This post was posted by thehipmunk on Hipmunk’s Tailwind blog on April 5, 2016.
London and Prague? They’ve so been visited before.
If you’re searching for a vacation destination that’s a little off the beaten path, then look no further than these 10 less well known (but totally awesome) international locales.
1. Agadir, Morocco
It may be one of the best-kept travel secrets: The coastal town of Agadir boasts gorgeous sandy beaches, clear water, and summer temperatures in the 90s or even 100s—making it the perfect place to spend your whole vacation in the ocean. (If those high temps scare you off, simply visit in November or December, when the weather is a bit more temperate.) The prices are just as great as the setting—luxury accommodations start at as low as $100 per night, while more budget-friendly hotels offer rates starting at $18 per night.
2. Cartagena, Colombia
Much like Agadir, Cartagena may be one of the most underappreciated beach towns around. The colonial city boasts historic architecture—including monasteries, palaces, and centuries-old walls—in addition to a rich culture and gorgeous beaches. Enjoy the view from a hotel balcony, a horse-drawn carriage, or the sand itself. Accommodations range from high-end luxury to budget-friendly hostels, meaning a relaxing vacation awaits any kind of traveler.
3. Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia
Looking to get away from it all? Then head to Kota Kinabalu, which is located in what is arguably one of the most beautiful places on earth. The city is surrounded by blue mountains, rich forests, and some of the best sunset viewing opportunities around. Stay in one of the area’s resort spas if you’re in need of some serious pampering, or take advantage of more utilitarian hotel offerings if you’re sticking to a tight budget. In either case, relaxation and gorgeous views await.
4. Marieta Islands, Mexico
You’ll need a permit to visit these protected fishing and hunting grounds, but the hassle will be well worth it. Formed in the past by volcanic activity, the small islands are now home to a stunning population of marine life, from humpback whales to manta rays, sea turtles, and dolphins. If you book a hotel in vibrant Puerto Vallarta, you’ll find yourself just an hour’s boat ride away from the pristine ecosystem.
5. Montevideo, Uruguay
Think of Uruguay’s capital as Buenos Aires’ lesser known—but still wonderfully interesting—cousin. Montevideo boasts beachfront access, vibrant nightlife, art and museums, great food, and unique festivals (including Carnival, which lasts from January through March). Summer weather arrives in December and stays through February, so plan accordingly—if you’d prefer to avoid large beach crowds, plan a trip before Christmas or sometime in March or April. (Bonus: That’s when the ocean is warmest.)
6. Pasay City, Philippines
Here’s one for the city lovers. Densely populated Pasay City offers great shopping, high culture, a blend of Philippine and western customs, and the lovely weather and sunny disposition so common among island cities. Visitors to the city can book a coastal hotel or stay in the heart of downtown—it all comes down to whether you’d rather stare at gorgeous beaches or vibrant city life.
7. Postojna, Slovenia
Slovenia’s tourism trade has grown significantly in the past year or so, but it’s still making a name for itself as a well-known destination. Visitors to the country can experience a fusion of Italian, Croatian, Hungarian, and Austrian cultures—and one of the best places to do so is Postojna. In addition to its cultural offerings, the town boasts the historic Predjama Castle, one of the country’s longest caves, and some truly delicious food and wine.
8. Riga, Latvia
Riga has earned tourist attention since being named a European Capital of Culture in 2014, but the city has hardly become a household name—which might explain why it also ranks high on the list of Europe’s cheapest destinations for budget-conscious backpackers. The weather is lovely in the summer, but you’ll be able to enjoy historic architecture, arts and culture (including the national opera), and great food and sightseeing opportunities all year round.
9. Singapore, Singapore
Singapore may be one of the more well-known names on this list, but odds are good most people still don’t know someone who’s vacationed there. Start the trend with a trip to the city-state of Singapore, Singapore. Colonial history, great food, a photo-worthy skyline, a thriving arts scene, a Formula One race track, gorgeous botanical gardens, and colorful neighborhoods such as Chinatown, Little India, and the hip Tiong Bahru all make Singapore stand out from the crowd.
10. Sintra, Portugal
Not far from Lisbon, Portugal’s popular capital city, lies the historic town of Sintra. Because of its 19th century Roman architectural monuments—which include prehistoric structures such as the Castle of the Moors and the National Palace of Pena—the town has earned the esteemed designation of being a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Also don’t miss Quinta de Regaleira just outside of town. The estate includes a large park, historic chapels, and a network of underground tunnels (dubbed Initiation Wells) used for Tarot initiation rites.