Underrated Travel Spots: Overlooked Destinations Worth Visiting

Behind the tourist hype and iconic attractions, hidden travel gems await discovery by intrepid travelers seeking authentic experiences beyond the bucket list hotspots. Venturing off the beaten path reveals underappreciated destinations with just as much—if not more—to offer visitors as their more famous counterparts. This guide shines a spotlight on the most intriguing underrated locales where you can experience one-of-a-kind adventures, natural beauty, rich culture, and local charm without fighting the crowds.

European Gems Without the Crowds

Europe overflows with wondrous yet overlooked destinations away from the packed tourist centers. Add these underappreciated spots to your itinerary.

Ljubljana, Slovenia

This ultra-livable European Green Capital city charms visitors with its car-free old town, vibrant riverside life, castle-topped hill, and Jože Plečnik’s elegant architecture.

Northern Cyprus

The Mediterranean island’s northern half offers ancient ruins, Crusader castles, and stunning beaches without the tourists of the more famous Greek south.

Also, Check this as well Exploring the Road Less Traveled

Galway, Ireland

On Ireland’s wild Atlantic coast, Galway delights with live traditional music pouring from intimate pubs, the winding pedestrian-friendly old town, and rugged windswept scenery.

Azores, Portugal

Cradled in the Atlantic Ocean, these nine volcanic Atlantic isles astound with therapeutic hot springs, lakes inside crater cones, and endless opportunities for outdoor adventures and wildlife watching.

South Tyrol, Italy

This autonomous Alpine region proffers adventures like hiking in the Dolomites, castle-hopping, spa relaxation in Merano, and the freshest Italian food found anywhere.

Underappreciated American Destinations

Avoid the congested tourist traps by putting these overlooked American gems offering spacious beauty and historic small-town character on your itinerary.

Portsmouth, New Hampshire

This compact coastal New England town pleases with its historic colonial architecture, lively market square, harborside seafood shacks, breweries, and access to the scenic Isles of Shoals.

Grand Staircase-Escalante, Utah

Far from Utah’s Mighty Five parks, Grand Staircase encompasses unspoiled swaths of red-rock canyon lands and slot canyons begging to be explored.

Columbia River Gorge, Oregon/Washington

Experience the mighty Columbia River flowing through a glacier-carved canyon flanked by waterfall-streaked cliffs, forests, and the historic highway.

Columbia, South Carolina

Beyond just a pitstop, South Carolina’s capital impresses visitors with its riverfront park, excellent museums, vibrant dining scene centered on farm-to-table Southern fare, and quaint historic neighborhoods.

Great Basin National Park, Nevada

This Nevada park dazzles with groves of ancient bristlecone pines, limestone caves, alpine lakes, and the state’s second highest peak—minus the crowds of better known parks.

Underrated Asian Gems

Look beyond Asia’s famous capitals and landmarks to discover destinations that offer just as much splendor and intrigue without the crowds.

Luang Prabang, Laos

Nestled amid jungle-clad mountains, this ancient temple town feels like a hidden Shangri-La, where saffron-robed monks still walk morning alms routes.

Jeju Island, South Korea

Korea’s volcanic Island of the Gods wows with wild natural beauty like lava tubes, waterfalls cascading into the sea, rugged coastlines, and a lush dormant crater rising from Hallasan’s peak.

Kanazawa, Japan

One of Japan’s best preserved Edo-period towns entices with storied Kenrokuen Garden, artisan workshops practicing gilding and kimono dyeing, and the atmospheric Nagamachi samurai district.

Kumbhalgarh, India

This relatively uncrowded fort atop a rugged hill in Rajasthan offers astonishing views from one of the longest battlements in the world.

Kudat, Borneo, Malaysia

Beyond Borneo’s beaches, the northern tip delivers remote jungle adventures, abundant marine life, and traditional Rungus longhouses in an untouched setting.

Underrated Natural Wonders

Some of the planet’s most pristine landscapes remain surprisingly crowd-free. Revel in the solitude and rejuvenating power of nature in these wondrous yet less trampled open spaces.

Nosy Hara Marine Park, Madagascar

Snorkel radiant reefs in this island marine park where humpback whales visit and manta rays glide through plankton clouds off Madagascar’s northwest coast.

Lençóis Maranhenses National Park, Brazil

Stunning white sand dunes drift across aquamarine lagoons in this unique 1,500 square kilometer landscape where lush rainforest meets Sahara-like vistas.

Torngat Mountains National Park, Canada

Spot polar bears, whales, and the ethereal aurora borealis while exploring Canada’s northernmost National Park in remote Labrador.

Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, Uganda

Trek through equatorial jungle and swamp forests to spot nearly half the world’s remaining endangered mountain gorillas.

El Vizcaíno Biosphere Reserve, Mexico

Whales gather and gray whales breed in the winter in this remote biosphere reserve’s sheltered lagoons along Mexico’s pristine Baja coastline.

