17 Stunning Travel Destinations That Deserve More Recognition

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Andaman Islands, India

Clear blue water filled with fish, with a white sand island in the background

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This archipelago in the warm blue Andaman Sea, between India and Myanmar, is a veritable paradise. The picturesque yet isolated beaches are framed by dense jungle and dotted with bent-over palm trees, and the sunrises and sunsets are nothing short of spectacular. Only a handful of the 572 Andaman Islands are accessible to tourists, to help protect local indigenous communities and wildlife.


Lake Ohrid, North Macedonia

An old brick monastery set on a cliff overlooking a giant blue lake dotted with boats

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This area gets pretty popular with locals and Greek tourists during the summer months, and it’s easy to see why. A huge freshwater lake is ringed by rolling hills, a few small towns, and waterfront monasteries. In the nearby Galičica National Park you can hike to the top of a hill above the lake and get a view into three countries: Greece, Albania, and North Macedonia. Rent a bike, go for a swim, visit the ancient monasteries, and tuck into the delicious local food.


Vang Vien, Laos

A view over rice paddy fields with big rocky mountains behind them at sunset

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Compared to Thailand and Vietnam, Laos is often passed over on Asian holiday itineraries. But missing out on this gem is a huge mistake. Vang Vien, a small town a few hours’ north of the capital, has spent the last decade becoming an eco-tourism paradise. The river that flows through the town leads to hidden caves and lagoons, waiting to be explored by boat or kayak. Surrounded by steep cliffs, it’s also a great spot for hiking and zip lining.


Tatra Mountains, Slovakia and Poland

A stone path leading past wildflowers to an alpine hut, with tall mountains set against a bright blue sky

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The Tatras are nestled between Slovakia and Poland and are a perfect destination year-round. In winter you can enjoy very budget-friendly skiing on the slopes, followed by fireplace beers and the local specialty dish of warm sheep cheese with handmade pasta. In summer there are tons of hiking trails to explore, winding up to alpine lakes and peaks with incredible views of the region. Stay in a cute small town like Ždiar, where everything is accessible by foot or bus.


The Kimberley, Australia

Rolling orange rocks formations in the desert

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Australia is a big place, so it’s hard to keep track of all the amazing stuff there is to see and do. The Kimberley, in the northwest of the country, is one of the world’s oldest and biggest wilderness landscapes, and it’s super remote. It’s a bit of a mission to visit, but you’ll be rewarded with sights you can’t get anywhere else. Hike through ancient canyons, swim in freshwater pools under waterfalls, walk along beaches with impossibly white sand, and take an unforgettable 4WD trip into the heart of the Australian Outback.


Faroe Islands, Denmark

Dramatic black cliffs topped with green grass, with a waterfall dropping into a dark dea

Stanley Chen Xi, Landscape And A / Getty Images

This archipelago of volcanic islands is about halfway between Norway and Iceland, and it looks appropriately dramatic and remote (think bright green grass on steep black cliffs rising out of the ocean). They’re pretty isolated — sheep outnumber people — but they’re a wonderful place for an adventurous trip. Explore the islands’ waterfalls, hidden lakes, walking trails, winding rivers, and tiny villages.


Puglia, Italy

A rocky peninsula jutting into blue sea, with white square buildings

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We all know about Italy and how wonderful it is for a summer holiday. Everyone flocks to Tuscany or Cinque Terre, but if you venture a bit further south — to the heel of the boot — you’ll get to the region of Puglia. With beaches, art, locally produced food, strong drinks, and a boat-load of history, it’s a prime candidate for a road trip vacation. You’ll find plenty of cliff-top towns overlooking the blue sea, with the small rocky beaches that Italy is known for.


Kakheti, Georgia

A smal clifftop town with red brick buildings, overlooking the countryside

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Did you know that Georgia (the country) has been producing wine for over 8,000 years? Kakheti is a region in the country’s east that’s famous for its wineries, as well as beautiful mountainous scenery. You can visit on a day trip from Tbilisi, but it’s definitely worth dedicating a bit more time to it, so you can explore the region’s many small towns, as well as its churches, castles, and wineries (of course).


