The secret is out! We asked our well-traveled readers on Twitter and Facebook to share their favorite off-the-beaten path destinations — those special places that guidebooks barely mention and that even frequent travelers may not have heard of. We got dozens of suggestions from every continent, including the world’s deepest canyon (hint: it ain’t “Grand”) and a hidden Greek village that dates back to the 14th century. Read on to check out our 10 favorite undiscovered gems around the world.
Colca Canyon, Peru
Reader Recommendation: “Amazing — my favorite part of Peru!” — Stacy Small, Elite Travel International
More Info: Though it’s overshadowed by the more famous Machu Picchu, Colca Canyon is worth seeing on any trip to Peru. Located about 100 miles outside of Arequipa, it’s more than twice as deep as the Grand Canyon. Keep an eye out for the Andean condor, a native bird that makes its home in and around the canyon.
Margaret River, Australia
Reader Recommendation: “Margaret River in Western Australia has sun, beaches, surfing, vineyards and micro-breweries. Get amongst it!” — @jenninscotland on Twitter
More Info: While most first-time travelers to Australia stick to the eastern coast (where you’ll find Sydney, Melbourne and the Great Barrier Reef), the Margaret River region offers a compelling reason to venture over to the western side of the country. A popular wine region, Margaret River also boasts opportunities for surfing, caving, hiking and art gallery-hopping.
Old Perithia, Corfu
Reader Recommendation: “We loved Old Perithia in Corfu. Stopped on a cruise. Rented a vehicle and drove around — saw a sign and found this truly ancient town in the hills in which no one now lives — yet as we walked around the stone paths we found about five little restaurants that are open during the day. Only one old couple still lives in the area tending their goats. The Old Perithia Restaurant is open every day, and on weekend evenings the locals come, I was told. An older woman does all the cooking and her middle-aged son works the restaurant. There are bottles of olive oil to purchase from their orchard. Delicious food! Jeep tours find their way there in summers, but the patrons stay for a drink and snack, then are gone. This was a find!” — Anne R.E. on Facebook
More Info: Old Perithia is believed to date back to the Byzantine era in the 14th century. Ask a local for directions or buy a good map to help you find this small mountain town.
Reader Recommendation: “Sagada, Bontoc and Banaue, Philippines: It’s another world out there. It’s amazingly beautiful.” — @kristallamillah on Twitter
More Info: This region of the Philippines is where you can see the country’s spectacular 2,000-year-old rice terraces, which are believed to have been made largely by hand. They are now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Blue Spring State Park, Florida
Reader Recommendation: “[You can] see where the St. Johns River is born and, most fun of all, jump in and see the manatees!” — @viajesrapido on Twitter
More Info: Located near Orange City, Florida, about 45 minutes from Orlando, Blue Spring is a designated manatee refuge where visitors can get a close-up glimpse of these gentle creatures. (However, the park does not permit swimming or diving with the manatees.) Take a two-hour boat tour on the St. Johns River to learn about the local ecology.
Wineries of Morocco
Reader Recommendation: “To get off the beaten path, I would go wine tasting in Morocco. Why? There’s more to Africa than safaris.” — @passportclub on Twitter
More Info: The locals in this mostly Muslim country are more likely to drink traditional mint tea than wine, but there are vineyards here, such as Les Celliers de Meknes and Domaine de la Zouina, both outside of the historic city of Meknes.
Monte Argentario, Italy
Reader Recommendation: “Monte Argentario is a little island linked by a narrow street to Tuscany. It’s quaint, beautiful and uber-peaceful.” — @Meghna_Prasad on Twitter
More Info: There are two main villages in Monte Argentario (technically a peninsula attached to the mainland by sandbars and lagoons): Porto Ercole and Porto Santo Stefano. Both of these port towns offer historic forts and charming sea views. Take a boat trip to fully enjoy Monte Argentario’s rugged coastline.
Reader Recommendation: “When the sun goes down, marsupials are all over the place. No need to go to the zoo in Tasmania.” — @laurenskahn on Twitter
More Info: Though many have heard of Tasmania, its remoteness means that few actually visit. Off the southern coast of Australia, the island is the only place in the world where you’ll find the famous Tasmanian devil in the wild. The island’s many wildlife refuges are also home to wombats, wallabies and a dizzying array of birds. Beyond outdoor activities, make time to check out Tasmania’s burgeoning food and wine scene.
Reader Recommendation: “Battambang [offers a] nice little slice of life away from Siem Reap. I was there for New Year’s Eve, which was the height of Cambodian wedding season. I have great memories from there.” — Marissa Garza, One World, One Plate
More Info: Battambang Province, often called the “Rice Bowl of Cambodia,” is home to a number of picturesque temples and Buddhist shrines. While you’re in the area, you can ride on the bamboo “train” (really more of a platform) or take a river kayaking excursion.
Around the World: Grocery Stores
Reader Recommendation: “Strangely enough, [I’d recommend] grocery stores. I LOVED visiting the markets in France — a great way to get a taste of everyday life.” — Danielle D., The Native L.A. Tourist
More Info: Okay, so we’re cheating a little — this isn’t one destination but many, found all around the world. But travelers who eat only in restaurants and visit nothing but museums and monuments are missing out. From gleaming supermarkets to those cute little corner grocery stands, the stores where locals get their daily bread can provide a fascinating look into the culture of a place. Grocery stores are also a great place to pick up souvenirs for the folks at home; you won’t find a better deal on local foodstuffs like Swiss chocolate or Scottish shortbread. And buying a quick picnic lunch — like a baguette, cheese and an apple — can save frugal travelers money over restaurant meals.