Our Top 10 Off-The-Beaten-Path Destinations
Come with us and discover the unknown.
At Terracotta Travel, we have close bonds with phenomenal people in the world’s most unexplored destinations. With their local expert knowledge, let our gurus guide you down roads less traveled.
Here are our top ten world treasures waiting to be discovered.
Merging Balkan and Mediterranean culture, North Macedonia is starting to get the attention it deserves after years in the shadows of Greece and Croatia’s dazzling coastlines. A medley of Ottoman, Roman and Greek heritage, the country is a quietly confident travel contender with luscious local cuisine and a captivating culture to rival the heavyweights.
With dramatic mountains, immense canyons, and bubbling rivers, Prespa is an excellent area for intrepid explorers who love to scale rugged peaks and cycle long, winding tracks. At the Spirit of Prespa Apple Farm, stroll with owner Violeta through endless orchards, pluck one of the ripe ruby-red fruits or devour a slice of warm, homemade apple pie. Nearby at the BN Beegarden in the village of Dihovo, cultivate your knowledge of traditional and modern beekeeping. Wax lyrical with master beekeeper, Naco, during a honey tasting in the sprawling garden of his rural home. During a hearty lunch made by Naco’s mother, feast on Macedonian specialties like sheep cheese with pitulic garlic pancakes, followed by paprika-infused sausages and jewel-coloured peppers filled with local farmed beef.
End your day with a celebration of North Macedonia’s rich social and historical tapestry at the smallest ethnographic museum in the world. Let Yone and his wife guide you around their sartorial treasure trove of national folk costumes from different regions of the country, and try on an elaborately beaded headdress and patterned robe in the colors of North Macedonia’s flag. Reserved for religious holidays, these rare garments provide a valuable insight into the country’s unique local customs and ways of life.
2. Goriška Brda
Sitting pretty between its more celebrated cousins, Croatia, Italy and Austria, Slovenia is home to a wealth of cultural and natural wonders. Nudging the Italian border and just one hour away from the capital of Ljubljana, Goriška Brda is a mineral-rich wine-producing region. Green rolling hills dotted with ripe orchards and cascading vineyards lend a dreamy Tuscan feel to the area. Award-winning winery, Edi Simčič, is the perfect place to enrich your understanding of Slovene grape varieties amidst the warm hospitality of its people. Aleks, son of the eponymous owner, beams with passion as he leads you in a private tasting of sublime regional whites, rich reds and crisp orange wine, paired with creamy cheeses and fragrant oil. Exquisite and underrated like its fine wines and bucolic landscape, Slovenia is a secret garden ready for harvest.
Synonymous with ancient cultures, Peru is a biodiverse nation that boasts tropical rainforest, desert plains and the longest continental mountain range in the world. The Amazonian Andes are also known as the “Machu Picchu of the North” — less traveled but just as impressive, both visually and culturally. One of the last kingdoms conquered by the Incas, “the Northern Kingdom” is one of South America’s archaeological sensations. Built between 300 and 500 AD at an altitude of 3000 metres, Chachapoya was the walled citadel of “The Cloud Warriors”, a civilization that lived in the evergreen forests of the Amazonas. The fortress of Kuélap is an accomplished pre-Inca city accessible only by cable car or on horseback. Lose yourself in this lost world of carved temples and palaces, with your head in the clouds.
4. East Greenland
In the Arctic Circle, experience pure bliss as you sail the labyrinthine fjordal system of East Greenland’s Scoresby Sund aboard a traditional wooden ship. Enveloped by steep basalt cliffs, glide down the narrow channels over the glasslike sea surface that reflects the crystalised icebergs and snow-capped peaks. First stop is Ittoqqortoormiit, one of the most isolated hunting villages on Earth, to learn about the Inuit community which lives amongst polar bears, shaggy muskoxen and seals. Between ports of call around the archipelago, embrace your inner tranquility with a hike around the Bear Islands before building a bonfire on the beach under a blanket of stars.
5. Westfjords, Iceland
In Iceland, the wildly beautiful Westfjords region is the island’s best-kept secret. Visit a family-run farm to take part in traditional Icelandic life and savor a meal of local mussels and dandelion wine. Heighten your sense of bliss on a guided tour to Suðureyri, a solitary fishing village, windswept and enveloped by mountains. Out in the fjord, watch sea anglers catch cod and halibut sustainably in the chilled Atlantic on the edge of the Arctic. The ‘Fisherman Seafood Trail’ takes you through the process of fishing — Iceland’s number one export — from ocean to plate, culminating in your choice of the freshest fish, like buttery Arctic char with baked root vegetables. Anchor aweigh on a private boat trip to capture extraordinary scenes of raw beauty from a sailor’s perspective: Huge settlements of puffins, pods of seals and possibly even the graceful splash of a whale’s tail.
