When you’re young, the world still feels light-hearted and adventurous – you are not burdened by too many troubles, and you still have plenty of freedom. It’s not like your life is immediately over once you grow a bit older, get a stable job and start a family, but at that point you have other priorities, and a different plan in place. This is all quite natural, as the more you mature, the more your worldview changes, and so do the things that make you happy and motivate you to go on.
If you want to get any traveling done, it’s best to do it when you’re younger, as it will broaden your horizons, teach you tons of useful things, and you’ll be able to fully immerse yourself in the experience. However, what’s the use of having all that youthful energy and thirst for learning, if you’re just going to squander it on a few touristy destination, where all you’ll experience are huge crowds of people with cameras? You should be able to travel to fun new locations, and in style. There’s more to the world than the few historical sites that you read about in textbooks or most online articles, and a lot more to experience than trying to angle the shot perfectly, so that it looks like you are trying to prop up the Leaning Tower of Pisa.
1. Nis, Serbia
The birthplace of Constantine the Great, and home to incredible historical sites that tell a tale of perseverance in a never ending fight for freedom, like the Skull Tower built by the Turks, or the three stone fists pointed at the sky at Bubanj, commemorating the deaths of thousands of Serbian civilians who were shot by German forces in WWII. The rich history, warm people and great Serbian cuisine definitely make Nis worth a visit.
2. Marsaxlokk, Malta
It is a small port, or more accurately a little village where fishing and football are the only two important topics. In the port you’ll find plenty of traditional luzzu fishing boats, with a lovely color pattern, and little farther inland a gorgeous Roman Catholic church – it evokes an image of simpler times and really makes you forget all about modern technology and your worries.
3. Neuchâtel, Switzerland
This Swiss city , which literally translates to “Newcastle”, is a wonderful surprise for all history lovers and nerds from across the world. There are highly realistic colourful statues of mediaeval knights and numerous museums, and one of them features the Jaquet-Droz Automata, three 18th century “robots” that each perform a specific task: playing music, drawing and writing. There is so much to see that you’ll keep running around town with a wide-eyed stare.
4. Kotor, Montenegro
This small city on the banks of Boka Kotorska, a beautiful bay in the Adriatic, has a simple charm that hasn’t changed in centuries. The narrow cobbled streets and a variety of towering stone structures, some dating back to the Roman Era and some from medieval times, create a beautiful fairy-tale atmosphere that makes you wish you could stay there forever.
5. Rovaniemi/Ranua, Finish Lapland
Lapland is supposedly the home of Santa Claus, or so the Fins like to claim, but it is definitely a magic place. It is a true winter wonderland, complete with reindeer and the breathtaking Aurora Borealis that lights up the skies. The place looks like it came of the back of a postcard, and it is fairly unsoiled by thousands of loud tourists, making it an ideal place to spend Christmas.
6. Buurtboerderij Ons Genoegen in Amsterdam, Netherlands
While it’s not exactly much of a secret itself, the city of Amsterdam actually hides plenty of interesting secrets within that few people get to see. Apart from all the weed and the famous Red Light District, there is a lot to see and do, from hot air balloons and paintball, to actually hiring a boat for a private cruise down the canals. Oh, and there’s Buurtboerderij Ons Genoegen, the green pastures where music festivals are held regularly, and where you can score some free stuff at the so-called giveaway store.
7. Visby in Gotland, Sweden
This island is located almost dead bang in the center of the Baltic Sea, and despite the cold weather this fun little place is sure to warm your heart up. The town dating back to the Middle Ages is complete with a high wall and tower, a beautiful UNESCO protected fortification, and there are tons of fun things to do. The cuisine takes some time to get used to, but it can be quite delicious.
8. Samarkand, Uzbekistan
Here you’ll find Islamic architecture at its finest, but with influences from multiple sources, as Samarkand was a big cultural crossroads. The Registan alone is worth the trip, but the entire place just seems dreamy, like a scene from Aladdin.
9. Trier, Germany
Another magnificent European city with a castle worthy of the best epic fantasy novels, Trier really has a lot going for it. It boasts Roman Ruins, exquisite Gothic architecture and that classic Germanic atmosphere. The city is over 2000 years old, and played a big role in shaping European history over the ages.
10. Midtown East’s Greenacre Park in New York, USA
NYC may be world-renowned, but the tourists usually barely get to scratch its intriguing surface before moving on. When people think of Midtown they are usually thinking of Times Square, or the once infamous Hell’s Kitchen, which is now more about good food and shopping than gangsters fighting their way to the top, but there’s also the lovely little Greenacre Park, complete with a waterfall and greenery to help you take a second to relax.
