During the pandemic, many travelers from the U.S. were looking for easy escapes, usually to Hawaii or Mexico. That left many places off-the-beaten path even more uncrowded and enjoyable to visit. The Galapagos. The Azores. Even places that traditionally attract more tourists, like Egypt, have had fewer crowds recently. If you want to travel somewhere without the usual throng of tourists, you may want to put one of these places on your list for 2022.
The Galapagos, Ecuador
With the limited number of visitors to the Galapagos, travelers have had a better opportunity to see the best part of the Galapagos: wild nature. While the Galapagos has always been careful about keeping their national park unspoiled, the slow down of tourists from the pandemic has made the experience even better. Fewer people means more active wildlife, resulting in better sightings for travelers who do make it to this remote part of the world.
While tourists flock to Sumatra’s more famous island neighbor, Bali, you’ll see fewer people–not to mention better prices–in nearby Sumatra. Sumatra has picturesque rice paddies, volcanoes, waterfalls and wildlife unlike anywhere else in the world. Carly Day, a local and founder of the travel blog Exploring Sumatra, touts the uncrowded nature of the large island, “Even the most beautiful and famous of locations are never crowded, and unique enough to make other travelers sit up and take notice with slight envy as they struggle to take a selfie in an overrated, crowded Bali temple.”
The Azores, Portugal
The Azores, an archipelago of nine volcanic islands in the Atlantic, are known for their unspoiled beauty. There are black, volcanic cliffs surrounded by lush, green valleys lined by stunning clusters of thriving hydrangeas. Visitors can hike volcanic craters above clear lakes. The islands are also known as one of the best places for whale and dolphin watching.
The country of Jordan hosts one of the wonders of the world: the city of Petra. While this location is normally crawling with tourists and the path has been very well-trodden, the pandemic turned this incredible area into a ghost town. Visitors to the city carved into the red sandstone landscape currently experience it without the number of tourists that once frequented the place. Yet, the numbers of tourists are increasing as restrictions ease and travel returns to normal. You may want to visit before tourism to this incredible location returns in full force.
The Philippines are composed of more than 7,000 islands with unspoiled beauty and welcoming people. The rice terraces of Ifugao will make you feel like you’re in another place and time–and you won’t see many tourists around to crowd you out. The cities are bustling and the beaches are second to none.
Looking for a unique experience away from it all? Try Armenia. “Armenia is a nation of ancient history and sprawling landscapes, away from the hustle and bustle of a more modern world,” says Tara Fitzgerald of OROKO Holidays. “Well-preserved medieval monasteries are scattered across the isolated scenery of Armenia’s countryside, closely followed by the dramatically beautiful landscapes of steep valleys, soaring mountains and alpine lakes.”
The small monastery of Khor Virap offers the best views of Mount Ararat across the Turkish border, Fitzgerald relates.
Malta has an incredible amount of history and beauty to enjoy. For architecture lovers, the old, ancient walled city of Mdina is a delight. The city is built on the highest point of the island and houses a large number of baroque and medieval palaces. It’s called “The Silent City” and only 250 residents are lucky enough to call this place home. The island nation also houses the oldest stone structures in the world and unique diving excursions.
Peter Grubb, founder and guide for ROW Adventures, visited Turkey in late 2021 and says busy places like the Topkapi Palace and Hagia Sofia in Istanbul are open, quiet and welcoming.
“Cappadocia was like a ghost town, but businesses are eager to see tourists, and getting on a hot air balloon ride or any activity is readily available,” he says. “Yachting tours along the southwest coasts are a dream as bays are not crowded with boats and trails through olive groves and Greco-Roman ruins are empty. The food remains delectable as ever and the old saying that ‘to call a Turk hospitable is redundant’ is true now more than ever.”
Digital nomad Katelynn Sortino recommends Morocco as the COVID situation is now stable, but tourism has yet to return to pre-pandemic levels. She says, “Many tourist destinations are still pretty empty and those in the tourism sector are eager to greet guests to this beautiful country.”
“There’s a ton of history, distinct culture and art, plus loads of stunning outdoor activities. You can go to the Sahara desert for a camel ride or quad ride, take a hot air balloon ride over the Atlas Mountains, surf on the many beautiful beaches, or simply enjoy the ancient medinas.”
Wait in line for a tourist attraction? Not here. Even before the pandemic, travelers to Belize could take a picture of a Mayan ruin without a slew of tourists in the background. Belize also offers some of the best diving anywhere. With clear waters and the second largest barrier reef in the world, going underwater here is a must.
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