While it’s nice to travel the world and see classic sites such as the Eiffel Tower, the Serengeti, or the Statue of Liberty, it can also be fun to visit lesser known spots. Especially if it means fewer crowds! Those staples that have been mentioned over and over again in guidebooks aren’t going anywhere. So why not take the road less traveled?
Some of the world’s best places to visit feature pristine beaches (Kenya), untouched forests (Canada), impressive architecture (Prague), and natural wonders (New Zealand).
From the Americas to Europe to Asia and around the globe, there is always somewhere new to discover.
So for your next escape, instead of gallivanting to that place you’ve heard a million people talk about, venture to one of these lesser known spots and discover unique experiences all your own.
You've heard about Ireland's rolling hills, but what you may not know is that the beech tree tunnel you saw on “Game of Thrones” actually exists! So instead of vacationing in the county Cork or Kerry, trying something new. Driving down this road near Armoy, county Antrim, in Northern Ireland is incredible. It’s only a 20-minute drive from the Giant’s Causeway.
Costalegre, also known as the “Virgin Coast,"” is a series of beaches, capes, and bays along the Pacific Coast. It is just south of the more frequented Puerto Vallarta. Instead of heading to a popular resort, check out this exotic destination. It boasts more than 500 square miles of pristine waters, thriving vegetation, and endless entertainment.
There's a lot to see in places like Beijing and Shanghai, but these ancient Buddhist hillside rock carvings in Chongqing are a must-see. Dating back as far as the 7th century A.D., they were influenced by Buddhist, Confucian, and Taoist beliefs. There are 75 protected sites containing some 50,000 statues, with over 100,000 Chinese characters forming inscriptions and epigraphs.
While safaris may be popular in Africa, you can also enjoy a nice beach getaway! This hot spot is Africa’s leading beach destination, with 11 miles of sandy shore to explore. You are bound to find a quiet place near a coral reef, and you may even see fascinating wildlife such as camels and black-and-white colobus monkeys.
The Scottish Highlands may be popular for climbers and hikers, but this set of pyramidal or pillar-like stacks in northeastern Scotland are simply breathtaking. The Great Stack is more nearly 200 feet high and rises above the summit of the adjacent cliff.
They say Canada is the hockey capital of the world, but when winter fades and the ice melts away there's one place you need to be: Emerald Lake. It is nestled in Yoho National Park in British Columbia, Canada, on an expansive 225 acres. It is the largest of Yoho's 61 lakes and ponds, meaning there’s plenty of room to wander.
When you want to get away from the hustle and bustle of Denver or Boulder, this quaint mountain town is hidden among the pine forests of Colorado's Estes Valley. It features a scenic collection of Victorian buildings, and you’ll definitely get the feeling of seclusion thanks to the Stanley Hotel. It was the original inspiration Stephen King’s The Shining.
Let's face it: When you hear "Nevada," you likely think of Las Vegas. Forgo the bright lights of the Strip and visit this colorful attraction instead. This accidentally man-made natural phenomenon was created in 1964 when an explorative well drilled in the area was either left uncapped or not capped properly. This mistake caused dissolved minerals to accumulate and rise. This created a limestone mound that houses the geyser constantly spewing hot water and minerals.
Whether it's a hotel, a cathedral, a glacier, or a waterfall, there are all sorts of sites recommended on various "Top 10" lists for those traveling to Norway. This spot tops them all. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Geirangerfjord is 260 meters deep while the surrounding mountains are 1600 to 1700 meters high. There are hidden gems all over the place that offer a rare opportunity for some fantastic photography.
All aboard the Hogwarts Express! This viaduct appeared in several “Harry Potter” films and is easily one of the coolest film locations to visit in the world. Located at the top of Loch Shiel in the West Highlands of Scotland, the viaduct overlooks the Glenfinnan Monument. Maybe this place didn't make the list of most-visited attractions on Scotrland's tourism website, but it's a must see.
