Off the Grid: Fodor’s Reveals 20 Underrated Destinations to Visit in 2024
Off the Grid: Fodor's Reveals 20 Underrated Destinations to Visit in 2024 - Hidden Gems in Europe Worth Adding to Your Bucket List
With its historic cities, stunning coastal scenery, and rich cultural heritage, Europe has no shortage of famous tourist destinations. But seasoned travelers know that some of the continent's most magical places are also its best-kept secrets. Though they may not top the usual sightseeing lists, these under-the-radar spots offer charming towns, dramatic landscapes, and unique experiences you won't find anywhere else.
One such hidden gem is Ravenna, Italy. This Northeastern Italian city is often overlooked in favor of more popular stops like Florence and Venice. But with its incredible Byzantine mosaics, Ravenna rewards those who venture off the beaten path. The mosaics found in churches and monuments here are some of the most well-preserved in the world, featuring brilliantly colored biblical scenes and complex geometric designs. Wandering past the shimmering tiles at the Basilica of San Vitale and the Mausoleum of Galla Placidia, you'll feel transported back to Ravenna's days as a capital of the Western Roman Empire.
For breathtaking natural scenery, head to Sveti Stefan, Montenegro. This tiny island village connected to the mainland by a narrow isthmus looks like something straight out of a fairy tale. With its cluster of terracotta-roofed stone cottages, the 15th-century settlement was once a haven for the rich and famous. Now a luxury resort, Sveti Stefan still delivers plenty of charm. The surrounding coastline of rugged cliffs and azure waters doesn't disappoint either. Don't miss the chance for a boat trip to take in this Adriatic gem from every angle.
Foodies should have San Sebastian, Spain on their list. This colorful seaside city in the Basque Country holds its own against any of Europe's celebrated gastronomic capitals. Pintxos bars serving up bite-sized regional specialties abound in the Old Town. Indulge in tender braised octopus, pillowy tortilla omelets, or anything else that catches your eye as you stroll between lively venues. Of course, no visit here would be complete without reservations at one of San Sebastian's famous Michelin-starred restaurants. Places like Arzak and Akelarre blend innovation with local ingredients to create unforgettable fine dining experiences.
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- Off the Grid: Fodor's Reveals 20 Underrated Destinations to Visit in 2024 - Hidden Gems in Europe Worth Adding to Your Bucket List
- Off the Grid: Fodor's Reveals 20 Underrated Destinations to Visit in 2024 - Asia's Best Kept Secrets Waiting to be Discovered
- Off the Grid: Fodor's Reveals 20 Underrated Destinations to Visit in 2024 - Off the Radar Latin American Destinations on the Rise
- Off the Grid: Fodor's Reveals 20 Underrated Destinations to Visit in 2024 - Underappreciated US Cities Ready for the Spotlight
- Off the Grid: Fodor's Reveals 20 Underrated Destinations to Visit in 2024 - Canada's Coolest Towns You Haven't Heard Of
- Off the Grid: Fodor's Reveals 20 Underrated Destinations to Visit in 2024 - Australia and New Zealand's Hidden Treasures
- Off the Grid: Fodor's Reveals 20 Underrated Destinations to Visit in 2024 - Africa's Overlooked Destinations Soon to See More Visitors
- Off the Grid: Fodor's Reveals 20 Underrated Destinations to Visit in 2024 - Small Island Nations Offering Big Vacation Potential
Off the Grid: Fodor's Reveals 20 Underrated Destinations to Visit in 2024 - Asia's Best Kept Secrets Waiting to be Discovered
Asia is a continent full of diversity, with bustling megacities, serene villages, and stunning natural landscapes. While hotspots like Bangkok, Singapore, and Tokyo are firmly planted on the travel circuit, Asia still harbors many under-the-radar destinations waiting to captivate intrepid explorers.
One such spot is Guiyang, the capital of Guizhou province in Southwest China. Despite its rich history and culture, most Western travelers pass it by in favor of better-known cities like Beijing or Shanghai. But Guiyang deserves more attention for its lovely riverside setting, inventive cuisine, and wealth of museums chronicling regional arts and customs. Wandering its pedestrian-friendly streets lined with Qing Dynasty architecture, you’ll feel far from the tourist crowds. And you can't beat Guiyang's proximity to the ethereal Huangguoshu Waterfall, China's largest waterfall and a sight to behold.
