Making your travel plans for 2019? Whether you’d like to experience cultural appeal, beautiful scenery, rich history, outdoor adventure or perhaps all of the above, you might want to consider a destination that’s at least somewhat underrated. While they may not be talked about as often as places like Paris, Jamaica or the Emerald Isle, these places have a ton to offer travelers, and typically come minus those big crowds.
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Archipelago Sea, Finland (Hotel Prices & Photos)
Part of the Baltic Sea, the Archipelago Sea is the world’s largest, located in Finland. It includes some 25,000 miles of shoreline and countless islands, like the Aland Islands, where you can spend your days canoeing or kayaking without encountering another soul, other than a sea eagle or two. The archipelago is a well-kept secret of the Finns, who often flock to the area when it’s warm, though you’re unlikely to see many foreign visitors. You’ll find a burgeoning food and drink scene in Turku, Finland’s medieval capital, while those sunlit summer nights mean lots of time for hiking and biking the tree-lined islands that are dotted with storybook cottages.
Colombia (Hotel Prices & Photos)
While Colombia was once considered far to dangerous to travel to, things have changed dramatically, yet few people manage to get there, and even those who do usually don’t get around to the areas that are still undiscovered and isolated. This is the world’s second most biodiverse nation, with 59 national parks and unique ecosystems, activities and wildlife. But exploring its cities like Bogota, should be a must too. Venture uphill to Monserrate, which sits at 11,000 feet above sea level and houses a 17th-century church, a pilgrim destination since the early 17th-century where you can take in spectacular panoramic views.
Bolivia (Hotel Prices & Photos)
Bolivia gets just a fraction of the visitors that most South American countries like Peru, Brazil and Chile receive, and while this landlocked country might not impress beach lovers, and it doesn’t have Machu Picchu, it is home to some stunning landscapes, including fiery red lakes, soaring volcanoes, and the largest salt flats in the world: Salar de Uyuni. The flats cover 3,860 square miles, and the expanse of salt creates an unending white landscape during the dry season that dazzles the eye and plays optical tricks that make it seem like you’re viewing white hexagonal tiles of salt that go on forever. In the rainy season, covered with water, it looks as if it’s a massive mirror, with the reflection of the blue sky resulting in an even more surreal landscape.
Zambia (Hotel Prices & Photos)
Africa is renowned for its extraordinary safari destinations, yet Zambia has remained out of the spotlight, getting little recognition. Despite that, visitors can expect to see all types of animals, and baobab trees in South Luangwa National Park, and in Liuwa Plain National Park, the second largest wildebeest migration takes place, a time when tens of thousands of the animals pass over the plain from Angola.
San Sebastian, Spain (Hotel Prices & Photos)
San Sebastian was named one of Europe’s two cities of culture for 2016, but despite its many allures, few travelers seem to make it there. It sits on the northern coast of Spain as part of the Basque Autonomous Community and offers something for just about everyone, from one of the country’s most impressive tapas cultures and a foodie scene that’s been called one of the best on Earth. It also boasts an exciting nightlife and beautiful beaches for surfing and soaking up the sun.
Talalla, Sri Lanka
Just a few years ago, there was just one hotel in Talalla, Sri Lanka, but that’s quickly changing, so this is the time to go, before too many discover it. From October through April, the dry season, you can enjoy spectacular beaches and sunsets that are incredibly awe-inspiring, all among the total peace and tranquility that comes with a place that’s somehow quiet and uncrowded no matter what month, or time of day you’re here. Look forward to taking a dip in the crystal clear, warm waters that can often be enjoyed all to yourself, and enjoying day trips to nearby cities, like the historic coastal fort town of Galle, just an hour away.
Perinet Reserve, Madagascar
Even if you’re the type of traveler who thinks they’ve seen it all, you probably haven’t visited Madagascar’s Perinet Nature Reserve. An incredible 80 percent of the island nation’s wildlife here. It’s home to a wide variety of birds, reptiles, and most famously, lemurs, with nine different species found here, including the rarely seen Aye Aye. The reserve offers some wonderful trails that wind through the dense vegetation and lush mountain rainforest for exploring it, though you’ll need a local guide to do so as visitors aren’t allowed to visit independently, one of the reasons so few manage to make it here.
Vis Island, Croatia
While Dubrovnik has been in the spotlight recently for its big tourist crowds that have led it to limit visitors, Vis Island offers a totally different experience. The furthest island from the central Dalmatian Coast, it once served as a base for the Yugoslav Army, and was closed to foreign visitors for nearly four decades, from 1950 to 1989, deserted by much of its local population. Today, it offers a fabulously unspoiled Adriatic destination, accessible via high-speed ferry ride from Split. Hide away on one of its many stunning, secluded bays, or head out and explore its extensive vineyards, fantastic local seafood and wine. In the emerald waters of Stiniva Cove, you can snorkel alongside bottlenose dolphins and loggerhead turtles.
Milos is the southernmost island in the Greek Cyclades. It’s known for its horseshoe shape and breathtaking coastline that boasts over 75 beaches of all types, as well as for being the spot where the famous statue, the “Venus de Milo” was discovered. Enjoy the countless beautiful stretches of sand and gorgeous sunsets, white-washed Cycladic villages, a rich history, delicious cuisine and welcoming people. The “island of colors,” as it’s sometimes called, is noted for its incredibly diverse sands, from white to black, pebble- or shell-covered, while the waters are always clear and come in a variety of hues: pale or deep blue, emerald or vibrant green.