- Sozopol, Bulgaria
- Nevis, St. Kitts and Nevis
- José Ignacio, Uruguay
- Quirimbas Archipelago, Mozambique
- Nkhata Bay, Malawi
- Caramoan Peninsula, Philippines
- Dalyan, Turkey
- Raja Ampat Islands, Indonesia
- Gozo, Malta
- Perth, Australia
- Dhërmi, Albania
- Soufrière, St. Lucia
- Karnataka, India
- Orange Beach, Alabama, USA
- Isla Holbox, Mexico
- Huanchaco, Peru
- Nosara, Costa Rica
- Swakopmund, Namibia
- Girona, Spain
Looking to get off the beaten path on your next vacation? Here are 20 places around the world that see lots of sunshine and fewer tourists than many holiday hot spots.
Fabulous beaches, fantastic wine, fascinating history—whatever inspires you to pack your bags, you’ll find it in our selection of under-the-radar destinations.
One of the most appealing destinations along Bulgaria’s Black Sea coast, Sozopol has long sandy beaches and a picturesque old town made up of wooden houses and cobblestone streets. While most tourists come in the summertime, the fall months get plenty of sunshine and pleasant temperatures, ideal for visiting the area’s churches and archeological sites.
Nevis, St. Kitts and Nevis
The smaller of the two islands that make up the Caribbean nation of St. Kitts and Nevis falls under the radar of most travellers, making it a great place to enjoy some peace and quiet for a few days. It’s also well-suited to those looking to do more than lounge on the beach, with activities such as cycling, horseback riding, and a challenging hike up the 985-metre (3,232-foot) Nevis Peak.
José Ignacio, Uruguay
A two-hour drive east of Uruguay’s capital, Montevideo, the fishing village of José Ignacio has long attracted surfers and celebrities to its shores during the Southern Hemisphere’s summer season. Still, it remains relatively unknown compared to the popular beach destinations further up the Atlantic coast such as Florianópolis and Rio de Janeiro. The area is famous for its food and wine; stop by the Bodega Garzón winery for tastings and a vineyard tour.
Quirimbas Archipelago, Mozambique
The Quirimbas Archipelago is a group of 32 islands off the northern coast of Mozambique. Hire a boat or charter plane from Pemba airport to access the islands, where you can spend your days snorkelling or scuba diving in the clear waters or birdwatching in the Parque Nacional das Quirimbas.
Nkhata Bay, Malawi
The vast Lake Malawi is one of the most awe-inspiring sights in this geographically diverse southeast African country. The port town of Nkhata Bay, on the west side of the lake, has a laid-back atmosphere and an inviting stretch of shoreline surrounded by lush green hills. It makes a convenient base from which to explore the nearby islands of Chizumulu and Likoma, known for their secluded beaches.
Caramoan Peninsula, Philippines
Get off the tourist trail in the Philippines with a visit to the Caramoan Peninsula, situated in the eastern Bicol region. Not as widely known as some of the country’s other beach destinations such as Boracay and Palawan, the islands here are less crowded and offer an equally dreamy landscape of limestone cliffs, white sand, and brilliant blue sea.
An idyllic landscape of rivers, hills, and citrus trees awaits in Dalyan, a small town in southwestern Turkey between Lake Köyceğiz and the Aegean Sea. Head to the lakeshore to take a dip in the mud baths at the Sultaniye hot springs, explore the ruins of the ancient city of Caunos, and shop for fresh local produce and Turkish delight at the Saturday market.
Raja Ampat Islands, Indonesia
A group of 1,500 tiny, jungle-covered islands in eastern Indonesia, Raja Ampat is a dream destination for divers, with an incredible diversity of marine life that includes more than 1,400 species of fish and 75 per cent of the world’s known coral species. Accommodation ranges from homestays in thatched huts with minimal amenities to luxury resorts with spa services.
Gozo is said to be the inspiration for the legendary island of Ogygia, where, in Homer’s Odyssey, the nymph Calypso holds Odysseus captive for seven years. Part of the Maltese archipelago, this serene island is quieter and greener than Malta and, along with the gorgeous Mediterranean landscape, is home to the well-preserved prehistoric Ggantija temples. Gozo is also within easy reach of some renowned dive sites.
