Planning your next vacation is exciting, but not always that easy. Where will you find the best attractions? Where will you find the most adventure? And most of all, where can you get a unique experience that's all your own?
There are a million places on earth to travel too, and while visiting some of the most popular destinations in the world, such as Paris, London and Rome, and learning about their rich history and culture is fascinating, you don't want to find yourself among thousands of tourists. Sometimes it's fun to go off the beaten path and find yourself exploring lands that not many people know about. These particular places to explore are ones you won't find in travel guides, either.
Here we've listed twenty secret places all over the world that are lesser known because they are either hard to get too, or people just don't know about these natural beauties! From a stunning oasis in the middle of the vast desert in Peru to tiny islands with crystal clear blue waters and dazzling views, these secret places are where you should consider when booking your next adventure.
20 Plitvice Lakes, Croatia
When thinking of where your next European vacation should be, not many people think of Croatia, but they should. While the country has countless of things to do, travelers should visit Plitvice Lakes National Park. Even if you can only spare a day here, it'll be so worth it. What makes this charming area unique is the series of waterfalls, as this natural ensemble is made up of sixteen different terraced limestone lakes, with crystal clear water flowing from one lake to the next. For the most stunning views of this natural beauty, try and find the lookout spot known as Veliki Slap. Everything about this place is just jaw dropping.
19 St. Michael’s Mount, Cornwall, England
St. Michael's Mount in Cornwall is only 500 meters from the mainland where you'll feel like you've stepped back into medieval times. At low tide, walk the across the cobbled causeway as you make your way to this ancient and medieval castle and church, discovering its history and letting your imagination run wild. The castle is surrounded by beautiful gardens, which surprises many visitors since it clings to the granite cliff and is able to survive. The fairy-tale castle rises proud from the waters of Mount's Bay. It is truly a gem that not many people think to travel to when they consider taking a trip to England.
18 The Dazu Rock Carvings, China
In the steep hillsides of the Dazu area in China, you'll find amazing rock carvings dating back over 1,000 years. These remarkable carvings pay homage to numerous religions, from Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism, and shed a light of what life was like in China dating back to the 9th to the 13th century. The Dazu area is near Chongqing, and you can't miss these carvings because they are certainly grand, where inscriptions give visitors insight on the history, religious beliefs and identifications of these unique and exceptional carvings. What these carvings also show is the unity of three different religions and how they coexisted in China.
17 Kakslauttanen Hotel, Finland
Hotels aren't typically made to be attractions, but have you ever heard of sleeping in a glass igloo, overlooking the magical Northern Lights in Finland? The Kakslauttanen Hotel is a magical hotel in Finnish Lapland, 155 miles north of the Artic Circle. Inside the igloo-shaped hotels, visitors can see the stunning Northern Lights and the bright starry sky in the comfort of a warm domed shaped room. While making your way to the Artic sounds cold and uninviting, these igloo hotels are a great surprise and you won't even feel the cold while laying and looking up to see a beautiful night sky.
16 Ithaa Undersea Restaurant, Maldives
Did you ever imagine dining underwater among spectacular sea life? Well, you can in the Maldives, at this amazing restaurant named Ithaa Undersea Restaurant, which translates to mother-of-pearl in Dhivehi. The restaurant is beyond breathtaking, you'll make your way down a spiral staircase and sit below the Indian Ocean, where you'll see colorful fish and sharks pass you by as you enjoy a delicious meal. The food is largely contemporary European, and there fish, if you're up for eating it as you see them swim by is exceptional and all caught locally. This dining experience is unlike any other in the world.
15 Smoo Cave, Scotland
If you are looking for adventure, make your way to Scotland and discover the Smoo Cave, a massive combined sea cave and freshwater cave. The dramatic sea cave is set into the limestone cliffs in Sutherland. "Smoo" translates to "hiding place," and that's exactly what this cave looks like, besides looking like something out of a Jurassic Park film. There are traces of a fishing and shipbuilding community that once lived here during the Viking era and visitors can explore the caverns where you'll find a wonderful hidden 60-foot waterfall caused by the river dropping into the large sinkhole.