Food lovers should add Penang to their Asia bucket list. This Malaysian island off the Andaman coast flies under the radar but thrills with its incredible mix of Malay, Chinese, and Indian flavors. Walking around George Town's atmospheric lanes, you'll find hawker stalls and casual eateries dishing up stellar street food. Dig into flaky roti flatbreads, fiery curries, succulent satay skewers, and cool bowls of cendol dessert. Penang also claims sublime beaches, historic clan jetties, and a burgeoning arts scene. It's no wonder Anthony Bourdain declared it one of his favorite food cities anywhere.
The Maldives may be synonymous with luxurious overwater bungalows, but don't overlook Sri Lanka as an alternative Indian Ocean paradise. Outside of popular spots like Sigiriya and Yala National Park, much of the country remains unexplored. For relatively few tourists and miles of flawless sand, head to Sri Lanka's southwest coast. Here, beaches like Mirissa and Hiriketiya offer laidback vibes, reasonable prices, and world-class surfing under swaying palms. Further inland, Ella charms with its lush green vistas, scenic train rides, and abundant trekking opportunities through tea plantations. Sri Lanka rewards those who venture beyond the greatest hits.
Off the Grid: Fodor's Reveals 20 Underrated Destinations to Visit in 2024 - Off the Radar Latin American Destinations on the Rise
Latin America dazzles with mega-cities like Rio de Janeiro and ancient ruins like Machu Picchu. But avid wanderlusters know that some of the region’s most intriguing destinations still fly under the radar. Though they lack major tourist infrastructure, these emerging spots offer off-the-beaten-path appeal for travelers craving authentic culture and untouched nature.
One such spot is Oaxaca, Mexico. Long beloved by artists and foodies, this charming colonial city is finally emerging as a must-visit. Beyond tucking into complex moles and sipping smoky mezcal, visitors can lose themselves in colorful markets stuffed with handmade crafts. Local artisans are famed for their black pottery and whimsical alebrijes folk art. Fascinating archeological zones like Monte Albán also tempt you away from the languorous zócalo. And Oaxaca’s regional diversity shines through in outlying towns like Teotitlán del Valle, where Zapotec traditions reign.
Over in Colombia, up-and-coming destinations beckon adventurous types. Foremost among them is coffee country. Travelers can trace the bean’s journey firsthand at hacienda-style fincas ringing cities like Pereira, Armenia, and Manizales. After learning cultivation secrets, sipping a steaming cup amid the trellised hills is downright transcendent. Nature enthusiasts should also prioritize the Amazon basin’s lush Amacayacu National Park. Jungle hikes reveal a bounty of wildlife from pink river dolphins to howler monkeys. And communities of indigenous Ticuna people welcome cultural exchange.
South America’s smallest country Uruguay flies completely under the radar for most. Yet those realizing its charms find picturesque historic towns like Colonia del Sacramento, surf spots like Cabo Polonio, and of course steak houses grilling up tender grass-fed beef. Quaint seaside resorts still evoke Uruguay’s elegant turn-of-the-century heyday. Over on the hip side, capital Montevideo wows with its own distinctive culture from poignant tango bars to lively football matches. With new direct flights and hotel development, Uruguay’s star is undoubtedly rising.
Off the Grid: Fodor's Reveals 20 Underrated Destinations to Visit in 2024 - Underappreciated US Cities Ready for the Spotlight
Beyond perennial favorites like New York, San Francisco, and Chicago, the United States harbors a treasure trove of underrated cities awaiting their chance in the spotlight. Avid travelers know that some of America’s most vibrant culture, innovative food scenes, and postcard-worthy scenery can be found in these underestimated metro areas.
One such underappreciated destination is Sacramento, California. Though travelers often hit top California cities like Los Angeles and San Diego, Sacramento remains an insider secret. But California’s capital has been undergoing an exciting revival, with new restaurants, breweries, and art galleries breathing fresh life into its historic neighborhoods. The city shines with over 150 parks showcasing riverside vistas and abundant gardens. Visitors rave about the 40-mile American River Bike Trail winding through diverse landscapes. And as America’s self-proclaimed “Farm to Fork Capital,” Sacramento celebrates its agrarian roots with farm-fresh cuisine and a burgeoning urban agriculture movement.
