Travel allows us to leave the comfort zone of our homes to build knowledge and experience new cultures that open our minds and broaden our horizons, but even in the new age where more destinations have become increasingly accessible, many travelers still stick to the most famous destinations. To help you truly ‘get off the beaten path’ and see what you’re potentially missing out on, we’ve put together our own list of the top 11 undiscovered destinations. Make no mistake, there are far more places you need to add to your lifetime travel itinerary than the destinations listed below, but we believe these are among the most beautiful destinations to visit during 2017. Make sure you visit them before they’re on every traveler’s radar! The list includes links to the city’s official tourism website or travel resources for that city if you’d like to learn more.
The USA is full of dream destinations, but many travelers are unfamiliar with the city of Milwaukee. Motorcycle enthusiasts will be excited to peruse the collection of classic and modern Harley Davidson’s at the Harley-Davidson museum, though there’s plenty of knowledge-building opportunities at the science and technology-focused Discovery World for those less interested in leather and bikes. However, to look through the eyes of a local Milwaukeean, you ought to head to Lake Michigan and test your ice fishing skills.
Ice fishing isn’t for the faint-hearted, but many instructors can offer a helping hand. You’ll join an excursion to a lake or lagoon covered with at least six inches of ice. The traditional way of ice fishing is to stand out in the open air using a line and hook to catch a variety of fish species through an opening in the ice, though there are modern versions of the sport that allow you to take refuge in a heated bunker as you cast your line. With an abundance of museums, rare sporting opportunities and a vibrant city center to visit, Milwaukee comes in high on our list of undiscovered destinations. Visit Milwaukee.
Cordoba, a province that lies in the north of Argentina, is 700km northeast of Buenos Aires and boasts many stunning colonial-era architectural masterpieces. The Jesuit City Block, a part of the former Jesuit province of Paraguay, is the home of 17 and 18th-century buildings that were built as part of a social, economic and religious experiment. Notable buildings on the block include the university, church, college, the residence of the Society of Jesus and five beautiful estancias.
The Capilla Domestica Compania de Jesus was the first church in Argentina, a must-visit for history lovers along with the Iglesia Catedral, the Cripta Jesuitica, and Le Paz. There are many fantastic museums to visit to learn more about this historic city, such as the Museo Historico UNC Manzana Jesuitica, and the spectacular sights offered by the Los Gigantes mountain are adored by hikers worldwide. Tourism of Cordoba.
Adelaide is an Australian gem that offers experiences a little different from Sydney and Melbourne. While Adelaide is indeed a large city, it’s surrounding areas are laden with beautiful vineyards that offer travelers the opportunity to try some of the world’s most renowned wines and escape the hustle and bustle of the major metropolises. Many consider Adelaide as Australia’s wine capital, and you can taste the finest Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc in the Adelaide Hills region.
As a cosmopolitan city that lines Australia’s southern coast, you’ll find dining opportunities from all over the world. Warehouses in Adelaide’s laneways are currently being transformed into bars offering anything from Serbian cuisine to tapas, as well as delicious cocktails. Australia.com's guide to Adelaide.
Darwin, another one of our favorite undiscovered Australian destinations, is the capital of Australia’s scenic Northern Territory, loved by the locals for its beautiful botanic garden. The garden covers 42 hectares and provides a habitat for a variety of North Australian and tropical plant species, including mangroves and monsoon vine thickets.
Adding to the cities natural beauty, Darwin is the gateway to the Kakadu National Park where you’ll find crocodiles, turtles, aboriginal paintings, tall waterfalls and breathtaking mountainous landscapes covered in green flora. Additionally, there are many trendy bars and dining opportunities in the city center. While you’re here, enjoy soaking up the sun on one of Darwin’s beaches or the close by Tiwi Islands. Australia.com's Darwin guide.
Malindi is the first African city to make it onto our list of undiscovered nations. It lies on the coast facing the Indian Ocean and has a population of over 200,000. Even during the winter, daytime temperatures of 30 degrees Celsius are far from rare, making it a fantastic seaside getaway destination. The impressive Malindi Marine National Park claims to be the oldest on the continent and lies just off the coast of the city in the ocean. Here, you’ll find coral gardens, sea grass beds, marine mammals and a variety of aquatic species.
One of Malindi’s most famous hotspots is the Malindi Museum, located inside a two-storey building dating back to 1891 called the House of Columns, a beautifully restored building that is typical of Swahili architecture. It once served as the first hospital of Malindi but now exhibits ancient ornaments, marine species, and native sculptures. It’s only a short walk away from the Vasco De Gama Pillar, named after the 16th-century Portuguese explorer. Malindi's webpage on the Kenya Tourism Board.
A visit to Turkey simply isn’t complete without a tour around the ancient city of Ephesus, which is 535km south of the nation’s capital, Istanbul. Ephesus was built by the Ancient Greeks over 3000 years ago, and some of its remains are still mostly intact today. The ruins are nearby the Temple of Artemis which was completed around the year 550 BC, and though only the foundations remain, you can get an idea of what the architectural masterpiece once looked like by viewing recreated models at various museums nearby. Some of the most intact ruins of the ancient city include the terrace houses and the façade of the Library of Celsus. You should also take a look at the old theater which had an astonishing maximum capacity of 25,000.
