You don’t need us to tell you how much you need to visit Egypt, or Italy, or Japan. (Although we will!) What about all those amazing places you need to visit but can’t because you’ve never heard of them? — or never heard just how awesome they are.
In that spirit, here are 5 destinations that are tragically underrated, as brought to you by some amazing travel writers!
Slovenia isn’t a country most people could find on a map, but it’s one of the best-kept secrets in the world of travel. Slovenia is one of the greenest destinations as well, with famous views of the Julian Alps, hidden lakes, honey bees, and plenty of vineyards. The country’s natural parts, historic cities, and narrow slice of Adriatic coastline all have plenty to offer visitors. If you enjoy outdoor activities, Slovenia should be on your list.
Most people who have heard (or seen pictures) of Slovenia have done so in the context of Lake Bled, a small alpine lake with a scenic church on an island in its heart. But Keith and Tina Paul of Retire Early and Travel point out that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
“Beside Lake Bled, you just don’t hear much of Slovenia,” they say. “It turns out that it was beautiful. The capital of Ljubljana is the most fantastic city. Not too big, not too small. The country has some great wineries. They are small boutique wineries that have fantastic wine. Slovenia is definitely a country we would go back to.”
Armenia is an ancient land between modern-day Turkey and the Caucasus. Its history stretches back more than 3,000 years, and it was the first country on earth to adopt Christianity. (To this day, many historical churches and monasteries dot the land.)
Armenia is a land of peaks, and valleys, which leads to considerable climactic diversity in a relatively small area. Although the country is landlocked, it is also home to Lake Sevan, one of the largest Caucasian lakes. Of particular interest is the 9th century monastery Sevanavank, which sits majestically on the edge of the lake.
Of course, there’s plenty more to see and do in Armenia, as travel blogger Fred Zalokar (FredZalokar.com) will attest.
“The capital, Yerevan, is full of history and culture, as well as lots of great restaurants,” he says. “There are so many attractions in the capital, particularly the Cascade, a massive outdoor sculpture museum (with more galleries inside), and the Mother Armenia Military Museum. …The high point, Mt. Aragats is a challenging climb, but accessible and a great climbing experience. The people are friendly, and very welcoming, and the food is great! It’s also very affordable and easy to get around.”
Make sure to get a phrase book or an app though, since English is not widely spoken in Armenia, and Armenians are justly proud of their culture and language.
3. The Philippines
The Philippines consists of more than 7,500 islands, so it’s no wonder the country is most famous for its beaches. The modern Philippines is a fusion culture, influenced by local traditions and by its Portuguese colonial past and more recent close association with the United States. There are also Chinese and Indian influences — which you can clearly taste in the food!
“The Philippines is Southeast Asia’s best kept secret,” says Michael Taylor of Accidental Travel Writer. “The beaches are beautiful, and water is clean and unpolluted. The service standards are high. Prices are reasonable. I particularly liked Boracay, Palawan, and Cebu. If you have the chance, fly on a small aircraft between islands. I flew on nine-passenger aircraft from Palawan to Boracay. Not only were the views spectacular because of the low altitude. It iwas cheaper than flying on a conventional airline. Also, I was able to fly non-stop rather than changing planes in Manila!”
4. Edinburgh, Scotland
“Yes, many people know where it is,” says Cynthia Graham of Blue Bag Nomads, “but do they know how exciting it is to visit? …We were chatting with our taxi driver on our way to the train station (there are two stations so be sure you know which one you need), and we said to him that we wished we had spent more time there. He said that is the number one thing people say.”
Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland, is the perfect combination of history and modernity, culture and comfort. In the old town, you can see evidence of the city’s storied past; in the new town, you can shop till you drop. Some may describe Scotland’s climate as gloomy, but others will appreciate that it’s temperate — with average temperatures hovering pretty reliably between 32 and 72°F.
“Edinburgh is easy to get to from London by train and not that expensive if you can plan in advance,” Cynthia says. “Again, spend more than a day or two; there is a fantastic castle, tons of history and some magical things to see there.”
From Edinburgh Castle to Holyrood Palace, there’s certainly no shortage of sites to explore. If you can, visit during Edinburgh Open Doors Day and see a lot of them for free!
If you’re looking for a Caribbean getaway, Grenada probably isn’t on your list of usual suspects. It’s a very small nation consisting of several islands in the South Caribbean. Grenada is best known for producing spices (nutmeg in particular), but also for being briefly invaded by the United States in 1983. But it should be better known for its friendly people, landscapes, estates, and distilleries.
“The Southern Caribbean is gets glossed over in light of its northern (and pricier) counterparts,” says Pamela McKuen of All The Write Places but Grenada welcomes its tourists. The small country offers top-flight hotels, gorgeous beaches and rainforest waterfalls, outdoor adventure and international cuisine. Plus, Grenadian rum is delicious and addicting!”
We hope we gave you some new destinations for your bucket list. Happy trails!