There are many beautiful undiscovered destinations around the globe that are too far off the beaten path and are therefore overlooked by most travelers. From towering mountains to crystal turquoise tropical lagoons, these places can offer an authentic travel experience in picturesque faraway locales minus the crowds.
As we emerge from our covid-enforced hibernation, let’s take a look at some of the best and still relatively less-traveled places.
Picos de Europa, Spain
If the crowded sights in Madrid or Barcelona become too much for you, take the train to Oviedi and then the bus to the beautiful Cagas de Onis, the gateway to the Picos de Europa or the “Peaks of Europe.” Named by sailors in the 1500s as the first part of Europe they would see after crossing the Atlantic, they are one of the best and most spectacular undiscovered destinations.
These dramatic limestone mountains are home to some of Europe’s most iconic wildlife such as the Golden Eagle and Iberian Wolf. The Picos de Europa has been deemed a UNESCO world heritage biosphere and is popular amongst mountaineers and climbers, as well as tourists in search of spectacular scenery and adventurous hiking.
High massifs, deep ravines, lush mountain meadows, and vast glassy lakes make the range a photographer’s dream. Known for delectable blue cheeses and cider and if you are feeling brave, canyoning, caving, mountain climbing, and kayaking in sapphire blue ice meltwaters are all on offer.
Stay in the picturesque town of Poncebos and take the funicular through a tunnel to one of the last remaining mountain villages in the Picos de Europa, Bulnes. You can also hike the challenging but beautiful mountain path to Bulnes which, up until recently was the only way to reach the village, perched on gorgeous rock formations.
Chapada Diamantina, Brazil
An enormous national park in the Brazilian state of Bahia, Chapala Diamantina is full of waterfalls, rock formations, caves, and towering plateaus. It was originally famous for its diamond mines, hence the name; meaning “Diamond Plateau.” It now makes more money from local Brazilian tourism and is still a relatively undiscovered destination.
As the park is so vast, you will need a local guide and hire a car from nearby Salvador to help you explore the area, find one through your hotel or accommodation, these guides are knowledgable and friendly. The town of Lencois is the best base for exploring the surrounding area, its cobblestone streets are home to various shops where you can buy hiking equipment or have a meal at one of the restaurants while listening to buskers play traditional Brazilian music.
The huge amount of waterfalls in Chapada Diamantina means bathers are essential, most of them are ancient and the eroded rock pools below are the perfect place to escape the blazing sun by taking a dip in the cool water.
Gruta Azul or “Blue Grotto” is a partially underground lake with a brilliant turquoise color due to mineral deposits, unfortunately, you can not swim there, but at nearby Gruta da Pratinha visitors can hire a snorkel and swim in the watery cave, which stretches 200m underground.
Cachoeira da Fumaça is another must see attraction of the park. The 340m waterfall is best viewed from above and is so enormous the water streaming off the top of the plateau will often turn into mist before it even hits the ground. To get there you must embark upon a 5-hour hike up the other side, so make sure you pack some comfortable footwear.
There isn’t a better place to experience the sun, sand, and crystal clear waters of the Caribbean than the Bay Islands, 60 km north of Honduras. An average temperature of 27 degrees means this destination is pleasant year-round and swimming in its blue waters will leave you refreshed and ready to explore the rest of the archipelago by charter yacht.
The largest and most populous of the Bay Islands is Roatan, covered in lush jungles and verdant forests, it is a tropical paradise and one of the Caribbean’s most desirable undiscovered destinations. Although the official language of Honduras is Spanish, English is widely spoken on Roatan due to the island’s colonial heritage.
American dollars are widely accepted and local cuisine is a fusion of colonial influences and Caribbean fare, you can try some local barbecue washed down with a tropical cocktail on the pristine beaches after a day spent relaxing and soaking up the atmosphere.
The biodiverse Mesoamerican Reef is meters from the shore of Roatan, it has some of the best snorkeling in the world, fishing and water sports are on the agenda too, or you can just laze about on the beach, enjoying the atmosphere.
Take a catamaran party cruise or a private sailing tour and enjoy the best on-water experience the Caribbean has to offer.
A labyrinth of alleyways, cobblestone streets and medieval arches, Ostuni is a stunning grouping of bright white buildings sitting atop a hill overlooking the Adriatic near the Southern Italian seaside city of Bari.
The Italian region of Puglia is famed for its cuisine, its sun and dramatic coastline dotted with beautiful resorts and picture-perfect restaurants, the best way to explore this town is by foot, but it is definitely best to rent a car to get there. When you arrive, make sure to park in the big parking lots outside the town itself as you risk a fine for driving on the twisting roads of Ostuni.
If you get lost, don’t worry, locals are friendly and used to tourists and you will have a chance to use your guidebook Italian to try and orientate yourself. The streets are maze-like on purpose in order to confuse the wide variety of invaders that have attacked the town over the centuries.
Lose yourself in the maze of streets and alleys, admiring the ancient architecture of the city. Whitewashed walls were originally painted pale to brighten buildings up and take Ostuni from its dark and dank medieval origins to the vibrant beauty it has today.
The town’s defensive walls are also an excellent place to take a stroll, you will find a different staircase or hidden trattoria each time you venture out and there is the magnificent 15th-century cathedral at the top of the hill, make sure you see its beautiful interior.
The coastline near Ostuni is dotted with numerous resorts and charming beaches and the area is full of gorgeous vineyards and quaint countryside trattorias serving up deliciously authentic Italian cuisine. Other undiscovered destinations in Puglia worth a visit include Locorotondo and Lecce.
Annapurna Circuit, Nepal
Not for the faint-hearted or unfit. The Annapurna circuit is an approximately 200-kilometer trek around one of the most beautiful and awe-inspiring mountain ranges in the world. The Annapurnas area ring of mountains in central Nepal surrounding the dramatic Macchapucchre or “Fishtail Mountain.”
Staying at “teahouses” or hostels along the way, the circuit is a multi-week adventure through one of the most beautiful regions in Nepal and is the ultimate adventure for those weary of the usual tourist trails and photo op sites. The Annapurnas are not as busy as other well-known treks, particularly the famous Everest Base Camp, meaning fewer tourists crowded along the sometimes narrow mountain paths.
Most of the towns on the Annapurna Circuit are only accessible by walking and supplies are carried up by mule or pony. The trek starts at 1300 meters elevation and over three weeks reaches as high as 5,416 meters above sea level, the scenery changing from humid jungles with views of snowy peaks to the desert-like alpine regions in the north of the range.
Trekking this untamed and very rugged terrain is challenging but very rewarding as you walk through ancient mountain villages and past enormous raging waterfalls and rapids. Most trekkers will decide to purchase the services of a sherpa or local guide, they are very fit and have a thorough knowledge of the Himalayas, with a long tradition of helping travelers over the high passes and through the sometimes treacherous ravines.
This article originally appeared on Fancy and do not necessarily represent the views of australiaexploring.com