Instead of going on an Alaskan cruise, kick it up a notch! Nicknamed “Kodak Gap,” it’s fair to say the Lemaire Channel is pretty scenic. Narrow passage ways open up to reveal scenic mountains, remarkable glaciers, and glassy reflections.
There are lots of places to see the Northern Lights such as Alaska, Greenland, and Iceland, but Lofoten is known for its distinctive scenery. Grand mountains shadow the open sea and sheltered bays, while beautiful beaches and untouched acreages dot the islands.
While the Christchurch area is known for river boating and beautiful botanic gardens, Marokopa Falls houses the most striking waterfalls in New Zealand. This stunning spectacle flows in Tawarau Forest, not far from the famous Waitomo Caves.
Get up close and personal with the 13-mile long Mendenhall Glacier, the only one in Southeast Alaska accessible by road. By comparison, there are about 60 glaciers accessible in Anchorage, so visiting Mendenhall should be on your must-do list. Plus, it originated during the Little Ice Age, which started about 3,000 years ago, which tells you how extraordinary this site is.
The vibrant neon lights of Tokyo may be appealing, but this scenic spot in Japan is just what you need for a relaxing vacation. It is officially named Itsukushima, but the island is more commonly referred to as Miyajima (Japanese for “shrine island”). The great Torii, seen here, is described as the boundary between the spirit and the human worlds. During high tide, it appears as if it is floating on the water.
Plenty of travel experts will suggest visiting various bazaars, markets, and historical sites in Turkey. But when you want to do something out of the ordinary, try hiking on a volcanic mountain. Mount Erciyes has an elevation of 3,916 meters and its summit is always covered with snow and fog. If the weather is clear, at the top of Erciyes there is a stunning view of land stretching from Cappadocia to the Taurus Mountains.
Why trek to the Andes, when you can visit one of the most challenging mountains for climbers? Mount Fitz Roy is nestled on the border of Argentina and Chile. It also the inspiration for the logo used by the popular Patagonia clothing brand. In person, this grand piece of land is anything but ordinary.
The word "desert" often brings images of the Sahara to mind, but this coastal desert in Africa is truly a one-of-a-kind destination. It stretches inland from the Atlantic Ocean, covering large swathes of Namibia and parts of Angola and South Africa. It also surprisingly houses a diverse number of plants and animals, some of which are found nowhere else in the world!
Most people flock to Athens or Santorini, but Naxos is a must-see island in Greece. The biggest of the Cycladic islands, Naxos is studded with lush mountains, white-washed homes, and a ribbon of inviting beaches.
An ensemble of 16 different terraced limestone lakes, with turquoise water flowing from one to the next, Plitvice is easily accessible for a day trip. But with so much to see, you’ll want to stay at last three days and relax with the beauty of nature surrounding you. While it's one of the more popular places to visit in Croatia, there are plenty of hidden gems in the park. So be sure to take your time and explore it thoroughly!
Why visit acient ruins in Athens when you can see something just as historical that's still in use today? The Holy Monastery of Saint Stephen stands proud above the town of Kalambaka on a massive rock in northern Greece. It houses two cathedrals: a 16th-century chapel that was severely damaged during World War II and the Greek Civil War, and the 18th-century main cathedral dedicated to Saint Charalambos. The buildings are now in use as nunnery.
Rather than freezing your tush off in the Siberian tundra, check out this massive mountain range, which houses many rivers, lakes, and waterfalls. It stretches across southern Siberia, Russia (the Tyva Republic, specifically) and northern Mongolia, and there are two unique nature reserves located on the territory of Sayan Mountains.
Tucked away in Prague’s historic Jewish Quarter, the Spanish Synagogue contains some of the most impressive displays of Moorish-styled architecture and design. There are many churches throughout Prague, but the Spanish Synagogue features a newly opened visitor's center with plenty of insightful information.
If it's a gorgeous sunset you're craving, skip Tanah Lot and head to the Uluwatu Temple. It is one of six key temples believed to be Bali's spiritual pillars. Its cliff-top location, perched 200 feet above the Indian Ocean, offers spectacular views as the sun sets. For the most gorgeous sunsets in the entire world, click here