15 Hidden travel gems, Embracing earth's lesser-known treasures

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15 places in 14 countries
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Have you ever dreamed of seeing the world—oceans, deserts, forests, mountains—in its natural splendor? Of course, you have! And maybe you feel like you’ve already seen and done all the major popular attractions, and now you’re looking for something a bit off the beaten path- something unique and unexpected? If so, then you’ve come to the right place, hera are 15 hidden travel gems that are worth discovering. These 15 unique places are some of Earth’s lesser-known treasures, so get ready to be amazed as you explore these wondrous locations across the world. From lush rainforests to sparkling glaciers, you’re sure to find something magical, as these hidden gems are sure to add a truly unforgettable experience to your next adventure!

Kangaroo Island

Island in🇦🇺 Australia

Australia’s Kangaroo Island

A hidden gem worth travelling for, Australia’s Kangaroo Island is one of the most magical, untouched and extraordinary destinations down under. Located southwest of Adelaide, Kangaroo Island is the perfect getaway for those seeking unique and unspoilt nature, complete with beautiful beaches and crystal clear waters. Whether you are looking for a peaceful retreat or an unforgettable adventure holiday, this is the place to be. Away from the hustle and bustle of crowded cities, here you can immerse yourself in the pristine ocean wilderness, and explore the amazing array of wildlife and stunning landscapes untouched by the modern world. From unspoiled beaches to lush native bush, there is so much to see, do and explore. From its spectacular native animals like the kangaroo to its unique plants and birdlife, this enchanting island will truly capture your heart.

Before you go

When preparing for your Kangaroo Island adventure, keep in mind that it's essential to book your accommodations and transportation well in advance, especially if you plan to visit during peak seasons. The island offers various accommodation options, including hotels, cottages, and campgrounds, catering to different budgets and preferences. Don't forget to bring suitable clothing for changing weather conditions, as Kangaroo Island's climate can be unpredictable. Bring a reusable water bottle, as you may find limited services in some remote areas. Consider renting a car on the island for the convenience of exploring at your own pace. While there is limited public transportation, having your vehicle allows you to access remote areas. It's also wise to have a map or GPS navigation system handy, as mobile coverage can be inconsistent in certain parts of the island. Be sure to check for any updates on local regulations, such as fire restrictions or wildlife protection guidelines, to ensure a safe and enjoyable visit.

Explore Kangaroo Island

White Sands National Park

National park in🇺🇸 United States

USA’s White Sands National Park

Discover a hidden gem in the USA, far from the crowds and complexities of modern life. White Sands National Park stretches across New Mexico, with rolling white sand dunes of gypsum stretching as far as the eye can see. Here, visitors can wander amidst the dunes, explore shady trails, marvel at night skies bright with stars, and take your pick of exciting outdoor activities such as sand sledding and stargazing. Whether you’re looking for an adventure, a spot of rest, or simply want to bask in the beauty, USA's White Sands National Park has something for everyone. Embrace the peaceful atmosphere and be sure to mark it on your map as a must-see destination.

Before you go

When planning your trip to this unique destination, consider visiting during the cooler months, as temperatures in the summer can be scorching. Be sure to pack essentials like sunscreen, sunglasses, good shoes and plenty of water to stay hydrated while exploring the park. It's also a good idea to bring sand sleds or toboggans for a thrilling dune sledding experience. While there are some facilities within the park, it's advisable to have some snacks and extra supplies on hand, as services can be limited. While there are no campgrounds within the park, there are nearby camping facilities in the surrounding area, like Alamogordo/White Sands KOA Holiday. Check with the park for recommendations and reservations. Look on the park's official website for any updates on entrance fees, operating hours, and closures to ensure a smooth and enjoyable visit to this breathtaking landscape of shifting sands.

