If you’re anything like me, deciding where to take your next international getaway is one of the most challenging decisions to make. There they are so many incredible places to see. And while the big tourist cities – like Greece, Tokyo or Paris – are popular for a reason, maybe you’re looking for something more off the beaten track.
So I scoured the r/travel subreddit and collected responses from the BuzzFeed Community in order to round up a bunch of lesser-known (but incredible) destinations to consider instead of the trendier vacation spots.
Instead of Greece, go to ALBANIA: “It’s Greece’s less famous neighbor. It has beautiful beaches, delicious and fairly cheap food, and lots of gems to explore. The only downside is that many 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 since it’s right next door. And WOW, Poland has it all. Cities beautiful, great food, beautiful castles, stunning villages and a fascinating history. It really doesn’t get the tourism it deserves, although I like that the main sights aren’t crowded with other tourists.”
Instead of Tulum, go to BELIZE: “Apart from Ambergris Caye and Caye Caulker, the rest of Belize isn’t super touristy. You’ll find everything from the second largest barrier reef in the world to lush rainforests. It’s cheap , the people are very friendly and it’s relatively safe.”
Instead of Seoul, go to BUSAN: “Busan, South Korea is this weird combination of ancient and super modern, and everything is chaotic and super organized. I’m not sure how it works, but it does…and with which seems much better than other big cities. The scenery, food and people were fantastic.”
“Instead of Andalucia, visit NORTHERN SPAIN: “Northern Spain is where you’ll find incredible beauty that rivals anywhere else in Europe, but at a fraction of the cost. You could spend months exploring just the Basque Country, Asturias, Cantabria and Galicia. Driving through the Picos de Europa mountains is a wonderful experience. You can travel between rural mountain towns and quaint beach towns within an hour. Madrid, Barcelona, Andalucia and other holiday cities in Spain get so much attention, but the north is really underrated.”
Instead of Sicily, go to MALTA: “Not surprisingly, it’s a bit more popular with Europeans, but Malta is virtually unheard of among Americans. It’s a fantastic place to visit: cheap, extremely beautiful and pretty good weather all year round. I was there last month and there were a fair number of tourists around the main sites in Valletta, but hardly anyone when you get even slightly off the beaten track.”
Instead of Thailand, go to SRI LANKA: “Sri Lanka is the pearl of the Indian Ocean, ripe with natural beauty and history. It’s home to friendly people and delicious (often spicy!) food!, sandy beaches, palm trees and lots of life wild”.
Instead of Croatia, go to Montenegro: “Montenegro is truly a hidden gem in the Balkans. Podgorica is a wonderful city and visiting the coast in and around Budva is like stepping back in time.”
Instead of Bali, go to BORNEO: “Borneo, and especially Kalimantan (the Indonesian part of the island) is worth a trip. Many people visit Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta, Java and Bali, but not so many people go to Borneo. Even they who visit Borneo mostly stay in Malaysia and very few venture into Kalimantan. There you’ll find rainforests, orangutans, leopards and beaches, 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 lake 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, yet it is the most isolated country in the world after Mongolia in terms of population. Have you ever seen pictures of giant sand dunes in the desert? This is Namibia .This country boasts the same wonderful safari game parks and five-star resorts that you would find in other popular African destinations. I visited Etosha National Park, which was one of my favorite travel experiences. And I didn’t you will never see the stars burn 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 massive rainforests, beautiful scenic islands and is home to the bustling city of Hobart, one of the largest ports of the Antarctic.”
Instead of the Caribbean, go to PUERTO RICO: “My wife and I went to Puerto Rico last year on our honeymoon. It was so easy to get there—it felt like cheating. Old San Juan was great and we we also spent time on the islands to the east, Culebra and Vieques. I would love to go back and spend more time in Culebra. It was very peaceful and had great snorkeling right off the beach.”
Instead of Iceland, go to ALASKA: “I visited Alaska and stayed in a small town three hours from Anchorage, and I had the time of my life. It’s completely untouched wilderness and it was mind-blowing. Moose would walk along the river bank while we fished and orcas swam by our boat when we visited Kenai Fjords National Park.”
Instead of Dubai, go to OMAN: “Oman isn’t a party destination, but if you like the outdoors, it has everything you could want. There’s hiking, camping, dune bashing, miles and miles of unspoiled coastline, even rainforests . This place is a hidden oasis. It’s still an under-the-radar destination, the people are some of the best I’ve ever met, and it’s completely safe.”
Instead of Costa Rica, go to ECUADOR: “If you’re an outdoorsy person, you’ll find paradise in Baños, Ecuador. There’s easy access to biking, white-water rafting, bridge jumping, canyoning, zip-lining, amazing waterfalls and viewpoints. It even has a pretty good night life. I would also recommend Mindo, which is in the Ecuadorian cloud forest. Ecuador costs 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 visited. It’s not cheap, and I wouldn’t call it ‘overlooked’, but most of the island is national forest , so only a quarter of the land is developed. There were many days when my wife and I would look around and it would be just 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 nice and welcoming. It’s cheap to travel domestically and it’s very modern and safe. You get the best of it all worlds: City life and nightclubs, but also mountains and beautiful scenery. And the food is a delicious mix of the best Chinese, Japanese and Korean cuisine.”
Instead of Israel, go to LEBANON: “Go to Lebanon for the great food, nice people, nightlife and beautiful scenery all over the country. Also the food! I’ve been to Israel, which was amazing in itself, but I liked Lebanon even more.”
Instead of Tuscany, go to BOLOGNA: “Bologna, Italy. IMO, it’s definitely the best food city in the best food country in the world. I’ll never forget the tortellini al brodo, tagliatelle al ragù and panna cotta I ate there . I also enjoyed walking up to Madonna di San Luca and seeing the wonderful view from the top.”
Instead of Lisbon, head to ALENTEJO: “If you’re looking for a quiet Portuguese getaway, Alentejo is for you. You can visit Roman ruins, old churches and see Moorish architecture in southern Portugal. There’s also a ton of natural beauty from lakes to hills and large, open farms. The region 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 feel with canals and typical narrow houses. It doesn’t suffer from all the tourists that Amsterdam has, but offers all the same amenities (English speaking, places open late). Also, from Utrecht you can take the train all over Europe.”
Instead of Vietnam, go to LAOS: “Laos is one of my favorite places. I loved traveling along the Mekong River on cargo ships. The ancient capital of Luang Prabang and the city of Vientiane are great 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, weather and wine are amazing; plus, it’s a much cheaper and friendlier alternative to Paris. In fact, all the ‘second cities’ of France have pleasantly surprised me.”
Instead of Tokyo, go to HOKKAIDO: “My husband and I went to the city of Sapporo, located on the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido. 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 surrounding the city are incredibly beautiful, and the food is to die for. A scenic hour-long bus ride takes you to the old town of Otaru, best known for its industry. glass blowing and beautiful canals. The subway system is great and the people are friendly and helpful. I’ve been to several places on my travels, but Sapporo stands out as the best by 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 incredible. The highway from Waipi’o Valley to Hilo stretches over valleys and cliffs. There are waterfalls and dramatic views of the ocean, and we were constantly pulling back wanting to take pictures.”
Instead of Dubrovnik, go to ISTRIA: “Istria, the closest Croatian peninsula to Italy in the Northern Adriatic Sea, never seems to get as much love as parts of southern Croatia (Zagreb, Dubrovnik, Split, etc.), but it seriously deserves it . . .”
What is a lesser known destination that others should know about? Tell us in the comments!