It’s been a while since I did a Tripadvisor list, and when I saw this list, I knew I had to put this one down. Here’s a list of 25 destinations worldwide that Tripadvisor says are the best off the radar destinations to go to once travel begins.
Martinique, Carribean, France
This Gallic toehold in the Caribbean exudes a distinctly French air, enticingly spiced up by West Indian warmth. Local culture and cuisine combine both influences. The stylish isle is dominated by Mount Pelee, which destroyed the city of St. Pierre in 1902. Black sand beaches and rainforests are found in the north, with yet more beautiful sands to the south. Sights include La Pagerie, birthplace of Napoleon’s Empress Josephine, and Diamond Rock, a 600-foot pinnacle, once registered as a British warship.
Panama City Beach, United States of America
With an average of 320 days of Florida sunshine each year – and 27 miles of sugar-white sands bordering the clear, emerald green waters where the Gulf of Mexico and St. Andrew Bay converge – Panama City Beach is a favorite of travelers seeking an affordable beach vacation with year round offerings. The region also features exciting on- and off-shore attractions, including St. Andrews Park and Pier Park, that offer something special to adrenaline-seekers, eco-tourists, families and couples alike.
Armacao dos Buzios, Brazil
If there’s a beach economy, Buzios is its Wall Street. Its more than 20 beaches, world-class galleries, clubs and boutiques draw an elite set of travelers. Surfers love Geriba Beach, snorkelers enjoy Ferruda, hip Ossos Beach offers upscale beachside cafes and laid-back Ilhabela Beach offers a more down-to-earth Buzios experience.
Holbox Island, Mexico
Flamingos and pelicans and herons, Holbox Island is beloved by bird nerds for its population of exotic avian life. Perched near the Yucatan Peninsula, the island is also a hot spot for whale shark viewing, and kiteboarders love the shallow waters and wide beaches. The white sand streets are relatively unspoiled, as most tourists prefer to party it up in nearby Cancun. A splash in Yalahao Lagoon is about as loco as it gets.
St Ives, United Kingdom
St. Ives boasts a quartet of golden-sand beaches. Sheltered coves draw swimmers and sun-worshippers, but water-sports aficionados visit St. Ives for great surfing, windsurfing and water-skiing conditions. And on your way there, keep your eyes peeled for a dude with seven wives. You never know when nursery rhymes might come true.
It’s a historic capital. It’s a beach resort. It’s a lively, romantic town. Whatever you look for in a Mexican vacation is on the menu in Mazatlan. Returning travelers rave about the welcoming Mazatlecos, who treat you like old amigos, as well as the beaches, the food, the weather, the music and the feeling of never wanting to leave.
Colorado Springs, United States of America
A crossroads for historians, sportsmen, architects, artists and gourmands, Colorado Springs offers a delightful mix of Western charms. Sunny skies and crisp mountain air make it a perfect place for a golf outing, extreme sports or a picnic in one of the many, many well-maintained parks.
Shoalhaven might not be the first place to come to mind when thinking of Australia—but it should be. That is if you enjoy surfing sparkling turquoise waters, immersing yourself in the verdant trails and gorges of Ben’s Walk, and exploring caverns and sea cliffs through Gosangs Tunnel. Looking for something a bit more restful? Enjoy stunning views (particularly at sunset) from the Point Perpendicular Lighthouse before feasting on local treats at one of the coastal region’s 20 vineyards.
Wroclaw is Poland’s fourth-largest city and the capital of the Viovodship of Lower Silesia. Originally built across several islands during medieval times, the city still has many lovely bridges and beautiful architecture. The Rynek or the central square, lined by colorful buildings, is one of the city’s most popular destinations.
A bliss for history lovers, Mudgee is a New South Wales town which can be explored through expertly restored Gold Rush-era buildings and an extensive selection of artifacts at the Gulgong Pioneers Museum. Nature enthusiasts will love the moss-covered rocks and oversized ferns in Ferntree Gully, while would-be artists will want to check out the bold canvases and handmade ceramics by local artisans. Prefer exploring by bike? This region offers everything from gentle rides through the countryside to dirt back roads made for mountain biking.
Romance is the lifeblood of Annecy, a town in the Rhone-Alpes region of southeast France that’s replete with castles and cathedrals and softly curving architecture. Stroll hand in hand with your paramour across Pont des Amours (the lover’s bridge) before taking in the Imperial Palace and the baroque Cathedral of Saint-Pierre. A walk down the Rue Royale will be rewarded with prime shopping, dining and people-watching, especially at the fountain of Saint Jean.
Jeju Island, South Korea
Where else can you find an azalea-framed volcano to climb, a sisterhood of deep-divers, and ancient stone statues on which to make wishes? Jeju Island. A favorite with newlyweds, and K-drama fans, this popular retreat is also home to miles of golden beaches, winding coastal trails, and Jeju Waterworld, the area’s largest water park. No matter what your fancy, one thing is for certain: a day of sightseeing isn’t complete without enjoying some of the isle’s delicious raw seafood and famed barbecued black pork.
The fjords and mountain ranges of Tromso are simply magical. Here, the northern lights sparkle across the same navy blue sky that’s illuminated by the midnight sun. You’ll be spellbound by Tromso’s enchanting fishing villages, fragrant botanical gardens and crystalline waterfalls. Music is a major part of the Tromso culture, particularly techno and electronic music, which adds some thumping thunder to the city once a year during the annual Insomnia Festival.
