Most of us dream of visiting all of the top destinations in the world. We're attracted to their popularity and fascinated by multiple photos of these places that we find on the Internet and in travel agency brochures. It's all completely normal and no one can judge this kind of attitude to traveling. But what if you realize that you've been to all the popular destinations that attracted you and you aren't interested in visiting others? What if you want to go off the beaten path and explore a place overlooked by so many other tourists?
If this is what you want, this article is for you. It will show you the list of beautiful countries that don't get their fair share of tourists because many travelers think that they have nothing interesting to offer. It will tell about the advantages of these hidden gems, revealing why they are actually worth visiting. And, possibly, it will also help you create an itinerary for your next trip abroad.
So are you ready to learn why Lonely Planet considers Sri Lanka the best destination for 2019? Do you want to see why you should choose Laos or Malaysia over Thailand and Indonesia? And do you want to find out more about the hidden gems of Europe, Central Asia, and South America? Then it's time to begin!
24 Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka is such a beautiful country with so many wonderful places to visit that it deserves a separate article to be written about it. But since I only have one entry now, I will at least share some of the highlights with you.
First of all, there are many beautiful beaches in Sri Lanka. Among them is Unawatuna - the beach that is listed among 100 best beaches in the world. Secondly, Sri Lanka has many national parks inhabited by diverse wildlife. Thirdly, being the third leading country in tea production, it has many tea plantations that don't only look beautiful, but also offer you to buy fresh tea. Fourthly, it has some of the most beautiful train routes in the world. And finally, its residents are one of the friendliest people ever.
Due to these and many other reasons, recently Lonely Planet named Sri Lanka number 1 travel destination for 2019. Are you still thinking of going there, or are you buying a plane ticket now?
One of the least well-known countries in Europe, Slovenia is also one of the prettiest ones. It has a large number of beautiful landscapes that will be to the taste of any traveler. In the country's capital, Ljubljana, you can find impressive Baroque and Art Nouveau buildings and enjoy exploring them, if architecture is your cup of tea. If you're into nature, go to the Julian Alps, Soca Valley, and Mount Triglav. If spelunking is your hobby, visit Postojna Cave, one of the main attractions of Slovenia. And become a witness of developing sustainable tourism in the country that has all the potential to turn into a very popular destination in the years to come.
Beirut, the capital of Lebanon, was once called "Paris of Middle East" for its beauties. This country has an ancient history and its visitors can take a glimpse into it by exploring the Roman ruins and historic churches there. Lebanon also has a rich culture that you can just feel as soon as you arrive at the country and its delicious cuisine is truly one-of-a-kind.
Now, when the country has finally returned to peace and stability, it's time for us, travelers, to come here and see how Lebanon lives and how it develops.
Even though Malaysia gets quite a few visitors, it still can be called an underrated country. For most travelers, it's just part of their the backpacking circuit, a connection point, and a good place for a visa run. But, as a destination, it's certainly undervalued.
In fact, Malaysia deserves much more exploration. Kuala Lumpur, the country's capital, is a gorgeous modern metropolis that will certainly steal the hearts of those who like the energy of large cities. The diversity of this country is captivating and it gives you a special feeling of chaotic harmony, where people of different ethnic backgrounds and religions can coexist. And its beautiful nature will certainly take your breath away.
Even though Mozambique remains an underrated country few people consider choosing for their trips, these days it's becoming an increasingly popular destination. According to BBC, "Mozambique has stunning white sandy beaches that are lapped by the warm waters of the Indian Ocean. There are islands off the coast that rival anything the Maldives has to offer and are largely uninhabited."
Visitors to Mozambique can choose among a number of activities there, from having a safari in Limpopo River valley, to surfing and reef diving, and to gaze at medieval trading towns and colonial architecture.
In Georgia, tourism is one of the most important economic sectors and it has been actively growing in the past years. However, this country still doesn't get as many visitors as it deserves. After all, it has great potential for well-developed tourism.
Georgia is home to several World Heritage Sites, as well as national parks and museums. For sports lovers, it offers opportunities to go skiing, snowboarding, and speed riding. For nature enthusiasts, there are plenty of places to hike, watch birds, and go camping. And, of course, I can't help but mention how hospitable people in this country are and how delicious their national cuisine is!
