When you are planning a trip it is all too easy to go for the recognised and popular destinations. And while I love Paris, Rome and New York as much as anyone else, I also take great pleasure in discovering the more unique travel destinations that are hiding, mostly undiscovered around the world and those that are perfect for people like us who are on a budget.
The following places are all beautiful and underrated destinations that we have traveled to both a family and as a couple (in the days before kids). I have tried to include tips on how to save money, making these destinations perfect for those looking for cheaper, budget places to visit around the world.
Hopefully, this guide will give you some fresh ideas for the next time you come to plan your next trip! And remember! Before you leave for an international trip, make sure you create space in your brain by following our must do travel checklist.
This post may contain affiliate links. They cost you nothing but we make a small commission.
Unique Travel Destinations That Will Leave You Reaching For Your Passport
Taranaki – New Zealand
I’m going to kick off with this beautiful region in New Zealand. I am lucky enough to call Taranaki home but that in no way makes me biased!
Taranaki is a region on the West coast of the North Island of New Zealand. It is famous for the active but quiescent stratovolcano, Mt Taranaki, that towers proudly over the entire region. Taranaki is dressed with beautiful black sand beaches that host fabulous surf breaks, meaning that in the winter, you can ski and surf on the same day!
Taranaki has got stacks of free things to do including hiking, mountain biking, volcano climbing! Take a walk along the coastal walkway and watch the sunset before enjoying a glass of wine in one of the many unpretentious bars. Cheaper than Auckland or Wellington!
Mirrisa – Sri Lanka
Although Sri Lanka is becoming more popular, it is still a relatively underrated destination. We spent three weeks in Sri Lanka as a family and this beautiful island captured our hearts.
Surrounded by the Indian Ocean, Sri Lanka offers golden sands beaches, fabulous food, stunning wildlife, breathtaking scenery and friendly people.
If that isn’t enough to convince you to make Sri Lanka your next destination, know that it was recently announced that Sri Lanka is offering Free Visas to over 30 countries, including the US. What are you waiting for?
Don’t miss the town of Mirissa which will provide you with a stunning beach, wonderful restaurants and a slow pace of Sri Lankan life.
- APRIL 2019 UPDATE: I have just heard the terrible news of the terrorist attacks in Sri Lanka. I am so very, very sorry for this beautiful country and its wonderful people. When you talk to the local people of Sri Lanka they are deeply saddened by the war and unrest that has plagued their country; all they wish for is peace and for others to enjoy their beautiful island and to feel safe. Terrorist attacks have happened in many of the countries that we have visited including London, Paris, New York and of course, New Zealand – our home. Please, don’t let these terrorists win by avoiding any of these countries. The choice is, of course, yours, but speaking from a personal standpoint, I will continue to vote Sri Lanka as one of the most beautiful and friendly countries in the world. I hope you get to discover this for yourself.
Take the bus from Mirissa to the beautiful town of Galle. The ride will cost you no more than a dollar and the experience – to sit next to an open window amongst the colourful locals – is priceless.
The pizza restaurant next to the bus stop in Mirissa is also the best in Sri Lanka!
Udaipur – India
I am including two cities from India because, after spending six weeks in India last year, I am such a big fan of the country. Poor India gets a lot of bad press when it comes to being a vacation destination, but give India a chance and I think you will love it as much as I do.
Udaipur, also known as the city of lakes, is an incredibly romantic and unique destination for any traveler willing to look outside of the box.
Nestled beside the serene Lake Pichola, Udaipur offers up a winding maze of streets lined with intriguing shops and cafes.
The people of Udaipur are friendly and hospitable and are proud of their beautiful city with its bustling art scene. Take a romantic boat ride on the lake at sunset and admire the city from the water. I defy Udaipur not to charm you!
Take a tuk-tuk up into the hills and find the reservoir. It is beautiful, quiet and shady. Best of all? It’s free!
Save This Post To Pinterest!⇓
Alleppey – India
Alleppey, also known as Alappuzha is a city in the southern Indian state of Kerala which is famed for its backwaters; an intricate network of canals and lagoons that weave inside and around the beautiful surroundings of the region.
Allepey is quite possibly the greenest, cleanest and friendliest city that we visited in India; offering the visitor fabulous beaches and superb restaurants, I promise; if you are looking for a unique destination in India, you will love Allepey.
Eat at Hassan’s family restaurant. This is not an affiliate link, just me telling you that you won’t find more delicious and cheap Indian food than at this place.
Phong Nah-Ke National Park – Vietnam
Most people who go to Vietnam tends to head to the major cities that offer beaches and shopping, which is a shame because by doing so they miss the chance to experience beautiful destinations like Phong Nah.
