10 Hidden Gem Vacation Destinations You’ve Never Heard Of

It’s always the lesser-known places in the shadows of their popular contemporary travel destinations that contain eternal charm. Places like London, Paris, and Rome have already been counted among the most sought-after vacation spots of 2023 — and these are all fantastic options — but beyond the usual, there is so much culture and travel to be explored in understated cities and territories across the world.


How about ditching the famous blue-domed expanses of Santorini to enjoy a Greek holiday on the surreal island of Karpathos? Or switching up a trip to Italy with one to the more affordable seaside haven of Albania? There is limitless beauty in the world, and a lot of it is wedged between the spaces of the more commercialized, publicized cities. Here are 10 hidden gem vacation destinations to visit before they go mainstream!

The hotels featured in this article are all based on our recommendations and destinations have been curated after thorough research on stays in unique travel around the world. These accommodations enjoy superior reviews from travelers, as well as high ratings of 8.0 and up at the time of publication. The varying price range of stays mentioned hopes to cater to an assorted group of travelers seeking comfort and hospitality as per their budget.

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10 Wadi Rum, Jordan

Wadi Rum, Jordan
Unsplash

Wadi Rum, Jordan

Wadi Rum looks like a different world. The arresting red, rocky desert scapes of this UNESCO-protected area in Jordan give the traveler the impression of standing on Mars. Not just visually, Wadi Rum is also culturally and historically important, given its origin that goes back thousands of years. Film buffs will also find Wadi Rum’s connection to “Dune” and “The Lawrence of Arabia” appealing. The desert is about 200 miles away from Jordan’s capital city of Amman, and camping out in this Jordan attraction is among the best ways to experience it.

Wadi Rum Star Wars Camp

Wadi Rum Star Wars Camp

Amenities
Restaurant, free parking, pet-friendly, evening entertainment

Price
$

Related: How To Spend 10 Unforgettable Days In Jordan

9 Bazaruto Islands, Mozambique

Bazaruto, Mozambique
Image by teresa cotrim from Pixabay

Bazaruto, Mozambique

One may have to peer hard to find the Bazaruto Islands on the world map, but their obscurity is what lends this archipelago in Mozambique a pristine, dreamlike character. A group of six islands surrounded by the Indian Ocean, this African territory is home to some awe-inspiring scenery that includes swathes of unspoiled beaches and wildlife native to the Bazaruto Islands. This place should be a top bucket list item for travelers seeking time off from the world to be close to nature — especially those keen on scuba diving or snorkeling, considering that the islands offer a charming range of underwater exploration.

Bazaruto Island sand dunes, Mozambique
Shutterstock

Bazaruto Island sand dunes, Mozambique

Anantara Bazaruto Island Resort & Spa

Anantara Bazaruto Island Resort & Spa

Amenities
Snorkeling, private beach, golf, cooking classes, hot tub

Price
$$$

8 Ksamil, Albania

White sand beach and blue waters
Photo by Gerda Schulpe on Unsplash

Beach in Ksamil

Plan for an offbeat beach vacation at Ksamil, one of Albania’s best-kept holiday secrets. The turquoise waters and spotless sandy shores give the impression of something straight out of a Mediterranean fever dream. With pristine stretches like Monastery Beach, Lori Beach, and Plazhi Paradise, Ksamil is the perfect summer getaway for tourists not keen on spending a bomb in more popular holiday haunts like nearby Greece. There are lines of sea-facing hotels and beachside restaurants to choose from in this little corner of southern Albania, still untouched by the mainstream crowds. Get there before they do!

Hotel Meta Ksamil

Amenities
Beachfront, outdoor dining, private parking

Price
$

7 Gippsland, Australia

A view of the Bullock and Rigby Islands the entrance into the Gippsland Lakes from the Lake Entrance Lookout, Lakes Entrance, Victoria, Australia
lkonya / Shutterstock

A view of the Bullock and Rigby Islands the entrance into the Gippsland Lakes from the Lake Entrance Lookout, Lakes Entrance, Victoria, Australia

Seeking some fantastic natural vistas of varying and wonderful beauty? Consider flying to Gippsland, an Australian paradise where a green cluster of national conservation parks is hemmed in by a sparkling expanse of sea in the southeastern corner of the continent. Driving is the best way to get around in Gippsland, where winding trails take one along the most diverse, surreal landscapes. Some of Victoria’s most beautiful towns are to be found here, with each flaunting different geographical divisions but equally stunning topography. Social life is forever buzzing in Gippsland, thanks to a calendar packed with art and cultural fests!

