation in Jerico here
53. Carretera Austral, Chile
Suggested Travel With The Smile
Carretera Austral (the Southern Highway) is still a little bit off the radar for travellers and not one of those classed as ‘popular places to visit’ (yet).
This more than 1,000km road stretches through the Chilean Patagonia passing breathtaking glaciers, mountain peaks, and waterfalls.
You would hardly find another place with so many shades of blue. All the lakes, rivers and secret waterfalls are out of this world.
It’s an adventurer’s paradise – kayaking, rafting, hiking, skiing, mountain biking, wildlife spotting, and even glacier trekking!
Often times Patagonia is considered expensive but this part is still affordable for every backpacker.
Michal and I spent two weeks hitchhiking the Carretera Austral, relying on the kindness of strangers. And everyone we’ve met wished they could stay months, if not years.
The landscapes and the quietness are what draw us to go back. I’m convinced this is the best place in the world for a road trip.
The 11 national parks and many more nature reserves along Carretera Austral now belong to the Patagonian Route of Parks, a network of 17 national parks from Puerto Montt to Cape Horn.
54. Ilha de Boipeba, Brazil
Suggested by 7 Continents 1 Passport
Even though Ilha de Boipeba was elected by Trip Advisor in 2013 as the second best island in South America, many people outside of Brazil have never heard of this place.
Located in the Tinharé Archipelago, 240 Km (150 mi) from Salvador, Bahia’s capital, Boipeba Island is home to a dense Atlantic forest, with salt marshes, sand dunes and extensive mangroves, with luscious coconut trees framing the beaches.
The island has a very simple structure and many gorgeous beaches. In fact, some of the best beaches in Bahia are located in Boipeba.
I visited the island in February 2016 and was enchanted by its charming village with cobblestone streets and colourful houses and also delighted by the spectacular beaches with soft sand and unbelievably warm water.
Ilha de Boipeba is perfect for those who ware looking for tranquillity, being with nature and especially off the beaten path places to visit.
You should definitely visit Boipeba next time you’re in Brazil. I promise that you will just love it!!
💡 PACKING TIP: Make sure you bring a good snorkel , water shoes and a fast-drying towel for all of the beach-going you’re about to do!
55. Pipa, Brazil
Suggested by Layer Culture
If you really want off the beaten track holidays where you will arrive at a place that has not already been hammered by thirsty tourists, I invite you to consider Pipa in Brazil.
Yes, some backpackers discovered it before us but thanks to them we have a perfect chilled hippy/bohemian vibe to relax to and even surf.
For example, how does a stroll along the beach of love sound? This beach is one of the main points of interest in Pipa and possibly the best off the beaten path beach in Brazil.
You’ll find the beach is easily accessible from the main strip.
You just walk down some steps and as you arrive you’ll see the long sweeping view of cliffs that follow the sand as far as the eye can see.
A short walk along the beach will lead you to some of the most amazing views. If you walk far enough you’ll enjoy views with not one tourist in sight.
I found the beach to be best enjoyed whilst the tide it low – so arrive as early. Pipa has become one of my favourite places to visit in Brazil to be able to relax.
If you get a chance to visit you to can expect to find peace and tranquillity as well as dance your feet away in the evening if you choose to.
🛌🏼 Click to check out the best accommodation in Pipa here
56. Boquete, Panama
Suggested by Jessie on a Journey
While Panama is becoming more and more popular with tourists, when visiting myself I was surprised at how few people made their way to Boquete.
This active mountain town is located in the Province of Chiriquí, known for its bounty of crops like coffee and passionfruit.
You’ll explore lush cloud forest through waterfall hiking, volcano trekking, zip-lining, horseback riding, and bird-watching –, particularly for the rare Resplendent Quetzal.
Pro tip: While Boquete Town has a lot to offer, I was thankful to have stayed up in the cloud forest.
My boyfriend and I stayed at an Airbnb that required a steep 15-minute hike up loose rock, but it was so worth the effort to be alone in the cloud forest.
We’d make cups of local coffee and sit outside watching the many hummingbirds flying about high-altitude flora we’d never seen before. A serious vacation for the mind and soul!
57. Querétaro, Mexico
Suggested by Roaming Around the World
The state of Querétaro is a beautiful destination in Mexico that is flying under the radar.
While many travellers in Mexico head to the beach, it’s this stunning area in the colonial highlands that has so much to offer visitors.
The capital city of Santiago de Querétaro is a stunning colonial city in Mexico’s highlands that is packed full of quaint alleyways with patio restaurants, dozens of interesting museums, and thousands of historic monuments.
It’s those monuments and the colonial architecture that help to make the historic center of Querétaro one of Mexico’s 34 UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
The city also boasts two National Parks and even an ancient pyramid that dates back to 700-900 AD.
Go further afield throughout the state and travellers will be rewarded with a hiking opportunity to traverse one of the largest monoliths in the world, Peña de Bernal!
If this all weren’t enough, Querétaro also boasts a sprawling wine region. There are dozens of vineyards to visit in what is Mexico’s second largest wine region.
The dedicated Wine and Cheese Route provides for a tasty tour through the semi-desert highlands.
Querétaro is a particularly great value destination. The excellent restaurants, hotels, and wine currently present exceptional value for your peso.
While Querétaro is growing in prominence, it’s yet to be discovered by the masses like other colonial gems in the region, such as nearby San Miguel de Allende.
For all these reasons we suggest Querétaro as a fantastic off the beaten path destination!
58. Eastern Sierra, California, USA
Suggested by It’s Not About the Miles
Most visitors to California have the drive along the Pacific Coast Highway on their itinerary. And rightfully so, because the drive is gorgeous.
But did you know there’s another, equally beautiful but less well-travelled drive to try in the Golden State?
California State Route 395, from South Lake Tahoe to Lone Pine, runs along the Eastern Sierra mountains. The region is beautiful any time of year, but especially so in the fall.
You can spend several days exploring the Eastern Sierra, basing yourself at two or three places along the route.
Apart from South Lake Tahoe, Mammoth Lakes is a largish resort town with a good gamut of accommodation and dining options. Bishop, further south, is also a decent-sized town with amenities.
Among the places along the route you must not miss: the saltwater Mono Lake, with its amazing limestone tufas, the ghost town of Bodie, with its deserted homes and buildings from the times of the Gold Boom, and a plethora of stunning jewel-blue lakes and gorgeous mountain passes.
In late spring, summer, and fall, you can hike, boat, and do backcountry driving.
In the winter, the area becomes a wonderland, often covered with snow, and skiing and other winter sports are popular draws.
If you are planning a trip to California, consider spending a few days in the Eastern Sierra for a rejuvenating vacation in the midst of spectacular natural beauty.
59. Browning, Montana, USA
Suggested by Pink Caddy Travelogue
Glacier National Park is considered by many to be the most beautiful place in North America, and millions of tourists flock there each year.
Nearby towns of Whitefish, Kalispell, and West Glacier cater to these visitors with gift shops, swanky lodges, and trendy restaurants.
But there’s one town located minutes from Glacier that most tourists ignore (but shouldn’t): Browning, Montana.
Browning is located on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation and is one of the best spots for off the beaten path US vacations.
The Blackfeet considered the mountains of Glacier to be sacred long before the Europeans knew Montana existed.
Their history is a crucial part of understanding the Glacier National Park of today.
While not as tourist-friendly as the other towns, a visit here is the best place to learn about Native American culture, and the history of Glacier before it was a national park.
In Browning, there’s the Plains Indian Museum, which contains several fascinating exhibits about the many tribes that once ruled this part of the US.
There are also several Native American art galleries, featuring works by local artists. And in July, Browning hosts one of the largest Indian Pow Wows in the country.
Visitors can learn about traditional dances, try Indian fry bread, and watch an Indian Relay Race. Browning is an off-the-beaten-path town every visitor to Glacier needs to check out.
🛌🏼 Click to check out the best accommodation in Browning here
60. Haida Gwaii, Canada
Suggested by Travel Collecting
Haida Gwaii (formerly the Queen Charlotte Islands) is a remote archipelago off the west coast of Canada.
The islands can be reached by plane from Vancouver or ferry from Prince Rupert, but most of the archipelago can only be reached by boat or kayak.
Kayak trips to southern Haida Gwaii start with a 3.5-hour zodiac ride even deeper into the wilderness. It’s hard to get more off the beaten path than this.
Days are spent slowly kayaking past islands covered in pristine pine forests with grazing Sitka deer; seals, sea lions and whales swimming past; giant golden kelp floating on the surface; and bald eagles perched in the trees.
Nights are spent camping near pebbly beaches or in mossy glades in the woods.
The trip culminates into a magical, mystical trip to Ninstints/ SG̱ang Gwaay – an abandoned village of slowly decaying totem poles gazing mysteriously out to sea, often semi-shrouded in mist.
This is a special place few people are lucky enough to visit – and well worth the effort to get there.
61. Kaktovik, Alaska
Suggested by National Park Obsessed
You probably have never heard of Kaktovik, Alaska. Kaktovik is not a typical tourist destination. It is a small remote village on the edge of the Beaufort Sea of the Arctic Ocean.
It’s also one of the best off the beaten path travel ideas.
The village has about 250 residents. Most are Inupiaq and a small number of US Fish and Wildlife Service personnel there as part of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge management.
The town isn’t a hopping tourist destination. There are two hotels with restaurants. The airport is a runway. Supplies are limited to what can be flown in or arrives on the summer barges.
Residents mostly live off the land in a mix of traditional and modern way.
Despite all this Kaktovik attracts visitors from around the world, these wildlife lovers come to see the majestic polar bears.
Every fall, about 20 polar bears will gather on the Barter Islands just outside of town to await the return of the sea ice.
Visitors to Kaktovik head out in small watercraft to view and photograph these amazing creatures. The area tends to attract female bears with cubs and an occasional young male.
62. Punta del Este, Uruguay
Suggested by Miss Filatelista
Uruguay is often referred to as the Switzerland of the Americas and the happiest country in South America–but it’s still quite off-the-beaten-path for most travellers.
This is a shame as the most popular beach spot, Punta del Este , is absolutely fantastic.
Safe and dependable bus schedules make it easy to reach Punta del Este from the capital city of Montevideo or the international airport. Punta del Este is a vibrant city that is close to lush countryside.
It has a rich history, decadent cuisine, and most importantly, extremely friendly people.
The peninsula is home to beautiful beaches and a nightlife scene to see and be seen among an international elite crowd. You can party at casinos, discos, and many beach bars.
Just remember, nothing opens until around 10 PM and no one would dare to show up at a club before 1 AM!
Visit at the beginning of the year and you’ll get to experience the longest carnival celebration in the world. The celebration starts in January and lasts at least 40 days.
Nature lovers will also enjoy whale spotting during the winter months of June, July and August.
Travel Off the Beaten Path in Africa
See a map of all these off the beaten path destinations in Africa here .
63. Tunis, Tunisia
Suggested by History Fangirl
One of my favourite off-the-beaten-path cities to visit is Tunis. The capital of Tunisia features amazing North African cuisine, the UNESCO World Heritage Site the Medina of Tunis, and the world-class Bardo Museum.
From Tunis, you can also take several amazing day trips. Options include the ruins of Carthage, the beautiful Mediterranean town of Sidi Bou Said, and the ancient Roman town of Dougga.
Because Tunisia has a great, inexpensive system of intercity minivans called Louages, you can easily and cheaply move around the country while using Tunis as your base for most of northern Tunisia.
While in the city, explore the Medina of Tunis further by visiting the plethora of gorgeous mosques, eating as some of the beautiful medina cafes, and wandering the stalls selling spices and souvenirs.
This is one of my favourite places to take pictures of Tunisia since there’s always something interesting to see and do in the markets.
🛌🏼 Click to check out the best accommodation in Tunis here
64. Moulay Idriss, Morocco
Suggested by Traveling Bytes
The photogenic town climbs up a hill in a classic medieval fashion. The setting is so perfect that, at first sight, you can’t help but wonder whether it’s real or you stumbled upon a movie set.
Dubbed as the holiest town in Morocco, Moulay Idriss is virtually unknown to westerners. It is hiding in a valley that could be easily mistaken for an Italian countryside. The olive groves dot the landscape with the Mount Zerhoun serving as a dramatic backdrop.
For centuries, the town remained strictly Muslim. Until 2005, non-Muslims were not allowed to stay overnight.
It was an unwritten rule that was supported by the lack of public accommodations. Guidebooks at the time warned the tourists who dared to visit to be out of town by dusk.
Moulay Idriss is an important religious site in northern Morocco. Ask locals, and they would proudly tell you that it holds a special place in their hearts.
Thanks to the tomb of Moulay Idriss Al Akhbar, the town’s founder and a descendant of the Prophet Muhammad, for centuries it has been a place of pilgrimage and a location of the moussem, a summer festival celebrated during the second week of August.
Many Moroccans believe that six pilgrimages to Moulay Idriss during the moussem equal one hajj to Mecca.
Thanks to its unusual history, Moulay Idriss managed to stay “frozen in time.” It still retains the charm of a bygone era. Walking windy narrow streets feels like the Time Machine really exists.
65. Rodrigues Island, Indian Ocean
Suggested by The Travelbunny
If you are looking for amazing vacations off the beaten path, Rodrigues is a tiny African island you’ve probably never heard of.
It’s part of the Mascarene Islands and sits well off the beaten track 560km Northeast from Mauritius.
This small island nation is surrounded by a shallow lagoon and rolling hills reach down to white palm-studded beaches while the centre of the island has ravines and mountainous areas.
The crystal clear waters are ideal for snorkelling and scuba diving and kite surfing and hiking is popular. Secluded beaches tucked away in quiet coves are waiting to be discovered.
Wildlife is diverse with visits to a giant tortoise reserve or boat trips out to Coco Island where thousands of wild birds swoop over the turquoise blue seas.
The island is still relatively undiscovered which means it remains authentic with no major development. There are a handful of hotels with a number of small bed and breakfasts and homestays.
You’ll get a rustic and very natural experience in Rodrigues which is perfect for getting off-grid or for a digital detox.
📦 PACKING TIP: Don’t leave home without a solar powered battery pack so you can keep your devices connected at all times.
Suggested by German Backpacker
While most people wouldn’t put Sudan on their bucket list, I enjoyed my recent trip around the country to its fullest. In particular, the city of Karima was the highlight of my Sudan adventure.
Karima is located directly on the Nile, between the border of Egypt and the capital Khartoum and therefore a perfect stop on an overland trip across Sudan.
While the town centre itself doesn’t have much to offer, you’ll find the stunning pyramids of Jebel Barkal as well as the holy Barkal mountain right outside of Karima – which are a great reason to visit this place.
Since Sudan isn’t in particular touristic, chances are high that you’ll have the place all for yourself and the best time to visit is in the late afternoon.
After a close look at the pyramids, I recommend climbing up on the holy Jebel Barkal mountain. You’ll have an incredible sunset view of Karima, the pyramids, the Nile, and the desert!
If you have enough time, make also sure to visit the pyramids of Nuri, which are located in the neighbouring town on the other side of the Nile.
67. Taghazout, Morocco
Suggested by The Wandering Quinn
Taghazout is a fishing village in Morocco. In the past, it’s only been known by keen surfers because of its awesome surf.
However, after visiting to attend a Yoga and Surf School for one week I found Taghazout to be changing and welcoming tourists quickly, although its traditional fishing village charm still remains and I hope it stays that way.
Locals still hang around in the village, they sell their local products to tourists but in a friendly and un-harassing way, unlike other places in Morocco.
They still bring their catch onto the beach at the end of the day and sip tea in the shade, but in addition to this, between the white and blue-washed buildings are cool and quirky cafes selling smoothie bowls and good coffee.
Decent accommodation is on offer for a good price offering surf not only to advanced surfers but to newbies as well along with a yoga and wellness approach.
Getting to Taghazout is easy too. The nearest airport is Agadir, only one hour away.
Alternatively, the coastal city of Essaouira is just a few hours away and teams nicely with a trip to Taghazout which is what I did.
If you want a sunny holiday to somewhere lesser-known in Morocco and want to try some surfing or yoga, Taghazout is where you should head next!
🛌🏼 Click to check out the best accommodation in Taghazout here
68. St Helena Island
Suggested by What The Saints Did Next
For a truly ‘off the beaten path’ travel experience, visit St Helena, an island so low-pro it’s sometimes omitted from maps!
Good ones show it as a dot in the middle of the South Atlantic, a few clicks north of the Tropic of Capricorn. It proved the perfect location to exile Napoleon who also died there.
St Helena is only 47 square miles in size but there’s plenty for visitors to see and do.
Swim in the ocean with whale sharks (Dec – Apr), climb the 699 steps of Jacob’s Ladder and meet Jonathan, a 185-year old tortoise believed to be the world’s oldest living animal.
There are hiking trails along rugged coastlines, arid deserts and a cloud forest, each showcasing the island’s striking and natural beauty.
Until recently a five-day voyage by sea was the only means of getting to the island. Now with a new airport St Helena is more accessible and the trip reduced to six hours from mainland Africa.
For those who like staying off the beaten track by seeking far-flung destinations and a passport stamp that comes with bragging rights, pop St Helena on your travel list.
69. Muscat, Oman
Suggested by The Sane Adventurer
Muscat the capital city of Oman is undoubtedly one of the most underrated cities in the Middle East.
Surrounded by mountains in the North West and the Arabian Gulf in the east, the city is a hub of nature, history, and traditional Arabian culture.
The port city of Muscat is also one of the oldest existing cities in the Arabian Peninsula.
There are old forts all along the coast of Muscat, which were built by the Portuguese in the century when sea trade started booming in the region.
The great Sultan Qaboos Mosque and the Royal Opera House in the heart of Muscat is an epitome of the rich Arabesque architecture and culture.
Long stretches of golden sand beaches still unexploited by tourists are longing to be seen and acknowledged by the travellers of the world.
The city of Muscat may not be as popular as its ‘more happening’ neighbour Dubai, but considering the natural beauty and rich culture which the city holds at its core, Muscat holds huge potential to become the next tourist destination of the Middle East.
70. Lalibela, Ethiopia
Suggested by Trains, Planes and Tuk Tuks
Lalibela, Ethiopia boasts one of the world’s most incredible UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Its enormous rock-hewn churches, each carved from a single stone, must be seen to be believed.
The rock-hewn churches aren’t ancient ruins — they’re active shrines to Ethiopian Christianity. Hermits still inhabit the caves. Priests guard the church doors to protect the thousand-year-old Bibles inside.
Few travel experiences on the planet are as powerful as seeing the morning mass at Bet Giorgis, the iconic church carved in the shape of a cross. And you’re likely to be the only foreigner around.
On top of the churches, Lalibela also has a great cultural museum, and you can arrange day-hikes or longer treks into the surrounding mountains.
Better yet, the town has several good restaurants. Try Unique Restaurant for Ethiopian home cooking, or Ben Abeba for epic sunset views in a building that resembles a witch’s hat.
The town also has the best backpacker amenities outside the capital (read: WiFi and 24-hour running water). And despite political instability elsewhere in Ethiopia, Lalibela remains very safe.
Lalibela is one of the places to visit off the beaten path, but it won’t remain a secret forever.
So go now — before it claims its rightful place alongside Angkor Wat, Petra and Machu Picchu in traveler lore.
Travel Off the Beaten Path in Oceania
See a map of all these off the beaten path destinations in Oceania here .
71. Phillip Island, Australia
Suggested by Lets Go Mum
Phillip Island, Victoria is an excellent “off the beaten path” place to visit.
Well-worth the two-hour drive from Melbourne, Phillip Island offers tourists an incredible range of wildlife and stunning scenery to enjoy, thanks to the careful preservation work of Phillip Island Nature Parks.
There are several different options to take in the numerous sights of this beautiful island. EcoBoat tours are a fun way to see Phillip Island from the sea.
Passengers will be wowed by the craggy coast of Cape Woolamai, including hidden sea caves and the spectacular Pinnacles rock formation.
Animal lovers will be amazed by an EcoBoat tour out to see Seal Rocks – home to the largest colony of fur seals in Australia.
Churchill Island is another great attraction – a historic farm where visitors can go for island walks and see beautiful European-style gardens and farm animals – including Highland Cattle!
Last but certainly not least, any trip to Phillip Island would not be complete without a visit to the Penguin Parade.
Here, tourists can buy tickets to witness the closely protected colony of Fairy Penguins make their nightly trip up the beach to their nesting burrows. Phillip Island truly is a gem of a spot to visit!
🛌🏼 Click to check out the best accommodation on Phillip Island here
72. Lady Elliot Island, Australia
Suggested by Free Two Roam
Australia’s Great Barrier Reef is a magnet for tourists. But most of them head to the north of the reef and don’t realise that the southern end offers some amazing snorkelling and diving.
Lady Elliot Island is one of the hidden gems on this part of the reef.
Lady Elliot Island is a tiny coral cay located at the southern tip of the Great Barrier Reef. Due to its distance from the mainland, it is only accessible by air.
Although that makes reaching the island more difficult and expensive, it also guarantees that the island is not swamped with tourists.
That’s just as well because there are plenty of reasons to visit Lady Elliot. It offers some of the best snorkelling we’ve ever come across, along with excellent diving.
It is known as the home of the Manta Ray and you can often see them swimming in deep water on the lighthouse side of the island.
On the opposite side of the Lady Elliot is a sheltered lagoon where you can swim at high tide.
There you’ll meet plenty of friendly sea turtles (we once saw five of them within minutes of entering the water).
Last but not least, if you visit during whale season, you’ll be able to enjoy migrating humpback whales frolicking in the waters off the island, taking a break from their long journeys.
If you’re looking for an incredible back-to-nature experience that’s off the beaten track, Lady Elliot Island ticks all the boxes.
73. Wairarapa region, New Zealand
The Wairarapa is often overlooked when visiting New Zealand but in fact, it’s one of the most upcoming off the beaten path destinations in New Zealand.
