With their infinite charm and endless lists of photo-worthy attractions, it’s easy to be enthralled by the mass hype of London, Paris, New York and the like. However, it’s just as easy to leave underwhelmed and unsatisfied. As diverse, brilliant and appealing as each major tourist city is in its own right, it’s near impossible to live up to the colossal expectations.
That’s why we’re swaying away from the been-there-done-that cities and getting off the beaten track. Add these locales to your bucket list and explore them for yourself before the swarms of general tourists eventually ruin them for the savvy ones. As it stands, they’re underrated and full of potential, but in a truly up-and-coming sense, these gems won’t stay hidden for long.
10 Prague, Czech Republic
The cities dotted across the eastern side of Europe have never quite boasted the same allure as their more western counterparts, but that is changing in a hurry. More and more budget-conscious travelers are electing to forego to money-guzzling big cities of Paris, London, Amsterdam and Berlin, venturing to underrated gems like Prague, Budapest, Split, and Krakow, for example.
There is so much art, culture, and excitement in the Czech capital, which is becoming more popular by the minute. Known for its historic Old Town Square and colorful baroque buildings, it’s a history and architecture nerd’s paradise. Check it out ASAP before the tourist footprint becomes too heavy.
9 Tallinn, Estonia
Sitting on the cusp of the Baltic Sea, the Estonian capital city has plenty to show off. The cobblestone streets and the Old Town's surrounding wall remain beautifully intact, and the Kadriorg Palace is a truly impressive showing of baroque architecture. In the winter, Tallinn's Christmas festivities are as impressive as any.
Compared to the more well-known Western European countries, budget-savvy travelers can get plenty more bang for their buck in and around Estonia. It’s also rather small for a capital city, making getting around not all too difficult - just bring your walking shoes. Tallinn the perfect blend of modern world, booming nightlife, adventure, luxury, history, and rich culture, so check it out before the herd of followers arrives.
8 Asheville, North Carolina
There is a handful of underrated, up-and-coming cities dotted throughout the southeast of the US, and Asheville has top billing of them all. Its nestled in North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains, providing a great blend of slick city life with the opportunity for nature and adventure.
Where Asheville really shines is hospitality - its beer scene is off the charts, boasting officially the most breweries per capita in the U.S. Any thirsty travelers will be spoiled for choice with plenty of beer festivals, local brewery tours and distilleries available to check out. As far as American states go, the Carolinas don’t always get the best wrap, but Asheville is changing that.
7 Montreal, Canada
To the detriment of only those who choose to ignore it, the Quebec city of Montreal is often overlooked in preference of Vancouver and Toronto. But if you ever have the opportunity to spend a summer in this bilingual city, you’ll quickly realize that’s it’s one of the most energetic, underrated places across the globe.
With a unique blend of French and English culture and language, and a concoction of architecture old and new, this diverse, open-minded destination deserves a top spot on any North America bucket list. If that wasn’t reason enough, the poutine, smoked meat and bagels are second to none.
6 Lisbon, Portugal
Portugal’s capital city has so much going for it and until recently the country has been sitting in the shadow of its more popular neighbor, Spain. Well, that’s quickly changing, and Lisbon is rapidly becoming Europe’s hottest tourist property. Travelers all over the world are finally recognizing Portugal as a beautiful, cheap, sunny and artistically-diverse European destination.
The nightlife is booming, the food is tantalizing and the architecture is colorful and stunning. After checking out Lisbon it’s time to head north to Porto, because obviously, you can’t visit Portugal without enjoying a glass of Port with a picturesque sunset backdrop.
5 Krakow, Poland
Much like Prague, the Polish city of Krakow sits outside of the main Europe itinerary, meaning that it’s yet to be fully overrun by tourists. The city has history aplenty, with a medieval core, a bustling Jewish quarter, eye-catching royal castle, and beautiful cobblestone-laden old town.
Poland is also one of the few countries in the region that doesn’t use the euro as its main currency (they use zlotys), which means that it’s cheap as chips compared to its larger Western European neighbors. There are plenty of bars and restaurants dotted throughout the city that are waiting to welcome you through their doors.
4 La Paz, Bolivia
As a place that was once avoided by weary travelers due to its rather unsafe reputation, La Paz has done a full 180 and has emerged as a worthy stop on any journey through South America. Despite most assumptions, La Paz is not the nation’s capital (that’s Sucre, in the center), but it is quickly becoming the touristic hub.
Mountain biking down the ominous Death Road and wandering the endless nothingness of the Uyuni Salt Flats are two incredibly unique experiences that can be accessed from La Paz with relative ease. It’s not the most trafficked of routes in South America, so make the most of it before it becomes one.
3 Adelaide, Australia
Given that Sydney and Melbourne boast such strong reputations, ‘Radelaide’ (as the locals call it) is often swept under the rug in terms of desirable Australian cities. However, the South Australian capital’s world-renowned festival calendar and thriving arts and music scenes are here to rocket it back into the spotlight.
After a stroll through rundle mall and an AFL game at Adelaide Oval, visitors can take a day trip out to the neighboring Kangaroo Island and get cozy with the wildlife. The Barossa Valley (which took out the prime spot on the Aussie Monopoly) is heaven on Earth for the wine snobs as well.
2 Munich, Germany
It’s bratwurst and beer galore in the Bavarian capital of Munich, especially around September and October when the annual Oktoberfest celebration rolls around. Even though Munich is well documented as a city full of culture, entertainment, technology, and history, it continues to sit in the shadow of big brother Berlin to the north. But that isn’t a negative thing by any means, allowing Munich to continue to grow as a touristic gem without too much time in the spotlight.
Smack bang in the middle of Europe, Munich can (and should!) easily be worked into a classic Eurotrip itinerary. Don’t miss Hofbrauhaus for a refreshing cold one after a day exploring the old town.
1 Austin, Texas
You might be surprised to see the Texan capital on this list due to its size, stature, and reputation. As big as it is, however, it’s not done growing yet. Austin took out Business Insider’s official top spot as the US city “with the biggest influx of people, the most work opportunities, and the hottest business growth” - if that doesn’t spell up-and-coming then nothing does.
Known for its eclectic arts and booming music scene, as well as its bustling student-perfect nightlife, Austin dazzles potential tourists with a long list of reasons to visit. It can be easily worked into a southern US road trip itinerary alongside potential stops in Houston, New Orleans, and Nashville.