Some of the best places in the world are the hidden gems. They’re the unknown cities in the world that don’t get the same attention as tourist sites, even though they deserve it. With crystal blue waters, sprawling mountainscapes, art and culture galore and historical architecture, these undiscovered places to travel have plenty to experience. There are so many locations you may have never heard of, but will surely want to visit.
We’ve gathered a list of obscure travel destinations you should add to your list, whether you’re a well-seasoned traveler or you’re taking your first trip around the world. No matter your experience, you’ll want to make time for these undiscovered places to travel.
This first obscure travel destination is one of the smallest countries in the world. Niue, located in the South Pacific, is about 1,000 miles northeast of New Zealand. Its rich history helps it host attractions like a sculpture park, museum and church, which are among the best places to stop by when visiting.
When visiting this obscure island, you’ll want to spend all your time outdoors. Niue is one of the coolest places in the world for adventure seekers and nature lovers, offering scenery with its:
- Coral reefs
- Caves and caverns
- Limestone cliffs
If you’re seeking adventure, go biking, hiking, snorkeling, golfing, fishing and more, all surrounded by beautiful scenery. Jam-pack your day with island tours, or observe the local wildlife with whale and dolphin watching.
The island is also perfect for those in need of a relaxing trip. Niue is home to friendly locals and a charming atmosphere, bringing you closer with everyone you meet. Get a taste of local art and culture, especially with a visit during a village festival. As a rarely visited country, Niue offers breathtaking views you won’t have to fight other tourists to see.
When you think of Italy, you imagine Rome, Venice, Florence and similar well-known cities. These are undoubtedly beautiful locations worth a visit, but for something unique, travel to Taormina. This city in Sicily is home to as much art, culture and history as you’d expect to see on the island or on the mainland.
- The Ancient Theatre: The city’s primary monument is the Teatro di Taormina. Step back in time and let the ancient architecture amaze you. The theatre is also home to some of the most incredible views of Sicily, enabling you to see a peaceful expanse of land and sky.
- Corvaja Palace: The Palazzo Corvaja is a medieval palace, which now contains a museum dedicated to the art and culture of the area. Explore the scenic courtyard and take in the architectural details of the palace on your Taormina visit.
- The Church of Saint Pancrazio: Saint Pancrazio is the patron saint of Taormina, making this site an essential part of the city’s culture and history. The church dates back to the 1500s, exemplifying Baroque architecture.
From palaces, churches and theatres to gorgeous natural scenes, Taormina is one of the best places for any traveler with any range of interests, especially cultural and historical.
This former fortress town comes with a rich history. Monemvasia sits on an island off the Peloponnese in southern Greece, where it is among the most beautiful undiscovered places to travel. It still features what you’d expect to see on a trip to Greece, with a coastal view and paths that wind between light- and terra-cotta-colored homes. It doesn’t see as many tourists as other areas in Greece, but it is as every bit as charming.
Despite its status as a hidden city, Monemvasia has a lot to offer. Along with plenty of gorgeous beaches, you can also visit:
- A Byzantine fortress
- Kastania Cave
- Velies Folklore Museum
- Talanta Watermill
- Monemvasia Archaeological Collection
The town boasts dramatic views of the tall cliffs backing it. Along with natural protection, the island hosts a fortress, which protected it from historical invaders. Thanks to this protection, the city got its name, which means “single entrance” in Greek.
You’ll feel safe from the stresses of daily life in this island town. Escape from the bustle of tourist-packed streets and unplug on your trip to Monemvasia. Athens and other popular Greek locations make for great trips, but for one of the best obscure travel destinations, you can’t go wrong with this island.
4. Giant’s Causeway
As a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Giant’s Causeway is a geological marvel. Experience tranquility surrounded by the colors of nature in eye-catching hues. As the only World Heritage Site in Northern Ireland, Giant’s Causeway is a historic location that deserves more travel.
Stop into the Giant’s Causeway Visitor Centre to learn the legend of the causeway. It’s no surprise that myths surround the site, with its dazzling, hexagon-shaped pillars and formations, which date back to over 60 million years ago. You’ll struggle to find unique natural structures like this anywhere else. Some of the rock formations include:
- The Organ, or tall columns that make “organ pipes”
- The Honeycomb, or precise hexagonal shapes
- The Amphitheatre, or an area to view ancient lava flows and cliffs
While this obscure travel destination is a paradise for a nature lover, it has something for history fans, too. Check out the Spanish Armada shipwreck site for a look into naval history. The ship, named La Girona, sank in 1588 and took plenty of treasure down with it. Witness where history occurred among the scenic coast in Northern Ireland.
Yirrkala, located in northern Australia, is an Aboriginal city in Arnhem Northern Territory. As an artisan city, it is one of the best unknown places in the world for those interested in art and culture.
One of the main attractions in the city is the Yirrkala Arts Centre and Mulka Project, also called the Buku-Larrnggay Mulka Centre. Witness Aboriginal art up close for a look at the culture and history of locals, made by locals. From didgeridoos to bark paintings and weavings, these creations and more represent Aboriginal life in Yirrkala. Learn about Yolngu service during World War II, as well as their ancient spiritual practices, which they still perform today.
The Arnhem Northern Territory area is also home to exotic wildlife and historical ruins. Explore the stretches beyond Yirrkala to round out your knowledge of Aboriginal life in the area. You’re sure to discover something new about the world around you while interacting with this part of history and culture.
