October 1, 2022

Olympia Travel

Olympia Travel Tips

Underrated Travel Destination Recommendations

Table of Contents

Places like Paris, Tokyo, New York City, and Rome are all heavily-touristed cities for a reason, but there’s something to be said for a destination that doesn’t always top every single “must-see” travel list. And there’s nothing quite like visiting a new place — especially if it’s more underrated or off-the-beaten-path — only to have your expectations totally blown away.

So I rounded up a ton of travel recommendations from the BuzzFeed Community. Here are the places that travelers underestimated and ended up absolutely loving.

Oh and just FYI that some submissions have been edited for length and clarity. 

1.

Northern Greece: “Everyone travels to the Greek islands and doesn’t really spend time on the mainland, but regions in Northern Greece like Halkidiki are very nice, too! And the mainland has a fairly overlooked repertoire of wildlife preserves.”

2.

Estonia: “Any of the Baltic states really, but Estonia is an absolutely delightful place. It’s super affordable and easy to navigate, the capital city Tallinn is so beautiful and clean, the coast is lovely, the people are friendly, and the food is delicious. I absolutely loved our trip there and it would be a great base camp if you want to check out the nearby countries of Finland, Norway, and Denmark.”

3.

Segovia, Spain: “While visiting Madrid, some locals recommended I take a day trip to Segovia, and I’m so glad I did. It’s a great little town with a very cool history. The castle and cathedral are incredible, and the aqueduct makes the whole city look incredible at sunset. When I reminisce on my trip to Madrid, Segovia is the first thing I think about.”

4.

Dakar, Senegal: “Senegal, specifically Dakar and its surroundings, should be up there with Cape Town, Nairobi, Johannesburg, Abidjan, and Cairo as Africa’s ‘main hubs.’ It’s a lovely city with a lot of French influence, and it’s a great spot to start a trip in West Africa.”

5.

Pienza, Italy: “Pienza is located in Tuscany, but it’s way less crowded and touristy than other towns like Siena, San Gimignano, and Florence. It’s a small and picture-perfect town where you can wander around, admire the hilly views, and stumble upon hidden gems like family-run trattorias, cheese shops selling the local pecorino di Pienza, and more.”

6.

Maastricht, Netherlands: “Maastricht is just a train ride from Amsterdam making it an easy day trip from the city. I visited on a whim, and it ended up being my favorite part of my trip.”

7.

The Southern Uplands, Scotland: “Most tourists bypass the south of Scotland and head right to the Highlands like the Isle of Skye. As a result, the Southern Uplands tend to be quieter and less touristy.”

8.

New Mexico: “The whole state is underrated, but specifically Albuquerque, Taos, and the New Mexican desert. The scenery is utterly breathtaking, the culture and history are unique, and the food is delicious. You’ll know why people call it “The Land of Enchantment” as soon as you see the Sandia Mountains glowing pink at sunset.”

9.

Tasmania, Australia: “When people think of Australia, they imagine beaches and coral reefs. Tasmania, on the other hand, is known for massive rain forests, beautiful scenic islands, and one of the largest Antarctic ports on the planet in Hobart.”

10.

Oman: “For people who love the outdoors, Oman is a no-brainer. There’s hiking, camping, dune bashing, and miles of untouched coastline. There are even lush rain forests.”

11.

Salvador de Bahia, Brazil: “It’s a beautiful city with a very interesting history. It’s also about an hour-long drive to nearby beach towns, so it’s a good place to make your basecamp before exploring the surrounding region.”

12.

Carcassonne, France: “I went for a weekend when I was studying abroad in Europe and this was such a cool place. It’s a little walled medieval town built on a hill, which overlooks a modern town below. It was so much fun to explore for a few days, and I never would have heard of it if not for one of my architecture professors who mentioned it.”

13.

Sicily, Italy: “Sicily is gorgeous and the food is out of this world. You get to experience a culture that has been inspired by the Italians, Greeks, Normans, Romans, Ottomans, and Spanish. There are beaches, skiing, and Mt. Etna is one of the best wine regions in Europe.”

14.

Slovenia: “I went on the recommendation of an old flatmate who was blown away. Absolutely stunning scenery and an excellent holiday destination if you like the outdoors.”

15.

Tunisia: “Tunisia is one of the best countries I’ve ever traveled to. It’s mind-boggling to me that most people who venture there see it as simply a beach destination. In fact, most things I loved about the country could be found deeper inland.”

16.

Lombok, Indonesia: “I enjoyed the time I spent in Bali, but I really loved Lombok, which is only one island over. It felt more affordable and more authentic.”

17.

Uzbekistan: “Visiting there was the best trip of my life. It felt like it had a bit of everything: historical monuments, beautiful landscapes, desert, mountains, lakes, rivers, amazing food, and warm and hospitable people. The icing on the cake is that it’s incredibly cheap.”