I (Anita) grew up in the small town of Carterton where there are more fish and chip shops than ATMs – true story.
One of the best visitor centers in the Wairarapa is the Mount Bruce. This is where you’ll get to see NZ wildlife including the Kiwi.
This region is beloved by the likes of Peter Jackson, David Cameron and other celebrities due to its natural habitat, local markets, family farms and Lord of the Ring-esq views.
It’s also home to one of the best wine regions in the country – Martinborough . In recent years, the wine from this region has been internationally recognized and loved worldwide.
A great way to tour Martinborough is by bike. Hire one for the day and bike to the wineries sampling the delicious wine – My favourite winery is Poppies.
I highly recommend basing yourself in either Greytown or Masterton and checking out this region’s underrated beauty. This is one of my personal favourite offbeat travel destinations, but I may be biased!
Travel Off the Beaten Path in Antarctica
Suggested by The Travel Sisters
Antarctica is my pick for a top off the beaten path destination. If you have a sense of adventure and enjoy natural beauty and wildlife, then you will love Antarctica.
It is one of the most remote, pristine, and untouched places in the world.
With a landscape full of glaciers and icebergs, Antarctica is stunning, breathtaking, and magnificent beyond what words can describe.
There is no shortage of incredible things to do in Antarctica with numerous opportunities to view the diverse and abundant wildlife including seabirds, seals, whales, and penguins.
Visitors can go sea kayaking and do a polar plunge in freezing water and some cruises offer additional activities such as cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and camping overnight.
Most tourists travel to Antarctica on an expedition cruise which involves a two-day trip each way.
Cruises only visit Antarctica during austral summer (November to March) when temperatures are typically right around freezing and there are almost 24 hours of daylight.
If you are looking for truly off the beaten track places to visit, you can’t get more off the beaten path than Antarctica!
Frequently Asked Questions
If somewhere is off the beaten path it means that it is a place worth visiting, but is quieter and less-visited than a more popular destination. Often places off the beaten track are more isolated or in less well-known parts of a city/town. It can be used to refer to anything from a small cafe to whole countries.
It depends on the destination. If you plan to travel off the beaten track within a major city, you will probably be able to get where you’re going via public transport. If you are taking off the beaten path trips to somewhere remote, you might have to arrange special transport if local transport is not available.
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Just when I think I’ve seen so much of the world I realize that I haven’t even begun! So many great suggestions here.
I love going to places off the beaten path. it’s very important to consciously think about how to minimize the impact of visiting these places though – so they stay off the beaten path. I love Haida Gwaii because it is so pristine and the local people are very interested in keeping it that way!
Completely agree how now, more than ever, it’s important to travel off the beaten path, to spread things around. And, wow, Uzbekistan looks so beautiful. Not sure how feasible it is to go there with a small child but I shall be adding it to my list and watching and waiting!
Love reading about all these less-known destinations! <3 Asturias has been high on my list for a while, maybe 2019 will be the year I finally make it there.
What a great list Anita! So many places that I’ve never heard of. OMG!! I’m glad that I included Boipeba on this list. It’s such a wonderful island. Cheers
I love off the beaten path places and this list gives me endless travel ideas.
Sweet collection of lesser known places to visit in this great world. This list would keep me busy for most of 2019.
Fantastic list, Anita! I just loved browsing through all these suggestions. So much yet to see. The best thing – I got a few ideas for my next destinations: Thailand and France. Never heard about Nam, so might fit it into my itinerary. Lyon is on my list already, but reading about it here reminded me not to miss it.
Last but not least, thank you very much for including our Moroccan suggestion 🙂
Wow what an incredible wanderlust worthy list of destinations! Thanks for compiling this great read, my bucket list has now trebled in size and my wallet is trembling at the prospect of so many holidays to come!
This is such an impressive list! You absolutely did justice to each location with your spectacular photos. It was so delightful to scroll through this and soak in the new ideas! Huge fan of your blog, you are a great inspiration! Thank you 🙂
This article is fantastic! I trekked Everest last year and since I’m looking to visit an off the beaten track destination this year. So many beautiful destinations on this post, i’ve bookmarked it.
Wonderful compilation! Certainly inspired to visit some of these places! Adding to list 🙂
Amazing! Thanks for reading 🙂
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The 10 Best Off-the-Beaten-Path Destinations to Visit in 2022
Alene Laney is a freelance writer covering real estate, personal finance, and travel. She lives in the Southwest with her husband, four boys, and German Shepherd.
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During the pandemic, many travelers from the U.S. were looking for easy escapes, usually to Hawaii or Mexico. That left many places off-the-beaten path even more uncrowded and enjoyable to visit. The Galapagos. The Azores. Even places that traditionally attract more tourists, like Egypt, have had fewer crowds recently. If you want to travel somewhere without the usual throng of tourists, you may want to put one of these places on your list for 2022.
The Galapagos, Ecuador
With the limited number of visitors to the Galapagos, travelers have had a better opportunity to see the best part of the Galapagos: wild nature. While the Galapagos has always been careful about keeping their national park unspoiled, the slow down of tourists from the pandemic has made the experience even better. Fewer people means more active wildlife, resulting in better sightings for travelers who do make it to this remote part of the world.
While tourists flock to Sumatra’s more famous island neighbor, Bali, you’ll see fewer people–not to mention better prices–in nearby Sumatra. Sumatra has picturesque rice paddies, volcanoes, waterfalls and wildlife unlike anywhere else in the world. Carly Day, a local and founder of the travel blog Exploring Sumatra , touts the uncrowded nature of the large island, “Even the most beautiful and famous of locations are never crowded, and unique enough to make other travelers sit up and take notice with slight envy as they struggle to take a selfie in an overrated, crowded Bali temple.”
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The Azores, Portugal
The Azores, an archipelago of nine volcanic islands in the Atlantic, are known for their unspoiled beauty. There are black, volcanic cliffs surrounded by lush, green valleys lined by stunning clusters of thriving hydrangeas. Visitors can hike volcanic craters above clear lakes. The islands are also known as one of the best places for whale and dolphin watching.
The country of Jordan hosts one of the wonders of the world: the city of Petra. While this location is normally crawling with tourists and the path has been very well-trodden, the pandemic turned this incredible area into a ghost town. Visitors to the city carved into the red sandstone landscape currently experience it without the number of tourists that once frequented the place. Yet, the numbers of tourists are increasing as restrictions ease and travel returns to normal. You may want to visit before tourism to this incredible location returns in full force.
The Philippines are composed of more than 7,000 islands with unspoiled beauty and welcoming people. The rice terraces of Ifugao will make you feel like you’re in another place and time–and you won’t see many tourists around to crowd you out. The cities are bustling and the beaches are second to none.
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Looking for a unique experience away from it all? Try Armenia. “Armenia is a nation of ancient history and sprawling landscapes, away from the hustle and bustle of a more modern world,” says Tara Fitzgerald of OROKO Holidays . “Well-preserved medieval monasteries are scattered across the isolated scenery of Armenia’s countryside, closely followed by the dramatically beautiful landscapes of steep valleys, soaring mountains and alpine lakes.”
The small monastery of Khor Virap offers the best views of Mount Ararat across the Turkish border, Fitzgerald relates.
Malta has an incredible amount of history and beauty to enjoy. For architecture lovers, the old, ancient walled city of Mdina is a delight. The city is built on the highest point of the island and houses a large number of baroque and medieval palaces. It’s called “The Silent City” and only 250 residents are lucky enough to call this place home. The island nation also houses the oldest stone structures in the world and unique diving excursions.
Peter Grubb, founder and guide for ROW Adventures , visited Turkey in late 2021 and says busy places like the Topkapi Palace and Hagia Sofia in Istanbul are open, quiet and welcoming.
“Cappadocia was like a ghost town, but businesses are eager to see tourists, and getting on a hot air balloon ride or any activity is readily available,” he says. “Yachting tours along the southwest coasts are a dream as bays are not crowded with boats and trails through olive groves and Greco-Roman ruins are empty. The food remains delectable as ever and the old saying that ‘to call a Turk hospitable is redundant’ is true now more than ever.”
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Digital nomad Katelynn Sortino recommends Morocco as the COVID situation is now stable, but tourism has yet to return to pre-pandemic levels. She says, “Many tourist destinations are still pretty empty and those in the tourism sector are eager to greet guests to this beautiful country.”
“There’s a ton of history, distinct culture and art, plus loads of stunning outdoor activities. You can go to the Sahara desert for a camel ride or quad ride, take a hot air balloon ride over the Atlas Mountains, surf on the many beautiful beaches, or simply enjoy the ancient medinas.”
Wait in line for a tourist attraction? Not here. Even before the pandemic, travelers to Belize could take a picture of a Mayan ruin without a slew of tourists in the background. Belize also offers some of the best diving anywhere. With clear waters and the second largest barrier reef in the world, going underwater here is a must.
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The ultimate guide to travelling off the beaten path
In this article we will discover a different kind of travel, far from the classic tourist destinations and "best places to visit in..." Let's travel off the beaten path.
Joanna Joanna Roams Free - Ethical and Responsible Travel
Aug 16, 2023
When planning trips people usually turn to guidebooks and blogs. Those often suggest a certain route with stops at the same touristic hotspots. However, there is so much more to every country.
Whilst all travel can be a fulfilling and incredible experience no matter where you go and what you do, travelling off the beaten track can fill you with even more fulfilment and excitement.
It is a great way to step out of your comfort zone even more, become a more experienced traveller, immerse yourself in the local culture and learn about the country and its people. By omitting tourist hotspots, you also don’t contribute to over tourism and get to explore places without any crowds or entry fees.
A more fulfilling and satisfying travelling experience is possible with a little bit of experience and a dash of bravery!
How to travel off the beaten path
I have travelled to some off the beaten path locations and have done some things that you will not find in a guidebook. I would like to share my tips with you!
In this guide you will learn:
1. What is travel off the beaten path?
2. why travel off the beaten path.
3. How to find the locations?
4. Things to consider prior to your adventure.
Traveling off the beaten path is going to places that are undiscovered by mass tourism . It is finding ‘hidden gems’ and exploring them. It is going to places that are not in guidebooks or blogs.
It is an immersive way to travel, where you get to see how locals live when the tourists are not around and seeing the country through the eyes of the local. It is a conscious way to travel, where you are more mindful of your journey and come out with a richer awareness of the country.
It is travelling with a purpose – to grow and expand your horizons. It is traveling that every Worldpacker would enjoy!
When I travel, I always enjoy fully soaking in the places that I go to. I always want to fully immerse myself in the culture and the customs. Otherwise, I feel like I haven’t really gotten to know the country and I don’t feel satisfied.
Don’t get me wrong. Even if all you do is follow the touristic route and only stop at the hotspots, and do the ‘’top things to do’’ … That’s okay!
You can travel the way you want to and the way you feel comfortable! But getting off the touristic path is a great way to truly get to know the country that you’re exploring.
Travelling like this might not be for everyone . It is more challenging. More scary, sometimes even risky. Going to places where there are no signposts, no internet and no other travellers will be more challenging.
You will be forced to step out of your comfort zone, and this is rarely comfortable. But that is when the growth happens.
However, if you’re on Worldpackers , chances are that you would enjoy this kind of adventure. It’s normal to feel anxious about it, and for me it’s just a sign that I should do it! Perhaps this is something you’ve been wanting to do for a longer while but didn’t know how.
3. How to find those "off the beaten path" locations?
1. Volunteer with Worldpackers.
2. Follow local travellers.
3. Befriend locals.
4. Join Facebook groups for expats.
5. Choose your accommodation based on location.
Volunteering with Worldpackers
No doubt volunteering with Worldpackers is one of the best ways to travel off the beaten path. It is also one of the safest, so great if you’re just beginning.
Choose ‘ home stay ’ in ‘volunteering opportunities’ and use keywords such as ‘local’ or ‘community’ for opportunities where your host will be a local family.
This might place you in a town or a neighbourhood far away from tourist attractions and hostels, making it easier for you to connect with the locals living in town, like this amazing experience in Japan.
In addition to this, your host family might even be generous enough to show you around their area and take you to undiscovered spots. Simply tagging along with your host while they are doing their daily errands will show you a different side of the country.
- Become an English teacher in Tanzania and discover the little known town of Kigamboni.
- Help with the conservation of a natural paradise in the jungles of Northern Peru .
- Give a hand with daily tasks at a local homestay in beautiful Malaga, Spain .
Follow local travel content creators
You probably follow a lot of travellers on your Instagram already, but try to focus on finding travel Instagrammers that are from the country you want to travel in . They are more likely to know all the hidden gems.
You can find those Instagram accounts by searching for hashtags such as #visitpanama, #travelnicaragua or #lovecostarica. Use the ‘recent’ tab to find lots of profiles. Focus on finding a local and explore their page to find something that you have not seen before, it might as well be an undiscovered gem!
Pay attention to profiles suggested by Instagram, mentions and tags in that person’s profile.
There are also Instagram accounts that are run by tourism boards for example @peru.destinations. Those often reshare posts by other Instagrammers. Although most often those will be of the popular spots, it can still lead you to local travel Instagrammers or a spot that you have not known about before!
Apart from Instagram, Youtube is another great place to find some inspiration. Using keywords such as ‘off the beaten path’ or ‘hidden gems’ and spend some time watching few vlogs.
If possible, you can also read blogs in the local language, using translator if needed.
You can even send a message to your favourite accounts and ask them for recommendations!
Which brings me to my next tip…
Hanging out with the locals is my favourite way to find hidden gems! Your local friends might not only tell you about those places but perhaps even take you there and spend time with you. This way, you really are getting the local experience.
You can even simply ask any local what their favourite place in the area is. Ask your hostel receptionist, bartender, fruit vender or the next person that chats you up.
Personally, I love to use Couchsurfing and Worldpackers to connect with locals. Using those websites will connect you with people that will be very happy to host you, show you around and connect with you on a personal level ensuring cultural exchange on both sides.
Many locals enjoy having visitors around and would be happy to show you around and share their admiration for their country with you.
More so, if you’re travelling in non-touristy places the locals will appreciate your presence and the fact that you choose to visit their area and financially support their communities (which is another great reason to travel to less popular destinations!).
I know this might seem like a scary step, and sometimes the language barrier might make it seem impossible. You can use google translate to make it easier (and more fun!).
For more on this topic, you can read: 5 actionable ways to live like a local while traveling and Why you should travel like a local (even if it scares you) .
Join Facebook groups for expats
This will connect you with yet another variety of people that might have deep knowledge of the area.
Type in the name of the country that you are interested in followed by ‘expats’ and ask for suggestions of hidden gems. Since expats most likely love to travel too, they would have explored the area already, so the chances of them knowing some hidden gems are high.
Expats will most likely speak English too, and perhaps will be willing to join you on some adventures. This might be a great concept if you don’t yet feel ready to go off the beaten trail completely.
Use ‘map’ filter when booking your accommodation
You can use this tip on websites such as Airbnb, Booking or Hostelworld and even Worldpackers. Simply have your results displayed on a map and pay attention to the ones that are further away from the hotspots.
When looking for accommodations off the beaten track I find Airbnb to be my favourite. That’s because I find the experience more personal, and I often bond with the host as well and sometimes become a part of their family.
I used this tip in Peru and I’ve found myself in a little village 40 minutes moto taxi ride away from the main town. As I was exploring the area, I could see a family celebrate birthday of one of the kids. They sang, danced, and laughed and as they seen me walk past, they waved at me and invited me for a cake! I got to spend two hours playing with the kids and conversing with the family. It was a very authentic experience, that I wouldn’t find if I stayed in a backpacker’s hostel.
I have used all the tips above to find my off the beaten path spots so far. Generally, engaging with the locals is the best way. ‘Travel like a local’ is a slogan I think about when I think about traveling off the beaten path. Therefore, spark up the conversation with the bystander, sign up to Couchsurfing, or join your Worldpackers host on their next errand trip!
4. Things to consider prior to your off the beaten path adventure
Now that you know what travel off the beaten path is and how to do it , I want to share some of the things you should consider before you set off for your adventure:
1. It requires more research and planning.
2. Consider going with a guide.
3. Could be riskier.
4. Can get lonely.
5. Could make you into a hardcore traveller!
It requires more research and planning
Since your location will be off the tourist trail you probably won’t find any information about it in a guidebook. The information you will find on the internet might be very limited, not in English or not updated.
You should plan your journey thoroughly and consider things like:
1. There might not be direct transport to your destination . You might have to combine different types of transports to get there. This means the journey might take a longer. Make sure that you set off early so that you have a full day to get there, and you do not get stuck or lost somewhere in the middle of nowhere in the dark.
2. There might not be any ATMs , so make sure you have more than enough cash on you to pay for bus tickets, taxis or a bottle of water.
3. Signal might be non-existent or very weak . Make sure that you have your maps downloaded. Maps.me is always a great help if I have no internet connection, as it allows you to download the maps and use them offline.
I do my research by reading or watching whatever is available on the internet. I also ask a lot of people if they know something about that place and try and gather as much information as I can.
Always have a plan B and note accommodations on the way just in case things do not go to plan.
Guide might be needed
Since the attractions will likely not be signposted and they might be hard to find on maps, using a local as a guide is a good idea .
A local guide that knows the area well will lead you to your desired location. This way you will get there safe and without getting lost.
My favourite way of finding a guide are Facebook groups. Simply, find a group for travellers in your destination. There you will find locals offering their guiding services. Those guides usually work as freelancers. Contact a few and explain that you would like to see places that aren’t touristic and see what they can offer you.
A good guide will have a website or a social media account where you will be able to read some credentials. If not, I would advise against working with them and instead choose someone that has satisfactory reviews or has been recommend to you.
Could be more risky
Traveling to places that are not frequented by tourists can come with some risks.
It is important that you ask locals if they know this area and if they consider it safe. Ensure that you are aware what the dangerous parts of the country are and perhaps reconsider going there, unless you will be accompanied by a trusted guide and already have some experience traveling.
Be extra cautious in those areas and use your common sense to avoid going into areas that do not seem safe. Ensure that you let someone know where you are going, with who and for how long.
Could get lonely, especially if you are travelling solo
As most people prefer to follow the tourist trail, you might not see many other foreigners in off the beaten trail destinations. For some of you this might be great, but many travellers like to spend time with other tourists.
You won’t find any backpacker’s hostels in your destination. Depending on your style of traveling, this might not be something you will enjoy, so do take this into consideration.
With no other foreigners around, locals might not be accustomed to visitors in their towns, you might get more stares and feel out of place which might make you feel uncomfortable.
In situations like this, a warm smile and a "hello" in their language could go a long way. When you express genuine interest and are open, the locals will be much more inclined to make you feel welcome.
You might become a hardcore traveller!
Since you will be traveling to places that people haven’t seen or heard of before, you’re bound to receive some amazing reactions from your friends, family, or your followers!
Taking the road less travelled will make you a more experienced, confident, and fearless traveller . Those experiences will truly make you grow and only fuel your love and passion for travel.
Furthermore, travelling beyond the tourist path is extremely exciting and addictive! It might become your new favourite way to travel, and you might never want to go back to the traditional way of travelling.
Some experiences can even be life changing . Those experiences will give you something to talk about for years to come and create lifelong memories.
Hopefully this guide has not only explained how to travel off the beaten path but also inspired you to give it a try.
Keep reading: Top 15 beautiful and cheap countries to travel in the world and Best hidden gems in Europe .
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Joanna Roams Free - Ethical and Responsible Travel
Hey! My name is Joanna, and I have been travelling full time for over 3 years now. During my travels I like to explore the social, political and economic affairs of the countries I visit. I love to learn more about locals and their lives in their homes. I love to dive deep and get off the beaten path to see what the country is really like when the tourists are not looking. I value and always prioritise responsible and raw travel that leaves positive impact on the society and myself.
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May 10, 2023
Terraria is an adventure game similar to Minecraft in that you may dig, battle, explore, and construct! https://terrariagame.io
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These Are the Top Destinations for 2024, According to Amex Travel
Here are 10 must-visit locales.
As a record-breaking year for travel volume comes to a close, all eyes are on 2024. Where are travelers set to go in the new year? Those itching for a getaway in need of a dose of destination inspiration are in luck.
American Express released its annual list of trending destinations , featuring 10 must-visit locales based on Amex card member bookings and curated recommendations from the company’s 7,000 travel consultants. This year, travelers are thinking bigger and bolder, embracing more off-the-beaten-path spots and ever-more-immersive experiences.
“People have become incredibly purposeful about the trips they take. Travelers are building vacations around their passions, knowing what they want to get out of a trip,” Audrey Hendley, president of American Express Travel, told Travel + Leisure . “These passions are drawing people to new itineraries and bringing them to new destinations, beyond the traditional hot spots.”
The trending locations, driven by Gen Z and Millennials, highlight a desire to go beyond conventional vacation cities. An early 2023 Amex-commissioned report found that 89 percent of respondents want to travel to destinations they’ve never visited before; 68 percent of respondents say they pride themselves on finding places to go to before they become popular.
Jeffrey Greenberg/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
Therefore, it’s no surprise that Amex’s list spotlights alternatives to popular destinations around the world. “We are still seeing demand for the tried and true destinations like Rome and Las Vegas, but these off-the-beaten-path places also have so much to offer, and younger travelers are gravitating towards new experiences,” Hendley notes.
For instance, Hendley and her team say that instead of flocking to Mexico’s Riviera Maya for its scenery and vibrant culture, head over to the equally picturesque (and perhaps more food-oriented) inland experience of San Miguel de Allende . On the other side of the world, the expansive biodiversity of the Seychelles is offered as an alternative to the iconic beaches of The Maldives. (Luxury properties in either of the locales, such as Rosewood San Miguel de Allende and Four Seasons Resort Seychelles at Desroches Island , are part of Amex’s Fine Hotels + Resorts program, providing perks like room upgrades, complimentary breakfast, and late checkout.)