11. Ptuj, Slovenia
Slovenia might be a small country, but it has plenty of interesting sites that are worthy of your attention. While most tourists flock to Ljubljana, the city of Ptuj is a bit more interesting. They have a pagan festival in the spring than lasts for ten whole days, and the houses and churches give kind of remind you of a perfect little model town within a snow globe.
12. Garajonay National Park, Canary Islands
The Canary Islands are remarkably not named after the bird, but rather after the Latin word for dog, because ancient writers thought were abundant there, though they may just have been seals. Whatever the case, they are absolutely wonderful, and you can get a full taste of their natural gifts in Garajonay National Park. All it takes is one day to lure you into this magical world that you’ll wish to stay and explore it for weeks.
13. The Black Desert, Egypt
An alien-looking world where black pyramidal mounds rise from the yellow sands roughly 30 miles from Bawiti. Interestingly there is a white desert nearby, so if you have a very productive day, you can experience a wide range of strange looking deserts, and get a glimpse of what it’s like to travel the galaxy and visit new planets.
14. Derinkuyu, Turkey – underground settlements
Cappadocia is a region of Turkey that a lot of you have probably heard of, with its unique rock formations and houses carved in them. However, there is an entire 5000 year old city underground. Derinkuyu has a network of tunnels connecting multiple underground city, and features 11 underground levels, and hundreds of entrances at ground level. A veritable ant farm of a city.
15. Tanjung Putting National Park, Indonesia
Indonesia has an incredibly lush and well preserved flora and fauna, but the Tanjung Putting National Park really stands out. It is home to a large number of intelligent and mischievous orangutan, but it also incorporates many different habitats with a diverse flora and fauna. You will simply lose yourself and reconnect with nature.
16. Bologna, Italy
Yes, the processed meat that we all know and love came from here, and so did your favorite pasta sauce, but there are tons of other delicacies to try out here as well. It is renowned for its delicious cuisine, and with large piazzas and majestic early medieval and renaissance buildings, it rivals any of the more frequently visited Italian cities.
17. Badija Island, Croatia
Right next to Slovenia you’ll find a country splashed by the waters of the Adriatic Sea, Croatia. There are many popular locations, but Badija Island is a little bit off the radar. It is green, serene and the waters are clear, the stone buildings beguiling and the hills great for some hiking. A true paradise that is tucked away and quiet.
18. Yekaterinburg, Russia
From the crazy colorful salt mine, which looks like someone hit a lot of acid and went to town on the walls with several cans of spray paint, to the huge Yekaterinburg Circus that seats well over two thousand spectators, this place really has it all. It is also the birthplace of Ural Rock – yeah, that’s a real thing, look it up – and has many historical curiosities for you to explore.
19. Khimsar Dunes Village, India
Another wondrous oasis settlement, the Kimsar Dunes Village emerges from the sand to reveal a small body of water surrounded by palm trees and a number of charming hut-like buildings. The accommodations are nicely furnished, and in stark contrast to the modest outer appearance. It kind of reminds me of Tatooine, so you could grab a light saber, put on your Jedi robes and have a blast.
20. Ittoqqortoormiit, Greenland
Greenland is never on top of anyone’s bucket list, but despite it being far north, blasted by arctic winds, there are parts with lush greenery, as the name suggests. In this town you can visit Northeast Greenland National Park, or see some exceptional fjords – they actually have the longest one on the planet. If you’re up for a trip to a frozen kingdom, this is the place for you.
21. Baikonur Space Complex, Kazakhstan
Kazakhstan might have been the bud of more than a few jokes because of Borat, but the country is actually up to any modern standard, and it even has something that few other nations can boast – a cosmodrome. They have opened the Baikonur Space Complex to the general public in hopes of boosting tourism, so get a ticket and head on down to watch some spaceships take to the skies.
22. Bruge, Belgium
A quiet and incredibly lovely town, Bruges features excellent examples of classic 17th Dutch architecture, with a number of such buildings now housing fine dining establishments. It also has a number of canals that just add to the charm, and is home to Michelangelo’s sculpture Madonna and Child, which is incredibly significant as it was the only one of the artist’s sculptures that stood outside the borders of his native Italy while he was still alive.
