With the internet constantly at the tip of our fingers and Instagram giving us a glimpse of inspiring spots all over the world, there’s never been a better time to explore under the radar destinations. There are a plethora of heavenly options, and thankfully some of them remain unspoiled by over tourism.
If you’re looking to get off the beaten path in 2019, we’ve put together a list of increasingly accessible and incredible destinations that might float your boat, drive your passion, or give you a walk on the wild side. Best of all, they’re places that may not have occurred to most travelers.
1. Piran, Slovenia
Piran is known as the Venice of Slovenia, so if you’re looking for an alternative to the beautiful but over visited and sinking gem, Piran is flawless. The white houses with their red rooftops are just as charming as any on the Amalfi coast, and the convenient location right next to the refreshing Adriatic makes Piran a grand choice.
Slovenia has solidified itself as a popular destination since the world discovered Lake Bled. So now is the time to take advantage of the quieter regions and basque in their enviable weather and rich history. The countryside will have you feeling like you stepped into a Mediterranean paradise, enveloping you with olive groves, vineyards, and tranquil countryside.
To compliment your wanderings, an app has been developed called Nexto, which lets you learn the secrets of the city by pointing your camera at the historical buildings; a personal guide in your pocket!
Piran is a mere 1.5 hours away from the capital of Ljubljana, or you can even access it by taking a scenic 30-minute ferry over the border from Italy.
2. Niue Island, New Zealand
New Zealand has no shortage of breathtaking landscapes and dreamy scenery. But 1,500 miles to the northeast, there’s a tiny island nation called Niue, pronounced ‘new-ay.’ The Cook Islands and Fiji are nearby, but hardly anyone has even heard of this peaceful place. Flights leave from Auckland twice a week, making it an easy getaway from the city for locals and visitors to New Zealand alike.
Niue is an absolute haven for cavers, divers, and snorkelers, boasting some of the clearest waters in the world and endless coral. Bathe on the beach, and keep an eye out for Humpback whales, dolphins and manta rays literally meters from the shore. The locals are so welcoming and will pick you up on the road even if you don’t stick your thumb out.
If the simple life with thrilling exploration is your ideal vacation, Niue might just be the one for you.
Innsbruck, the capital of Austria’s western state of Tyrol is everything you would expect from popular destinations in Europe. It offers charming architecture, fabulous museums and galleries, and even a Christmas market. What a lot of European cities don’t have are the epic landscapes, and the adventure opportunities that come hand in hand with Innsbruck’s location at the foot of the Austrian Alps.
As it’s surrounded by so many other fantastic cities such as Munich, Prague, and Vienna, Innsbruck is often overlooked, which makes it convenient for travellers looking for a more relaxed atmosphere in the city. This part of Austria is an absolute haven for winter sports enthusiasts, featuring some epic snow-capped peaks and even some glaciers that have runs all year round. If you want a city break that provides peace and tranquillity without the tourist footprint, Innsbruck won’t let you down.
Albania is certainly unique but it rarely tops anyone’s bucket list of destinations. Do you know anyone who’s actually been there? Yet it’s truly one of the most interesting places in Europe, and should certainly be considered.
Your wanderlust will be rewarded whether you’re exploring the northern wilderness where the mountains feel more like the Himalayas than the Balkans, or the mysterious south that has a history richer than the Prince of Persia. And the views… they will literally make your jaw drop. Try hiking the Accursed Mountains and not contracting a serious case of awe-struck.
The flow of travellers is still at a minimum, so you’ll have most of the pleasant views to yourself. The coast offers pristine beaches with the crystal clear Adriatic, and the country is full of ancient ruins that are just waiting to be discovered, such as the prehistoric Butrint. Best of all, Albania is so cheap! What more could you ask for?
It’s always a good time to escape to India. Chaos and tranquillity go hand in hand; immaculate sandscapes clash with filthy streets, and the locale is as friendly as it is frustrating.
India is the contrast of pleasures and tests that make travelling so amazing. While diversity is a strong point, so is the price. India is one of the cheapest places to travel in the world, and the further off the beaten path you go, the cheaper it becomes. If you’re looking to stretch your savings and spend a while discovering the vast and ever-changing landscape, India is the perfect opportunity.
Visit Gujarat for a taste of India’s Wild West. Experience alpine desert land in Spiti. Ditch Kerala for Majuli, the world’s largest inhabited river island. Forget the beautiful beaches in Goa and head over the border to Maharashtra where ‘deserted’ is an understatement. Each popular destination has a lesser known cousin with just as much to offer, and they’re just waiting to be explored.