Further east, Oklahoma City offers big-city appeal and a blossoming arts community. OKC is best known as the gateway to the Great Plains, but it offers plenty for visitors within its rapidly developing downtown. Bricktown’s charming canal-side eateries and live music venues make it a happening nightlife district. The city’s once-abandoned warehouse district now overflows with trendy shops, microbreweries, and cafés. And OKC’s museum scene impresses, from emotive works at the Oklahoma City Memorial to the avant-garde installations of the Oklahoma Contemporary Arts Center.
If stunning natural scenery tops your list, head to Chattanooga, Tennessee. Nestled along the winding Tennessee River and flanked by the Appalachian and Cumberland Plateaus, the views here alone warrant a visit. Outdoor enthusiasts flock to hike the trails of Lookout Mountain and Ruby Falls or go whitewater rafting on the Ocoee River. But the “Scenic City” also impresses with its pedestrian-friendly downtown dotted with soaring aquarium buildings and charming 19th-century architecture. Keep an eye out for Chattanooga’s flourishing public art, from colorful murals to imaginative sculptures. It’s clear that Chattanooga possesses creative spirit to spare.
Off the Grid: Fodor's Reveals 20 Underrated Destinations to Visit in 2024 - Canada's Coolest Towns You Haven't Heard Of
Beyond attractions like Niagara Falls and the Rocky Mountains, Canada harbors some seriously cool small towns that fly under the radar of most visitors. Venturing to these lesser-known spots rewards travelers with thriving arts scenes, unique culinary experiences, and access to stunning wilderness.
One such underrated town is Nelson, British Columbia. Ringed by the Selkirk Mountains and set on the shores of Kootenay Lake, Nelson instantly charms with its walkable historic core and abundance of preserved buildings from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. But this mountain town also boasts a thriving foodie scene fueled by local farms, ranches, and orchards. Funky cafés like Oso Negro serve ethically sourced coffee, while eateries like Cantina del Centro craft tacos bursting with farm-fresh produce. Don't miss the buzzing microbreweries either, like Nelson Brewing Company and Torchlight Brewing.
Equally obsessed with great grub, Wolfville, Nova Scotia has emerged as one of Canada's top wine and cuisine destinations. This cozy town in the Annapolis Valley claims several nationally acclaimed restaurants putting a gourmet spin on local ingredients. Luxe country lodgings tempt you to linger over farm-to-table feasts, then work it off bicycling the area's bucolic trails. Beyond indulging your palate, Wolfville also hosts cultural events like the Deep Roots Music Festival and serves as a gateway to the Bay of Fundy's dramatic tides.
Avid hikers and outdoor enthusiasts should consider Revelstoke, British Columbia. While many travelers rush through on the way to nearby Banff, those lingering here are rewarded with incredible mountain scenery straight out of a postcard. Revelstoke boasts prime access to Glacier National Park and the Monashee and Selkirk Mountains. Over 75 hiking trails lace the surrounding alpine valleys and forests. Come winter, there may be no spot better for deep powder skiing and snowboarding than Revelstoke Mountain Resort. Outdoorsy types will feel right at home amid the small-town vibe and boundless adventure opportunities.
Off the Grid: Fodor's Reveals 20 Underrated Destinations to Visit in 2024 - Australia and New Zealand's Hidden Treasures
Beyond the bright lights of Sydney, the Great Barrier Reef, and Hobbiton tours, Australia and New Zealand still hold hidden corners that reveal the countries' rugged beauty and cultural riches. Venturing off the main tourist track rewards intrepid travelers with access to secluded beaches, rare wildlife sightings, indigenous heritage, and outdoor adventures without the crowds.
One such out-of-the-way spot is the Tasman Peninsula south of Hobart, Tasmania. Driving its spectacular coastal cliffs yields views of iconic rock formations like the Tessellated Pavement and Tasman Arch. Visitors willing to tackle a few hiking trails are rewarded with beaches like Cape Raoul that rival anything on the mainland. Sign up for an eco cruise to get up close with the peninsula's playful seals, dolphins, whales, and proliferating birdlife. History buffs will appreciate Port Arthur's 19th century convict site and the Coal Mines Historic Site, which chronicles the region's convict-era coal industry.
