Whilst you are planning your next trip, it’s important to consider what you are looking for when it comes to your vacation. Perhaps you want to de-stress and get away from the hustle and bustle of work; taking the time to unplug by visiting a more remote location. What better way to do that than by lounging on a beach all to yourself? On the other hand, you might want a more adventure-fuelled holiday where you are right in the heart of a big city full of endless activities to do.
There are many destinations around the world that will take you to places that are off the beaten track, some that are not even known by many travellers. From tropical islands with sandy beaches as far as the eye can see, to African destinations that will bring you to remote safari locations with a ton of wildlife to observe. Sometimes all you need is to be away from loads of tourists.
However, just because a destination is full of travellers, doesn’t mean you should surpass it all together. Sometimes the hustle and bustle of a location is what makes it so special, and also means that you will never run out of activities to do and things to see. The bustling cities of Tokyo and New York City just wouldn’t be the same without hundreds of people strolling through the streets every day. After all, these destinations are busy for good reason: they are so epic that everyone wants to visit.
No matter what you are looking for, here are a few destinations to consider when choosing your next trip across the world.
20 Cook Islands, South Pacific: postcard-perfect destination
The Cook Islands, a nation in the South Pacific, is a postcard-perfect paradise. The country is known for its world-renowned snorkelling and scuba-diving sites. The islands are still largely undiscovered by visitors from North America, who flock to islands like Hawaii for vacation every year.
The Cook Islands can be described as Hawaii 50+ years ago, with untouched beaches, hidden caves, idyllic lagoons, and vibrant underwater life. It’s no wonder that it’s a popular honeymooning destination and spread over the pages of luxury travel publications—however you won’t be bumping into tourist crowds in this paradise. You will basically have the ocean waters completely to yourself!
19 El Salvador, Central America: a playground for surf-enthusiasts
This small nation in Central America is known for its amazing black-sand beaches, lush forests, surf breaks, village ruins and mountainous landscapes as far as the eye can see. There is also the opportunity to scuba dive in a live volcano… I mean, talk about living on the edge.
If you are a surf-enthusiast, El Salvador will be your ultimate playground, being one of the best places in the world to catch a wave. It will be less crowded compared to popular tourist spots such as Costa Rica, where you will receive a truly authentic experience with friendly locals and like-minded travellers.
18 Zimbabwe, Africa: more than just a safari
Located in Southern Africa, Zimbabwe is known for its dramatic landscape and diverse wildlife. While the country is home to amazing reserves and parks, the location is more than just a place to take a wildlife safari.
Zimbabwe is home to the amazing Victoria Falls, which drops a whopping 108m, offering visitors the opportunity to bungee-jump off of the top or simply just observe it in all of its glory. It’s also one of the best places in the world to white-water raft and boats some amazing hiking opportunities where you can spot wildlife from both land and water. The location time and time again surpassed all travellers’ expectations.
17 Syros, Greece: an authentic Greek experience
Unlike big names such as Mykonos and Santorini, Syros is an off the beaten path island that is not yet overrun with tourists. The island has everything you could ever want in a Greek holiday and more, with gorgeous beaches, amazing (and cheap) food, spectacular sunsets, and cobblestone streets to explore on the daily. The locals are also genuinely happy to see tourists and will provide you with a truly authentic experience.
This also means that you won’t break the bank staying on this island for a while, as you won’t receive the overpriced tourist prices that will surely hit you on the big islands. Rather than staying in fancy 5-star resorts with infinity pools, this islands offers family-run guest houses with some delicious homemade breakfast.
16 Zhangye, China: otherworldly rainbow mountains
This destination is China like you’ve never seen it before. Zhangye is home to temples hanging from the cliff sides, rock sculptures, and hidden caves to explore. These temples will take a bit of hiking to get to, but you will be welcomed with passageways through caves that take you to beautifully decorated Buddhist rooms. How insane is that?!
However, the real magic lies with the masterpieces of Mother Nature. The area is home to many unique geological formations, as well as the otherworldly Rainbow Mountains, which truly bring you to another planet. Not yet super well-known, you will likely have these mountains completely to yourself, give or take a hiker or two.
15 Nunavut, Canada: an arctic adventure
Nunavut is the perfect place to visit if you are big on adventure and facing the ever-changing elements that Mother Nature has to offer. Located in Arctic Canada, this definitely isn’t a trip for the faint at heart, and you’ll need to pack a few layers to survive in this chilly climate.
