They are a bit forgotten, away from the most wanted tourist routes and less-traveled. Still, the least visited destinations can boast amazing heritage, natural wonders and welcoming locals. They might be less developed and less popular but, then again, the unspoiled nature, untrodden trails and unexplored regions make them unbelievably rewarding pursuits.
See where to go to avoid crowds in 2010.
1. Murcia. Spain.
If you wonder why such a touristic country as Spain is on the list of the less-traveled places on the globe, the region of Murcia is the answer. While the entire country with its popular hot spots such as Barcelona, Seville, Costa de Brava or Madrid is, of course, one of the most visited countries on the globe, Murcia has preserved quiet beaches, uncrowded “costas” and tranquil surroundings.
The 250 km of beaches in Murcia are called Costa Cálida (Warm Coast). Bordered by popular Valencia’s coast to the north and famed Andalucía to the south, is one of the least invaded (by tourists) spots on the Mediterranean coast. Still, the entire region does not lack any qualities of the superb seaside resorts. Actually, it has it all: 300 days of sunshine a year, long white sandy beaches, pristine waters of the Mediterranean Sea, excellent wineries, and historic towns.
The capital of the region is Murcia, an ancient city founded by the Moors in 825 BC. Today it is a vibrant university town renowned for its great local cuisine, the stunning Cathedral of Murcia and the Spring Festival.
2. Lake Clark National Park. The USA.
If you dream of vastness, true wilderness and emptiness, head for Lake Clark National Park in the U.S. This is a place where you will find pure nature, scenic beauty, abundant wildlife and no people. The park, located in south-western Alaska, is home to volcanoes, glaciers, waterfalls, wild rivers, lakes and spectacular mountain ranges. The Lake Clark region can be accessed only by small aircraft or by boat as there are no highways leading to the park.
Lake Clark is one of the least visited parks in the National Park System, averaging just over 5,000 visitors per year. By the way of comparison, every year a staggering five million people visit the Grand Canyon or Yellowstone National Park.
3. Cape Verde
Cape Verde, an archipelago located off the western coast of Africa, is one of the least crowded and developed island resorts. Thanks to the isolation, the country, comprised of ten islands, has remained an unspoilt oasis with no large developments, huge hotel zones or mass tourism.
Empty beaches, excellent windsurfing and diving spots, unexplored hiking trails, and local hospitality make Cape Verde a precious and rewarding destination. Moreover, the archipelago’s great advantage are moderate temperatures in contrast to other African countries. It is a year-round destination, even during the rainy season (August-October) when weeks can go by with no rain at all.
It is hard to believe that Europe, home to the world’s most popular tourist destinations, has some hidden and unexplored secrets. Still, the eastern part of the continent is relatively undiscovered – Albania, Georgia, Moldova, Macedonia, Ukraine…only a few examples of Europe’s off-the-beaten track countries.
Moldova, a landlocked country neighboring Romania and Ukraine, is a tiny state that reached its independence in 1992. This beautiful hilly land is home to a huge vineyard industry that offers superb wines of the highest quality and hundreds of variations. But wine is not the only tourist magnet the country can pride on. Chişinău, the capital, is a vibrant party town, while Orheiul Vechi and Ţipova are stunning Moldavian historical sites – fantastic monastery complexes that cannot be missed while in the country.
5. Tasmania. Australia.
While millions of tourists from every corner of the world flood Australia every year, a bit isolated Tasmania remains a wild, uncrowded and unspoiled piece of the Australian territory. The unique and stunning nature of the island has been the country’s best kept secret. Today more and more people are visiting Tasmania to enjoy the island’s wild character, escape the crowds, relax and sample gourmet food and wine.
Tasmania is a paradise for hikers, bikers, bush walkers, kayakers, surfers and nature addicts. While beaches of Sydney, Gold Coast, Melbourne and Perth are packed with sunbathers, the excellent Tasmanian coast is all for you: quiet, empty and beautiful. Almost 37% of Tasmanian land lies in reserves, national parks and World Heritage Sites, so wilderness is guaranteed.
Turkmenistan remains a land of mystery. The country, located in Central Asia, is definitely one of the least touristic destinations in the world. All foreigners require a visa and an accredited tour guide to travel in the country. It takes at least six weeks to get a visa and the guides are costly. Once you overcome these bureaucratic obstacles though, you can enjoy the country’s unique atmosphere, unexplored sites and amazing hospitality of the Turkmen.
Forgotten by travel agencies and holidaymakers, the country is an extraordinary blend of Persian, Turkish, Greek and Arab cultures and influences. Merv (ancient ruins of the major cultural center on the historic Silk Road), Konye-Urgench (a mausoleum and palace complex), vast and wild Karakum Desert as well as Ashgabat (the capital dotted with marble palaces) are only a few examples of the country’s remarkable sights.
If you don’t want to follow guidebook paths of tourist-invaded South America, head for Paraguay. According to Lonely Planet “the backpackers are rarer than pumas” in the country, which means it might be a proper destination for anyone looking for wild, remote and lonely spots.
This landlocked country cannot boast such tourists jewels as Machu Picchu or Atacama Desert, but it too has plenty to offer to die-hard travelers. Wild nature, amazing Trinidad (world’s least-visited UNESCO site), splendid Río Paraguay, surrealistic Filadelfia (a historic colonial town) are among the country’s highlights. Paraguay is a perfect destination for those who want to escape touristic craziness and enjoy a slow pace of traveling and life.
8. Campeche. Mexico.
Similar to Spanish Murcia, the state of Campeche is an unrevealed region of Mexico. While Mexico’s coasts are occupied by holidaymakers and sunbathers, the Campeche region remains the unspoiled corner of the Yucatan peninsula. It is home to forgotten villages, wild jungle, the least visited Maya ruins and charming lagoons.
Edzná, located about 53km from Campeche, is an amazing and relatively unexplored Maya site, surrounded by even less frequently explored ancient ruins. In turn, Campeche, a fairytale capital of the state, is a beautiful colonial town listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site. This is an ideal place to enjoy the Mexican provincial atmosphere, far from crowds and tourist developments.
9. Kjenndalsbreen. Norway.
Norway, though a bit isolated, expensive and cold, is a country of great beauty and jaw-dropping nature. Despite its breathtaking scenic vistas, it can still enjoy totally untouched areas.
Among the most stunning Norwegian treasures is Kjenndalsbreen, an amazing glacier that is definitely the least visited ice sheet of the country’s four famed glacial tongues. The valley surrounding the glacier, a turquoise glacial lake and charming Loen village situated nearby give the place its striking beauty. This is one of the most unspoiled and rewarding destination to enjoy glacier walks.
10. La Désirade. Guadeloupe.
La Désirade is one of the few Caribbean islands that remain intact by the tourism industry. Discovered by Christopher Columbus in 1493, the little island belonging to Guadeloupe, is less developed and less visited than other Caribbean destinations. Still, it offers super nice beaches, azure waters and chilled out atmosphere.
La Désirade, located about 8 km off the coast of Grande-Terre, the eastern half of Guadeloupe, is a great destination for snorkeling lovers, but bring your own equipment as there are no dive shops and rental points on the island.
Aren’t they all fabulous?