In New Zealand, the sparsely populated West Coast of the South Island still feels like a world apart. This region secured its frontier spirit thanks to the hardy prospectors and pioneers who flocked here during the 1860s Gold Rush. Today, adventurers come to tackle wilderness treks and white water rafting instead of prospecting, reveling in the West Coast's moody rainforests, pancake rock formations and jade-hued glacial rivers. Don't miss Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers, which descend from Southern Alps heights to unusually low rainforest valley floors. Offshore, Westland Tai Poutini National Park showcases the largest breeding colonies of Westland petrels, invalidating the extra effort to reach this fascinating and wild corner of New Zealand.
Off the Grid: Fodor's Reveals 20 Underrated Destinations to Visit in 2024 - Africa's Overlooked Destinations Soon to See More Visitors
From vibrant cities to expansive savannas, Africa overflows with incredible destinations that remain largely off the typical traveler's radar. But for those willing to venture beyond the continent's greatest hits, rich rewards await. Intrepid visitors can immerse themselves in ancient cultures, witness spectacular wildlife, and bask on empty beaches rarely glimpsed by foreigners. With expanding international flight connections and investments in tourism infrastructure, a host of overlooked African locales are primed to emerge from the shadows.
One such destination is Djibouti, the tiny Horn of Africa nation sandwiched between Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Somalia. Flanked by the electric waters of the Red Sea, the volcanic Lake Assal, and epic salt flats, Djibouti’s dramatic landscapes alone warrant a visit. The capital city beguiles with its cultural mélange of African, Arabian, and French influences reflected in spice-laden dishes, bustling markets, and Parisian-style buildings. Out in the desert, whale sharks glide through the Gulf of Tadjoura while dinosaur-like hammerhead lizards cling to life in the hottest place on earth. Djibouti offers a gateway to distinctly African wonders free of the crowds.
Over in West Africa, Sierra Leone remains a diamond in the rough. After a civil war stalled tourism development, this country increasingly tempts with its palm-fringed beaches, nature reserves teeming with elephants and chimpanzees, and rich Freetown culture fusing Caribbean and African traditions. Surfers are starting to discover the world-class waves hitting quiet spots like Bureh Beach, while Tiwai Island’s vanishing pygmy hippos draw intrepid safari-goers. As political stability and infrastructure improve, Sierra Leone’s tourism numbers will undoubtedly grow.
Off the Grid: Fodor's Reveals 20 Underrated Destinations to Visit in 2024 - Small Island Nations Offering Big Vacation Potential
Beyond tried-and-true hotspots like Hawaii, the Caribbean, and the Greek Isles, intrepid jetsetters know that some of the world’s most idyllic and culture-rich destinations can be found on lesser-known small island nations. Though they may fly under the radar, these remote islands and archipelagos offer travelers endless natural beauty, vibrant cultural traditions, and off-the-beaten-path adventures without the crowds and costs of better-known tropical locales.
One such underrated island gem is São Tomé and Príncipe, the two-island nation situated off the western equatorial coast of Central Africa. Encompassing rugged volcanic peaks, primeval rainforests, and secluded palm-fringed beaches, this tropical idyll remains mostly uncharted territory for foreign visitors. Adventurous travelers willing to make the trek are rewarded with incredible hiking, extraordinary birdwatching, and world-class fishing and diving along the islands’ deserted shores. The country’s Afro-Portuguese Creole traditions also fascinate those interested in unique cultural immersion. With its tiny population and limited infrastructure, São Tomé and Príncipe retains an untouched quality that discerning wanderlusters find incredibly alluring.
Over in the Indian Ocean, the Seychelles have emerged as a rising star among remote island getaways. Known for their postcard-perfect beaches, this archipelago nation delivers turquoise waters and granite boulders like nowhere else. While popular spots like Mahé draw more tourists, outliers like Bird and Denis Islands still feel far removed from the crowds. Visitors can hike jungle trails to secluded coves, observe rare wildlife like the Seychelles black parrot, or simply swing in a hammock while enjoying the rustle of palm trees and brilliant sunsets. The Seychelles’ mixture of African, French, Indian, and Chinese influences also translates into one-of-a-kind Creole cuisine and charming colonial architecture found in Victoria, the tiny seaside capital. With new airline routes opening, the Seychelles’ star will only continue to rise.