23. La Boca in Buenos Aires, Argentina
If you are a happy person who enjoys vibrant colors, music, and a bit of an exotic flair, then there is no better place for you than the La Boca district in Buenos Aires. Argentina is renowned for its tango and the fiery Latino spirit, but you’ll also find some of the famous Italian passion among the colorful houses of La Boca, as its first inhabitants came mostly from Genoa.
24. Menara Gardens in Marrakesh, Morocco
Dating back all the way to the 12th century, these gardens of olive and different fruit trees are a magnificent sight to behold under the hot Moroccan sun. The Pavilion was built a few centuries later, and was renovated in the 19th century. You can get camel rides, do a bit of shopping and experience the warm Islamic hospitality in the city of Marrakesh.
25. Hunter Region north of Sydney, Australia
Sydney is another well know city, but those who have had their fill of the usual sites like the Sydney Opera House, can explore the rural side of Australian life, by taking a tour of the vineyards in the Hunter Region. There is lots of fine vine to be had, and there is something incredibly romantic about vineyards, so it’s best to bring a special someone along for the journey.
26. Tashirojima “Cat Island”, Japan
You’d think there was some kind of play on words here or cute little story that earned the island its nickname, but it’s actually just what it sounds like – an island overrun with cats. It has more cats than people now, and it all began because the villagers were really fond of the little felines and simply let them be. There are thousands of the feral fur balls there, and there are no dogs allowed, so if you’re not a cat person, you are out of luck.
27. Temple of All Religions in Kazan, Russia
A project worthy of praise the Temple of All Religions stands proudly in Kazan. Ildar Khanov’s vision was to create a huge complex where a number of influence form different religions would all be combined to create the ultimate place of worship. It is a symbol of unity and peace among those with different worldviews, and it actually looks very nice for such a mishmash of influences.
28. Foshan, China
Foshan is a wonderful city, the name translates to Buddha Hill, which won’t really surprise you once you see the huge statue of the bodhisattva Guan Yin gazing upon the citizens from the hilltop. The city also has connections with the Wing Chun style of Kung Fu, since it was the home of grandmaster Yip Man, who helped spread it throughout China and the rest of the world.
29. Ulan Bator, Mongolia
The Mongolian Empire was once the largest empire on the face of the Earth, and its size is unmatched to this day. The name of the capital means Red Hero, and it boasts a number of monasteries and museums that hold treasures form the countries illustrious past. The Winter Palace, once home to Bogd Khan, is definitely worth a visit.
30. Saksaywaman near Cusco, Peru
Machu Picchu is the place most visit in Peru, but there is a huge archaeological park near the city of Cusco that doesn’t see as many tourists, but has a lot more to offer. There are over 200 individual sites, surrounded by long wall formations. It’s weird to think that such an impressive architectural marvel dates back all the way to the Incas, and it gives you a newfound respect for this ancient civilization.
31. Amiens, France
Amiens is one of those cities that looks like it was drawn to represent a lovely city from a couple of centuries back. The Cathedrale Notre-Dame d’Amiens is a colossal building that stands as the testament to the talent and skills of Gothic architects – even the audio guide is an hour long, and you’ll need several visits to really drink everything in. There is also a miniature model of France, complete with tiny Eiffel Tower, which can give you a good idea of where to go next.
32. Huacachina, Peru
In the middle of the sandy dessert, there is a little oasis that looks like something straight out of a cartoon – a veritable heaven on earth. Green trees, a small lake and hospitable people really make it a hidden treasure. If you are visiting Peru, this small town should definitely be on your list, as it is off the beaten path and quite the experience.
33. Hallstatt, Austria
A famous salt producer ever since the early Iron Age, this city has been quite rich throughout its history, which means that there are tons of well-preserved sites and curiosities that will tickle your imagination. Unsurprisingly, you can tour the oldest salt mine in existence, but the best thing about it is that is a small village with tons of old world charm and some of the best people you’ll meet in all of Austria. Nestled between mountains and the sea, it is a breathtaking site.
34. Luxemburg City, Luxemburg
A tiny country that a lot of foreigners don’t know about, Luxemburg is a place with a rich history and incredible architecture. With stone fortifications from centuries long past, to the lovely old town with its Germanic aesthetic, the whole place feels like an enchanted ancient land got transported to modern times. Things might get a little expensive though, as they are high up on the list of the countries with the highest quality of life.
