5 Off-the-Radar Travel Destinations

Photo (cc) by Wonderlane

Some travel destinations remain popular because they never cease to enchant. The Egyptian pyramids at Giza astound with their history and size. At dusk, light dances through the streets of Rome. In Agra, India, travelers can gaze across the reflecting pool at the Taj Mahal.

However, while the road most traveled can be exhilarating, it can also be crowded. Thus, some travelers set their sights on mostly undiscovered locales, places that delight the senses without attracting throngs of tourists — at least not yet.

Check out these hidden gems before the rest of the world discovers them.

Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka bbd5ab6275ced3ae8ff572ec_1280_565477

This picturesque island nation off the southern tip of India rarely makes headlines in the Western world, but when it does, the news tends to be negative, such as the devastation of the 2004 tsunami.

Yet, this country known for its warm citizenry and well-established tourism industry is accommodating and thriving. History buffs delight in the ruins of the 1,500-year-old city of Sigiriya, an official UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Outdoor adventurers scale Adam’s Peak (also known as Sri Pada), a site considered holy by Christians, Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists alike. Christians and Muslims believe that the footprint-like indentation at the top of the mountain came from the biblical Adam when he was cast out of Eden, Hindus assert it belonged to Shiva, and Buddhists say it was Buddha’s foot that made the print.

For those who want to experience both the flora and fauna, visit the Elephant Freedom Project, a rescue organization that allows visitors to bathe, feed and play with the elephants.

If relaxation is in order, Sri Lanka offers almost 1,000 miles of sandy coastline, and spa resorts that provide treatment through Ayurveda, a 7,000-year-old form of therapy that focuses on a cleansing diet coupled with physical stimulation, from yoga to deep-tissue massage.

Bhutan

Bhutan 6590269813_45d2bbea04_b

Surrounded by China, Nepal, India and Bangladesh, this small country of 750,000 people in the eastern Himalayas used to be so off the radar that it was untouched by tourists.

In 1974, Bhutan’s government, led by a king with absolute power, decided to let visitors into the nation, and its popularity has been on the rise since.

Although Bhutan may be small — less than 15,000 square miles — there is plenty to do. The Taktsang (Tiger’s Nest) Monastery is an ornate cliffside structure built around meditation caves significant in Buddhist history.

You can also drive on the winding roads toward the national capital of Thimphu, where travelers take in 360-degree views of the Himalayas on the Dochula pass.

In addition to soothing hot springs therapy centers and meditation retreats, Bhutan has a unique and beautiful culture. The country has national outfits — gho robes for men and kira dresses for women. It also has an official dish called ema datshi, a delicious blend of spicy chilies and melted cheese, made locally with homemade cow or yak cheese.

Oman

Oman 5191490574_767e5b4dec_b

While the luxurious city of Dubai in the neighboring United Arab Emirates seems to get most of the area’s attention, Oman is a burgeoning country attracting more tourists each year.

The travel experts at The Lonely Planet declared the capital, Muscat, to be the second-best tourist city in the entire world in 2012. It’s no wonder, since Muscat boasts world-class beachside luxury resorts and picturesque local attractions like the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque, which can accommodate up to 20,000 worshipers and visitors at any given time.

From the shores of Khasab, boats called dhow cruise along the coast, allowing passengers to snorkel, dolphin watch and marvel at the natural coastal fjords.

For a great cardio workout with unbeatable vistas, head to Wadi Shab, a dramatic rock canyon that surrounds crystal blue lakes, rivers and waterfalls, a true oasis in the desert.

After a day of burning calories, return to Muscat and dine at one of the many restaurants, where cuisine influences merge from throughout the region, even from as far as India.

Nicaragua

Nicaragua 3177362343_08794e0d42_b

People who lived through the Reagan administration likely recall a checkered decade in the history of this Central American nation, including a militant Sandinista government.

Yet, those who visit today find a nation that’s virtually unrecognizable from the war-torn country of the 1980s.

When visiting this tropical nation, head straight from the airport in the capital city of Managua to majestic Granada, only 45 minutes away and situated on the massive Lake Nicaragua.

Granada has a rich history, founded in 1524 by Spanish settlers, who 10 years later built the Iglesia de la Merced, which is ranked by TripAdvisor as the top attraction in the city.

For outdoor adventures, hike up the dormant Mombacho volcano for panoramic views of Granada and Lake Nicaragua — Mombacho is one of 50 volcanoes in the country, seven of which are active. Or take a boat to the stunning Islets of Granada, a chain of 365 islands on Lake Nicaragua.

For a truly secluded beach getaway, travelers can venture 50 miles offshore from the Atlantic Coast to the Corn Islands, a mostly undiscovered paradise where nearly everyone (descendants of British settlers) speaks English, the cuisine is heavy on fresh seafood, and life is simple, humble and beautiful.

Norway

Norway 6757343525_a5eff796c0_b

Norway ranks first in the world on the Human Development Index, which takes into account life expectancy, education and income. Clearly, life is good in the Norse nation, and it’s well worth a visit.

As a jumping off point, the capital city of Oslo alone is enough of a reason to buy a plane ticket. From the awe-inspiring sculptures of Vigeland Park (all built by one artist) to the architecturally stunning Oslo Opera House — home to the Norwegian National Opera and Ballet — there is no shortage of things to do around the city.

