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Traveling to underrated travel destinations reinvigorates our desire to discover. Instead of following the tourist trail, we use local tips to find hidden gems. Sure, there may not always be iconic sights at off-the-beaten-path locales, but there are fewer crowds and accommodations tend to be less expensive. And, while residents in some cities (like Barcelona) bemoan the influx of tourists, locals in less-popular towns happily welcome visitors.
While it’s difficult to argue with the merits of visiting the world’s most popular cities (like Paris, NYC and Sydney), taking a trip to underrated destinations can be equally – if not more – enthralling.
Underrated Travel Destinations
While certainly all travelers will have their own definition of underrated, our list of underrated countries to visit includes a range of places that will appeal to different travelers. We feature under-the-radar cities, towns nestled in nature and places with long histories and vibrant cultures.
#1 BARILOCHE, ARGENTINA
Not completely off-the-radar, Bariloche, Argentina is one of the top underrated holiday destinations. The landscape is simply stunning, dotted with tree-covered mountains and glassy lakes. The town sits on the shore of a breathtaking lake and is surrounded by the Nahuel Huapi National Park in northern Patagonia. With numerous hiking trails, Bariloche is an ideal retreat for trekkers and outdoor enthusiasts. Read 10 Things To Do in Bariloche, Argentia
#2 LECCE, ITALY
When people think of Italy, they think of Rome, Milan, Venice and Florence; Lecce, however, is one of the underrated places to visit. Situated in the Puglia region (the heel of Italy’s boot), Lecce has a long history and distinct (and delectable!) cuisine. Once a walled city, the historic old town features unearthed Roman ruins, ornate Baroque architecture and a maze of cobblestone lanes. Read 10 Things To Do in Lecce, Italy
#3 WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND
One of the most underrated tourist destinations, Wellington, New Zealand is often overlooked in favor of NZ’s beautiful nature. We, however, fell head over heels in love with the city! Wellington is a Goldilocks city; not too big, not too small, but just right. There is a little bit of history, plenty of nature and lots of great NZ craft beer. Although New Zealand, in general, is an expensive destination, Wellington offers a variety of free things to do, too! Read 6 Free Things To Do in Wellington, NZ
#4 DRESDEN, GERMANY
Dresden stands out for us as one of the top underrated European destinations. Often skipped over in favor of other German cities (such as Munich, Berlin and Frankfurt), Dresden is actually an incredibly fascinating and beautiful place to visit. The old town (rebuilt after World War II) is overflowing with charm, while the Neustadt neighborhood offers a hip and edgy vibe. Read our 3-Day Dresden Itinerary
#5 LAKE BOHINJ, SLOVENIA
Slovenia as a country is an underrated travel destination, which is such a shame because it is one of the most beautiful countries in the world. And we think the most beautiful place in Slovenia is Lake Bohinj. Surrounded by towering mountains, Lake Bohinj is blissfully picture-perfect. If you are looking for the most underrated places to visit, put Lake Bohinj on your list! Read our 3-Day Lake Bohinj Itinerary
#6 WARSAW, POLAND
We think Poland in general is one of Europe’s most underrated travel destinations – but even travelers who venture to the country still pass over Warsaw and go to Krakow instead. To be honest, we were not expecting much when we visited Warsaw…but the city took us by surprise! The colorful old town, opulent architecture and royal past enchanted us. Even more powerful, however, is the Warsaw story; one of resiliency, uprising and rebuilding – which is detailed in the city’s state-of-the-art museums. Read our 3-Day Warsaw Itinerary
#7 NUSA CENINGAN, BALI, INDONESIA
Bali has long been a much-touted destination, but just off the southeastern shore is a trio of islands – called Nusa Islands – that don’t get enough praise. Of the three Nusa Islands, Ceningan is the smallest and, by far, the most underrated vacation destination. It is reachable only by boat or by footbridge from neighboring Lembongan Island. Dirt paths follow the coastline, leading up to scenic overlooks and down to hidden coves. The few beach bars offer fine views, cold drinks – and even a chance for cliff jumping. Read our Complete Nusa Islands, Bali Guide
#8 LVIV, UKRAINE
