09 Feb 15 Countries You’ve Never Considered Visiting & Why They’re Awesome
When it comes to holidays, it’s fair to say that we can be creatures of habit. While we may consider heading to somewhere new, there tends to be a number of destinations which we always end up returning to.
As this post from Business Insider presents perfectly, UK holiday makers tend to flock to the same destinations in Greece, Spain and Portugal every year.
While these are all great holiday locations, there are a number of hidden gems which you may not have even considered.
To provide you with a few new destination ideas the next time you book a trip away, here are 15 countries you’ve ever considered visiting and why they’re awesome.
Why It’s Less Popular: A general unease from western Europeans about travelling to eastern Europe has hungover since the existence of the USSR. However, a lot has changed since 1989 when Romania gained its independence and has lots to offer tourists from all over the globe.
Why It’s Awesome: There is plenty to enjoy in Romania, regardless of your taste. Why not visit the Danube Delta, part of Europe’s second largest river, with some of the continent’s most incredible wildlife. This includes the last wild horses of Europe on the Padurea Delta, of which there are over 2,500.
If you prefer an urban landscape, visit the stunning Bucharest. In recent years, this city has turned around dramatically, becoming one of the coolest cities in Europe.
Why It’s Less Popular: For fans of the great outdoors, Slovenia is the perfect holiday destination, however, it often gets overlooked because of neighboring Italy and Austria.
Why It’s Awesome: Slovenia is home to arguably one of the most beautiful locations in Europe, Lake Bled. With tranquil surroundings, the backdrop of white-capped mountains and the historic sights of the medieval period Bled Castle, it is the perfect place for a relaxed break.
For those who enjoy a city break, the capital of Ljubljana is somewhat of a hidden gem. The 19th-century architecture of the Old Town is not to be missed and the local markets, food and drink will keep you busy for a long weekend.
3. Cape Verde
Why It’s Less Popular: For starters, you might not have even heard of it, if you have, then its location off the coast of west Africa might make you consider somewhere closer to home.
Why It’s Awesome: If you love nothing more than relaxing on white sandy beaches then look no further than Cape Verde.
Because it is still somewhat of a hidden gem, the stunning beaches which stretch for miles and miles are relatively unpopulated, even at peak times of the year.
Because of Cape Verde’s relative distance from the Equator, it also doesn’t really have a low season. So whether you go in December or July, you can expect beautiful weather.
If you go exploring into the towns of the island, you’ll find a refreshing mix of cultures. Cape Verde was discovered by Portuguese explorers and also has influences from nearby mainland Africa. The result is wonderful European food and drink crossed with plenty of African music and fashion.
Why It’s Less Popular: Two main reasons stop this from being a common holiday location. The first is that it’s a very small number of people will have actually heard of it. Secondly, it’s not that easy to get to.
Why It’s Awesome: This really is the dream for people who enjoy exploring the unknown. Situated in Asia between Kazakstan and China, it has a severe detachment to Western culture and can feel otherworldly.
With beautiful sweeping landscapes and a long history of being a nation of nomads, it is a great place for a testing backpack adventure.
Due to its close proximity to China, the food here is fantastic, with plenty of delicious food to keep you fueled on your travels.
One place not to miss is the stunning Lake Sary-Chelek. For the ultimate experience, spend a night in a traditional yurt on the shoreline of the lake.
Why It’s Less Popular: Yet another country to fall foul to its history, Poland has been the epicentre for a number of European troubles in the last century, mostly because of outside intervention.
Why It’s Awesome: For starters, Poland is a massive country with everything from beautiful and historic city breaks to staggeringly beautiful countryside and everything in between.
If you’re a lover of nature, why not visit the scientific wonder of the crooked trees forest near the town of Gryfino? If you prefer a charming city break then look no further than the wonderful Krakow which is becoming increasingly popular with UK holidaymakers.
For those interested in modern history, visiting the World War II concentration camp of Auschwitz-Birkenau really is a must. While it can be upsetting for some, it tells indescribable tragedy which should never be forgotten.
