By Bridget Castner
If you're the kind of traveler who craves hidden gems and seeks off the beaten path adventures, we've got you covered with these top ten underrated vacation destinations.
Whether you want to explore historical marvels, immerse yourself in nature, or indulge in a culinary journey, these destinations are sure to satisfy every wanderer!
Malta is by far one of the most underrated destinations in Europe, and its beautiful capital of Valletta deserves a spot on your travel bucket list. Alongside iconic attractions like the Grandmaster's Palace and Armory, discover hidden gems like the Chocolate District – an underground cellar with stylish decor and soothing music. Relax in the cafe while savoring artisanal treats and delicious beverages. Explore Hastings Gardens, Barrakka Lift, and St. John's Co-Cathedral Skeleton Tombstones for more excitement.
Forget tourist-heavy Mykonos or Santorini – choose the traditional Greek atmosphere and beautiful quiet beaches of Paros! Explore Parikia, the island's capital, with its outstanding dining, captivating museums, ancient cemeteries, and charming flower-filled alleys. Discover the enchanting Butterflies Nature Reserve, enjoy a horseback riding tour at Paros Horse Riding Center, or relax at the open-air Movie Theater Cine Rex.
Aptly nicknamed Ireland’s Forgotten County, Donegal is a gem in northwestern Ireland beloved for its wild, rugged beauty with mountains, rivers, and beaches. Donegal is also right on the Wild Atlantic Way coastal route and close to the Slieve League Cliffs, which are twice as big as the Cliffs of Moher! Ascend Mount Errigal, the iconic highest peak in Donegal, for breathtaking views after a scenic hike. Experience Irish history at Glencolmcille Folk Village, showcasing life from the 18th-20th century. Don't miss Glenveagh Castle, Glebe House and Gallery, and Dunfanaghy Bay.
This picturesque little town in the beautiful Scottish Highlands is filled with stunning landscapes, scenic riversides, and is known for its incredible abundance in salmon. Visit a variety of shops, cafes, and galleries while you're there, sampling delicious pastries or picking up that perfect souvenir. Explore The John Buchan Story Museum for a look at the life of the renowned author, or Neidpath Train Tunnel, once a significant feature of the Scottish railroad.
New Orleans is famous for its rich music scene, vibrant nightlife, architecture, abundance of festivals, and its authentic Creole/Cajun cuisine. A must-do activity in this city is a hands-on cooking class at the Mardi Gras School of Cooking, which will provide you with a one-of-a-kind experience! Take a cruise around the Mississippi River, partake in The Black Heritage and Jazz Tour of New Orleans, or tour a distillery such as Happy Raptor Distilling.
Though travelers often think of Bangkok first for a vacation to Thailand, the laid-back mountain town Chiang Mai should also be considered. Featuring historic temples, lush rainforests, hill tribes, elephant sanctuaries, and unique cuisine, there’s so much to love about Chiang Mai! Explore Wat Umong, the only forest temple in Chiang Mai that is over 700 years old. Take a trip to the Chiang Mai Gate Morning Market for a glimpse of local life, or head to Terracotta Arts Garden or Huay Tung Tao Lake for some nature and picturesque landscapes.
Berlin is renowned for its extensive collection of historical landmarks, artistic community, and its status as the most environmentally friendly city in Germany. Discover Markthalle Neun, a 120-year-old food haven offering diverse culinary delights. Enjoy craft beers, pulled pork, vegan options, and more. For stunning city views, visit the hidden gem Klunkerkranich rooftop bar. Unearth other Berlin treasures like The Stand By Me Tree in Tiergarten Park, a Cold War Bunker in Berliner Unterwelten, and Zauber Konig Magic Store – a souvenir paradise open for over 130 years!
As one of the most LGBTQ+ friendly cities in South America, Sao Paulo is definitely an underrated vacation destination. Sao Paulo is almost 500 years old and is the largest city in Brazil. Known as a cultural melting pot around the world, this city is filled with Brazilian culture along with Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, and more. Hike to discover some of the most beautiful mountains or one of the mystic beaches; Seven Beaches Trail has both! Try some of Brazil's most famous dishes like feijoada (a pork and black bean stew), pao de queijo (a cheese bread ball), or quindim (a delicious coconut custard cake).
Surrounded by beautiful snowcapped mountains on Lake Lucerne lies the city of Lucerne, a small city in Switzerland known for its enchanting medieval architecture. One of the most famous landmarks of this city is Chapel Bridge and Water Tower, built in the 13th and 14th centuries. Take a boat ride on Lake Lucerne, or visit an interactive museum such as Glacier Garden of Lucerne which even has a mirror maze! Don't forget to visit the picturesque Old Town where you can snap some photos, browse shops, and sit down to enjoy some delicious Swiss food at a restaurant. (Swiss chocolate, anyone?)
Ah, Nashville. The home of country music, hot chicken, and smoky barbeque. Known for its Southern hospitality and friendly atmosphere, this city should be on your US travel bucket list. Head Downtown to visit the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, the Johnny Cash Museum, and take a leisurely walk down Broadway Street where you can explore many restaurants and bars. Also check out some other great places like Frist Art Museum, The Honky Tonk Highway strip, and the historical Fort Nashborough.
Now that you know about some of the world's most underrated vacation destinations, which will you choose?