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Origin Recommends Alternatives to Overbooked Destinations

Find a Place to Explore and Exhale Off the Beaten Path

After two long years of closed-down borders, quarantines, and restrictions, travel is back with a vengeance — if you can find a place to go that isn’t fully booked. Travelers trying to make plans for sought-after destinations are finding limited flight options and full hotels.

A dramatic, large perspective of the southern Spanish coast
Mike McBey

Those still thinking of making a last-minute trip to breathe in waves of grapevines, hike rocky mountain trails, and taste wonderful, homegrown eats need not fret about out-of-control demand. Curators at the Origin app, a travel planning company, have compiled a list of the five countries it recommends for phenomenal holidays that aren’t totally overbooked. So take a look at these alternatives to overlook destinations and start planning.

Our latest “Where can I go?” feature uses the savviness of search algorithms and the brilliance of travel experts to prepare individual travelers for the uncertainties of COVID restrictions. Read more:

— Origin (@OriginDot) March 23, 2022

Skip Tuscany Crowds for the Douro Valley in Portugal

Vineyards in the Douro Valley in Portugul

If sipping on wine surrounded by rolling vineyard hills seems like your type of rest and relaxation, steer away from the Tuscany crowds and sail into northern Portugal’s Douro Valley. Feast on the senses with fermented goodness while kicking back and watching the region’s namesake river weaves through rolling green mountains, shaping one of Europe’s most picturesque wine locales.

Perhaps best known for its dry reds like Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz (Tempranillo), Touriga Franca, and Tinta Barroca, the Douro Valley doesn’t skimp on whites. Most prominent typically include Malvasia Fina, Rabigato, Viosinho, and the effervescent vinho verde grapes — perfect refreshment for a summer afternoon.

Dozens of wineries spread throughout valley after valley, creating the Douro Valley’s most enduring challenge: Where to go next.

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Dial Into Western Norway Instead of the Dolomites

Fjord in Sunnmøre, Norway.
Erik A. Drabløs

Italy’s northeastern Dolomites Mountains are an extension of the Alps that form a stunning natural tapestry that makes the perfect outdoor playground… which is why the Dolomites are flooded with year-round visitors.

Alpine summers aren’t available only in central Europe, though. A more far-flung journey to Western Norway puts visitors smack dab in the middle of nearly 300 mountain peaks above 6,560 feet and a thousand mountain peaks over 5,400 feet above sea level. This means almost endless panoramic viewpoints and much fewer people to encounter while hiking, biking, or on boating journeys. And there are a few places in the world to match the awesome beauty of kayaking a fjord.

To refuel, there are a number of quaint towns in Western Norway that serve traditional Bergen food — cinnamon buns, Raspeballer (potato balls), cod, mountain trout, and coffee treats.

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Avoid Rome’s Crowds… Head to Rio

A bird's-eye view of Rio overlooking the statue of Jesus.
Rafael Rabello de Barros

In the summer, mad hordes occupy Rome, all hoping for a taste of its former glory. With the tourists thick and the weather hot, a dream trip can turn into a drag fast. Skip the lines, but stick with big city vibes and visit Rio de Janeiro during the city’s warm winters. June, July, and August are flipped in the Southern Hemisphere, but there’s definitely no snow on Rio’s steamy tropical beaches. When voyagers to Brazil’s biggest party town get tired of the sand, Rio’s cosmopolitan side can be found in the central Lapa neighborhood, filled with trendy bars and restaurants and the sound of samba music.

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Get the Best of the Amalfi Coast… Via Costa del Sol, Spain

Calle Cristobal Alarcon, Provinz Málaga
Olaf Tausch

Translating directly to “coast of the sun,” southern Spain sets an awfully high bar, featuring 320 annual sunny days shining down on big cities like Málaga or Marbella, as well as white-washed houses overlooking the Mediterranean Sea that look like an Old World dream.

Formerly a series of small fishing settlements, today the region is renowned for its idyllic coastal towns not yet overrun with tourists. For travelers searching for the quintessential summer getaway, the Costa del Sol nails it. Enjoy the Spanish sun next to a sea that feels like bathwater before striding through nights warm enough to wear shorts. The Costa del Sol is in Andalucía, where the Mediterranean dishes mix perfectly with the cold beer and fresh-fried seafood.

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Skip Sicily and Head to Crete

The Messara Valley leading out to the Mount Ida chain in Crete, Greece

Sicily is a wonderful island to visit, but in the summer months, the tourist crowd grows thick. People looking for an alternative can find relaxation and adventure on another island, Crete.

Somehow Greece’s largest island is still yet unspoiled. Perhaps it’s the gods still protecting the place. Crete, after all, is the birthplace of twin gods, Apollo and Artemis, as well as the head of the Olympians, Zeus.

Across Crete lies the marble ruins and ancient remnants of the people who worshiped these deities. primeval mountain scapes dip down into fertile valleys and steep gorges, all surrounded by brilliant beaches and Mediterranean blue. And this is without even mentioning the food.

The local cuisine — salty cheeses, savory olive oils, and endless seafood — is now harvested with sustainability in mind. This goes for the fine wines distinct to this ancient civilization.

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Travel Tips

No matter where the journey goes, people have to travel to get there, and that’s no easy task in a post-COVID-19 pandemic world. To avoid long lines, Origin offers some assistance: Keep carry-on baggage only and if needed, as the travel company can help ship stuff to traveler destinations.

Booking with Origin earns customers an automatic VIP greeting on landing, which also translates to assistance from customs and airport personnel — skipping the lines altogether. An Origin-organized itinerary starts at $600 per person per day and includes accommodations, private tours and experiences, domestic flights, private transfers, breakfasts, and all necessary logistics on the ground.

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Editors' Recommendations

Matthew Denis
Matt Denis is an on-the-go remote multimedia reporter, exploring arts, culture, and the existential in the Pacific Northwest…
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