Bazaruto Archipelago, Mozambique

A path leading to the beach, with large palm trees and a fence made from natural materials

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The east coast of Africa boasts thousands of amazing islands, from big ones like Madagascar to resorts isles like the Seychelles. The Bazaruto Archipelago is a group of six islands within a national park, known for their white sand, warm turquoise water, and huge population of marine life. It’s a wonderful place for snorkeling, along the bright coral reefs that lie just feet from the beach.


Busan, South Korea

Tall skyscrapers line a harbor filled with boats at twilight

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This port city in South Korea has it all: a bustling urban centre, mountains, and beaches. While it is the country’s second-largest city — so definitely not unknown — it’s often overshadowed by Seoul as a tourist destination. Busan is known for its delicious seafood and natural hot springs and is a bit of a cultural hotspot. Give yourself a few days to explore the city’s neighborhoods, trendy cafés, and energetic nightlife.


Khao Sok National Park, Thailand

A photo taken from the wooden deck of a floating hut, looking out on a turquoise lake dotted with jagged mountains

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In southern Thailand, this national park is a wonderful oasis that looks straight out of a fairytale. It’s home to the oldest evergreen rainforest in the world, dotted with dramatic limestone mountains and giant blue lakes. You can spend the night in a floating hut, then take a boat tour the next day to spot wildlife, like monkeys and elephants.


Valparaíso, Chile

A collection of colorful buildings set on narrow streets leading down to the water

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A short bus ride from Chile’s capital, Santiago, this seaside town is where you’ll want to spend your time. It’s very picturesque, with coloured houses perched on a hillside overlooking a sparkling bay. The town is filled with winding, hilly, cobblestoned streets, interesting architecture, and street art, plus plenty of cute cafés and art galleries to take up your time.


New Ireland Province, Papua New Guinea

Drone shot of lear blue water and the coast of an island that is covered in dense jungle and palm trees

Velvetfish / Getty Images / Via istockphoto.com

Papua New Guinea, an island country just above Australia, is a little-known but wonderful destination. It can be dangerous if you’re on your own in big cities, but it’s worth visiting on an organized tour, if you can. The New Ireland Province is where you’ll find some of the best beaches, and you can dive right into snorkeling, canoeing, diving, and surfing. The seafood is obviously fresh and delicious, and there are a couple of offshore islands worth exploring on day trips.


Himare, Albania

A white sand beach with bright blue water, and rocks and wildflowers in the foreground

Milena Pigdanowicz-fidera / Getty Images

The whole coastline of Albania is underrated, but the small town of Himare is a real hidden gem. It’s usually just frequented by locals on holiday, with an ancient castle perched on the hill and two beautiful beaches you can explore. Head further north up the coast and you’ll find some of the country’s best beaches, a few of which are only accessible by boat.


León, Nicaragua

Colorful church buildings with religious art on the facade, next to two palm trees

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Nicaragua, in Central America, has been an under-the-radar fave with backpackers for years. It’s a popular surfing destination and is more budget-friendly than some other countries in the area. Once you’re done with the beach, León is a small city with an undeniable energy — probably thanks to the fact there are a few university campuses here. The food is amazing, and it’s close enough to the coast that you can get the best of both worlds.


Apostle Islands, United States

Short rocky cliffs dotted with small caves

Zimmytws / Getty Images

This group of 22 islands can be found on Lake Superior, off the coast of Wisconsin. It’s an adventurer’s paradise, with hiking, camping, kayaking, sailing, and wildlife-spotting galore. The water around the islands is super clear, making it a popular scuba spot. You can just visit for a day trip or camp on the island overnight.


The Azores, Portugal

Aerial shot of a lush green island shaped like a volcano, with bright blue water in the middle

Enrico Pescantini / Getty Images

This group of islands, about a two-hour flight from mainland Portugal, is an absolute oasis in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. The archipelago is known for its dramatic volcanic landscapes and incredible marine life living just off the coast. Whether you want an active trip filled with hiking and swimming or you just want to relax on an idyllic beach, it’s a perfect underrated spot.

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