Here at House of Coco we are always on the look out for off-the-beaten-track alternatives and less discovered global destinations. So when we stumbled across Rome2rio’s ‘Not Spots’, a nifty new tool to help globetrotters discover the road less travelled we decided to put it to the test and find some new destinations away from the tourist-heavy hot spots that will deliver a flavour of the local culture and a more authentic travel experience.
If you find you’ve been to most of the popular traditional holiday destinations and are looking for some fresh ideas, here’s a roundup of alternative suggestions:
If you love the beaches of the Greek Islands, for example, switch it up and try the sandy stretches of the Albanian Riviera. Albania’s southern coast has everything to rival its Mediterranean neighbours. Here you’ll find miles of breath-taking coastline, vibrant sunsets and golden beaches lapped by turquoise waters – with a fraction of the crowds and at a fraction of the cost. From seafood feasts in Ksamil to the UNESCO-listed ancient city of Butrint, this less-developed part of the Med has everything you need for a low-key, yet still-perfect, beach holiday
If architecture is more your thing and you are bored of Prague’s stag culture then head to Sighisoara in Transylvania. In a region fuelled by myths and legends, this place is straight out of a fairy tale. Located in Romania’s Transylvania region, the Unesco-protected fortified old town is a dreamscape of medieval splendour, a rainbow of pastel-hued houses, a tumble of church spires and a maze of cobblestone lanes, all tucked within the ancient city walls. Be sure to climb the Clock Tower for exquisite views over the city that is said to be the birthplace of Vlad the Impaler, or Dracula.
Culture vultures who have been captivated by Rio’s iconic Carnival should consider returning to South America but to Bolivia next time to experience the nine-day Carnaval de Oruro. Millions of travellers have made the pilgrimage to Rio to experience the five-day spectacle, but considerably fewer travellers are aware of Bolivia’s equally vibrant, colourful and historic answer to Rio Carnival: the Carnaval de Oruro. Taking place over nine days, starting the Saturday before Ash Wednesday, Carnaval de Oruro dates to the 17th century when Spanish settlers banned the traditional ceremonies of the native Itu people. Today, the Carnaval de Oruro is an homage to the Virgin of Candelaria, bringing together some 28,000 dancers and 10,000 musicians in at beautiful and spectacular celebration that’s an important touchstone of Bolivian culture.
Music fans who find Austin, Texas too ‘hipster’ can head to Omaha, Nebraska and discover the city’s history of jazz, funk and rock as well as today’s indie rock ‘Omaha Sound’.
Thrill-seekers who have “done” Machu Picchu should consider Choquequirao – a similar Incan site abandoned in 1572. The fabled Inca citadel of Machu Picchu makes a regular appearance on travel bucket lists for good reason: hiking the Inca Trail to the ancient city is once-in-a-lifetime experience. However, the ever-growing crowds have led to increasingly restricted access to Peru’s most famous ruin, which was never meant to host thousands of people each day. Although you’ll still be able to visit by booking a timeslot in advance, consider visiting Peru’s lesser-known ‘lost city’ instead.
The Inca ruins at Choquequirao are even bigger than its more-popular sibling, with a towering citadel swathed in cloud and tumbling terraces sprawled over multiple mountain slopes. The site, still only partially cleared, is buried deep in the jungle, meaning the only way to currently get there is via a challenging four-day return hike. This is true adventure and authentic exploration at its best; be sure to go before the proposed cable car to the site is built, when numbers will undoubtedly soar.
The “Not Spots” guide pinpoints the most popular holiday hot spots across the globe and recommends alternative destinations that offer a comparable experience but without the tourist crowds. Visit www.rome2rio.com/not-spots.