Oslo is also in the midst of a culinary revolution that has swept across Scandinavia. The city offers some of the best restaurants in the nation, blending local cuisine with influences from abroad.

Outside of the capital city, Norway opens up as a vast, natural landscape. For snow bunnies, there are a plethora of options for great skiing, including those in the Lillehammer region, home to the 1994 Winter Olympics.

The largest ski resort, Trysil, is not only a powder lover’s paradise, but it’s also an excellent place to view the aurora borealis.

Norway is home to seven UNESCO World Heritage Sites — six cultural, one natural. The latter is the western Norway fjord region, where outdoorsy types can boat, hike, swim, fish and bike in and around the natural beauty of the dramatic cliffs and inlets.

Perhaps the most interesting and picturesque UNESCO cultural site is Bryggen, where traditionally built, colorful wooden houses populate the coastal wharf town.

Like this story? SHARE it with your friends on Facebook.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Read Next
12 Expenses You May Be Tempted to Claim as Tax Deductions — but Shouldn’t
12 Expenses You May Be Tempted to Claim as Tax Deductions — but Shouldn’t

Thinking of trying to deduct a few of these things on your federal tax return? That could be a costly mistake.

Why Half of Retirees Now Owe Taxes on Social Security
Why Half of Retirees Now Owe Taxes on Social Security

Growing numbers of seniors are paying taxes on their Social Security benefits, but you might be able to avoid this fate.

15 Ways Retirees Can Make Their Savings Last Longer
15 Ways Retirees Can Make Their Savings Last Longer

Study these strategies to make your golden years gleam.

It’s Worth Paying Extra for These 14 Items
It’s Worth Paying Extra for These 14 Items

Here’s where to find the sweet spot at the intersection of price and quality.

10 Ways Anyone Can Earn More Income
10 Ways Anyone Can Earn More Income

Looking for additional cash? Here are a bunch of options that are accessible to anyone with internet access.

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Most Popular
7 Kirkland Signature Items to Avoid at Costco
7 Kirkland Signature Items to Avoid at Costco

Even if it seems you save a bundle buying Costco’s Kirkland Signature brand products, they may not be the bargain they appear to be.

Am I Eligible for My Mother’s Social Security Benefit?
Am I Eligible for My Mother’s Social Security Benefit?

Can an adult daughter tap into her late mother’s benefit?

9 Things You’ll Never See at Costco Again
9 Things You’ll Never See at Costco Again

The warehouse store offers an enormous selection, but these products aren’t coming back.

3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free
3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free

With a little ingenuity, you can cut Office costs to zero.

This Surprise Factor Can Raise Your Risk of Dementia
This Surprise Factor Can Raise Your Risk of Dementia

Nearly half of U.S. residents may face this threat.

Organize Your Home With These 10 Thrift Store Finds
Organize Your Home With These 10 Thrift Store Finds

Resolve to be clutter-free in 2021 with these secondhand purchases.

These Major Appliances Got the Worst Reviews in 2020
These Major Appliances Got the Worst Reviews in 2020

Consumer Reports says these home products got the worst ratings from experts.

This Gas Station Scam Is Victimizing More Drivers
This Gas Station Scam Is Victimizing More Drivers

For the second straight year, a growing number of Americans believe they’ve fallen prey to this scam.

11 Laws You Could Be Breaking Without Knowing It
11 Laws You Could Be Breaking Without Knowing It

Seriously? Fibbing about the weather is a crime? This and other little-known legal traps await the unwary.

These Are the 3 Best Used Cars You Can Buy
These Are the 3 Best Used Cars You Can Buy

These vehicles boast reliability, safety and long-lasting value.

13 Things Seniors Can Get for Free — or Almost Free
13 Things Seniors Can Get for Free — or Almost Free

There are many ways to get cheap or free services and goods after reaching a certain age.

6 Legal Documents Retirees Need — but Don’t Have
6 Legal Documents Retirees Need — but Don’t Have

Few retirees have all of these documents that are crucial to their golden years — especially during a pandemic.

Is This Treatable Condition Causing Your High Blood Pressure?
Is This Treatable Condition Causing Your High Blood Pressure?

Researchers say too many doctors are overlooking this potential source of hypertension.

11 Generic Products You Should Buy at Costco
11 Generic Products You Should Buy at Costco

Not all generics are worthwhile, but these are among the best from Costco’s Kirkland Signature brand.

Internet Providers Can’t Charge You for This Anymore
Internet Providers Can’t Charge You for This Anymore

Starting this month, your ISP no longer can bill you for this fee.

3 Cable TV Companies Hiking Prices for 2021
3 Cable TV Companies Hiking Prices for 2021

Still married to your cable company? Hold on to your wallet!

8 Tips for Retiring Comfortably on Social Security Alone
8 Tips for Retiring Comfortably on Social Security Alone

It’s never too early to start learning how to live well while living on less.

15 Painless Ways You Can Cut Costs in 2021
15 Painless Ways You Can Cut Costs in 2021

Follow these tips to save, so you’ll have money for things that really matter.

9 Small Expenses That Are Bleeding Your Budget Dry
9 Small Expenses That Are Bleeding Your Budget Dry

Keep more of future paychecks by eliminating these budget-busting unnecessary expenses.

View More Articles

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Add a Comment

Our Policy: We welcome relevant and respectful comments in order to foster healthy and informative discussions. All other comments may be removed. Comments with links are automatically held for moderation.