Sirince Village is a beautiful Ottoman hillside town which is easily accessible by public transport from Ephesus. The locals recommend visiting the village during the colder times of year during the week to avoid the huge crowds of tourists. Both Ephesus and Sirince Village are accessible from Istanbul by flying to Izmir Airport or from cruises that dock at Kusadasi Port. Ephesus on WikiTravel.
Manama, the capital and most populous city of Bahrain, has grown to be a major financial center over the last few decades mainly thanks to the nation’s thriving economy and oil reserves. The city center is now laden with massive, modern skyscrapers, and it has been at the center of a major international trade route since the middle ages. The critically-acclaimed Bahrain National Museum provides a home for ancient artifacts that once belonged to the Dilmun civilization, one of the first major civilizations in the Middle East. Though Bahrain’s center now reflects a modern, glass-laden city, it’s only a short drive away from a world-renowned historical site.
Qal’at al-Bahrain, otherwise known as Bahrain Fort, was declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2005, and its origins are thought to date back to 2300 BC. Archaeological excavations carried out in the 1950s unearthed seven stratified layers, suggesting that various civilizations have occupied the site since its creation. It’s one of the most visited historical sites in the Middle East and remains impressively intact to this day. Manama on WikiTravel.
Tarkarli is a village largely unknown to the traveling society, and as such, it boasts some of the most beautiful, unspoiled white sandy beaches with clear blue seas in the world. It lies on the southern west coast of India, about 500km south of Mumbai. Snorkeling and scuba diving are among the most popular activities for tourists in the village, and there are a variety of schools in the area to show you the ropes if you’re unfamiliar with either sport. Beneath the seas of Tarkarli beach, you’ll witness an abundance of marine life, exotic coral reefs and rare species of fish. The turquoise-colored waters look mesmerizing from the beach for those that would rather remain in the sun.
For a trip with a difference, consider staying on an Indian-style houseboat. You can also take tours to the relatively close by Sindhudurg Fort, which was built on a small island in the late 1600s by the Maratha Empire. In addition to historical sights, breathtaking beaches, and scuba diving opportunities, Tarkarli offers parasailing, and banana boat rides for the adrenaline junkies. Tarkarli on TripAdvisor.
The second (but not last) undiscovered destination in India to make our list is Gavi, an increasingly popular eco-tourist hotspot. Gavi is located in the Periyar National Park which lies in the Pathanamthitta district of Kerala. Gavi is a must-visit destination for nature lovers, adored by the locals especially for its tiger reserve, though you’ll also see the likes of elephants, leopards, bears, sambar, deer, macaque, monkeys and much more, and that’s not to mention its stunning evergreen trees.
Visitors to Gavi can enjoy beautiful boat rides through misty lakes and enjoy daytime temperatures rarely below 25 degrees Celsius all year round, though temperatures can cool to 10 degrees at night during the winter. Gavi is about a 140km drive from Cochin International Airport, 114km away from Kottayam Railway and 18km from the bus terminal at Vandiperiyar. Gavi ecotourism website.
Unakoti, the final Indian hotspot on our undiscovered destinations list, lies close to the border with Bangladesh and is considered as sacred by the many of the locals. The main sightseeing opportunities are on Unakoti Mountain, which boasts many huge rock carvings celebrating Shiva, one of the principal deities of Hinduism. Because this destination remains largely unknown outside of the region, there are only a handful of rest places for tourists on the mountain, but an abundance of hotels can be found in the nearby town, Agartala. During your stay in Agartala, you can visit historical landmarks and stunning feats of architecture such as Ujjayanta Palace and Tripurasundari Temple as well as become one with nature at the Kalapania Nature Park and Trishna Wildlife Sanctuary. Unakoti tourism website.
If you want to escape the flocks of tourists at Angkor Wat in Cambodia, you should consider a trip to Battambang, a city founded in the 11th century by the Khmer Empire. Battambang is about a 4-hour drive from Siem Reap and is currently the second-largest Cambodian city. Despite its size, it offers a quaint ambiance and a dive into the local culture, with bike rentals and tuk-tuk rides being common ways to get around. One of the most popular tourist activities is to take a ride on the bamboo train which takes you through the jungle to enjoy some beautiful landscapes. There is only one track, so drivers coming in opposite directions must decide who should dismantle their bamboo-palette train to make way for the other. At the end of the track, you can enjoy a drink and a taste of some local dishes in a small village before returning to the city. Alternatively, you can hire a tuk-tuk for the day to visit historical city center sights such as the Wat Banan temple, which lies near the Sanker River, or the limestone-laden Phnom Sampov temple. Battambang on Tourism of Cambodia.
We’re so used to seeing pictures of New York City and the castles of Europe that we forget just how big the world is. Every nation on our beautiful planet has not-to-be-missed sights, and thanks to the rise of the internet and a growing worldwide tourist industry, destinations that lie off the beaten path are now more accessible than ever. The list above is a far from exhaustive list of undiscovered destinations, but we highly recommend adding them to your traveling to-do list for 2017. If you know of any other city that deserves to be visited, let us know.