Perth may be overshadowed by east coast cities like Sydney and Melbourne, but there’s a lot to love about the Western Australian capital. Soak up the sun at Cottesloe Beach, have a picnic in the massive Kings Park, and take a guided walking tour to learn about the city’s Aboriginal history. Twenty-five minutes away, Swan Valley is the state’s oldest wine region, a relaxing place to spend a day sampling Verdelho and Shiraz.
Come to Dhërmi, a village on the Albanian Riviera, if your vacation must-haves include a magnificent beach and seaside nightclubs. To make the most of your time in the region, rent a car and drive two hours down the coast to the Greek and Roman ruins of Butrint, stopping along the way to enjoy a lunch of freshly caught fish and breathtaking views of the Ionian Sea.
Soufrière, St. Lucia
Soufrière, on the west coast of the Caribbean island of St. Lucia, offers an enticing blend of natural beauty and historical interest. It sits just north of the Pitons, two imposing volcanic spires rising out of the sea, and is surrounded by rainforest trails, spectacular waterfalls, and botanical gardens. The small town retains architectural details left over from its time as the island’s French colonial capital.
This state in southwestern India may not be as popular with international travellers as Goa, its neighbour to the north, but Karnataka has much to offer: there are beautiful beaches along the Arabian Sea coast, Shiva temples in Murudeshwar, palaces in Mysuru, and UNESCO World Heritage-listed ruins in Hampi.
Orange Beach, Alabama, USA
Orange Beach, a small city on Alabama’s Gulf Coast, is perfect for a family vacation. While the powdery white-sand beaches are the main draw, the area offers lots of kid-friendly outdoor activities such as a pirate-themed cruise, hiking and biking trails, and a Ferris wheel at the Wharf, the seaside entertainment district.
This college town is beloved for its mild climate, friendly attitude, and excellent, green-chili-spiked Mexican food. Join the locals on the first Friday of every month for the Art Ramble, an evening stroll through the downtown area’s many art galleries, with live music along the way.
Isla Holbox, Mexico
If you’re looking for a Mexican beach destination that hasn’t been taken over by all-inclusive resorts, Isla Holbox is an excellent choice. On this small island off the coast of the Yucatán Peninsula, you’ll find waterfront bungalows and small, independent hotels instead of big chain properties. Most travellers come here simply to kick back and enjoy the pristine beaches and fresh seafood, or take a boat tour to swim with whale sharks.
If you’ve always wanted to learn to surf, Huanchaco is a great place to do it: this village in northwest Peru is home to several surf schools and is noted for the quality and consistency of the waves that break along its shoreline. Along the beach, you’ll spot caballitos de totora, woven reed watercrafts that have been used by Peruvian fishermen for thousands of years—both for trapping the daily catch and for riding the waves. After your lesson, sit down to a plate of the freshest ceviche you’ve ever had at one of the waterfront restaurants.
Nosara, Costa Rica
With a motto like “No shoes, no shirt, Nosara,” it’s no surprise that this town near Costa Rica’s northern Pacific coast has a laid-back attitude that draws surfers and yogis from around the world. Follow one of the five hiking trails in the Nosara Biological Reserve and look out for birds, black iguanas, and howler monkeys, or take a horseback riding tour through the jungle and along the beach.
Thanks to its location between the Atlantic coast and the Namib desert, Swakopmund is a popular gateway for outdoor excursions. From here, you can easily reach Walvis Bay for a kayaking trip to see dolphins and seals, or set off on a fat-bike tour of the otherworldly sand dunes just outside of town. The city itself is also a fascinating place to explore, with its history as a German colony on full display in its architecture and cuisine.
About an hour’s drive northeast of Barcelona, Girona is a charming, walkable city with a walled medieval quarter, in the middle of which stands a distinctive cathedral, built between the 11th and 18th centuries in a mix of Romanesque, Baroque, and Gothic styles. Also within the fortress walls is the city’s Jewish quarter, a maze of narrow streets lined with tall stone houses.