18.

The Azores, Portugal: “They are Portuguese islands in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. I spent three weeks there island hopping and the city of Furnas on São Miguel was magical.”

19.

Guanajuato, Mexico: “Visiting this colonial city in central Mexico felt like stepping back in time. There’s so much history, art, and culture. During the month of May, there are nightly parades that are spectacular to witness.”

20.

Olympic National Park, Washington: “It’s definitely one of the more underrated spots in the US. It’s a rainforest in the Pacific northwest and has great hiking, lodges, lakes, etc. … It’s a one-of-a-kind environment in the States.”

21.

Lima, Peru: “I hear so many people say skip Lima or only spend a day there. The historic downtown is gorgeous and it’s on the coast with plenty of beaches. Plus, the food and people are awesome. I spent four days there and still wish I had more time.”

22.

Bulgaria: “A lot of people don’t realize it’s right above Greece, so the climate and food are somewhat similar. It’s cheap to stay, eat, and drink, plus it’s very safe.”

23.

Great Basin National Park, Nevada: “It’s known for stargazing and is the least visited state park. If you want an off-the-beaten path outdoor adventure, this is the place.”

24.

Florianópolis, Brazil: “It’s the capital of Santa Catarina, which is often called the Magic Island (and for good reason). You’ll find amazing people, great beaches, excellent food, amazing weather, and just an all-round fantastic place to visit.”

25.

Armenia: “It’s a great country with lots of beautiful nature, cool history, and great food and drinks. It’s affordable, and everything is fairly close together so you can take lots of day trips from the capital city, Yerevan.”

26.

San Sebastian, Spain: “Northern Spain, within 70 miles of the French border, has the best food in Europe. San Sebastian is a mecca for foodies, where you can drool over street food for lunch or dine at Michelin-starred restaurants for weeks straight before you run out of new options.”

27.

Brussels: “I went here as an afterthought when I was planning a trip to Europe, but it ended up being my favorite place on a vacation that also included Reykjavik, Dublin, Athens, Rome, and Helsinki.”

28.

Taipei, Tawian: “It’s my favorite city in Asia: a great mix of traditional Chinese culture with Japanese and US influences. There’s fantastic food (especially great street food at the night markets). It’s modern enough to be convenient, but not expensive. It’s big enough to have lots to do, but small enough to be manageable and not overwhelming. And the people are friendly, open, and helpful.”

29.

Canada beyond the major cities: “Canada is a very travel-friendly place, but it isn’t such a common destination. We have sprawling coniferous forests, prairies, Red Creek Fir forests, tundra, and more. Don’t spend all your time in Toronto or Ottawa and explore the more undiscovered parts.”

30.

Bratislava: “A lot of people traveling through this part of Europe tend to skip it and go straight to Vienna, Prague, and/or Budapest, but I recommend stopping in Bratislava for a day or two. It’s really cheap, the old town is cozy, the food is excellent, and the view from Hrad is amazing.”

31.

San Cristobal de las Casas, Mexico: “It is located in Southern Mexico, but nowhere near the ocean. It’s a mountain town with cute shops, great food, and history. From there, you can visit ruins and beautiful waterfalls. It’s also far cheaper than touristy places like Cancun.”

32.

Emilia Romagna, Italy: “Bologna is fairly well known, but the smaller cities are incredible. Check out Parma, Modena, Reggio Emilia, Rimini, Ravenna, Ferrara, and Piacenza. Each is truly unique and not over-crowded. Plus, they boast some of the best food cultures in the world.”

33.

Lassen Volcanic National Park, California: “Beat the tourists and go to Lassen instead of Yosemite. It’s beautiful, uncrowded, and absolutely incredible. The ecosystem and landscape are totally unique.”

34.

Dorset, UK: “I’m from the Jurassic Coast and we have plenty of places to camp or glamp, plus lots of seaside hotels surrounded by miles of beach. There’s an abandoned ghost village, an old castle, and New Forest in the county of Hampshire.”

35.

La Paz, Bolivia: “I am absolutely obsessed with this place. It is both amazing and a bit strange. There’s a witches market, a cemetery with huge graffiti murals, and a huge system of urban cable cars used for public transportation. It’s just one of those cities that kept surprising me over and over again. I loved the city of Sucre and the salt flats, but I’ve been itching to return to La Paz ever since I first visited.”

36.

Adelaide, Australia: “Think: stunning wineries, a beautiful coast, and a vibrant food scene. The city itself is absolutely stunning and the locals are so friendly. There’s just as much to do in Adelaide as there is in Melbourne or Sydney.”

37.