Poland is a truly exceptional place to visit particularly in the winter months, where you’ll find Christmas festivals and markets to rival any in Germany. Expect brightly lit town centres, concerts and street performances a-plenty and lots of delicious food and drink to accompany the entertainment.
Why It’s Less Popular: The most southerly of the three Baltic states, this has never really been an area of mass tourism, particularly among western Europeans. However, things are certainly on the rise for Lithuania.
Why It’s Awesome: One of the hidden pleasures of Lithuania is its sand dunes on the Baltic coastline. While it appears pretty abandoned during the winter, it comes alive during the summer and is surprisingly warm, with temperatures of 25°C plus.
The capital city of Vilnius is an intriguing alternative city break destination which is increasing in popularity. Very easy on the eye with its brightly coloured buildings and 19th-century architecture, it’s the perfect destination for a long weekend.
The most popular day trip away from the capital is a short train journey (30km) to the Trakai Historical National Park. Here you’ll find the beautifully restored 14th-century castle on the lake which you can reach via a footbridge.
Why It’s Less Popular: For those keen on visiting southeast Asia, Brunei may not be top of the list. This is because it is a tiny nation on the stunning island of Borneo which doesn’t perhaps promote it tourism in the same way the likes of Thailand and Malaysia do.
Why It’s Awesome: Brunei is undoubtedly one of the most fascinating countries that few people are aware of. Ruled by King Hassanal Bolkiah, whose family has ruled for over 600 years, it is intriguing to visit a monarch state which isn’t Britain.
If the King and his history pique your interest, you can visit the stunning Istana Nurul Iman, the official palace of the Sultan of Brunei.
If you want to get a glimpse of the staggering wildlife, explore Ulu Temburong National Park, otherwise known as the ‘Green Jewel’ of Brunei. Here you’ll get the chance to see stunning wildlife including gibbons, Wagler’s Pit Viper snakes and many beautiful insects local to the region. Find out more in this post from Lonely Planet.
Why It’s Less Popular: This is one of many countries which has developed a shaky reputation because of historical political troubles, however, plenty of time has passed since and Bulgaria is now a fantastic place to visit at any time of year.
Why It’s Awesome: There are a very limited a number of countries in Europe which can offer excellent ski resorts in the winter and beautiful sandy beaches in the summer. Bulgaria is lucky enough to have both.
If you love nothing more than weaving your way down a black run then take a look at the likes of Borovets or Bankso which offer a slightly more affordable alternative to the ski resorts in France and Italy. Read more in this post from Bulgaria Ski.
If a lazy week sipping cocktails and topping up your tan is more your style, take a look at the likes of Sunny Beach or Albena Resort on the Black Sea.
Fans of city breaks should try the major port of Varna, the lively Bourgas or the historic Sofia, which is one of the oldest cities in Europe. All are certainly worth a visit.
Why It’s Less Popular: Largely, the lack of popularity comes down to two reasons, Azerbaijan was a Soviet state until 1991 and it is also pretty tricky to get to. However, it has become much more accessible in recent years as the country has grown economically.
Why It’s Awesome: With one foot in Europe and the other in Asia, Azerbaijani culture finds itself at a unique crossroads, making it an extremely intriguing place to visit.
Due to its unique geographical position, the country holds 9 of the world’s 11 climatic zones. From mountainous tundra in the Caucasus Highlands to the subtropical zones which are able to grow oranges, bananas and other fruits, there is weather for everyone.
Fans of ancient history should visit the incredible Sheki city which sits on the famous Silk Road. This city is believed to be over 2500 years old and displays a fascinating mix of cultures.
For truly strange natural occurrences, you should visit the famous mud volcanoes. The bizarre landscape is often described as looking like the surface of the moon. However, unlike the moon, massive flame-fueled eruptions occur, which are not to be missed.
Azerbaijan is known as the ‘land of fire’ due to its large oil deposits, some of which include a unique type of oil known as Naftalan. This oil is thought to have many healing properties, and for those who enjoy a relaxing holiday, you can visit the Naftalan resort.
Why It’s Less Popular: With many years of political unrest in its past, Nicaragua and a number of other central American nations are not always held in the highest regard. In recent years, things have massively improved.
