It might come as a surprise that some of the most extraordinary places on the planet are still relatively off the beaten track and under the radar of many travelers. Some places have remained hidden gems because of their close proximity to more famous destinations, and others simply because they are difficult to reach. Here are some amazing places to visit before everyone else does.
Caribbean Coast, Costa Rica
While Costa Rica is a very popular destination and one that everyone seems to be talking about, most people tend to explore the Central Valley and Pacific coast. The Caribbean coast, meanwhile, has remained far less touristy. This is quickly changing, though, as accessing this part of Costa Rica is much easier than it used to be. You can visit the Tortuguero National Park, Cahuita National Park, Gandoca-Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge, or any of several animal sanctuaries including the famous Sloth Sanctuary, explore amazing dive spots and laid-back rainforest retreats, and enjoy coconut-infused dishes. The Caribbean coast of Costa Rica really is a must-explore destination. Do it now, before the word gets out.
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1. GuatemalaAn express adventure for those with limited time off. Prepare yourself incredible experiences. You will hike a volcano, visit mayan temples and witness a ceremony and take in beautiful colonial Antigua.
2. BelizeA quick trip not too far away for those seeking a relaxing mini break. You will have plenty of free time to relax but also some awesome activities to experience the rainforest and the caribbean sea.
3. MexicoAn exciting mini trip exploring the lesser known colonial towns of central Mexico. This is hte perfect trip for someone with limited time off and still wants to turn on explorer mode and do something different.
1. EcuadorA remarkable 8 days adventure through the Andes and the Amazon rainforest. The best choice for adventure seekers wishing to visit the 2 most iconic areas of South America, in only 1 week and no flights.
2. PeruAn alternative itinerary to classic Peru, from Cusco to Arequipa. This itinerary is great combination of highlights Cusco and Machu Picchu with the lesser known Arequipa and Colca Canyon.
1. ItalyThe ultimate Italian experience from the vibrant streets of Naples to the breathtaking sceneries of the Amalfi Coast followed by Matera and down to Puglia with its golden beaches, intense flavours and fascinating destinations.
2. ScotlandEmbark on this great adventure starting from London all the way to Scotland with a true Scottish experience made of breathtaking sceneries, whisky tasting and ..lots of fun! Ideal for train lovers and explorers.
3. PortugalA wonderful train journey around Portugal, from the romantic city of Porto to the Douro Valley, to the beautiful Aveiro all the way to Lisbon and Sintra. The perfect trip to train, culinary and culture lovers.
1. South KoreaDiscover incredible temples, mountains and modern cities on this 10 day adventure. This trip is perfect for those seeking immersion in the cuisine, culture and natural wonders of South Korea.
2. ThailandFrom Bankgok to Angkor Wat to Ho Chi Minh City and everything in between - adventure through the heart of South-East Asia. Taste the delights, see history brought to life and unwind on a Mekong River cruise.
3. Sri LankaA fantastic adventure that showcases Sri Lanka's fantastic landscapes, wildlife and flavours. With 3 epic rail journeys, 3 UNESCO heritage sites and time to relax, this trip has loads to offer at a great price
1. MoroccoAn epic journey across Morocco: from Casablanca to Marrakech, through the blue city of Chefchaouen to the wonders of the desert and deep to the High Atlas Mountains - this trip has it all! Ideal for true explorers!
2. EgyptFrom Cairo to Aswan, this trip brings the land of the pharaohs to life. You'll visit the Pyramids, Valley of the Kings and Luxor Temple and cruise down the Nile in style. This is the perfect way to explore Egypt.
San Blas Islands, Panama
The San Blas archipelago is made up of 378 islands in a 100-square-mile (161-square-kilometer) patch in the Caribbean Sea off the coast of Panama. Most of the islands are uninhabited and the islands are actually an autonomous territory that was formerly called Kuna Yala by the indigenous people who live on these islands. The native Kunas have gone to great measures to protect the land and sea around the islands. As a visitor, you will experience pristine beaches, crystal-clear turquoise waters, and thriving ecosystems.
