74 Underrated and Off The Beaten Path Places To Visit
Last Updated on August 1, 2022
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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.
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 to 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 2022 (and beyond).
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
This off the beaten path village is perched on top of a mountain overlooking the Ionian sea.
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.
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.
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 for 2022, 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 for 2022.
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.
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
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 16th 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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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!!
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.
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 road, there’s so much to experience here.
Trekking to a number of other villages is possible in under one day. Meeting friendly locals 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.
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 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.
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.
As it might be considered as 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. 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.
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 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.
53. Carretera Austral, Chile
Suggested Travel With The Smile
Carretera Austral (the Southern Highway) is still a bit off the radar for travellers.
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 in 2022.
You should definitely visit Boipeba next time you’re in Brazil. I promise that you will just love it!!
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.
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.
For 2022, 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 for 2022!
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.
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.
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.
The island 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 for 2022, 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 in 2018 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 in 2022!
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 for 2022.
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 in 2022.
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!
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.
Travel Off the Beaten Path in Antarctica
Suggested by The Travel Sisters
Antarctica is my pick for a top off the beaten path destination for 2022. 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.
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