The full list of 2024 trending destinations are:
- Adelaide Hills, Australia as an alternative to Blue Hills National Park, Australia.
- Bodrum, Turkey as an alternative to Istanbul, Turkey.
- Cervo, Italy as an alternative to Amalfi, Italy.
- St. Kitts & Nevis as an alternative to the Virgin Islands.
- Niseko, Japan as an alternative to Sapporo, Japan.
- San Miguel De Allende, Mexico as an alternative to Riviera Maya, Mexico.
- Santa Fe, New Mexico as an alternative to Sedona, Arizona.
- The Seychelles as an alternative to The Maldives.
- Udaipur, India as an alternative to Agra, India.
- Zermatt, Switzerland as an alternative to St. Moritz, Switzerland.
As for where Hendley wants to go herself? “I would love to go to Udaipur, India [and] dedicate a couple of weeks to properly explore and get a feel for the local culture,” she says.
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Travel + Beauty
33 Off The Beaten Path Travel Destinations To Visit Before You Die
Ever felt the urge to explore places that are a little out of the ordinary? I was curious about some less-known, off the beaten path travel destinations, so I decided to reach out to a group of avid travel bloggers to uncover their secret favorites. They shared a treasure trove of hidden spots from around the globe, leading to the creation of this detailed guide.
These uncovered gems are sure to ignite your adventurous spirit, offering breathtaking sights and experiences far from the typical tourist hustle and bustle. Each destination is a doorway to a world of natural beauty and cultural richness waiting to be discovered. So, if you’re ready to step into a world of unique and mesmerizing off the beaten path travel destinations, let’s get started!
This article may contain affiliate / compensated links. For full information, please see our disclosure here.
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33 Off The Beaten Path Travel Places To Visit
Nanortalik isn’t just a destination; it’s an intimate encounter with a world that echoes the harmonious symphony of nature and culture, offering a genuine off the beaten path travel allure.
The ideal time to immerse yourself in the raw, untapped beauty of Nanortalik is during the late summer months of August and September. It’s a brief yet magical season when the landscapes are graced with gentle snow, and the sun graces every corner of this mesmerizing land. This period provides a climate that’s not just mild but refreshing, perfect for unveiling the outdoor spectacles that await every intrepid traveler.
Nanortalik is a playground for nature lovers. There are many things to do in Nanortalik from exploring its rugged landscapes, pristine waters, and majestic icebergs and invites exploration. Here, you step into an arena where every sight, sound, and touch is a testament to Earth’s unyielding beauty.
The local open-air museum is not just buildings but sanctuaries where the ancient songs, tales, and artifacts reside, offering a glimpse into a world where every item, sound, and color is a chapter of a rich, untold story. Be sure to also book a tour to see the icebergs as they will leave you speechless.
Embarking on a journey to Nanortalik is more than a mere travel plan; it’s an odyssey into an off the beaten path travel experience, where every route carved and trail blazed is a testament to the spirit of adventure. Although direct flights are a stranger to this secluded haven, the thrill and the spellbinding vistas are worth the journey. Your passage begins with a flight into Narsarsuaq Airport, where the unfolding scenic beauty serves as a prelude to the visual and soulful feast awaiting Nanortalik.
Related post: Things To Do In Nanortalik, Greenland
Meteora is a unique and stunning historical site located in central Greece. Meteora consists of six monasteries perched on pillar rocks overlooking the surrounding valley. Today, you can explore all six of these monasteries.
Meteora is located only a few hours’ drive north of Athens and is truly a hidden gem to travel off the beaten track. Many people who visit Greece head straight from Athens to islands such as Mykonos and Santorini and completely miss out on this off-the-beaten-path destination in Greece.
One of the reasons Meteora is so incredible is due to its historical significance. In the 14th century, monks began to travel to Meteora to seek a life of peace and solitude. These monks then began to build beautiful monasteries by climbing to the top of the cliffs. It is truly a wonder how these impressive structures were built without the use of modern technology. Today, Meteora is officially recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site due to its historical significance.
Another reason to visit this hidden gem is for its captivating beauty. Exploring the monasteries will give you panoramic views of Meteora . Sunset is an especially great time to visit Meteora to enjoy the scenic views. It is an ideal place to visit for photographers and nature enthusiasts.
To get to Meteora, it is best to fly into the Athens airport and rent a car. Alternatively, you can take the train from the Larissa Station in Athens to the town of Kalabaka.
When visiting Meteora, you will want to stay in the quiet village of Kastraki or the more lively town of Kalabaka. Kastraki sits at the bottom of Meteora with views of the monasteries and is perfect for a peaceful stay. Kalabaka is also a great choice with many restaurants and cafes and is less than a 10-minute drive to the monasteries.
Meteora can be visited year-round, but the best time to visit is in spring or fall. During these seasons the weather is mild and pleasant, making it the perfect time to explore Meteora.
Explored by Amber from Get Lost In Wanderlust
Related post: Quotes About Greece
The Irish city of Kilkenny is a fabulous travel destination that is below the radar for most vacationers. While there is an airport in Kilkenny, your best bet is to fly into the Dublin airport and then drive to Kilkenny. It’s less than an hour and a half drive, and the Irish countryside is gorgeous!
The top attractions in Kilkenny revolve around its historic center. After all, Kilkenny is known as Ireland’s Medieval Mile! Start off visiting Kilkenny Castle, the centerpiece of the city, located on the banks of the River Nore. Take a stroll around the extensive grounds or just relax and take in the castle views. Spend a few euros to tour the inside of the castle – you won’t want to miss the picture gallery, one of the castle’s highlights!
St. Canice’s Cathedral is not to be missed when you visit Kilkenny. The cathedral dates from the 13 th century and features stunning stained-glass windows. If you’re feeling energetic – and don’t have a fear of heights – climb the Round Tower. You reach the top of the tower via a series of ladders, and you’ll be rewarded with views of Kilkenny and the surrounding countryside.
Tuck into some traditional Irish fare such as beef and Guinness stew or fish and chips at one of the town’s cozy pubs. Enjoy a pint of Smithwick’s Red Ale – a local favorite, as the Smithwick’s brewery is located here in Kilkenny. You can even learn about the history of the brewery (and enjoy some samples) at the Smithwick’s Experience.
The best time to visit this off the beaten path destination is from May through August, when the weather is warmer, and the chance of rain is lower. Summer also brings fun festivals to make your visit even more special. Note that not all hotels in Ireland have air conditioning, so keep this in mind if you’re planning to visit in July and August.
Explored by Lisa from Waves and Cobblestones
Located on the beautiful coast of the Black Sea, Batumi is an underrated city waiting to be explored by travelers seeking an authentic, off-the-beaten-path experience. The city offers a unique vibe that can be found anywhere else in Georgia and reminds a bit of Singapore, with its combination of traditional and futuristic architecture.
To reach Batumi as a traveler, you have several options. The most convenient way is to fly to Batumi International Airport. Alternatively, you can fly into Tbilisi International Airport, Georgia’s capital, and then take a domestic flight or drive to Batumi, enjoying scenic landscapes along the way. There are also trains and buses connecting Tbilisi and Batumi if you prefer a more budget-friendly transport option but it will take much longer.
The best time to visit Batumi is during the summer months, from June to August when the weather is warm and ideal for beach activities. However, if you prefer a more relaxed and less crowded experience, consider visiting in the shoulder seasons of spring (April to May) or autumn (September to October). These months offer pleasant weather, lower accommodation prices, and a chance to explore the city without the summer crowds.
There are many things to do in Batumi and also some great day trips to be had in the surrounding countryside. The Adjara region is stunning and boasts magnificent mountains, including the Lesser Caucasus range, and beautiful rivers and waterfalls. Great day trips to do from Batumi are to Mtirala National Park, The Kintrishi Nature Reserve, and the Machakhela National Park.
As for Batumi itself, great things to do are stroll along Batumi Boulevard, visit the Batumi Botanical Garden , laze on the beach, and explore the wonderful café scene and local Adjaran restaurants. One of the most famous statues in the city is the one from Ali and Nino. According to local legend, they are the Caucasus version of Romeo and Juliet.
Lastly, one thing to do in Batumi that is unique to the city is to have a glass of Kvasi. Kvasi is a fermented drink that is sold on tap at almost every street corner in Batumi in large yellow tanks. You can’t look past them!
Explored by Annelies from Travelers & Dreamers
Many head to popular cities in Ontario, Canada like Toronto and Ottawa. But there’s a hidden gem in Northern Ontario that’s an awesome underrated travel destination.
That destination is Sudbury! It’s one of the off the beaten path places to visit in Canada. This old mining city that was once a wasteland, is now a thriving city and offers something to entice every traveler.
Outdoor adventurers will love visiting the long list of parks and green spaces. One of the top places to go is Kivi Park. This sprawling park is home to hiking and cycling trails, as well as a lake to paddle. There are plenty of fun things to do with the family too, like disc golf and a massive playground.
Along with outdoor activities, the city is home to a number of family-friendly attractions. Two of the top places to visit in Sudbury are Science North and Dynamic Earth. These two museums are full of fun interactive exhibits that will excite both kids and adults. Plus, at Dynamic Earth you’ll head underground for a tour of what it would be like to visit a working mine!
Sudbury is also home to a colorful downtown full of murals. There’s even an annual mural festival every summer that brings artists to create more alongside other fun events and live music. In addition, you’ll find plenty of fun shops and cafes downtown to browse.
And speaking of cafes, foodies will love the diverse range of restaurants serving a wide assortment of cuisines. Thanks to its multicultural population, across the city you’ll find everything from Greek to Indian.
If you’re looking for the best time to visit Sudbury, it all depends on what you want to do. The best time of year to take advantage of comfortable temperatures, festivals, and the lush outdoors in the summer .
The nearest airport is the Greater Sudbury Airport. However, the best place to fly for international visitors is Toronto’s Pearson Airport. From there you can rent a car and enjoy the scenic drive north to Sudbury.
Explored by Stephanie from The World As I See It
Islas Marias, Mexico
If you like off-the-beaten path destinations, consider heading to the state of Nayarit, along the Pacific coastline of Mexico. Here, you’ll have the opportunity to do something quite unique—take a four hour boat ride to Islas Marias , an archipelago which, until recently, served as a Mexican federal prison for over a century.
Since 1905, the prisoners at Islas Marias ranged from individuals convicted of incredibly minor crimes to some of the most dangerous criminals in Mexico. The islands made an excellent location for a prison, due to their location sixty miles off the Pacific coastline. Given its unique geographical features, prisoners were generally allowed to walk freely around the island—and even bring their families along. Despite these pleasant aspects, though, many of the prisoners led a grim existence on the island, including being forced into very physically demanding jobs and limited food and water. The prison was eventually shut down in 2019, due to mismanagement and corruption.
The islands’ remoteness also led to it being the home of several species of animals, found nowhere else on the planet, including the Tres Marias hummingbird and the Tres Marias cottontail rabbit. Given its unique biodiversity and largely unspoiled nature, the islands were named a UNESCO Biosphere in 2010.
Now, tourists are welcome to visit the island by ferry, operated by the Mexican Navy, which alternates departures, on a weekly basis, between the sleepy beach town of San Blas or the glitzy resort town of Mazatlán. Once on the island, visitors will follow a set three-day, two-night schedule with guides (all of whom are Naval officers!), which includes activities ranging from touring the island’s now derelict maximum security prison and hiking to the foot of a large Christ the Redeemer statue, built by the prisoners, on one of the island’s tallest hills to snorkeling on a pristine beach and bird-watching for the island’s unique species. The combination of grim history and fascinating plant- and wildlife truly makes Islas Marias one of Mexico’s most unique destinations.
For example, during your time here, you’ll actually stay in cabins that were once used by prisoners. Don’t worry, though—they’ve been nicely refurbished to include big comfy beds and powerful air conditioning!
To get to San Blas, you’ll want to fly into Tepic International Airport, located one hour east of the city. Mazatlán has its very own international airport, General Rafael Buelna International Airport, from which it’s less than a half-hour drive to the ferry terminal.
Explored by Jess from Uprooted Traveler
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If you’re seeking an off the beaten path destination, Hoonah in Alaska fits the bill. With fewer than 900 Tlingit residents, you will find few conveniences from home.
Most visitors arrive by cruise ship to Icy Strait Point, and the 1.5-mile walk to Hoonah takes 30 minutes. Alternatively, you can fly into Juneau International Airport and take a seaplane or ferry to Hoonah.
Located on Chichagof Island, those who visit come for outdoor adventures. Chichagof Island is home to Coastal Brown Bears, a cross between a grizzly and a polar bear. With the densest population of brown bears per square mile worldwide, the bears outnumber the people.
If you want to see them, it’s best to take an organized tour with the locals. The salmon run begins in July, drawing the bears to the rivers. It’s a frenzy feeding as the bears feast to gain weight for their winter hibernation.
May to September provide the best months for visitation. It’s also whale-watching season. Humpback whales arrive in Alaska in May for feed in their marine-rich waters. In September, they migrate back to Hawaii and Mexico to mate and give birth.
If you want to take a whale-watching tour, there are a few operators to choose from, including Alaska Whales & Drones. They use a drone to capture aerial footage of the whales, and you’ll receive a copy of the video and photos with your tour. During your tour, you’ll see harbor seals, sea lions, bald eagles, and, if you’re lucky, Orcas too.
Walking through Hoonah allows you to see some hand-carved totem poles. Traditionally, totem poles are left natural but you may find a painted one too. During the summer, Tlingit carvers demonstrate the art of carving. It can take over six months to carve the animal spirits and mythical creatures into a cedar pole.
For the best views on the island, take the gondola to the top of Hoonah Mountain. Your ticket lasts all day, and the ride up and down offers stunning views.
Explored by Karen from Forever Karen
High Springs, Florida
If you’re searching for one of the most unique off the beaten path travel destinations then you can’t beat High Springs, Florida. After all, most tourists flock to the beach or head to the major amusement parks of Orlando.
But, if you take the time to visit High Springs, Florida then you can explore fun places like Poe Springs Park. It’s an idyllic place along the Santa Fe River that is home to scenic walking trails as well as Poe Springs. Kids and adults will love swimming here since the water is clear, cool, and refreshing on a hot summer day. Now, while there are many shallow areas for kids to use, adults can swim in deeper waters that get up to 25 feet deep.
Afterward, go scuba diving at nearby Ginnie Springs . It’s another natural spring with crystal clear water and is known for being home to some of the best freshwater dive sites in the world. So, certified divers can rent gear and explore the labyrinth of underwater caverns that the area is known for. Otherwise, you can snorkel, tube, and swim along the top since the temperature of the water is around 72 F all year long.
Next, head to the High Springs Museum and learn all about how the Plant System Rail Yard and Roundhouse shaped this tiny town before going for a picturesque hike through O’Leno State Park. As you hike along the Santa Fe River, keep an eye out for incredible swamps, sandhills, sinkholes, trees, and sinkholes. Or, if you want to head out on the water, you could rent a canoe or kayak.
Finally, head back to downtown High Springs and enjoy the many breweries, restaurants, and stores that fill the area. You can also partake in a fun game of mini-golf at Pink Flamingo Mini Golf Course before you grab an ice cream cone and end the day.
Explored by Victoria from Florida Trippers
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Greenland remains fairly one of the off the beaten path countries to visit for most. However, if you want to venture to one of the least densely populated regions in the world, and don’t mind the cold, head for Ilulissat.
Located in the west of Greenland, and a few hundred kilometers inside the Arctic Circle, Ilulissat is Greenland’s third largest city. However, to many, it will feel more like a small town, as less than 5,000 people live there.
The big draw to Ilulissat is the Icejord that it is located next to and the huge icebergs that emerge from the fjord. Ilulissat Icefjord is a UNESCO World Heritage Site – and a breathtaking spectacle.
The source of the icebergs is the Sermeq Kujalleq glacier, which is one of the fastest and most productive glaciers in the world, calving around 40m per day and releasing 35 billion tons of ice every year. The gigantic icebergs float along the Icefjord, pause for a while at the shallow entrance, and then float off into the calm waters of Disko Bay.
Most of the things to do in Ilulissat revolve around the ice in some way. There are lots of tours in Ilulissat , including Iceford sailing, kayaking, and stand-up paddle-boarding among the magnificent icebergs. You can also take boats up close to epic glacier snouts and go whale-watching in the hope of seeing humpback whales flip their mighty tails.
There are several hiking routes, all with stunning viewpoints over the icebergs. In the city itself, there are three museums, a local craft workshop, sled dog experiences, and a quaint wooden church.
The best time to experience dog-sledding, and snowmobiling on the icecap, and the Northern Lights in winter, while the best time to see the icebergs, the winter sun, and whales in summer.
The Ilulissat airport is just a few minutes’ drive from the city center and connects to Reykjavik, Iceland ; via Kangerlussuaq, Greenland, and Copenhagen, Denmark.
Explored by Martha from May Cause Wanderlust
Interested in going off the beaten path in Greenland? Consider these things to do in Nanortalik.
Devils Tower, Wyoming
If you have ever seen Steven Spielberg’s movie “Close Encounters of the Third Kind”, then you probably know what the Devils Tower is. Whether you have seen the movie or not, it’s one of the off the beaten path adventures and geological wonders that you need to add to your bucket list.
Located in northeastern Wyoming, the Devils Tower, standing 867 feet (264 meters) tall, was declared the first national monument in the United States by Theodore Roosevelt in 1906. Many Plains Indian tribes consider the tower sacred and have their own cultural stories associated with how they believe the tower was formed.
Geologists are not exactly sure how it was formed, but it is considered a rare igneous rock that is believed to have been formed when molten rock cooled and was exposed to erosion, which led to the columns seen today.
Whether you come out for a weekend or are on a road trip through Wyoming, you must plan a stop at Devils Tower.. The closest airport to Devils Tower is Gillette, Wyoming, and you will have to rent a car to get to the Tower. It is a 66-mile (106 km) drive to the Devils Tower and there are hotels to stay in nearby towns, and places to camp just outside the park, but if you are up for a fun adventure, plan to stay in a T ipi where you have a view of the Devils Tower and a unique and fun experience.
There are many things to do at Devils Tower including one of the few hiking trails in the area, especially the 1.3 mile Tower Trail around the base of the Tower, which is a must. Explore the visitors center, have lunch, and relish in the wonders of the area. You can take a drive to Prairie Dog Town, and the Circle of Sacred Smoke Sculpture after you are done exploring on foot. If you are adventurous, you can even climb the Devils Tower! There are opportunities for beginners to try it, with a guide to assist. If you plan to stay overnight in the area, then if the sky is clear, you will have some of the most amazing stargazing above you.
Devils Tower is definitely an underrated and unknown destination for many people and should be added to your list of things to see.
Explored by Melanie from The World Travel Girl
You would have heard of the glitzy buildings of Dubai and Abu Dhabi, but travel off the beaten track and visit Muscat in Oman. It still maintains an old-world charm with very few high rises. It is the city to indulge in cultural immersion on your trip to Oman.
Airport to fly into: You can fly into Muscat International Airport to arrive at the city. If you are doing a road trip across Oman , you can rent a car at the airport itself. Else, you don’t need a car rental just for a short trip to Muscat.
Best time to visit: October to March would be the best time to visit Muscat with warm to pleasant days and cool nights.
The topmost cultural attraction in Muscat is the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque. It is an imposing structure in the heart of the city. Tourists can visit the mosque every day, except Friday, from 8:30 until 11:00 a.m. So Make sure you get to this site in the morning itself. Both men and women need to cover their heads, shoulders, arms, and legs before entering the mosque.
Another cultural attraction in Muscat is to visit the Royal Opera House. You can see this beautiful building at night with its lights on. Or if you are interested in the program, check the schedule for a show while you are visiting.
One interesting thing to do in the capital city is to go for an evening walk at the Muttrah corniche and gaze at the ocean. The Muttrah soup (traditional market) is close by and is one of the best places to shop for spices, artifacts, jewelry, and other souvenirs.
Explored by Shweta from f Zest In A Tote
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So, you’re looking for one of the off the beaten path travel destinations that offers a unique blend of natural beauty, history, and a burgeoning food and wine scene? Look no further than Launceston in Tasmania. Nestled in the northern part of this Australian island state, about 200 km from the capital Hobart, Launceston is a city that’s easy to fall in love with but often overlooked.
Getting there is a breeze. Just book a flight to Launceston Airport (LST), which is well-serviced by major airlines like Qantas and Virgin Australia. Once you land, you’re only a quick 15-minute drive from the heart of the city.
For those who love architecture and history, the city’s historic downtown is a treasure trove of well-preserved colonial buildings. It’s also where you should consider staying. There are cozy boutique hotels in Launceston that offer a perfect blend of historic charm and modern amenities.
Timing is everything, and the best time to visit Launceston is during the Australian summer months of December to February. The weather is warm but not scorching with a high of 25 degrees Celsius, perfect for outdoor activities and wine tasting.
Launceston’s main draw is the wineries of neighboring Tamar Valley. Just a short drive from the city, the valley is home to some of Australia’s finest cool-climate wines. Visiting during the Autumn months of March-May and in particular April will provide ample opportunity to see the grapes being harvested.
But Launceston is not just for wine lovers. The Cataract Gorge is another must-visit. It’s a stunning geological formation right on the edge of the city. You can take a chairlift over the gorge or hike the scenic trails that range from easy to moderately challenging. For a more leisurely experience, you can board a boat for a tour of the Cataract Gorge from the water.
Explored by Haley from Haley Blackall Travel
Peru ranks high on the bucket list of many travelers, largely thanks to the charm of Machu Picchu. However, Peru has so many more experiences to offer beyond the iconic ruins. Consider venturing to one of the off the beaten path destinations and discover a hidden gem, like Huaraz.
