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    13 under-the-radar destinations you should visit right now

    13 under-the-radar destinations you should visit right now

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    Some destinations are like dear friends that we want to visit again and again, but there’s a special joy that comes from experiencing places that remain relatively untouched by mass tourism. Much of the allure of these little-known gems lies in their sense of authenticity and originality – their ability to surprise and delight is at its peak when they are still Insta-anonymous. Here is our pick of the world’s most incredible, up-and-coming, you-heard-it-here-first destinations that we think you should add to your bucket list before the rest of the world catches on:

    1. Samoa:

    <em>To Sua Ocean Trench, Samoa</em>

    To Sua Ocean Trench, Samoa

    Are you looking for a South Pacific holiday destination that combines meaningful cultural experiences and incredible natural landscapes, as well as beautiful beaches and turquoise waters? Iconic Samoan experiences include swimming in the spectacular To Sua Ocean Trench and lazing on stunning beaches like Lalomanu, but there are plenty of other attractions to add to your list if you want to venture a little further afield.

    Immerse yourself in the lush treetop wonderland of Falealupo Rainforest Canopy Walk, enjoy the car-free, relaxed pace charming Manono Island or revel in the tranquillity of Namua Island’s pristine marine reserve. Some of Samoa’s best snorkelling can be found a stone’s throw from Samoa’s capital city, Apia, at Palolo Deep Marine Reserve, or you can join a charter boat excursion to explore Samoa’s vibrant outer coral reef at Coconuts Walls.

    2. Georgia:

    <em>Tbilisi’s Old Town, Georgia</em>

    Tbilisi’s Old Town, Georgia

    Sited at the crossroads of Europe and Asia, Georgia is renowned for its rich history, diverse culture and incredible landscapes: it’s a rising star for anyone in search of spectacular hiking. Explore the narrow streets and hidden courtyards of Tbilisi’s Old Town, sample wines produced in a centuries-old monastery and marvel at the incredible collection of art and artifacts housed in the Dadiani Palaces History and Architecture Museum.

    Our hot tip: after hiking in Borjomi-Kharagauli National Park, head for the historic spa town of Borjomi, where soothing, mineral-laden hot pools offer the ideal antidote to tired muscles. The Colchic Rainforests and Wetlands, which is located on Georgia’s Black Sea coast and extend into Turkey and Russia, is a unique and ecologically significant area. It’s a haven for outdoor activities such as hiking, bird watching, and photography.

    3. Slovenia:

    <em>Logar Valley, Slovenia</em>

    Logar Valley, Slovenia

    Iconic landmarks like Lake Bled, Ljubljana and Postonjna Cave have helped to establish Slovenia as one of Central Europe’s most popular destinations, but there’s still much more to discover if you’re willing to venture off the beaten track. The charming small town of Idrija is best known for its tradition of lace-making, as well as a mercury mine that dates from the fifteenth century and is now a UNESCO World Heritage site. Go white water rafting on the scenic Soča River or drive the spectacular Solčava Panoramic Road for breathtaking views of the Logar Valley including Rinka Waterfall, which is one of the highest waterfalls in Slovenia.

    The Vipava Valley is a hidden gem for wine enthusiasts and foodies, while the medieval Predjama Castle, which appears to grow out of the very mountains that surround it, is just one of around 500 incredible castles, fortresses and manors that dot the Slovenian landscape.

    4. Albania:

    <em>Ksamil beach, Albania</em>

    Ksamil beach, Albania

    With Montenegro to the north and Greece to the south, it’s not surprising that Albania’s incredible coastlines remain relatively unknown to the rest of the world. The stunning beaches, blue water and charming coastal towns of Ksamil, Livadhi and Pasqyra that line Albania’s Adriatic Coast are quickly becoming Europe’s next big thing.

    The Albanian Alps, despite being known as the Accursed Mountains, offer incredible hiking through secluded valleys and mountain villages, while the vast expanse of Karavasta Lagoon is home to numerous species including the Dalmatian pelican, making it a haven for bird-watching. In northern Albania, the nature reserve of Gashi Valley is home to a diverse range of animal and plant life, as well as being rich in cultural heritage, symbolism and folklore.

