If you’re like me, deciding where to take your next international getaway is one of the hardest decisions to make. There are then many amazing places to see. And while the big tourist cities – like Greece or Tokyo or Paris – are popular for a reason, you might be looking for something more off the beaten path.
So I walked the r/travel subreddit and collected responses from the BuzzFeed community to round up a bunch of lesser-known (but amazing) destinations to consider in place of trendier vacation spots.
Instead of Greece, go to ALBANIA: “It’s Greece’s less famous neighbor. It has beautiful beaches, tasty and fairly cheap food, and lots of gems to explore. The only downside is that a lot of people don’t speak English.”
Instead of Germany, go to POLAND: “Poland, especially Poland beyond Krakow, was never on my radar before I moved to Germany and started traveling there all the time because it is right next door. And WOW, Poland has it all. Cool towns, great food, beautiful castles, stunning countryside and fascinating history. It really doesn’t get the tourism it deserves, even though I like that the main sights are not crowded with other tourists.
Instead of Tulum, go to BELIZE: “Other than Ambergris Caye and Caye Caulker, the rest of Belize isn’t super touristy. You’ll find everything from the world’s second largest barrier reef to rainforests lush. It’s cheap, the people are very friendly, and it’s relatively safe.”
Instead of Seoul, go to BUSAN: “Busan, South Korea, it’s this weird juxtaposition of ancient and super modern, and everything is both chaotic and incredibly organized. I don’t know how it works, but it works…and apparently much better than other big cities.The scenery, food and people were fantastic.
“Instead of Andalusia, visit NORTHERN SPAIN: “Northern Spain is where you will find incredible beauty that rivals any other place in Europe, but for a fraction of the price. You could spend months exploring the Basque Country, Asturias, Cantabria and Galicia alone. Driving around the Picos de Europa mountain range is a great experience. You can travel between rural mountain towns and quaint beach towns in an hour. Madrid, Barcelona, Andalusia and other holiday towns in Spain are getting so much attention, but the north is really underrated.”
Instead of Sicily, go to MALTA: “Unsurprisingly, it’s a bit more popular with Europeans, but Malta is virtually unknown to Americans. It’s a fantastic place to visit: cheap, stunningly beautiful and quite beautiful all year round. I was there last month and there were a good number of tourists around the main sights in Valletta, but hardly anyone once you got off the beaten path even a bit.”
Instead of Thailand, go to SRI LANKA: “Sri Lanka is the pearl of the Indian Ocean, full of natural beauty and history. It is home to friendly people and tasty (often spicy!) cuisine, beaches sand, palm trees and lots of wildlife.”
Instead of Croatia, go to MONTENEGRO: “Montenegro is truly a hidden gem in the Balkans. Podgorica is a charming city, and visiting the coast in and around Budva feels like stepping back in time.”
Instead of Bali, go to BORNEO: “Borneo, and especially Kalimantan (the Indonesian part of the island) is worth a visit. Many people visit Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta, Java and Bali, but fewer people head to Borneo. Even those who visit Borneo mostly stay in Malaysia and very few venture to Kalimantan. You’ll find rainforest, orangutans, leopards and beaches here, and it’s much less crowded than Bali.
Instead of Lake Como, go to LAKE GARDA: “I never hear Americans talk about this lesser-known Italian lakeside town, but it’s honestly one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been.”
Instead of Cape Town, visit NAMIBIA: “Namibia is just above South Africa, but it is the most isolated country in the world after Mongolia in terms of population. Have you ever seen photos of amazing giant sand dunes in the desert? This is Namibia. This country has the same great safari parks and five-star resorts you’ll find in other popular African destinations. I’ve visited Namibia National Park. Etosha, which has been one of my favorite travel experiences. And you’ll never see the stars shine as brightly as they do in the Namib Desert.”
Instead of Sydney, go to TASMANIA: “When people think of Australia, they think of beaches and reefs. Tasmania has huge rainforests, beautiful scenic islands and is home to the bustling city of Hobart, the one of the largest ports in Antarctica.”
Instead of the Caribbean, go to PUERTO RICO: “My wife and I went to Puerto Rico last year for our honeymoon. It was so easy to get there – it was like cheating. Old San Juan was beautiful and we also spent time on the islands to the east, Culebra and Vieques. Would love to go back and spend more time on Culebra. It was very laid back and had great snorkeling right at side of the beach.”
Instead of Iceland, go to ALASKA: “I visited Alaska and stayed in a small town three hours from Anchorage, and had the best time of my life. It’s completely untouched wilderness, and it was breathtaking. Moose walked along the river bank while we fished and killer whales swam alongside our boat when we visited Kenai Fjords National Park.”