Steeped in history, Phong Nah offers the adventurous traveler a breathtaking chance to experience the oldest karst mountains in Asia; these stunning mountains were formed over 400 million years ago and are riddled with hundreds of spectacular rivers and caves all waiting to be explored.
If you are a traveler that thrives on adventure and is on a budget, then Phong Nah in Vietnam is a must do unique destination for you.
Hire a motorbike (very cheap – just be aware of a popular scam with motorbikes in Vietnam!) and drive up to the beautiful hills. The food in Vietnam is sooo cheap so you can stop at any roadside cafes and have a delicious lunch!
Do You Love To Travel?
Subscribe below and whenever I write something that I think will interest you I will send you an email. Don't worry. I won't spam you. I'm not that organised!
But I will send you my FREE 8-page checklist on how to take the first steps to make changes in your life so that you can travel MORE!
You have Successfully Subscribed!
Chiang Mai – Thailand
There is so much more to Thailand than beach resorts. Take the train from Bangkok and head to the misty mountainous region in the North of Thailand. Here you will find Chiang Mai, a beautiful city backed majestically by the Doi Pui–Doi Suthep National Park offering bird watching, hiking and waterfall climbing.
Chiang Mai has it all; first-class dining, hundreds of temples and beautiful weather.
Love to exercise when you travel? The park in the middle of Chiang Mai is a fabulous place to go and work out for FREE! Why pay for an expensive gym when you can exercise in the early morning or evening in such beautiful surroundings?
Verona – Italy
I am naming Verona as one of the underrated destinations in Europe because it always seems to take second place to likes of Rome and Florence!
While many European cities offer much more to do as a family, Verona will capture your heart if you long for romance and understated exclusivity.
Used as the setting for Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, this medieval town, built between the meandering Adige River, is the quintessential romantic Italian city.
Offering world-class restaurants, shopping to rival glitzy Rome, and huge performances staged in the ancient Roman amphitheatre, you will fall head over heels in love with Verona and with each other!
If you want to save money on eating out in Verona, do as we did. Eat lunch at one of the many curbside cafes. The portions are plentiful and because it is a lunch menu it is surprisingly cheaper than paying for dinner.
By the time dinner time rolls around you are still full and can make do with a hunk of cheese and some delicious deli bought bread!
Paros – Greece
I have spent many summers in this tiny slice of Paradise and adore every bit of it.
Travelers in the know, regard Paros as the quintessential Greek Island. This idyllic island that sits in the middle of the sparkling blue Aegean Sea greeting new arrivals with sugar cube white houses, pristine white sand beaches and quaint fishing villages.
Naousa is the village to head for if you love to shop in windy Greek alleyways, indulge in fresh fish and spend the evenings drinking cocktails in one of the harbour front bars.
Hire a scooter and head to the tiny village of Lefkes. Here you will find traditional tavernas that serve meals for half the cost of the more popular places. Remember! In Greece, when you order a ‘tuna salad’ it is literally a plate of tuna mayonnaise with an olive on top. If you are wanting a sandwich then order the tuna salad, take bread that is served as standard at any restaurant and make your delicious lunch!
Naples – Italy.
Naples often takes a back seat to the more glitzy Italian destinations such as Rome and Milan, but if you have always longed to experience the real Italy, to spend your vacation amongst Italians who elude showy tourism and instead opt for raw, unadulterated elegance, then you will love Naples.
Wander the maze of streets lined with colourful and noisy stalls, eat the finest pizza in Italy and don’t miss the chance the spend a few days exploring Pompeii.
Don’t miss the National Archaeological Museum. It is a stunning museum and is where most of the relics that they dug up from Pompeii and Herculaneum is on display. It is not free but it is very cheap compared to other attractions in Italy. Don’t miss it!
Kilkenny – Ireland
If you are looking to experience a real slice of Ireland then the medieval city of Kilkenny is one of the best destinations for you.
The ‘Medieval Mile’, which runs between the castle and the cathedral along the banks of the river Nore is intriguing. Narrow crooked lanes filled with more pubs and shops than you imagine, all inviting the visitor inside to experience some true Irish hospitality.
Go into any of the local pubs in Kilkenny at lunchtime and you can guarantee that there will be a couple of musicians having a jam. Order your Guinness and your steak and ale pie and spend the afternoon listening to free music. (maybe buy them a beer if your budget will stretch?!)
Banchory – Scotland
Banchory is a beautiful historic town 20 miles west of Aberdeen.
Sitting quietly alongside the magnificent River Dee and with a backdrop of heavy green forests and stunning countryside, Banchory offers not one, but two, castles to explore along with a handful of small independent cafes and boutiques.
