June 10, 2024 | Penelope Singh

15 Underrated Destinations That Should Be On Your Travel List

Hidden Travel Gems

When it comes to destinations for a travel bucket list, we’re all familiar with iconic cities like Paris, New York, and Tokyo. But the world is home to many awe-inspiring destinations that are off the beaten path, and they each have something special to offer travelers. For a truly unique adventure, check out some of these incredible underrated cities.

underrated destinations

1. Ceský Krumlov, Czech Republic

Walking the streets of Ceský Krumlov feels like walking through a fairy tale. The small town is full of cobblestone streets and baroque architecture, and at the heart of it all is an enchanting 13th-century castle.

Český Krumlov Castle - 2012Bjalek Michal, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons

Ceský Krumlov (cont’d)

The castle offers a chance to see an original Baroque theater and get panoramic views of the Vltava River. Visitors can also explore the medieval old town and see artisans using centuries-old techniques to make their crafts. Those looking for a little more adventure can go kayaking and rafting along the river.

Český Krumlov from abovegreglas, Flickr

2. Frigiliana, Spain

Located in the hills of Andalusia is where you’ll find Frigiliana, one of Spain’s most charming pueblos blancos or “white towns”. The town overlooks the Mediterranean sea which can be seen with a stroll through the winding streets.

Frigiliana (Spain) from above.Mike Finn, Flickr

Frigiliana (cont’d)

While many streets feature white-washed houses decorated with colourful potted flowers, the town also features Mudéjar architecture from its Moorish past. The town is known for its olive oil and sweet wine, as well as it’s the Festival of Three Cultures, which celebrates its Christian, Muslim, and Jewish background.

Festival de las tres culturas, Frigiliana, Málaga, Spain. - 2007Miguel Frutos, CC-BY-SA-2.0, Wikimedia Commons

3. Llanes, Spain

Llanes’ stunning landscapes feature beautiful beaches and the majestic Picos de Europa mountain range. In the historic center of the town, visitors can see traces of its medieval history in the walls and old buildings. They can also check out the town’s port which is full of vibrant bars, restaurants, and fresh seafood.

El Sablón beach in Llaneslocuig, Wikimedia Commons

Llanes (cont’d)

The area around the town is perfect for hikers and climbers, with lots of trails and climbing spots for enthusiasts of all experience levels. There are also lots of fun events year-round, including the Fiesta de San Roque which features a cool boat procession.

Fiesta De San Roque in Llanesjlgomezlinares, CC-BY-SA-3.0, Wikimedia Commons

4. Giethoorn, Netherlands

The tranquil village of Giethoorn is often called the “Venice of the North”. Makes sense, considering the best way to explore this car-free village is with a boat ride. You can peacefully drift down miles of canals with charming wooden bridges that connect gardens to thatched-roof houses.

View from Giethoorn, Netherlands.Ben Bender, CC-BY-SA-3.0, Wikimedia Commons

Giethoorn (cont’d)

If you want to amp up the pace, check out the nearby Weerribben-Wieden National Park, which has lots of opportunities for kayaking and cycling. You can also visit during the annual Giethoorn International Punter Championship, and join the locals in a competition of traditional Dutch punter boats

Giethoorn Netherlands - Channels And Houses Of GiethoornCEphoto, Uwe Aranas, CC-BY-SA-3.0, Wikimedia Commons

5. Dinant, Belgium

Set amongst steep cliffs and overshadowed by a majestic Citadel, it’s no surprise why Dinant often goes under visitors’ radars. But stopping by the town is well worth it if only to savor the local cuisine and see all the saxophones commemorating inventor Adolphe Sax, Dinant’s most famous resident.

Dinant bridge over the Mause river.Ignaz Wiradi, CC-BY-SA-3.0, Wikimedia Commons

Dinant (cont’d)

Visitors can also take part in the Bathtub Regatta. At this odd event, locals and visitors alike race down the Meuse River in decorated bathtubs. It’s a fun way to immerse oneself in the town’s culture.