Madagascar is the fourth largest island in the world. It's considered a paradise for nature lovers, and it's one of the 17 countries on our planet that are called "mega-diverse". 80% of its wildlife can't be found anywhere else in the world and even David Attenborough dedicated an entire series to this island.
But, despite all these things, Madagascar still doesn't get many visitors. Possibly, we can name a reason to it. The island had been isolated from the African mainland for 150 million years. These days it's not isolated anymore, but its tourist sector still remains underdeveloped.
Luxembourg is a very small country with a very rich historical and cultural background that can become your favorite destination if you visit it at least once. The most interesting city in this country is, obviously, its capital which is called Luxembourg City. In 1994 UNESCO recognized the important role the city has played in the history of European Union, due to its strategic position in the heart of Europe, as well as due to the fact that it houses one of the largest fortresses on the continent.
And if you think that this country is so small that a day spent there will be enough to see everything, you're wrong. Plan to stay there for at least 3 to 5 days to properly enjoy this special country.
When most of us are thinking about coming to Europe, we consider visiting France, Spain, or Italy and we rarely think about such countries as Poland. Located in Eastern Europe, it remains a hidden gem of the region, despite all the awesome things it offers to travelers.
The old cities and towns of this country will certainly attract you by the special charm of their cobblestone streets and classic architecture. Besides, Poland's street art, beautiful nature, diverse wildlife, tasty cuisine, and even its beaches will impress you and make you want to come back there again and again. After all, it's not hard to get there and it's so inexpensive to spend a vacation!
On the one hand, it's hard to call the Philippines an underrated country, because it has quite a few popular resorts. However, compared to neighboring Thailand and Indonesia it seems to be a less obvious choice for tourists. Besides, this country is huge - it has around 103 million people living there and it hosts over 7 thousand islands!
Except for the pristine beaches, the Philippines has impressive volcanoes, beautiful forests, and majestic landscapes.
So are you ready to choose this country for your next trip to Southeast Asia?
Malta is the Mediterranean island nation that has more advantages than you can imagine. It has a very nice climate, it's easily accessible, and it's much cheaper than more popular European countries, such as Greece and Italy. Doesn't it make Malta worth visiting?
It's interesting that due to the warm weather all year round, the residents of Malta have a tradition to eat and drink outside. It should be so lovely to have these meals, especially since the Maltese cuisine is so delicious (and quite similar to the Italian one).
Colombia has much more to offer than most of us tend to think. It seems to have something interesting at every turn. From vibrant cities to stunning landscapes, from impressive architecture to the tastiest food and coffee you've ever tried in your life. Speaking about coffee, if you consider yourself a fan of this energizing drink, Colombia is the ultimate destination for you.
So be sure that if you come to Colombia, you're going to be pleasantly surprised and you'll probably fall in love with this South American country!
Another hidden gem of Eastern Europe, Ukraine has an extremely rich historical and cultural background that can be seen through a lot of examples of architecture of this country. Churches in Kiev, the country's capital, monasteries in the Carpathian Mountains in the west of the country, cobblestone streets of Lviv, homey atmosphere of Chernivtsi, and Black Sea coast of Odessa - isn't it hard to imagine that all of these things are located in one country?
Besides, Ukraine obviously has a very beautiful nature and multiple opportunities for hiking and camping in summer, as well as skiing and snowboarding in winter. And if you want to know more about this country, go here.
Have you ever wanted to visit the least crowded country in the world? Then head to Mongolia that proudly bears this title. In fact, it is one of the countries with the smallest population density - only 1.9 persons per square kilometer (or 5.1 per square mile).
In the meantime, Mongolia features unique landscapes that you probably can't see anywhere else in the world. According to The Telegraph, it has "green steppe, vast flat plains, intricately braided rivers, electric-blue highland lakes, snow-licked mountains, dense pine forests, and shifting desert." This description sounds enticing, doesn't it?
Most likely, all you know about Bolivia is that it's located in South America and features Uyuni, world's largest salt flat. But, in fact, it has many more things to offer to travelers.
Bolivia is one of the most remote and highest countries on the planet. For each kind of tourists, it has something interesting. For those who like nature, it has beautiful landscapes and national parks. For those who like extreme vacations, it features the world's most dangerous road, as well as smoldering volcanoes. And for those who prefer cultural experience, it has an incredibly rich and well-preserved culture.
Landlocked between Ukraine and Romania, Moldova remains one of the least visited countries in Europe. But, even though it isn't easy to get there, you still should do it someday, because you'll certainly like your experience visiting this hidden gem.