35. Hotel Viru in Talin, Estonia
Estonia was one of those smaller countries that the Russians took under their wing, which meant a hefty dose of KGB surveillance. Hotel Viru had an actual secret floor where the agents were stationed and every room was rife with surveillance equipment. It is now a KGB museum, and is a great place to visit if you want to find out more about the nature of the world’s clandestine operations during the Cold War era.
36. Tsodilo, Botswana
Beautiful rock formations, the likes of which you’ll find in very few places, feature prehistoric wall art, the work of the earliest human artists. It is quite the mystery how these paintings have managed to survive for thousands upon thousands of years, and there is a feeling of awe and respect that you get when staring far back into the past.
37. Olomouc, Czech Republic
Everyone and their grandmother will rave about visiting Prague on their trip to Europe, but the city is simply brimming with tourists, and you’ll have trouble spotting an actual Czech in the streets. If you are looking for something different than Olomouc, with its Holy Trinity Column, gold studded carriages at the Museum of Art and their own unique astronomical clock, is a great place to visit.
38. Morskie Oko in Tatra National Park, Poland
The name means The Eye of the Sea, and it’s easy to see why. The emerald mountains gently slope downwards, revealing a clear blue lake, like a big eye staring into the skies. It is the largest lake in the Tatra National Park, and you can explore its depths, or just have some fun in the shallows, while taking in the wonders of this serene slice of heaven.
39. Holland Park in London, England
London is quite a well-known destination, but just like all big and famous cities, people tend miss a lot of the cooler stuff. If you want to get away from the usual tourist stuff, or have become bored with it, just head on to the Royal Borough and visit the magnificent Holland Park. There are numerous gardens and lots of little critters running around, and I highly recommend the Kyoto Garden to all the fans of Eastern culture.
40. Copenhagen, Denmark
On the surface Copenhagen may look a bit like any other large European city, with its unique blend of history and modern convenience, but it is a lot more free-spirited than most of its counterparts. Just take a long stroll down Freetown Christiania, a large semi-lawless commune favored by artists, cannabis enthusiasts and those with someone shadier job-descriptions alike, and you’ll get quite the different experience. As long as you follow the rules, leave your ego at home and mind your manners, you can have a great time.
41. Triglav National Park, Slovenia
Lulled within the tall mountains of Slovenia sits the Triglav National Park, where you will find lush flora and fauna. There are ample opportunities for biking and water sports, but it’s worth mentioning that there is very little in the way of infrastructure, because the Slovenians want to keep the nature untouched. It is the perfect getaway for nature lovers.
42. Green Lakes in Vilnius, Lithuania
Deep within the Nature park of Verkiai, a place that very few tourist who pass through Lithuania visit, and the rest of the world knows little about, lie the Green Lakes. Coming here is an excellent way to forget all your worldly troubles and let your soul refresh. You can swim and enjoy the untamed nature, and the best time to visit is in spring, when everything is vibrant and alive.
43. Vylkovo, Ukraine – Danube Delta Biosphere Reserve, quiet atmosphere
Often called the Venice of Ukrain, this city sits next to the Danube River, and has a number of canals running through it. You’ll find some beautiful examples of Orthodox Christian architecture, and can enjoy some quite time fishing. With a population of about 10.000, this sleepy little town will allow you to experience the warm Ukranian hospitality and explore the Danube Delta Biosphere Reserve.
44. Playa de los Cristales in Antromero, Spain
What happens when people litter and throw glass bottles on the beach? It usually leads to a mess, but nature has sorted things out in Playa de los Cristales, literally “The Crystal Beach”, as the waves have rounded and shaped the multi-colored glass shards into lovely pebbles that shine brightly in the sun. It is otherworldly and a sight that you can’t afford to miss.
45. Reykyavik, Iceland
In the poetically nicknamed “Land of Fire and Ice”, Iceland has plenty to offer, and its capital is sure to leave a strong impression. We can start with the incredibly happy and lovely people, mention the famous Penis Museum and the many thermal spas, and end the sales pitch with the incredible Winter Lights festival held every year. It’s a small nation, but a great country, and Reykyavik has a little something for everyone.
46. Hainan Island, China
The Hainan Island is more like your typical tropical getaway, than something you’d expect when you heard someone was going to China. The temperatures are nice and warm year round, and this combined with the soft white sands, tasty food and a relaxed atmosphere make it an ideal place for couples.
These have been just some of the hidden gems that you can find around the world if you have the desire to look around a bit more, so get out there try some of them out or find a unique getaway of your own that’s off the beaten path.