We can all agree it's hard to pass up a trip to popular cities like Paris or Rome, but sometimes the best trips come from traveling off the beaten path. From a small fishing town in Croatia to a ski village in the Japanese Alps, I've rounded up 10 alternative destinations to add to your 2019 travel bucket list, published on POPSUGAR. In the New Year, ditch your go-to spots and book a trip to somewhere completely new.
Oualidia, a laid-back fishing village along the coast of Morocco, is often referred to as the "oyster capital" of the country because of its fresh shellfish. Just a few hours from Casablanca, this destination is a lesser-known gem that's perfect for escaping the crowds. The one major hotel along the lagoon is La Sultana, which has 12 luxurious suites, including a treehouse suite that's nested in a tree with panoramic views of the lagoon. Here, travelers can take surfing lessons, try a traditional hammam massage, and have a beachside picnic.
Estonia offers incredible history and many of the same draws as more popular European destinations like Copenhagen. Take a medieval tour of the city, stroll the cobblestone streets of old town, visit the Kadriorg Art Museum, and then check out the incredibly exciting nightlife.
"Lesser-known European cities are becoming more mainstream to travelers with the increased accessibility," Anna Fawcett, global head of marketing at Topdeck Travel told POPSUGAR. "Destinations like Tallinn offer much of the same charm that Americans cherish most about what they've already seen in Europe — like everyone's favorite, cobblestone streets — with new touches they've yet to experience."
Morocco, Kenya, and South Africa have long cemented themselves as top African destinations, but Zambia is definitely one to watch. Victoria Falls and the Zambezi River lie just within its southern border, and white water rafting, river cruising, bungee jumping, and gorge swinging are some of the scenic and outdoorsy activities to be enjoyed. If you're looking for a way to soak up yourself in the African bush, consider booking Victoria Falls river safaritour to see the magnificence of the falls from a unique vantage point.
Check out my post on how to prepare and what to expect for your first African safari!
Rovinj is a quaint little fishing town on the Adriatic Sea, and truly Croatia's hidden gem. Fully surrounded by water, this city has all of the amazing seafood that Dubrovnik and Split have, but with less crowds. It's the perfect vacation destination with a number of five-star resort options to choose from.
Japan's major cities attract tourists all year long, but most don't realize the country boasts some of the best ski slopes in the world. Instead of hitting the mountains of Colorado, check out the powder in Hakuba and warm up to some delicious ramen while you're there. If you don't know where to start and want to ski the Japanese Alps, try Topdeck's Ski Japan tour in Hakuba.
The Similan Islands, Thailand
With Maya Bay no longer an option as of 2018, travelers can still enjoy the warm blue-green Andaman Sea, the blinding white sands, and marvelous limestone when visiting the Similan Islands. The islands offer a quiet scene, combining rainforests and pristine beaches with a touch of history, having been made a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1982. Intrepid Travel's Cruising the Thai Islands adventure cruise is specifically curated to take travelers to the country's less-visited islands without tourists.
Heading to Thailand? Here's my guide on how to spend three days in Bangkok.
A great alternative to overcrowded cities like Venice is Annecy, a charming French city filled with picturesque canals, ornate bridges, and pastel-colored buildings. It is one of France's prettiest medieval towns right on the shore of Europe's cleanest lake. For peace and relaxation, stay at Auberge du Pére Bis, which is surrounded by the mountains and lake.
Forget Machu Picchu and head to Lima. Lima is Peru's newest up-and-coming city because if its culinary scene, historic sites, and magical union of the past and the present. The Country Club Lima Hotel, a historic hotel located in the prestigious San Isidro neighborhood, has long been a favorite of the region's high society and celebrities.
Perhaps one of the most photo-worthy locations in the world, Alberta is usually overlooked for popular choices like Iceland or Norway. However, there's a chance of catching the Northern Lights without the long flight. Head to Alberta for skiing, yoga in the mountains, glacier walking, and relaxing hot springs. Also, Alberta's brand-new wellness hideaway, the Kananaskis Nordic Spa, is the first Nordic spa in the province and worth the visit.
Laguna Beach, CA
Perfect for beach-lovers, Laguna Beach is a town that lacks the crowds and tourists that frequent nearby Venice Beach in Los Angeles. Travelers who love nature can explore the scenic Heisler Park and Crystal Cove State Park. At the Surf & Sand Resort, guests can indulge in fresh coastal fare and enjoy the views, since all rooms have an oceanfront private balcony.