Bathtub race.Andrew Davies, Flcikr

6. Wismar, Germany

Wismar is the perfect place to see well-preserved examples of medieval architecture from the Hanseatic League, including incredible Gothic churches and the Swede’s Warehouse. Visitors can also explore the town’s market square, which is one of Germany’s largest. It’s also where you’ll find the Wasserkunst, a beautiful waterwork that dates back to the Renaissance.

The medieval town of Wismar - 2009paula soler-moya, Flickr

Wismar (cont’d)

Aside from its incredible history, Wismar is also known for its festivals. One of the most popular events is the Swedish Festival, where music, food, and historical reenactments commemorate a time when Wismar was under Swedish rule. There’s also the Herring Week’s festival, which celebrates the area’s fishing heritage.

Wismar, Germany - panoramic view - 2016Foto Fitti, CC-BY-SA-3.0, Wikimedia Commons

7. Bansko, Bulgaria

Situated at the foot of Bulgaria’s Pirin Mountains, Bankso is the perfect place for a winter vacation. But the city is enchanting all year-round and warmer months are the best time to go for a hike and see the beautiful landscapes of Pirin National Park.

Pirin Street in BanskoDavid Stanley, Flickr

Bansko (cont’d)

The town itself is full of old cobble streets and traditional Bulgarian houses. It’s also known for hosting the annual Bankso Jazz Festival, which brings musicians and fans from all over the world to the small town. While there, visitors can also check out the nearby thermal springs, which have been used since the Roman era.

Bansko Nomad Fest.Holgstravels, CC-BY-SA-4.0, Wikimedia Commons

8. Alberobello, Italy

Alberobello is known for its trullo houses, which are traditional white stone huts with cone-shaped roofs. These unique homes have made the town a UNESCO World Heritage site. And since many have been turned into shops, cafes, and accommodations, there’s no shortage of opportunities to immerse yourself in the local culture.

Trulli houses, Alberobello, Italy, 2009Emma Gawen, Flickr

Alberobello (cont’d)

Alberobello has lots of festivals throughout the year to celebrate everything from local food to the region’s traditional music and dance. The town is also conveniently located in Italy’s Puglia region, which is home to other charming small towns like Ostuni and Lecce and provides opportunities to explore the beaches on the Adriatic coast.

Alberobello, ItalyDaniel Enchev, Pxhere

9. Goreme, Turkey

Gerome is in the heart of Cappadocia, an area that’s known for its breathtaking landscapes, ancient cave dwellings, and rock formations. The town is actually part of Goreme National Park, where years of erosion have carved towers and valleys into the volcanic rock. Some of the most popular attractions include ancient Christian churches that feature frescoes from the 10th century.

Fairy Chimney Hotel in Göreme - TurkeyCurious Expeditions, Flickr

Gerome (cont’d)

The best way to see the beauty of Gerome is with a hot air balloon ride at sunrise. That’s when you’ll get the most enchanting views of the rock formations. Once you’re back on the ground, you can check out the shops, cafes, and restaurants in town for traditional Turkish cuisine and local arts and crafts.

Hot Air Balloons - 2014Patrick Down, Flickr

10. Hallstatt, Austria

This small lakeside town is located in the mountainous Salzkammergut region, which has been known for its salt deposits since ancient times. The town is truly picture-perfect and has been featured on its fair share of postcards and travel guides.

The small village of Hallstat in AustriaUmberto Nicoletti, Flickr

Hallstatt (cont’d)

Most people go to Hallstatt to see the town’s 16th-century Alpine homes and streets, and its salt mine, which is the oldest in the world. The best way to explore is with a scenic ferry ride, but if you want something more thrilling, check out the Hallstatt Skywalk for breathtaking views og the town and surrounding landscape hundred of meters below.