14 Ruins of San Ignacio Mini, Argentina
These impressive ruins are found in the Argentine rainforest and were built as a Jesuit mission in the early 17th century. The ruins of San Ignacio Mini was constructed in 1666 in the Spanish baroque style and the complex was equipped with a hospital, a school, dormitories, and a large stone church with wood interior. While a lot of the structures have been destroyed, visitors can still see intricate details of these ruins with its mix of Spanish baroque and Guarani styles from the walls to the arches of the church. According to the World Monument Fund, the San Ignacio Mini is a "spectacular example of mission planning and layout, one of only few that survive today."
13 Treehouse Point, Washington State, USA
Treehouse Point is nestled in a lush forest in Washington State, just thirty minutes east of Seattle and offers visitors a chance to sleep in an actual tree house and explore the natural beauty of the Pacific Northwest. At Treehouse Point you can find guided tours, lodging, weddings and even elopements. It is a great place to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life and immerse yourself in the surrounding forest. The area is the perfect spot for couple's looking for something unique when they tie the knot and your pictures will surely look magical.
12 The Lencois Maranhenses National Park, Brazil
On the coast of the Atlantic Ocean in northeastern Brazil you'll find The Lencois Maranhenses National Park, where every year during the rainy season, thousands of awe inspiring turquoise lagoons appear among the sand dunes. Trek these snowy white dunes, swim in the freshwaters and discover how life like crab and fish make their way to these stunning lagoons. The national park looks like something out of a movie, it is truly pristine, and one of the most spectacular places a person can visit in the world. The best time to see this magic is from July to September when the lagoons reach their full capacity.
11 Sark, Channel Islands
Sark is a small island in the Channel Islands, in the southwestern English Channel, off the coast of Normandy, France. This tiny island has no cars, where only tractors and horse drawn vehicles are permitted. You'll be surrounded with amazing scenery, coastal pathways and cliff top views. Sark is a perfect example of living a simple life and enjoying the world around you. The island is dotted with old farms and quiet villages and is the perfect place for people who want to escape the chaos of a city. Sark is also said to be the smallest independent feudal state in Europe and to have the last feudal constitution in the western world.
10 Drakensberg Mountains, Southern Africa
This breathtaking mountain range in Africa is perfect for visitors who love to explore, hike and see just what other fantastic nature lies in other parts of the world. The Drankensberg Mountain Range is the highest in South Africa and stretches a massive 1,000 kilometers from north to east with the highest range approximately 11,424 feet. The Drankensberg is the name given to the eastern portion of the Great Escarpment, a major geological formation that includes steep slops from the high central Southern African plateau downward in the directions of the ocean that surround South Africa. Standing on these unspoiled mountain ranges you'll have views for days of natural beauty. The Mountains offer everything, including guided walks, rock climbing, and even hot air balloon rides into the valleys.
9 Socotra Island, Yemen
You won't find a land like this anywhere else in the world with unique trees and bizarre flora. The trees, known as the dragon's blood tree has a dense crown and ancient leaves, which spread, around the Arabian Sea island named Socotra in Yemen. The island itself is a natural sanctuary and its heat and drought have combined to create these spectacular trees. The area has been called the strangest place in the world with odd and beautiful life with hundreds of different flora and fauna that can only be found here. There is also the desert rose that grows a lovely pink flower that you won't see anywhere else.
8 Ruins of Volubilis, Morocco
While the ancient ruins in Greece and Rome are spectacular and packed full of history, consider going to Morocco to see the archeological site of Volubilis. Volubilis is one of Morocco's best-preserved Roman ruins. Dating back over 2,000 years to the Phoenicians and later the Romans, Volubilis was considered the administrative center of the kingdom of Mauretania as well as one of the most remote cities within the Roman Empire. You can see remnants of stunning mosaic tile work and the exquisite arches and row of columns of what remains from this beautiful basilica. You’ll feel like you’re walking through time when you enter these remarkable ancient ruins.
