Looking to embark on a new travel adventure in 2023? Look no further, as we have a captivating selection of recommendations just for you. Our esteemed network of travel writers and editors from around the globe has contributed their insights to compile a list of the world’s most underestimated travel destinations. Brace yourself for a diverse range of options, ranging from secluded islands and charming coastal towns to vast lakes and entire countries. This comprehensive compilation is bound to ignite your wanderlust and inspire your next journey.
Now, what exactly qualifies a destination as underrated? Are we referring to places that seldom grace the top travel lists? Perhaps we’re highlighting locations that don’t receive their fair share of tourist attention. Or maybe we’re shedding light on hidden gems, tucked away from the well-trodden tourist path, offering delightful and serene alternatives to popular spots within the same region. Rest assured, the destinations featured in this list encompass at least one of these characteristics.
Mongolia is a captivating destination known for its traditional gers, nomadic communities, and breathtaking landscapes. The country has become more accessible with a new international airport and affordable local-led tours. Starting in the capital city, Ulaanbaatar, visitors can explore its compact yet vibrant streets before venturing into the awe-inspiring Gorkhi Terelj National Park.
Here, they can experience the beauty of the mountains and spend the night in a traditional ger under the starlit sky. Friendly nomadic herders often visit, adding to the authentic experience. Mongolia offers a unique blend of cultural heritage, natural beauty, and warm hospitality that can only be fully appreciated through firsthand experience.
Lake Bacalar, also known as the Lagoon of Seven Colours, is an enchanting hidden gem in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. While Tulum and Cancún often steal the spotlight, Lake Bacalar offers a refreshing escape from the crowds and a chance to embrace the unrivaled beauty of the region. The lake’s mesmerizing waters showcase a range of captivating hues, providing a tranquil oasis to unwind and appreciate the natural splendor.
Visitors can kayak across the lake, discover secluded beaches, and admire migratory birds. Exploring the crystal-clear cenotes is a must, followed by a retreat to eco-hotels like Boca de Agua for a dreamlike experience in harmony with nature. Lake Bacalar invites you to discover a lesser-known side of the Yucatan Peninsula, where serenity and vibrant colors create unforgettable memories.
Cuenca, despite its smaller size, is a culturally rich city in Ecuador that leaves a lasting impression. Its historic center has UNESCO World Heritage status and showcases stunning architecture. Cuenca thrives as a creative hub, hosting the annual arts festival, Bienal de Cuenca, which celebrates exceptional craftsmanship. The city is renowned for traditional crafts, particularly the famous Montecristi Panama hats.
Visitors can explore workshops and witness the intricate hat-making process. While often overlooked in favor of other Ecuadorian cities, Cuenca offers a picturesque and authentic experience nestled in the majestic Andes mountains. It captures the essence of Ecuador, inviting visitors to discover its treasures, embrace traditions, and create lifelong memories.
Srebrenik, a town in Bosnia and Herzegovina, is considered Europe’s best-kept secret and offers a captivating experience. It is known as the ‘King’s Town’ due to its impeccably preserved medieval fortress dating back to the twelfth century. The fortress, perched on a hill, provides mesmerizing views of the surrounding valley. Majevica Peak offers breathtaking panoramas of the region’s natural beauty, while the recently discovered Lake Ingram adds a touch of romance with its tranquil ambiance and picturesque scenery.
Srebrenik not only impresses with its architectural marvels and natural wonders but also delights visitors with its culinary offerings. Local cuisine tantalizes the taste buds, and the lively cafés contribute to the town’s vibrant atmosphere. Graceful mosques showcase the rich cultural heritage of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Srebrenik is a hidden gem waiting to be explored within the embrace of Bosnia and Herzegovina. It invites travelers to uncover its secrets, create unforgettable memories, and fall in love with its undeniable charm.
Cabo Rojo is a vibrant beach town on Puerto Rico’s southwest coast, offering pristine white sands and turquoise seas for a perfect Caribbean getaway. Located just three hours from San Juan, it provides a laid-back atmosphere away from the city’s hustle and bustle.
The town boasts picturesque beaches, each with its own unique charm. Combate Beach offers a serene ambiance with a natural reserve separating it from the town. Buyé offers an off-the-beaten-path experience, where you might encounter friendly local horses on the beach. Boquerón is a lively beach village with a vibrant restaurant and bar scene for culinary delights and entertainment.
Cabo Rojo stands out with its cozy, family-owned inns and vacation rentals, providing an authentic local experience. Whether you prefer family-friendly resorts or luxurious accommodations like Cuatro Casitas, there are options for every taste.