Lviv, Ukraine is one of the most underrated destinations in Europe – and honestly, it is not for everyone (but we absolutely love it!). Quaint and quirky, Lviv is a city with a historic old town, a top-rated cemetery and a slew of odd attractions – all offered at an extremely affordable price. The city’s history is detailed in interesting museums and amazing Ukrainian cuisine are not to be missed! Read Top 10 Things To Do in Lviv, Ukraine
#9 SPOKANE, WASHINGTON, USA
We sort of stumbled onto Spokane, but we quickly realized it is one of the top underrated cities in US. Surrounded in lush nature and exuding a small-town vibe, Spokane offers visitors a long list of things to do – from scenic strolls to local wine hops. Read 17 Things To Do in Spokane, Washington
#10 SARAJEVO, BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA
One of the underrated places to travel to for vacation, Sarajevo is a truly fascinating city. It also happens to be one of the top affordable travel destinations in Europe. The city has a lengthy history that stretches back centuries – and a more recent history of being under siege for four long years. Today it is a city of intriguing sights, indulgent cuisine and kind people. Read Sarajevo Sightseeing Self-Guided Walking Tour
#11 HAARLEM, NETHERLANDS
If you are seeking underrated vacation destinations near top tourist cities, then Haarlem, Netherlands fits the bill! Just a short bus ride from bustling Amsterdam, Haarlem is a true gem. Similar to Amsterdam – with gabled houses and canals – Haarlem is much smaller and exudes a community feel. That said, the city has top sights, like the Molen De Adriaan Windmill, the Corrie ten Boom House and the Grote of St. Bavokerk on the main square. Read 5 Things To Do in Haarlem, Netherlands
#12 PRISHTINA, KOSOVO
Perhaps one of the most underrated countries to visit, Kosovo doesn’t see many tourists. In our opinion, however, Prishtina, Kosovo ranks as one of the most intriguing places we have ever visited. Only becoming a capital city in 2008, the city is still very much in transition – and its apparent growing pains are obvious throughout the city. Still, we marveled at the sights, learned about the history and were smitten by the locals. Read our Prishtina, Kosovo Guide
#13 CHIANG RAI, THAILAND
One of the most underrated vacation spots in Thailand, Chiang Rai is a feast for the senses! Not to be confused with Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai is a busy city in Northern Thailand (which is more often visited on a day trip than as a long-term destination). The city’s most famous attraction is the White Temple, but visitors can also seek out waterfalls, many other temples, markets and deliciously spicy cuisine. Read 14 Things To Do in Chiang Rai, Thailand
#14 RIGA, LATVIA
Riga, Latvia is one of the best underrated European cities! In Riga, steeples rise above the historic old town, while modern skyscrapers complete the skyline beyond the city center. The city is historic but emanates a youthful atmosphere (mostly because of the many fun bars!). Visitors can travel a short distance on day trips to the Jurmala Beach or into the forest-covered hills of Sigulda. Read 8 Things To Do in Riga, Latvia
#15 OSIJEK, CROATIA
The long, stunningly beautiful coastline of Croatia can hardly be named one of the underrated vacation spots – but the inland city of Osijek can. We visited Osijek in the wintertime when the Kopacki Rit Nature Park was covered in frost and the city’s tight-knit community celebrated Christmas. The highlight of Osijek, however, is the regional cuisine and local wine – making it one of the best underrated places to travel to for foodies. Read 7 Super Reasons to Visit Osijek, Croatia
#16 MONTANA, USA
Montana. Just the name conjures up images of soaring mountains, stunning valleys, crystal-clear lakes and miles and miles and miles of wide open space for a Montana Road Trip under bright blue skies. From quaint Montana towns like Whitefish, Kalispell and Missoula to incredible natural Montana landscapes and hiking in Glacier National Park, a visit to Montana is THE new hot destination for USA travel in 2021!
More Top Travel Destinations Guides
Looking for more travel destinations? Get inspired to plan that next vacation with our detailed (and free!) travel guides! You will find city itineraries, walking tours and lists of things to do in destinations worldwide.
We Want To Know: What are your favorite most underrated places in the world? Which cities would you add to our list of Underrated Travel Destinations? Give us your best tips and advice in the comments below!
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