7 Faroe Islands, Denmark
The Faroe Islands in Denmark is one of Europe's best-kept secrets. The best way to see this stunning and small island is to trek the island's jaw dropping mountains and valleys. Short hikes to the mountains give visitors multiple vantage points that over look amazing peaks in one direction and the North Atlantic on the other. There are 23 hiking routes on the island, but if you don't want to do much walking, that's okay too, since everywhere you go stunning beauty will surround you. This small and remote island isn't a place where you'll be around a ton of tourist, just natural wonders, so if you want to do a little exploring, you can't beat this awe inspiring island.
6 Huacachina, Peru
In the middle of a vast desert in Peru, you'll find an extraordinary oasis with a green lagoon at its center, thought to have therapeutic properties, tall palm trees, and of course, bars and clubs to get the party going at night. One of the most popular attractions in Huacachina is dune buggies, which you can rent and cruise over sand dunes. The dunes are really magnificent and even walking over them is a great experience. There are plenty of restaurants hugging the shore and local women selling delicious snacks like fresh fruit. There are hostel dorms and luxurious hotels, Peruvian and American restaurants and tons of fun exploring to do.
5 Isola Bella, Italy
Isola Bella is a fifty-acre island in north Italy on Lake Maggiore that is home to a stunning palace, wonderful gardens and a small fishing village. This island is truly a natural treasure that not many tourists know about. The island is dominated by the gorgeous Baroque Palace, beautiful Italian style garden that is laid out on ten terraces full of exotic flowers and plants, statues and ponds, and a village with restaurants and souvenir shops. The islands garden was designed to create a scenic effect, including the "Theatre" where you'll see a statue of a unicorn and many other statues representing nature and art. The island is charming and a place many people didn't even know existed in northern Italy.
4 Las Lajas Sanctuary, Colombia
Las Lajas Sanctuary is a impeccable basilica church built inside the canyon of the Guaitara River, which looks like something out of a Harry Potter film. The basilica is stunning and while many places of worship are built around important and ancient grounds and relics, there are no places of religious worship built in such a dangerous location at Las Lajas Sanctuary. The basilica crosses a forested gorge on the border of Colombia and Ecuador, with many people coming to see its splendor and stunning neo-Gothic architecture. The church sits 150 feet above the river, with green cliffs and a cascading waterfall that can be seen from the arched stone bridge.
3 Popeye Village, Malta
Popeye Village in Malta is a purpose-built film set village from the 1980 musical Popeye that has been converted into a small attraction with fun boat rides and of course, Popeye related activities. The colorful film set is a great place for families with a ton of things to do, including splash pools, a variety of animation shows, Popeye's comic museum, mini-golf course and carnivals. The village is truly for those young at heart that want to relax at a seaside resort and have a little fun. Kids can also meet Popeye, Olive Oyl, Bluto and Wimpy and enjoy a number of shows and enjoy twenty minute boat rides around Anchor Bay and take photos of the village from the sea.
2 Setenil de las Bodegas, Spain
Setenil de las Bodegas in southern Spain is a small town that's greatly unique thanks to its whitewashed houses that are built into the surrounding cliffs. It is as if the houses emerged from the rocks with some homes with rock roofs. Over thousands of years, the Rio Trejo formed gorges and caves, from which these homes were built and it literally looks like rocks are falling into the buildings themselves. It's a great day trip where you'll walk around, check out various bars and try delicious Spanish food at the many restaurants that line the area. The Iglesia de la Encarnacion built on top of the hill that overlooks the village is also a must-do while visiting here.
1 The Cave of Saint Marcel d’Ardeche, France
If you want to explore caves that will feel like you've transported to another world, check out the cave of Saint Marcel d'Ardeche where you'll find treasures, such as the concretions in magical shapes in the caves chambers, the cathedrals, and the remarkable cascade of rim stones (calcite pools). During a guided tour, you'll travel along a 600-meter path where you'll explore huge chambers such as the Fountain of the Virgin, the Painter's Gallery and the King's Table and other beautiful halls and water basins. The mystical cave pools are captivating and these illuminated pools look like something out of a fairy-tale.