We know coronavirus is impacting travel plans right now. To keep inspiring your travels, we’ll continue to share our favourite destinations around the world so you can keep dreaming of your next adventure when it is safe to travel. Where will you go first? While many of us have spent these days of uncertainty daydreaming about returning to a beloved place, others are yearning for new, exciting destinations. From epic treks in the mountains to wheelchair accessible historic cities, here are nine unexpected destinations to add to your future travel list when the world is safe to travel again.
Located in the western Pacific Ocean, the Republic of Palau is made up of over 340 stunning islands. What makes Palau so attractive as a tropical vacation destination is below its waters – it’s one of the best spots for diving in the world! In order to protect what it has, Palau became the first nation on Earth to change its immigration laws for the cause of environmental protection. Upon entering Palau, visitors need to sign a passport pledge that they will act in an ecologically responsible way while on the island, making this unexpected destination also a trailblazer for sustainable tourism. Palau also has the world’s first national shark sanctuary, a designated protected marine reserve, and most recently banned reef-damaging sunscreens.
Palau is a destination home to hundreds of luxury hotels and resorts, but one worth considering is the Palau Pacific Resort. The 165-room resort was built to blend in with the surrounding nature, so no building is higher than the tallest coconut tree. More to that, the resort maintains its own source of water from rainwater and deepwells, generates solar power, and composts the raw garbage for soil that is used for gardening on the resort.
While Western Europe has been one of the most popular regions of the world to visit for years, it’s Eastern counterpart is becoming increasingly travelled. You’ll still get the charm and fascinating history of Europe but at a significant discount. One city to put on your list for when it’s safe to travel again is Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia. It’s not only strikingly beautiful but this unexpected destination is also one of the most wheelchair accessible cities in Europe. According to the city of Ljubljana website, you can access almost every part of the city with a wheelchair.
If you’re looking for a modern hotel to stay in the Old Town, check out Hotel Lev. Just a couple minutes walk to the main tourist sights, this hotel is the perfect base to explore this underrated European city. It’s also got a wonderful view of the city from the higher floors. Now’s the time to add Ljubljana to your list of must-see cities in Europe!
When it comes to safaris, countries such as Kenya and Tanzania tend to come to mind. But as Africa becomes increasingly accessible to travellers, many other unexpected destinations are emerging as ecotourism hotspots, including Namibia. Located on the southwestern edge on the continent of Africa, Namibia is filled with responsible animal tourism opportunities and is home to some of Africa’s most unique landscapes. Head to the renowned Etosha National Park for some fantastic wildlife viewing and be inspired. Namibia also boasts some of the biggest sand dunes on the planet!
If you want to immerse yourself in the landscapes of Namibia, one place to stay is Hoanib Valley Camp. This luxury camp has only six tents, which blend perfectly into its surrounding environment. All materials were sourced ethically, and it is entirely solar-powered.
Since regaining its independence from the Soviet Union, Latvia has worked hard to recreate its image, and its paid off. This underrated travel destination is quickly becoming popular, given all that is has to offer those who visit this Central European nation. Start your trip here in the capital city of Riga, which is full of culture and budget-friendly travel opportunities. Be impressed by the art and architecture of Riga’s Old Town, a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site with the highest concentration of Art Nouveau architecture in the world. You don’t have to go far outside of the city to immerse yourself in nature either. Half of Latvia is made up of natural ecosystems, and its got four stunning national parks for visitors to explore. Latvia is reminiscent of its nearby Scandinavian neighbours but at a much more affordable price.
Centrally located in Old Town, Grand Palace Hotel is a gorgeous boutique hotel offering luxurious accommodations. It’s the only hotel in Latvia which is part of the Leading Hotels of the World collection.
Once considered one of the most dangerous countries in the world, Pakistan is now emerging as an unexpected travel destination. The country has gone through a dramatic change, with the government making a big push for tourism. In 2019 they introduced a new e-visa service, which made the process of getting a visa for Pakistan significantly easier. What makes Pakistan so appealing is its natural beauty and world-class hospitality. It’s known for its mountains, including five of the world’s 14 highest peaks, making it a prime candidate for outdoor adventure travellers.