6. Corinth Canal
Larger ships can’t traverse this canal, which is what makes it an exclusive and obscure travel destination. If you’re traveling through on a cruise, head up on deck to take in the views of Corinth Canal’s limestone walls. The canal is 25 meters or about 80 feet wide, limiting what types of boats can travel down it.
Corinth Canal connects Gulf of Corinth to the Saronic Gulf, off the coast of Greece. Those looking for adventure in Greece can bungee jump off the bridge over Corinth Canal that connects the mainland to the peninsula.
Before the canal, ancient Romans had to carry their boats along the route to reach navigable waters around Greece. Today, Corinth Canal is a convenient shortcut for private yachts, mail ships and other small boats. Along with its convenience is a breathtaking intrigue as you sail through the narrow passage.
Enter the gateway to the Northern Highlands in Ullapool. This Scottish fishing town sits on the shores of Loch Broom, making it a hub for all things cultural and natural. Experience the heritage of this fishing village along with other sights like these.
- Wildlife: Witness graceful deer, soaring eagles and iconic highland cows, among other majestic creatures in the Highlands. Snap a photo of local seals at Ullapool Harbour or relax with some birdwatching. Check out the nearby Inverpolly National Nature Reserve for opportunities to see various Scottish wildlife.
- Nature: Any destination in the Scottish Highlands offers a retreat to nature, but Ullapool combines mountainscapes with coastal scenes. Walk on the beaches to catch a glimpse of neighboring coastlines, hills and cliffs.
- Visual art: Ullapool is home to many galleries and studio spaces that host classes for beginners and professionals alike. Visit An Talla Solais art center for local creations or purchase ceramic masterpieces at Highland Stoneware, where you can also watch artists make their craft.
Experience the cultural and natural attractions in this quaint village. From its charming offerings to its picturesque views, Ullapool is one of the most captivating obscure travel destinations.
8. Mesoamerican Barrier Reef and Costa Maya
From Costa Maya, Mexico, you can snorkel through the natural wonder that is the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef. The reef expands to touch the coasts of Belize, Guatemala and Honduras, in addition to Mexico. The expansive reef is home to aquatic life galore, including turtles, dolphins and sharks.
The reef stretches for about 600 miles, making it half the size of the Great Barrier Reef off Australia’s coast. Though it’s smaller than the Great Barrier Reef, the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef is just as impressive, teeming with colorful creatures and swaying aquatic plant life. The reef makes for an amazing diving or snorkeling adventure, perfect for anyone wanting to look below the water’s surface to see what goes on below.
Depending on where you are on the coast, you may be as little as a few hundred yards to 20 miles away from the reef. Since it is much closer to land than other reefs, the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef is easily accessible and deeply important to locals. Visit this reef to explore a meaningful, yet obscure, travel destination that lets you become one with nature.
Elba is one of the most incredible places to visit around Italy. This island is the third-largest in the country, after Sicily and Sardinia, and the largest in the Tuscan Archipelago.
While Elba may be an obscure travel destination, you may have heard it referenced in a history class. The island is most famous for holding Napoleon during his exile, making it one of the best places for a history lover. Anyone interested in the past should take a visit to Elba’s Villa di San Martino, one of Napoleon’s residences.
This Tuscan island is also the perfect getaway for nature fans or those seeking tranquil views. Around Elba, you can:
- Go scuba diving in the coral reef
- Take in the views of crystal-clear waters
- Stroll along sand, gravel and pebble beaches
- View rolling hills and green landscapes
- Observe various plant and animal life
Explore any of the island’s eight municipalities for a chance to get in touch with nature. On your visit, you can also head to certain sites, such as the following.
- Monte Capanne: For an aerial look at the island, climb one of Elba’s tallest mountains. As a bonus, the peak is accessible via chairlift to explorers who can’t make the hike, but still want to drink in the views.
- Castello del Volterraio: View traces of ancient Roman walls and other historical architecture at this castle. Castello del Volterraio once served to protect Elba from invasions, but it now stands as a monument to the past.
- Capoliveri: With street markets, a historical church and amazing views, this hilltop area is a must-see when in Elba. Explore its beach or dine in its pubs and restaurants as you explore this obscure travel destination.
With this island’s impressive size comes plenty to see and do. Enrich any European or Italian trip by adding Elba to your itinerary.
10. Japan’s Inland Sea
The scenic journey across Japan’s Inland Sea, also called the Seto Inland Sea, takes you through waters that contain over 3,000 islands. Many compare this Japanese sea to the Mediterranean for its mild climate, though it’s not as well-known as the other sea.
Even though the sea itself may not be well-known, when you travel across it, you can pass some popular locations, including:
Depending on your route, you can get a view of those locations and other scenic coasts of Japan. Sail under three major series of bridges, which connect different parts of Japan along with ferry systems that run across the sea. Participate in a route that’s been serving locals as a shipping lane and providing transportation. Relax as you cross the Seto Inland Sea’s calm waters and observe life from afar.
Visit Obscure Travel Destinations With Windstar Cruises
When you return from these unknown, yet amazing, places, you’ll have interesting stories to tell and unique photos to share. If you want to explore a mix of obscure travel destinations and nearby sites, the best way to do that is on a cruise that takes you between the well-known and the undiscovered.
At Windstar Cruises, we offer intimate excursions on our elegant cruise ships. We can go where large boats can’t, taking our passengers to destinations you’ve maybe never heard of, but will be glad you visited. Browse the destinations we offer and find the perfect cruise today. Expand your horizons and your understanding of other cultures by visiting obscure travel destinations with us at Windstar Cruises. Request a call or contact us at 877-244-4821 to begin planning your elegant excursion.