Quaint Small Towns Worth Lingering In

Find authentic experiences in these charming underrated towns ideal for relaxed stays and embracing local culture at an unrushed pace.

Cesky Krumlov, Czech Republic

Explore this South Bohemian UNESCO World Heritage town’s maze of Renaissance and baroque architecture before winding down riverside restaurants and pubs.

Nelson, New Zealand

Nelson delights visitors with renowned local craft breweries, galleries, beaches, trails, and the stunning natural setting at the top of New Zealand’s South Island.

Ushuaia, Argentina

The self-proclaimed “End of the World” offers outdoor adventures against stunning Patagonian backdrops and easy access to penguin colonies.

Asheville, North Carolina

An Appalachian gem, Asheville impresses with historic architecture, a thriving craft beer scene centered on local hops, art studios, food halls, and mountain views.

Santa Fe, New Mexico

Adobe architecture, vibrant art markets, and a rich blend of Native American, Spanish and Mexican cultures converge in New Mexico’s historic capital.

Alternative City Breaks Worth Taking

Trade crowded big name metropolises for immersive urban getaways in these artsy, historic, and culture-filled underrated cities.

Mérida, Mexico

Also called “The White City,” sunny Mérida enchants with its colonial architecture, vibrant culture fusing Mayan and Spanish influences, intriguing museums, and some of Mexico’s best cuisine.

Savannah, Georgia, USA

This Southern belle entrances visitors with antebellum architecture, moss-draped oaks, relaxed pace, and historic districts made for leisurely strolls.

Quito, Ecuador

Ecuador’s mountain capital impresses with intact Spanish colonial centers,Picturesque plazas and churches sit tucked between Andean peaks.

Timisoara, Romania

Romania’s little known star blends Austrian elegance, Serbian flavors, Romanian spirit, and a revolutionary history, all packed into a charming mid-sized city ideal to explore by foot.

Porto, Portugal

Lively Porto seduces visitors with its postcard-famous historic Ribeira riverside district, Harry Potter bookstore, Douro wine tours, and tempting pastries.

Remote Destinations for True Solitude

Looking to get completely off the grid? Set your sights on one of these remote destinations where few travelers venture. Revel in the beauty of pure solitude.

Nunavut Territory, Arctic Canada

In the vast Canadian tundra, spot muskox, arctic foxes, and the shimmering northern lights with Inuit guides by snowmobile or sled dog.

Oymyakon, Siberia, Russia

Visit the planet’s coldest inhabited village, where even breath instantly freezes, inside this permanently frozen region known as the Pole of Cold.

Torres del Paine, Patagonia

Trek through the spellbinding mountains, glaciers, and wilderness of Chilean Patagonia on the iconic W Circuit route far from crowds.

Namib Desert, Namibia

Venture out on multi-day treks and 4WD voyages to experience the world’s oldest desert’s towering rust red dunes, lunar valleys, and starry skies.

Tsingy de Bemaraha, Madagascar

Hike through the Tsingy’s razor sharp limestone pinnacles and down narrow canyons for a true jungle adventure.


Some of the world’s most amazing treasures sit concealed behind the blockbuster attractions and tourist hotspots. Exploring alternative destinations provides opportunities to dive beneath the surface and connect meaningfully with local cultures and unspoiled environments. Venturing off the predictable paths reveals the charm, intrigue, and magic that popular places often lose to commercialization and crowds. Seek out the road not taken to uncover the planet’s underappreciated gems.

Frequently Asked Questions

What makes a destination underrated?

Hidden gems with beauty, culture, cuisine, history, or activities to rival their more famous neighbors remain underrated and overlooked by mainstream tourism.

Where can I research reputable underrated destinations?

Travel bloggers, magazines, guidebooks like Lonely Planet, and trusted travel groups like Remote Lands often cover intriguing underappreciated locales worth experiencing.

How can I avoid crowds when traveling?

Research reputable alternatives to major tourist magnets, visit during shoulder seasons, go early/late in the day, and head to lesser-visited areas of popular places.

What underrated spots appeal to outdoor enthusiasts?

Pristine landscapes away from congested national parks, relatively untrammeled natural areas, and unspoiled sections of well-known locales make for great active trips.

Are underrated destinations usually expensive to visit?

Many offer great value compared to crowded alternatives. However, some far-flung spots may require special transport like cruising Antarctica or the Galápagos Islands.

How can I take photos without revealing an undiscovered gem’s location?

Disable geotagging in your camera settings so longitude/latitude details are not embedded in images. Being thoughtful about what details are revealed helps keep spots concealed.

What cities provide an authentic alternative to crowded capitals?

Historic provincial cities like Cuenca, Ecuador; charming coastal towns like Darwin, Australia; and underrated European capitals like Ljubljana offer authentic urban experiences.

How can I travel responsibly to undiscovered areas?

Visit during off-peak seasons, follow guidelines, spread economic benefits across communities, and avoid geotagging on social media to help keep hidden gems from becoming overrun.

Leave a Comment