12 Most Underrated Travel Destinations Around The World

There is a whole lot of world out there, so how do you decide where to go when you get that travel itch? Sure, you could "eenie, meenie, miny, moe" your way through your bucket list or throw darts at a map. However, if you want a solid vacation spot that comes with unique experiences none of your friends have had yet, you're looking for a hidden gem. While tried and true destinations are popular for a reason, choosing a more low-key option could expand your horizons.

For as many top travel spots as you've envied on social media, some equally impressive places don't get that spotlight. Just because they don't receive the same attention doesn't mean they aren't worthy of it, though. Some under-the-radar destinations are the most life-changing. To create this list of the most underrated locales, we conducted research to pinpoint locations that receive fewer visitors and rarely appear on recommended travel lists. You can learn more about our methodology at the end of this article. Break away from the millions of textbook travelers and visit one of these underrated international destinations.

Budapest, Hungary

Hungary is a popular destination for travelers from neighboring countries and even those on holiday from other parts of the world. However, the Central European country often gets overlooked. Despite this, you shouldn't discount the gorgeous historical land because it is quite a wonder. Its capital city, Budapest, is especially magical, primarily born of another time. Budapest offers an eye-full no matter where your explorations take you in its winding streets. The intricate architectural designs are delicate yet have a timeless strength that has ensured their survival through the ages. You can see various styles — like Art Nouveau, Baroque, Neoclassical, and Gothic — blended in the structural marvels.

The Budapest Parliament Building is one of these awe-inspiring buildings. Baroque features complement the Gothic spires, and the reflective waters below nearly double their beauty. You don't have to look further than local businesses to see the fantastic designs. The Four Seasons Hotel Gresham Palace Budapest and its resident restaurant, Kollázs Brasserie & Bar, are excellent starting points for incredible sights. Meanwhile, The New York Café and Metropolitan Ervin Szabó Library are great places to take a load off and enjoy the visual overload the architecture provides.

Dubrovnik, Croatia

There are countless coastal destinations to choose from when planning your next trip to the sea, but Croatia is a country that may not be on your radar just yet. You don't need to go to the Maldives or Bora Bora for a luxury beach getaway, as Dubrovnik offers culture, beauty, and a glorious coast waiting for you to travelerblog. It's not called the "Pearl of the Adriatic" for nothing. With a view of Croatia's signature red-roofed Roman buildings over the water, Hotel Excelsior Dubrovnik is a marvelous place to stay to get that luxury feel. The accommodation will put you close to Old Town, where you can walk the walls of the fortress city.

Most of your journey through Dubrovnik will keep you in view of the sea. The beaches there are small but picture-perfect, with open blue waters spreading out in front and cliffsides nestled behind. Sulic Beach is perfect for travelers who have a taste for fantasy, as you'll recognize the view as King's Landing from "Game of Thrones." Pasjača Beach is a popular, more remote option. The crescent-shaped beach is below the city and accessed by a series of carved stairs, but the slight trek is well worth it.

Kathmandu Valley, Nepal

Many travelers visit Kathmandu before making the trek to Mount Everest, as the base camp is located there. But the unique architecture alone is a reason to spend some time at the destination. Nicknamed the "City of Temples," this spiritual locale is home to a fantastic number of pagodas and Hindu temples. One massive natural temple is visible from parts of the city, as Mount Everest towers in the distance.

Evidence of the devotion of the Nepalese people is omnipresent there. The ancient city of Patan in the Kathmandu Valley is powerful. There are over 1,000 Buddhist monuments and several temples that are architectural marvels, like the central Panchasara Parshwanath Jain Derasar. Amongst the temples in Kathmandu Valley are some superior shopping opportunities. Bhaktapur Durbar Square is one such district where vendors with pottery, souvenirs, and other hand-crafted goods can be found by shoppers.

If planning a trip to Kathmandu, brush up on the local customs and etiquette before making the long plane ride. As a highly religious city, specific actions may be normal to you but could be severely disrespectful there. For example, take off your shoes before entering a temple and be mindful about the position of your feet when sitting. Knowing what is expected of you when traveling is one way to ensure you have a great time exploring a different culture!

Bruges, Belgium

Though famous in film buff circles for being incredibly dull, thanks to the cult classic "In Bruges," the titular city is anything but. The area is rich with history, beauty, and brews. Other European destinations consistently overshadow Bruges, as the continent is full of interesting history. However, the Belgian city is a picture-perfect example of an old medieval town with Gothic buildings galore.

If you're visiting Bruges, you either have a taste for history or want a simple, no-stress holiday. Time seems to slow on the old cobblestone streets, and you can spend your hours there taking in the towering buildings and underground beer scene. The city center is a World Heritage Site thanks to its preservation of historical buildings. Check out the shapely cityscape from the top of Belfry Tower — the 366-step climb is worth the view.