Albania: “The northern part is filled with beautiful landscapes and mountain ranges, and the south has beaches with crystal blue water. You can find incredibly nice resorts and hotels to stay at for very affordable prices. The people are extremely welcoming and the hospitality is great.”

38.

Zimbabwe: “It’s home to the nicest people, the best safaris I’ve experienced in Africa, and absolutely stunning scenery. Plus you have the added bonus of Victoria Falls.”

39.

Pondicherry, India: “I traveled from Sikkim in Northeast India all the way to the southernmost tip of this amazing country, and the Colonial French city of Pondicherry was my favorite place of all. Walking along the seafront at night was really magical.”

40.

Idaho: “Almost everyone I say this to reacts with confusion, but this underrated state boasts mountains, rivers, lakes, reservoirs, hot springs, Craters of the Moon National Park, and Boise, an amazing capital city.”

41.

Laos: “People are always surprised when I say I preferred Laos over Thailand. Thailand felt much more touristy (at least in Bangkok and Chiang Mai), but Laos was just so beautiful.”

42.

Northern Bali, Indonesia: “Most people visit the south for the beach, but the north side of the island is breathtaking. There are many ancient temples, few tourists, crafts markets, and great, cheap food.”

43.

Georgia: “This country is amazing! There are beautiful mountains, chic beaches, friendly people, an excellent wine culture, food unlike anything I’d ever tried, and a very interesting mix of cultures and influences. I cried when I left the country after being there for two weeks. I could have easily stayed for a whole year.”

44.

St. Louis, Missouri: “I have visited twice now after moving from the South to the Midwest and I fall more in love with St. Louis each time I visit. There is lots of unique local history and culture, and you feel it all around the city. There are some cool neighborhoods lined with Magnolia and Sweetgum trees, which reminded me of home in the south. The city is home to many European-style parks with huge green spaces, fountains, statues, and boulevards. And not to mention the great restaurants. There’s just so much more to see and do in St. Louis than most Americans might expect.”

45.

Kea, Greece: “I studied abroad in Greece and visited many off-the-beaten-path places that were fantastic (and far more than just beach destinations). Kea was one of my favorites. It’s a tiny island just a short boat ride from Athens that was once its own city-state. There’s some great hiking, delicious authentic food, and a very cool, innovative sustainable agriculture movement.”

46.

Kyrgyzstan: “There are incredible landscapes and experiences like hikes, yurt stays, horse treks, and more. I visited once for a week and loved it so much I moved there a year later.”

47.

Lebanon: “Go for the amazing food, nice people, the nightlife, and beautiful scenery throughout the country. Also the food! I’ve been to Israel, which was amazing, but I enjoyed Lebanon even more.”

48.

Wicklow Mountains National Park, Ireland: “Just south of Dublin, it was so green and peaceful. It’s the part of Ireland everyone talks about when the call it the Emerald Isle.”

49.

Lucerne, Switzerland: On a trip that included cities like Paris and Munich, my favorite place was Lucerne, Switzerland. I stayed at a little, family-ran ski chalet in the Alps by the city and ate homemade meals every night. It was such an amazing destination where I tried different foods, saw amazing styles of architecture, experienced a new culture, and admired a breathtaking landscape.”

50.

El Salvador: “It’s so underrated and beautiful. Those beaches are some of the best I’ve ever surfed, and the waves were so warm. The country also boasts gorgeous lakes and volcanoes. And don’t get me started on the food…I could eat pupusas all day every day.”

51.

Poland: “I was so pleasantly surprised by how beautiful this country is. I road-tripped and every city was very beautiful and had a unique history. Poland has something for everyone, whether you’re looking for culture or to party. The mountains are also beautiful with great hiking. Prices are very affordable, especially if you come from a Western country.”

52.

Osaka, Japan: “People tend to only visit Tokyo and Kyoto, but Osaka shouldn’t be overlooked. It’s a big city like Tokyo, but with a much longer history. It’s located smack dab in the middle of the Kansai region, the historical-cultural center of Japan. It’s known to be more fun and laid back, and I think there’s some truth to that. It’s also the culinary capital of Japan, a must-visit for all foodies.”

53.

Nicaragua: “It’s incredibly beautiful and very inexpensive. It’s often compared to Costa Rica.'”

54.

Luxembourg: “It’s a lovely city stunningly situated on a promontory between two gorges and the walls of which are riddled with old fortifications. Once outside, the country is in the Ardennes, a region of forested hills studded with winding rivers, picturesque villages, and castles. They make great Riesling wine in addition to beer, thanks to the Belgian tradition of monastic brewing. The food is a deliciously fantastic mix of French and German influences.”

55.

Dominica: “It’s the hidden gem of the Caribbean for nature. There are so many amazing volcanoes.”

What’s a destination that blew away your expectations? Tell us about it in the comments!