Travelers Tell All: The World’s Most Underrated Destinations

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Underrated Destinations in North & Central America

El Salvador (Don’t Stop Living) Facebook|Twitter|YouTube

When backpacking through Central America, my plan was obviously to visit every country in the region over a three month period.

One thing I noticed constantly was that other travelers I met up with were also going to each country like me, but 90% of them were skipping El Salvador completely. It just baffled me a bit, that this small country was neglected by lots of tourists. With this in mind I made sure I set aside a bit longer to see El Salvador as I was convinced it would be worth the trip. In the end, I was so inspired by the country and its people that my 10 days spent in El Salvador were the best 10 days from my entire time in Central America.

Where do I start with the sightseeing? Well it was a busy time and I managed to go surfing at Barra de Santiago, stay in a beach hut by the Pacific Ocean, do a crocodile river tour of the Mangrove Forest, tour the charming entrepreneurial city of Santa Ana, visit the viewpoint at Devil’s Gate, visit Joya de Ceren (the only UNESCO Heritage Site in the country), visit the Mayan sites at Tazumal and San Andres, attend an indigo workshop in Chalchuapa, party in San Salvador and the craziest moment of all – the Bolas del Fuego.

Basically on the last day of August every year in the town of Nejapa there is a Fireball Festival – if you want to know how crazy the Fireball Festival is check it out here. Locals throwing fireballs at each other in a town where seemingly health and safety is nonexistent.

El Salvador is the real gem in the Central American jigsaw, miss it at your peril – it is one of the most under-rated tourist destinations on the planet and a country with proud, friendly, welcoming people.

boat mangroves el salvador

 

Tulum, Mexico (1 Fun Girl Travels) Facebook|Twitter|Instagram|Pinterest|StumbleUpon

Tulum is extremely underrated and distinct as it is one of few walled cities built by the Mayans.  It is also one of the only Mayan cities that is well preserved and contains its own pristine beach on the Caribbean! Where else can you walk on the beach, grab a bite of authentic Mexican food, see ancient Mayan temples, and explore the eccentricities of a small town in one place?  

I didn’t know this at the time, but there is also a place along the road on your immediate right where the Mayan Pole Flyers do their pole flying. They perform throughout the day and you can sit and watch! You could spend a few hours, or a day depending on your mood.  If you can manage to get there, DO IT!  TRAVEL OUT LOUD! 🙂

tulum mexico

 

Underrated Spots in South America

Sao Paolo, Brazil (How to Travel Light) Facebook|Twitter|Instagram|Google Plus

When people think of Brazil, they think beaches, beautiful people, the sun, party time. They think Rio. But São Paulo is the culture capital of South America, a bustling, rough, real city where a lot is happening all the time. Also, São Paulo is undergoing a very special moment, with immigrants arriving from war zones and young adults regaining the streets with parties and bikes and open air markets.

Photo by https://www.flickr.com/photos/murilocardoso/900896447/
Photo by Murilo Cardoso

Underrated Places in Europe

Emilia Romagna Region, Italy (Keep Calm and Travel) Facebook|Twitter|Instagram

Italy is one of the most famous holidays destinations in the world, too bad that the tourists just tend to visit the usual spots: Rome, Cinque Terre, Pisa, Venice, and Florence to name the most popular ones.
I recently had the opportunity to visit Emilia Romagna, a region that is in my opinion extremely underrated. The food (OMG…THE FOOD), nature, and cultural heritage are some of the reasons why everyone should visit this place. A tip for you: If you happen to visit Tuscany, don’t miss the opportunity to cross the “border” to the nearby Emilia Romagna and head to Parco del Frignano.
As usual, I believe that images speak louder than words so decided to avoid giving you a detailed explanation on why you should go and let the picture speak for itself. Even with the clouds this place is truly astonishing (and totally underrated, as we were the only people visiting it that day. Can you believe that?!)
Parco del Frignano Emilia Romagna Italy- Lake Santo View