Why It’s Awesome: For history lovers, Nicaragua is home to the oldest city in central America. Granada is a charming place with a picturesque coastline on Lake Nicaragua, stunning architecture and it sits at the foot of Mombacho Volcano.
For fans of wildlife, you can see everything from tropical birds to monkeys in the Nicaraguan countryside.
For those searching for a truly unique experience, take a trip on a Chicken Bus. These are used throughout the country and are customismed old American school buses, distinct by their crazy designs. They are very cheap but among the more uncomfortable ways to get around.
Above all else, this is also one of the best value locations in Central America, making for a bargain in paradise.
Why It’s Less Popular: There are a number of popular Caribbean and South American destinations but this isn’t one of them, potentially because of its small size.
Why It’s Awesome: Sitting on the northern shoulder of South America, this fantastic nation has plenty to offer those in search of adventure and a hot climate.
With still glimmers of its past, Guyana was once a British colony and can at times offer up surprising reminders of home which you’re unlikely to find anywhere else in South America.
Georgetown is its capital and sits just on the coastline and is the Centre point of most tourism. While its Anglican Cathedral is a reminder of its past, the rest of the city offers up much more local trappings and is ultimately very charming.
For those with more of an adventurous side, there’s plenty of rainforest to explore, with opportunities to see big cats such as jaguars up close in the wild.
It stays hot here all year round, with temperatures of 30 degrees C a regular occurrence.
Why It’s Less Popular: As a nation which includes the Amazon rainforest, Brazil generally draws more people, however, Ecuador has plenty of it too, as well as lots of other great tourist gems.
Why It’s Awesome: Ecuador is quite possibly one of the most exciting places to view wildlife on the planet. As well as a mass of Amazonian jungle, you can take a trip to the famous Galapagos Islands.
If you don’t want to spend your whole trip in the wild, you can head to the capital Quito. This city has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since the 1970s and is a wonderfully preserved example of the colonial architecture of its previous rulers from Spain.
Combine all of this with massive volcanos, glaciers, whale watching trips and more, and you start to see why it is such an appealing holiday destination for people of all ages.
Why It’s Less Popular: This is an area with such a complex recent history that it would be impossible to summarise. However, with political troubles firmly in the past, Montenegro has begun to grow as a tourist destination.
Why It’s Awesome: The Evening Standard recently described it as ‘the new Croatia’ which is obviously a massive compliment.
It is certainly easy to see why. With its Mediterranean coastline, it is a picturesque place to visit. Unlike more popular destinations such as Spain or Greece, the beach resorts are less tainted by the clutches of British tourists, retaining more local culture.
Despite being only half the size of Wales, there is a great deal to see here. For adventurous types, you can hike in the Durmitor National Park, which offers up staggering views of Black Lake, forests and mountains.
For incredibly well-preserved architecture, head to the picturesque city of Kotor. This is a city containing many structures from as far back as the 12th-century and many hours can be lost admiring its beauty.
Why It’s Less Popular: Due to its landlocked position between France and Spain, it is easy to understand why tourists might venture to those rather than Andorra.
Why It’s Awesome: If love nothing more than a bit of retail therapy, Andorra is a great option. Known for its lack of VAT on goods, prices of just about everything are enticing.
If Skiing is one of your favourite past times, Andorra is a great place to enjoy it. The nation is essentially a mountainous state and has a number of ski resorts despite its small size. Gran Valira is definitely somewhere to check out.
For a truly unique experience, head to Andorra in the winter for a stay in the Ice Hotel. You can spend a night or two in a beautifully constructed igloo if it so takes your fancy.
Why It’s Less Popular: Another landlocked micro-nation, the draw of nearby Austria and Switzerland are obviously better known.
Why It’s Awesome: Despite its size, this is a great destination for those who love a taste of the extreme. Its mountainous regions mean that in the summer it is perfect for hiking or mountain biking. In the winter it is a favourite of ski and snowboarding fanatics.
If you’re looking for an alternative ski destination, Liechtenstein is a great option. Try out Malbun, which you can read more about in this post.