You're about to plan your next adventure, but you want to get off the beaten path this time. You're looking for a destination that's unspoiled and unexplored. Somewhere that has not yet been overrun by millions of other tourists. Well, you've come to the right place. SafetravelRX has five ideas for little-known destinations that will allow you to “take the road less traveled.”
Formerly a Spanish colony, The Republic of Equatorial Guinea is a Central African country comprising the Rio Muni mainland and five offshore volcanic islands. The island was first sighted by the Portuguese explorer Fernão do Pó around 1472 and was initially named Formosa ("Beautiful"). The small country is relatively unexplored, with only 2,400 tourists visiting on average each year.
But despite its lack of tourists, it has a lot to offer, including Spanish Colonial architecture in the capital of Malabo, black sand beaches, clear water, and the second largest rainforest in the world. The nation also has diverse wildlife like chimpanzees, hippos, and gorillas.
Formerly a colony of Portugal, the two-island nation sits off the west coast of Africa. The legacy of Portuguese rule is visible in the country's culture, customs, and music, which fuse European and African influences. Despite its diminutive size, the nation has significant environmental diversity, including dramatic rock and coral formations, rainforests, colorful birds, unique wildlife, and sandy beaches. On the island of São Tomé, you will find Obo Natural Park, which covers nearly 60 percent of the land area and is distinguished by Pico Cão Grande, a skyscraper-like volcanic rock. After getting out in nature, explore the capital city of Santo Antonio, known for its' pastel colonial-era buildings and fantastic cuisine.
Oman is located on the southeastern edge of the Arabian Peninsula. While it's not on the average traveler's radar, it has started to attract attention due to its variety of beautiful topographical features, including rugged mountain ranges, deserts, and coastlines. But perhaps its greatest attraction is the Musandam Fjords. Also known as the Norway of Arabia because of its wildly dramatic coastline, including fjord-like formations and turquoise waters, you can even swim with dolphins. However, if you are looking for something a bit more urban, the capital city of Muscat on the coast will not disappoint, as it ranks as one of the prettiest cities in the world with world-class museums, restaurants, and the historic Al Alam Palace.
German-speaking Liechtenstein is a tiny country that sits between Austria and Switzerland. Despite its central European location, it averages only 79,000 visitors per year, which is roughly double the entire country's population! But if you want to see medieval castles, alpine mountains, and picturesque villages without a tour bus in sight, this might be the place for you. The capital city of Vaduz is home to the Castle, the palace and official residence of the Prince of Liechtenstein. It could be in a fairy tale sitting in the mountains above the town. Vaduz is also home to modern art galleries, excellent restaurants, shops, and a stunning cathedral. And don't miss out on trying some of the local award-winning wines.
If you are the more outdoorsy type, you have plenty of trails to explore, as over 60 percent of the country is mountainous. The Eschnerberg Trail takes hikers through the ancient settlements of Malanser and Lutzengutle. You also can roam ancient forests and take in the impressive views of the Rhine Valley. The trail ends in the town of Schellenberg, the location of the oldest house in Liechtenstein, built during the 16th century.
5. Matera, Italy
Because Italy is acknowledged to be one of the most beautiful countries in the world, it can be difficult to find cities that are not already inundated with fellow travelers. However, even though the town of Matera has achieved UNESCO World Heritage Site status and is recognized as a European Capital of Culture, it attracts far fewer visitors than many other parts of Italy. The city is in a remote corner of southern Italy in the small region of Basilicata. The ancient neighborhood, known as Sassi de Matera, consists of buildings carved into the rock, creating cave-like dwellings teetering on the edge of a canyon. It is truly awe-inspiring to view the town from a distance and imagine how it was even built.
But the town's history is almost as fascinating as the geography and cave-like dwellings. Many of the residents in the Sassi lived in extreme poverty suffering from rampant cases of cholera and malaria, and large families of up to ten people lived in one room. In the 1950s, the situation came to the attention of the prime minister, who visited the town himself, declaring the situation "a national disgrace." That spurred the development of a plan to relocate the population to newer homes outside of the old city, leaving the Sassi de Matera a virtual ghost town. Fortunately, over the last twenty to thirty years, this magnificent city has seen a resurgence with new hotels, museums, and restaurants opening in the cliff dwellings. It's a city best explored on foot to experience the labyrinth of alleyways and streets leading to magnificent baroque churches and former palaces. Make sure to stop for some vino at a tiny cave turned into a modern wine bar. And enjoy the local cuisine, a blend of Basilicata and Apulia's cuisines, in a romantic, candle-lit restaurant. Outside of the Sassi, The Tramontano Castle, built in the 16th century, is worth exploring.
We hope that we have inspired you with these unique destinations. Each of these one-of-a-kind experiences will enable you to immerse yourself in the landscape, enjoy outstanding local cuisine and learn about the rich history and culture. As these locations are visited less frequently by tourists, your dollars will also make a real impact on the people who live there. And just to make sure you stay safe while on the road, download the safetravelRX app and take worry off your itinerary.