6. Lençóis Maranhenses
Lionised for its exotic beaches, vivacious people and steamy Amazonian jungle, Brazil is naturally blessed. Leave the crowds of Rio and São Paulo and head to Maranhão, a state in the northeast dubbed ´The Land of the Palm Trees´ by Brazilian Romantic poet, Gonçalves Dias. Lençóis Maranhenses is the deserted paradise of your dreams. Enter the national park on a privately-guided overland expedition to ride the sea of white sand dunes in a 4x4 along the coast between Maranhão and Jericoacoara. Stop at remote fishing villages, like Santo Amaro, to take a dip in the clear water before you reach your utopia — ‘Jeri’, Brazil’s most cinematic beach.
For untouched, rustic charm, Sicily is the Mediterranean’s unpolished diamond. Full of authentic ambience and natural wonders, the island’s beauty is visceral and seductive. In Acireale, meet local fishermen who will hook you into Sicilian life with tales, legends and traditions. Learn how to fish in the protected port of Santa Maria la Scala, before you have the chance to sample your catch of the day. Later, travel to the foothills of Mount Etna, Europe’s largest active volcano, for a decadent stay at the estate of Monaci delle Terre Nere — a boutique eco-hotel with exquisite grounds within the national park. Sun yourself aboard a private yacht, providing perfect access to the azure water and sandy coast in full-fledged luxury. Brush up on your Greek mythology on the Cyclops Riviera, a stunning coastline rich in history and seascapes, with mythical origins in Homer’s ‘Odyssey’. The large jagged rocks poking out of the ocean, now known as Isole dei Cyclopi, are said to have been thrown at Odysseus by Polyphemus, son of the sea god Poseidon, in a fit of rage.
Menorca, the smallest Balearic Island off the east coast of Spain, is a rugged natural paradise blessed with beaches of white sand, crystalline sea and mysterious stone megaliths. Every June, locals celebrate Sant Joan, a festival to welcome the summer solstice. Watch the events unfold from the balcony of Palacio Olivar, one of the most fabulous buildings in the second city of Ciutadella, with owner and nobleman, Luis. With a glass of champagne or traditional pomada — a sweet and sour mix of local Xoriguer gin and freshly-squeezed lemon juice — be dazzled by the stars of the show: black Menorquin horses prancing gracefully through the vibrant procession.
9. Lake Atitlan
Central America’s most diverse yet miraculously lesser-known country, Guatemala, is pure peaceful authenticity. Concealed by bordering Mexico, Belize and Honduras, and flanked by the Caribbean and Pacific Oceans, it is home to mystical Mayan ruins and staggering scenery. Vast and breathtaking, Lake Atitlán, in the unexplored highlands, is surrounded by dozing volcanoes, Mayan villages, and traditional farms where the local Tz’utujil and Kaqchiquel people grow avocados, corn, and coffee. Speaking indigenous dialects, gifted artisans and weavers design intricate ceramics and embroidered textiles that represent the country’s colorful culture. Whilst traditional native costume has vanished from many countries around the globe, the vivid red, blue and pink traje is worn loudly and proudly in Atitlán.
Zagorochoria is a cluster of 46 picture-book stone villages nestled deep in the emerald mountain range of Pindus in north-western Greece. Peaceful, undiscovered and blessed with pristine alpine scenery, this region is the perfect antithesis to commercial Grecian hotspots. Slavic for “beyond the mountains”, Zagori is the untainted home of rare breeds of flora and fauna, bright and beautiful amidst winding rivers and striking gorges. The region’s air of mystery is heightened by Dragon Lake, a mountaintop pool made famous in local folklore as the lair of fire-breathing beasts.
On a private tour of the picturesque village of Kapesovo, meet our local expert to explore the hidden secrets of the community. See behind the closed doors of the Paschalisschool to marvel at one of the original copies of the Charta of Greece, the 18th century map by Greek writer and revolutionary, Rigas Feraios. Later, in a quaint family restaurant, embrace traditional Greek life over a lunch of flaky pastries filled with fresh meat, cheese, or spinach.