There are a few countries in the world which attract far more than their fair share of tourists. For example, places like America, France, Italy and other classic vacation destinations are packed with holidaymakers in high season.
There is usually a good reason for this. The top vacation destinations might be particularly blessed with natural beauty, they might have gorgeous, reliable weather, or they may just be conveniently located.
Have you ever wondered what lies beyond the more obvious destinations? Do you want to see some of the lesser-known or at least rarely visited areas of the world, and avoid the same old tourist trails?
If you answered ‘yes’ to these questions, then this article is for you.
Here is a list of some of the most amazing countries that you’ve probably never considered visiting, but you should absolutely add to your list.
Ghana might not jump to mind when you think of top tourist destinations in the world. It probably doesn’t even jump to mind when you think of destinations in Africa. But this West African gem is full of surprises that you don’t want to miss.
Most people go to Southern Africa for safaris, but Ghana has some great offerings. For example, in Mole National Park, you can get up close and personal with elephants, monkeys, and more in a beautiful setting.
The coastline of Ghana is covered in golden beaches and medieval castles. Its cities are alive with culture and energy.
There are also some brilliant opportunities to volunteer in Ghana.
Mole National Park has one of the best volunteer programs in Ghana for those interested in volunteering in this amazing destination.
The Faroe Islands aren’t technically a country, rather a territory of Denmark. But they are so isolated from their parent country, both geographically and culturally, that they deserve their own mention here.
Despite their small size, hostile weather, and seemingly featureless landscapes, the islands have a mesmerizingly bleak beauty about them.
Beauty aside, the islands have a rich culture, largely free of influence from the outside world. Faroese cuisine is very unique, and there is even a highly regarded Michelin starred restaurant in which to sample it.
The tumultuous politics of late 20th Century Albania mean it is still a relatively unpopular country for tourists. This is beginning to change, but neighboring Greece and Croatia still get the lion’s share of tourists.
Venture into Albania and you will find breathtaking natural beauty at every turn, the mountainous landscape providing a playground for hikers and climbers. Also, the long coastline and comfortable Mediterranean climate make it a wonderful choice for beach holidays.
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This large East Asian country is an incredible destination, for many reasons, yet it attracts far fewer tourists than it should.
Mongolia’s history stands up to that of pretty much any of the other big players. It has arguably exerted a comparable level of influence over the rest of the world as the Romans or Greeks. The Mongolian empire was one of the largest the world has ever seen, and is what made Genghis Khan such a notorious figure.
Outside of major settlements, the culture remains remarkably unchanged, with many locals continuing to follow nomadic lifestyles, living off the land as their ancestors did. Exploring the vast plains is something that any adventurous traveler should seriously consider.
Unfortunately, people often associate any of the ‘stan’ countries with the unstable political situations and serious dangers of countries like Afghanistan. But these commonly held beliefs are far from the truth in many places, like Kazakhstan.
This huge ex-member of the Soviet Union is surprisingly picturesque. Walking in the countryside will take you through epic mountain ranges, deserted trails, and shimmering turquoise lakes.
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The tiny Asian country of Bhutan is an anomaly on the world stage, for more than one reason. What really sets it apart is its shunning of traditional tourism, which has served to cut it off somewhat from the rest of the planet. This reluctance to embrace the outside world is actually an intentional and probably well-advised move, which has acted to preserve the culture and history of the country very well.
A visit to Bhutan is like stepping back in time. It is full of jungle-covered mountains, monasteries, and a fascinating culture that is starkly different from anything you will have ever experienced.
The main problem with visiting this mystical kingdom is getting in the country in the first place. The visas are notoriously difficult to get, with the government only approving a small number each year. Make sure you plan well ahead and be prepared to wait a while.
The other major hurdle to visit Bhutan is the cost, which can be prohibitively high for many travelers. This government imposes a minimum tourist fee of $250 USD per day. This does, however, include accommodation, food, travel, and a guide, so it’s not quite as unattainable as it may at first seem.
Finland is somewhere that is too often overlooked in favor of other Northern European countries like Norway and Sweden. While the weather might be just as chilly and the winters similarly long, Finland has a distinctive culture, history and general atmosphere to it.
For starters, the Finnish language is completely different from Norwegian and Swedish, which are very similar to each other. Finnish is related to Estonian and interestingly, given their geographic distance, Hungarian.
Visiting Finland is the perfect way to, among other things, see some amazing snowy scenery, try out thrilling winter sports, and experience a real Finnish sauna, followed by a heart-stoppingly icy plunge.
Try something different for your next trip abroad
This selection of lesser-known countries has hopefully inspired you to stray from the well-trodden tourist path on your next vacation.
The world has so much to offer, and this list only offers a glimpse into the variety. So, do some research yourself and try something different. You might just find your new favorite place.
Author Bio: Nicoleta Radoi is the resident content blogger for uVolunteer. Nicoleta is an avid linguist, speaks fluent English, Chinese, French, Spanish and native Romanian. She spent a decade working in China in the education sector and working with major international development institutions and currently lives in Vancouver, Canada. She is passionate about volunteering, sustainable travel and has a soft spot for ethnic food.