Nunavut is where the Inuit people of Canada reside, so there is an endless amount of history to learn about the area and its people. You will also have the opportunity to spot wildlife such as polar bears and narwhals (yes, they are real animals), explore icebergs, and even have a picnic on a piece of ice floating in the middle of the ocean!
14 Borneo, Malaysia: home of the orangutans
Borneo is definitely a less popular destination for those travelling throughout South East Asia, simply because it is not attached to the mainland that most of the countries reside on. However, it should definitely not be overlooked. In fact, the fact that it’s not crowded with tourists is what makes it a favourite for so many travelling Asia.
Located in eastern Malaysia, Borneo is an island that is so rich in biodiversity and amazingly vibrant rainforest, with wildlife like you have never seen it before. The Bornean orangutan can be visited at a number of different wildlife reserves, where you can observe these amazing creatures in their natural habitat.
13 Olomouc, Czech Republic: stepping into a fairy-tale
This tiny little charming town in the Czech Republic is a hidden gem away from the hustle and bustle of Prague. With beautifully built churches, picturesque fountains, and stunning castles around every corner, this is a spot that should definitely not be overlooked.
Explore the cobblestone streets of the town while passing cute boutique hotels and historical landmarks—you will truly feel like you are stepping into a fairy-tale. This city is home to one of the 12 UNESCO Heritage sites in the country, with so much fascinating history to learn. While Prague is an amazingly unique city that should be visited, Olomouc is equally deserving.
12 Long Island, Bahamas: beaches all to yourself
Home to breath-taking cliffs, vibrant coral reefs, and serene beaches, Long Island is truly paradise in every sense of the word. More popular islands such as Nassau and Grand Bahama have become bigger tourist hot-spots, while Long Island provides visitors with a polar opposite experience away from fancy resorts and tourist attractions.
If you are looking for a trip of peace and quiet, you have come to the right place. Not only does this island boast some of the most beautiful and pristine beaches in the world, but you will also likely be the only one on them. Long Island represents the true essence of the laid-back Bahamas lifestyle, with only a few local shops and restaurants on the island. If you like seafood, you are in for a treat.
11 Yukon Territory, Canada: the Northern dream
Few places in the world today have been so unchanged over the course of time, and the Yukon Territory is one of them. Home to pristine, untouched national parks with mountain ranges for days and moose and bears wandering the forests, Yukon is truly a dream.
Whereas towns such as Banff bring in thousands of tourists every year, the more northern parts of Canada bring forth a true wilderness experience away from the crowds of tourists.
The territory is home to impressive glaciers, a vast amount of historical landmarks, and is one of the best places in the world to witness the spectacular Northern Lights.
10 Hustle and bustle - Tokyo, Japan: traditional meets futuristic
Tokyo is a destination that has grown in popularity by tourists in the last few years, likely because of the fascination that their lifestyle brings to outsiders. Stepping into a city like Tokyo is almost like stepping into another universe; with the ultramodern and traditional vibes of the city coming together to complement each other in the most amazing way. Not many cities can mix tradition with such futuristic technology as well as Tokyo does.
One second you will be exploring a historic temple and the next you will stop at a modern skyscraper overlooking the neon lights of the city. While you will definitely not experience peace and quiet in this city, visiting Tokyo is something that everyone needs to experience in their lifetime.
9 Hustle and bustle - New Orleans, USA: round the clock nightlife
New Orleans isn't just a city, it's a way of life. Influenced by Europe, the Caribbean and Africa, its melting pot culture is truly one of a kind. The food, architecture and people are so uniquely special. The city boats around-the-clock nightlife and vibrant live music, therefore you will never be bored with a visit here. A few days will feel like a few weeks, as you probably won’t get much sleep.
This destination is not a place to go for relaxation, especially during the vibrant festival of Mardi Gras, where the streets are filled with costumed parades and exciting events.
8 Hustle and bustle - Montreal, Canada: vibrant art scene and exciting festivals
If you want a taste of Europe but don't have the time or money to get there, check out Montreal. The city has such a buzzing atmosphere; with the winter months bringing picturesque snowy streets and winter festivals, compared to the summer months which bring forth outdoor concerts and strolls through Old Montreal.
The food is delicious (poutine, duh), the art scene is dynamic, the nightlife is lively, and the history is still so present in the city today. It is truly a city full of culture and a ton of energy. There are endless amounts of things to do and areas to explore in Montreal, and it should definitely be a top destination while visiting eastern Canada.