Huaraz is a small city in the Andes mountains, surrounded by the natural beauty of the Huascaran National Park. The area is known for its stunning landscapes, snow-capped mountains, and turquoise lakes. It’s the perfect place to spend some time surrounded by nature, especially if you like hiking or trekking. Huaraz is actually known as the “hiking capital of Peru”. There are lots of hikes in Huaraz for all levels of difficulty. From very easy hikes where you just walk 30 minutes to a viewpoint to admire a stunning lake, to treks that last for several days and require special equipment. Some are easy to do on your own and some require a tour agency to arrange the trip.
One of the most well-known hikes is the one to Lake 69, where you walk for a couple of hours to get to one of the most beautiful lakes in Peru. If you are into multi-day trekking, you can otherwise opt for the Huayhuash trek, which is said to be one of the top 10 most beautiful treks in the world.
Other things to do in Huaraz are visiting the nearby towns, like Caraz or Carhuaz, to spend some time in nature and explore the surroundings.
If you are into mountain climbing, there are also some challenging peaks that you can climb, like the Huascaran, which is the highest peak in Peru.
To get to Huaraz from Lima, the capital of Peru, you have to take a bus. The ride is 8-hours long. The best is to take an overnight bus which will leave you there in the early morning.
Explored by Sharon from I Travel Peru
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Santa Ana, El Salvador
Santa Ana, El Salvador is an off the beaten path destination that is a wonderful blend of rich history, vibrant culture, and stunning natural beauty. Nestled in the coffee-growing region of El Salvador, Santa Ana is not a common city you would find on a traveler’s bucket list.
El Salvador has been notorious for gang violence in the past, however, in recent years the government has called for mass arrests throughout the country reducing the crime rate significantly. Now, El Salvador has reached its lowest crime rate in the past 30 years and has become a safer destination for its rising tourism industry.
Located in the tropics, El Salvador has a rainy season and a dry season. The best time to visit El Salvador is during the peak dry season, from December to March. This is when the weather is warm and there is less chance of downpours. However, this does mean higher crowds and higher prices. For lower prices, lower crowds, and still pleasant weather, consider traveling to El Salvador in the shoulder season in November and April.
El Salvador has only one international airport located right outside the country’s capital city San Salvador. The airport is centrally located in the country, making it very convenient to catch shuttles or buses to other cities.
Santa Ana has a variety of experiences for any kind of traveler. For those seeking adventure, a hike to the Santa Ana volcano is a must. The Santa Ana volcano is one of the highest volcanoes in El Salvador and holds a beautiful turquoise crater lake at its summit.
For another thrilling adventure, consider taking a motorbike trip on the Ruta de las Flores. The route takes you through several picturesque towns in El Salvador’s coffee region. Be sure to stop at Juayua for the food festival every weekend!
Also check out Salto de Malacatiupan, a hot spring waterfall. The water is heated from the underground thermal activity creating this beautiful phenomenon. Furthermore, a hike on the Las Siete Cascadas trail will lead you through a series of gorgeous waterfalls that you’ll be able to swim in.
For all the foodies out there, try pupusas, El Salvador’s national dish! Santa Ana is home to several pupuserias, my favorite being Pupuseria La Rumba.
Santa Ana and El Salvador have much more to offer. Check out this 1 week itinerary in El Salvador to gain some travel inspiration.
Explored by Shreya from Where Is Shreya
Central Su lawesi is one of the off the beaten path travel destinations in Indonesia, offering many fun and unique cities that often fly under the radar of mainstream tourism. When planning your visit, consider flying into Palu Mutiara Sis Al-Jufri Airport (PLW), the primary gateway to the region. From there, embark on an adventure to discover the unexplored wonders of Central Sulawesi.
The best time to visit this underrated destination is during the dry season, from May to October when the weather is most pleasant for outdoor activities. One of the must-visit cities is Palu, a coastal paradise boasting pristine beaches like Talise and Tanjung Karang. Dive into the crystal-clear waters to explore vibrant coral reefs teeming with marine life or relax on the sandy shores.
For a cultural experience, head to the charming city of Poso, known for its serene lakes, lush forests, and intriguing traditional Megalithic culture. Visit Lake Poso, the third-largest lake in Indonesia, and marvel at its surreal beauty.
Tentena, another hidden gem, is a tranquil lakeside town that offers breathtaking views of Lake Poso. Explore Saluopa Waterfall, relax in the natural hot springs, or dip in the calm waters of Danau Lindu.
In addition, take advantage of the stunning Togean Islands, reachable by boat from Ampana. These remote islands offer a paradise for snorkelers and divers, with vibrant coral gardens and diverse marine life.
Central Sulawesi is also a melting pot of diverse indigenous cultures, with unique traditions, music, and dance performances not to be missed.
In conclusion, Central Sulawesi is a captivating destination that deserves a spot on your travel bucket list. Its rich culture, natural beauty, and off-the-beaten-path charm promise an unforgettable adventure for those seeking something unique.
Explored by Victoria from Guide Your Travel
If you’re interested in traveling to an off the beaten path destination within France, consider making your way to the coastal city of Biarritz. Located on France’s west coast, this charming town is known for its laid-back atmosphere and beautiful beaches. Not to mention, there are plenty of fun activities and places to visit whether you’re just passing through or staying in town for a few days. For instance, one place that everyone should visit is the Phare de Biarritz. The lighthouse was built in the 19th century and is a popular spot for locals and tourists alike to take in some stunning views of the ocean. You’ll find lots of benches and a big grassy area if you want to people-watch or have a lovely picnic.
Another must-do while in town is to spend time at Biarritz’s beautiful beaches, such as La Grande Plage or Côte des Basques Beach. Both offer long stretches of sand and bright blue waters that are perfect for swimming, boogie boarding, or just soaking up some sun! Or, if you’re feeling adventurous and want to partake in one of the most popular local pastimes, consider renting a surfboard! In terms of the best time to visit, the weather is at its best during the summer months. This is when the average high temperature is mid-70s°F and there are the fewest rainy days per month. And with the town being lesser-known, there is not an unbearable amount of tourists everywhere, even during the peak travel season. So, if you’re ready to plan your next getaway to Biarritz, you can fly into a major international airport like Charles de Gaulle in Paris . Then, you can take a regional train to Biarritz. Alternatively, if you’re already in the vicinity, you may be able to fly directly to the regional airport in Biarritz.
Explored by Kristin from Global Travel Escapades
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Akureyri in Iceland is an important port and a fishing center of the country. But this remote city at the base of a scenic fjord is also an underrated destination to visit in Iceland. Akureyri is the capital of Northern Iceland and a gateway to the region’s attractions.
You can reach this of the beaten path travel destination, Akureyri in a few ways. The city has a small international airport but most of its flights are to and from Reykjavik. As an overseas tourist, you will likely fly to Reykjavik-Keflavik Airport when visiting Akureyri. Get ready for a 5-hour drive to the city on the Ring Road. You could also reach Akureyri on a cruise ship from the US, Europe, and even Chile.
Summer is the best time to visit Akureyri since the temperatures are warmer than the rest of the year. There are plenty of outdoor activities: from visiting Botanical Gardens and swimming in geothermal pools to exploring local architectural landmarks and playing golf. But one activity stands out among the rest – whale watching in Akureyri is unrivaled.
It is really a must when visiting the city during the warmer months. While whale watching gets pricey, these tours are more affordable in Akureyri than in Reykjavik and abroad. Book yours in advance to secure a spot. You can customize your experience by choosing between a large whale-watching ship and a small motor boat.
The tours start in Akureyri Harbor and throughout the day. They take about 45 minutes to reach the whale-watching spot at the fjord’s mouth. Look out for humpback whales and dolphins. You might even see a whale jumping from the ocean if you are lucky!
Back in the city, you can enjoy local art at the Art Museum or explore the old town. Pick a gastro pub or a restaurant serving local food when you get hungry. This is a perfect way to experience Icelandic cuisine. Or grab a hot dog at Pylsuvagninn á Akureyri if you are traveling on a budget.
Explored by Anastasia from Travel Realist
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Maun is a large town with a small-town feel. Located on the Thamalakane River in northern Botswana, Maun an off the beaten path travel destination deserving of your visit.
However, Maun itself is an amazing destination to visit. I’ve had the pleasure of spending several weeks here, I came to know it as a fun, off-the-beaten-path town that doesn’t get the recognition it deserves.
It’s generally known strictly as the starting point for safaris in the spectacular Okavango Delta, and there are actually a few good reasons for this. Firstly, it sits at the edge of the Delta.
It’s the perfect spot for those heading off on multi-day safaris to stock up on supplies. Maun has a good selection of necessities and equipment, and several filling stations for fueling up.
Plus, Maun has its own international airport (MUB). It’s common for safari-goers to fly in, meet with their guide and group, stock up on water and essentials, and head out. The majority spend one night at most in Maun.
Unfortunately, they’re missing the opportunity to get to know Botswana through this irresistible urban center.
What started as a bush outpost has grown into a sizable town with a lot to see. It’s an interesting mix of modern buildings, traditional African homes, and middle-of-the-road, concrete houses without amenities like plumbing and electricity.
You can start exploring Maun with a visit to Nhabe Museum for a glimpse of the history and culture of the area. Then stop at the Okavango Craft Brewery to sample the local beer, made with local ingredients, supporting local farmers.
Back on Airport Road, you can book a helicopter flight over the Okavango Delta. This flight alone is reason enough to spend some time in Maun.
Maun is also the perfect base for day trips in the area. See the Moremi Game Reserve from the back of a safari vehicle, or glide through the Delta in a traditional mokoro canoe. You can even rent a car and drive to Nxai Pan to see the meerkats.
Maun is a fascinating town with enough to keep you busy for as long as you can stay, and it can’t be easier to get to. Just book a flight from wherever you are to Maun International Airport. Aim for May through October, when the weather is at its best!
Explored by Deb from Introvert With Itchy Feet
Shirakawago is a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site located in the Hokuriku region of Japan. This remote town is truly one of the best off the beaten path destinations, even many local Japanese have not visited yet.
Traditionally, it is a small mountainous farmland tucked in the Japanese Alps. When all crops are harvested, you would imagine farmers would take a long winter vacation. However, the residents of this idyllic remote town get busy in winter to welcome the influx of tourists.
The main draw is its Shirakawago Winter Light-up Festival . The annual winter festival celebrates the UNESCO town’s stunning winter landscape.
Shirakawago village boasts well-preserved Japanese farmhouses from 300 years ago called Gassho-zukuri. The Gassho houses are designed with a thatched roof to prevent the roof from collapsing, even when covered with two meters of snow. Aesthetically, snow-covered farmhouses make Shirakawago look like a fairytale town.
During the festival, all houses are illuminated from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. When the sun sets, the entire village goes pitch black. As the light turns up, Shirakawago becomes a magical winter wonderland!
The observation deck is the best spot to see this magical moment. Due to the limited space, only ticket holders are allowed in the viewpoint deck.
As Shirakawago is a remote mountain village, its infrastructure only allows a limited number of visitors to participate in this festival. Therefore, plan well in advance by purchasing the tickets and booking transportation and accommodations.
From Tokyo, you can take a bullet train (shinkansen) to Kanazawa. Then, take a bus to Shirakawago.
Another essential thing to remember is to pack appropriate winter gear. The temperature can drop far below zero in this Japanese snow country.
Explored by Chloe from Chloe’s Travelogue
San Luis Obispo, California
San Luis Obispo in Central California is one of the off the beaten path travel destinations for outdoor lovers with great weather year-round. The city’s acronym SLO is apt for the relaxing, unhurried pace that it exudes. It’s no wonder that San Luis Obispo was dubbed America’s Happiest City on Oprah in 2011.
Nature is the first, but certainly not the only draw, in this underrated gem in the Golden State. The stunning landscape coupled with historic architecture, boutique shopping, delectable food, and drinks makes for an all-around wholesome vacation. Getting there is easy as the city’s San Luis Obispo County Regional Airport has direct flights from several hubs not only in California but throughout the US.
The historic Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa in the heart of downtown is the perfect way to start exploring San Luis Obispo’s small but mighty town center. There is a daily afternoon docent-led tour where you can learn how the Mission was built in stages over several years since 1772.
Bubblegum Alley is a quirky attraction nearby with chewed-up gum remains affixed by an estimated two million people. Be sure to check out the vast array of shops especially local boutiques like Ambiance and Fair Trade store HumanKind.
Weekend festivities begin a little early in SLO with the Thursday Farmers’ Market downtown which features everything from fresh produce to baked goods to piping hot meats fresh off the grill.
San Luis Obispo’s restaurant scene runs the entire gamut from handcrafted sandwiches and juicy burgers to sushi and wood-fired pizzas. These are paired with local beers and Central Coast wines that elevate your dining experience.
Lace up your hiking boots and head to Terrace Hill for an easy climb to enjoy the city view at sunset. Or challenge yourself by climbing one of the higher morros (ancient volcanic plugs) like Bishop Peak and Cerro San Luis. From Laguna Lake to Irish Hills, there is a trail for every type of hiker in this outdoor haven.
Dive into this three-day San Luis Obispo itinerary for more details on how to spend your time in this beautiful city.
Explored by Farha from Trips Come True
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Cardiff is the capital city of Wales and is one of the most off the beaten path cities in Great Britain. Wales has its own language, flag, and national anthem but still uses British pounds as currency. There is an international airport in Cardiff however it is also easy to visit Cardiff from London which means many more flight options.
Cardiff is a beautiful city with Cardiff Castle being the centre point and a must-see on any trip to Cardiff. You can enter the castle through the Black Tower south gate and enjoy the Castle grounds for free but to go into the castle rooms there is a charge. Inside you can see the Clock Tower, the castle house apartments, and the castle walls, we recommend taking a guided tour to get the most out of the experience, there is also a small museum dedicated to Welsh military history.
Cardiff Castle originally belonged to the Bute family but was a gift to the people of Cardiff along with the surrounding parkland in 1947. Bute Park which surrounds Cardiff Castle is huge, the equivalent of 75 football pitches, and is wonderful to visit especially during the summer months when you can see the arboretum in full flower and walk amongst the champion trees or along the River Taff.
You must also visit the Arcades in Cardiff which are small, covered shopping areas dating back to Victorian times where you can find boutique shops and cafes serving delicious Welsh cakes. Welsh cakes are a traditional snack in Wales that are kind of like a scone, but flatter and they usually come in an assortment of flavors from plain to Nutella to coconut to cheese. The best place to find Welsh cakes to take home is inside Cardiff Market where you can find them for as little as 35p each.
Explored by by Steph from Book It Let’s Go!
Sharjah is known as the cultural emirate and has several art galleries and spaces to visit and annual festivals, such as the Sharjah Islamic Art Festival and Sharjah Biennial. Travel off the beaten track to Sharjah when traveling to the UAE.
Learning is high on the list of priorities in the emirate, and you can visit more than 26 museums and learning centers. Several of these are in the Heart of Sharjah right next to the Arts Area but don’t miss the Museum of Islamic Civilization on the corniche.
The Heart of Sharjah is the old part of town, where old merchants’ homes have been restored and now house museums, a boutique hotel, the theatre association, and more. You can wander down narrow alleys or visit the old souqs and buy an antique silver dagger or some Arabic perfume for souvenirs during your visit. Occasionally, there are heritage events in the area, too.
Spend a day walking along Buhairah Corniche with stops on the way. Visit Al Noor Island and Butterfly House and enjoy a blend of stunning architecture and nature. Next, see Al Noor Mosque, followed by lunch at Al Majaz Waterfront, and then take a boat trip around the lake enjoying the skyline of Flag Island, the Ferris Wheel, and Majaz Amphitheatre with the backdrop of shiny modern buildings.
Family destinations are an essential part of Sharjah life, and as well as the interactive learning centers, you’ll find splash parks, children’s entertainment, children’s festivals, nature reserves, play areas, and a water park.
There are several beaches in Sharjah, all with beautiful white sand. Al Khan is where to go for jet-skiing, Al Heera to enjoy lunch or dinner with a view, and Al Khan for sunbathing.
These are just a few of the many things to do in the city of Sharjah, but expect to be surprised as it has so much more waiting for you!
To reach Sharjah, the Sharjah Airport is the quickest and easiest to fly to. Alternatively, you can get there by flying into Dubai International Airport, just a few miles away.
The best time to visit Sharjah is in the winter when the weather is cooler, ideally between November and March. Sharjah Light Festival takes place in February, and if you love art, this is the best time to book your trip. Selected buildings are lit up with light shows and sometimes sound, too. Sharjah has some beautiful Arabic architecture, and it’s even more stunning at this time of year.
Explored by Alison from Glimpses of the UAE
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Pagosa Springs, Colorado
If you are looking for an off the beaten path mountain town for your next vacation, check out Pagosa Springs, CO. Centered around The Springs Resort, Pagosa Springs is small but packed full of adventure. The closest airport is an hour away in Durango, which keeps the tourist crowds small compared to other Colorado mountain towns.
In the summer, you can find endless hiking, mountain biking, and river rafting. Take Piedra Road north of town to get to the San Juan National Forest for a day at the Williams Reservoir or a hike to epic waterfalls and wild hot springs. There are so many fun activities in Pagosa Springs !
If you love the snow, winter brings some of the best snow in the country. You can drive 30 minutes to ski or snowboard at Wolf Creek Ski Area or stay in the valley to enjoy world-class cross-country skiing, sledding, or snowmobiling. The 25 separate hot springs at The Springs Resort is a great way to warm up your bones after a long day in the snow.
Pagosa Springs is a great town even if you don’t like action sports. When you aren’t relaxing in the hot springs, you can shop in the picturesque downtown, take a stroll along the San Juan River, or enjoy a round of golf at Pagosa Springs Golf Club. Don’t miss FABA, a local art gallery with really unique (and affordable) pieces from local artists.
Explored by Taylor from Nomads In Nature
Squamish, British Columbia
Squamish, BC is known as the outdoor adventure capital of Canada. This small city is sandwiched between towering mountains and the Pacific Ocean halfway between Vancouver, and Whistler. It’s an easy 1.5-hour drive from Vancouver International Airport along the incredibly scenic Sea to Sky Highway.
While Squamish is a year-round destination, summer is the best time to visit for the warmest weather and the least rain. Spring and fall can be great too as the increased rainfall makes the waterfalls thunder. Expect snow between late November and mid-February.
There are lots of great things to do in Squamish , from hardcore off the beaten path adventures to easy walks. The Sea to Sky Gondola, the town’s most popular attraction, will appeal to outdoor lovers of all abilities. The gondola whisks you up the mountainside to an expansive deck with a panoramic view of the mountains and ocean. You can enjoy a meal at the restaurant, stroll along easy trails to viewpoints, or brave a walk across the swaying suspension bridge. Hearty hikers can take difficult trails deep into the backcountry.
Don’t miss Shannon Falls, located right next to the Sea to Sky Gondola. It’s one of the tallest waterfalls in BC. The five-minute walk to the viewing platform involves a small hill, but it’s doable for people of all abilities.
You will find another of Squamish’s main attractions nearby too: the towering Stawamus Chief Mountain. The sheer cliffs on the front side are world-famous amongst rock climbers while hikers can tackle the steep and challenging trail through the forest on the back side.
Lots more hiking trails wind through the hills around town, heading to secluded lakes and picturesque peaks. Many are located in the spectacular Garibaldi Provincial Park, renowned for its huge glacial lake and awe-inspiring mountain setting.
Squamish is also popular with mountain bikers , with hundreds of kilometers of trails crisscrossing the hills. And Kite surfers leap and spin on the waves just offshore.
After you’ve worked up an appetite, enjoy the strong craft beer culture. The first brewery, Howe Sound Brewing, opened downtown in 1996. Since then several others have popped up around town. Locals love the wood-fired pizza and cabin vibe atmosphere at Backcountry Brewing. If beer isn’t your thing, try the incredible doughnuts and coffee at Fox and Oak. They have brioche, cake, and vegan options in tons of innovative flavors.
Explored by Taryn from Happiest Outdoors
Da Nang, Vietnam
Visiting Da Nang, a city in central Vietnam, offers an exciting and unique off the beaten path experience. With incredible beaches, mountains to explore, fire-breathing dragon bridges and a food lovers paradise this is a must-see destination!
Da Nang International Airport serves as a convenient hub for flights arriving from various Asian destinations, making it an ideal choice for your arrival.
The best time of year to visit is from June to August, when the weather is hot and sunny and dry. Perfect beach weather.
There are so many things to see and do in Da Nang that are a great addition to your bucket list.
One unique experience is seeing the Dragon Bridge Show, a masterpiece of engineering that comes alive every weekend at 9 p.m., breathing fire and water into the night sky. Stand on the ground near the head and not on the bridge if you don’t want to get completely soaked with water!
For nature lovers, a stroll through the lush and vibrant Son Tra Nature Reserve is an absolute must. This walk allows you to enjoy the calmness of the forest while viewing the 67-meter tall Lady Buddha statue and the beautiful Buddhist Pagoda. Both are nestled within the greenery of the Son Tra Peninsula and offer a perfect blend of spirituality, natural beauty, and stunning views over Da Nang.
If you want more of a physical challenge, consider climbing up the Marble Mountains. Located to the south of Da Nang, these iconic limestone formations are not only a unique sight to behold but also an opportunity to learn about how they were used in the Vietnam War as a field hospital and spy base.
For those who love underwater adventures, Cham Island is where you need to go. Just a short boat ride from the mainland, here you can delve into the vibrant marine life through snorkeling and scuba diving.
If you’re looking to add a touch of romance to your journey, experience the timeless tradition of attaching a love lock to a bridge, sealing your everlasting love with your sweetheart. This love bridge is only a short stroll from the Dragon Bridge so making a night out with your loved one would be perfect.
And before you leave, don’t miss watching the sunrise over the pristine sands of My Khe Beach. It will be a memory that will warm your heart for years to come.
