If you’re a seasoned traveler, or just someone who doesn’t want to get caught up in massive tourism crowds, then you know the importance of finding under-the-radar, unique locations to travel to. In collaboration with travel enthusiast and doctor Jim Gray MD, we came up with a list of some of the most underrated places you need to add to your travel bucket list.
If you’re looking to escape to a sunny beach, but don’t want the all-inclusive experience, Jim Gray MD suggests heading to Mauritius. This tiny island nation in the Indian ocean offers up a low-key vibe and endless turquoise waters. The mountainous interior of this small island is filled with beautiful natural sites, including rainforests, waterfalls, hiking trails and diverse wildlife. If you’re a foodie, sample some locally made rum and street food, and if you’re a culture-head, try exploring their churches, temples, mosques, and lighthouses. Mauritius has a rich history as a colonial trade hub and offers up endless things to do.
Latvia was formerly a part of the Soviet Union and is full of little surprises and Scandinavian flair. Jim Gray MD explains that if you are a big fan of the art nouveau theatrical style of architecture and design, there is simple no better place than the capital city of Riga. In 2014, Riga was named the Europe capital of Culture, and roughly half of the country is made up of pristine, accessible natural ecosystems. One must-see sight in Latvia is their Guaja river, which is right on the border of Latvia and Estonia; its namesake national park has more than 500 cultural and historical monuments.
You’ve likely never heard of this next one, but it is extremely popular among Chinese and Russian tourists: Hainan Island. This tropical island off China’s Southern coast is home to gorgeous beaches, a volcano park, monkeys, a Shaolin monk Buddhist temple, and more. Up north, you can step back in time and walk through the cobbled roads of Haikou which combines distinct Asian and European influences from China’s colonial past — they also embrace tea culture fervently! Jim Gray MD explains that the island has been called ‘China’s Hawaii’, and if you look up pictures of the island, you are sure to see why.
If you’re looking for a bit of history and scenic views, then look no further than Kobarid, Slovenia. Located in the Soca Valley, this picturesque town is surrounded by majestic mountains and rolling green pastures. Kobarid has historical monuments and archeological sites dating back to the Iron age, as well as a museum dedicated to the town’s role in World War I. For such a small place, this small town has become well known for their fine restaurants, give of which comprise a group known as the Kobarid Gastronomic Circle.
Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia
Lastly, this national park has been a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1979, and features approximately 20 lakes in addition to caves, forests and waterfalls: Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia. Additionally, there is an abundance of wildlife in this natural paradise, including bears, wolves, and over 126 bird species. Spread over more than 70,000 acres, this park is notable for the unique geological processes that formed its cascading lakes and continue to alter the terrain to this day.