6. Nanterre, France
Forget Paris; it’s the unexpected town of Nanterre that’s attracting intrepid travellers in 2019. Nestled in the suburbs west of Paris, Nanterre is a fabulous destination for a long weekend break. The shopping is superior, so if you’re looking for a bit of French retail therapy without the hectic density of Paris, Nanterre might be for you. Paris is still only a metro ride away so you can envelop yourself in the city sights, and escape back to the pleasant suburbs at will.
7. Ninh Binh, Vietnam
The landscapes in Vietnam are effortlessly beautiful, and one of the main reasons people come to visit this culturally diverse paradise. Ninh Binh is a little-known but up and coming province of Vietnam that packs a punch when it comes to scenery and exploration and an authentic view of rural life. Karst rock formations tower out of the Azure rivers, and there are many caves to explore among the limestone cliffs. It’s a heavenly place to slowly cruise along the river and enjoy the lush scenery. In autumn, the land bursts vibrantly into life as the rice paddies turn golden and the river glitters in the sun.
8. Kaikoura, New Zealand
If there’s anywhere that’s known for its amazing scenery, it’s New Zealand. Kaikoura is a two-hour drive North of Christchurch on the South Island, ending in a spectacular crystal clear coastline of pure beauty. Marine life is in abundance all year round here, so if you’re a lover of cute, furry seals and the cheery chatter of dolphins, then Kaikoura will be heaven. The town offers fabulous whale watching excursions and ocean exploring trips to feel the wind in your hair and the sounds of the ocean in your ears. Visiting in winter promises an extra smattering of beauty as the mountains that border the bay will be snow-capped and incomparably stunning.
Greenland, ironically, is possibly the least green place on Earth, with each inch covered in snow or ice. This vast, isolated winter wonderland is regularly overlooked by its more popular neighbour, Iceland. But while Iceland has become densely overpopulated with tourists, Greenland truly remains off the beaten track. There’s just as much natural beauty and opportunity to explore, with the added bonus of almost complete isolation. The Inuit people have lived here for thousands of years, living in harmony with the icebergs, glaciers and Arctic wildlife. Travelling in Greenland isn’t for the faint of heart, but the rewards are like nowhere else on Earth.
10. Zanzibar, Tanzania
Zanzibar is a place like no other. This archipelago off the coast of Tanzania is bursting with beauty, culture, and delectable dining. Snorkelling is a must around the beaches at Nungwi and Kiwengwa with an underwater menagerie of marine life. This is also where you’ll find Chumbe Island, the top snorkelling and diving destination in the whole of East Africa.
There’s extraordinary diversity in Zanzibar, a concoction of Arab, African, Indian, and European influences. From the famous giant Zanzibari doors of stone town carved in intricate detail, to the textures and details of the buildings, to the Muslim call to prayer and the sound of joy and laughter in the streets — Zanzibar is a melting pot. The food makes use of the abundance of spice plantations on the islands, crafting flavours and dishes that alone are worth travelling halfway across the world.
Visiting the Soviet relic of Kazakhstan is a whole lot easier without the required visa, and flight routes to the country are more abundant than ever. It may come as a surprise that Kazakhstan is the world’s 9th largest country, so there’s a lot to discover in this divergent land. Boasting vast landscapes of mountains and lakes, as well as wide deserts and dry canyons, Kazakhstan is a paradise for those seeking outdoor adventure. The unspoiled nature is divine, the history is long and fascinating, and you’ll feel like the guest of honour in Kazakhstan.
12. Carretera Austral, Chile
Nature lovers, wanderers, and hikers don’t need an excuse to visit Patagonia, a land with possibly the most sublime landscapes in the world.
Carretera Austral offers the best parts of Chile and more along a famously long road. Colossal snow-capped mountains, turquoise lakes, and endless glaciers. A place where hitchhiking is a dream and the road is your oyster. The Carretera Austral begins in Puerto Montt and ends in Villa O’Higgins, offering over 1,000 km of natural beauty to be discovered. Wander through lush rainforests, navigate white water rivers, and explore remote coves. There’s glorious splendour all around, and all the while you’ll be breathing the freshest and crispest air in the world.
13. Falkland Islands
Wildlife is the star of the show in the Falklands. Animal lovers, photographers, and walkers are spoiled with uninterrupted beauty of spotless coastlines scaling to dramatic cliffs. Find clandestine beaches and coves where you can spot passing whales. Volunteer Point is a prime spot for viewing baby king penguins, while Weddell island rewards patient watchers with reindeer. Sea Lion Island, as you would expect is busy with majestic mammals, with elephant seals wrestling and roaring on the island. Everything is framed with a backdrop of serene landscapes and a new captivating surprise on each island. If you want to get off the grid, the Falklands are impeccably untouched and are practically an undiscovered gem.
