Tourism is one of the fastest-growing industries in the world, with millions of people traveling to new destinations each year. While travel can broaden our horizons, it also has a significant impact on the environment. As travelers, we have a responsibility to minimize our impact on the planet and practice sustainable tourism.
Traveling to well-known tourist destinations can be a fantastic experience, but sometimes, it’s the lesser-known places that offer the most memorable experiences. Going off the beaten path and exploring hidden gems and unique destinations around the world can lead to exciting adventures and unforgettable experiences.
Sustainable tourism, also known as ecotourism, is a type of travel that aims to minimize the negative impact of tourism on the environment and local communities. It involves taking steps to reduce your carbon footprint, support local businesses, and respect the culture and customs of the places you visit. Here are some tips on how to travel sustainably and minimize your environmental footprint.
In this blog post, we’ll discuss some of the best off the beaten path destinations to explore, and the benefits of exploring these hidden gems.
Top Hidden Gems and Unique Destinations
Matera is a beautiful city located in southern Italy that’s known for its unique cave dwellings, which were carved into the rocks centuries ago. The city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and has been named the European Capital of Culture for 2019. Matera is a great place to experience the traditional culture and cuisine of southern Italy.
Svaneti is a mountainous region located in northern Georgia. It’s known for its stunning landscapes, ancient architecture, and unique culture. Visitors can explore medieval towers and churches, hike through scenic mountains, and experience traditional Georgian hospitality.
Zhangjiajie is a national park located in the Hunan province of China. The park is known for its breathtaking natural beauty, including towering sandstone pillars and misty canyons. The park is also home to the world’s longest and highest glass-bottomed bridge, which offers spectacular views of the surrounding landscape.
Chefchaouen is a small town located in the Rif Mountains of Morocco. It’s known for its beautiful blue-painted buildings, winding streets, and traditional handicrafts. The town is a great place to experience traditional Moroccan culture and cuisine.
Bonito is a small town located in the Brazilian state of Mato Grosso do Sul. It’s known for its crystal-clear rivers, stunning waterfalls, and abundant wildlife. Visitors can swim in natural pools, go snorkeling in freshwater rivers, and explore the surrounding forests.
Faroe Islands, Denmark
Tucked away in the North Atlantic, the Faroe Islands are a group of 18 rugged, volcanic islands that are known for their dramatic landscapes and vibrant culture. With their striking cliffs, lush valleys, and cascading waterfalls, the Faroe Islands are a paradise for hikers and nature lovers. And with a population of just 50,000, the islands offer a peaceful retreat from the hustle and bustle of city life. Be sure to try some of the local delicacies, such as fermented lamb and whale blubber, and take part in traditional Faroese activities like sheep herding and knitting.
Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia
If you’re looking for a truly surreal experience, head to the Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia. This vast salt flat covers over 4,000 square miles and is the largest in the world. During the rainy season, the flat turns into a giant mirror, reflecting the sky above and creating stunning optical illusions. But even in the dry season, the flat’s stark white expanse and otherworldly landscapes make it a must-see destination for any traveler.
Nestled in the southern region of Basilicata, Matera is a UNESCO World Heritage site that is renowned for its ancient cave dwellings and stunning architecture. The city’s “sassi,” or stone houses, are built directly into the rock face and date back to the Paleolithic era. Today, many of these homes have been converted into chic hotels and restaurants, making Matera an ideal destination for those looking to experience a bit of history and luxury.
Zhangjiajie National Forest Park, China
If you’ve ever seen the movie “Avatar,” you’ll recognize the towering stone pillars of Zhangjiajie National Forest Park in China. This breathtaking park is home to over 3,000 sandstone pillars, some of which rise over 600 feet into the air. Visitors can explore the park on foot or take a cable car to the top of one of the pillars for a bird’s-eye view of the surrounding landscape.
With its crystal-clear lake, lush forests, and dramatic mountains, Bled is one of Europe’s most picturesque destinations. Located in the Julian Alps of Slovenia, this charming town is home to the iconic Bled Castle, which dates back to the 11th century. Visitors can take a boat ride to the tiny island in the center of the lake, where they can ring the bell of the Church of the Assumption for good luck.
Jeju Island, South Korea
Jeju Island is a volcanic island off the southern coast of South Korea that is known for its stunning beaches, lush forests, and unique culture. The island’s Hallasan Mountain is the highest peak in South Korea, and its hiking trails offer stunning views of the surrounding countryside. Visitors can also explore the island’s traditional villages and sample local delicacies like fresh seafood and black pork.
Tips for Exploring Hidden Gems
- Do your research: Research the destinations you’re interested in before you go. Look for local blogs, travel guides, and social media accounts that can offer insights into the local culture and hidden gems.
- Talk to locals: When you arrive at your destination, talk to locals to get recommendations on places to visit and things to do. Locals can offer valuable insights into the culture and can help you discover hidden gems that are off the beaten path.
- Be open-minded: When exploring lesser-known destinations, it’s important to be open-minded and embrace new experiences. Be prepared to step out of your comfort zone and try new things.
- Respect the culture: When visiting a new destination, it’s important to respect the local culture and customs. Be mindful of local dress codes, religious practices, and social norms.
- Leave no trace: When exploring natural environments, it’s important to leave no trace. Pack
Why Explore Hidden Gems?
Traveling to popular tourist destinations can be exciting and fun, but it can also be overwhelming, expensive, and crowded. Exploring lesser-known destinations can offer a more authentic and unique travel experience, free from the crowds and commercialization of popular destinations.
Off the beaten path destinations often offer a more authentic cultural experience, allowing travelers to interact with locals and experience their way of life. These hidden gems can also be more affordable, allowing travelers to stretch their budgets further.
Exploring lesser-known destinations can also be a more sustainable and responsible way to travel, as it helps to distribute the tourism economy more evenly, reducing the impact of overtourism on popular destinations.