Situated on the breathtaking Litoral Norte or the north shore of São Paulo state and straddling the Tropic of Capricorn, the town of Ubatuba is a beachcombers’ and surfers’ paradise. In fact, the city of 78,000 which is 225 km northeast of the state capital is known as the Surf Capital of São Paulo, as well as being a major sailing center. Visitors and locals have more than 100 beaches to choose from, so you’ve got no reason to go home without tan lines.
On the banks of the lovely Elbe River, the German city of Dresden is lush and green, filled with forests and gardens and parks. The city is rich with cultural and artistic history; the great operatic composer Wilhelm Wagner debuted a number of works here in the 1800s and, today, an independent light opera company keeps the classical art form modern and fresh. Culture vultures will love the Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister and Grünes Gewölbe museums, and architecture buffs will salivate over the mélange of styles reflected in the cityscape.
Elba Island, Italy
Best known as the site of Napoleon’s exile, Elba’s long history stretches back to pre-Roman times, when it was settled by Ligures and then Etruscans. It’s Tuscany’s biggest island and Italy’s third-largest, offering a great mix of options both cultural like hilltop towns and castles and recreational like hiking, biking, swimming, diving and beaching. There’s an airport at Marina di Campo, but most arrive by ferry from Piombino to Portoferraio (the biggest town), Rio Marina or Porto Azzurro.
Maastricht, The Netherlands
Touching Belgium on its west and just a few miles from Germany to the east, Maastricht is the capital of Holland’s southernmost region, Limburg. A town rich in history and culture, Maastricht boasts two wonderful town squares: Vrijthof, with Sint-Servaas Church, Sint-Jan’s Cathedral and many bars, cafes and restaurants; and Markt, home to the town hall and, on Wednesday and Friday mornings, a fantastic vendor market. The city’s Vestigingswerken, or old town fortifications, are another big draw.
La Rochelle, France
Located on the Bay of Biscay, La Rochelle’s history mostly involved the sea; today it has a large pleasure-boat marina. Thus its heart is the picturesque Vieux Port or the Old Harbor. The city retains a rich architectural heritage, and has an aquarium, attractive gardens and a natural-history museum. Book early for summer; mid-July in particular features Francofolies, a huge French music festival.
Perfectly positioned on a lake with the Alps at its back, lucky Lugano has a little bit of everything. Ride a cable car up Monte San Salvatore or Monte Bre for sunny panoramas of lake, rivers, mountains and red-roofed buildings. Explore the town’s churches, cathedrals and the expressive and colorful Piazza della Riforma. Sample some slow-cooked Ticinese cuisine, explore the lake on a boat or spend the day at the lido with its Olympic-sized pool.
The island capital of the Maldives teems with high rises and narrow streets, all ringed by seawalls. Shopaholics can savor Male’s flavors in the local markets, which are packed with fresh produce, and along Chaandanee Magu, the spot for local souvenirs, such as carved wooden dhonis, miniature replicas of the boats dotting area waters. The golden-domed Friday Mosque presides over the landscape, while the underwater riches of the atolls lure scuba enthusiasts from around the globe.
The island of Miyako-jima is home to beautiful beaches, perfect for sunning, swimming and snorkeling. When you’re sun-spent, migrate to the Miyakojima City Tropical Plant Garden to marvel at over 1,500 species of exotic tropical plants. Toast your travel companions with Japanese shochu while you nibble on specialty soba noodles.
A place like no other, Tobermory is hailed as the scuba diving capital of Canada. The lakeside town is known for its crystal-clear turquoise waters, which offer the perfect lens to explore the area’s 20-plus shipwrecks. Those looking for adventure on land will want to check out the Bruce Peninsula National Park. Equipped with both camping grounds and RV sites, this popular attraction is a favorite with hikers because of the scenic trails which are teeming with diverse flora and fauna and also provides access to The Grotto, a wave-formed sea cave with an underwater tunnel that leads to Georgian Bay.
The Pearl of the Mediterranean has an ambiance more in keeping with its neighbors to the north than with those in the Middle East. Site of Pharos lighthouse, one of the Wonders of the World, and of Anthony and Cleopatra’s tempestuous romance, the city was founded by Alexander the Great in 331 BCE. Today, Alexandria offers fascinating insights into its proud Greek past, as well as interesting mosques, the casino strip of the Corniche, some lovely gardens and both modern and traditional hotels.
Mar del Plata, Argentina
Argentina’s top beach resort town, Mar del Plata boasts 10 miles of sandy beaches, from family-oriented La Perla in the north to very popular Bristol in the center and sophisticated Faro in the south. Regardless of the beach, expect very dense crowds, particularly in the summer months. Once an elite enclave, it now attracts visitors of all budgets.
Dunedin, New Zealand
Rare yellow-eyed penguins, fur seals and the world’s only mainland albatross colony share residence in Dunedin, New Zealand’s oldest city. When you’re not watching wildlife, this South Island Otago Coast town also boasts impressive historic architecture from its days as a gold-rush mecca. Visit the 1906 Flemish Renaissance railway station or the country’s largest center of higher learning, which resembles Glasgow University, thanks to the area’s early Scottish settlers.