The year-end records a holiday surge, as it marks the holiday season that begins ahead of Christmas and culminates well into the New Year for nearly half the world’s population. So, whether you are planning to make the most of the winter by exploring the European landscapes wrapped in a blanket of snow or looking forward to a beach holiday to get away from the bone-chilling cold, chances are you’ll be rubbing shoulders with hoards of other tourists. For those who are not big on crowds, this huge influx can be a real put off. But that does not mean you have to re-schedule a well-deserved holiday you have been looking forward to for months.
Check out these five under the radar travel destinations to find you an ideal holiday destination minus the crowds before they hit the mainstream:
The Banaue Rice Terraces, Philippines
For most people travelling to the Philippines, the focus remains on top tourist attractions such as Boracay, Coron Island and the Manila Bay. Not too far from these popular tourist spots is a hidden gem – the Banaue Rice Terraces. The wondrous landscapes of the place coupled with a 2,000-year-old unique farming system invented by the natives make it one of the top under the radar tourist spots for anyone whose idea of a vacation is to marvel at some remarkable scenery. The Banaue Rice Terraces is a UNESCO protected site and often referred to as the ‘eighth wonder of the world’ by the locals. However, the destination is largely unknown to the rest of the world. Staying here would mean having to make do with very basic amenities but the opportunity to witness an ancient culture up close and spend time in the lap of nature definitely makes it worth your while.
Think Tanzania and you automatically think Mount Kilimanjaro and the famous Serengeti National Park, or the Zanzibar beach at best. Not many people travel to Tanzania to begin with and even those who do rarely venture outside of these well-known tourist spots. Like most other African countries, Tanzania too is a gold mine of soothing, heart-warming locales. One such is the Pemba Island off the Zanzibar coast. Chalk white beaches, blue waters, greenery stretching as far as the eyes can see and extremely hospitable and friendly locals – Pemba, in a nutshell, is a holiday destination of your dreams. This under the radar tourist spot is ideal for an idyllic, relaxed holiday, mixed with the right doses of adventure at its pristine and spectacular diving sites. While you are here, indulging in activities like a visit to a spice farm, a picnic on a secluded beach, a sunset cruise ride onboard a Ngalawa (a locally built boat) or exploring the dense Ngezi rainforest is a reminder of how exhilarating simple joys of life can be.
Patagonia itself remains largely unknown to a majority of travellers, save for the quintessential thrill-seekers who head to this South American destination for its adventure landmarks like the Perito Moreno Glacier, Torres del Paine National Park or the ‘end of the world’ in Tierra del Fuego. Hidden in the folds of this obscure destination is a gem called Aysén. Best described as the final frontier of the region, Aysén is a remote land that is sparsely populated and essentially unexplored. If you are looking for a going-off-the-grid kind of holiday, this splendidly isolated destination with temperate rain forests, staggering fjords and snow-capped mountains presents the perfect setting for it. There is enough in Aysén to stoke your adventurous streak too. From trekking on the Aysén Glacier Trail to kayaking in the challenging rivers of the Exploradores Valley and horseback riding on the Andean ranges, there is just so much to do here.
Have a romantic vacation on your mind? Look beyond the stereotypes like taking a gondola ride in Venice and you’ll find many romantic destinations that haven’t been trampled over by love-struck couples yet. One such under the radar tourist spot that can easily qualify as one of the most romantic cities in Europe is Colmar. The French town, which is a stone’s throw from the Germany border, has a fairytalesque setting with cobblestone streets lined with half-timbered houses done up in vibrant hues. The romantic boat tours on the town’s winding river are a hit among the locals and definitely worth a try if you are exploring Colmar. The place is also home to some fine wine and has earned the title of the ‘Alsatian wine capital’ of France. Exploring the myriad vineyards in the area and signing up for a wine-tasting tour is a must during your Colmar holiday.
A cluster of small villages located on the Troia Peninsula in Portugal, Comporta is the perfect coastal getaway for a relaxing reprieve from a typical itinerary-laden holiday. Comporta is far removed from the country’s popular tourist sites such as Cartagena and Lisbon. This under the radar tourist spot is all about soaking up a laidback vibe exuded by the pristine beaches, rolling sand dunes, whitewashed buildings topped with terracotta roofs, lush green rice fields and twisted cork trees. Despite being a lesser-known travel destination, Comporta has its fair share of hotels, restaurants and resorts that set you up for a chic and serene retreat with a dose of summer escapism right in the thick of winter.