Galicia, Spain (A World to Travel) Facebook|Twitter|Instagram

As a Spanish passport holder myself, it would make no sense to talk about the main touristy hubs in the country. Therefore, let me tell you about the North West corner, where I was lucky to be born: GALICIA.Why it deserves a place in this list comes without saying. This region alone, even when it is only one of the 17 autonomies of the country enjoys about one third of all the seashore in Spain due to its estuaries and intricate coastline. That converts into endless unpolluted and uncrowded beaches. Affordable and with a great cuisine, it also has cities worth visiting like Santiago de Compostela, the end of the famous St. James Way and Lugo, which features 2000 year old perfectly preserved city walls. If you go a bit more inland, you can also find gorgeous mountains and even a ski resort! With just over 3M inhabitants, slow travel and a great life philosophy are awaiting you there!
galicia spain

Gothenburg, Sweden (Indefinite Adventure) Facebook|Twitter|Instagram

While Sweden’s capital, Stockholm, usually gets all the attention (much of it well deserved), Sweden does have other cool cities too! One of them is Gothenburg, the country’s second largest city situated on the North Sea coast in the south west of Sweden. With a long history as a port city, the city was among the richest in the world for some time. Nowadays, the seafaring heritage is visible everywhere along the canals and seafront. Gothenburg also has a large student population, meaning it’s a very young and vibrant city with many music, art and cultural events going on all year round.
Be sure to check out the Fish Church (an indoor fish market), the Botanical Garden (with free entry!) the Volvo Museum if you’re interested in cars and the Liseberg amusement park if you’re travelling with children. Furthermore, Gothenburg is well served by budget and national airlines making it a long weekend trip there easy from many places in northern and western Europe.
ship maritime gothenburg

Montenegro (Anekdotique) Facebook|Twitter|Instagram

It’s pretty popular to travel the Balkans in Eastern Europe these days, especially in summer time. But one travel destination that is totally underrated is the tiny Republic of Montenegro, a quiet coastal state with cobblestoned old towns like Budva and Kotor, huge fjord-like bays and stunning panoramas as from the picture book. On top of these, the Montenegrins are an open-minded bunch of people who will welcome everyone with open arms and filled plates of delicious hearty food. If you want to choose the right time to go, make it summer!
montenegro

Sibiu, Romania (Travelers Universe) Facebook|Twitter|Google Plus

Back in 2007, Sibiu was the European Capital of Culture. Eight years fast forward, and there still aren’t many tourists in sight. The truth is, the whole country is underrated. So much wasted potential!
Sibiu still preserves its innocence and authenticity. I’m in love with the colorful houses and the cute rooftop windows that look like eyes. There are several guild towers still in place and the Bridge of Lies is surrounded by fascinating legends.
Unspoiled and relaxed. That’s Sibiu! Though most people I talked to (locals included) prefer Brasov for it’s location surrounded my mountains, for me, Sibiu is the prettiest Romanian city. I visited twice in recent years and I can’t wait to go back.
Editor’s Note: I’ve made no secret of my unrequited love affair with Romania. It’s twice appeared on my lists of the top ten countries I’d like to visit. This is just fuel to the fire!
Sibiu, Romania

Your Say

You might have noticed that Oceania and Africa are conspicuous in their absence. Is this a controversial oversight?

What is your favourite less-known or underrated destination?

 

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28 comments

  1. Can’t disagree with the Irish one more. Basically it days of you want to go to ireland , go to a different country? Bullshiz. Galway, cork, rent a car and follow the Wild Atlantic way. Seaside towns like Strandhill and the ever growing Enniscrone are windswept, beautiful and dune filled. It’s laziness regards dublin – that’s like going to NY and being pissy the ESB was busy. Get out to How the, Dun Laoighre, wicklow and Dublin mountains. Although I’m a nerd so I’d me more towards the west and see neolithic ruins, fairy fort’s, the waves crashing in Ceide Fields. Fair enough The traditional Dublin experience is a bit cap – but every city has that of you don’t bother scratch the surface. Rant over. ???

    • Hahaha. How’d you manage that?

      I’ll be sure to pass on your justified outrage to whomever wrote the Ireland bashing section of the post.

