Travel Frenzy: Top 6 Underrated International Travel Destinations
With the travel restrictions brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic gradually unwinding as countries re-open their borders to tourists, many people are seeking relaxation after numerous months of quarantine hay fever in the form of traveling internationally. While we’ve previously taken a look at lesser-known bucket list locations across the U.S. to take advantage of, it’s time we set our sights on the broader globe for your next nuanced destination. We're not talking about a routine trip to New York City or Atlanta, Georgia anymore!
Here's a quick summary of our top six must-visit international hidden gems to consider on your next big trip around the world, spanning six of the seven continents! (sorry Antarctica)
1. North America: Winnipeg, Canada
Seated in the chilly-but-beautiful north, Winnipeg represents much more than the capital of Canada—it remains one of the best places in Manitoba to sightsee, attend unique attractions, and get an unforgettable taste of rich Canadian culture.
Many unique attractions make Winnipeg a fun vacation spot for the whole family: A Maze in Corn Amusement Farm boasts Canada’s largest corn maze, Across the Board Game Café offers over one thousand different board games to play with your family and friends, and Arctic Glacier Winter Park provides an unparalleled experience on Manitoba’s slopes. Downtown Winnipeg also features the Manitoba Museum, the Royal Canadian Mint, and countless places to dine.
Niagara Falls isn’t the only beautiful landmark to behold in Canada! Manitoba is filled with sprawling lakes to gaze upon, including Lake Manitoba, Lake Winnipeg, Dauphin Lake, and Cedar Lake. If an unfettered road trip into the vast wilderness is more to your liking, go for a drive north along Manitoba Highway 6 for hundreds of miles of forests, natural reserves, and countless sparkling lakes. Completing the seven-and-a-half-hour drive will take you to the old town of Thompson, home of the Heritage North Museum.
2. South America: La Serena, Chile
You’ll find one of the best seaside hotspots along the western coast of South America in La Serena, Chile, where 13 beach resorts enjoy the extensive sunshine just as much as the local penguins and sea lions! Though not nearly as large as Brazil and located just west of the more massive Argentina, La Serena stands as an underrated travel destination for those with wanderlust in South America.
Many tourists claim the highlight of La Serena has to be El Faro Beach, stretching along the city’s crystal clear waters. The sand beaches are home to the Faro Monumental lighthouse, a beautiful structure sitting on the coast and completed in 1951. Multiple tours are offered both within and outside the city, ranging from a taste of the local museums and eateries to an exploration of the surrounding mountain ranges, valleys, rainforests, and deserts.
La Serena is also located fairly close to a special out-of-this-world experience: the Cerro Tololo Observatory, which is perhaps one of the most famous observatories in the world and is seated 2,200 meters above sea level just south of Vicuna. The complex is currently operated in partnership with Universidad de Chile and the Association of Universities for the Research in Astronomy (AURA). Tours are available!
3. Europe: Cluj-Napoca, Romania
Fancy yourself a European getaway packed with history, ornate architecture, colorful gardens, and mysterious woodlands? Want something a bit more unique than the well-known vacation locales like Paris, Greece, Spain, and Italy? Cluj-Napoca, Romania will sate your appetite for a Transylvanian adventure filled with natural wonders!
From the lively buildings standing over the busy streets to the gorgeous terrace cafes overlooking the rooftops and sunset vistas, downtown Cluj-Napoca is a fantastic destination for those of finer tastes. Nature and the arts are celebrated as one in Romania's hidden gem city: the Simion Barnutiu Central Park, variety of botanical gardens, and historical churches fit right beside the modern restaurants and nightlife attractions, creating a charming vacation spot that feels akin to walking through a fairytale.
For those looking for solitude in the Romanian foothills, the Cheile Baciului national forest reserve sits just west of the city and contains a number of walking and biking trails to take in the surrounding landscape. Just be wary of wandering the woods after dark—Hoia Baciu Forest is known as the most haunted forest in the world!
4. Asia: Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia
The freezing cold climate of the Mongolian mountains is worth the trouble when visiting the country’s cultural epicenter and capital city in Ulaanbaatar. Located in one of the most remote regions in the world, the Buddhist city has become a dense and thriving mainstay for businesspeople in the East, as well as a major tourist destination.
Walk across the gigantic Sukbaatar Square, drop by the Genghis Khan Garden (ironically located on Peace Avenue), visit the beautiful Bogd Khaan Palace Museum, or attend an enchanting throat-singing performance at the Ulaanbaatar performing arts center. Don’t forget to sample world-class trans-Eurasian street food from popular local eateries such as Silk Road or Luna Blanca!
If you’re hardy enough to venture outside the city, you’ll find camping tours along the Khustai mountains and steppes to the west, Terelj National Park to the east, and plenty of small towns and villages to the north. This won't be your ordinary day trip, so pack appropriately and get a travel guide!
5. Africa: Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
One of the biggest hubs for central African culture rests within the bustling metropolis of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. With plenty of urban activities to partake in while surrounded by rich natural parks and forests, your next safari might be right around the corner!
City landmarks such as the National Museum of Ethiopia, Holy Trinity Cathedral, and Unity Park offer some of the best sightseeing opportunities in the country. The Zoma Museum, in particular, contains some of the most illustrious gardens, construction techniques, and galleries in the region, and is a perfect way to spend a few hours within the big city.
Past the city’s outskirts to the west, you’ll find Suba Menagesha Forest Park, one of the best places to get glimpses of native African wildlife in Ethiopia’s Oromia region. Experience camping opportunities, see a wide variety of African trees (including Acacia), and walk the trails of this enormous preserve which strives to maintain the natural beauty of Africa’s landscape.
6. Australia: Gold Coast, Queensland
Located just south of Brisbane in Australia, Gold Coast is home to one of the biggest hiking scenes in the region, due in part to an enormous series of national parks scattered to the southwest. If you’re daring enough to get a taste of Australia’s beautiful yet rugged terrain, Gold Coast just might be your travel destination of choice.
Gold Coast has made itself comfortable right in the middle of the Nerang River, a water source that twists and turns its way through the streets and highways until spilling into the Pacific Ocean through a delta known as “The Spit.” Huge varieties of restaurants, beaches, and attractions throughout the city(including Warner Bros. Movie World and snorkeling activities) will turn any visit into a dream vacation.
Immediately south of Gold Coast lies Springbrook, a reserve situated just above Lamington National Park, Border Ranges National Park, Mount Jerusalem National Park, Wollumbin National Park, and Nightcap National Park. Each reserve comes complete with hiking trails, campgrounds, waterfalls, and picnic areas in Australia’s vivid forests. Be aware that Springbrook is not an actual city as much as it is a single road snaking through the outback! But don’t worry—a number of hotels, gift shops, and other amenities wait along the road to keep you going.
During your travels, you just might stumble upon Australia’s elusive cryptid beast, the Yowie! Sightings and reports are high in the Gold Coast area, so keep an eye out!
The World is a Better Place with Clean Hands
International excursions can provide once-in-a-lifetime chances to explore our beautiful planet and see the sights for yourself. The last thing you want while in foreign lands is to get sick or contract a serious illness. Considering many of the cities on our list are densely populated, it always pays to bring hand sanitizer with you wherever you go.
Muse Health’s Fragrance-free Hand Sanitizer contains the right amount of alcohol and natural oils to kill 99.9% of germs while rejuvenating your hands for healthy, crack-free skin. Visit our shop to stock up before you pack your bags!