If you are tired of wading through crowds and want some obscure travel bragging rights, these countries could be the perfect travel destination for you.
1. San Marino
San Marino is the least frequented country in Europe, with just 60,000 annual visitors. This is possibly because many people have never heard of it – forget pointing it out on a map!
The lack of interest is quite a shame. Nestled in the mountains of Northern Italy, east of Florence and near the Adriatic, San Marino is as full of culture and history as the country that surrounds it. It is the fifth-smallest country in the world, the sole survivor of Italy’s old independent city-states, and the oldest republic and sovereign nation on earth.
The medieval fortress settlement that makes up Citta di San Marino is perched upon Mount Titiano, affording beautiful views of the surrounding mountain and, in the distance, the Adriatic coast. Inside, you’ll picturesque streets and quirky museums, with considerably fewer tourists than other comparable Italian cities. And since San Marino only has a population of 33,000 or so, it’s safe to say you’ll never feel crowded.
2. French Guiana
French Guiana is one of three countries commonly referred to as “The Guianas”, the others being Guyana and Suriname. Lined up side-by-side north of Brazil, these destinations are left off your average South American itinerary, which is why French Guiana is the least visited country on the continent.
The 199,000 annual visitors who do make the trip are rewarded with a vibrant mix of Caribbean, American, and European culture, as well as some of the world’s most diverse rainforest life, and stunning beaches.
French Guiana is technically not a country, but an overseas department of France. Originally a colony, it has now become the richest territory in South America, with the highest GDP per capita. It is relatively expensive by South American standards, but for those who have some budget flexibility, it’s a worth the detour.
This small island is the Caribbean’s best kept secret, with only 9,000 tourists a year making the trek. This British Overseas Territory is noted for its active volcano, which erupted in 1995 in what has been called a ‘modern-day Pompeii.’ However, Montserrat also offers quiet beaches and laid-back small towns. If you are tired of the bustle of the more Caribbean islands, with their crowds of resort and cruise tourists, a trip to Montserrat might be the perfect solution for you.
The southern half of the island is known as the exclusion zone, which is off-limits for visitors due to volcanic activity. However, there is plenty to do and see in the north. The best time to visit is March, when the island’s large population of Irish immigrants celebrate St Patrick’s Day in truly unique Caribbean fashion.
Tuvalu, a remote chain of small islands in the South Pacific, has the honor of being the least visited country in the world with a mere 2,000 annual visitors. Although it’s an independent country, it remains part of the British Commonwealth, with Queen Elizabeth II as head of state. A peaceful country, Tuvalu has no army and no political parties. However, it does have all the white sand beaches, turquoise waters, and emerald forests you could ever want.
If you would like to say that you have visited the world’s least visited country, you may have to do it sooner rather than later. Due to the low altitude of the islands, Tuvalu is at serious risk of sinking under rising sea levels.
Although it’s located near Australia, Timor-Leste (also known as East Timor) is still considered part of Southeast Asia and, as such, takes the cake as the least-visited country in Asia. Its 66,000 annual visitors are mostly adventurers, keen to enjoy the diving, snorkeling, and trekking that the country’s shores and mountains deliver in spade. However, there is plenty here for everyone: white-sand beaches, exciting nightlife, peaceful hill plantations, and Portuguese colonial architecture can also be found across the island.
Timor-Leste is worth a visit, particularly if you have already experienced the highlights of Southeast Asia. Expect a fascinating culture, blending Christian European, Indonesian, Filipino and aboriginal influences, which can be observed in everything from the island’s delicious food to its traditional dance and poetry.
6. Sao Tome & Principe
Finally, Sao Tome & Principe is the least visited country in Africa, or it was in 2010 when the last records were available. With 8,000 annual visitors, the island nation sees very little tourism compared to nearby Gabon, which is a particularly tourist-friendly part of Central Africa. This, combined with the country’s laid-back attitude, makes Sao Tome & Principe worth considering if you want to wind down and relax.
Visitors can expect great wildlife-spotting, including dolphins, whales, and some of the continent’s best bird-watching. The town of Sao Tome is also a charming stop, with colonial architecture and a vibrant arts and cultural scene.
Most of the above countries are seldom visited simply because they are unknown, or out-of-the-way. With a little bit of extra effort and planning, you could be among the few who set foot here. It might be worth it just to tell your friends!