For many, a vacation is the chance to explore something new, while it’s a chance to get away for others. But it can sometimes feel difficult to get away when you end up traveling to overpopulated cities and tourist destinations. Maybe it’s time to consider forging your own adventures and leaving behind the classic European romcom.
If you’d rather avoid the high prices and the big crowds that most popular holiday destinations brings, you might want to consider these alternatives that are likely to be at least as rewarding without leaving you broke and exhausted. These are sites and sounds you can’t get in Cincinnati or Seattle.
Santorini is one of the most popular Greek Islands, a place that’s on many travelers’ bucket lists. While it is beautiful, it’s also jam-packed with tourists much of the time. Instead of Santorini, consider the largest of the Cycladic Islands, Naxos.
Located about halfway between Santorini and Mykonos in the Aegean Sea, it’s a much more pleasant place to enjoy a relaxing stroll with cobblestone streets that are lined with whitewashed homes, while lush mountains, picturesque olive groves and vineyards serve as a magnificent backdrop. There are dazzling beaches for swimming and soaking up the sunshine, ancient ruins to explore and countless scenic trails to hike.
Instead of traveling to Tuscany, Rome, Venice or Cinque Terre, head to Italy’s “heel of the boot.” This sunny southern region of the country hasn’t been spoiled by tourism just yet, with far fewer tourists arriving here than other parts of the country. Yet it offers lots of character and charm, with friendly locals and spectacular scenery that includes soft golden sands edged by a turquoise sea.
Visit enticing hilltop towns like Ostuni, the fascinating “cave city” of Matera where hotels and restaurants are housed inside of caves, and Alberobello, characterized by its unique conical roof stoned dwellings called trulli.
Bangkok is an exciting city, but the Vietnamese capital of Hanoi is not only less expensive, it’s managed to retain local traditions while also offering an elegant mix of influences from the Chinese and French.
Enjoy dining on French-inspired cuisine and gazing up at French-inspired architecture in the vast Old Quarter and exploring over 600 pagodas and temples. Food and accommodation here are incredibly cheap yet high quality. You can savor a bowl of Pho noodles for under a dollar and base your stay at a hostel where you’ll pay less than $10 a night.
If the Swiss Alps and places like St. Moritz are what you have in mind, you might want to consider heading to Slovenia instead. Switzerland is the world’s most expensive country, and it tends to attract big crowds for hiking in the summer and snow sports in the winter.
Slovenia offers breathtakingly dramatic mountains, glistening glacial lakes, top-notch ski resorts, magnificent Gothic churches and castles. Tourists can marvel at the beauty of the hot springs of Lake Bled and still enjoy some of the best ski resorts that rival even those of the Swiss Alps. best of all, Slovenia is a small country with a rich history and very friendly people, providing that charming European experience so many tourists pine for.
Boracay Island, Philippines
Boracay Island offers the sun without the crowds, along with affordable prices. Something you won’t find in famous places like Bora Bora. While it may no longer be a well-kept secret – Travel + Leisure named it one of the World’s Best Islands, it still doesn’t attract the big crowds.
It boasts powder sugar-like white sands and a wide range of activities from snorkeling and diving to parasailing, horseback riding and cliff diving, along with bargain hotel rates that start at well under $100 a night for comfortable accommodation.
For those looking to relax and explore the wonders of Spain, don’t skip on the historic architecture and open markets of its most well known cosmopolitan city. No it’s not Madrid or Seville, but rather the Gaudi inspired Casa Mila and La Sagrada Familia Church of Barcelona. You can find everything from Picasso paintings to the world’s most infamous football teams.
Surrounded by beautiful mountains and the Medditeranian, tourists can enjoy romantic boat rides like Venice and castle tours like Madrid. But Barcelona has a personality of its own inspired by a rich history of art and politics. Tourists can explore amazing sites like Guell Park, the Gothic Quarter, and the world-famous Palace of Catalan Music. Best of all, Barcelona is not as busy during the vacation season as other famous European cities like London or Paris, and Barcelona’s climate is generally very temperate year round.
The Seychelles Islands and Hawaii may tug at your heart strings, but the long crowds and over tourism can really take away from the feeling that you’re actually getting away. For a truly remote island experience, surrounded by all the crystal clear blue water and white sand you dreamed of, check out the delicate, but exquisite islands of Raja Ampat.
Comprised of four main islands, Raja Ampat is believed to be named after kings that ruled the islands. Surrounding these islands is over 540 different species of coral and close to 10 million acres of land and sea to explore. Expect the unexpected on your trip to any of Raja Ampat’s beautiful islands from exotic bird species to unforgettable scuba diving experiences. Raja Ampat is nothing if not a remote sanctuary where land and sea life come to tango.