As the world gets smaller and smaller, and word gets out about even some of the most obscure places, it’s not easy to find a destination that isn’t overrun by tourists. But the good news is that there are still some incredible places that you can enjoy without having to battle the big crowds.
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Great Northern Peninsula, Newfoundland (Hotel Prices & Photos)
Few seem to be able to pinpoint Newfoundland on a map, let alone its Great Northern Peninsula, which is why there aren’t many travelers outside of Canada coming to visit. But this is where you’ll find the only authenticated Viking settlement in North America, L’Anse aux Meadows. Here you can breathe some of the freshest air imaginable as you walk in the footsteps of the Vikings while touring ruins and a replicated longhouse to discover what life might have been like here over 1,000 years ago. In St. Anthony, head to Fishing Point Park and hike 476 steps to the top of Fishing Point head to take in an awe-inspiring view of the endless expanse of sea dotted with icebergs and whales. Boat tours can bring you out on the water for a closer look too.
Hamburg, Germany (Nearby Hotels)
The port city of Hamburg, Germany has often been called “the Venice of the North,” yet it sees far fewer visitors than the famous Italian city. In fact, it has more canals than Venice and Amsterdam combined with its old city boasting an extensive series of mirror-like canals, while the buildings have plenty of character with their brick facades and patinated copper roofs. Hamburg is also home to an abundance of galleries and museums, funky boutiques and Portuguese eateries, as well as one of the biggest red-light districts in Europe. If you’re here on a Sunday, get up early and head to the Fischmarkt, a massive outdoor market turned party, with fresh fish from the North Sea sold alongside steins of beer and sizzling sausages on the banks of the River Elbe.
Riga, Latvia (Nearby Hotels)
Riga, one of Europe’s best kept secrets, is often referred to as the Paris of the North, but it’s much less expensive and much less crowded. The regal city has some of the largest and most impressive art nouveau architecture on the continent, including gargoyles and goddesses that adorn more than 750 buildings found along the stately boulevards. Its fairy-tale-like Old Town is filled with winding cobbled lanes and gingerbread trim that make it fun to wander through. Don’t miss visiting the Dome Cathedral, ascending the spire of St. Peter’s church for incredible views and visiting the wooden market stalls in the Dome square where vendors sell Latvian amber and linens.
Kotor, Montenegro (Nearby Hotels)
Montenegro became an independent nation only a little over a decade ago, in 2006, which is primarily why not many place it on their travel bucket list. The city of Kotor, situated in a secluded tip of Boka Kotorsky Bay, offers extraordinary beauty that few are aware of, let alone get to experience. This coastal town on the Adriatic offers an unspoiled escape from the chaos of the modern world, and an old town area that was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Sail through the sunlight-drenched fjords with mountains soaring overhead, dine on mouth-watering Mediterranean cuisine and explore the medieval walled city with its many ancient structures, churches, cathedrals, palaces and museums.
Valdes, Argentina (Nearby Hotels)
Countless travelers head to places like the Galapagos Islands for once-in-a-lifetime wildlife encounters, but the rarely mentioned Peninsula Valdes in Argentina offers experiences that can rival that without attracting an endless number of tourists. Here you’ll find all sorts of marine animals like elephant seals, penguins and whales – the beaches in this region are home to more elephant seals than any other continental destination on Earth. From June through December southern right whales pass its peninsula’s shores, while as many as 50,000 Magellanic penguins inhabit the coastline, sometimes burrowing just steps from parking lots and roads.
Colmar, France (Nearby Hotels)
Another great alternative to crowded Venice or Amsterdam is Colmar, France, especially if all you really want to do is enjoy a gondola ride along scenic canals, along with top-notch local cuisine. Dating back to the 9th century, this fairytale-like Alsatian village with both French and German influences not only hosts waterways that wind through medieval streets, it’s considered the capital of wine in the district. Local bakeries sell kugelhopf and croissants, while eateries often specialize in sauerkraut and foie gras.
Roatan, Honduras (Nearby Hotels)
Roatan is a place seldom talked about among the Caribbean islands, but that’s only because most have never heard of it. While it’s still relatively unknown, an increasing number of people have been discovering its idyllic beaches, warm cerulean waters and authentic Caribbean charms, which means you should plan to go sooner than later if you hope to avoid the tourist crowds. Surrounded by the second largest reef on Earth, this is one of the best destinations for divers and snorkelers who have to chance to view thousands of marine creatures and the largest variety of coral and sponges in the Caribbean. The wildlife on land is impressive too, with opportunities for close encounters with macaws and capuchin monkeys.
Brno, Czech Republic (Nearby Hotels)
Lots of travelers visit Prague, but few seem to head to the Czech Republic’s second largest city, Brno, which offers a slower moving, small town feel with its own cultural quirks and a rich history too. Explore the Brno Underground, a labyrinth of cellars that include the second biggest ossuary in Europe as well as Spilberk Castle, once the major royal castle in Moravia, the seat of the Margraves of Moravia and the King of the Holy Roman Empire. Take the time to wander down the side streets and be sure to sample svickova (beef sirloin in cream sauce) with knedliky (dumplings), along with a cheap Czech beer.
Italy's Boot Heel (Nearby Hotels)
The “heel of Italy’s boot,” known as the Puglia region offers unique character and charm that hasn’t been spoiled by hordes of tourists, at least not yet. The intense blue seas, golden beaches and olive groves that make up this alluring area of Italy is still mostly undiscovered by outsiders. While Italian vacationers tend to arrive in droves during the month of August, most other times, you can fill your days wandering medieval streets gazing up at magnificent architecture and sampling gelato, taking winery tours or even a cooking class to discover how olive oil is made or even how to make fresh pasta, without bumping elbows with countless others.