Explored by Kaitlyn from Carry On Only
If you’re planning a trip to Korea, and can’t decide on your South Korean itinerary , Busan is an off the beaten path travel destination worth visiting! Most people just see Seoul, which is a great city. However, for a glimpse of real traditional Korean life (in a city), Busan beats Seoul hands down! Whilst many aspects of traditional Korean life are slowly disappearing from Seoul, such as pojongmacha (the orange street food tents that you see in K-dramas), you can still find them in Busan.
You can fly into Incheon International Airport in Seoul, then take a 2.5-hour KTX train ride down to Korea’s second-largest city. It’s so close, you could even do it as a short day trip from Seoul! Alternatively, Busan also has its own international airport, Gimhae, but not every airline will have a direct flight to Gimhae.
The best time to visit Korea is generally in autumn when the weather is pleasant and the beautiful fall foliage is out. Summer is typically very hot and very humid, so not very pleasant, and not a great time to visit Korea. However, Busan has many beautiful beaches, including Korea’s most famous Haeundae Beach, so spending a summer in Busan can be pretty fun! There’ll be buskers along Haeundae Beach, where you can listen to free live performances, and watch fireworks in the evening!
If you’re not one for the beach, Busan also has other fantastic attractions, such as Gamcheon Culture Village, Korea’s largest jjimjjibang (traditional Korean bathhouse), Korea’s most beautiful temple (Haedong Yonggungsa, which is set by the sea), and Jeonpo Cafe Street, which was featured in the New York Times in 2017, as one of the best places to visit. You can also take the famous Blue Line Sky Capsule, a train in the sky, which offers fantastic views of the coastline.
And, if you finish seeing everything there is in Busan, you can even take a ferry over to Japan: Busan is actually closer to Japan than it is to Seoul!
Explored by Zhen from A Love Letter To Asia
Esch-sur-Sûre is a picturesque town cradled within a bend of the Sure River, encircled by rolling hills and lush forests. It’s located in the heart of Luxembourg is a beautiful off the beaten path travel destination to add to your list. Esch-sur-Sûre is a place where time seems to slow down, and where you can immerse yourself in history and nature. This is an opportunity to escape the ordinary, to discover a European gem tucked away from the tourist crowds.
You can begin your adventure begins at Luxembourg Airport. From there, a scenic drive or public transportation will transport you to the tranquil town of Esch-sur-Sûre. Driving takes about 50 minutes and public transportation up to 1 hour and 45 minutes. Hop on a bus from the airport to the Luxembourg train station, then take a train to Ettelbruck. Here you can take a bus to Esch-sur-Sûre. Public transport is free in Luxembourg.
From late spring to early fall , spanning from May to September is the best time to visit. During this period, nature blooms, and the weather is ideal for exploring the town’s natural beauty and attractions.
The best things to do in Esch-sur-Sûre include strolling through the narrow medieval streets of the town. Climb to the Castle, a medieval ruin at the top of a rocky hill in the center of town. This castle beckons you to step back in time and offers sweeping panoramic vistas of the town and its stunning surroundings.
Esch-sur-Sûre is also a great destination for hikers, as many hiking trails can be found in the green hills around the town. For example, hiking Circular Walk Esch-sur-Sûre I is highly recommended. This trail will take you first to a viewpoint with a great view of the dam and the Lac de Haute-Sûre. Then it takes you around through the dense forests, and green hills to the other side of the town. Here you’ll find one of the best viewpoints that will let you capture the beauty of Esch-sur-Sûre.
Other things to do include kayaking on the Sûre River, enjoying a picnic in one of the green parks, and going swimming in the nearby Lac Esch-sur-Sûre. If you’d like to know more about the history and the culture of this area, it’s recommended to visit Musée de la Draperie (Textile Museum). All in all, Esch-sur-Sûre is a gorgeous place to visit.
Explored by Jacoba from Travel With Co
Quy Nhon City, Vietnam
Quy Nhon City in Binh Dinh Province is another place to travel off the beaten track. It is an underrated tourist destination in Vietnam, especially when compared to internationally renowned places such as Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Hoi An, and Ha Long Bay. The city has a small local airport, and several domestic airlines operate flights to and from major cities, including Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, and Da Nang.
Quy Nhơn boasts beautiful beaches, clear waters, and scenic coastal landscapes that have not undergone the heavy commercialization seen in some popular Vietnamese tourist destinations. As a result, the city has started to attract more domestic tourists in recent years. However, it is still relatively unknown internationally.
Outdoor lovers can head to Ky Co Beach for blue waters, soft sand, colorful coral reefs, and water sports activities. Eo Gio, a coastal area known for its interesting rock formations, is very picturesque. As the city is surrounded by mountains, you will also find quite a few hiking opportunities.
For history enthusiasts, the area used to be the center of the ancient Champa civilization. Visiting Champa towers, relics from that era is one of the best things to do in Quy Nhon . Constructed around the 11th-12th century, these structures allow visitors to admire intricate carvings and delve into the region’s rich history.
Don’t miss out on trying local delicacies, such as sizzling crepes, fish cake noodle soups, and various seafood dishes. The city is often praised for the affordability and freshness of its seafood.
Located in the Central region of Vietnam, Quy Nhon has a tropical monsoon climate with a dry season from February to September and a rainy season from October to January. The dry season is generally the best time to visit, especially when the weather is more suitable for outdoor activities. If you are interested in more off-the-beaten-path destinations in Vietnam, definitely consider Quy Nhon.
Explored by Sophie from Delightful Travel Notes
When you are thinking about traveling to France, you might first think of Paris or one of the famous wine regions. However, consider going off the beaten path to the city of Arles, located along the Rhône River in the Provence Region in southern France. As a visitor to Arles, you will marvel at the history of the area, along with a fully intact Roman Amphitheatre, and the countryside that inspired Vincent Van Gogh.
In the first century AD, Arles became part of the Roman Empire under Julius Caesar and, with its location along the Rhône that flows into the Mediterranean, a major commercial port and shipyard. You can visit and explore the Roman architecture and monuments, such as the Theatre Antique – built in the 1st century – and the nearby Amphitheatre – built in 90 AD. Both are now UNESCO World Heritage Sites and are still in use for cultural events, concerts, plays, and bullfights.
Arles also has a rich artistic history, attracting the likes of Paul Gaughin, Pablo Picasso, and Vincent Van Gogh. In 1888, Van Gogh came to Arles and spent over a year in the area. He produced over 200 paintings, including “Starry Night Over the Rhône”, “The Night Café”, and several versions of “Sunflowers”. You can discover more about the city and its impact on Van Gogh by following any number of Van Gogh walking tours and visiting the locations that inspired his paintings.
The Gare d’Arles is the local train station and you can travel from Paris (via the TGV in under 4 hours) as well as from Lyon, Marseilles, and Avignon. The closest international airport is Nimes, located approximately 15 miles to the NW. Arles is wonderful to visit from late March to October. Springtime, especially around Easter, has the first bullfight of the season. If you are an animal lover, it may be better to skip the Feria d’Arles, which also occurs in September.
Summer brings out more crowds, as the city hosts an international photography festival known as Les Rencontres d’Arles, which has occurred since 1970, and is peak time to visit nearby lavender fields. Autumn and the grape harvest is a wonderful time as you will still find warm weather and fewer crowds.
From its history as part of the Roman Empire to its landscapes being captured by Van Gogh, Arles, France belongs on your list of underrated cities not to be missed.
Explored by Audra from The Nerd Traveler
Balapatiya, Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka is a fabulous off the beaten path travel destination and is considered the pearl of the Indian Ocean. However, it’s fair to say most tourists follow the same road to the same spots whilst visiting the tropical haven.
Sri Lanka tends to attract many surfing enthusiasts, particularly to the beaches on the southwest coast. However, those beaches that don’t have the ‘perfect’ surfing wave are often overlooked and left for explorers and locals to enjoy all to themselves.
Some of those beaches lie between Colombo and Hikkadiwa which is one of the first popular surf breaks in the south.
A nice spot to head for is Balapaitya which has some incredible hidden beaches that aren’t even named!
These beaches have giant boulders which look somewhat similar to some of the famous beaches of the Seychelles. The area also has super soft sand which attracts turtles laying their eggs.
The best time to see the beaches and stroll along is close to sunset. Picture coconut trees galore, crashing waves, golden sand, colorful fishermen’s boats, and beautiful rocks in the water!
On occasion, locals can be seen climbing up the coconut trees and cutting down the produce! They often use the rocks to smash the coconuts apart to access the thirst-quenching coconut water and eat the delicious coconut flesh.
The beaches are not all in Balapaitya, there is also a river network that runs deep into the jungle and local tour guides use small boats to take tourists on a trip to see the wildlife beneath the mangroves. Sometimes the trip includes a cinnamon farm and temple visit.
There is plenty more to discover within the regions including Galle Fort , Geoffrey Bawa’s home, many temples, and of course traditional villages.
Colombo is the nearest airport and generally the season for the South West of Sri Lanka is from November through March.
Explored by Karen from Travel Mad Mum
Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia , is a far underrated off the beaten path travel destination. This small city offers a rich array of historical landmarks and contemporary attractions for visitors. The food scene is quite good, too. Slovenia is also known for being one of the safest countries for travelers. Additionally, travel is much more affordable to this capital city than many others in Europe.
One of the city’s main sites is Ljubljana Castle, a medieval fortress atop Castle Hill, which now contains museums, exhibitions, and a viewing tower, providing panoramic vistas of the city.
Preseren Square, located in the heart of the city, features the iconic Triple Bridge, which has three walkways over the river. Ljubljana Cathedral, formally known as St. Nicholas’s Cathedral, is an impressive example of Gothic architecture right in the middle of town. Take a walking tour to learn more about these sights and the rich history of the city.
Tivoli Park, which is over 5 kilometers, is Ljubljana’s largest green space. It offers walking and biking trails, and botanical gardens, as it’s a peaceful retreat inside the city.
Ljubljana’s culinary scene is diverse, with numerous restaurants, cafes, and markets offering traditional Slovenian dishes such as potica, a nut-filled pastry. This is a must-try. The Central Market is a hub for fresh produce, local products, and a vibrant atmosphere. Try a food tour while you’re visiting.
The city’s commitment to sustainability and environmental consciousness is evident in its pedestrian-friendly streets, bicycle-friendly infrastructure, and efforts to promote green spaces, making Ljubljana a progressive and environmentally conscious destination for travelers. There are no cars in the main city center, where the three bridges are.
April to August is the best time to visit Ljubljana for the best weather. You can find better rates in April and May before the summer rush.
Fly into Ljubljana airport or take a train from a neighboring traveled city, like Zagreb, Croatia, or Salzburg, Austria.
Explored by Eleanor from Elevate Your Escapes
Évora , Portugal
When thinking of off the beaten path travel destinations, Évora is a city that should definitely be considered. Located in Portugal , you often expect white sandy beaches and a vacation atmosphere, and while Évora is not located on the beach, this city has so much more to offer.
Évora has an extensive history that dates back to the Roman era. During the 16th century, the Kings of Portugal decided to serve their residence here. Because of this, Evora was declared a world heritage site and is now one of the best-underrated destinations to visit on any Portugal itinerary !
The best way to travel around the city is by foot. The streets are lined with gorgeous houses, and by walking around, you get to see the intricate details of Évora up close.
There are so many things to do in Évora. Start your day by visiting the iconic Roman Temple of Évora, seeing the Roman baths, and stopping by the incredible Cathedral of Évora.
There are a handful of museums to learn more about the history of Évora. The Museum of Evora is the most popular and has over 20,000 artifacts to discover. Plus, it only costs 3 EUR to enter.
Make sure to also stop by the romantic gardens in the Palace of D. Manuel and the famous cathedral spire located in the city center. You also won’t want to miss the Chapel of Bones. There are also many restaurants in the city center that are worth trying. Enjoy both authentic and European cuisine at Botequim da Mouraria.
Évora is best visited in the spring as the weather will be comfortable enough to walk around in. Temperatures usually remain around 71°F. Additionally, if you want to avoid the crowds, you could consider booking a trip in the fall. The temperatures will be cooler, usually between 54°F and 70°F. Just remember to also pack an extra layer or two, as Portugal does experience rainfall during this time.
The most popular airport is the Lisboa Airport (LIS). For a more quiet airport, you can choose the Beja Airpot (BYJ).
Explored by Sam from Find Love And Travel
Related post: Day Trips From Porto
Nuwara Eliya, Sri Lanka
Nestled in the Hill Country of Sri Lanka lies Nuwara Eliya, a quaint village surrounded by rolling hills and tea plantations. It’s known as “Little England” thanks to its colonial-style buildings and unique architecture.
Nuwara Eliya often sits in the shadows of the more popular places in Sri Lanka such as Ella or Kandy. But it’s a worthy place to visit if you want to get off the beaten path and enjoy a more authentic experience.
The town lies at 1889 m above sea level and is considerably colder than most of the country. This cooler temperature provides optimal conditions for tea plantations and no visit to Nuwara Eliya is complete without visiting one of them.
The two most popular are Blue Field Tea Estate and Pedro Tea Factory which both offer guided tours where you can learn more about the tea-making process.
Nuwara Eliya is also home to the gorgeous Ramboda Falls which is 1 hour’s drive from town. Here you can take a short walk to the base of the towering waterfall.
If the weather is gloomy (which is common), The Grand Hotel serves up a delicious high tea or you can wander around the streets and visit the iconic Post Office or Gregory Lake.
The weather in Nuwara Eliya is known to be unpredictable so it’s best to come prepared with warm clothes. But January to April provides the highest chance of little to no rain.
There are no airports near Nuwara Eliya. To get there, you’ll need to fly into Colombo International Airport and take a bus to Kandy. From here, hop on the famous Kandy to Ella train and get off at the Nanu Oya Railway Station which is a 10 km drive from Nuwara Eliya.
Explored by Carryn from Torn Tackies Travel Blog
Off The Beaten Track Travel Destinations Conclusion
These 33 off the beaten path travel places are all unique and will create a memorable experience in these lesser-known destinations. Hope you have an idea of where you want to plan your next destination after reading these off the beaten path destinations.
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Solo travel tips, destinations, stories... the source for those who travel alone.
How to Travel Off the Beaten Path for Unique Travel Experiences
September 6, 2023 by Janice Waugh
Traveling off the beaten path adds an additional layer of excitement to a trip. Mixing with the local culture as opposed to just looking up at marvellous structures and architecture, delivers unique travel experiences.
You know what you're going to get when you visit the Eiffel Tower. You never know what great surprises await when you go beyond the “top ten best things to do in _____” list.
Other benefits of traveling off the beaten path include:
- A slower pace. Whether it's because you're staying longer in one place or because your destination is a small town infrequently visited, your pace as a traveler will slow down. You'll return home more relaxed than if you had traveled as a typical tourist.
- Friendlier people. When you're in a busy, touristed area, the locals can be a little exhausted by tourists and sometimes not particularly hospitable. Beyond those areas, locals have more time for tourists. They are more friendly. Chat and learn the local history and find out what homegrown entertainment is happening while you're there.
- Quirkier events. Lobster suppers, pancake breakfasts, grape harvests, and more: big cities and small towns both have their festivals and events. The difference is that when you're in a major city, you're likely one in a hundred thousand and the event is slick. When you're at a local event in a less common destination you may be one in a thousand and you can feel the love that the volunteers have put into it, making the most with limited resources. It's a great experience.
- Less expensive options. Whether it's the cost of a meal or a room, it's less expensive to travel where there are fewer tourists.
How to Choose an Interesting but Less Touristy Destination
Here are tips to help you find unusual and extraordinary destinations that are not on everyone's bucket list.
- Read this post : How and Where to Travel to Avoid the Crowds for suggestions on destinations that are not overrun by tourists.
- Google “Alternatives to _______”. If you're looking for alternatives to incredibly touristy destinations such as Paris, Thailand, Banff, etc., google them! The first page will give you lots of options for travel off the beaten path.
- Travel by theme . Whether you want to learn something (I've been choosing travel destinations to practice speaking French) or participate in something (my husband, Simon, travels for poetry festivals) your interests can easily introduce you to new and lesser-known places.
Enjoy Unique Travel Experiences Off the Beaten Path
- Talk to locals . Locals do not go where all the tourists go yet they are often overlooked as a fabulous source of unusual travel information. Is it because they are not always easy to engage? When you're traveling solo, this is not necessarily a challenge. I'd say that at least 50% of the time that I'm in a coffee shop alone, I start talking with a local and they are happy to share their knowledge. But you don't have to be outgoing for this to happen. Ask the service person in a shop, a barista or bartender, or your B&B host what they do for entertainment or on the weekend and you'll get some unexpected suggestions.
- Walk and get lost . Walking and getting lost is so underrated. Of course you have to be careful and stay safe. You need to have some sense of where you're going. Study a map for a bit and then put it away. Wander off the high streets and down the side streets to see smaller cafes, community gardens, and other places where people gather.
- Tap into the Greeter network . The International Greeter Association is one of my favorite resources for travel. Look for your destination and see if they have a local greeter service. Most cities do. Then sign up, declare your interest, and let a local show you around. When asked for my interests, I say that I want to see the Greeter's neighborhood. I end up out of the tourist areas and often enjoy quite unique travel experiences.
- Use Meetup.com . This can be a direct line to meeting locals when you travel off the beaten path. Before going to a destination, I often check to see which are the most popular Meetup groups in the city. In Hong Kong I discovered that it was a hiking group. So I signed up and joined them for a half-day hike that I loved but was incredibly challenging. Read Meetup.com Got Me Hiking in Hong Kong: And It Was #$@&%*! Hard!
- Use public transportation . When I was in Dubrovnik I was first stunned and enamoured by the walled city and then overwhelmed by the tourists. Argh! So I hopped on a local bus, the one with the most meandering route I could find according to the map. It took me through neighborhoods where I could see how people lived and it ended up at a major park where I sat and observed two family picnics, one being a birthday celebration.
- Travel slow . It can take a while to get beyond the major attractions of a destination. To get under the skin of a place, try to spend at least a week. You need a different rhythm to your travels when you travel slow. From my three-day minimum per destination for touring travel I have to jump to at least a week for slow travel.
- Try a homestay . Stay with a local family and you'll almost always be off the beaten path. You'll get to see how the family lives, how they organize their lives, eat their meals, and shop–a real window into life at your destination.
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12 Off The Beaten Path Travel Destinations In 2023
In this post I describe 12 off the beaten path destinations that I have visited through my job as an overland adventure guide and which you should consider putting on your travel bucket list.
From other worldly hot springs in Ethiopia to gas craters in Turkmenistan, from Zoroastrian canyons in Iran to ancient pyramids in Sudan, on this list there’s something to tickle the fancy of even the most intrepid of travellers.
If you’re looking for some really alternative travel recommendations for 2023, read on below!
Off The Beaten Path Travel
I feel like the term, “off the beaten path” gets thrown around quite a lot these days. With new travel destinations being instantly shared with the world through social media, finding truly off the beaten path destinations is getting harder and harder to do.
For me off the beaten path travel often means going to the middle of nowhere. Or going to a place where few others dare to venture, along a route that is not easy to take.
Part of the adventure includes the journey it takes to reach that unfrequented destination. The end location might not be that spectacular but there is something very rewarding about reaching a fairly untouched part of the world.
Feeling like a pioneer of old!
Many of the remote locations in this guide can be accessed with local buses but some require off-road vehicles or dedicated tours .
1. Darvaza Gas Crater – Turkmenistan
What happens when you throw a match into a crater filled with natural gas? The whole crater catches fire and burns until the gas runs out. Well, in the small desert filled country of Turkmenistan that’s exactly what happened.
During the Soviet era engineers had set up a drilling rig to search for oil. However, instead of finding oil they drilled into a natural gas pocket which subsequently collapsed and formed the crater we see today.
In 1971 geologists set the gas on fire to burn off some of the poisonous gas that was leaking. Believing this would only take a few weeks, the crater has been burning ever since!
They have tried to put the flames out but to no avail. So, the powers that be in Turkmenistan have decided to let it burn.
The Gateway to Hell, as it known locally, has become Turkmenistan’s biggest tourist attraction but since Turkmenistan gets very few tourists, it’s a top off the beaten track travel destination.
Getting to the crater used to be an adventure in itself, as you had to do some serious off-roading across sand dunes. On my first visit in 2015 we saw only one jeep and were the only people camping there. It was a real unknown destination.
On subsequent visits in 2018 however, the crater was more “developed”. There is now a dirt road providing access to the crater and at the crater itself there are yurt camps complete with toilets. A safety railing has also been put up around the crater to prevent tourists from falling in!
The most challenging part of seeing Darvaza crater is getting into Turkmenistan in the first place! Visa’s are notoriously difficult to get and will most certainly require joining a dedicated travel group, such as those offered by Dragoman .
But if you don’t manage to get into Turkmenistan, fear not, there are plenty more ‘Stans’ on this list.
If you liked reading about the Gateway to hell, you might be interested in this post about dark tourism destinations.
2. Yaxchilan Mayan Ruins – Mexico
You’ve probably heard of Chichen Itza or Tulum in Mexico. Both incredible and beautiful Mayan ruins on the Yucatan peninsula. However, there are so many other Mayan ruins around this area which very few tourists manage to see.
Located on the banks of the Usumacinta River, Yaxchilan was once a very important Mayan city. Due to the remote location, this site doesn’t attract many tourists so is a great place to go off the beaten path in Mexico .
The ruin itself is famous for its sculptures and the carved lintels that cross temple doorways.
I personally love this site because it still feels pretty undiscovered and secluded . Much of the ruins are still shrouded in jungle, in fact they have only uncovered 20% of the city.
To access the site we took a narrow lancha (boat) from our camping spot in Frontera Corozal. We travelled 40 minutes up the Usumacinta River, which forms the natural border with Guatemala.
You could combine a visit to Yaxchilan with a visit to nearby Bonampak, famous for its brightly coloured murals. However, for that visit you will need a local escort/guide to accompany you.
