Have you decided to travel next year? The year to collect more passport stamps than last year, and the year for even bigger and better adventures.
Why not make those adventures in new and exciting travel destinations that you won’t find in your average travel guide?
London, New York, Bangkok, Singapore, Hong Kong, Paris and Istanbul were all among the top visited cities in the past and are likely to stay high up in ranks in future.
If you’re looking for a more unique travel experience, one unspoilt by commercial tourist traps and crowds of happy snappers then you need to ditch the top travel destinations and dig a bit deeper for somewhere lesser known.
Here are 10 under the radar places to travel to next year:
1. Herdade da Comporta, Portugal
Known as the new Croatia, but without the crowded beaches. Herdade da Comporta is made up of a few beach villages along the west coast of Portugal about an hour’s drive from Lisbon. The area comprises of seven hamlets: Pego, Carvalhal, Brejos, Torre, Possanco, Carrasqueira and Comporta. A usual spot for a small crowd flocking in from around Europe, there are now a few more hotels being built so get yourself over there before everyone else hears about it.
2. Anguilla, Caribbean
If you’re looking for a secluded spot to completely relax and unwind, then Anguilla might just be the spot for you. With no local flights from the US, and no port for cruise ships to pull into, this Caribbean island remains quiet and peaceful. The island is very low-key, with luxurious retreats set up along the beachfront offering you a secluded haven for a few days (or weeks) of quiet.
3. Lombok, Indonesia
Beautiful Bali but without the crowds. Lombok is perfect for surfing, snorkelling, or just relaxing on the beautiful beaches. Not to mention the amazing waterfalls and volcanos to check out. Lombok is a great place to get involved with the local Indonesian culture, the indigenous culture is quite rich in Lombok as the natural scenery and local way of life has remained unchanged for hundreds of years.
4. Rangiroa, French Polynesia
Commonly known as Rangi among locals, Rangiroa is one of the biggest atolls in the world, with a lagoon so big that it could fit the entire island of Tahiti inside it. Rangi is the ‘big city’ of the Tuamotus archipelago with paved roads, shops, resorts, internet and gourmet restaurants. Besides that it is one of the most renowned diving sites with rich marine life just off shore.
5. Lofoten Islands, Norway
The Lofoten Islands in Norway will take your breath away, with the truly majestic mountains surrounding you. Because of the areas diverse landscape you can get up to many activities such as hiking, skiing, fishing, ocean rafting, scuba diving as well as surfing. Lofoten also has a strong connection to the Viking Age, so you can experience the Viking Age as it really was at the Lofotr Viking Museum.
6. Ladakh, India
Although Ladakh is located in the disputed area of Kashmir (the border between China and India), it is one of the safest areas in the region and is absolutely spectacular. You will find the beautiful lake of Pangong Tso, lined with dramatic mountains. Don’t expect luxury and easy travel though, Ladakh is very low-key, with simple living. Beware that road access requires crossing tortuous high passes which close altogether from around October to May (or longer when snows are heavy).
7. Luzon, Philippines
Luzon is the largest of the Philippines islands, as well as one of the largest in the world. Lined with spectacular mountains, bubbling volcanoes and tropical rainforests – you will definitely get your nature fix here. The north of the island is known as being the more ethnic and religiously diverse part of the Philippines while the south is known for its breath taking scenery.
8. Oaxaca, Mexico
If you’re looking for a culturally rich hiking trip, then the Sierra Norte Mountains in the Oaxaca region in Mexico is for you. The Sierra Norte Mountains are a biodiversity hotspot and home to the indigenous Zapotec people, who are only too happy to take you into their village and show you their way of life. Apart from hiking, you can go rafting through the turquoise blue river, or take a boat from Oaxaca’s coast to watch for sea turtles, bottlenose dolphins and humpback whales.
9. Sossusvlei in the Namib Desert, Namibia
When thinking of travelling into Africa many people think only of safaris or beach holidays, so why not go hopping around the desert dunes in Namibia to be a bit different. These sand dunes are often referred to as the largest in the world, and offer plenty of activities in the region.
10. Bilbao, Spain
Skip Madrid and rather go explore the port city of Bilboa, Spain’s capital of modern architecture, this year. Some highlights of the city include Frank Gehry’s Guggenheim Museum as well as the new Isozaki Atea – two dramatic 23-story glass residential towers designed by Japanese architect Arata Isozaki. While Bilboa is more modern than other areas of Spain, you will still get to enjoy the delicious traditional cuisine at one of the many restaurants.