When we said underground beer scene, we were talking literally. Bruges has a pipeline under the cobbled streets that beer flows through, which makes it a great destination for beer lovers. You can't tap this line directly, but Bruges is also home to several beer cellars and underground bars where you can get a pint. 't Poatersgat is one such place to hit after you've taken in the medieval city's above-ground sights.

Nara, Japan

Japan has many popular cities, most of which have huge populations. Nara is much smaller than Tokyo and Osaka and still offers rich Japanese culture. The area is comparable to a mid-sized American city in population, and with far fewer tourists running around, Nara is a much calmer, less crowded destination.

It's not just the benefit of personal space that makes Nara worth visiting, though. The ancient capital of Japan is well preserved and home to gorgeous scenes of nature and wildlife. Wild deer run rampant, with the animal sacred to Nara's people. Nara Park is a must-see attraction, and a large population of the holy deer congregate there.

A visit to Nara isn't complete without viewing some of its ancient shrines and temples. The eight World Heritage Sites are excellent places to start. Tōdai-ji Temple dates back to the 700s and is located on the northern side of Nara Park. It is one of the Seven Great Temples of Nara, most of which are still around today. Kōfuku-ji Temple is another Buddhist Great Temple that displays an impressive five-tiered pagoda and is one of the oldest temples of its kind in Japan. The land here oozes a certain sophistication and gentleness, welcoming visitors in a special way.

Nosy Be, Madagascar

For those travelers who like a taste of luxury but want experiences and photos from a trip none of their friends have been on, Nosy Be in Madagascar fits the bill. The African island is an underrated paradise, with beaches that stretch to meet clear blue waters.

It's not only the beaches of Madagascar that are sold short compared to other beach getaways, but the wildlife around Nosy Be is something to admire as well. The best way to observe what the island offers is by going beneath the water. Scuba diving is a popular activity here, and there are dive spots throughout the surrounding waters. The Mitsio Wreck is one such expedition where you can see a sunken fishing boat and the many species of fish that have made it their home.

There are plenty of hotels and resorts to choose from when planning a trip to Nosy Be. You'll be close to the water and the beach no matter where you decide to stay. However, if you're looking for affordable accommodation that is a little more down-home, Les Bungalows d'Ambonara is separate from the big resorts. It offers cool looks at nature, good food, and relaxing downtime for an island getaway you won't soon forget.

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Philadelphia is probably pretty far down the list when you think of cities in America if it comes to mind at all. The gritty city is like the metropolis black sheep, and it kind of likes it that way. Boston is lauded for its historical relevance and the part it played in early American history, but Philly is considered the birthplace of the United States and was the country's very first World Heritage City for Independence Hall.

Philadelphia is a great city not only for history buffs but also for art lovers. Well over 4,000 gorgeous murals are scattered throughout the city, and one unconventional mural takes up the entirety of half a city block. Magic Gardens is a massive collection of mosaic murals and constructs that can't be missed when visiting.

If there's one thing other than history and art that Philadelphians love, it's food. A combination of all three comes with Reading Terminal Market, one of the oldest public markets in America. Different vendors sell fresh food, ingredients, hand-crafted jewelry, and fiber arts. A stroll through the massive historic market could keep you fed for all meals of the day and satisfy all your souvenir needs.

Snowdonia, Wales

Even though it sounds like a made-up Hallmark Christmas town, Snowdonia is real and doesn't see much tourist activity. More people opt for Scotland or Ireland, but Wales offers a similar experience with a whole different culture. While not a town at all, Snowdonia National Park covers over 800 square miles of mountains, woodlands, and villages.

With over 600 castles in the country, Snowdonia National Park contains two of the most well-known. Conway Castle is well known for its medieval preservation, and Caernarfon Castle is one of the most visited castles in Wales. Both castles sit impressively over the water and offer important looks into the past.

Blaenau Ffestiniog is nestled right in the center of Snowdonia and is a great town to lay your head when visiting. Amazing views of nature from all sides can be expected here, as the slate mountains of the national park surround the town. Biking and hiking is a popular way to travelerblog, but you can also use the railway station and see the countryside from the comfort of a train.

Solvang, California

You could count the popular destinations California offers on both hands, yet still not get to the town of Solvang. The Nordic-inspired town is under an hour's drive from Santa Barbara but sees just a fraction of the visitors. It's the perfect destination if you're itching to get out of the country but lack the funds or time to do so.

Danish immigrants founded Solvang, and the essence of Scandinavia is still very much present in the town. From nightly accommodations to food and shopping, visitors are immersed in traditional Danish building styles. The little Californian town might look more like classic Denmark than the actual country, with windmills and medieval Tudor-style buildings.