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Keen for an adventure but not sure if the purse strings will stretch far enough? Discover all my money saving travel hacks in this guide.
3. Morteza Ali Canyon – Iran
Iran is a fabulous country to get off the beaten track and it’s even less touristy the further east you travel.
The desert in central Iran is a very hot and harsh environment, so the ability to dip your feet (and head) under some cold water is a welcome activity.
What makes this spring unique is that there is hot and cold water running parallel to each other. You can have one foot in hot water and the other foot in cold water!
As you wander up the canyon there are old Zoroastrian graves high up in the walls and at the end is the Shah Abbasi Dam. This is apparently the thinnest and tallest arcade dam in the world. (unconfirmed!)
Whilst this site is quite busy with Iranian visitors who believe the spring water has healing properties, you are unlikely to see any foreigners venturing out this way. It’s a real untouched corner of Iran .
4. Moynaq Ship Graveyard – Uzbekistan
Uzbekistan used to be an awkward country to visit because of visa requirements but a few years ago they introduced a much easier e-visa which makes visiting much more straight forward.
Known as the gem of Central Asia, Uzbekistan is famed for its beautifully tiled mosques and mausoleums in Silk Road towns such as Bukhara, Samarkand and Khiva. However, there are a few places in Uzbekistan where you can easily escape the crowds and embark on an alternative adventure.
The Aral Sea was once the 4th largest lake in the world, however over the last 50 years it has shrunk to 10% of its original size. The lake started shrinking in the 1960s after the Soviets had started diverting the two main rivers that fed the Sea.
The water from the diverted rivers was used for irrigation of crops, predominately cotton, also known as White Gold.
The price for this white gold has not only resulted in the loss of the Aral Sea, but in the decimation of a fishing industry and a swathe of health issues for local people.
The site of the former Aral Sea in Uzbekistan is the second man made disaster to appear on this list!
The pesticides used for farming the cotton has been left in the former sea bed. During sandstorms this gets swept up and inhaled by anyone in its path.
Scientists hope that planting thousands of trees on the dried up sea bed, will prevent the wind from picking up the contaminated sand and spreading it through the atmosphere. At current pace it could take 150 years to grow this sea bed forest!
Our visit took us to the town of Moynaq which is in the remote northwest corner of Uzbekistan. This town was once a thriving fishing port on the edge of the Aral Sea, but now it’s more famous for having a Ship Graveyard.
Viewing the Ship Garveyard evokes somber feelings but hey, nobody said this adventure business was all rainbows and unicorns! Tours to Moynaq and to the edge of the Aral sea are available from Khiva or buses are available from Nukus.
Top tip: Don’t visit Moynaq during a sandstorm!
If you want to learn more about Uzbekistan, take a look at this article!
5. The Danakil Depression – Ethiopia
The hottest place on Earth and the cradle of humanity. This hostile environment situated in the Afar region of Ethiopia is how you might imagine Mars would look. In fact, scientists are investigating this area to help understand how life might arise on other planets.
Fairly impossible to reach independently, jeep trips from nearby Mekele are the best way to access the Danakil Depression.
At Dallol, the hydro thermal features are constantly changing so you never know what you might find. But what you are guaranteed is to see something unlike anywhere else in the world. The Danakil Depression is a truly unique travel destination.
Before a visit to Ethiopia be sure to check out my Ethiopia travel tips!
6. Karakul Lake – China
The drive from Kashgar to Karakul Lake in the Xinjiang province of China takes you on a breathtaking and bumpy trip along the Karakoram Highway. At 3600m it is the highest lake on the Pamir Plateau and a real feast for the eyes.
The lake is a gorgeous turquoise colour and is surrounded by several 7000m peaks. During my visit there were a few yurt camps along the lakeshore but in 2018 these had unfortunately all closed down.
The Xinjiang province has introduced some upsetting regimes in recent years, which appear to be persecuting the Uyghur people in the form of “re-education camps”.
Whilst being a perfectly safe country to visit, being a tourist in this police state had become an uncomfortable experience for me in 2018. I’m hoping rising media interest from outside countries might force a change here soon because Karakul Lake is an amazing off the beaten path adventure .
For more off the beaten path destinations in China, see this guide.
7. Aksu Zhabagly Nature Reserve – Kazakhstan
Aksu Zhabagly Nature Reserve is a beautiful mountainous area close to the border with Kyrgyzstan. In this protected area you can hike, horse ride or take off road jeep trips with the accompaniment of a Park Ranger.
The flowers here in Springtime are incredible and the views at anytime of year make it a worthwhile visit.
We stayed at Ruslan’s Camp which is in the sticks, on the edge of the Nature Reserve. Ruslan is an super lovely and happy guy who can help arrange all of your activities, while his mother cooks some mean dumplings!
Reaching this mountainous area of Kazakhstan is possible on local transport from the Kyrgyzstan/Kazakhstan border and takes half a days travel.
8. Khövsköl Lake – Mongolia
Mongolia is an overlanders paradise! Since this is a country where you can drive and camp where ever you want, it’s very easy to venture off the beaten path . In the north of the country, close to the Russian border is Khövsgöl lake.
This lake holds 70% of Mongolia’s fresh water. It is considered the younger sister to nearby Lake Baikal in Russia. During winter the lake completely freezes over with ice so thick that trucks can drive over it.
Trucks used to transport goods over this frozen lake since it provided a huge short cut, but it has since been banned for environmental and safety reasons!
Gur (yurt) camps surround the southern shores of the lake, provide very comfortable accommodation and various lake based activities.
I highly recommend a trip to Mongolia if you want to experience vast landscapes and witness a truly nomadic culture. There are many local operators that offer jeep tours of Mongolia, all starting in the capital city of Ulaanbaatar.
A trip to this undiscovered destination should be at the top of your adventure bucket list.
9. Meroe Pyramids – Sudan
Sudan has a very different feel to all the other African countries I have visited and I was pleasantly surprised at every step. The people are welcoming and the history dates back thousands of years.
Meroe was an ancient city situated on the banks of the river Nile. It was once the capital city of the Kingdom of Kush and home to the Black Pharaohs .
The environment has since changed and Meroe has been engulfed by the desert. This great city houses more than 200 pyramids, the best preserved of which now comprise the main tourist site.
Camping nearby to enjoy both sunset and sunrise, this is a site we enjoyed completely by ourselves. You don’t need to be part of a tour to visit this destination because it’s in driving distance of the capital Khartoum.
Sudan is home to several incredible historic sites and the people are some of the friendliest in Africa. However, visas require a little work which makes this country a very unique and unfrequented travel destination.
Read more about how to visit Sudan in this post.
10. Altyn Arashan – Kyrgyzstan
Kyrgyzstan has gained in popularity over recent years (pre-pandemic) and more westerners are starting to discover its beauty. Kyrgyzstan is a mountainous country in Central Asia billed as the Switzerland of Asia.
In the eastern part of Kyrgyzstan is a mountain region called Altyn Arashan. The only way to get to Altyn Arashan is to hike or bike 30km from the nearby town of Karakol or hire the services of a crazy Soviet truck to drive you there.
We opted for the later!
Since the route to Altyn Arashan resembles a river bed more than a road, the road is too rough, even for our overland expedition vehicles.
During our first visit where they had received a lot of rain, the track more resembled a mud bath. However, the reward for travelling to the end of this road is an incredibly beautiful valley and the starting point for some epic hikes.
There are now several camps in the valley that offer accommodation, one of which which utilises natural hot springs for Russian style bath houses. A day hike from here will take you to a high pass over Ala Kul, which is one of the most beautiful high alpine vistas I’ve ever seen.
Check out local company CBT if you’re interested in a guided hike of the region. They can also organise homestays and yurt stays all over Kyrgyzstan.
I absolutely love Kyrgyzstan! To discover why take a look at this post!
11. Fairy Meadows – Pakistan
The final Stan in this adventure travel guide is Pakistan. This is another country that started to gain in popularity pre-pandemic and hopefully troubles in neighbouring Afghanistan won’t set them back as the world opens up.
After my visit to Pakistan in 2019 I was quite literally blown away with its beauty and I couldn’t wait to get back. I lined up another visit for 2020 but sadly the world had other plans.
There are so many highlights for a mountain lover in Pakistan that its hard to single out just one, but perhaps the most magical place to visit are the Fairy Meadows.
This meadow is located in the shadow of Nanga Parbat and just reaching the meadow is an adventure of epic proportions. You can read more about that here but for now just know that this place is so stunning its worth risking life and limb to get there.
Discover why I love Pakistan in this post!
12. Suchitoto – El Salvador
I love an underdog country and El Salvador is one of those countries. Most tourists in Central America flock to Costa Rica which is without doubt a beautiful country, but for a more gritty experience head to El Salvador.
Travellers to El Salvador will likely flock to the beaches of Tunco or hike Santa Ana volcano but I encourage you to visit the small town of Suchitoto.
Here you can admire the colonial style architecture, take a wildlife trip on Suchitlan Lake and see the unique basalt columns at Los Tercios waterfall. (Los Tercios made it onto my list of the most beautiful waterfalls in the world !)
Also, be sure to visit Centro Arte para la Paz and be inspired by the incredible work the volunteers there carry out to achieve peace in the community through the use of art and music. If you get chance, have a chat with Sister Peggy O’Neill – a truly remarkable woman.
Final Thoughts On This Off The Beaten Path Travel Guide
Getting truly off the beaten track in this world of social media is getting more difficult to achieve . However, for the modern day explorer there are still places where it is possible to have a real adventure.
Hopefully in this off the beaten path travel guide, I have inspired you to escape the popular, over-crowded destinations and seek out an alternative adventure in the post-pandemic world.
If you have any questions or thoughts leave a comment below.
Disclaimer: Some links in this article are affiliate links, which means that if you purchase through them I receive a small commission, at no extra cost to you. This helps cover the cost of running this blog. Thanks for your support!
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Louise is a Mountain Leader and Snowboard Instructor from South Wales. As a former Adventure Tour Leader she has spent the last 15 years travelling Asia, Africa and the Americas. Louise is a published photographer and is currently based in the UK.
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Home » Budget Travel » Why You SHOULD Travel Off the Beaten Path (2023)
Why You SHOULD Travel Off the Beaten Path (2023)
My friend, write your own story. Always.
That is why I travel off the beaten path. Because this is MY story.
The problem with the over-touristed world that we live in is that we get used to the convenience. Life-defining experiences are a commodity, spiritual wisdom is auctioned off to the highest bidder, and, ultimately, you aren’t writing your own story: you’re just sold somebody else’s.
The truth is, amigos, that the best things in life have to be earned.
- That’s why the sunrise you just hiked 10 kilometres for steals your breath away just a little more deftly.
- That’s why crossing a border by land brings an extra sense of giddy glee that catching another flight never could.
- That’s why a long hitchhiking journey always feels so more satisfying than another long haul on the bus.
- And that’s why the doobie at the end of the long hitch tastes just that much better.
This post is something of an off the beaten path travel guide. I’m going to tell you my favourite offbeat travel destinations around the world and what you need to do to prepare for them.
But more importantly, I want to inspire you. The world is so big and so beautiful and there are so many life-changing experiences waiting for you out there. But you’ll never find them if you never leave the tourist bubble.
This isn’t an article to decry the easily and over-stomped tourist trail, but it is about why you SHOULD travel off the beaten path.
There are great things waiting out there for you. You just have to earn them.
What is Offbeat Travel?
Top off the beaten path destinations, your off the beaten path travel guide: last few tips.
Offbeat travel is my happy place. I’ve travelled a lot of places in my long and decorated career as a budget backpacker . And A LOT of them have been fairly busy with touristic action…
But the places that truly resonated with me the most in my travels? They were the places far from the taxi cabs and ticketed attractions. They were the places where I nary saw another tourist at all (and, sometimes, nary another soul).
Look, the first thing I want you to understand is that offbeat travel is NOT adventure travel. You’re going to hear me talk a lot about cic, raw, off-the-Richter adventures because that’s ma homeboy; that’s my style and that’s how I like to travel off the beaten path.
But you don’t have to go glacial trekking in Greenland seeking the last woolly mammoth to be an offbeat traveller. Offbeat travel is simply travel that…
- Takes you off the tourist trail and away from the hotspots the tourists frequent.
- Takes you right out of your comfort zone.
Y’know, volunteering in a foreign country (for example) usually IS travelling off the beaten path. You’re generally far from any tourist hubs, living with a local community, and doing something you’ve never done before.
Maybe you’ve never picked tea or built a swamp cottage or milked a goat but pretty soon you’ll be doing all three! At the same time! And you’ll look damn fine why you do it.
Similarly, busking, dumpster diving, and pitching hammocks in parks across the European continent is certainly no high-altitude, high-octane adventure, but it’s damn sure offbeat. Wear a funny hat while you’re at it: unusual tourist status achieved!
The meaning of offbeat travel is not to go toe-to-toe with the ghost of Evil Kneivel on who can do the stupidest thing quicker. Off the beaten path travel is an experience open to EVERYONE; all you need is a curious heart, a dash of bravery, and a willingness to venture in the opposite direction that the Insta influencers are telling you to go.
At the end of the day, if you were going backpacking in New Zealand and instead of immediately jumping on a tourist charter to Milford Sound, you instead hitchhiked to Fortrose for a southeastern sunrise, that’d be offbeat travel.
Where the fuck is Fortrose?
That’s my whole damn point.
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And Why Should You Travel Off the Beaten Path
Because it’s the best way to travel. There – I said it (again). That’s your spicy hot take of the month.
It’s good to be open, understanding, and level-headed to all perspectives on travel, of course. But sometimes, you just gotta drop the pansy-ass wishy-washy shit and say what you really think!
Offbeat tourism is the BEST type of tourism. Because it doesn’t really feel like tourism.
Here’s the dirty little secret people in the tourism industry don’t want you knowing: tourism is fucked. It’s a necessary evil of our world, capitalism, and the economics of local communities, but we’re living in the age of rampant overtourism made only worse by an unquenchable society-wide thirst to maximise every tiny experience (and then boast about it on their socials). And travelling glued to your phone isn’t fixing anything either.
The damage is starting to show.
Tourist trails don’t produce sincere and authentic travel experiences: they produce itineraries. And the locals on these tourist trails aren’t bursting with excitement to greet another foreigner: they smile and nod hoping that it will increase the tip they receive.
But the jaded disposition against tourists melts away once you make the effort to really explore a country. Sincerity is rewarded with sincerity.
Another backpacker in Byron Bay will ALWAYS be ‘just another bloody tourist’ . But jump on the ferry and scoot on over to the west coast of Tasmania and the response will be very different…
“Crikey! What the hell you doin’ down here, mate? …Can I buy you a beer?”
Often, when we travel off the beaten path, it can feel like the Gods of Backpakistan are favouring our bold moves. But really, people are.
People see a lone foreigner getting lost a long way from home and a long way from glitzy hotels and overcrowded beachfronts and they want to be kind to them. They want to show them their home and give a wayward traveller a point of connection.
And, ultimately, you can rock up for a Full Moon Party in Koh Phangan or another ditzy selfie in front of the Eiffel Tower, but you wouldn’t be writing your own story then. You’d just be doing what all the other tourists do.
Offbeat tourism is the best kind of tourism because it’s NOT tourism.
Stepping Outside Your Comfort Zone
That’s why offbeat travel is the ULTIMATE form of travel, but it’s not necessarily why I travel off the beaten path. (At least, not entirely.)
Growth begins at the edge of your comfort zone: this is the whittler’s blade that I’ve carved much of my adult life with. This is the mantra that underpins The Broke Backpacker Manifesto and ideology as a whole.
I like travelling off the beaten track, but I ain’t a busker and it’s been a long time since I volunteered. I travel raw and I travel in a way that challenges me physically and mentally.
For the longest time, I was a grade-A hustler of the budget backpacking arts. Sleeping rough, hitchhiking, travelling overland, travelling with barely any money , and scraping by on my own wits and ingenuity to achieve my goals; these activities were my daily routine.
I kept pushing from one obscure travel destination to another. India taught me a lot; Venezuela dealt me some harsh truths. Myanmar was like stepping back in time. Iran was irresistible. And Pakistan?
I wanted to be the very best (like no one ever was). But not as a traveller; as a person.
See, the more I pushed myself, the more I realised I was getting stronger. Physically, sure, but emotionally and mentally – that’s the most important thing. That’s exactly why I was travelling in the first place.
The trekking, the motorbiking, the sleeping in caves: these things aren’t necessary for breaking off the tourist trail. But I think it’s fair to say that a lot of offbeat travellers are drawn to these kinds of epic adventures (and, coincidentally, bombin’ mountains).
Maybe we’re just loose cannon adrenaline junkies, but I like to think more poetically. I like to think that when go the places and the things that scare us, our hearts beat harder and faster. And we can feel it.
And we know that we’re growing.
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Right, so now you know why you should kick that tourist trail to the curb and head to pastures more wacky and wild! So… where are those pastures?
Honestly, there are still heaps of undiscovered holiday destinations (or, at least, semi-discovered) and offbeat tourist attractions around the world waiting for your keen adventurer’s eyes. However, one of the points I really want to drive home with this article is that you can travel off the beaten track ANYWHERE. You just have to make a concerted effort to leave the tourist bubble and backpacker hubs.
Besides, if you’ve been around The Broke Backpacker’s neck of the woods at all, you already know what my top recommendation is going to be…
I know I said that offbeat isn’t adventure travel, but let’s be real: the two are made for each other. They go together like peas and carrots. And Pakistan is that creamy mash that you mix that shit into!
Pakistan is a MUST-VISIT offbeat destination for any and all lovers of adventure travel, world-class trekking, fucking unreal mountain ranges, insane motorbike romps, or just some delish charas and chai.
I first explored Pakistan on a backpacking trip in 2016 back when it was easily one of the most off the beaten path travel destinations in the world. Online info was scant and every day was an adventure into the unknown!
These days, Pakistan is progressively climbing its way onto people’s radars (which is exactly why you need to get yo’ ass over there NOW). It just goes to show that these incredible offbeat travel destinations blow up for a reason, and then they don’t stay offbeat for long!
Pakistan is defined by its mesmerising landscapes, the people and their unrelenting warmth, and, of course, the hiking opportunities that left me with a sense of inner-contentment that I still don’t find anywhere else in the world. Pakistan is a home to me, and it’s the reason I endeavour to inspire people to travel to the places that might seem frightening: to find that same feeling.
Sometimes, the places we’re told not to go are the most beautiful of all.
484 pages with cities, towns, parks, and ALL the out-of-the-way places you will WANT to know. If you truly want to discover Pakistan , download this PDF .
Mmm, segue, amigos! For Iran to Pakistan, I’m feeling another peas and carrots metaphor. Maybe it’s just like good sex to even better sex!
Iran is a perfect example of why so many of the off the beaten path travel destinations that we’re told not to go are EXACTLY where you SHOULD go. It’s also a perfect example of why offbeat travel doesn’t need to have adrenaline-pumping adventures attached.
When I say that disengaging from the tourist mumbo-jumbo leaves you with a more authentic travel experience, this is why. A local in Iran doesn’t see a foreign traveller and immediately think, “Argh, an infidel. We must behead them in the streets!”
They get giddy with elation at the chance to meet a foreigner. They think:
“Shit, this person could have gone anywhere. Thailand, Paris, Berlin… But they came here. They must really genuinely be interested in Iran and my home…
Iran is not a slam-dunk of world-class adventure tourism material (although it’s bloody beautiful). It’s a chance to travel somewhere with an intoxicating culture, unbelievably hospitable people, and a deeply complex history and society that somehow adds to the beauty (despite what elements you may disagree with).
Travelling Iran is an opportunity to see the world with your own eyes through the power of offbeat travel. You find your own truth through experience. I promise you: the lies we’ve been told by the media are just that.
It’s an exquisite country, one of my all-time backpacking heavyweight champions, and the fact that it’s still one of the cheapest destinations for an off the beaten path vacation is just a little bit of corn on top.
Y’know… to go with your peas and carrots.
Get in before it booms! I’m telling you – the Central Asia boom is coming.
The Stan brothers of the Great Steppes of Eurasia bring both adventure travel AND offbeat tourism in droves… because there is barely any tourism! Ever wanted to just ride a horse, hunt wildlife, and drink vodka under the stars? Well, you do now, so get your ass to Central Asia!
Specifically, Central Asia encompasses:
Of these, Kazakhstan arguably boasts the most entrenched tourism scene (but you’re really stretching the meaning of ‘entrenched’ ). Meanwhile, backpacking in Kyrgyzstan is a phenomenal experience with landscapes that genuinely do leave you stunned that such a pristine gem could still exist.
Central Asia (and particularly Kyrgyzstan) were creeping up pre-pandemic as some of the best off the beaten path travel destinations to plan your next trip to. Now, with the world beginning to slowly open up, you have an entire region of low population density and heavenly landscapes borderline unexplored by foreign tourists desperate to show you what they got.
Ever wondered why the Celestial Mountains are in Kyrgyzstan? Because it’s outta this fucking world.
A Few More of My Favourite Offbeat Travel Destinations
Because three just wasn’t enough! The world is abundant with wicked off the beaten path destinations; you just gotta put your traveller pants on.
The Caucasus region is the kind of place that when you tell people where you went, they say: “Oh cool, what’s that taste like?”
Specifically, the Caucasus region includes:
- Azerbaijan (although I have it on good authority that Azerbaijan is a bit dull).
Mixing unreal landscapes with an ever-growing growing digital nomad scene and an old as balls (and, at times, dark as balls) history, the Caucasus is set to boom. And if it doesn’t? Well… that’s even better!
Travelling Western Europe is top-notch! Except you’re paying top dollar for what is, by far and large, more of the same – relative normalcy (but with better wine).
