There is something magical about places like Paris or Rome, and there’s a reason most of us dream of visiting once or twice in our lifetimes. The charm, history, and culture of these places draw in just about all of us. On the other hand, at these locations you also deal with droves of tourists, overdevelopment, and crowds at every turn. On your next vacation, why not take a break from the typical hot spots and head to one of these five countries? They’re off the beaten path, but we think that’s a good thing!
Source: Off the Meat Hook
Bordering China and India, Bhutan is a stunningly beautiful country home to incredible art and culture. This Himalayan country is one of the most unique places in the world with lush green landscapes (the country law states that 60% of the lands must remain forested), age-old Buddhist monasteries, and a lack of overcrowding or commercialization.
There are an incredible number of natural sights to see, especially if you are interested in a mountain trek. The Himalayan treks here are some of the best in the world, and the views are worth it alone. Paro Taktsang, a sacred Buddhist site located on a cliffside, is one of the country’s most famous spots to visit, and one of the most beautiful places out there.
It’s important to know that visitors are required to pay a $250 per day tariff while visiting. But remember, the tariff includes all of your accommodations, food, transportation, and an official guide—making the price well worth it.
With so many beautiful hotspots in South America to choose from, Uruguay can sometimes get lost in the mix. Start off in the capital, Montevideo, and head to the Mercado del Puerto, a great spot for an authentic lunch. Montevideo is also home to a good nightlife scene, a great boardwalk called the Rambla de Montevideo, and a serious love of football (soccer).
Punta del Este is a beautiful beach area home to great views and incredibly fresh seafood. This area draws wealthy vacationers, but there are still some good spots to score a deal if you’re on a budget. Punta del Diablo is yet another fantastic coastal spot that’s popular with backpackers as well as those looking for a more luxury beach vacation. The vibe here is relaxed and bohemian, and is a great spot for those hoping to find some sand and take it easy.
Source: LT Travel Connection
When visitng the Mediterranean, popular tourists destinations (like Italy or Greece) are typically where travelers head but the tiny country of Malta presents just as many beautiful sights—and without the crowds. The island is just south of Italy, and is one of the smallest countries in the world. The capital, Valletta, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site where you’ll find age-old buildings, statues, and a general atmosphere giving you the feeling of traveling back in time. Nearby, the city of Vittoriosa has a similar effect with origins dating back to medieval times.
Of course, if you’re in the Mediterranean you’re likely hoping for some sun and relaxation. The Blue Lagoon tops the list with impossibly blue waters perfect for swimming and breathtaking scenery. There are several other coastal spots that make for dramatic and picturesque views, but the Azure Window is among the most beautiful—also a great spot for scuba diving.
Source: CN Traveler
Though its southern neighbor South Africa enjoys more tourism, Mozambique is home to miles of beautiful beaches, many safari opportunities, and a beautiful culture. The coastal areas boast turquoise waters teeming with colorful sea life making it a great spot for scuba divers and snorkelers alike.
Tofo Beach is one of the best spots—it has a laid-back attitude, amazing beaches, and ample opportunity for snorkeling or diving. Vilanculos is another great option, and one of the best places to go if you want to enjoy a few water sports. From here, you can access the beautiful Bazaruto Archipelago, a paradise that remains relatively untouched due to conservation efforts.
And after you’ve had your fill of beaches, head to Gorongosa National Park to view some of the country’s wildlife—including wild elephants and baboons.
Though it’s smaller than many of its other European counterparts, Latvia has a lot to offer visitors with its stunning natural sights (they boast being one of the greenest countries in the world), and the capital city, Riga. In Riga you’ll find old cobblestone roads, Gothic architecture, and a hip bar and restaurant scene. Be sure to walk around the old town to see some beautifully preserved buildings and streets.
A visit to Latvia doesn’t just stop in Riga though. If you’re visiting in the summertime, head to Jūrmala for beautiful beaches or Kuldīga, a picturesque medieval town that can be enjoyed by just about everyone.
One of the best parts of traveling in this country is the beautiful countryside, so be sure to spend some of your time doing just that. Unlike many Europeans jaunts, Latvia allows you to explore and discover without fighting off hoards of tourists so take advantage of all the open space!