Explore White Sands National Park

Ranau

Town in🇲🇾 Malaysia

Malaysia’s Ranau

Malaysia's Ranau is certainly one of the most underrated travel gems in the world. A beautiful, charming and mysterious town tucked away between the mountains, green forests and valleys of the breathtaking Malaysian countryside, Ranau is the perfect place to experience the natural beauty of this Southeast Asian country. Ranau offers great opportunities for adventure-seekers, with activities like jungle trekking, hot springs exploring, and tree top walks. The local culture and history will certainly leave you in awe, and local cuisine will tantalize even the most discerning foodie. This hidden gem of Malaysia is sure to take your breath away with its stunning views, welcoming locals, and great natural beauty.

Before you go

When planning your trip to Ranau, remember to pack lightweight, breathable clothing as the region has a tropical rainforest climate. Due to its proximity to Mount Kinabalu, the weather can be cooler at higher altitudes, so it's advisable to bring warmer clothing. Don't forget essentials like insect repellent, sunscreen, binoculars for birdwatching and comfortable hiking shoes if you plan to explore the lush rainforests and ascend the mountain. While in Ranau, be sure to savor the local cuisine, including fresh seafood and Sabah's famous tea. To make the most of your trip, consider hiring a local guide to discover hidden gems and learn about the rich cultural heritage of the area. You should also visit the Kinabalu Park Botanical Garden to see a diverse range of plant species, including many orchids and pitcher plants native to the region. Check for any travel advisories or entry requirements, including visas, before your journey to ensure a smooth and enjoyable visit to this captivating region of Malaysia.

Explore Ranau

Skye

Island in🇬🇧 United Kingdomrated
4.2

Scotland’s Isle of Skye

Scotland’s Isle of Skye is a breathtakingly beautiful gem located off the west coast of Scotland. Bursts of vibrant purple heather, lush green rolling hills, and the backdrop of raw cliffs make it a can’t-miss destination. With a rich history and culture, there's something to explore for everyone. Here, one can spot such incredible wildlife as seals, otters, eagles, and even sometimes, dolphins frolicking in the crystal blue waters. Walking trails stretch the length of the isle to take in the beauty from one corner to the other and allow one to appreciate the stunning nature first-hand. Scotland’s Isle of Skye is a hidden travel gem you’ll never forget!

Before you go

When planning your trip to Skye, be prepared for variable weather, so bring, cooler and warmer waterproof clothing, and sturdy, waterproof hiking boots to explore the island comfortably. Accommodations can fill up quickly during the busy summer months, so it's wise to book your lodging well in advance. Renting a car is recommended to access the island's remote areas and picturesque viewpoints and to drive the famous "Skye Loop", but be prepared for single-track roads and potential traffic in popular spots. Keep in mind that some attractions may have limited parking, so arrive early if possible. To fully appreciate Skye's natural beauty, embark on hikes, visit the local distilleries, and engage with the welcoming community. Do not forget to adhere to responsible tourism practices by respecting the environment and leaving no trace, ensuring that Skye's stunning landscapes remain pristine for future generations to enjoy.

Explore Skye

Varanasi

City in🇮🇳 Indiarated
4

India’s Varanasi

Varanasi, located in India’s most populous state Uttar Pradesh, is one of the most spiritual sites in the world. For an early morning sunrise, there could be no better spot than the banks of the Ganges river, surrounded by hundreds of saffron-robed priests. Dubbed the ‘city of temples’, Varanasi boasts a wealth of incredible religious sites and a deep-rooted religious history that will stay with you long after you leave. From a vibrant bustling city to some of the most sacred places in India, experiencing Varanasi is sure to be an unforgettable journey. Exploring the streets and temples as well as taking part in Bhagavad Gita Puja (a ceremony of worship) on the bank of the river will give you a firsthand glimpse into the soul-stirring culture and ancient traditions of India. In the end, Varanasi is a hidden gem in India that is worth discovering.