Scoot yo’ patootie over to the east side of Europe, however, and you get something much more beguiling. Cheaper, grittier, and cut just a bit rougher around the edges, Eastern Europe beckons all offbeat travellers souring the continent. Particularly…
- Backpacking across Eastern Europe .
- And an adventure travelling the Balkan countries .
There are still offbeat travel destinations in Europe and they do tantalise the senses. Things get wilder over there – take a party hat.
I visited Venezuela sometime after it all went to shit but before it went even more to shit. It’s a good example of how going to the real ‘Do Not Go’ zones can reap the ripest rewards.
Venezuela is a whole other world – an ecstatic culture and vibrant people walled off by the unjustness of the world. It’s certainly less than accessible right now, but when the opportunity arises, go to Venezuela. You won’t be disappointed. (To clarify though, don’t go at the moment – it is simply too dangerous.)
Another country that, tragically, is less than accessible right now. But when Myanmar does begin to shake itself off once more, do consider going on a backpacking trip there .
Myanmar is a chance for the Southeast Asia experience that once was when Southeast Asia could still be considered travelling off the beaten path. The mouth-watering food, the humbling architecture, the diversity of the land – these are all good reasons to visit Myanmar. But really, the true pull is the people.
People are happy – they smile. They’re far from cynical. They’re delighted just to meet a foreigner, and then to talk to one too? Mind. Blown.
It’s good vibes in Myanmar.
Israel is a guaranteed good time. Hummus, joints, and husky-voiced locals with perfect sculpted abdominal muscles (feeding you hummus and joints). But travelling Israel is a dichotomy; it breaks the heart as much as it feeds it.
Seeing Palestine is another world unto itself. It’s a mindfuck for the uninitiated; it chews up your sense of what people are and what they are capable of. And at the end of that, you’re still left with the realisation that you’re travelling a region filled with kind people and kinder moments – the same as anywhere else.
Always write your own story. Don’t run away from the things that might hurt to know, see, and understand. There’s growth in all things you learn.
Tassie is also a worthy reminder that you don’t HAVE to start throwing darts at a world map and score a country you can’t pronounce to find your next offbeat destination. Even the heavily touristed and heavily structured countries of the planet still offer some wild adventures. You just have to be ready to look for it.
Trek, hitch, volunteer, meet locals and go on the adventures they offer. Motorbike, kayak, or buy a goddamn hovercraft! Just leave the taxi, leave the Contiki tours, and LEAVE the tourist bubble. The world still has many secrets.
The Broke Backpacker cannot in good conscience encourage you to travel there while it remains under Taliban rule. However, we can encourage you to consider its awesome history and incredible people. Once upon a time, Afghanistan was a legendary stop along the OG Hippy Trail – and one day it will rise again as an incredible place to visit.
Its mountains call to be trekked through by donkey; its chai invites you to sit down and talk with the people in the streets. The bazaars and the market life – and even the skiing – wait patiently to be explored once again. Once again, the wilds of Afghanistan will welcome you.
Why stay in a naff hotel when you can stay in a cosy, stylish local house instead? And for half the money too!
Stay somewhere EPIC and save your hard-earned dollars — from houses to barns to castles and caves, there is an Airbnb for every occasion!
Get prepared for the long roads ahead! There are times you may need a tent. Or a portable gas cooker . Or maybe even a headtorch?
That was a test: of course you need a headtorch. You might be careering headfirst into the jaws of danger, but you’re damn well at least gonna see where you’re going while you do it!
Packing as an Offbeat Traveller
Get yourself some top-quality backpacking gear ! Truthfully, I wouldn’t ever leave on an offbeat travel adventure without a few of my trusty sidekicks.
While there are plenty of ways to offbeat travel, budget backpacking, unexpected adventures, and journeys off the well-trodden tourist trail all tend to share the same space. No offbeat adventure is complete without the adventure essentials:
Osprey Aether 70L Backpack
Ya can’t go backpacking anywhere without a blasted backpack! Words cannot describe what a friend the Osprey Aether has been to The Broke Backpacker on the road. It’s had a long and illustrious career; Ospreys don’t go down easily.
Feathered Friends Swift 20 YF
My philosophy is that with an EPIC sleeping bag, you can sleep anywhere. A tent is a nice bonus, but a real sleek sleeping bag means you can roll out anywhere in a and stay warm in a pinch. And the Feathered Friends Swift bag is about as premium as it gets.
Grayl Geopress Filtered Bottle
Always travel with a water bottle! They save you money and reduce your plastic footprint on our planet. The Grayl Geopress acts as a purifier AND temperature regulator – so you can enjoy a cold red bull, or a hot coffee, no matter where you are.
Petzl Actik Core Headlamp
Every traveller should have a head torch! A decent head torch could save your life. When you’re camping, hiking, or even if the power just went out, a top-quality headlamp is a MUST. The Petzl Actik Core is an awesome piece of kit because it’s USB chargeable—batteries begone!
First Aid Kit
Never go off the beaten track (or even on it) without your first aid kit! Cuts, bruises, scrapes, third-degree sunburn: a first aid kit will be able to handle most of these minor situations.
- The LAST Backpacking Packing List You’ll Ever Need
- The BEST Travel Tents for Adventurous Humans
- Top Raincoats for Travel (Another MUST-BUY)
- What to Pack for a Hike (Beginner’s Guide)
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Travel Offbeat, Live Upbeat
And hit every downbeat.
You SHOULD travel off the beaten path. You SHOULD leave the itinerary at home, alongside your hesitation, and travel somewhere that both frightens and excites you. Because that is how we grow .
I firmly believe that travel is for everyone – that it should be accessible to everyone. You don’t need much money to travel, but you do need the courage to walk your own way.
You see, the problem with conventional tourism is that it tells you how to travel. It’s an industry built on selling pre-meditated adventures as entirely unique experiences. If you walk the tourist trail, you’ll visit many countries in your time…
But you won’t travel any of them.
But travel is for EVERYONE, and so is offbeat travel. You don’t have to scale the Karakoram peaks or unearth the subaqueous depths of the Mariana Trench to break off the beaten path. You only have to willing to go your own way. And find your own answers to the questions that you have.
And write them down. It’s a big and boldly beautiful world still filled with many secrets for those who are willing to search for them. There are a lot of good stories waiting to be told…
And for transparency’s sake, please know that some of the links in our content are affiliate links . That means that if you book your accommodation, buy your gear, or sort your insurance through our link, we earn a small commission (at no extra cost to you). That said, we only link to the gear we trust and never recommend services we don’t believe are up to scratch. Again, thank you!
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I couldn’t agree more!
I love getting off the beaten path, and to go to less touristic places! Like you say…You get the more authentic experience when you don’t stick to the typical routes or sights! Thanks for sharing your views and destinations!
Thanks for the words !!
Wich cosy affordable fun beachtown would u reccomend to live for some months !? ( we are a minimalist couple+small todler) 🙂
Thats where hitchhiking is the best…and no pre-booked hotels!!! Damn those gap year kids and western tourists, waving/spending their money like its a never ending role of toilet paper, not meeting the locals and seeing the ‘beaten to death’ tourist sites ????
The core appeal of Africa to me is always the people so it’s best to start with places you can speak the language. I speak French so it has given me more options. Travelers with a attitude of just wanting to tick off a list of sites to visit are probably going to be disappointed in many countries. I’ve no doubt you can appreciate that it’s the journey and people you meet on the way that are the most important thing. It’s easily the most demanding continent to travel in and especially once you get off the beaten track transport is often hot dirty uncomfortable and unreliable. In some countries to don’t even need to be anywhere remote to experience that. You can always talk to anyone on transport unlike my home England. For English speakers, of the countries I am familiar with, Uganda is a good start – plenty of wildlife and scenery options without the numbers of tourists you’ll find in Kenya or Tanzania. I love Sudan, it’s got some historical sites and the people are super friendly and respectful – no hassles or rip offs. I’d always recommend the Voodoo festival in Benin, January 10 th every year for something completely different. There’s loads of posts about many African countries on my blog, by all means check it out I’m happy to answer any questions
No mention of Africa – sub Saharan Africa is by far and away the most off the beaten path part of the world. I’ve never even seen a white person in some countries and in many of those they’re generally not tourists. I’m currently three months in to my fourth stay in Ivory Coast and have never seen a tourist outside the capital. As much as I share your enthusiasm for Pakistan and Iran I’ve actually made closer friends in Africa. There’s great traditions of hospitality in most places and most people are only too happy to talk to strangers. Also if you want to test your comfort zone it’s definitely the place to travel
Hey Graham, it’s true that Africa-coverage here is woefully inadequate – that’s just because neither myself nor anybody on my team has been to Africa recently. I’m planning a trip to Botswana next year, but till then we try to only cover destinations we have recent first hand experience of. Definitely keen to get any insights you have on epic places to explore out there though!
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‘Off the Beaten Path’: American Express Travel Publishes Annual List of Unique Destinations
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- Travel News
- Travel Tips
The credit card company American Express published its annual list of “Off the Beaten Path” travel destinations to serve as alternatives to some of the world’s most visited places. For the list, Amex collected input from its team of 7,000 travel consultants and sought out ideal destinations for both Millennials and Zoomers wanting adventure and new experiences.
Off the Beaten Path Destinations
Adelaide hills, australia .
Instead of the Blue Mountains , Amex suggests Australia’s Adelaide Hill because the fabled wine region, which is just a three-hour flight from Sydney, has charming villages and a “bustling” culinary scene.
Instead of Instabul , Amex recommends Turkey’s Bodrum because the city of 50,000 people is like a “Little Istanbul,” so just like the former Constantinople, it features bazaars, fresh seafood, active nightlife, and sparkling blue beaches along the Aegean Sea.
Instead of Sapporo , Amex suggests Japan’s Niseko for fresh powder and a “slopes-froward alternative.” The area is equipped with four resorts and is home to more than 2,000 skiable acres.
Porto Cervo, Italy
Instead of Amalfi Coast , Amex recommends Porto Cervo. The journey to the tiny town on the Costa Smeralda offers you world-class beaches, celebrity glamour, and delicious cuisine.
San Miguel De Allendea, Mexico
Instead of Riviera Maya , Amex suggests Mexico’s San Miguel De Allende for the non-beach person. It’s described as “one of the world’s most colorful and stimulating cities.”
Santa Fe, New Mexico
Instead of Sedona , Amex recommends Santa Fe, New Mexico for its unique blend of culture, history, and natural beauty.
Instead of the Maldives , Amex suggests traveling to Seychelles in the Indian Ocean. Located just 1,000 miles off the coast of Kenya, it’s described as a similar paradise with remote beaches, expansive biodiversity, varied topography, and multicultural vibrancy.
St. Kitts and Nevis
Instead of the U.S. Virgin Islands , Amex recommends visiting the laid-back vibes of St. Kitts and Nevis in the Caribbean Sea because the two-island nation has sparkling waters, friendly locals, and a fun-in-the-sun culture.
Instead of Agra , Amex suggests India’s Udaipur because it’s an “uber-romantic city” filled with lakes and palaces. “The sense of the historical grandeur is just as magical” as Agra, home of the Taj Mahal.
Instead of the Dolomites in Italy, Amex recommends Zermatt if you’re planning a European ski vacation. It’s described as a “traditionally charming” ski town where everything runs like clockwork.
Daniel Terrill is a writer, editor, and journalist. He covers the outdoors and travel. In the past, he was the managing editor at Guns.com, the commerce editor at Task & Purpose, a police officer, a Marine, and perhaps the most dangerous job of all, a substitute teacher. You can contact him at [email protected].
- ©Copyright 2023
5 Tips to Help You Travel Off the Beaten Path
Published: July 5, 2022
We all want to get out and explore, but many of us want to go beyond the places where most visitors spend their time. Deciding to travel off the beaten path means that you’re willing to break from the pack and go deeper into your destination. If you’re like me, you’re in search of unique experiences, surprise magical moments, and more meaningful interactions!
Choosing to venture away from the main tourist trail gives you opportunities to discover those hidden gems that aren’t plastered all over Instagram and connect with locals in a more authentic way. When we travel off the beaten path, we gain a better understanding of our destination and get a glimpse into what life is like for those who live there. During my years of travel, most of the most memorable moments have happened outside of the major attractions and my well-laid plans (which is why I don’t make too many these days!).
In this article, you’ll discover tips to help you find the hidden gems in your destination. We’ll cover the variety of ways you can get yourself off the main tourist track and into local life. You’ll also learn how to use some of the more common planning tools to find interesting spots that will help you travel off the beaten path!
*** This post may contain affiliate links, which means if you make a purchase using the link, I receive a small commission at no additional charge to you. This helps me keep the lights on around here. 🙂 I ONLY recommend products and services I personally use and love. ***
How to Travel Off the Beaten Path
Talk to the locals! Ask them where else you should visit in their city, country, or region. Find out where they go to dinner, on their days off, etc.
Walk 3 to 5 Blocks from the main tourist trail in major destinations.
Choose small, lesser-known locations near major cities. Use guidebooks and internet research to find these spots.
Keep your itinerary flexible so you have time to visit the places you find out about once you’ve arrived.
Use tools like Atlas Obscura and Google Maps to find hidden gems.
Tip #1 for Travel Off the Beaten Path: Ask the Locals!
I never would have known about Snezka or the surrounding area if it weren’t for a conversation with a local woman on the bus the night I arrived in the Czech Republic (Czechia)!
Talking to people who live and work in your destination is the absolute best way to find out about interesting and unique spots! They know the cool places that aren’t listed in any guidebooks or written a blog post. In my experience, most people are happy to share more about their home and are excited that you want to see more than just what the buses full of tourists come to see.
Start by talking with the people you encounter throughout your day. Talk to the people who work at the place you’re staying, your server in the restaurant you stop in for lunch, or stop by the tourist information office and chat with the locals who work there. They’re very likely to speak English, if you find yourself with a language barrier.
Ask them where they go for dinner, not where they think you should go. Find out what they like to do on their day off and check out the places they tell you about. Discover where they go with their families on vacation.
Tip #2 for Travel Off the Beaten Path: Get Off the Tourist Trail
The John Lennon Wall is only a few blocks off the main tourist trail in Prague, but I was the only traveler there when I took this.
Every major destination has a “tourist trail”. These are the areas around the popular sites where the big buses congregate or cruise ships dock. This is where you’ll find the souvenir shops, restaurants with English menus posted for passersby to view, touts selling their hop-on hop-off bus tickets, and street performers.
When you want to see more of your destination, simply walk three to five blocks away from the crowds. Once you start to see restaurants or pubs without their menu displayed in the window, you’ve arrived. Most of the people you’ll see look like they live there or are indie travelers like yourself.
Tip #3 for Travel Off the Beaten Path: Choose Smaller Destinations
Look how many smaller, potentially fascinating places there are near Paris!
Fact: big cities tend to draw more tourists. Natural wonders that have become iconic also tend to draw a lot of visitors. Again, there’s a reason people want to visit these places -- they’re amazing! When visiting one of these places, leave room in your itinerary for a day trip or even spend a few days in the surrounding area.
Great ways to find these kinds of places are through guidebooks, Google Maps, and travel blogs. Guidebooks include a lot of great information about the surrounding region. Look at places that only get a couple paragraphs in the book. Do they sound interesting? Even a day in one of these spots will give you a chance to travel off the beaten path for a bit.
Using Google Maps, look for smaller towns around the main city where you’ll arrive. Zoom out a couple of times to see other cities, towns, and natural areas nearby. As you can see in the photo above, there are a lot of cities, towns, and nature preserves (all of these are less than four hours from Paris!) nearby. Start by looking at the photos on Google for each place and make a list of the ones you want to research more. Easy!
When Stan (my adventure partner) and I found cheap flights to Copenhagen, Denmark, we booked a rental car for a handful of days after our time in the city. We didn’t have much planned so I was talking to the rental agent about places she would recommend to visit (see tip #1!). Because of that conversation we found ourselves at Mons Kilint, an incredibly gorgeous seaside landscape! There was a tiny paragraph about it in our guidebook, but it was one of the highlights of our time in Denmark!
Tip #4 for Travel Off the Beaten Path: Keep Your Itinerary Flexible
I booked my cabin room at this campground in Shkoder, Albania only two days before I arrived!
Having a flexible itinerary is going to give you the best chance to add things you discover after you arrive. If not knowing where you’ll be staying before you go is uncomfortable, then do your best with the other tips and you’ll still have an amazing time!
In order to have a flexible itinerary, it’s best to visit outside of the busy season for your destination. When you’re visiting outside of the major tourist time, it’s much easier to decide where to go and find a place to stay a day or two in advance. If you’re already traveling to a more remote area, you may still be able to do this during the high season.
Tip #5 for Travel Off the Beaten Path: Use the Right Search Tools
Google Maps shows you markers for places of interest. Many of them are random, interesting things that you don’t find in guidebooks.
Knowing the best tools to use as you’re planning will help you find hidden gems before you even get to your destination. Atlas Obscura and Google Maps are two of my favorites for finding those lesser-known places.
With Google Maps, all you have to do is zoom in on a town or city and you’ll start to see different colored pins show up. The image above is from the town of Bourges located in the region around Paris. Each of those turquoise markers you see indicate a place of interest.
Simply click on the marker to see photos, a description, and a website, if they have one. You can decide quickly if this is something that looks interesting to you. Bookmark it and you’ve got your first place to travel off the beaten path for your next trip!
Wrapping It Up
We never would have known how wonderful Mons Klint, Denmark was if it weren’t for chatting with the agent when picking up our rental car!
Choosing to travel off the beaten path is one of the best ways to experience indie travel . When we opt for destinations that are less popular, we have more opportunities to go beyond what the destination has set up for the typical visitor. It allows us to learn more about the places we go and gives us more chance to interact with people who call the place home, not just those who work in the tourism industry.
When we travel off the beaten path and immerse ourselves in the destinations we visit, we also have a chance to experience life from a different point of view. If we stick to the main tourist trail, we’re usually seeing the most sanitized and pleasant version of a place rather than the all the layers to life there.
Now that you know how to find those places to travel off the beaten path, it’s time to plan your trip! (FYI, travel planning is my specialty!) Below you’ll find some of my best resources to create a travel experience you’ll love while maximizing the time and money you have to spend! Though some of these articles are specific to Europe, much of the information can apply to destinations worldwide.
What Type of Traveler Are You? Find Out and Create More Memorable Trips
Planning A Europe Trip: A Step-by-Step Guide to Creating A Trip You’ll Love
7 Tips for Finding Cheap Flights to Anywhere You Want to Go
How to Plan A Travel Budget + Tips for Saving Money on Independent Travel
How to Plan A Trip with Google Maps in 4 Easy Steps
You can also sign up to get the Indie Travel Dispatch , a weekly newsletter with travel tips, stories, and inspiration to help you create more exciting, authentic, and meaningful travel experiences.
If you’ve enjoyed this article, I’d love to stay connected! You can also find me over on Instagram or Facebook , if you’d like to connect there!
Now get out there. The world is waiting for you!
What off the beaten path places have you loved? Do you have tips for finding hidden gems in a destination?
Share your stories and tips in the comments for the rest of the community!
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5 Unique & Easy International Travel Destinations for Your Next Trip
How to make flexible travel plans: 5 tips to save time & money, how i found cheap flights to peru: see the research, routes, and prices.
About the author
Fun Lover. Food Eater. Bold Explorer. Big Dreamer. Annie is a fiercely independent traveler who loves to create unique and interesting experiences. She thrives on finding the magical moments and hidden gems waiting around every corner. Her passion for helping others make their travel dreams come true fuels her work as a travel planner, consultant, educator, and community builder.
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I like to take a walking tour with a local on the first day that I arrive at my destination. They always give you tips on what to see, where to eat, and they favorite places.
Yes! A free walking tour is the best! I always do that my first full day in a place too. 🙂
Absolutely agree with the author! Popular tourist destinations are usually overcrowded and it’s literally impossible to enjoy the trip and feel the authentic atmosphere of the country. Well…I should admit that I’m an introvert 🙂 And yes, flexibility is a must: otherwise the romantic spirit of travelling could be lost.
Yes! While the places are still authentic, it’s hard to get the feel because they’re so jammed up with crowds!
Flexibility is everything! I honestly can’t imagine making exactly plans weeks in advance. You meet so many people while traveling and get so many invitations and recommendations that it would be a real bummer to just stick to a fixed itinerary!
I agree completely! Having a flexible itinerary leaves room for all the magic you find along the way!
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My Itchy Travel Feet
The Baby Boomer's Guide To Travel
18 Off-the-Beaten-Path National Parks to Avoid the Crowds
This article may contain referral links. Read our DISCLOSURE
Are you looking for the best off-the-beaten path national parks to visit? One of this country’s greatest national treasures, the National Park Service is experiencing a boom in visitation.
I’m not sure if it’s the great press that national parks receive on social media, a bigger interest in exploring the United States , or an increase in the world population, but the park crowds have arrived in force.
Even parks like Glacier National Park in Montana , which used to be considered an out-of-the-way park, are seeing huge increases in visitors. This has resulted in entrance tickets, shuttle buses, and other crowd control efforts.
Long time readers of My Itchy Travel Feet already know my advice for avoiding national park crowds: don’t go during tourist season, which usually means summer. But sometimes you can’t avoid prime time.
Maybe you’re traveling with the grandkids on a multigenerational summer vacation or, for whatever reason, it’s your time to travel. If you have no other choice except traveling during the busy season, I recommend beating the crowds by going off-the-beaten-path .
Table of Contents
Our favorite off-the-beaten-path National Parks and Monuments
When looking for national park adventures , Alan and I are on a mission to avoid the crowds. Our favorite national parks in the United States are becoming more and more popular, which equates to traffic-congested roads and busy hiking trails .
That’s not for us! So Alan and I are on the lookout for off-the-beaten-path national parks and monuments that are less crowded.
Are you like us? If so, here are itinerary ideas for uncrowded national parks, monuments and lakeshores to get your national park travel planning started.
