6 Worldwide Destinations You Probably Haven’t Heard Of

6 Worldwide Destinations You Probably Haven’t Heard Of

Skip the crowded tourist areas and wander off the beaten path by traveling to one of these lesser-known cities.

By: Mary S.

Itching to get away from the masses and veer off the regular tourist trail? It may take some additional planning and time, but traveling to places with smaller crowds and more unique experiences is definitely worth it. If you want to get off the beaten path, put these lesser-known destinations on your travel wish list.

1. Tallinn, Estonia
While it may be a favorite stop on Baltic cruise itineraries, Tallinn, the capitol city of Estonia, is still underrated, even though it’s filled with so much history and culture. The Old Town area is a UNESCO World Heritage site and perfect for historic walking tours. The area is well preserved and filled with colorful gabled houses and medieval buildings that line cobblestone streets.

The Russians, Danes and Swedes once ruled Estonia. Its multicultural history is still evident in its buildings, customs and food. Visitors can climb 40 towers along Tallinn's old defensive fort, explore unique museums and beautiful churches, and tour hidden tunnels under the old town.

2. Colmar, France
The Alsace region of France, near Germany and Switzerland’s borders, is a major wine-producing area filled with charming fairytale-esque villages. With its numerous cobblestoned streets lined with colorful, half-timbered buildings, it’s hard not to feel cheerful as you stroll around. Bridges and windows are brimming with flower baskets. The medieval old town is well preserved with many beautiful historic buildings and churches.

The Little Venice quarter is the ideal place to ride scenic boats along the canal. Colmar is a gastronomic center with several Michelin-starred restaurants, and it's also the Alsatian wine capitol. Its local cuisine blends French and German influences with uniquely Alsatian ones. Try the tarte flambé, which is made on a flatbread and topped with tart-flavored cheese, bacon and sliced onions.

3. Bergen, Norway
Known as the “gateway to the fjords,” this western Norwegian city boasts majestic scenery and unique attractions. The Seven Mountains surround Bergen, making it an outdoor lover’s paradise. The mountains offer idyllic panoramic views and miles of trails for hiking and biking. Bergen also serves as an ideal home base for exploring Norway's fjords and colorful villages. Do the Norway-in-a-Nutshell Tour for one of the best sightseeing trips in the region.

If you're a seafood lover, the fish market won't disappoint with all of its delicious food offerings and unique merchandise. Bergen also has many family-friendly museums, a beautiful, expansive park in the middle of the city, and the colorful Bryggen area filled with unique shops. Kids will enjoy hunting for trolls and walking through the whimsical Troll Forest.

4. Sapporo, Japan
Sapporo, which shares its name with a Japanese beer, is a fantastic year-round destination. During the annual Sapporo Snow Festival in February, snow and ice sculptures pop up around the city, along with food stands and concerts. Wintertime activities include snow slides, ice bars, hot spring dips and smelt ice fishing in addition to skiing, snowboarding and snowmobiling at nearby ski resorts.

Sapporo’s summer weather is more pleasant compared to the rainy, humid climates of Japan's other regions, and the city offers plenty of festivals, trails for coastal hiking, parks and historic sites to enjoy and explore. Ishikari Asobeach, a popular summertime destination, is only 40 miles from central Sapporo. For the best city views, travel to Mount Moiwa via cable car. It has Japan’s freshest and most varied seafood due to its location in northern Hokkaido Island and is widely known as a “kingdom of food.” There is no shortage of sushi and ramen shops in Sapporo.

5. Chengdu, China
Home of the giant pandas, Chengdu allows you to get close to these adorable creatures in their natural environment. Several centers for research and breeding provide interactive activities with the pandas. There’s also a Giant Panda Museum where you can learn more about them.

Chengdu has plenty of other noteworthy attractions, including museums, temples and ruins that offer an opportunity to learn about the area’s history, culture and religion. The Leshan Giant Buddha, carved on a mountain, is one of the world’s largest Buddha sculptures. Enjoy Chengdu’s several teahouses, along with spicy and delicious local cuisine at its many restaurants and street vendors.

6. San Miguel de Allende, Mexico
The expat community in San Miguel de Allende is growing for several great reasons, but it is also a fascinating colonial city to visit. Located in Mexico’s central highlands, the climate is wonderful year round. Its historic center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site filled with narrow cobblestone streets, charming courtyards and bright, colorful buildings. The Parroquia de San Miguel dominates the skyline with its pink spires.

The city is known for its thriving arts scene and artists’ community. It hosts a variety of cultural festivals throughout the year, and the local artisan and food markets are always brimming with fresh produce and countless crafts. Known as one of Mexico’s culinary capitals, San Miguel de Allende features a variety of international cuisines and an emerging culinary scene, but you can always find cheap and delicious food at many street vendors, including tacos, grilled corn and hand-churned ice cream.

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Mary writes for Hilton Mom Voyage and lives in San Diego, California, with her husband, daughter and son. She was born in the Philippines, grew up in the U.S. territory of Guam, and believes all those years of island fever ignited her serious case of wanderlust.

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