With the vast amount of Santorini Insta-spam flying around, you probably feel as though you’ve already been (even if you haven’t). But what about those rarely-mentioned Greek Islands like Sifnos, with their equally beautiful beaches and sapphire blue bays?
We’re by no means saying you shouldn’t visit well-known places, but it doesn’t hurt to mix things up a bit and stray slightly from the tourist herd. Here we’ll let you in on nine of the better kept secrets, when it comes to venturing off the beaten track in some of your favourite countries…
Making up a section of the Carpathian range, the Tatra Mountains form a stunning natural border between Poland and Slovakia. Often referred to as the Polish Alps they offer a great alternative to the real thing, allowing you to escape the hordes of skiers you would otherwise encounter. But if gliding along on skis isn’t your thing, don’t worry as the Low Tatras offer great walks and cycling trails too.
Snow-covered Finnish Lapland is the perfect wintery travel spot. It’s home to Santa Claus, as well as the fascinating Sami people, the northernmost indigenous clan in Europe, known for their incredible reindeer herding, fishing and foraging skills. You might also enjoy climbing aboard a high-speed husky sled or relishing the opportunity to see the elusive Northern Lights, the best light show on earth.
Steeped in tragedy, it’s unlikely Nagasaki is top of your holiday bucket list, but this truly captivating place really should feature. Take a stroll around the Peace Park, learn about its history at the Atomic Bomb Museum, and visit eerie Gunkanjima, or Battleship Island. Once you’ve got your fill of the past, why not explore its harbours, temples or Huis Ten Bosch, a theme park replicating a Dutch village?
Still in the early stages of opening up to tourism, most of Iran remains untouched by travellers, particularly in those rugged Northern areas. Enter Masuleh, a tiny mountain village with a population of just 554 (as recorded by the last census in 2006). The buildings here are interconnected and flat courtyards and roofs double up as pedestrianised areas, there isn’t a single motor vehicle in sight.
Make no mistake we all heart Bali, but there’s more to Indonesia than this much-loved isle. Heading to Sumatra, the world’s sixth largest island, will certainly get you off the regular tourist trail. Check out Indonesia’s highest waterfall, climb to the summit of Sibayak volcano, and hope to spot gentle orangutans alongside some 300 species of bird, at the astonishing Gunung Leuser National Park.
Escape the crowds in Cusco by unearthing Peru’s natural north, and where better to do so than the Amazonian Andes? Hike through lush, green forests and across canyon peaks in search of the majestic Gocta Falls, with a drop more than twice the height of the Eiffel Tower! Kuelap is well worth a visit too as one of the most important Andean archaeological sites, thought to date back to the 6th century.
Despite being one of the busiest places on Earth, India is big enough that it’s still has undiscovered parts. Nestled in the north-eastern corner of this massive country is the state of Nagaland, populated by 16 different Naga tribes, each with their own customs, language and dress. One clan, the Angami Nagas, are big into their wildlife conservation and have set up a nature sanctuary in Khonoma.
From the buzzing souks of Marrakech to the blue-washed streets of Chefchaouen, Morocco has plenty of well-known highlights. But, if you’re searching for a peaceful road into the traditional way of life here, Sidi Ifni is for you. This surf spot was owned by the Spanish until 1969, and these influences can be felt through its blue and white architecture, and the locals’ love of Spanish music and football.
Nestled in the shadow of Europe’s largest active volcano (Mount Etna) is Catania. What it lacks in fancy, regal-looking architecture it makes up for in youthful energy, packed with edgy bars to grab something to drink. It’s not all new though, it also boasts a UNESCO-approved historic centre with towers, piazzas and a wealth of different Sicilian restaurants to dig into a hearty bowl of Italian pasta.
Is 2018 your year to explore the road less travelled? Then, let us help you pick your next adventure!