Corn Islands, Nicaragua
The Corn Islands have been referred to as Nicaragua’s best-kept secret. There are two islands, Little Corn and Big Corn Island. They are located just 43 miles (70 kilometers) off the east coast of Nicaragua. While they are pretty close to the mainland, they have remained under the radar of most tourists who visit Nicaragua. While Big Corn Island isn’t big, it hosts the majority of the 8,000-person population. These laid-back off-grid islands will be perfect for you if you are looking to avoid crowds, high-rise buildings, and all-inclusive resorts, and just want to return to a time when things were very simple.
Isla Holbox, Mexico
Isla Holbox is a small island resort located off the Yucatan Peninsula in the Gulf of Mexico. While it is soon likely to catch the attention of more travelers, for now it remains relatively low key. The beautiful white-sand beach island has a few boutique hotels and eco-friendly accommodations. It is also home to an impressive variety of wildlife, including seasonal whale sharks, flamingos, and sea turtles.
Marble Caves, Chile
The Marble Caves are located in the Patagonia region of Chile, which is reason enough to visit in itself. This captivating cave system isn’t a breeze to get to, which has kept a lot of people from visiting them, but the journey is worth the reward. The cave walls are a mixture of yellow, turquoise, sea-foam green, and blue, and the brilliant light-blue water reflects off the cave walls, giving them an extra burst of color.
Rangiroa, French Polynesia
Rangiroa has remained a hidden gem in French Polynesia predominantly because most people choose to visit Tahiti or Bora Bora instead. Rangiroa is actually the second-largest atoll in the world. The diving here is world-class, and it is also a shark diving hotspot, for those who are a bit more adventurous. There are overwater bungalows, a perfectly clear lagoon, a thriving coral reef, and even a pearl farm.
North Stradbroke Island, Australia
North Stradbroke Island is a well-known spot to locals, but not so much to tourists. This fantastic island sits just 20 miles (32 kilometers) from Brisbane. There are five stunning beaches, dozens of inland lakes, a healthy population of koalas and whales, and plenty of activities such as surfing, fishing, and hiking. The whale watching is so good here that you can even do it from land.
Madagascar is the fourth-largest island in the world and home to a remarkable collection of plants and animals. Nearly 80% of the plants found on this island are found nowhere else in the world. There are 103 species of lemurs and 300 species of birds (60 of which are endemic); two-thirds of the world’s chameleon species are found here. There are jungles, dry forests, deserts, plateaus, lagoons, coral reefs, and miles and miles of coastline. Madagascar is one of the most unique islands in the world, and you probably don’t know anyone that has been here before.
Psychedelic Salt Mine, Russia
The Psychedelic Salt Mine underneath the city of Yekaterinburg in Russia is truly a trippy trip. A mineral called carnallite creates colorful swirls in the walls, and the vivid patterns and colors will make you feel as if you are hallucinating. A special permit is required to enter the caves, but if you can get one, you will become one of very few people who will have witnessed this magical phenomenon in person.
Sri Lanka has been sitting in the gigantic shadow of India for a very long time. However, more and more people are beginning to realize how special Sri Lanka really is, and that is might be a better choice for some than visiting India. Sri Lanka is home to breathtakingly beautiful beaches, many of which are uncrowded, dense tropical forests, impressive mountains, incredible wildlife, amazing culture and cuisine, and is small enough that you can travel across it in a few hours.
While Cuba has been a popular destination for quite some time and has recently become a very popular American tourist destination, most people tend to go straight to Havana. Cienfuegos is called “the Pearl of the South,” and is considered by many who have visited both Havana and Cienfuego to be the more beautiful of the two. It is a UNESCO-listed city and home to Cuba’s prestigious Chamber Orchestra, as well as a colorful art scene.
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Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
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