      Headed there myself in October, so I’ll get to make up my own mind 🙂

      • Also, go West. Galway pubs dude, you’ll love them. And if you have to do the Guinness Storehouse (which is cool when you realise how much of Dublin history an economy is due to it) you HAVE to try out the Open Gate Brewery. Only 6 quid with a free drink – it’s the willy wonkas factory of stout 😀 and hit a bitch up for a pint 🙂

  2. So happy to see that I’m doing quite well and have visited most of the underrated places in the Asia section! I’m going to Taiwan next week: I can’t contain my excitement on that one!

    • It’s not so surprising that SE Asia has all of these hidden gems in the eyes of most bloggers. It tends to be the region which we all gravitate to. It was interesting to read Adventurous Kate saying that the best thing she ever did (for her blog) was stop traveling in Southeast Asia and writing about the same places everybody else was.

      Still, I can’t say I’m deterred. Hoping to make the Philippines my temporary base of operations next year 🙂

        • It depends on where you’re going. Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia etc have been done to death, but there’s mileage in the likes of South Korea, China, India etc.

          Just a matter of getting away from the tourist traps.

  3. I was a bit surprised to find Coron in here! Probably it’s underrated if compared to El Nido, I agree. But when people ask me to pick Coron or El Nido… I really can’t make up my mind, they are both so beautiful. I had the chance to do some free diving and see the shipwrecks and I spent 3 days on a very cool expedition, living on tents, NO INTERNET and discovering secluded islands and villages. An experience like no other! Highly recommended! Oh by the way… if you need any more convincing…this is the famous view point (already featured in here, but still..) 🙂

    • I think Palawan in general is still a somewhat well-kept secret. Most people I know who go to the Philippines don’t seem to venture far from Boracay and Manilla. Even though Coron and El Nido are quite well developed, they’ve still got that charm that comes from being a bit off the beaten track.

      • True, I have a mixed feeling about talking about Palawan.. I’m so glad I went there when it’s still relatively unspoiled, but I’m pretty worried about it becoming the new “Boracay”. Which is beautiful of course but ruined by too many tourists. Such a pity. I don’t want the same happening to Palawan.

            • Being sandwiched in between my sweaty brother and my sweatier English friend with nothing to do but stare into the darkness? Such a treat!

              • Ahahah sounds like a nightmare…I was smart as a (dead )fox because I decided to take the WHOLE row on the back..so I could lay down and sleep. It didn’t occur to me that those seats were empty FOR A REASON! 🙂

        • Totally agree with your worries. I stayed in Palawan for over five months and absolutely love the unspoiled life there, but El Nido is already turning into a tourism mayhem. I hope people will stay away from the rest of the island a while more..

  4. Great list… That gives me a lot of interesting travel ideas!
    Surprising, that no one came with African destinations… I would have suggested Zimbabwe in Africa, but also Mali & Uganda. Three stunning countries
    Cheers, Gilles
    PS: and thanks for the invitation to contribute 😉

    • Thank you for contributing!

      I’m pleased that you like Uganda, as I’m headed there in September myself 🙂 I really loved Namibia as well. It’s not a secret, but it’s certainly a place that more people should be aware of.

    • I totally Agree, I’ve never been to Africa, but lately I’m obsessing over visiting it as soon as possible. I don’t even understand why in hell I’ve never considered it as an option!

      • I think a lot of people let themselves be scared off by a combination of negative press and general ignorance. You’d be surprised by how many seemingly intelligent people were telling me not to come to Africa last year because of ebola/terrorism, even though the country I was going to was nowhere near either.

        A lot of people don’t seem to be aware that Africa is a huge continent with a lot of diverse nations.

        • This reply is so true and made me chuckle a little, as my mum’s first reaction when I announced that I wanted to visit Africa was “OMG!!! Malaria, Ebola, terrorists!! are you crazy? you’re NOT going!” and she was not the only one. In my case it wasn’t the reason. I remember being totally mesmerized by the documentaries on TV but I thought about it as a dream, like a place I couldn’t really visit. Go figure.. Thank goodness i woke up from the dream 😉

          • Malaria is the only one of those things worth worrying about, and it phases me so little that I didn’t even bother buying anti-malarials this time around, haha

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