Stunning destinations that are off the beaten path
If you just can’t wait to start planning trips again, you’re not alone. With travel restrictions slowly being lifted around the world, there’s finally a light at the end of the dark pandemic tunnel.
That being said, many travelers are seeking a change from some of the typical touristy locations they’ve loved in the past. Paris, New York and Sydney are always fun. But for many, 2021 is the year to explore exotic destinations, get to know the locals, and experience nature away from crowds of tourists.
With this in mind, here is our list of the seven most beautiful travel destinations that are off the beaten track:
The old “Silk Road” of Central Asia was kept off-limits to tourists during the Soviet regime, so it still retains most of its old-world charm. Explore the historic mosques in Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, or the ancient Burana Tower in Kyrgyzstan. If you yearn for more outdoorsy pursuits, the Tian Shan Mountains are a wonderful place to hike and to observe native wildlife.
The Scottish Highlands
It may take a couple of flights to reach the distant fishing villages of the Scottish Highlands, but it’s well worth the trip. You’ll love sampling the ice cream in the village shops or trying out the Cullen Skink soup…a special type of seafood chowder that you can’t find anywhere else.
The city of Syracusa, on the southeastern tip of Sicily, once ruled the Mediterranean, and it’s still a wonderful place to visit. Here you’ll find ancient Greek ruins, or explore the remote island of Ortigia, which still retains its Baroque charm.
Dili, East Timor
East Timor has only been a legitimate country since 1999, when it declared independence from Indonesia. With few tourists, you are free to explore the historic landmarks dating back to Dili’s inheritance of ancient Catholicism directly from the Portuguese in colonial times. The Cristo Rei Jesus statue and the Dili Cathedral are some of its most impressive, underrated sights.
If you want to free yourself from digital media for a while, the limited Internet connection in the town of Bario could be just the ticket. You’ll have to do some planning ahead, though, since you won’t find banks or ATMs here either. But you will find members of the indigenous Kelabit tribe.
The town of Sheki, not as touristy as the major cities in Azerbaijan, has plenty of untouched history to offer. The summer and winter palaces of the Sheki Khans, with their ancient stained glass frescoes, are well worth a visit. The streets are cobblestoned and the stone Sheki Karvansaray Hotel which used to house silk traders still offers accommodation to present-day visitors.
For a change of pace, consider skipping touristy Havana to pay a visit to magical Pinar Del Rio. You can take in the natural wonders of Las Terrazas and Vinales, where you’ll find old coffee plantations and cotton and tobacco fields.
With a little planning, you can rediscover the magic of travel by visiting one of these unique destinations in 2021.