While popular destinations like Venice, Barcelona, Phuket, and the Serengeti impress for their incredible history and natural beauty, the surrounding world inadvertently hides spectacular destinations in the shadows of the more famous locations. The following list offers you a selection of 10 stellar destinations often overlooked by travelers. Instead of moving with the crowd, these destinations have yet to be overrun by international tourists eager for a peek at famous paintings, glances at passing rhinos, or moments lounging on the soft white sands of a gorgeous beach.
Svalbard is an immaculate ice-capped destination that many travelers skip for the warmth of tropical islands, a decision that leaves this untouched location free of overwhelming crowds. Those that brave the cold will be rewarded with spectacles of forbidding icebergs, captivating ice fields, and glinting snow-capped peaks that create the ambiance of an endless Winter Wonderland, giving way to a majestic summer atmosphere featuring greenery and glaciers. Twenty-three nature reserves protect Arctic animals such as polar bears, reindeer, and 30 different avifauna species that you may spot before admiring the world-famous Northern Lights.
Things to Do: Northern Lights adventures | Arctic animal spotting | Snowmobile tours | Ice cave visits | Skiing
Learn more: Norway Tours
Botswana’s Okavango Delta draws many visitors to the country, but those who veer off the beaten path to Chobe National Park will find a sparkling river system that hides Cape buffalo, hippo, and an impressive number of elephants amongst wetlands, grasslands, and rich marshland. Chobe National Park’s unique destination overtakes the waters and landscape at a point where Zambia, Zimbabwe, Namibia, and Botswana converge. Birders can scour the national park, searching for more than 440 recorded avifauna species, while the distinct scenery combines the marshy grasses of Linyanti with the rocky outcroppings of Savuti.
Spot Africa’s Big Five: Lions | Leopards | Elephants | Rhinos | Cape buffalo
Learn more: Botswana Safaris
The city of Valparaíso is poetic both for its connection to the famous Chilean poet Pablo Neruda and the colorful homes rising up the hillsides overlooking the ocean. The unexpected charm of the city depicts a history of dockworkers and sailors, as well as glamor and glitz with a steep maze of streets, sinuous hills, winding staircases, vintage mansions, and working antique railways. The painted facades add an indelible vibrancy to the city's culture, enhancing the scenery with recognizable charisma connecting the past and present. The overlooked jewel of a city maintains its deep bohemian culture while also offering visitors beaches with golden sands.
What to Expect: Gold-sand beaches | Vibrant, colorful street art | Historic neighborhoods | Panoramic hillside paseos or strolls | Thriving market culture
Learn more: Chile Tours & Vacations
Thoughts of French Polynesia will likely conjure images of the famous island of Tahiti or the romantic shores of Bora Bora, but the Tuamotu Islands are the largest of the archipelago consisting of more than 76 islands spanning over 7,722 square miles. The unspoiled and uncrowded isles are a tropical paradise known for incredible snorkeling excursions. You can dip into the crystal-clear turquoise water in search of tropical fish, colorful coral atolls, and larger marine life like sharks and manta rays. A favorite pastime for visitors is participating in “drift snorkeling,” which uses the turning tide to move between lagoons.
Adventures that Await: Coral reef snorkeling | Jungle trekking tours | Pearl farming | Polynesian dance performances | Island hopping
The vineyards and wines of Italy, France, and Portugal have gained prominence for their centuries or even millennia of cultivation, but Stellenbosch in South Africa offers you a glimpse into the future of wine production. Whether you are a wine lover or amateur enthusiast, you will bask in charming landscapes, fantastic food, and a unique history visiting the estates scattered around the outskirts of the charismatic town. The local ambiance of the tranquil town celebrates old-world colonial culture with architecture with Cape Dutch, Georgian, and Victorian elements and furnishings spanning quiet, cobbled lanes.