    5. Black Forest (Germany):

    <em>Heidelberg, Germany</em>

    Heidelberg, Germany

    Miles of dense, dark woodlands gave this region in southwest Germany its name and inspired dozens of fairy tales, of which the best-known are the spooky works of the Brothers Grimm. Even today, as sunlight filters through towering firs and pines to reveal hidden waterfalls and story-book villages, it would be easy to forget which century you’re in. Explore the striking ruins of All Saints’ Abbey, wander the narrow, cobblestone streets of medieval Zavelstein, or climb to the top of Hochfirst Tower for sweeping views across the forest and distant Alps. The region is famous for its hand-crafted cuckoo clocks as well as the famous gateau that shares its name, but it’s also the home of exquisite glassware – you can watch the skilled artisans working at their craft during a visit to the glass workshops of Wolfach.

    The ancient city of Heidelberg, located a short drive north of the Black Forest region, is renowned for its centuries-old university and its rambling Old Town (Aldstadt) neighbourhood. Some of the best views of this beautiful city can be found by walking the scenic ‘Philosopher’s Walk’ along the bank of the Neckar River or climbing to the city’s thirteenth-century hillside castle.

    6. Lofoten Islands, Norway:

    <em>Lofoten islands, Norway</em>

    Lofoten islands, Norway

    One of the most remote corners of Norway’s Norrland region, the Lofoten archipelago is full of surprises: it’s a wonderland of vibrant fishing villages, deep blue fjords, as well as some of the most dazzling white sand beaches you’ll find anywhere in the world. In winter, its location within the Arctic Circle means it is a fabulous location from which to view the Northern Lights, while the summer months offer incredible wildlife encounters around the clock, thanks to endless hours of daylight. Explore charming fishing villages such as Reine, Å, and Henningsvær, where traditional red and yellow wooden houses line the narrow streets.

    Immerse yourself in stories of Viking history at the Lofotr Viking Museum in Borg, where a reconstructed Viking longhouse provides a fascinating glimpse into the daily life of the Vikings, complete with world class, interactive exhibits and cultural activities. Experience the unexpected beauty of Arctic beaches such as Uttakleiv and Haukland, and engage with the local way of life in this remote but beautiful part of the world. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced hiker, you’ll find a variety of trails to match your abilities, including the Reinebringen, Munkebu Hut and Kvalvika Beach hikes.

    7. South Korea:

    <em>Cherry blossom in South Korea</em>

    Cherry blossom in South Korea

    From dynamic, futuristic cities like Seoul and Busan to the natural beauty of Jeju Island’s beaches and the captivating landscapes of Seoraksan National Park, South Korea is a captivating fusion of traditional and modern, urban and untouched. Vibrant festivals celebrate everything from cherry blossoms and lanterns to traditional dance and music, while the local food scene is diverse and delicious. Experience traditional Korean wellness culture with a visit to the natural hot springs island of Osaek, or take a day trip to the Goseong Unification Observatory, located near the border with North Korea. It provides a unique perspective on the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) and the untouched beauty of the surrounding landscapes.

    Embark on a road trip to visit a selection of South Korea’s sixteen World Heritage sites, which range from important cultural sites such as Haeinsa Temple and Seokguram Grotto to the spectacular landscapes of Jeju Volcanic Island and Lava Tubes.

    8. Azores:

    <em>Azores, Portugal</em>

    Azores, Portugal

    This group of nine volcanic islands is located in the middle of the North Atlantic Ocean, around 1400 kilometres west of Lisbon, Portugal. They are often described as the “Hawaii of  Europe”, thanks to the immense natural beauty of their lush green valleys and craggy volcanic craters, hot springs and dramatic coastal cliffs. The archipelago and its surrounding blue waters are an eco-tourism haven for outdoor enthusiasts – spend your days exploring remote hiking trails, exploring volcanic caves, whale watching and engaging in a myriad of water sports.

