It might seem like the world is shrinking, but there are still plenty of relatively unknown — and unlikely — destinations that you’ve probably never thought to visit. Here are five of the most unlikely destinations that are becoming go-to hot spots for in-the-know travelers.
With ultra-friendly people, phenomenal food, and a fascinating history that dates back millennia, Jordan is a must-visit destination. Even a highlights tour — exploring Wadi Rum, visiting Petra, diving the Red Sea, and taking a float in the Dead Sea — could fill a two-week vacation. If you’re especially adventurous, the newly opened Jordan Trail connects the country’s best highlights along a 400-mile, self-guided hiking trail that’s quite literally a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Thanks to a seemingly endless array of “bad” news coming out of Egypt, tourists have been shying away for the last few years. However, actual incidents of violence against foreigners are few and far between. Now is a great time to visit the country as hotel and tour rates are at historic lows. The country’s impossibly dense history means you’d need a full year to even scratch its surface, so this is one place where a proper guided tour is a wise move. Check out an overview tour like Lady Egypt’s Best of Egypt tour. You can’t possibly see everything worth seeing on a typical two-week jaunt, but this is the next best thing.
Northern Mariana Islands
If you’re looking for a proper “flip-and-flop” vacation (that is, deplaning and immediately hitting the beach with a frozen cocktail in hand) without leaving the United States, there are plenty of places to do just that. Key West, Maui, and St. John come to mind. However, if you’re looking to get off the beaten path to a destination even you probably haven’t heard of, head to the Northern Mariana Islands. This tiny archipelago just north of Guam has plenty of palm-lined beaches and stunning, mountainous hiking trails by day, and a lively nightlife and casino scene once the sun goes down. Plus, you don’t even need to pack your passport.
Situated just off the coast of East Africa, the tiny tropical archipelago of Seychelles is impossibly beautiful. When sailors first laid eyes on it centuries ago, they were convinced they’d found the Garden of Eden. It’s hardly surprising that tourism there is on the rise. But, it’s still well under the radar and, with 115 islands to explore, you’ll have no trouble finding a slice of tropical paradise all to yourself. For a close runner-up, check out Mauritius while you’re in the neighborhood.
Sadly, Finland has long been overshadowed by its more popular Scandinavian brethren, namely Denmark and Sweden. However, tourism is up almost 20 percent in the last year thanks in part to the country’s massive push to celebrate 100 years of independence. It’s no surprise really as the country is home to some of the most breathtaking scenery in Europe. For a unique, once-in-a-lifetime experience, head far north to Finnish Lapland which offers some of the best Northern Lights-viewing on the continent. It’s also a great opportunity to sample reindeer meat, sip authentic Lakka liqueur, and indulge in a traditional sauna treatment.