14. Coffs Harbour, Australia
Coffs Harbour, although a prime spot on the well-traversed East Coast of Australia, is regularly overlooked. Many travelers tend to snap a selfie with the Big Banana and head off on their journey. In fact, Coffs Harbour is infinitely worth exploring, with beaches galore, multiple high-grade surf spots, and wildlife in abundance. Nearby Sawtell beach provides epic cliff views over the ocean from one side, and a cosy beach corner with perfect surf waves on the other. Pick up a jack fruit or Australia’s freshest mangoes from the market at the weekend, grab some beers from the bottle-o and head up to Corambirra Point to enjoy a private picnic in fireside bliss.
15. Faroe Islands, Denmark
How many people have heard of the Faroe Islands? The 18 islands between Iceland and Norway are isolated, windswept, and incomprehensibly beautiful. Far off the tourist path, the landscape is similar in nature to popular Iceland, although increasingly more unique and exotic. Waterfalls and sheep greet you around every corner, each one more spectacular than the next. The waterfalls that is, unless you’re a particularly passionate sheep expert. One of the most picturesque waterfalls in the world cascades straight into the ocean at Gasadalur. The houses on the land are famous for their unique grass roofs than insulate the building and contrast perfectly with the landscape.
The Faroe islands are ideal for a road trip, packed with hiking routes and the freedom to explore at will. The weather can be a test of wits, but with scenery like this who cares?
16. Syros, Greece
The blue rooftops in Santorini and the beaches in Mykonos have certainly seen their share of tourism and are ready for a well-deserved rest. Syros is, as yet, still off the beaten track and welcomes rambling travelers with open arms. All the best things about Greece are here, the weather, the beaches, the delicious food! It’s an island worthy of a postcard. Syros is also cheaper than its popular cousins so your wallet will thank you for making the choice to embrace it.
17. Chobe National Park
Chobe National Park lies in northern Botswana, near the borders of Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Namibia. It’s home to an incredible wildlife experience — bathing with elephants. The rich marshland attracts hippos, numerous species of birds, buffalo, and hundreds of elephants. Live aboard a boat for a few days or take a Chobe Boat Cruise to enjoy the experience of a lifetime: viewing the playful creatures in their natural habitat. The incredible Victoria Falls is just nearby, one of the widest waterfalls in existence and one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World.
18. Alberta, Canada
Go for the adventure, the food, the festivals, the Canadian dream. Alberta has Banff, and those powdery slopes are enough to attract any winter sports lover. For wildlife enthusiasts, a herd of the elusive bison have been released on the Eastern slopes so surprise sightings may be in order for lucky watchers. Once you’ve had your fill of the ski trails, a collection of spas complete with steamy eucalyptus rooms, exfoliation saunas, and hydrotherapy pools have opened at Kananaskis Nordic Spa. Alberta is also becoming even more exciting off the slopes as it becomes an architectural icon.
19. The Andaman Islands, India/Myanmar
The Andaman Islands are an explorer’s paradise. Over 300 islands between Thailand and India are almost too good to be true. Once you arrive, you’ll feel like you’ve washed up on a remote island to enjoy immaculate beaches speckled with palm trees and tropical mangroves. Only you won’t have to catch your own fish and chop down your own coconuts, as some of the islands come complete with luxury 5-star hotels.
Not all the islands are accessible and some are under protection for the tribes who live there. Havelock Island is well set up for tourists. It has huts right on the water, three restaurants, and a spa. Life here is a dream come true, filled with kayaking, exploring the jungle, snorkelling the reef, and relaxing in the clear waters. For a spot of luxury with a much cheaper price tag than the Maldives, make the Andaman Islands your next destination holiday.
The islands are divided between India and Myanmar.
Armenia has recently acquired a more liberal government and major tourism development, making it all the more inviting for intrepid travellers. The country is tremendously up and coming, with new establishments and the first world-class hotel opening up in the capital.
Armenia has a rich cultural heritage, full of ancient sights and numerous opportunities for adventure sports. Few places compare with the beauty of Mount Ararat, where Noah’s Ark was thought to have settled amidst the beauty of the snowy mountains. Another natural beauty is Lake Sevan, where the sky seems to meet the earth in this tranquil mirror-like lake. When it comes to food, Armenia has some of the oldest cuisines in Europe, with diverse roots and traditions in the land. The warm and favourable climate all year round does wonders for the fruit and veg, as well as the soul.