Like most other underrated countries that don't have a lot of tourists around, Mongolia still offers this special vibe that you can't find in more popular destinations. Besides, since there are no crowds of people here and there, you can easily enjoy the beautiful nature, while you engage into one of the multiple activities, from horseback riding and hiking to caving and kayaking.
If you've never considered visiting Iran and always thought that there is nothing to see there, prepare to be proved otherwise. This Middle Eastern country actually has a lot to offer to its visitors, while its tourist industry is actively recovering now. For example, it's home to 22 UNESCO World Heritage Sites and it features striking architecture, numerous museums, and spectacular mosques. Besides, it offers to try its delicious cuisine and get acquainted with its ancient history and rich culture.
But if you decide to visit Iran, remember that all women, including visitors, have to cover their heads while in the country.
One of the least visited countries in the world, Uzbekistan has a massive potential for the development of tourism. Visitors to this country can find a number of natural, archaeological, and historical treasures, as well as beautiful mosques and other samples of stunning architecture.
Another thing that should attract tourists to Uzbekistan is its climate that is considered one of the most favorable climates in Central Asia. And, of course, it's a great destination for those who like everything that has to do with mountains, because it offers multiple opportunities for mountaineering and rock climbing in the Chatkal Range.
6 San Marino
The third smallest country in Europe (after Monaco and Vatican City), San Marino has a population of 33 thousand people and its area is only 61 square kilometers (24 square miles). Probably due to its small size, tourists think that there's nothing to do in this country and, for this reason, it gets one of the lowest numbers of tourists in the region.
But, in reality, San Marino is a splendid destination. It has the Three Towers of San Marino located on the three peaks of Monte Titano and offering amazing views. And it also has a beautiful medieval town hall, the Cathedral of San Marino, as well as many other examples of stunning architecture.
There are a few reasons why Bhutan doesn't get a lot of visitors. First is the hefty tax the government exposes on all visitors. Second is the difficulty to get there because only a handful of countries offer direct flights to Bhutan. And third is the safety issues that are especially harsh on arrival because Bhutan's airport has one of the most challenging airports for pilots.
But, despite all these issues, Bhutan is still worth visiting due to its magnificent fortress monasteries, beautiful temples, and breathtaking landscapes.
Albania is a country in Southeast Europe that doesn't attract as many visitors as its neighbors, such as Greece, Montenegro, Croatia, and Bulgaria. Nevertheless, it has a lot of interesting things to offer to travelers. It has superb ruins left from the times of the Roman Empire, as well as stunning scenery. Accommodation is offered there for ridiculously low prices, while over 600 kilometers (380 miles) of Mediterranean coast will entice any beach goer. And if you're a foodie, you'll be glad to visit this country and try its delicious cuisine.
Don't you think now that Albania is perfect for visiting?
To this day, Guyana remains a hidden gem of South America, even though this country supposedly inspired Sir Arthur Conan Doyle to write his book "The Lost World" in 1912. According to The Telegraph, this country "lives largely under a thick canopy, with great rivers cutting through silvery paths across its landscape."
So if you're looking for the magnificent scenery and unspoiled nature, it's time for you to head to Guyana. Don't forget to visit Kaieteur National Park, because its views are going to take your breath away.
Belize is the least visited country in Central America, despite being the safest and one of the most beautiful places in the region. Just imagine golden beaches, world's best diving spots, and Mayan ruins coexisting in one and the same spot. It's Belize!
Here's what The Telegraph writes about this country: "One joy of traveling here is how empty Belize seems. While neighboring Mexico and Guatemala are famously populous and exuberant, here the roads are quiet, the beaches relaxed, the archaeological sites often blissfully free of crowds." Sounds awesome!
Another hidden gem of Central Asia, Kazakhstan has a great potential to attract a number of tourists. But since few people know what kind of country it is, they always skip Kazakhstan while planning their trips. It's time to stop doing it and learn that Kazakhstan is actually the ninth largest country in the world, which means that it has a lot more to show you than you think.
From the majestic mountains in Almaty to modern architecture of Astana, the country's capital, from lakes and forests of Eastern Kazakhstan to wide steppes of its central part... Visit this country and see it all with your own eyes!
References: Telegraph, World Atlas, BBC, LandLopers, Trip Zilla