When travel to Cuba was first permitted, everyone, said, “You have to go now before it’s destroyed!” I have a different viewpoint. More Cuban tourism, I believe, can boost the country’s economy and create more opportunities for the preservation of its distinctive legacy. That’s a long way from “ruined,” in my opinion.
Yet, if you want to visit locations like Cuba before they become inundated with visitors (and, in extreme circumstances, have to start urging people not to come), you should put these 10 up-and-coming destinations at the top of your travel list. Not because they will be “ruined,” but because they will very certainly experience an increase in visitors.
Take heed, introverts: you’re running out of time to visit these ideal places without crowds.
Most people think of Santorini when they think of Greek islands. But, Santorini’s neighbor to the northwest, the Cyclades Islands, is set to assume its position in the Aegean limelight. Folegandros has comparable architecture (whitewashed structures with flowers climbing up the side, blue-domed churches) and charms (secluded beaches and cliffside panoramas).
What Folegandros lacks is large groups of visitors. This might be because the major cruise companies do not dock there (you must take a ferry from Piraeus on the mainland or from other islands, including Santorini, to get there). Its streets are slate-paved, and trekking down the coast is one of the greatest routes to access secluded beaches with pebbly shores like Katergo.
Norway’s Svalbard Island
With Iceland now attracting more visitors, owing in part to free stopovers from Icelandair and WOW air, it’s time to explore elsewhere for a less crowded Nordic holiday. While Svalbard, an archipelago halfway between Norway and the North Pole, does not currently offer free stopovers (and its remote location means it will take more time and money to get there), it does offer unique scenery and wildlife — including polar bears, reindeer, walruses, and seals — as well as few tourists.
Snowmobiles, dog sleds, and boats are the primary modes of mobility on the island, connecting colorful settlements, protected nature reserves, and national parks. Winter activities include dog sledding, snowshoeing, Nordic skiing, and witnessing the aurora borealis, while summer activities include glacier hikes and kayaking under the midnight sun. Naturally, with the threat of polar bears, carrying a handgun is advised.
Stay at a distant radio station-turned-hotel for a different type of experience. In the summer, many flights depart from Tromso (though you’ll dodge the aurora-chasing throng there as well) or Oslo.
Alto Adige, Italy
With their hiking and skiing prospects, the Swiss, Austrian, and French Alps receive all of the attention. The Dolomites (technically part of the Alps) in northeastern Italy, on the other hand, provide the same natural beauty without the crowds and high prices. Several of the smaller settlements and ski regions take longer to reach since they are less accessible by public transportation, but this hasn’t stopped big groups of German and Austrian visitors from visiting the region (also known as South Tyrol or Sudtirol in German). The secret is spreading because of the region’s unique blend of Alpine and Mediterranean temperatures.
Merano (not to be confused with Murano) has a uniquely Austrian atmosphere, with health and leisure activities including hot springs, vineyards, and wines attracting walkers and hikers for tastings – and a respite from walking. Castles in the area give a touch of culture and serve as an ideal pitstop along the numerous wanderwegen, or hiking paths.
Australia’s North Stradbroke Island
Traveling to Brisbane, one of TripAdvisor’s top destinations in 2015, is about as far away from the United States as you can go. It’s easy to see why visitors may want to stay on the mainland for a long after they arrive. Yet, just off the coast of Brisbane, lies the best-kept secret of the locals: North Stradbroke Island.
Named Straddie, the second-largest sand island in the world, is accessed by a boat across Moreton Bay Marine National Park (and by 2026, 80% of the island will be protected, too). Diving and snorkeling, surfing, whale watching, kayaking, and swimming in freshwater lakes are just a few of the island’s water-based activities. Several of the little settlements on the island also contain art galleries and cafés.
Make time to taste the local seafood that dominates menus, whether you choose to camp on beaches or stay in a hotel.
Puerto Rico’s Culebra Island
It’s easy to overlook how simple it is to go to the Caribbean from the continental United States. While the majority of tourists to Puerto Rico remain on the mainland or in Vieques, there is a third choice. Culebra is the smallest and sleepiest of the three islands, making it ideal for anyone wishing to get away from it all.
Sunbathers go to white-sand beaches like Flamenco, while snorkelers and divers flock to the beautiful blue seas (thanks in part to little river run-off) to explore the numerous nearby islands and reefs.
With no casinos, golf courses, or huge hotels (mainly B&Bs, campsites, and villas), and no genuine nightlife, this little stretch of sand shows no indications of becoming a major tourist attraction. But, given its innate allure, this may not always be the case. Don’t put it off any longer.
Indeed, Phoenix can become quite hot in the summer. But, Phoenix, Arizona is a fantastic spot to come in the spring, fall, and winter.
Hiking, bicycling, and golfing are just a few of the outdoor activities available. Moreover, Phoenix boasts a number of unique attractions that are not found anyplace else in the globe. The Musical Instrument Museum and the Desert Botanical Garden, for example.
Then there’s Old Town Scottsdale, which is a must-see. Boutique boutiques, fantastic restaurants, clubs, and cafés may all be found here… All with a Southwestern twist. So Phoenix should definitely be on your bucket list. To get around, we’d recommend renting a sprinter van in Phoenix and enjoy the wonders.
The Slovenian town of Maribor
Certainly, Paris will always exist in Europe. As well as Rome. And [insert any other significant city here]. Maribor, Slovenia’s second-largest city, has the potential to stand out. Only the country’s capital, Ljubljana, is larger, albeit it is also off the usual tourist road. Maribor may not be as large as other European cities, but since being named a European City of Culture in 2012, visitors are finding its low-key charm.
This is the kind of place where you may walk the Old Town along the Drava River, relax in cafes with a nice book or people watch, and possibly see the 15th-century castle. It also has the world’s oldest grapevine, which is relevant given that the town is bordered by wine-growing regions that produce zelen and gewurztraminer, among other varietals.
You won’t have a 10-mile list of must-see museums and eateries. Yet, you will enjoy a relaxed European trip. LENT, the country’s largest event, takes place from late June to mid-July.