Special Report

Beautiful Places to Visit Instead of Overcrowded Tourist Destinations

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Dreaming about a vacation? Your dream probably doesn’t include crowded beaches, hordes of people taking selfies, and lines to get into literally any shop or restroom. Unfortunately, many of the most popular vacation spots are overcrowded and anything but relaxing. Here are places that are sick and tired of tourists.

Luckily, beautiful places in the world still exist, where peace and adventure are possible. There are pristine beaches, uncrowded medieval cities, and remote Buddhist temples to explore. Some destinations may require a long hike, a boat ride, or scuba gear, but why travel if not to experience something novel and slightly outside of your comfort zone? 

In order to keep these areas pristine for everyone to enjoy for years to come — including the locals — remember to dispose of your litter properly, and to support local tour guides and businesses. Here are some other crucial tips for travelling to foreign countries.

Click here for the 37 beautiful places to visit instead of overcrowded tourist destinations

To compile a list of 37 amazing places that travelers can visit instead of popular and overcrowded tourist destinations, 24/7 Tempo reviewed travel magazines such as National Geographic Traveler and more than a dozen travel blogs. We aimed for places that are near a well-known city or attraction. We aimed to select different kinds of places — from villages to cities and national parks — that are located all over the world.

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Siargao, Philippines

While Siargao is known as a surfing destination, this island also boasts blue lagoons, waterfalls, caves, and white sand beaches. Find the Magupunko rock pools during low tide, where you can cliff jump and explore caves, or book an island hopping tour to see the surrounding area by boat.

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Quilotoa Loop, Ecuador

Get off the beaten path and trek this moderate, 4-day hiking trail through the Ecuadorian highlands and peer deep into Laguna Quilotoa, a deep volcanic crater lake. There’s no need to carry camping gear, as the trail goes through numerous small towns with affordable hostels.

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Popeye Village, Malta

Also known as Sweethaven Village, this Maltese theme park was originally built as the movie set for Robert Altman’s 1980 film “Popeye.” The park features multiple swimming areas, puppet shows, a self-guided walking tour of the village, and run-ins with Popeye, Olive Oyl, and Bluto.

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Wrocław, Poland

A city rich in history, Wrocław (pronounced “vrots-wahf”) features colorful buildings and architecture that ranges from medieval to Gothic to modern. From multiple historic squares with cobblestone streets, to the bridges and riverside parks, Wrocław is a must-see for lovers of history and architecture.

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Baños, Ecuador

Baños de Agua Santa in the central highlands of Ecuador is known for its thermal springs and breathtaking backdrop. Adventure-lovers can hike to waterfalls, go horseback riding through the mountains, paraglide, or even take a turn on the famous Swing at the End of the World.

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Ouadane, Mauritania

On the edge of an inhospitable desert, the ancient town of Ouadane lies in an oasis full of date palms and ruins from its former hay day as an outpost on the Trans-Saharan salt trade route. The remains of a 15th century mosque containing row upon row of stone arches are one of the most well-preserved parts of Ouadane.

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Nikko, Japan

Away from the bustle of Tokyo, Nikko is a historic town in a peaceful natural setting. Among the sites worth visiting are Cedar Avenue, multiple hot springs and Buddhist temples, and the iconic Lake Chuzenji at the foot of the volcano Mount Nantai.

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The Silfra Fissure, Iceland

One of the top scuba diving sites in the world, the Silfra fissure is a rift between the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates. Here underwater visibility is prime, with views up to 100 meters (about 330 feet) due to the clear, glacial melt spring water that flows through the fissure.

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Dongchuan Red Soil, China

Rich in iron and copper, the vast terraced agricultural fields of Dongchuan are a palette of colors no matter what the season. Red, orange, and brown soils, golden grains, and green sprouts layer the landscape and provide a dramatic panorama that draws photographers from near and far.

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Yungas Road, Bolivia

Nicknamed Death Road, Yungas Road is known as one of the most dangerous roads on earth. From La Paz, the highest elevation capital city in the world, to the lowlands of Yungas in the Amazon rainforest, the road snakes down the mountains — often with no guard rail — and contains one of the longest stretches of continuous downhill road on earth.

