Looking for a new and different destination that’s still under the radar rather than the same spots everyone else seems to be heading to? While there’s definitely something appealing about places like romantic Dubrovnik, stunning Iceland and Scotland’s Isle of Skye, they’ve become so popular that it can be tough to avoid the crowds. Consider visiting one of these destinations instead.
Southern Ireland’s Cork City has been giving Dublin a run for its money. It has a hip, youthful vibe, reinventing itself in recent years, posed to steal the spotlight from the country’s capital. It has a renowned culinary scene with lots of farm-to-table eateries whipping up creative dishes rooted in Irish heritage. Toss in waterfront views, historic architecture and friendly locals for the perfect trip. After a day exploring and dining on a gourmet meal, be sure to head to one or more of the lively pubs like the Long Valley Bar, a narrow and deep pub with a bar running its full length, doors taken from an ocean liner and staff dressed in white butcher coats as a throwback to Victorian custom. Filled with conversation and laughter, it’s a great place for a good pint and a great sandwich.
One of Spain’s best-kept secrets, despite its dramatic beauty with towering, jagged mountain peaks, glistening lakes, crowd-free beaches and a fantastic culinary scene, the Asturias region is unlikely to remain hidden for much longer. For now, it makes for an ideal destination where you’re very unlikely to find yourself bumping elbow other tourists. Walk the miles and miles of scenic hikes, visit the famous holy Cave of Covadonga and the stunning Covadonga Lakes. You can also enjoy relaxing on pristine white sandy beaches framed by clear turquoise waters.
The Puglia region is not on most tourists’ radar, but it’s home to many spectacular places, from the coast along Polignano a Mare with its spellbinding sea caves to hilltop Ostuni, a White City that lies about five miles inland from the Adriatic Sea. The medieval walled city’s buildings were built right on top of one another, while archways support the houses they connect, making up for a lack of strong foundations. At its highest point is the cathedral, built in the 15th century in Gothic style, rare in this region where most of the churches are austere Romanesque or ornate.
Paraguay is another fabulous destination for those who love the outdoors, and it can be enjoyed at a budget-friendly price too. It’s filled with impressive waterfalls like Monday Falls and Guaira Falls, along with glistening lakes like Ypacaraí Lake and the Itaipu Dam, which hosts nighttime light shows. History enthusiasts won’t want to miss the country’s historic sites like the impressive La Santísima Trinidad de Paraná, an 18th-century mission, and Asuncion’s the National Pantheon of Heroes.
The remote Faroe Islands are slowly showing up on the radar among adventure travelers, home to remote places like Gasadalur which was nearly abandoned as it was so hard to reach. The tiny village sits at the edge of a dramatic cliff overlooking the sea, while a ring of towering mountains cut it off from the rest of its own island. Prior to a decade or so ago, the only way to get there was to hike over the mountainous terrain – the only connection to the outside world other than climbing up a cliff face. Today, this mostly untouched place is best known for its magnificent waterfall and its jaw-dropping views where lush green fields tumble toward steep drop-offs in the North Atlantic Gulf Stream.
The Azore archipelago is part of Portugal but lies 900 miles west. These lush, volcanic islands make for an ideal off-the-beaten-path location, at least for now. Here you can enjoy the timeless, tranquil beauty, driving empty roads fringed with millions of azaleas and hydrangeas, and everything from some of the best whale watching on the planet to breathtaking hikes, fantastic cuisine and more. The island of Flores is not only renowned for its flowers but notable for tranquil lagoons, cliffs carved by grottoes, hot springs and volcanic remains.
The remote island of Sumba is what Bali used to be 20 years ago. Less than an hour’s flight away, it’s twice the size of its well-known neighbor has only a sixth of the population. Often referred to as a “lost world,” it’s a place of wild adventure and striking beauty, located east of Timor, south of Flores and north of Australia with the turquoise Indian Ocean in between. There are a handful of resorts on this beautiful Indonesian island, including some very luxurious options, countless idyllic beaches, world-class surfing and snorkeling, and some of the most genuinely friendly people you’ll ever meet.
While many people think of places like Kenya, Egypt and South Africa when visiting the African continent, you might want to consider Malawi. It’s surrounded by Zambia, Mozambique and Tanzania, and Mozambique, and is home to magnificent national parks with swatches of dazzling white sands. Lake Malawi is a snorkeling hot spot, and if you’re looking for exotic wildlife, head to Liwonde National Park where you can embark on a walking or vehicle safari for close up views of everything from hippos and elephants to crocs, baboons and endangered black rhinos.
The Raja Ampat Islands may not be easy to reach but they’re some of Indonesia’s most magical isles. They sit atop a coral atoll covered with white sands while encircled by brilliant aquamarine seas and reefs that are jam-packed with colorful fish and other marine life, ideal for snorkeling. It’s the perfect place to enjoy your days in tranquility at the beach and look forward to some of the most jaw-dropping sunsets on the planet at the end of every day.
The Yaeyama Islands are the westernmost and southernmost inhabited islands of Japan, two of the three main island chains in the Okinawa Prefecture. Its coral reefs provide idyllic habitats for a wealth of marine life, including dugongs and whales. Of course, it also boasts some of the most spectacular white sandy beaches and beautiful clear aquamarine hued waters. Escape the city and enjoy relaxing and taking part in all sorts of water sports.