Let’s be honest, you’ve heard about Thailand, Rio and Macchu Picchu but what lesser known travel destinations have yet to be overrun by tourists and second hand copies of the lonely planet?
It’s true, the above places are fantastic to explore but for the most part, the experience can feel somewhat diluted or even contrived.
What’s more, if travel is supposed to be about new experiences, then it seems unlikely that the same old hotspots can offer up a unique experience without feeling like just another tourist in just another tourist destination.
In this article, let’s take a look at ten travel destinations around the world that you should visit before they’re overrun bu tourists:
While hordes of tourists are scrambling over each other at the beach in Boracay, this tiny little paradise island offers the same white-powdered sand experience with a very laid back vibe.
In fact, in spite of this being a surfer's paradise and every bit as fun as Boracay, the quiet and primitive nature of Siargao is what makes the island so appealing.
In other words, if you choose to bypass the parties, pollution and over population elsewhere, Siargao is the unspoiled alternative with friendly locals and more than enough activities to make this a top travel destination of the Philippines.
Porto seems to get most of the attention from tourists in Portugal but the truth is, Lisbon is the more cultured and possibly the most scenic of the two.
What’s more, the city is often referred to as the “Hipster Capital of Europe” and has an unmistakable feel-good ambiance that seems to translate to a great sense of pride and friendliness among the locals.
On the other hand, Lisbon is an affordable and modern city where sunkist skies are common and a very old world can be found in the architecture.
Whether you come for the hipster vibe or the paella or to explore the ancient remnants around town such as Belem Tower and Sao Jorge Castle, this charming city has a tendency to live up to even the highest expectations.
Bagan is one of those places that most people know very little about and as such, it tends to fly under the radar for most travelers.
But for what it lacks in notoriety, it more than makes up for in iconic landmarks as Bagan is home to a fascinating empire and thousands of beautiful temples.
As if that’s not enough, what was once a deeply troubled country under military control is now an intriguing destination in the minds of intrepid travelers when they visit Southeast Asia.
Aside from the temples, Bagan is ripe for exploration and ideal for hiking, horseriding and cultural encounters in local villages. More specifically, the tourist crowds you find in nearby Thailand, are almost entirely non existent.
If you’re like me, when you picture Europe, you think of Paris, London or Rome.
It’s true, they’re all worth a visit but the hidden gems are usually the most memorable on any trip. Riga is one of these places and a very ancient town with a myriad of cobblestone street, lined with red brick houses and medieval facades.
In fact, Old Town Riga is a UNESCO World Heritage Site with endless landmarks including spectacular cathedrals and old stone churches.
That being said, there’s also no end of things to do in Riga with midnight dinner cruises and colorful museums filling in the gaps between bike rides, walking tours and the hipster café’s on Miera Street.
As if that’s not enough, the luscious pine forests of Kemeri and pristine beaches in Jurmala are both within easy reach of the city centre.
For such a small capital, Quito has quite an impressive reputation but at the same time, the city is most often overlooked in favor of Lima or Buenos Airies in neighboring countries.
Although busy in places, Quito has a rather subdued atmosphere which really seems to compliment the old palaces, churches, and monasteries that you find dotted around the Old Town.
As you might expect in a South American city, color is also found in every direction and this is also the case after dark when endless bars come alive and cultural performances can be found in the Teatro National Sucre.
Standing tall above the city of Quito, Andean peaks really make this feel like a remote getaway from the norm and although most tourist use it as a quick stopover enroute to the Galapagos, visitors will soon realize that this vibrant city deserves far more attention.
Reykjaviki is probably the most popular travel destination on this list but the Nordic capital, with its Viking history and small town atmosphere, is mostly forgotten for visitors planning a trip to Iceland.
It’s really no surprise that Iceland has become so popular but the same will soon be said about the capital. After all, the quaint streets and quirky design throughout Reykjavik give it a very distinct appearance that seems unlike anywhere else in the world.
In many ways, this is also a city where the old meets the new as the Viking history and old facades are an obvious influence that now share the same spaces with trendy café’s, craft boutiques and a surprising amount of street art.
Visitors can venture out of the city for one day and visit many iconic natural attractions including Strokkur Geyser, Thingvellir National Park and the majestic three-tier Gullfoss Waterfall.
Port Louis, Mauritius
Located just off the southeast coast of Africa, Mauritius is a hugely popular travel destination where scintillating beaches and five star resorts go hand-in-hand.
However, the vibrant Port Louis is often what many visitors fail to experience during their time on the island.
Featuring a long lineup of bars, stores, restaurants, museums and even casinos’ the Caudan Waterfront is a hive of activity and a great insight in the life of locals on the island.
Similarly, Port Louis Theatre offers visitors to enjoy renditions and performances about the local traditions while the local bazaar is such a fun environment in which to meet locals selling spices, crafts, home grown vegetables and a variety of exotic foods.
As if that’s not enough, with most visitors sticking to the same resorts and beaches, there’s rarely another tourist in sight.
Luang Prabang, Laos
Luang Prabang is definitely the quietest and most serene capital in Southeast Asia which is more like a town than an actual city.
Located next to the Mekong and surrounded by mountains, this can also feel like a very secluded or isolated city experience for those who take the time to visit.
As an old French colonial town, you can expect colourful buildings in between spectacular monasteries and wats while the lack of backpackers that can be found in Thailand or Vietnam is strikingly obvious.
Luang Prabang is also the perfect place from which to explore the mountains and rural areas in Northern Laos but with so many excellent restaurants, bars and attractions filling the palm fringed streets, Luang Prabang is one of the last hubs in Southeast Asia that has managed to avoid being overrun by tourists.
Tel Aviv, Israel
For many people, Jerusalem is the main point of interest in Israel but if you ask most locals or experienced travelers, they will likely tell you that Tel Aviv can be a more enjoyable alternative.
In many ways, Tel Aviv stands alone with a very different aesthetic and atmosphere than almost anywhere else in the Middle East.
Tel Aviv has no less than fourteen kilometers of beach, trendy café’s, endless hipster bars and a cosmopolitan crowd that seems very unique in its own right.
At the same token, there is certainly just as much culture to be found in Tel Aviv with local museums and traditional cuisines a staple on almost every street.
If architecture is of any interest, the old port of Jaffa is great for a stroll while Miraflores is certainly the centre for the young, fresh and hip locals who love nothing more than diving in and out of the swanky restaurants and bars.
Medillin was once considered a “dangerous travel destination” and had a reputation for being the home of Pablo Escobar and a world trade centre for drugs.
Today, this beautiful city is far from dabgeours and fast becoming one of the most exciting travel destinations in South America.
Surrounded by mountains, the city is overflowing with parks, libraries, museums, landmarks and more than just a few impressive landmarks.
As it turns out, Medillin also has the cleanest metro system, a low cost of living, antiquated neighborhoods, paved bike paths and the biggest outdoor escalators (cable cars) in the world.
Outside of the city, visitors can also take a trip into rural communities where flower markets and village life offer a very different perspective to the busy city.
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