A view of the Bullock and Rigby Islands the entrance into the Gippsland Lakes from the Lake Entrance Lookout, Lakes Entrance, Victoria, Australia
lkonya / Shutterstock

A view of the Bullock and Rigby Islands the entrance into the Gippsland Lakes from the Lake Entrance Lookout, Lakes Entrance, Victoria, Australia

Mercure Warragul

Amenities
ATM on-site, soundproof rooms, wheelchair accessible

Price
$

Related: Don’t Miss Out On The 10 Most Breathtaking Islands In Australia

6 Ladakh, India

Ladakh, India
Photo by Klara Avsenik on Unsplash

Ladakh, India

A landscape straight out of an untouched dream. There’s really no better way to describe the magnificent location that is Ladakh. Lying in one of the northernmost ends of India, Ladakh is an expanse of natural beauty where the population is sparse, the waters are pristine, and the snow-capped mountains are dramatic. Since it is located 3500 meters above sea level, Ladakh requires gradual acclimatization and steady preparation. It’s not the easiest travel destination to visit, but those who make it find it every second there worth all the effort!

The Grand Dragon Ladakh

Amenities
Mountain views, outdoor grill, wheelchair accessible, minibar, coffee shop

Price
$$

5 Faroe Islands, Denmark

Sørvágsvatn In The Faroe Islands
Christian Werther / Unsplash

Sørvágsvatn In The Faroe Islands

With dramatic landscapes of green and blue rolling into infinity, the Faroe Islands look like a vision straight out of a mystical dream. The Danish territory has managed to keep its low-key presence, its local Nordic culture preserved, and its beauty accessible to limited crowds. International flights reach the Faroes from multiple destinations in Europe — but a trip to these islands will require a fair amount of budgeting, considering that they aren’t the most inexpensive travel destination. From visiting the picturesque Múlafossur Waterfall to indulging in authentic Nordic eats, there is much to do in this postcard-perfect destination!

Havgrim Seaside Hotel 1948

Amenities
Complimentary breakfast, coffee shop, private parking

Price
$

4 Karpathos, Greece

Karpathos, Greece
Image by Tom from Pixabay

Karpathos, Greece

Greece has no dearth of extraordinary travel spots — from the historic landmarks in Athens to the luxurious seaside settlement of Santorini. Skip over all that for the next holiday and head to Karpathos, an island surrounded by the wild views of the Aegean and infinite days of relaxation. Winters are nearly non-existent in this Mediterranean paradise, which gets plenty of sun to complement the sandy beaches of pleasant Karpathos (some must-visit ones being the Apella and Ahata beaches). Getting to the island is convenient by either flight or ferry — and once there, a perfect holiday amidst idyllic villages and crystal waters awaits!

Atlantis Hotel

Amenities
Flat-screen TV, outdoor pool, beach access, game room

Price
$

3 Eguisheim, France

Eguisheim, France
Image by Yvonne from Pixabay

Eguisheim, France

Ditch those mainstream holiday destinations in France for Eguisheim, a charming little storybook village in the northeastern region of the country. Here, colorful floral-wreathed houses line winding cobbled streets and simply taking a walk along them, drinking in the pretty rural sights, makes up for a memorable holiday experience. Eguisheim is a convenient base from where to explore the local wine country of Alsace. Try planning a trip to Eguisheim around Christmas, when the magical town comes to life with lights, laughter and its renowned Christmas markets.

James Vignoble Hôtel

Amenities
Hot tub, massage, picnic area, cycling, hiking

Price
$

Related: When In France: Exploring The Most Beautiful Rural Landscapes In The French Countryside

2 Lisbon, Portugal

Aerial view of the city of Lisbon, Portugal.
Photo by Dmytro Shevchuk on Shutterstock.

Aerial view of the city of Lisbon, Portugal.

In the count of Europe’s best travel destinations, Lisbon often doesn’t make the cut. But the Portuguese capital is so constantly brimming with life and good vibes that it deserves more recognition than it gets. It’s an underrated travel destination in one of the most underrated countries in the world; the signature red-roofed landscape alone is enough to leave passionate travelers intoxicated! Then there is also the renowned tram that harks back to Lisbon’s vintage charm, as well as multiple cheap coastal vacation spots within the city. Budgeting for a trip to Lisbon shouldn’t be too exhausting either, since the vibrant city is among the most affordable destinations in Europe. History and architecture buffs will have much to be awestruck by in a place like Lisbon, which is very socio-culturally rich.

Holiday Inn Lisbon Express

Amenities
Complimentary tea/coffee, 24-hour lobby bar, high-speed internet

Price
$$

1 Moorea, French Polynesia

Hilton Moorea Lagoon Resort and Spa
Via: Stories from Hilton Hilton Moorea Lagoon Resort and Spa

Hilton Moorea Lagoon Resort and Spa

One of the most breathtaking islands in French Polynesia, Moorea is the ultimate tropical getaway for tourists seeking a response from the sky-high prices of its more popular neighbor, Bora Bora. Thatched straw huts and crystal waters abound in Moorea, where travelers can laze around beaches or hike through hills, or even just indulge in an Instagram-worthy stay at the island’s famous overwater bungalows. (The InterContinental Moorea Resort is a decently priced option to consider.) Nature comes out in full bloom in Moorea, which also enjoys easy access from Tahiti. There are way too many things to do, eat, and see in Moorea — just one trip will keep tourists coming back for more!

Hilton Moorea Lagoon Resort & Spa, French Polynesia

Amenities
Private beach, Water sport facilities (on site), Indoor and Outdoor pools

Price
$$

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