The town seems stuck in another time, but the experience is not. You'll find high-end boutiques and hotel rooms on Mission Drive, the destination's central area. Stay at The Mirabelle Inn and be within walking distance of all the must-see Solvang attractions. Stop by Brød & Kage Bakery for a Danish pastry while exploring Mission Drive. Then, head to Elverhøj Museum of History & Art to learn all you can about this town and the culture it reflects.

Baños de Agua Santa, Ecuador

Most destinations in South America are underrated. The continent is gorgeous and has some fantastic landmarks, but it has less than 5% of Europe's visitors. For travelers who like an equal dose of nature and culture, the continent's Baños de Agua Santa in Ecuador is a legendary town surrounded by incredible landscapes and natural landmarks.

Steep waterfalls, wooden suspension bridges, and a rope swing at the end of the world all accentuate the natural beauty of Baños. We hope you don't mind heights! One man's leisurely pastime while watching out for volcanic eruptions has become one of the most interesting swings in the world. You can see valleys and mountains for miles from the Swing at the End of the World; you just have to get there first! El Pailon del Diablo, or Devil's Cauldron, will take you on a journey to a magnificent waterfall. You'll be crossing a suspension bridge with a panoramic view, and the stone-carved steps alongside the 265-foot waterfall allow for viewing at every angle.

The actual town of Baños isn't without its charms, either. La Aldea Mágica is a sculpture garden straight out of your most magical fairy daydreams. The area is steeped in myth and folklore. Another attraction that shows off this side of the town is the Basílica Nuestra Señora del Rosario de Agua Santa, a cathedral dedicated to the Virgin Mary and her miracles.

Zanzibar, Tanzania

A journey to Tanzania is gaining popularity but remains a pretty underrated, low-budget trip. Tanzania is one of the most budget-friendly international vacations you can plan, and tourism is helping the country grow. They welcome visitors, and the coastal city of Zanzibar is a great place to start. After all, a Mediterranean vacation is all the rage, so why not visit on the opposite coast?

Zanzibar has a heritage all its own, drawing inspiration from Persian and African influences as well as European and Arabic. The underrated collection of islands was once a significant stop of the Silk Road dealing in rich spices, which brought several different cultures to stay. The white beaches and crisp blue waters certainly can't be missed, but the people and unique culture should be travelerblogd here.

Everything from the architecture to the food and traditions set Zanzibar apart. If you can visit during one of their festivals, you should. Mwaka Kogwa Festival around July is the Persian New Year and celebrates the subculture in the archipelago. The festivities include banana stalk fights, performances, and a straw hut burning. Stone Town in Zanzibar City is the place to be to see the side of the destination that is both historic and lively. Find one-of-a-kind sights and taste flavorful dishes here while staying at Emerson Spice Hotel.

Helsinki, Finland

Finland is the "Land of a Thousand Lakes," and they're all breathtaking. As the capital of the snowy country, Helsinki has plenty to do for any traveler. The country boasts a large percentage of natural, untamed wilderness perfect for travelers who love the outdoors, and the coastal city of Helsinki offers some manufactured beauty.

Helsinki is known for art and innovation, consistently putting creativity on a pedestal. The Kallio District is the epicenter of culture in the thriving city. Those who want to immerse themselves and learn what it's like to be a local should spend at least a day here. Visitors should also check out Amos Rex, an eclectic art museum with a one-of-a-kind collection. The museum's interesting, ground-level roof has become a cultural landmark and alone is worth visiting the attraction.

As popular as Europe and Scandinavia are for an exciting holiday, Finland ranks pretty low at 81st in the world for tourism. This could be due to the country's wild, but the statistic is shocking when considering that the destination has consistently been named the happiest in the world. It could be Mother Earth herself making residents so happy or the creativity that seems to run rampant here. Either way, a visit here is one to lift the spirits.

How we chose the world's most underrated travel destinations

While underrated can refer to less than stellar reviews, these destinations have anything but. Instead, we chose places that are under-traveled worldwide and probably aren't on your travel bucket list yet. To find these underappreciated cities, we considered two things. First, we looked for stellar locations outshined by similar or nearby popular travel destinations. For example, Europe is the most traveled continent in the world, but Finland doesn't even make the list of the top 10 most visited countries within it. Then, we looked at destinations with something a little special that are located in places that don't get much travel action.

These destinations are all very different from one another, but they are alike in the ways they have been overlooked. Either they have some neighboring countries or cities stealing the spotlight or are located off roads less traveled. Each one deserves its special trip, though, and we hope you take advantage of a less crowded travel destination.