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The Most Underrated Travel Destinations in the World

Looking for somewhere off-the-beaten path that's not overrun with tourists? Here are our picks for an unforgettable under-the-radar adventure.

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Onomichi city bird's eye view.
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Onomichi, Japan

Onomichi is an old-timey port with a tranquil vibe. Set in eastern Hiroshima Prefecture, it’s distinguished by sloped lanes, traditional houses, and heritage sites. A designated walking route, called “Temple Walk,” gives visitors the opportunity to soak in all the nostalgia while trekking up and down the narrow corridors. Prefer not to hoof it? A ropeway runs to the hilltop Senkō-ji Park, prized for its 9th-century Buddhist temple and stunning views.

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View over the houses and mosque on Greek islands Kastelorizo and the sea from the bay
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Kastellorizo, Greece

What if we told you there’s an underground cave that’s larger than Grotta Azzurra off the coast of a low-key Grecian islet? Kastellorizo has many things to be proud of—magnificent views, Mediterranean ambiance, and film credentials to name a few—although its most celebrated attraction is without a doubt the breathtaking Blue Cave. So, how has it managed to stay a secret? Santorini and Mykonos sort of hog the spotlight. These idyllic isles are certainly worthy of praise, but with that said, Kastellorizo is too.

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Cityscape of Gdansk in Poland

Gdansk, Poland

If you ask us (and anyone who lives in Poland or has ever visited) Gdansk has been flying under the radar for far too long. Seriously, its fascinating history dates back a thousand years. Its where the opening shots of World War II were fired and was instrumental in the fall of communism. As to expected, there’s an array of noteworthy landmarks. More surprising? It’s the center of the amber trade. There are tons of boutiques that sell gemstone jewelry and even a dedicated museum.

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Beautiful landscape with horses in County Sligo, Ireland

Ballymote, Ireland

Dublin is dazzling, but there’s plenty of awe-inspiring places outside of Ireland’s capital (which by the way are every bit as photogenic). Take Ballymote, in southern County Sligo, for example. On the outskirts of this historic hamlet is the impressive ruins of an Anglo-Norman castle Built by Richard de Burgo, the Red Earl of Ulster, in 1300, this mighty fortress was, back then, the strongest citadel in Connacht. Today, it’s an enduring reminder of an era gone by. A short walk away is the ivy-covered Ballymote Abbey as well as quaint cafés. On your trip to the Emerald Isle, make these undiscovered gems are on your radar.

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Chanthaburi waterfront community.
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Chanthaburi, Thailand

Why more tourists aren’t flocking to Chanthaburi, we’ll never understand. This intriguing locale, a three-hour drive southeast from Thailand’s modern capital, Bangkok, is brimming with Buddhist temples, colorful markets, and historic shrines. Nearby, Namtok Phlio National Park has its fair share of glimmering lagoons, gushing cascades, mossy pagodas, mangrove forests, and exotic wildlife.

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Doc Let beach, Vietnam. Umbrellas and sunbeds.

Doc Let, Vietnam

Just an hour north of the ever-popular resort of Nha Trang is Doc Let, a sleepy seaside village with a spellbinding 10 miles of powder-white sand and turquoise water. The pace is relaxed and locals are warm. Plus, the food is delicious (you’ll often see local fisherman cooking fresh-caught fish). Coupled with the fact that Vietnam is among the fastest-growing tourism destinations in the world and it’s borderline inconceivable that more people don’t visit, let alone know about, Doc Let.

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Herceg Novi, Kotor Bay, Montenegro
Irina Papoyan/Shutterstock

Kotor, Montenegro

Kotor doesn’t get the credit it deserves. Situated in a sapphire bay near the picturesque cliffs of Mt. Lovćen, this coastal enclave is endlessly charming. Its medieval old town is filled with meandering streets, squares, monuments, and cathedrals. You’ll also find distinctive museums. One is dedicated to nautical heritage, while the other displays a collection of cat-themed memorabilia and artwork.

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Hahndorf, Australia

From Sydney and Melbourne to Brisbane and Darwin, Australia abounds with hot spots. However, the less prominent locales prove equally compelling. Settled by 19th-century Lutheran migrants, Hahndorf is the oldest surviving German settlement in Oz. On the itinerary? Peep traditional fachwerk architecture, peruse artisan shops, sip craft beers, and learn about local culture at Hahndorf Academy.

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The chess pavilion in the mountains Huashan Mountain, China
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Mt. Huashan, China

There’s more to China than Beijing, Shanghai, and Xi’an. Case in point: Mt. Huashan. This sacred mountain is both fear-inducing and fantastical. Thrill-seekers can attempt the adrenaline-pumping climb to the top. Vertical ascents and wooden plank path make it one of the most dangerous hikes in the world. If terrifying treks aren’t your thing (and we totally get it) you can still gaze at all the alpine glory from the safety of a cable car. Don’t miss these extreme escapes around the world.

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The village next to the river. The backdrop has mountains and beautiful blue turquoise sky. The river has a beautiful reflection. Village in Pai, Mae Hong Son, Thailand
Nuttakan Peawyoo/Shutterstock

Pai, Thailand

Most folks spend their days in Bangkok and Chiang Mai (both of which are certain must-visits), but in-the-know travelers carve out time to visit Pai. Some have called it a carbon copy of the latter, except for quieter and more compact. But that certainly does mean you’ll be bored! Downtown brims with handicraft vendors, food stalls, and vegetarian restaurants. Just outside are natural attractions such as Mo Paeng Waterfall, Pong Nam Ron Thapai (hot springs), and Pai Land Split.

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Santa claus village lapland finland
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Lapland, Finland

Lapland should be on everyone’s wishlist. Finland’s northernmost region is a sparsely populated playground of snow-capped wilderness, ski resorts, and arctic adventure. Its capital, Rovaniemi shines come Christmas as the official home of Santa Claus. But perhaps the biggest draw is the spellbinding natural phenomena, from the Northern Lights in the winter to the midnight sun in the summer.

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Convent of Christ in Tomar, Portugal, UNESCO world heritage list

Tomar, Portugal

Tomar played a crucial role during the Middle Ages, yet few outside of Portugal are familiar with this appealing town in the Iberian Peninsula. So, here’s the scoop: It served as the religious headquarters of the Knights Templar for a whopping 700 years. Constructed over the course of five centuries the Convent of Christ is an architectural marvel of considerable import. The expansive hilltop complex is a mesmerizing mix of Romanesque, Gothic, Manueline, Renaissance, Mannerist, and Baroque elements and is widely considered to be one of the nation’s finest monuments.

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rocky shore in a quiet cove
Dan Sedran/Shutterstock

Tobermory, Ontario

Be honest, you probably weren’t aware Tobermory existed until now. This harbor village in southern Ontario is the gateway to scenic beauty. Bruce Peninsula National Park boasts Niagara Escarpment, Indian Head Cove, and the Grotto, a limestone cave in Georgian Bay. Fathom Five National Marine Park features Flowerpot Island, 19th-century lighthouses, and multiple shipwrecks. Need help choosing your next trip? Here’s how to pick the best vacation based on your personality type.

Lindsay Cohn
Lindsay Cohn is an avid traveler who has visited 46 countries across six continents. At Reader’s Digest, she covers both domestic and international travel. When she's not writing, you can find her hanging out with her son, doing yoga and adding to her ever-growing list of future adventures.