Just about everyone these days has countries like France, Italy, Iceland, New Zealand and Thailand on their travel bucket lists. But with 195 nations in the world, there are many fantastic places to visit that remain highly underrated. Often you’ll find these destinations offer a more crowd-free experience in addition to beautiful scenery and unforgettable attractions. These underrated countries, in particular, should really be on your travel bucket list.
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Colombia (Hotel Prices & Photos)
While an increasingly larger number of travelers are heading to Colombia, it still receives relatively few visitors due to its former reputation as a dangerous place to go. Of course, things have changed dramatically, and today it offers the opportunity to visit many areas that remain undiscovered and isolated. It’s the second most biodiverse nation on the planet, with nearly five dozen national parks and unique ecosystems, activities and wildlife. But exploring its exciting cities like Bogota should be on your itinerary too. Venture uphill to the 11,000-foot-high Monserrate, home to a 17th-century church and a pilgrim destination since the early 17th-century. Here you can take in spectacular panoramic views of the untouched landscape.
Bolivia (Hotel Prices & Photos)
While neighboring Peru, Brazil, Chile and Argentina tend to draw millions of tourists, very few head to Bolivia. While this landlocked nation will never be a top destination with beach lovers, it offers plenty of breathtaking landscapes, and all still mostly untouched. Just some of what’s waiting to be explored includes fiery-red lakes, the largest salt flats on earth, the silver mines of Potosi, some of the world’s highest volcanoes and a picturesque capital city with a laid-back atmosphere, indigenous culture and prehistoric sites. Of course, Bolivia can also boast the “world’s most dangerous road,” the roughly 40-mile road from La Paz to Coroico, winding through the lush, jungle-covered mountains.
Canada (Hotel Prices & Photos)
While it may not offer warm waters and tropical beaches, Canada is a vast, diverse country that is surely one of the most highly underrated. From British Colombia’s gem-like islands surrounded by waters filled with marine life and snow-covered jagged slopes, some of the world’s most breathtaking national parks and surreal turquoise lakes, to polar bear- and beluga whale-watching opportunities in Manitoba and the delights of its easternmost province, Newfoundland with a distinct Irish culture, wide range of outdoor adventures, postcard-perfect towns and glistening icebergs along the coast, there’s truly something for every traveler here.
Northern Ireland (Hotel Prices & Photos)
Countless travelers visit Ireland each year, but relatively few make it over to Northern Ireland, which is part of the United Kingdom, despite the lack of a border. “The Troubles” have long passed, and it offers just as much as its southern counterpart when it comes to natural beauty, history and culture. Even its large cities of Belfast and Derry, which were the stages for the majority of sectarian violence during its violent past, with the Good Friday agreement and ceasefire declared in 1998, are safe today. Just a few of the delights here include the Giant’s Causeway, Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge, Bushmills Distillery, and one of the most magnificent medieval castle ruins in the country: Dunluce, which sits atop the dramatic coastal cliffs at the edge of the Atlantic.
Zambia (Hotel Prices & Photos)
Africa is world-renowned for its extraordinary, exotic wildlife and safaris, yet Zambia has remained out of the spotlight, getting little recognition. Despite its lack of popularity, visitors can expect to see all types of animals, including hippos, as well as the unique baobab trees in South Luangwa and Liuwa Plain national parks. The second largest wildebeest migration takes place here too, a time when tens of thousands of the animals pass over the plain from Angola.
St. Vincent & the Grenadines (Hotel Prices & Photos)
Located in the West Indies, the nation of St. Vincent & the Grenadines is often overlooked among travelers to the Caribbean, but this island chain is still mostly undeveloped and uncluttered by tourists, while the white sand beaches are often nearly empty. There are deserted islands and endless azure waters that lap the shores, with often the only sounds here the songs of the birds or the occasional sailboat gliding by.
Albania (Hotel Prices & Photos)
Just north of Greece, this small, often misunderstood Balkan state lies on the Adriatic Sea just across from Italy, though few put it on their must-visit list. While it was once a communist country, today this friendly nation is open to all and offers spectacular terrain as well as a happening nightlife. Explore everything from 7th-century ruins to 13th-century villages, often all to yourself. You can even take guided tour of the largest amphitheater in the Balkans, led by one of the archaeologists who actually excavated the site. The country is filled with ancient castles set stop hills, along the Adriatic and in the middle of fields, while its gorgeous beaches even that rival those of its better-known neighbors like Greece, Italy, and Croatia.
Bhutan (Hotel Prices & Photos)
Getting to Bhutan is pricey and a bit challenging, but it’s also worth the effort. Tourists have only been allowed for less than four decades, with the hermit kingdom preserving its rich cultural identity throughout its many years of isolation. On the streets, locals typically don traditional dress, while native Dzongka-style architectural features continue to grace every building, and Buddhism colors nearly every aspect of life. Taktsang Palphug, aka the Tiger’s Nest, is the highlight for many. Perched on the edge of a cliff, more than a half-mile above the rice fields of Paro, the 320-year-old monastery is considered one of the kingdom’s most sacred religious sites.
Montenegro (Nearby Hotels)
Montengro’s neighbor Croatia gets so much attention, in certain places the country is taking steps to limit visitors. But many people haven’t even heard about Montenegro, including cities like Kotor. This walled city is just as photogenic but receives far fewer travelers. The Bay of Kotor looks as if a Norwegian fjord was plopped onto the edge of the dazzling Adriatic coast. Its medieval Old City, built between the 12th and 14th centuries, is accessed through a narrow passage from the sea, with steep wooded hills descended to small villages set atop the flat ground between the shore and slope. With a backdrop of dramatic mountains and sapphire-blue waters, a rich history and cultural monuments like the 17th-century clock tower and town gates, ancient cathedrals and numerous palaces, this nation should be on every traveler’s must-experience list.