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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 Dubrovnik and Barcelona) understandably bemoan the massive 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 London, San Francisco, Paris, NYC and Sydney), taking a trip to underrated destinations can be equally – if not more – fulfilling!
How To Define Underrated Travel Destinations
While certainly all travelers will have their own definition of underrated, our list of underrated locations to visit are unique travel destinations that are not the first to come to mind when it’s time to take a trip.
Our list includes a range of places – from the most underrated European cities to visit to top underrated US road trip destinations – that will appeal to a wide range of travelers.
We feature under-the-radar cities, towns nestled in nature and places with long histories and vibrant cultures.
Save, Pin or Bookmark our Underrated Travel Destination Guide to help plan your next trip!
18 Best Underrated Travel Destinations
We believe our list features some of the most underrated places to travel in the world. So get ready to make some travel plans and pack your bags – and get excited for an amazing trip to one of the world’s best underrated vacation spots!
#1 BARILOCHE, ARGENTINA
While popular regionally, Bariloche, Argentina is one of the top underrated holiday destinations for American travelers.
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 best underrated places to visit in Europe!
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 Welly!
Wellington is a Goldilocks city; not too big, not too small, but just right – and yet it remains one of the most underrated holiday destinations. The city has 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 (completely rebuilt after World War II) is overflowing with charm, while the trendy 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 picturesque 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 in Europe, put Lake Bohinj, Slovenia on your list! Read our 3-Day Lake Bohinj Itinerary
#6 WARSAW, POLAND
To be honest, we were not expecting much when we visited Warsaw…but the city took us by surprise – which is why we think it is one of the top underrated European travel destinations. 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 Warsaw’s state-of-the-art museums. Read our 3-Day Warsaw Itinerary
#7 NUSA CENINGAN, BALI, INDONESIA
Bali has long been a much-touted tourist destination, but just off the southeastern shore is a trio of islands – called the Nusa Islands – that don’t get enough praise. Of the three Nusa Islands, Ceningan is the smallest and, by far, the most underrated as a vacation destination.
Ceningan is reachable only by a small boat or by narrow footbridge from neighboring Lembongan Island. Dirt paths follow the coastline, leading up to scenic overlooks and down to hidden coves. A hand-full of Nusa Ceningan beach bars offer fine views, cold drinks – and even a chance for cliff jumping or chair swinging.
Visitors looking for a little solitude and relaxation in a province that caters to tourists will agree that Ceningan is one of the most underrated places to visit in the world. 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 loved 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. Lviv’s history is detailed in interesting museums and the amazing Ukrainian cuisine and lively Lviv Bars 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 historic neighborhoods, and local wine shops. Read 17 Things To Do in Spokane, Washington
#10 SARAJEVO, BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA
One of the top 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.
Sarajevo has a lengthy and infamous history that stretches back centuries – and most recently being under siege for four long years in the 1990’s. Today it is a city of intriguing sights, indulgent cuisine and kind people – all of which make it one of the best underrated places to travel. 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, Haarlem top sights, like the Molen De Adriaan Windmill, the Corrie ten Boom House and the Grote of St. Bavokerk on the main square are impressive in their own right. Read 5 Things To Do in Haarlem, Netherlands
#12 SIBIU, ROMANIA
Romania was our first “new” country in a very, very long time and the city of Sibiu absolutely charmed us! Nestled in the Transylvania region, Sibiu features lovely architecture, amazing cuisine and beautiful parks.
The two main squares in Sibiu buzz with pedestrian activity both day and night, and the soaring town towers lure visitors up rickety stairs for impressive views. Read our article: Best Things To Do in Sibiu, Romania
#13 PRISTINA, KOSOVO
Perhaps one of the most underrated countries to visit, Kosovo doesn’t see many tourists. In our opinion, however, Pristina, Kosovo ranks as one of the most intriguing places we have ever visited.
Only becoming a capital city in 2008, Pristina is still very much in transition – and its apparent growing pains are obvious throughout town. Still, we marveled at the sights, learned about the history and were smitten by the locals. For travelers looking to get off the beaten path and travel to somewhere nearly devoid of tourist, Pristina is one of the best underrated destinations. Read our Pristina, Kosovo Guide
#14 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 an stand alone destination.
The city’s most famous attraction is the White Temple, which is a highlight – but there are so many more reasons why Chiang Rai is one of the most underrated travel destinations! Visitors can also seek out waterfalls, many other temples, markets and deliciously spicy cuisine. Read 14 Things To Do in Chiang Rai, Thailand
#15 RIGA, LATVIA
Riga, Latvia is still 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.
Riga is historic but emanates a youthful atmosphere (mostly because of the many fun Riga bars!). Visitors can travel a short distance on Riga day trips to the Jurmala Beach or into the forest-covered hills of Sigulda. Read 8 Things To Do in Riga, Latvia
#16 OSIJEK, CROATIA
The long, stunningly beautiful coastline of Croatia can hardly be named one of the underrated vacation spots – but the region of Slavonia and the city of Osijek certainly are!
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 for us, 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
#17 BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND
Belfast appeals to a wide range of travelers for a variety of reasons. Belfast has depth, intrigue and a sorted past.
Delicately calm now, Belfast offers visitors a lively nightlife, an incredible museum dedicated to a very famous ship and access to beautiful and unique coastline formations. Read our guide to the Best Belfast Things To Do
#18 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 – all of which is perfect 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 one of the hottest destinations for USA travel in 2023!
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.
How To Plan Your Trip
As you plan your trip to that Underrated Destination, keeping track of the details is more essential than ever. Off-the-beaten-path locations tend to not be as developed for tourism, so getting a solid plan together is key. Stay organized with our simple Printable Travel Planner. It contains 26 pages of trip organization!
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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