Our favorites are mostly located in the Western U.S. because that’s where our boomer road trips tend to focus. But our guest writers have introduced us to many other fun choices. Of course, I’ve included them. You might also check the National Park Service site for more ideas beyond major national parks.
Boomer Travel Tip
Looking for National Park books? Read our 52 Best National Park Books for 2023 .
Visit Crater Lake National Park in late May or early June
On a summer visit to Crater Lake National Park you’ll be accompanied by other visitors. But there’s a short window of opportunity in spring and early summer for a less crowded trip.
I recommend visiting Crater Lake National Park in May or early June. On our trip, Alan and I enjoyed a beautiful lake surrounded by a snowy landscape. Fun photography!
Most of the hiking trails weren’t open, but we saw folks snowshoeing some of them. One of the highlights was walking Rim Road before it was open to vehicular traffic. Of course we could have explored it on bikes like some of the other visitors.
Where to stay : Crater Lake Lodge in the park. We scored a last-minute reservation, probably because the park was not fully open. Maybe you will, too!
Take a day trip to Dry Tortugas National Park
Reachable only by ferry, chartered catamaran or float plane, Dry Tortugas definitely qualifies as an out-of-the-way national park. But this is one Florida Keys day trip that’s worth it.
Erika Nelson shares tips for a Dry Tortugas National Park day trip . In her article, you’ll learn about the ferry ride to the park on the Yankee Freedom III as well as what to do while you’re there. Enjoy exploring a picturesque Civil War Fort followed by snorkeling in crystal blue waters of the Gulf of Mexico.
Where to stay : I recommend staying in a Key West Hotel for your day trip to Dry Tortugas National Park. Camping overnight on Dry Tortugas is another option, but you’ll need to reserve a spot well in advance.
Explore Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument
Grand Staircase-Escalante is situated between Bryce and Capitol Reef national parks. Although the area in southern Utah is becoming better known, especially after Utah tourism’s Mighty 5 campaign, the monument is vast enough to still feel uncrowded.
Hike to a waterfall, explore slot canyons or challenge your four-wheel driving abilities, it’s your choice. Alan and I enjoyed Hiking to Lower Calf Creek Falls , driving the Burr Trail and exploring the Devil’s Garden .
However we visited the week before Memorial Day and it was busy. Plan ahead because you won’t find last-minute accommodations. And, in summer, plan for hot weather.
Where to stay: Boulder Mountain Lodge or Boulder Mountain Guest Ranch .
Watch the bears at Katmai National Park
A visit to the remote Katmai National Park is an Alaska adventure that I want to experience. My Itchy Travel Feet featured contributor, Debi Lander, reports on her trip to Kodiak Island to watch the bears.
While the lodge at Brooks Falls is the ultimate Alaskan bear watching experience, Debi opted for a more budget-friendly approach. Headquartering in Kodiak (don’t miss hiking at Abercrombie State Park ), Debi booked a day trip to Katmai’s Geographic Harbor. Boy, did she see bears!
Debi shares her experience in her article on Kodiak Island Bear Watching .
Where to stay: Make your headquarters in Kodiak. Search for lodging here .
Escape to the North Rim of Grand Canyon National Park
A huge tourism draw in Arizona , Grand Canyon National Park certainly isn’t off-the-beaten-path. But a less touristy experience is available on the North Rim.
It takes time and effort to reach my favorite side of the Grand Canyon but the journey’s worth it. I explain in North Rim Grand Canyon National Park: The Ultimate Guide .
Plan your visit between May and late September because the North Rim closes when the snow begins. Lodging is scarce and books early so don’t procrastinate making a reservation.
Where to stay: Grand Canyon Lodge
Explore New River Gorge National Park
Meet the new park on the block: New River Gorge National Park! While most travelers to the Southeast head for Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the savvy boomer will seek out the uncrowded vistas in West Virginia’s New River Gorge.
Want to go? James Richardson shares tips for active fun in New River Gorge National Park . From hiking (the Thurmond to Minden trail leads to a ghost town) to whitewater rafting the rapids of the New River, active travelers will find plenty to do. And then there’s the tour over the famous New River Gorge Bridge.
Where to stay : The Resort at Glade Springs is a good choice. Prefer a bed and breakfast? Consider the Historic Morris Harvey House in Fayetteville. For a stay of more than 1 or 2 days, book a cabin or chalet .
Discover John Day Fossil Beds National Monument
Most folks travel to Oregon for the beautiful coastline or to visit the mighty peaks of the Cascade Mountain Range. They forget all about eastern Oregon. That’s a mistake because that means they miss out exploring John Day Fossil Beds National Monument .
When Alan and I visited, we enjoyed a short hike on Island in Time Trail at Blue Basin. And we could have spent hours at the Thomas Condon Paleontology Instituted located in the visitor center.
Next time, we’ll include the Painted Hills and the Clarno Unit on the itinerary. Spring or fall would be a great time to return (summer is too hot for us).
Where to stay : The Best Western John Day Inn in the town of John Day is the closest accommodations to the national monument. The Riverside Schoolhouse Bed and Breakfast in Prairie City is another good choice (but requires more driving). We’ve enjoyed stays in both.
Hike Big Bend National Park
Located on the rugged southern border of Texas , Big Bend National Park is definitely isolated. And very hot in the summer. It also takes effort to arrive at the park, one of the reasons you won’t find crowds.
Known for geographic diversity and an abundance of wildlife, Deborah Lonargen and her husband came to Big Bend to hike. She shares her experience in Hiking Adventure in Big Bend National Park .
Where to stay : Chisos Mountain Lodge is the only lodging available within Big Bend National Park.
Enjoy Shenandoah National Park
When visiting the eastern U.S., you may be tempted to spend all of your time in Great Smoky Mountains National Park or on the Blue Ridge Parkway (part of the national park system). Don’t make the mistake of ignoring Shenandoah National Park in Virginia .
This long, narrow park travels along the Blue Ridge Mountains. With miles of trails (over 500), it’s an outdoor paradise for active baby boomers.
Suzan L. Jackson shares six of her favorite Shenandoah National Park hiking trails . Yes, waterfalls and views are included.
Where to stay : Big Meadows Lodge , located within the park, makes a lovely headquarters.
Experience a Bumpy Ride in Canyon de Chelly National Monument
I’d much rather explore inside a canyon rather than peering over the edge at what’s below. That’s what you’ll do at Canyon de Chelly National Monument near Chinle, Arizona .
This national monument is on Navajo land, so a local guide is required, which helps with crowd control. In fact, on a summer visit, you may see more sheep than people.
Driving in and out of Chinle Wash is part of the fun. Alan and I explored Canyon de Chelly on a four-wheel-drive adventure .
Where to stay: Best Western Canyon de Chelly Inn or Thunderbird Lodge .
Admire Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
I’ll be honest. Some reports say that Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in Michigan is being loved to death. However I’ve included it on this list of US national parks that aren’t crowded with the caveat that you avoid prime time (middle of summer).
Relatively unknown to many national park visitors, Pictured Rocks can be experienced on foot or from the water. Alan and I have certainly added this picturesque national lakeshore to our to do list.
Jim Tobalski shares his tips for exploring Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore .
Where to stay : Munising is a good place to headquarter. ( Search for hotels here ). A vacation rental is another option. ( Find them here ).
Discover Western Graffiti at El Morro National Monument
Alan and I discovered the graffiti-covered limestone cliffs of El Morro National Monument on a New Mexico Backroads Weekend Adventure . It’s a fascinating look at history that travels all the way back to prehistoric times.
We visited in early June and practically had the place to ourselves. It’s really true that History’s Written in Stone at El Morro .
And while you’re in the area, hike the volcanic trails at El Malpais National Monument . But avoid any off-road explorations if the dirt roads are wet or there’s rain in the forecast. You’ll get stuck and the tow truck won’t pull you out anytime soon.
Where to stay: Best Western Grants Inn , Grants, New Mexico
Explore Capitol Reef National Park, a less crowded Utah national park
When Alan and I arrived at the edge of Capitol Reef National Park while driving the Burr Trail , we made a pact to return to this less-crowded national park in Utah. Unfortunately for us, our Highway 12 road trip didn’t include enough time for a visit.
While we haven’t made it yet, Kate Convissor did. Her boomer travel tips for Capitol Reef National Park will get you started hiking, four-wheel adventuring and exploring this stunning national park.
Where to stay : Capitol Reef Resort in Torrey, UT is 30 miles from Capitol Reef (and some of the closest accommodations). The resort also has a restaurant, Pioneer Kitchen, making it very convenient for this isolated area of Utah. A vacation rental is another good option as there is so much to explore in the area. That’s what Alan and I plan to do on our next Utah road trip.
Appreciate Misty Fjords National Monument from the air or the water
Alan and I have visited Misty Fjords National Monument twice. Our first experience was during a cruise to Alaska . When the ship called on Ketchikan, we opted for a seaplane tour of Misty Fjords to get away from the hordes of cruisers.
Our second time in Misty Fjords was during a small ship cruise with UnCruise . On a zodiac ride, Alan and I joined a couple of other guests to explore the national monument. Darting inside of a large sea cave to see starfish and other sea creatures was my favorite part of the adventure.
Where to stay : For accommodations “in” Misty Fjords National Monument, a fishing lodge is your best choice. When on UnCruise, our group took a seaplane over to Yes Bay Lodge . You’ll arrive to a location deep in the Tongass National Forest, 50 miles from Ketchikan, for great fishing and hiking.
Walk With Stone Soldiers at Chiricahua National Monument
Here’s another Arizona canyon meant for exploring from the inside out and you may be the only hikers around. Hiking down through the rhyolite formations at Chiricahua National Monument is like walking with a troop of stone soldiers. The Apache’s called it “Land of Standing-Up Rocks,“ I call it hiking fun.
If you enjoy traveling Off-the-Beaten-Path in the Chiricahuas , this one’s for you. And while you’re in the area stop by Fort Bowie National Historic Site.
Where to stay: Wilcox is the closest town. Start your search here . Sadly, our favorite, Sunglow Ranch, is no longer in business.
Look to the Sky at Natural Bridges National Monument
Whether you explore by the stars in the first official Dark Skies park, or hike through the stone bridges during the day, Natural Bridges National Monument in Utah offers an uncrowded alternative to Arches National Park just up the road.
Located in southern Utah near Bluff , a visit is easily combined with a trip to Monument Valley. Read my tips for taking the Natural Bridges National Monument scenic drive .
Where to stay: Desert Rose Resort & Cabins or Bluff Dwellings Resort , both in Bluff, Utah.
Visit the North Rim of Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park
This Colorado canyon offers dramatic views from its edge. Already considered an off-the-beaten-path national park, turn your trip up a notch by visiting the North Rim.
Alan and I have fond memories of a flower-filled summer hike on the North Rim of Black Canyon of the Gunnison . Talk about one of the less crowded national park—we saw a handful of people. Bonus points: Paonia , one of Colorado’s coolest mountains is located close by.
Where to stay: We stayed Leroux Creek Inn in Hotchkiss. Sadly, it’s no longer in business as a bed and breakfast. Check other choices here .
Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area
Here’s a Wyoming national park adventure that Alan and I have been wanting to experience. Bighorn Canyon National Recreation actually spans two states: Wyoming (Southern district) and Montana (Northern district). But they aren’t connected by any roads.
Teresa Otto shares tips on how to explore Bighorn Canyon on the Wyoming side. You’ll learn about the great kayaking, hiking and scenic views this out-of-the-way area offers. There are also wild horses to see in the Pryor Mountains.
Where to stay : Limited lodging is available in Lovell, Wyoming .
Need help planning your next National Park Adventure? Our National Park Travel Planner features the best online resources, guides and products. We update it frequently so be sure to click on through.
Although our selections may not be included on any least visited national parks list, they are relatively uncrowded. But don’t let predictions of a crowded national park keep you from visiting some of our country’s natural treasures. Plan ahead, seek alternatives to major parks and slow down to enjoy the moment, no matter how many other travelers are experiencing it with you.
Off-the-Beaten-Path National Parks wish list
Yes, Alan and I have a wish list of national parks we’d still like to experience. And, you guessed it, they are all off-the-beaten-path. Here’s our current list:
Great Basin National Park, Nevada . Visit Lehman Caves, hike one of the many trails or drive Wheeler Peak Scenic Drive. You’ll see bristlecone pine trees!
Voyageurs National Park , Minnesota . This is a park to explore on boat or foot. Some hiking trails are reached by road, but others require a boat to get there. Or you could wait until winter and snowshoe. Known as a water-based park, most folks explore Voyageurs from the water: boat tour, kayak, or seaplane.
North Cascades National Park, Washington . Alan and I have both driven State Route 20 through the park (but not together). We’d like to return for the more moderate hikes. And I have always wanted to take the Lake Chelan Boat Ferry from Chelan to Stehekin for a fun day trip into the Stehekin Valley.
Wind Cave National Park, South Dakota . Hike the rolling prairie trails. Drive the Wind Cave geology tour into the scenic Black Hills. Wildlife watching is a big part of this park experience. You’ll see bison and possible sightings of elk herds, prairie dogs and owls that burrow into the ground. Of course taking a park ranger-led cave tour is a must.
Guadalupe Mountains National Park, Texas . With a varied landscape of mountains, canyons, desert, and even sand dunes, Guadalupe is a feast for the eyes. Of course there are hikes to experience as well as visiting abandoned ranch houses. Avoid a summer visit due to the heat. Instead, plan a fall trip to see Guadalupe Mountains National Park decked out in autumn hues.
Great Sand Dunes National Park, Colorado . Home to the tallest sand dunes in North America, of course you’ll want to go sand sledding when visiting. But after you’re sandy fun is done, there are still hikes to take, a four-wheel-drive on Medano Pass Road to experience and night skies to admire.
Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, Alaska . America’s largest national park and a World Heritage Site, requires planning. Day hikes can be found in a region that’s divided into three areas: Copper Center, McCarthy Road and Kennecott, and Nabesna Road. Or you could drive McCarthy Road to visit mining history at Kennecott (don’t drive this road in a rental). You’ll probably get the most out of joining a guided tour or exploring by sightseeing plane.
Lassen Volcanic National Park, California . Unfortunately, as of August 2021, the entire park is closed due to the Dixie Fire that’s active on the east side of the park. As I’ve learned from living in the West, forest fires don’t mean that the entire region is destroyed. When Lassen reopens, some easy explorations include driving Lassen Volcanic National Park Highway, visiting Sulphur Works or taking an easy hike around Manzanita Lake.
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Off the Beaten Path has been partnering with our friends in travel for over 31 years and our whole team is as invigorated as ever to be a good steward to our clientele during their travels. Whether on one of our small group adventures, or our “flagship” service of tailor-made travel experiences, we would love to connect and talk about getting you off the beaten path in the coming year.
Given our focus on regional depth and expertise, we encourage you to peruse all of our nearly 20 travel destinations that span the globe. We hope the travel experiences we’ve illustrated here will give you a good sense for how we link our travelers to each of these magnificent landscapes in meaningful ways.
As with everything we do, we encourage you to connect with us directly – digitally or in person – to learn more about our unique approach to travel and the many ways that we differentiate ourselves in the travel industry. Whether your interests lie in immersive experiences to any of our sacred national parklands, cultural connections with people capturing life in divergent ways from your own, or active explorations with friends and family that “stir the pot” to the authentic core of why we all need to travel, we would be honored to be your partner.
Everything we do is in celebration of this big, beautiful world and our good fortune to dwell in, immerse, and connect with it! Please enjoy our website and let us know when it is time to get off the beaten path!
Wishing you all the very best in travel and life,
Begin your journey today
Venture out with us and learn why we believe in changing people’s lives through exceptional travel experiences!
Alaska's National Parks Grand Slam
Essence of Yellowstone and Grand Teton
Yellowstone's Winter Magic
Exploring Glacier National Park
Hiking utah - exploring utah's national parks.
The landscapes of Utah’s Mighty Five are the closest you’ll get to walking on another planet. Arches, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, Bryce Canyon, and Zion National Parks are geologic playgrounds for exploring new lands. Nestled within 350 miles of each other, these wonders are an absolute must for a truly out-of-this-world experience. To be sure you […]
6 Destinations for Couples Who Travel
It can be hard to find time to truly connect with your significant other in daily life. There are work demands, errands, and duties, leaving little time to appreciate each other. That’s where an adventure saves the day. As a company that was founded, and is now run by a couple, Off the Beaten Path […]
3 Jaw-Dropping Latin American Destinations to Travel to in 2023
It can be overwhelming to pick a spot on the map and commit to a multi-day or multi-week adventure. You know you want to explore, to connect and to recharge, but where to do it? A jaw-dropping adventure to Latin America may be just the ticket. Comprised of 33 different countries, Latin America checks all […]
5 Can't-Miss National Parks and Their Fascinating History
There is a euphoric sense of peace when you enter a national park. It may be that these protected lands become a sweet escape from the hustle of everyday life. Or maybe it’s the wildlife, like bison, bears, or crocodiles that leave you in awe at just how marvelous it is that these creatures live […]
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NORTH TO ALASKA
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American Express Travel’s 2024 Trending Destinations Highlight Off the Beaten Path Vacation Spots
Porto Cervo, Italy; San Miguel De Allende, Mexico; Udaipur, India; and Zermatt, Switzerland are among the top places to visit
American Express Travel ® released its annual Trending Destinations list for 2024 today, featuring the 10 must-visit vacation spots based on global American Express ® Card Member travel bookings and recommendations from Amex Travel’s team of 6,000 expert Travel Consultants. This year’s list – 2024 Trending Destinations: Off the Beaten Path – goes beyond the traditional, well-known vacation spots to uncover hidden gems and new experiences that travelers, particularly Millennials and Gen-Z, are looking for.
This press release features multimedia. View the full release here: https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20231114575637/en/
American Express Travel's 2024 Trending Destinations (Graphic: Business Wire)
“People are looking for new experiences and to immerse themselves in the local culture when they travel,” said Audrey Hendley, President of American Express Travel. “Whether you crave a new adventure or just want to beat the crowds, this list is a great place for every type of traveler to find their next vacation destination. Through our Travel Consultants’ expertise and extensive knowledge, we can help find the perfect place to stay, fastest way to get there, and the best local activities to create an incredible trip,” she added.
Below is the full list of the Top Trending Destinations for 2024:
The Trending Destinations list offers a trip for all kinds of travelers. For example:
- Instead of the popular Blue Mountains of New South Wales, consider the Adelaide Hills with its charming villages and bustling culinary scene for your Australian rural retreat.
- If you love the history and energy of Istanbul, Bodrum, Turkey is home to beaches on the sparkling blue Aegean, bustling bazaars, fresh seafood, and active nightlife.
- Pastel-hued Porto Cervo, Italy on the island of Sardinia is a more exclusive alternative to the iconic Amalfi Coast that still gives visitors celebrity glamour and mouth-watering cuisine.
- The sparkling seas, friendly locals and historic culture of St. Kitts and Nevis in the Caribbean make it the perfect destination for those who love the laid-back vibes and white-sand beaches of St. Thomas and St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
- Travelers who love to ski in Sapporo can head farther afield to Niseko, Japan on the northernmost island of Hokkaido, for an equally unforgettable winter-sports experience.
- Those who flock to Mexico’s Riviera Maya for its beautiful scenery and vibrant food and culture will find a similarly colorful and stimulating urban experience by travelling inland to San Miguel de Allende.
- Santa Fe, New Mexico offers a similar blend of American Southwest culture, history, and natural beauty as popular Sedona.
- The Maldives have come to symbolize the exclusive end-of-the earth beach vacation. The Seychelles offer a similar paradise, along with expansive biodiversity and multicultural vibrancy.
- Udaipur, India, an uber-romantic city of lakes and palaces, is a great alternative to Agra, home to the Taj Mahal.
- For those who love skiing the Dolomites, picturesque Zermatt, Switzerland offers a similar, charming feel.
American Express Travel’s Travel Consultants have identified the best places to explore, eat, and stay for each destination, so that travelers can get a taste of the local culture, including seeing koalas in the wild in Adelaide Hills; shopping for Turkish towels at the bazaars in Bodrum; and visiting a museum devoted to ceremonial masks in San Miguel de Allende.
When Card Members book trips with Amex Travel, its massive global footprint and incredible benefits help them make the most out of their travel through access to 6,000 Travel Consultants in 23 countries who speak 13 languages and over 2,300 properties in 114 countries through the Fine Hotels + Resorts ® 1 and The Hotel Collection 2 programs.
1 This benefit is available only to eligible Platinum Card Members. 2 This benefit is available only to eligible Gold and Platinum Card Members.
ABOUT AMERICAN EXPRESS American Express is a globally integrated payments company, providing customers with access to products, insights and experiences that enrich lives and build business success. Learn more at americanexpress.com and connect with us on facebook.com/americanexpress , instagram.com/americanexpress , linkedin.com/company/american-express , twitter.com/americanexpress , and youtube.com/americanexpress .
Key links to products, services and corporate responsibility information: personal cards , business cards and services , travel services , gift cards , prepaid cards , merchant services , Accertify , Business Blueprint , Resy , corporate card , business travel , diversity and inclusion , corporate responsibility and Environmental, Social, and Governance reports .
Methodology: American Express Travel’s 2024 Trending Destinations are selected based on global American Express Card Member bookings through American Express Travel, looking at year-over-year travel growth between 2019 and 2023.
Seller of Travel : American Express Travel Related Services Company, Inc. is acting solely as a sales agent for travel suppliers and is not responsible for the actions or inactions of such suppliers. Certain suppliers pay us commission and other incentives for reaching sales targets or other goals and may provide incentives to our Travel Consultants. For more information visit www.americanexpress.com/travelterms .
California CST#1022318; Washington UBI#600-469-694
Source: American Express Company Location: U.S.
AMERICAN EXPRESS Emily Vicker [email protected]
View source version on businesswire.com: https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20231114575637/en/
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