    You can also explore the islands’ charming villages, where you’ll find historic churches, cobbled streets and vibrant markets – our favourites include UNESCO World Heritage listed Ponta Delgada (on São Miguel) and Angra do Heroísmo (on Terceira). Be sure to sample the islands’ unique local cuisine, which has a strong emphasis on fresh seafood and locally grown vegetables, as well as local cheeses and wines.

    9. Kyrgyzstan:



    Officially known as the Kyrgyz Republic, this Central Asian nation has an incredible natural beauty that owes much to its mountainous location. Sandwiched between the Tian Shan and Pamir mountain ranges, its towering peaks, alpine meadows, and pristine lakes such as Lake Sary-Chelek create a stunning backdrop for trekking and other eco-tourism focused activities. Once a key trading centre along the legendary Silk Road, the ancient city of Osh retains memories of its past in its bazaars, architecture, and cultural traditions.

    The well-preserved remains of Tash Rabat Caravanserai, which served as a stopover for travellers and merchants on the Silk Road, is now a popular centre for hiking and horse riding. Kyrgyzstan is one of the few places where you can still experience a traditional, nomadic way of life: meet yurt-dwelling nomads, witness eagle hunting, and participate in traditional festivities to gain insights into their unique way of life.

    10. Corsica:



    The GR20 is Corsica’s famous, spectacular and challenging through-hiking route, which through the mountainous interior of the island between the northeast to southwest coasts. It’s been described as one of the world’s best hiking trails, but this Mediterranean island has plenty of other spectacular routes to explore if you’re not up to the challenging two-week adventure. Corsica is also famous as the birthplace of Napoleon Bonaparte – you can visit his family home in the island’s capital, Ajaccio, where you’ll also find narrow lanes lined with colourful buildings and a picturesque harbour of fishing boats and yachts.

    A visit to the nearby Cupulatta Turtle Park is a must – this unique park is dedicated to the conservation and breeding of turtles from around the world.

    11. Costa Rica:

    <em>Costa Rica</em>

    Costa Rica

    Another destination excels in sustainable tourism, Costa Rica is a must-visit destination if you’re seeking a tropical holiday that combines adventurous outdoor activities and water sports with incredible wildlife and pristine beaches. Explore the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, where lush vegetation, hanging bridges, and a unique cloud forest ecosystem provide a haven for birdwatchers and nature lovers.

    If you’re a thrill-seeker, Costa Rica deserves a spot on your bucket list: you can engage in adrenaline-pumping activities like zip-lining through the forest canopy, white-water rafting on the Reventazón or Pacuare River, or hiking the lava fields that surround the active cone of Arenal Volcano.

    12. Madagascar:



    The fourth largest island in the world is a unique and captivating destination that offers a one-of-a-kind travel experience. Its breathtaking biodiversity is one of its biggest drawcards: it’s the only place on Earth where lemurs are found in the wild, and home to a vast collection of rare and endemic plant species. Join a river expedition through Madagascar’s interior on the Tsiribihina River, passing through remote villages and diverse wildlife habitats. Take a day trip to Tsingy de Bemaraha National Park, where razor-sharp, needle-like limestone formations known as Tsingy create a surreal landscape for a unique hiking experience.

    13. Komodo Islands (Indonesia):

    <em>Komodo islands, Indonesia</em>

    Komodo islands, Indonesia

    Rinca, Komodo, and Padar are the three main islands which, along with numerous smaller islands, make up Komodo National Park. The Park is the only place on Earth where you can see the world’s largest living lizard in its natural habitat, but you’ll need to join a guided tour to see them in action as access is strictly managed. Diving and snorkelling enthusiasts will find the islands’ calm waters teeming with life: colourful coral reefs, schools of fish turtles, sharks, manta rays, and numerous other marine species.

    We highly recommend making the effort to climb to the highest lookout point on Padar Island, where you’ll be rewarded with incredible views of its unique beaches. As well as stretches of sand in shades of white and black, Padar is home to one of the very few pink sandy beaches in the world.


    Are you feeling inspired to venture beyond your ordinary to dive into the thrill of new landscapes, experiences and cultures? Your personal travel manager can help you plan an unforgettable holiday so you can beat the crowds and experience these incredible destinations at their unspoilt best.


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