7 Hustle and bustle - Singapore: futuristic meets eco-friendly
Singapore is fast becoming one of Asia’s top destinations, as many travellers are fascinated by the variety that the city offers. Known as the skyline of the future, the city is full of technological advances that are pretty out of this world, making it unlike any place you will come across on your Asian travels.
The city is working towards a ‘City in a Garden’ vision, which means it is full of stunning walking trails and botanical gardens, as well as green skyscrapers that look more like living ecosystems than concrete buildings. On the other hand, the city is full of neon skyscrapers and light shows every night of the week. It is definitely worth your time to check out this futuristic, eco-friendly city!
6 Hustle and bustle - Barcelona, Spain: boundless culture and exciting nightlife
While this city is a tourist hot spot, it is also a favourite by many travellers who visit every year. The hustle and bustle of Barcelona is what makes it so special, with enchanting cobblestone streets and legendary nightlife. It is a city that is so full of life and culture, with awesome architecture around every corner.
The city also boasts some of the most amazing dining experiences in the country, with traditional dishes and fresh seafood that was probably caught earlier that day. If you are a night owl, the after-hours hold limitless possibilities in Barcelona, with live music transforming the city as the sun goes down.
If you made it all night, you can watch the sunrise as you make your way back to your hotel for some rest, ready to do it all again the next day!
5 Hustle and bustle - New York City, New York: the city with no limits
It’s the city that never sleeps, so obviously it had to score a spot on this list. New York City is a destination that wears many crowns, with something to offer for every visitor. Catch a Broadway show before heading to Times Square to experience the bright lights, followed by a rooftop patio drink before hitting a fashion show. The city is truly limitless.
Grab a double espresso, some comfy walking shoes, and your best fashion-forward outfit before hitting the streets of NYC to explore all that it has to offer. You could spend a lifetime here and never discover absolutely everything, which is why a trip to the city brings something new and unexpected every time.
4 Hustle and bustle - Dubrovnik, Croatia: Game of Thrones fan fantasy
Dubrovnik, a Croatian city nestled on the coast of the Adriatic Sea, has grown in popularity in recent years because of the Game of Throne filming locations throughout Old Town. Fans of the show have flocked in huge numbers every year to explore the TV series location of King’s Landing. However, even if you’re not a die-hard GOT fan, you will still appreciate the beauty of this quaint town of cobblestone streets and boutique shops.
Make sure to explore the Walls of Dubrovnik, a historical city scenic walk with panoramic views of both the coast and sea of buildings with burnt orange rooftops. While it can get quite busy in high season, the medieval vibe of the town is not compromised.
3 Hustle and bustle - Sydney, Australia: touristy yet spectacular
A trip to Australia isn’t complete without a visit to the country’s most iconic city of Sydney. While it's known as one of the more touristy places to travel to in Australia, it’s all for good reason. From the Sydney Harbour Bridge to the famous Opera House, the landmarks in the city centre on the water’s edge are truly spectacular. The tourist aspect of the city kind of works for them.
While you can usually find the infamous Bondi Beach full to the brim with visitors throughout the summer months, the crowdedness definitely doesn’t compromise the beauty and feel-good vibes that Bondi brings. The coastal walk to Coogee Beach is also second to none, with stops along the way at freshwater pools and patios overlooking the ocean.
2 Hustle and bustle - Bangkok, Thailand: more than just a stopover
For many travellers visiting Thailand, Bangkok is merely just a city that they fly into before hitting the islands. I think that is a big mistake, as there is so much to offer in the city if you take the time to explore. While it can be busy and hectic at times, that is simply a part of Bangkok that you have to embrace in order to appreciate it fully.
With lively night markets, stunning temples, friendly locals, and a vibrant street life—Bangkok offers its visitors so much. You will definitely never be bored in a place like this, and probably won’t get a whole lot of sleep either. Regardless, Bangkok should be looked at as more than just a stopover.
1 Hustle and bustle - Paris, France: art, fashion, and delicious pastries
While Paris has a reputation for being crowded and overrated, there are many people that disagree with this… including me. Paris has a magic to it that is unlike any place I have been before… if you look hard enough that is. The city is full of amazing art galleries, next-level fashion outlets, pastry shops around every corner, and of course, the spectacular Eiffel Tower (the light show put on each night is something out of a fairy-tale).
While Paris can get busy in the more popular summer months, the off seasons of spring, fall, and winter can bring a pretty magical experience. Fall is one of the most amazing times to visit Paris, with the leaves changing colours and sweater weather in full force.