Best Wine Varietals to Taste: Cabernet Sauvignon | Merlot | Pinotage | Shiraz | Chenin Blanc
Learn more: South Africa Vacations
While the capital city of Beijing and historic monuments such as the Great Wall of China and Emperor Qin’s Terracotta Warriors draw heaps of acclaim, the northwest capital of the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region is a less-frequented crown jewel of natural beauty and historic Chinese discovery that is well worth a visit. Ürümqi sits at the base of the Tianshan Mountains and possesses an alluring connection to the ancient Silk Road. It also boasts access to enchanting natural wonders such as the soaring Bogda Peak, the mirroring waters of Heavenly Lake of Tianshan, and impressive views of the city skyline from atop Red Mountain.
Top Experiences in Ürümqi: Hikes to the summit of Red Mountain | Tours of colorful bazaars and markets | Views of Tianshan Lake | Visits to regional museums | Exploring the ruins of Jiaohe City
Learn more: China Vacations
With medieval walls and a labyrinth of unplanned alleyways leading to winding staircases and historic arches, the fascinating “White City” city feels adventurous, historical, and enchanting. You will succumb to the tranquil ambiance heightened by alluring blue and green wooden doors popping out of the dazzling whitewashed walls of the surrounding structures. The streets will lead you to surprising dead ends or captivating vistas that look out to the sapphire waters of the Adriatic. The 15th-century Gothic Cathedral separates Ostuni from neighboring towns while boutique shops showcase local style and street vendors serve culinary staples.
Monuments to Discover: La Piazzetta Cattedrale | Church of San Francesco d’Assisi | Column of Sant’Oronzo | Bishop’s Palace | Seminar’s Palace
Learn more: Italy Tours & Vacations
Sweet vegetarian meals and the oldest seaport in India only scratch the surface of Kutch’s grandeur. During monsoon season, the fresh river floods with salty seawater, turning the soil into low-lying marshes that glisten with white salt in the dry season. The slow pace of the arid landscape will become a captivating backdrop to an adventurous exploration of nomadic tribal herders and traditional handicrafts, such as exquisite textiles, alluding to the depths of historic heritage grown out of the Thar Desert, including the former ashram of Mahatma Gandhi.
Best Places to Visit: Great Rann Of Kutch | Kalo Dungar | Topansar Lake | Kandla Port | Mandvi Beach
Learn more: India Tours
Slovenia often stands in the shadows of its neighbors like Italy, Austria, and Croatia but the Kamnik Alps deserve your attention. In the summer, marvelous high green pastures punctuated by wooden huts hark back to the oldest-preserved herdsmen settlement in Europe. In the winter, mountains are draped in snow, and skiing becomes the focal activity along the alpine peaks. Enjoy the panoramas atop the lofty viewpoints at Kamnik or stroll past the pastel-washed medieval buildings of Šutna to learn about historic guilds and local folklore.
How to Enjoy the Alps: Cross-country skiing | Mountain biking | Mountain climbing | Cultural town tours | Horseback riding
Learn more: Slovenia Tours
Step away from the renowned shores of Bali for the sparsely populated Raja Ampat Isles, a collection of 1,500 islands that are a part of the greater Indonesian archipelago. Raja Ampat undoubtedly possesses the most alluring, untouched islands, whether you are searching the globe for exotic beaches shimmering with white sand, excursions into tropical jungles, or hidden lagoons filled with glassy turquoise waters in the greater chain. Underwater enthusiasts can scan the colorful coral on snorkeling, kayaking, or scuba diving expeditions, while adventures into the lush jungles will introduce you to the local bird and wildlife.
Unique Marine Life to Spot: Dugongs | Hawksbill turtle | Papuan garden eel | Cendrawasih mantis shrimp | Papua walking sharks
Encounter the rare dugongs and other fascinating marine life amongst the coruscating coral reefs of Raja Ampat, Indonesia, or taste Stellenbosch’s premier wine varietal Cabernet Sauvignon at prestigious estates in the destinations rolling hills during your next tour off the beaten path with Zicasso. Thinking of a trip? Talk with a travel specialist by filling out a Trip Request or calling us on 1-888-265-9707.