Like just about everything else in life, travel is subject to shifting trends and fads. In truth, they're usually dictated by changing political landscapes, or new flight routes making countries more easily accessible. Regardless, every year there are thousands of listicles dedicated to the latest must-visit countries and the newest “undiscovered” gems. In recent times we’ve seen places like Cuba, Colombia, and Iceland top these lists and get a huge upsurge in tourism as a result.
But there are some countries that for one reason or another, have never garnered much attention, and most people couldn’t pick them out on a world map if their lives depended on it. And yet, despite getting very little acclaim, these countries can provide some of the most fascinating locations to visit. Here are 3 unfashionable travel destinations that are surprisingly alright.
While it enjoys a burgeoning reputation among backpackers making their way around Central America, Guatemala is yet to really hit the big time when it comes to widespread tourism. Though it’s overshadowed by the more popular destinations of Mexico and Belize that surround it, and tarnished by a slightly dodgy reputation, Guatemala is in fact pretty awesome.
Its landscape is punctuated with dozens of volcanoes which dominate the skyline in imposing fashion, perhaps the most famous being the ones surrounding Lake Atitlan. Guatemala actually translates as “land of trees”, so it’s unsurprising that much of it is covered in lush areas of rainforest. They’re great to hike in and contain magical waterfalls including the spectacular Semuc Champey. It’s also got more Mayan ruins than you can shake a stick at, many of which are still to be properly mapped and excavated.
Unlike some of its big hitting neighbours such as Peru, Brazil and Argentina, Bolivia is a country that tends to slip quietly under the popular tourism radar. There are no beaches, no famous carnivals, and no world-conquering culinary exports. However, it’s home to some of the most spectacular natural landscapes in South America.
Bolivia lays claim to a significant chunk of the mighty Amazon Rainforest. It boasts the largest, most spectacular salt flats on the planet in the Salar de Uyuni. And if that’s not enough, it contains half of the highest navigable body of water in the world, Lake Titicaca, which is thought to be the birthplace of the Incas. Add to this the fact that it’s extremely cheap to travel around and you’ve got a truly underrated destination.
This tiny Baltic country has long been touted as a hidden European gem. But perhaps a little surprisingly, it’s remained exactly that. It’s only really got one large city, the capital Riga which is where a third of its population lives and is known largely for its perfectly preserved Old Town and abundance of Art Nouveau architecture. Outside of that, Latvia is a nature lover’s paradise.
More than half of the country is covered in forests, as well as numerous lakes, rivers, and national parks, and it’s said to be one of the greenest places in Europe. You’ll find over 300 miles of coastline lined with so many beautiful beaches you’ll be spoilt for choice. It’s also got a reputation as a party hotspot, with choice nights out to be had in the capital or on the beaches which also host large festivals.
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