Doesn’t it sometimes feel like every beautiful corner of the world has already been ruined discovered by tourists? We keep seeing the same places on Instagram again and again. The great pyramids in Giza, the Empire State Building in New York, the temples in Kyoto…while these destinations are wonderful, they are often overcrowded. I mean, have you seen this video showing all the cliché tourists photos people take? Everyone does the “fake push” pose in front of the leaning Tower of Pisa. It’s a little embarrassing. So, where are some stunning yet underrated places you can visit in 2019? I asked travel bloggers to share with me their favourite secret spots around the globe and learned about so many destinations I never knew! Check out this list and let us know which country intrigues you.
“Poland is still one of the most underrated places to visit in Europe, and one of the continent’s best kept secrets. We too were in the dark until we completely fell in love with the country during our Erasmus in Warsaw.
Poland is an incredibly unique country due to the sheer diversity of scenery, as you’ll find something to explore no matter where you are in the country, from the bustling cities, to the serene nature escapes. From the beaches in the North, to the stunning mountains in the South, there is a whole country to explore, and you’re sure to find something that suits your preferences when it comes to travel. Warsaw has become one of Europe’s coolest capitals, a reconstructed rising phoenix filled with history lessons, great architecture, and a thriving food scene. If you love architecture, plan a road trip through the castles of the Lower Silesian Region (you can even sleep in one for less than 30€/night). Nature blooms all around, as Poland counts with more than twenty National Parks in the country, including one of the last remaining example of primary forest in Europe, the Białowieża Forest. We keep going back to Poland and finding new gems to fall in love with!”
“The South Pacific country of Tonga is home to some of the most beautiful beaches on the planet, and yet so few people have even heard of these islands. That’s part of what makes it so special.
One of the most exciting activities you can do while you’re there is swim with humpback whales — it’s one of only two countries in the world where you can do so! Between July and October, humpback whales migrate from Antarctica to Tonga to give birth, and if you happen to be there when this happens, you can slide in the water and float alongside them. Sometimes they even swim up to the beaches beside local guesthouses! If you’re not in Tonga during the popular whale-swimming season, you’ll feel as though you have the entire country to yourself. In low season, for example, I found myself on the most spectacular stretch of sand I’d ever seen, on the Ha’apai island chain, and I couldn’t believe I was the only person there.
When I wasn’t sunbathing in paradise, I was hiking on the isolated island of ‘Eua, learning about the island’s heritage on Tongatapu, and falling in love with the scenery and clear waters in beautiful Ha’apai. There’s plenty to do in Tonga, and it’s so worth visiting.”
Lauren, Never Ending Footsteps, Follow Lauren on Instagram
“If ever there was a country which has reached its moment to shine, it is Bosnia & Herzegovina.
This small European country, tucked away in the Balkan region and part of the former Yugoslavia, emerged from decades of socialism in a bloody hail of shells and bullets. Best known, perhaps, from TV news reports of the 1990s, Bosnia today is a very different place, but one that combines outstanding natural beauty with a recent history which is a valuable reminder that ethnic conflict need not be so very far from home.
Modern-day Bosnia is peaceful, however, and home to some of the friendliest people in Europe. A largely mountainous country, there is skiing in the winter months and beautiful hiking in summer; or you may prefer to explored the quaint villages and historic cities from the valley floor. Bosnia has been quick to restore the historic sites which were destroyed in the war; a visit to Mostar or Sarajevo will transport you deep into the Ottoman heritage of this region, where mosques sit alongside churches and Turkish-style bazaars tempt the senses.
Bosnia & Herzegovina is beautiful, safe and currently very affordable. Head there in 2019 before the rest of the world finds out!”
“For those who have drooled over dreamy Instagram photos of Iceland or Norway, I’ve got an even more wild and untouched destination for you to consider: Greenland!
You might just picture ice and cold when you think of Greenland, but the world’s largest island isn’t as desolate as you might think. In fact, 56,000 people call Greenland home, and the autonomous Danish region is more prepared for tourism than most people realize.
With iceberg tours, whale watching, glacier viewing, and hiking in the summer and snow shoeing, snowmobiling, and Northern Lights hunting in the winter, there’s a lot to do in Greenland!
I recommend Ilulissat, Greenland’s third-largest city, for first-time visitors. This city above the Arctic Circle sits at the mouth of the UNESCO-recognized Ilulissat Icefjord (meaning lots of icebergs!), and also gives a glimpse into traditional life in Greenland. Here, dogs are still working animals that the locals rely on in the winter months, and the diet still consists of mostly fish and seal meat. It’s a fascinating destination that is definitely underrated.”
“Many people have never heard of Vanuatu or only know it from seeing it on the news when the devastating Pam cyclone hit the country in 2015. But this beautiful archipelago in the Pacific Ocean, between Australia and Fiji, has a lot to offer to its visitors. Whether you want to relax on a stunning beach, have a dip in the bluest blue holes, explore the magnificent underwater world or watch lava at the top of an active volcano, you’ll find plenty of things to do in Vanuatu. Once occupied by the British and the French, Vanuatu has been independent since 1980. They have a strong traditional culture, or more accurately various fascinating cultures across the islands and the villages. Tourists can easily meet locals and discover their way of life. While you can still find comfortable resorts if you wish, Vanuatu is a fantastic place to disconnect from our modern life and embrace nature and simplicity. You will surely learn a few things just by visiting a village and seeing their strong link to nature. And a trip to the market or a garden will introduce you to fruits you didn’t know existed!”