Hallstatt from the topBhavishya Goel, Flickr

11. Nafplio, Greece

Nafplio is a seaside port that’s ignored by the main flock of tourists that visit Greece each year. But despite the lack of attention, this hidden gem full of amazing archeological sites, likes majestic castles and the Theatre of Epidaurus.

Street in Nafplio - GreeceStavros Argyropoulos, Flickr

Nafplio (cont’d)

The Theatre of Epidaurus was built in 340 BC and in its heyday could seat about 13,000 people. It was thought to be a place where people could heal through the power of the arts. Today, visitors can test out the perfect acoustics of theater and learn more about it at the on-site museum.

Theater at Epidaurus - NafplionHarvey Barrison, Flickr

12. Bruges, Belgium

Anyone who goes to Bruges is bound to fall in love with this charming city. The canal-lined streets are like something out of a fairytale and there no shortage of delectable culinary treats and authentic Belgian ales to indulge in.

Houses in Bruges, Belgium.CEphoto, Uwe Aranas, CC-BY-SA-3.0, Wikimedia Commons

Bruges (cont’d)

Bruges historical center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and it offers more than a chance to try the country’s world-famous waffles. For an unparalleled view of the town, climb the 366 steps of the Belfort (Belfry Tower), which dates back to the Medieval era. At the top you can count the bells (there’s 47) and see the lively market square below.

Medieval bell tower in the centre of BrugesSjaak Kempe, Flickr

13. Liverpool, England

Forget London—Liverpool is the city you need to add to your travel list. Liverpool is famous for its arts, music, and culture. It’s also home to a vibrant waterfront, several UNESCO World Heritage sites, and will forever go down in history as the birthplace of The Beatles.

Street in Liverpool, England at night.Jeff Nyveen, Flickr

Liverpool (cont’d)

Some of Liverpool’s more popular attractions include the Liverpool Cathedral, Maritime Museum, and Royal Liver Building. There’s also lots of great pubs to get an authentic taste of the town. And, of course, Liverpool is full of Beatles history. Fans can strike a pose on Penny Lane or stop by the Cavern Club, where the band often played.

Statues of The Beatles in Liverpool sculpted by Andy Edwards - 2016Loz Pycock, CC-BY-SA-2.0, Wikimedia Commons

14. Zadar, Croatia

This hidden gem on Croatia’s Dalmatian Coast is full of history, including ancient Roman and Venetian ruins. It’s also the perfect home base for exploring nearby cities and some of the country’s incredible beaches. Those looking for adventure can go on a kayak safari down the Zrmanja and Krupa rivers in the Velebit Nature Park.

Zadar, Croatiadmytrok, Flickr

Zadar (cont’d)

In Zadar itself, you’ll be taken back through time with all the historical buildings. Some of the region’s most incredible architecture can be seen at the Cathedral of St. Anastasia, the Church of St. Donatus, and the Museum of Ancient Glass. You can also take a short trip to the hills above the city for panoramic views and an unforgettable wine tasting at the Royal Vineyards.

Roman Forum with Church of St. Donatus in Zadar, CroatiaPalauenc05, CC-BY-SA-4.0, Wikimedia Commons

15. Stavanger, Norway

Stravanger’s fjords and hiking trails are full of beauty, but the town itself is equally enchanting. Food is a big deal here and the market square is the perfect place to try some Norwegian cuisine—the salmon is especially good, with some considering it the best in the world.

Port of Stavanger, NorwayDomenico Convertini, Flickr

Stavanger (cont’d)

For a taste of the Viking lifestyle, you can explore the stunning Lysefjord by land or on a boating trip. A boating trip offers the most thrills, as you zip around in a speedboat, taking in unforgettable views of breathtaking Norwegian mountains, waterfalls, and rock formations. It truly is an underrated adventure of a lifetime.

Preikestolen, Lysefjord, NorwayDomenico Convertini, Flickr


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