Don’t miss the chance to pass a few hours soaking up the crisp Scottish air in Banchory; watching as the salmon jump upstream in the River Dee.
Charleston – South Carolina
The best-hidden gems are often off the beaten track and it would be quite easy to miss the city of Charleston in South Carolina.
Founded in 1670 the adorable city of Charleston with its cobblestone streets and chocolate box houses, oozes charm, history and elegance.
Take a horse-drawn tour through the winding streets or spend the evening amusing yourself with a famous Charleston historical ghost tour before eating out at one of Charlestons many fine restaurants.
We believe this is one of the most unique destinations in North America and one not to be missed!
Free parking down by the seafront on Bay Street. Easy walking distance and you can stay there all day while you explore this gorgeous city.
Briançon – Hautes-Alpes, France.
If you are looking to go skiing in the French Alpes and want to experience history and culture as well as some snow, then head to Briançon.
Briançon is the highest town in France and quite possibly the most unique destination you will be glad I tol you about.
Head up to the old part of this gorgeous French town which is overlooked by the fortified castle, and you will find charming steep and narrow streets offering up dark cosy restaurants that serve possibly the best cheese fondues in France!
Nearby, excellent skiing can be found at nearby Montgenevre (another underrated destination for skiing) and Serre Chevalier.
Hire a car and take the spectacular drive up through the windy, mountainous roads up to Montgenevere. Once there, take a 30-minute stroll into Italy and have a pizza!
Shimosuwa – Japan
Japan is one destination in the world that you can not afford to miss. It is truly magical.
Unfortunately, finding unique destinations in Japan takes time, so you will be glad that I have done all the hard work for you!
Shimosuwa is a peaceful town located in Nagano Prefecture of Japan. It has a population not much more than 20,000. It is quiet, the scenery is stunning and when you visit here you will truly feel that you are in Japan.
Using your Japanese Rail Pass, take the train and visit the beautiful mountain City of Matsumoto. You will find a 16th-century castle nicknamed the ‘Crow Castle’ to reflect its distinctive black walls and restaurants serving some of the best Ramen noodles that we tried in Japan!
Spend a few hours doing a sake tasting tour at Cella Masumi. We did this and it was a fabulous way to spend the afternoon. The hosts are very friendly and the cost is a good deal cheaper than in Tokyo or another major city.
Sinj – Croatia
If you go inland approximately 30km from Split, you will find the beautiful historic town of Sinj, sitting very modestly in the heart of Dalmatia.
Whereas Split is blue and loud and touristy, Sinj is green and peaceful and very Croatian.
Enjoy traditional Croatian dining, friendly people and beautiful scenery in this very underrated destination in Croatia.
Cool off in the shade of the sweet smelling pines as you follow the path upwards from the centre of Sinj to the remnants of the old fortress which rises on a rocky hill above the town. It is a gorgeous walk and the spectacular view at the top that reaches for miles will cost you nothing.
Ile De Rais – France
If you pick the right time to visit this stunning island of Ile de Rais the West coast of France, you will find empty beaches, perfect weather and hundreds of places to relax in nature.
Flanked by sweet-smelling pine trees and stunning sandy dunes, Ille De Rais is the perfect place to take a family.
The harbour villages and the quiet cycle paths that adorn the island make for a relaxing and tranquil way to spend time as a family or alone.
Don’t miss the weekly markets that serve up some of the best meat that we have tasted in the whole of France!
Hire a bike and explore this very flat island for FREE! It’s a great way to see the countryside and meet the friendly locals!
Porthcurno – Cornwall, England
I was brought up in Cornwall in the UK and so absolutely adore it.
The whole of Cornwall is lovely but you have to travel far down South to experience the real unique destinations.
The village of Porthcurno is simply stunning and is close to many other fishing villages that you can explore. Porthcurno offers rugged coastlines, beautiful white sandy beaches and charming seafood restaurants.
Do not miss the chance to see an open-air performance at the famous Minack Theatre, an open-air amphitheatre that is built into a rocky granite outcrop that juts out to the sea; this is quite possibly the most stunning theatre in the world.
Don’t forget to bring your packed evening lunch to the Minac Theatre! Join the locals and enjoy the wonderful atmosphere. It is very likely that you will see a shoal of dolphins out to see, saving you money on expensive wildlife tours!
Related Posts That You Will Enjoy!
There you have it!
17 of the most unique travel destinations in the world. I hope you find one that you would like to visit and please, if you do, let me know what you thought! Don’t forget to share this post with someone who you think would enjoy it as much as you!