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Lake Hillier, Australia

Located on Middle Island in the Recherche Archipelago, Lake Hillier is a saline lake with bright pink waters, most likely due to a species of salt-loving algae that produce beta carotene. The lake waters, while unsafe to drink, are perfectly safe to swim in – that is, if you can reach the lake. Due to its remote location, the easiest way to view Hillier is by air.

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Colonia, Uruguay

Just an hour by ferry from Buenos Aires, the city of Colonia contains a charming historic downtown that has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. With narrow stone walkways, the ruins of a fort and a convent, a drawbridge, and load of colonial architecture, Colonia is a great weekend destination.

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Great Rann of Kutch, India

The Great Rann of Kutch in Gujarat is the world’s largest salt desert at 3,800 square miles. It’s best to visit from November through March, during the dry season when nearby facilities are open. The white salt flats can be blinding during midday, so early morning or evening moonlight visits are recommended.

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Isola Bella, Italy

Isola Bella is an island in Lago Maggiore, in the Piedmont region of Northern Italy. Aside from sweeping views of the lake, the island features a baroque palace furnished with tapestries, artwork, and period furniture, as well as an elaborate terraced garden containing exotic plants, fountains, and numerous unicorn statues.

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Danakil Depression, Ethiopia

One of the hottest and most inhospitable places on earth, the Danakil Depression in northern Ethiopia may seem like a strange destination; however, its alien terrain of salt mountains, active volcanoes, and eerily green sulfur springs are a photographer’s dream.

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Minsk, Belarus

The capital city of Belarus, which is often described as “Europe’s last dictatorship,” is actually a very modern destination. With clean streets, night clubs, art galleries, cafes, and great restaurants, Minsk can satisfy a craving for the cosmopolitan charm of Europe and is also known for its friendly and hospitable locals.

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Malmö, Sweden

Connected to Copenhagen by the Oresund Bridge, Malmö is a coastal city with historic architecture, art galleries, and great parks and squares. Visit Malmohus Castle, which was originally built in 1436, and is now home to a natural history museum, an art museum, and an aquarium.

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Colmar, France

The medieval city of Colmar almost looks like a movie set, with its fountains, canals, picturesque architecture, abundant flowers, and ancient churches. The center of France’s Alsace wine region, Colmar is surrounded by vineyards, farms, and mountains, and is just one stop on the Alsace Wine Route.

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Salta, Argentina

Salta is both a region in Northwestern Argentina, and a colonial city within the region. Characterized by diverse natural landscapes including mountains, salt flats, and arid hills, as well as vineyards, the region has a huge diversity of sights to explore. The city offers well preserved architecture as well as traditional Quechan and Andean culture.

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Norwich, England

An intact medieval city on the Wensum River, Norwich contains multiple medieval churches, a cathedral, a castle, and numerous picturesque cobblestone streets. The popular outdoor market contains nearly 200 stalls and has been running in the same location since the 11the century.

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The Lencois Maranhenses National Park, Brazil

This park on the Brazilian coast is famous for its windswept white sand dunes that trap rainwater and form reflective blue lakes during the rainy season. The best time to visit is between June and September, after the lakes have formed and rains are less frequent, and the sun isn’t as hot and blinding.

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Debrecen, Hungary

The second largest city in Hungary, Debrecen features a historic central square, numerous street festivals, museums, a lively nightclub scene, and even thermal baths. Nearby Hortobágy National Park covers 82,000 hectares and contains over 100 species of birds as well as herds of long-haired sheep, buffalo, and horses.

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Lower Mustang Valley, Nepal

Once part of a kingdom called Lo, the Lower Mustang Valley in Nepal’s Himalayas is still culturally connected to Tibet and home to multiple monasteries. In addition to the Buddhist culture and dramatic landscape, the area also boasts geologic features including Jurassic-era fossils, and sandstone cliffs containing carved-out meditation caves.

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Jaisalmer, India

Nicknamed the Golden City, Jaisalmer in the Thar Desert of Rajasthan is a former medieval trading center. Built almost entirely out of yellow sandstone, the city seems to gleam like gold in the desert sun. The city’s focal point is the Jaisalmer Fort, built in 1156. It’s the only living forth in the world and the last inhabited ancient fortress in India.