Before you go

When planning your visit to Varanasi, remember to dress modestly, covering your shoulders and knees, especially when visiting temples and other religious sites. Be prepared for the city's bustling and chaotic streets, so navigating through the narrow lanes may be easier on foot or by cycle rickshaw. As Varanasi is a city of spirituality, it's essential to respect local customs and practices. Witnessing the mesmerizing Ganga Aarti ceremony at the ghats is a must-do experience, but arrive early to secure a good spot. While exploring the city, be cautious of touts and scams; it's advisable to negotiate prices beforehand when taking rickshaws or boat rides. Try the local cuisine but ensure it's from reputable establishments to avoid any stomach discomfort. Embrace the city's unique culture, spirituality, and rich history for an unforgettable journey in Varanasi. A boat ride along the Ganges is a must-do experience in Varanasi. You can hire a rowboat or join a guided tour to witness life along the river, observe rituals, and enjoy panoramic views of the city.

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Djúpivogur

Village in🇮🇸 Iceland

Iceland’s Djúpivogur

Experience Iceland’s untouched natural beauty with a visit to Djúpivogur, a hidden gem located on the east coast of the island. Covered in emerald-green moss and hidden in the shadow of the majestic Vestrahorn mountain range, this sparsely-populated, remote area of Iceland is the perfect escape for adventurous travelers looking to immerse themselves in the untouched beauty of the wilderness. With long, sweeping beaches ideal for twilight strolls, incredible views of glaciers from mountaintops, and unique wildlife including seals, whales, and many species of birds, Djúpivogur provides a unique and unforgettable experience for visitors of all ages. Whether you’re a thrill-seeking explorer or simply looking for a peaceful, serene escape, Djúpivogur is the perfect destination to explore an authentic, untouched paradise.

Before you go

When planning your trip to Djúpavogur, pack clothing suitable for Iceland's variable weather, including warm layers, waterproof jackets, and sturdy hiking boots, as the region's climate can change rapidly. The village is a gateway to numerous outdoor adventures, so consider exploring nearby hiking trails and birdwatching spots. Accommodations can be limited, so booking in advance is recommended, especially during the peak summer months. Don't forget to sample fresh seafood at local restaurants, and engage with the friendly community to learn about the area's unique culture and traditions. Be aware of the limited availability of services, such as gas stations, in the region, so plan accordingly to make the most of your visit to Djúpavogur's tranquil and awe-inspiring surroundings. While credit cards are widely accepted, it's a good idea to carry some Icelandic krona (ISK) for places that may not accept cards, such as remote areas or small villages.

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Chachapoyas

City in🇵🇪 Peru

Peru’s Chachapoyas

Peru’s Chachapoyas region demands to be explored. Located in the northern part of Peru, this area is a hidden gem that is truly off-the-beaten-track. Travelers looking for an exotic destination should search no further - Peru’s Chachapoyas will awe you with its breathtaking landscapes, endless trekking routes, captivating culture, and ancient ruins. Nestled amidst the cloud forests of the Amazon, this area is rich in Incan history and is just waiting to be discovered. With plenty of cozy accommodation options and local dishes to sample, Peru’s Chachapoyas offers the ultimate adventure experience in one of earth’s lesser-known treasures.

Before you go

When planning your visit to Chachapoyas, consider the region's altitude, as it sits at around 2,335 meters (7,661 feet) above sea level. Acclimatize slowly to avoid altitude sickness, and stay hydrated. Pack for varying weather conditions, as the climate can be unpredictable, and bring comfortable hiking gear if you plan to explore the numerous archaeological sites and natural wonders in the area. Chachapoyas offers a blend of adventure and cultural experiences, with attractions like the Kuelap Fortress and the Gocta Waterfall, so plan your itinerary accordingly. Accommodations and services may be limited in some areas, so booking ahead is advisable. Embrace the local cuisine and engage with the friendly locals to learn about the Chachapoyas culture and traditions. Keep in mind that some attractions may require a guide, so check in advance to make the most of your visit to this enchanting region of Peru.

