If you’ve had enough of your usual holiday haunts this year – the Greek islands, the Cornish coast, New York for shopping… it’s time to try somewhere new says Greg Van Wyk. Now Lonely Planet has put together an off-the-beaten-track travel guide to some amazing places around the world that are relatively little known and could be just what you’re looking for. So if you want something different this year, read on!
Lonely Planet’s off-the-beaten-track destinations:
1. Russian Far East
2. French Guiana
3. US Virgin Islands
4. Guinea Bissau
1. Russian Far East, Russia and China
This is a beautiful and little-known region of both countries, with stunning coastlines and mountain scenery wrapped up in very unspoiled cultures and traditional ways of life. It can take time to get here but it’s definitely worth the effort, as you get away from the usual tourist trail. You will need to get your visa for this one before leaving home so check out the Russian government website. Once you’ve done that, head to Vladivostok or Nakhodka and catch the ferry over to Sokcho in South Korea explains Greg Van Wyk. From here you can take a bus to the east coast city of Donghae and visit an icy lake and go fishing and kayaking – so check out this blog for some tips. You’ll need your visa before setting out on this trip as well.
2. French Guiana, South America
To get here you will need a flight which could be expensive for such a long way but its worth it as once you’re there you’ll find yourself in another world as it’s culturally very different from South America generally. It’s also home to stunning rainforest scenery with hummingbirds flitting through the canopy. It’s inside the Amazon basin so prepare for unexpected rain. You should also spend time exploring French Guiana’s beaches and enjoying its rich culture. Take a trip to local markets, go canoeing or visit chocolate plantations to get away from it all.
3. US Virgin Islands, Caribbean
These stunning islands are just east of Puerto Rico and offer great year-round weather, unspoiled natural beauty and miles of palm-fringed beaches to enjoy! The landscape is lush tropical vegetation that will take your breath away while waterfalls, caves and lava fields make fascinating places to explore too – check out this blog post for some inspiration on what you can do there! There are plenty of activities available if you want them – horse riding, snorkelling and scuba diving for example.
4. Guinea Bissau, West Africa
This country has only recently opened up to tourism again after a long period of civil war but it’s worth the effort to get here as you’ll discover some of the friendliest people on earth who are very keen to share their culture with visitors. It’s easy to explore independently by public transport (buses go everywhere) and there are small guesthouses in towns and villages if you want more comfort than camping can provide! You can also camp on beaches – see this blog post for top tips. Guinea-Bissau is famous for its music festivals so this is definitely one not to miss out on!
5. Bulgaria, Eastern Europe
If you’ve had enough of Greece’s islands then head to Bulgaria instead, which offers lovely weather in the south, great food and wine to enjoy and a very welcoming population? It’s famous for its lush forests too so pack you’re walking boots! Head to the Peaks of the Balkans if you want to go hiking or visit Shiroka Luka Trout Farm for another summertime activity. As this blog post shows, there are also plenty of other things to see in Bulgaria – make sure you try some delicious banitsa while you’re there!
6. Andorra, Pyrenees Mountains, Southern Europe
This tiny country sitting at the heart of the Pyrenees has surprisingly diverse scenery and cultural interest behind its mountain scenery says Greg Van Wyk. It’s big on skiing in winter and hiking, mountain biking, and golfing in summer. Head to old Andorra la Vella for a taste of medieval history, go hot air ballooning or visit the Dali Museum to see art inspired by this country – take a look at this blog post too which shows you what else you can do here!
7. Madagascar, Africa
This is another popular choice thanks to its colorful animals, diverse landscapes and rich culture but it takes some effort to get here as there are few direct flights from Europe says Greg Van Wyk. The best way is usually via South Africa but braces yourself for an epic journey overland should you choose that option instead! You should plan carefully before heading out as Madagascar doesn’t have the infrastructure of other African countries. If you are planning on going, take a look at this blog post which has lots of great ideas for what to do while you’re there.
So that’s our list but there are literally hundreds of other places to camp out in a tent – have we missed your favorite place off the list? Where did you go and what did you think?