One unique hotel to stay in is the Serena Shigar Fort in the Gilgit-Baltistan region. This 400-year-old fort has been converted into a boutique hotel set in a peaceful natural setting amongst the Karakoram mountain ranges.
Coronavirus has made life difficult for the locals who live in Gilgit-Baltistan, as tourism is their major source of income. As Pakistan opens up again, it needs travellers to come back to support the economy, without putting the local’s safety at risk. If you’re planning a trip to the region, it’s important to be a mindful traveller and keep the region as safe as possible. You can learn more and support the safe opening of Gilgit-Baltistan at the Root Network.
The capital city of Georgia, Tbilisi, has quickly emerged as a digital nomad destination complete with fast WiFi, affordable housing, easy visa’s, and nomad-friendly programs to boot. If you’re looking for an underrated destination where you easily work online and travel, the capital of Georgia is a perfect choice. Oh, and Georgian food? Absolutely incredible. Now that we’ve revealed that secret, you’ll notice Tbilisi mentioned on numerous lists of the best food cities in the world. Food lovers (and wine lovers) will never want to leave once they’ve tried khachapuri or badrijani, washed down with some sweet Georgian wine. For a quick (and awe-inspiring) escape from the city, take a weekend trip to the nearby Caucasus Mountains where you can hike, ski, and just explore to your heart’s content.
One hotel to keep on your radar is Stamba. It’s a former Soviet-era publishing house turned into a design-centric hotel. This hip hotel is centrally located, with a grand café serving modern takes on traditional Georgian food dishes.
Playa El Tunco, El Salvador
While countries such as Nicaragua and Costa Rica have been attracting paradise beach seekers and backpackers for years, many travellers are just starting to discover nearby El Salvador. This unexpected destination has incredible natural landscapes including beaches, volcanoes, and lush jungle. Playa El Tunco is becoming a particularly popular spot to visit and surf destinations in the region, offering some of the best waves in Central America along with friendly locals and affordable prices.
For a little luxury, check out Casa de Mar Hotel and Villas. Guests will enjoy direct access to the beach, in front of one of the best surf spots in El Tunco. It’s also got an on-site swimming pool and restaurant and is just a 10-minute walk to the main town.
Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada
While Canada has long been a popular tourist destination, few make it out to the most Easterly point of North America – Newfoundland and Labrador. For those who do, they wonder why they didn’t get here sooner! This unexpected destination is the perfect place for those seeking outdoor adventure and authentic travel experiences with a side of that Maritime hospitality. With thousands of kilometres of pristine coastline, Newfoundland has some of the best marine wildlife encounters in Canada, and enough hiking trails to last you a lifetime. It’s also one of the best places in the world to see icebergs, as these 10,000-year-old giants make their way across the Atlantic from Greenland every spring.
If you’re visiting the colourful capital city of St. John’s, check out the Luxus boutique hotel. This newly built hotel offers is centrally located in downtown St. John’s on Duckworth street, next to the best shopping and restaurants in the city.
While most tourists in South America flock to the bustling cities of Buenos Aires and Rio De Janiero, one underrated travel destination to consider for your next holiday is Montevideo in Uruguay. This laid-back capital city has an interesting contrast of well-preserved colonial buildings with modern new ones. Along the waterfront, there is a 22-kilometre long promenade called La Rambla, that is lined with white sand beaches for visitors and locals to enjoy. Montevideo is one of the world’s most chill capital cities in the world, as Uruguayans have a very casual attitude towards life. This unexpected destination is also one of the most LBGTQ-friendly cities in South America, with Uruguay being the first country in Latin America to legalize same-sex marriage.
Old Town is one of the most charming neighbourhoods to stay in, and Alma Historica Boutique Hotel is a perfect choice for a hotel in Montevideo. It’s set within a 1920s neocolonial townhouse, with each room inspired by a Uruguayan artist. There’s also a hot tub on the roof terrace that overlooks the neighbourhood.
After months at home, we know many of you are itching to get out and explore the world again. I hope these underrated destinations could inspire your next holiday for when the world is safe to travel.
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