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Hvar, Croatia

Hvar Island is characterized by beautiful coastline-including isolated coves on the southern shores-with crystal blue waters, and vineyards and lavender fields in the interior. Hvar Town on the western coast is a summer yachters’ destination featuring up-scale dining as well as beach bars and a 13th century fort that offers amazing views of the historic city.

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Luang Prabang, Laos

This city in northern Laos contains a romantic mixture of French colonial architecture and ornate Buddhist temples, surrounded by rainforest. Multiple daily markets provide all the fresh meals you’ll need and you can also browse for crafts and textiles.

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Adam’s Peak, Sri Lanka

Adams Peak is a 7,359-foot high mountain in the central highlands of Sri Lanka. The mountain is sacred to people of multiple faiths, as a stone indentation at the top is believed to be the footprint of Buddha, Shiva, or Adam, depending on who you ask. Over 5,000 stair steps take pilgrims to the top to visit the footstep and get a spectacular view.

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Plovdiv, Bulgaria

Built along an ancient route from Western Europe to Constantinople, Plovdiv is one of the oldest continually occupied cities in Europe. The city has been ruled by multiple empires including the Thracians, Romans, and Ottomans, and contains relics from all of these eras, including a 600-year-old Mosque and an even older Roman stadium.

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Huacachina, Peru

Amidst sand dunes in the barren desert outside of Ica, Huacachina is a small town built around an oasis that became a popular bathing destination in the 1960’s. Hotels, restaurants, and palm trees line the edges of the water. Tourists can rent dune buggies or go body boarding on the sand dunes outside of town.

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Semuc Champey, Guatemala

Semuc Champey is a natural formation deep in the remote mountains of Alta Verapaz. Situated on top of a natural limestone bridge, the formation includes six turquoise pools and a network of caves and underground waterfalls. Although the area is virtually inaccessible without a high clearance four-wheel drive vehicle, visitors can take a pickup truck taxi to the falls.

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Akagera National Park, Rwanda

Although nearly decimated in the 1990’s as a result of the genocide in Rwanda, Akagera National Park is on its way back to being a thriving wilderness conservation area. Lions were reintroduced to the park in 2015 and black rhinos were brought back in 2017. The park is also home to hippos, zebras, elephants, leopards, baboons, and hyenas.

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Gorkhi-Terelj National Park, Mongolia

This alpine mountain park north of Ulaanbaatar is a picturesque place to explore on horseback, foot, or ATV. Summer in the park allows opportunities for swimming, rafting, and rock climbing, and winter brings skiing. While in the park, tourists may encounter welcoming nomadic families and visit the Aryabal Meditation Temple.

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San Blas Islands, Panama

San Blas consists of over 300 islands, most of them uninhabited, off the coast of Panama. The Kuna, a people indigenous to Panama, own the islands and keep them free of foreign businesses, hotels, and chain restaurants. A great way to experience these remote palm-covered beaches is to take a speedboat or sailboat cruise that includes meals.

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Blagaj, Bosnia and Herzegovina

Blagaj is a small village situated at the site of a Dervish monastery dating back to the Ottoman Empire. Built at the base of a cliff overlooking a turquoise river, the monastery is nearly 600 years old. Tourists can check out the interior of the building and eat in one of the nearby restaurants overlooking the river.

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Tbilisi, Georgia

The capital of Georgia, Tbilisi was founded in the 5th century and retains a colorful historic charm and culture. The Old Town architecture and narrow streets lined with balconies are redolent of quintessential Europe, while new hotels, shopping strips, and a techno scene have put the city on the map as a hip destination.

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Ras al Hadd, Oman

Ras al Hadd is an important nesting site for several types of sea turtles, and a great place to view giant turtles laying eggs and nestlings hatching. The beach is large and quiet, with next to no amenities, so be sure to bring food and plenty of water if you want to enjoy the solitude.

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Namaqualand, South Africa

Namaqualand is a region in the Northern Cape of South Africa. Although the area is usually hot and dry, spring in Namaqualand brings an explosion of colorful wildflowers. The best time to view the flowers is in August, although the blooms depend entirely on when the rains come.

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