Eloise, My Favourite Escapes, Follow Eloise on Instagram
“The Kingdom of Bhutan is a small country located in the eastern Himalayas with India to its south and sharing a border with China in the north. Though Bhutan has been open for tourism for more than 40 years, planning a trip there can be confusing and there’s a lot of misinformation out there, so many people give up altogether because they’re not sure where to start. In reality, planning a trip to Bhutan is not that difficult, and once you arrive you will understand why people refer to this magical land as “The Last Shangri-La”.
Bhutan is a prime example of how to show off the best of what the country has to offer while balancing local development and sustainability in every way, and offers something special for different kinds of travelers – a deep cultural travel experience for people wanting a spiritual journey, amazing architectural landmarks for sightseeing, a range of hiking trails for trekkers of all levels and vivid landscapes for photography junkies.
Bhutan is, without a doubt, one of the most uncrowded, untouched and pristine destinations I have ever had the privilege of traveling to, and offers an immersive cultural experience that you don’t find in many places around the world anymore. If you are looking to visit a country that hasn’t been completely overrun with tourists, then you need to add Bhutan to your list of places to visit in 2019!”
“Located in Central Europe, Hungary is still a land of mysteries. While Budapest has been popping up on many articles as a great place to party, not much else is said about the city and especially about the country.
Yes, Budapest is great if you like to party. But it is also great to visit if you enjoy the urban architecture, the hot springs, the wine, and the food. And the Danube ads more charm to it.
But venture out of the capital and you’ll find the many medieval cities and castles, the amazing wines near Eger, and the full of history Szeged. Want to go swimming? Lake Balaton is a great choice! Feeling adventurous and on the lookout to explore some caves? Add Aggtelek to your itinerary.
Plan to visit the country in spring or fall, unless you want to come for the Christmas Markets in Budapest. The weather can be brutally cold during winter and very hot during summer. April, May, October, and November, however, are great months to visit.
And while you can pay with the card almost everywhere, you should always have Forints (HUF) ready. Exchange them before you head to the airport.”
“Romania often gets overlooked, yet it is a budget-friendly European destination that offers a wide variety of things to do and see.
For hikers and nature lovers, the area of the Carpathian Mountains includes more than twenty national and natural parks. In this area you can travel through vast green landscapes, glacial lakes and caves, engage in outdoor activities like rock climbing and wildlife watching, or hike and trek.
If you want to see Romania’s more traditional side, you can visit cities like Brasov and Sibiu, traditional small villages in Transylvania and Maramures regions, and old castles, churches, and monasteries. Romania is so good at preserving its local heritage, that many of these places make you feel like you’re stepping back in time. You’ll probably also be surprised to know that Romania is a major ski destination. With more than 90 ski resorts throughout the country, it is a great option for anyone looking for an active winter vacation.
Last but not least, Romania offers some pretty delicious food. Hearty soups, cheesy mamaliga (similar to polenta) and desserts like papanash (a cheese donut served with jam) are a good enough reason to give this surprising destination a visit.”
“Oman is undoubtedly one of the most stunning yet underrated countries in the world. Unlike its ‘more happening and famous’ neighbor Dubai, Oman has stuck to its traditional heritage and cultural values. The country is the most naturally diverse destinations in the Middle East. Oman has a vast 3000km coastline linking it to the Arabian Sea in the north and the Indian Ocean in the south along with the highest mountain peak of the Arabian Peninsula and long stretches of unexplored golden sand desert. The north of Oman is particularly famous for water activities and sports due to its extremely healthy and well preserved marine life. The unwater life of Oman consists of vibrant coral reefs and diverse species of fishes and sharks which are not to be found anywhere in the Middle Eastern waters. It is also very easy to spot a green turtle in the Omani waters, which are found in abundance. Oman has all sorts of natural beauty to offer to the travelers and give them an unforgettable Arabian experience to cherish.”
According to the Lonely Planet, 2018’s #1 travel destination of the year was the county of Georgia. Oddly, though, there was little mention of Georgia’s southern neighbor: enchanting Armenia. Like Georgia, Armenia is situated at a significant cultural crossroads and relatively untouched by mass tourism. However, Armenia is distinctly different from Georgia, and its rich historical attractions are highlights of any Caucasus journey.
Although Yerevan is a vibrant, exciting city in its own right, travelers with a passion for history will want to use it primarily as a home base and point of arrival as they travel around the rest of the country. In my opinion, the absolute highlight of Armenia is the ninth-century Tatev monastery, breathtakingly perched on the edge of a cliff at the far end of the world’s longest dual-track cable car. Equally fascinating, the Noratus cemetery is home to almost one thousand khachkars (traditional Armenian gravestones) dating back to the tenth century. If that’s not enough, Armenia is also home to the only Greco-Roman columned building in the entire former USSR, which was reconstructed in the 1970s as the Temple of Garni.
Carly, Fearless Female Travels, Follow Carly on Instagram
Which of these underrated places are you dying to visit? Let us know in the comments below.