Explore Chachapoyas

Siargao Island

Island in🇵🇭 Philippinesrated
5

Philippin’s Siargao

The Philippines’ Siargao island is one of the most incredible hidden gems any traveler can experience. A paradise located in the Eastern Philippines, Siargao is an adventure seeker’s dream. The clear and warm waters make it an ideal spot for snorkeling, as well as a perfect haven for learning how to surf or advancing your skills. If you want to explore a bit more of the island, you can go deep into the forest and find colorful caves, hidden lagoons, and untouched beaches. Siargao is the perfect mix of nature and adventure, making it one of the top hidden travel gems that will make your trip to the Philippines unforgettable.

Before you go

When planning your trip to Siargao, consider the weather; the best time to visit is during the dry season, from March to October. Be sure to pack reef-safe sunscreen to protect yourself and the environment. Siargao is relatively small, so renting a scooter or bicycle is a convenient way to explore the island at your own pace. While there are ATMs on the island, it's advisable to carry enough cash, especially if you plan to visit more remote areas. Don't miss the chance to surf the famous Cloud 9 wave and explore the hidden lagoons and caves. Remember to be mindful of the local customs and traditions, and indulge in the island's fresh seafood and Filipino cuisine for an unforgettable experience in Siargao. The Philippines typically uses Type A, B, and C electrical outlets, so consider bringing adapters for your electronic devices if you need.

Explore Siargao Island

Gotland

Island in🇸🇪 Sweden

Sweden’s Gotland

Situated in the middle of the Baltic Sea, Sweden’s Gotland is a small island that has a lot to offer. This hidden gem is filled with craggy cliffs, ancient ruins, and white sand beaches. From cycling and hiking to camping and canoeing, there are countless outdoor activities you can enjoy on the island. Foodies are also in luck – Gotland has a reputation for quality locally-sourced ingredients, and a number of restaurants, bars, and food markets to explore. With its stunning views and natural beauty, Gotland is the perfect destination for anyone seeking to reconnect with nature and appreciate Earth’s lesser known treasures.

Before you go

When planning your trip to Gotland, consider taking a ferry or flight from the mainland, as these are the primary means of reaching the island. The best time to visit is during the summer months when many cultural festivals and events take place. Pack clothing for variable weather, including light layers, as conditions can change quickly. Exploring the island is most convenient with a car, but you can also rent bikes to navigate the picturesque countryside and coastline. Be sure to visit Visby, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, to immerse yourself in medieval architecture and history. Accommodations range from hotels to quaint cottages, so book your stay in advance, especially during the high tourist season. Don't forget to try the savor local specialties like saffron pancakes and Gotlandic lamb while enjoying the island's tranquil and welcoming atmosphere.

Find more places in Sweden.

Explore Gotland

Crooked Forest

Nature reserve in🇵🇱 Poland

Szczecin’s Crooked Forest

If you’re looking for a unique and inspiring getaway, the Crooked Forest in Szczecin, Poland, is one hidden travel gem you won’t want to miss. Located just south of the city center, the mysterious pine grove is home to about 400 vibrant trees with trunks that curve à 90˚ before growing upward again. To this day, no one is quite sure how the "Crooked Forest” got its peculiar shape, and visitors to the area often speculate on its origin. Despite its twisted appearance, the grove is quite a sight to behold and its vibrant hues make it an ideal hiking spot. If you’re in the area, don’t miss the opportunity to immerse yourself in the natural charm of the Crooked Forest.

Before you go

When planning your visit to this fascinating natural wonder, it's advisable to wear comfortable clothing and sturdy shoes suitable for walking in a forested area. The Crooked Forest is relatively remote, so be prepared for limited amenities and services. Accessing the site is easiest by car, and there's a small parking area nearby. While visiting, please respect the fragile environment and follow designated paths to minimize damage to the trees and surrounding vegetation. The exact cause of the trees' curvature remains a mystery, adding to the intrigue of this natural attraction. Capture the enchanting atmosphere with your camera and take time to appreciate the other nearby attractions, such as the beautiful Szczecin Lagoon. Be sure to check for any updated information or visitor guidelines before your trip to ensure a memorable experience at Szczecin's Crooked Forest.