Instead of Dubai, go to OMAN: “Oman is not a party destination, but if you like the outdoors, there is everything you could want. There is hiking, camping, hiking descent into the dunes, miles and miles of untouched coastline, and even tropical forest. This country is a hidden oasis. It’s always an under-the-radar destination, the people are some of the nicest people I’ve ever met and it’s completely safe.”
Instead of Costa Rica, go to ECUADOR: “If you are an outdoor enthusiast, you will find paradise in Baños, Ecuador. There is easy access to biking, rafting, bridge jumping, canyoning , zip line, amazing waterfalls and viewpoints. And it even has a really good nightlife. I would also recommend Mindo which is located in the cloud forest of Ecuador. Ecuador is on the US dollar and everything is extremely cheap.
Instead of the Bahamas, visit the US VIRGIN ISLANDS: “St John USVI is the best place I’ve ever been. It’s not cheap and I wouldn’t call it ‘overlooked’, but most of it of the island is national forest so only a quarter of the land is developed.There were several days where my wife and I looked around and it would only be us or a few other couples on a large stretch of beautiful beach.
Instead of Japan, go to TAIWAN: “Taiwan is a really nice place to travel. The people are lovely and hospitable. It’s cheap to travel around the country, and it’s very modern and safe. You get the best of all worlds: city life and nightclubs, but also beautiful mountains and landscapes, and the food is a delicious blend of the best of Chinese, Japanese and Korean cuisine.
Instead of Israel, go to LEBANON: “Go to Lebanon for the amazing food, nice people, nightlife and beautiful scenery all over the country. Also the food! I’ve been to Israel which was amazing itself, but I enjoyed Lebanon even more.”
Instead of Tuscany, go to BOLOGNA: “Bologna, Italy. IMO, it’s arguably the best food city in the best food country in the world. I’ll never forget the tortellini al brodo, the tagliatelle al ragù and the panna cotta that I ate there. I also loved walking up to the Madonna di San Luca and seeing the amazing view from the top.”
Instead of Lisbon, go to ALENTEJO: “If you are looking for a quiet Portuguese getaway, the Alentejo is for you. You can visit Roman ruins, old churches and see Moorish architecture in southern Portugal. also a ton of natural beauty from lakes to rolling hills and large open farms. The area produces excellent local wine and the food is delicious too. You can easily combine a trip to Alentejo with a visit to Spain or the Algarve.”
Instead of Amsterdam, go to UTRECHT: “Utrecht has a very Dutch vibe with canals and typical narrow houses. It doesn’t suffer from all the tourists in Amsterdam, but it still offers comfort (English speaking, places open late). Also, from Utrecht you can basically take the train all over Europe.”
Instead of Vietnam, go to LAOS: “Laos is one of my favorite countries. I loved traveling along the Mekong River by cargo ship. The ancient capital of Luang Prabang and the city of Vientiane are excellent places to visit. The food is phenomenal and the whole country is relatively untouched by tourism.”
Instead of Paris, go to BORDEAUX: “Bordeaux, France is really fantastic. The food, the weather and the wine are amazing; plus it’s a much cheaper and friendlier alternative to Paris. In fact, all the “second cities” of France pleasantly surprised me.”
Instead of Tokyo, go to HOKKAIDO: “My husband and I went to the city of Sapporo, located on the island of Hokkaido, in northern Japan. It was spectacular. When most people think of traveling to Japan, Tokyo is the number one destination. Sapporo, however, is much less touristy. The mountains around the city are stunningly beautiful, and the food is to die for. A one-hour scenic bus ride takes you to the Otaru old town best known for its glass blowing industry and beautiful canals.. The metro system is amazing and the people are friendly and helpful. I have visited a few places in my travels but Sapporo is stands out as the best so far.
Instead of Honolulu, visit HILO: “Many travelers overlook this entire island, but the lush, green Hilo side of Hawaii’s Big Island is especially amazing. The highway from Waipi’o Valley to Hilo is spans valleys and cliffs. There are waterfalls and spectacular ocean views, and we were constantly stopping to take pictures.”
Instead of Dubrovnik, go to ISTRIA: “Istria, the Croatian peninsula closest to Italy in the northern Adriatic Sea never seems to get as much love as parts of southern Croatia ( Zagreb, Dubrovnik, Split, etc.), but she seriously deserves it.”
What is a lesser-known destination that others should know about? Tell us in the comments!