As the day ends, you can relax and enjoy a passion fruit mojito while admiring the captivating sunset along Puerto Rico’s west coast. It’s a moment of tranquility and natural beauty that encapsulates the essence of this remarkable destination.
Cabo Rojo invites you to escape to a Caribbean paradise, where sun-drenched beaches, warm hospitality, and unforgettable experiences await. Embrace the charm of this coastal gem and create cherished memories amidst its awe-inspiring landscapes and vibrant culture.
Gippsland, situated in the eastern corner of Victoria, Australia, is a magnificent region filled with diverse natural treasures. It offers alpine roads, waterways, farmlands, and pristine beaches. Despite facing challenges like devastating bushfires and the impact of the global pandemic, Gippsland is steadily recovering and regaining its vitality.
Gippsland entices visitors with its captivating natural attractions and unique villages. The region’s food and drink scene has also flourished, with a focus on local produce, including fresh seafood, artisanal cheeses, free-range meats, cool-climate wines, and organic fruits.
Now is the opportune moment to experience Gippsland’s untamed beauty, immerse yourself in its village charm, and savor its thriving culinary scene. By visiting Gippsland, you not only support the ongoing recovery of the local community but also create unforgettable memories in this abundant corner of Victoria.
Plymouth, nestled in Devon County, strikes a delightful balance between a hidden gem and a captivating destination. Despite being overlooked, it offers plenty to explore and deserves recognition. The recently opened gallery, The Box, showcases local artists, while the renovated Market Hall and Tinside Lido captivate architecture enthusiasts and swimming enthusiasts, respectively.
Plymouth is also a haven for gin lovers, being home to England’s oldest distillery. The Bistrot Pierre B&B in Royal William Yard provides a picturesque and comfortable stay. With its charm and attractions, Plymouth is a city not to be overlooked, offering art, architecture, swimming, and gin-tasting experiences. Plan a visit to uncover its hidden treasures.
Burlington, known for its charming waterfront and lively university atmosphere, is now gaining recognition as a top food and drink destination in the United States. Five Vermont chefs and eateries from Burlington have been named semifinalists for the prestigious James Beard Awards in 2023. Indulge in the tantalizing creations of pastry chef Amanda Wildermuth at Honey Road, where the Eastern Mediterranean-inspired cuisine shines, particularly the must-try tahini sundae. For a farm-to-table experience, visit May Day and savor chef Mojo Hancy-Davis’s mouthwatering spicy Brussels sprouts and innovative menu.
Don’t miss the chance to explore Burlington’s thriving food and drink scene, including Foam Brewers, a small yet experimental brewery offering an ever-changing selection of craft beers. The city’s restaurant and bar scene exudes energy and excitement, with a diverse range of culinary delights and libations to suit all tastes. Burlington’s representation among the James Beard Awards semifinalists solidifies its growing reputation as a food and drink destination. Immerse yourself in Burlington’s gastronomic landscape and embark on a remarkable journey of flavors and experiences.
Turku, Finland’s second-largest city and former historic capital, rivals Helsinki with its captivating charm and vibrant atmosphere. Known as the ‘Paris of Finland,’ Turku offers picturesque waterfront views, a thriving café culture, and a flourishing culinary scene. With its medieval attractions, including a magnificent castle and grand cathedral, Turku showcases its rich history as Finland’s oldest city. Additionally, the city is a hub for green innovation, embracing sustainable practices and environmental consciousness.
To fully experience the region, take a delightful local produce-tasting tour on an electric boat along the Aura River. This unique experience allows you to indulge in the flavors of the area while enjoying the scenic beauty that surrounds you. Turku’s allure lies not only in its historical significance but also in its modern vibrancy and commitment to sustainability. Explore this captivating destination, immerse yourself in its rich history, cultural delights, and innovative spirit, and discover the essence of the ‘Paris of Finland.’
Escape the crowds and discover the lesser-known Greek island of Karpathos for a tranquil and authentic experience. Located in the Dodecanese, it offers pristine, nearly deserted beaches and crystal-clear waters, where you may even encounter Mediterranean monk seals.
Immerse yourself in the rich cultural heritage of the island by dining in the inviting taverns of the mountain village of Olympos, where locals don traditional attire and donkeys are the main mode of transportation. Karpathos provides a serene escape from the bustling tourist hotspots of Santorini and Mykonos, allowing you to relax on secluded beaches, savor local cuisine, and embrace the timeless traditions of the island.