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Northeast Svalbard Nature Reserve

Nature reserve in🇳🇴 Norway

Svalbard’s Northeast Nature Reserve

For those who want to experience the beauty and danger of the extreme Arctic, the Northeast Svalbard Nature Reserve is a hidden gem. Located on an archipelago in the northernmost region of Norway, it's home to an untouched ecosystem with jagged mountains, glaciers, and Arctic wildlife. Although it can be a challenge to access the area due to its remote location, the safety protocols in place are reliable and strictly enforced, making this pristine landscape a destination for adventurers looking to experience the Arctic in its unspoiled state. So if you're looking for an adventure off the beaten path, head to the Northeast Svalbard Nature Reserve for an experience unlike any other

Before you go

Svalbard's Northeast Nature Reserve is a stunning but challenging destination, especially due to the presence of polar bears. When visiting, ensure you are accompanied by a qualified guide with expertise in polar bear safety, as these magnificent animals are common in the region. It's vital to carry appropriate safety equipment, including bear deterrents, and follow the guidelines for polar bear encounters to ensure a safe experience. Additionally, Svalbard experiences the polar day and polar night phenomena, which means that there are times when it's continuously dark or light for several months. The dark season runs from late October to mid-February, while the light season extends from April to August. Plan your activities accordingly, and be prepared for extreme temperatures, layered clothing, and adequate gear to make the most of your visit while staying safe in this unique Arctic environment.

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Cordoba

City in🇦🇷 Argentinarated
2.7

Argentine’s Cordoba

Tucked away in the Argentine lies the captivating city of Córdoba. This hidden gem has been a thriving city since flemish merchants first arrived in the 16th century, and is full of spectacular historical buildings and sights to explore. From churches to cultural hotspots, the city holds a wealth of fascinating attractions, all of which blend harmoniously with the backdrop of surrounding Andean foothills. Córdoba is home to the country's oldest university and has been a center of learning and creativity since its foundation in 1613. The old town of San Miguel de la Cruz is a fantastic place to explore and offers a glimpse into colonial Argentina. No visit to Córdoba would be complete without a tour of the stunning Facultad de Artes (or Art Faculty) – a must for any sightseer! This spectacular building is filled with vibrant fresco-style murals to admire, and provides an insight into Argentina's unique cultural history.

Before you go

When planning your trip to Cordoba, consider the region's temperate climate, which varies depending on the season, so pack accordingly with lightweight clothing for summer and layers for cooler months. Argentina uses Type C and I electrical outlets, so you may need an adapter for your electronic devices. The city boasts an extensive public transportation system, making it easy to explore its historic districts and attractions. Don't forget to try the local cuisine, including traditional Argentine dishes like asado (barbecue) and empanadas. Cordoba is renowned for its universities, giving it a youthful and lively atmosphere. It's also an excellent base for exploring the surrounding Sierras, offering hiking, horseback riding, and outdoor adventures. Immerse yourself in the local culture by participating in festivals and events, and engage with the friendly locals for a memorable experience in Cordoba.

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Uyuni

City in🇧🇴 Boliviarated
4.5

Bolovia’s Salar de Uyuni salt flats

Visiting the Salar de Uyuni salt flats in Bolivia is an experience unlike any other. Located in the awe-inspiring Altiplano of southwestern Bolivia, these expansive salt flats are a hidden gem that are practically a must-visit for travelers around the world. Stretching across 12,000 square kilometers (4,300 square miles), the Salar's surreal landscape takes visitors' breath away from the second they arrive. The crisp, white salt stretches out endlessly, and at some points, it's even possible to see a reflective optical illusion. Plus, it's the perfect place for gaining an appreciation for natural beauty. The closest city is Uyuni, making it a great and easy day or weekend trip. Don't miss out on a visit to the Salar de Uyuni salt flats on your next trip to Bolivia!

