Guest Post by Hunter Van Ry
When planning global travel, it's easy to be enticed by the biggest, most famous tourist destinations around the world. Everyone dreams of going to Paris, Venice, Hong Kong, or even Sydney. What about the lesser-known places that have equally stupendous sights and beautiful spots but are much less frequently visited? Here's a list of eight countries around the world that more people should add to their travel plans!
Left: Trinity Gergeti Church, Kazbegi, Georgia. (Photo by Iman Gozal on Unsplash). Top right: Tbilisi, Georgia. (Photo by Denis Arslanbekov on Unsplash). Bottom right: Map created with mapchart.net (CC BY-SA 4.0, cropped).
A small, unassuming European country on the edge of Russia, Georgia is a mysterious, beautiful country with a rich history. Come for the food and wine, stay for the rocky seasides, breathtaking views of the Caucasus mountains, and lovely countryside. Additionally, history buffs will love exploring the historic districts like Tbilisi, Batumi, and Kutaisi. There's plenty to do. It also has one of the lowest crime rates in Europe – making it an incredibly safe tourist spot.
Left: Predjama Castle, Predjama, Slovenia. (Photo by Omar Sotillo Franco via Unsplash). Top right: Boats on Lake Bled, Bled, Slovenia. (Photo by Jason Thomas on Unsplash). Bottom right: Map created with mapchart.net (CC BY-SA 4.0, cropped).
Left: Annapurna, Narchyang, Nepal. (Photo by Giuseppe Mondì on Unsplash). Top right: Swoyambhunath Stupa, Kathmandu, Nepal, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. (Photo by Bikalpa Pokhrel on Unsplash). Bottom right: Map created with mapchart.net (CC BY-SA 4.0, cropped).
If there's one thing that Nepal is famous for, it's mountains. Everest is undoubtedly the most famous, but the mountainous country is home to many more. Apart from those seeking to conquer some of the most deadly mountains in the world, tourists forget the rich culture, art, and architecture. A “cultural crossroads” between India and China, the country is home to some truly astounding architectural treasures. Additionally, Nepalese makers are prized around the world for their metalwork, clothing, paper-materials, tea, sculpture, and jewelry.
Left: Helsinki, Finland covered in snow. (Photo by Alexandr Bormotin on Unsplash). Top right: Northern lights over Oulu, Finland. (Photo by Adrian Dascal on Unsplash). Bottom right: Map created with mapchart.net (CC BY-SA 4.0, cropped).
For those who love cold weather and spending time outdoors — they have 39 national parks to explore —, Finland is a winter wonderland of gorgeous wildlife and beautiful vistas. In Finnish Lapland, the Northern Lights are visible every other evening, providing a spectacular, once-in-a-lifetime view for many visitors to the region. The capital of Finland, Helsinki, is a tourist destination in its own right. It's the perfect destination for a relaxing vacation.
The country has also been ranked as the happiest country in the world for the last few years.
Left: Waterfalls near Giron, Ecuador. (Photo by David Torres on Unsplash). Top right: Turtles in the Galapagos Islands. (Photo by Nathalie Marquis on Unsplash). Bottom right: Map created with mapchart.net (CC BY-SA 4.0, cropped).
While not as popular as countries like Peru or Brazil, this often-overlooked South American country has a rich history of its own. The year-round tropical climate makes it home to rainforests and beaches alike. Speaking of tropical destinations, Ecuador is home to the Galapagos islands, most famously known for being the birthplace of Charles Darwin's theory of Evolution. The islands also have some of the most pristine wildlife on the planet, including giant tortoises and black iguanas. Outside Quito, the natural hot springs, located with a view of both rainforest and local volcanos, draw in visitors from around the world. You'll probably want to learn some Spanish before heading to Ecuador. Learning the local language will enhance your travel experience.
Left: Peles Castle near Sinaia, Romania. (Photo by Hari Nandakumar on Unsplash). Top right: Parachuting over Brasov, Romania. (Photo by Vlad Hilitanu on Unsplash). Bottom right: Map created with mapchart.net (CC BY-SA 4.0, cropped).
This Eastern European country contains history that dates back to prehistoric times as well as a landscape like none other. With the most biogeographical diversity of any country within the European Union, outdoor lovers will find many beautiful destinations to visit. Although most of Europe is more expensive than other countries, your money in Romania goes further as it's rated as one of the least expensive European travel destinations.
Left: The Danube River runs through Budapest, Hungary. (Photo by Bence Balla-Schottner on Unsplash). Top right: Matthias Church, Budapest, Hungary. (Photo by Daniel Horvath on Unsplash). Bottom right: Map created with mapchart.net (CC BY-SA 4.0, cropped).
Hungary has gained a bit of popularity over the years (particularly Budapest), but it still ranks far behind countries like France, Spain, or Germany. Budapest, the capital city of Hungary, is known for its impressive thermal baths which are enjoyed by both locals and tourists alike. If you're feeling adventurous, you can also visit the Aggtelek Caves, a large cave system that looks like something from a fantasy novel.
Left: Le Trio Coffee, Vientiane, Laos. (Photo by Kristian Ryan Alimon on Unsplash). Top right: Buddha Park, a sculpture park near Vientiane, Laos. (Photo by or Chanthachak on Unsplash). Bottom right: Map created with mapchart.net (CC BY-SA 4.0, cropped).
This South-East Asian country is often overshadowed by its neighbors Thailand and Vietnam and carries with it a surprisingly diverse culture due to its history as a former French protectorate. You'll find here Buddhist temples and French cafes, making you wonder if you're still in the same country. Although Laos is a relatively small country, it still has large areas of jungle untouched and unexplored by humans. Citizens of Laos have a very laid-back culture making it great for those who want to enjoy a slower pace of life.
These are just a few of the lesser-visited countries rich in history, culture, and cuisine that can't be beaten. While there are untold options out there, you just might consider adding one to your travel plans.
Hunter Van Ry is an avid language learner and travel enthusiast. After having spent significant time in both France and Canada, he now works for All Language Resources, a website dedicated to finding and reviewing language-learning resources for fellow language learners.