Before you go

When planning your visit, keep in mind that the salt flats can be extremely harsh, with intense sunlight and cold temperatures. It's advisable to join a guided tour with experienced local operators who know the terrain well, as the vast salt flats can be disorienting. Due to the remote location, be prepared for basic accommodations and limited amenities, especially when venturing out to the salt hotel accommodations. Don't forget essentials like sunglasses, sunscreen, and a reusable water bottle to stay hydrated in the high-altitude desert environment. Salar de Uyuni is most striking after a rain when it becomes a giant mirror, so consider visiting during the wet season (December to April) for this unique spectacle. Respect the delicate ecosystem by adhering to Leave No Trace principles, and immerse yourself in the incredible scenery and captivating culture of this natural wonder.

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Pamukkale

Town in🇹🇷 Turkeyrated
4

Turke’s Pamukkale

Have you ever dreamed of visiting a place that feels out of this world? The natural phenomenon of Pamukkale in Turkey is one of the earth's lesser-known treasures that will take your breath away. Located in southwestern Turkey, Pamukkale is a peculiar landscape of curvaceous terraces and milky white travertines cascading down the mountain. This other-worldly landscape looks UFO-shape, with bright colors and bird’s-eye views. You can explore the ruins of ancient cities like Hierapolis and Karahash. Pamukkale has so much to offer visitors; an adventure that you wouldn't want to miss!

Before you go

When planning your trip, it's essential to wear comfortable footwear with a good grip, as you'll be walking on the travertine terraces, which can be slippery. Remember to pack swimwear, as you can bathe in the warm, mineral-rich waters of Cleopatra's Pool. The best time to visit is during the spring or autumn when the weather is milder, as summers can be scorching. While exploring the terraces, preserve this natural wonder by adhering to the posted pathways and avoiding any further damage to the fragile formations. Additionally, Pamukkale is close to the ancient city of Hierapolis, so allocate time to explore its fascinating archaeological ruins. Respect local customs and dress modestly when visiting religious sites nearby. Finally, be sure to check the latest entrance fees and visitor guidelines to make the most of your visit to this extraordinary geological wonder.

Explore Pamukkale

Lofotodden nasjonalpark

National park in🇳🇴 Norway

Norway’s Lofotodden National Park

Located in Northern Norway along the arctic circle, Lofotodden National Park is one of earth's hidden gems. Travelers who journey to this remote, beautiful corner of the world are rewarded with untamed and rugged landscapes that have been unaltered for thousands of years. Covering an area of over 60,000 acres of wild tundra and forests, the park offers visitors the chance to immerse themselves in nature and take part in a wide range of activities including hiking, biking, fishing, kayaking, skiing, snowshoeing, and more. Visitors will also be able to spot a variety of wildlife, including reindeer, foxes, owls, and moose. One of the most magical things about Lofotodden National Park is its many sheltered coves and beaches, where sea eagles, colonies of puffins, and seals can be seen. If you are looking for an amazing outdoor experience that is off the beaten path, Lofotodden National Park is definitely worth a visit!

Before you go

When planning your trip to Lofotodden, prepare for Norway's ever-changing weather by packing layered clothing, waterproof outerwear, and sturdy hiking boots. Visiting during the summer months allows for hiking, kayaking, and the chance to witness the midnight sun, but keep in mind that this is also the high tourist season, so book accommodations and activities well in advance. If you prefer a quieter experience, consider the shoulder seasons when the Northern Lights become visible. Public transportation is limited, so renting a car is recommended for exploring the islands at your own pace. Be respectful of the pristine environment by practicing Leave No Trace principles and supporting sustainable tourism efforts. Immerse yourself in the local culture by trying traditional Norwegian dishes like fresh seafood and dried cod, and engage with the welcoming locals for a truly memorable experience in Lofotodden National Park.

Explore Lofotodden nasjonalpark

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