There are certain destinations we all dream of traveling to one day: Paris, Rome, Bangkok, Rio de Janeiro, Jerusalem, Tokyo, New York City, Buenos Aires, Beijing, Stockholm.
They’re magical cities with cultures and histories that have shaped the dynamic fabric of our globalized world.
Travel snobs will tell you these places are so inundated with tourists that you won’t really enjoy visiting them. These individuals have lost sight of how privileged they are to travel in the first place.
Regardless of how crowded these places may be, there’s nothing quite like staring up at the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, emerging from the NYC subway for the first time and staring down at the streets of Paris from the top of the Eiffel Tower.
In truth, it’s almost impossible to visit anywhere these days that’s completely untouched by tourism. Locations once considered remote are now typically accessible by plane, car or train.
The hidden gems of the world are becoming hot spots for tourists — so all the more reason to visit these places sooner rather than later.
There’s no better time to travel to these places than when you’re in your 20s. As we get older, the comfort and ease of guided tours becomes increasingly appealing, so explore the world now while you still have the energy.
The world’s greatest cities aren’t going anywhere; you have your entire life to visit them. Why not go to places where you can be your own tourist?
Here are the 50 least predictable places you should visit in your 20s (in no particular order):
1. Isle of Skye, Scotland
The Isle of Skye is an incomparably beautiful island located off the west coast of Scotland. You can visit the colorful town of Portree, eat fish and chips, drink delicious whisky (without the “e”) and explore Dunvegan castle.
2. New Orleans, LA, USA
New Orleans isn’t just a city, it’s a way of life. Influenced by Europe, the Caribbean and Africa, its culture is exceptionally dynamic. The food, music, architecture and people are one of a kind.
3. Okinawa Island, Japan
Okinawa is an historic island roughly 400 miles from mainland Japan. Its tropical climate makes it an ideal place to snorkel, hike and hang on the beach. If you love nature and history, it’s the perfect place for you.
4. Killarney, Ireland
Killarney is a quaint, yet energetic town in southwestern Ireland. It’s a great place for walking, as it’s located right next to Killarney National Park. If you like whiskey (with the “e”), nature, history and authentic Irish culture, Killarney is an incredible place to visit.
5. Montreal, Canada
If you want a taste of Europe but don’t have the time or money to get there, check out Montreal. The people are friendly, the food is delicious and there is an endless amount of activities and places to explore. It’s easily one of the most cosmopolitan cities in North America.
6. Yerevan, Armenia
Yerevan is a magical and historic city with beautiful views of Mount Ararat. With unique architecture, hospitable people and great food and drink, it’s a fantastic place to visit.
7. Galle, Sri Lanka
Galle is a city with a rich colonial history. It’s full of beaches, art and beautiful colonial architecture. In 1663, the Dutch built a fort there that can still be visited.
8. Lofoten Islands, Norway
Located in the northern part of Norway, the Loften Islands are perfect for fishing and hiking. It also has some of the most incredible scenery in the world.
9. Mestia, Georgia
Mestia is an isolated town located in Northern Georgia, but it’s completely worth the visit. Drink Georgian wine, hike to a glacier, mingle with the locals and experience the epic beauty of the Caucasus mountains.
10. Reykjavik, Iceland
Reykjavik is the capital of Iceland and, surprisingly, one of the most artistic cities you’ll find. It’s also the gateway to the incredible and unique nature of Iceland.
11. Beirut, Lebanon
Beirut is the historic capital of Lebanon and one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the Middle East. Often called the “Paris of the Middle East,” it’s a great place to eat, explore and party.
12. Pyongyang, North Korea
If you want to do something really adventurous and enlightening, visit Pyongyang. It’s a place that will open your eyes to the eccentricities of humanity while simultaneously reminding you of the immense privileges people have in more free societies.
13. Gallipoli, Turkey
Gallipoli is the sight of one of the bloodiest battles of World War I. It’s also exceptionally beautiful and in addition to its history, it offers incredible views of the Aegean Sea.
14. Kathmandu, Nepal
Kathmandu is the capital of Nepal and a delight for the senses. Over the years, it’s become a favorite of backpackers, but there are still many parts of the city untouched by foreigners to explore.
15. Big Sur, CA
There’s nothing quite like watching the waves crash against the rocks in Big Sur. It’s a great place to relax, camp and hike.
16. Freetown Christiania, Denmark
Freetown Christiania is a city within a city. It’s a self-governing section of Copenhagen established in 1971 by a group of hippies. It’s colorful, artsy and you can smoke weed in many places.
17. Trans-Siberian Railway, Russia
The Trans-Siberian Railway is the longest railway in the world, extending from Moscow to Siberia. It’s also probably the most incredible way to explore Russia.
18. Lake Garda, Italy
Lake Garda, located in Northern Italy, is the largest lake in Italy. It’s a great place to swim, and the views are exceptional. Not to mention, it’s in Italy, where all of the food is amazing.
19. Corsica, France
Corsica is an island in the Mediterranean with epically diverse geography. Not surprisingly, it’s considered one of the most beautiful locations in the world.
20. Tulum, Mexico
Tulum is paradise. It’s one of the most beautiful beaches in Mexico, and to top it off, it’s located next to a Mayan ruin.
21. Rumbur Valley, Pakistan
If you want adventure, culture and beauty, visit Rumbur Valley in Pakistan. Be prepared to live off the grid, however, as there are no phone signals, electricity or newspapers.
22. Cartagena, Colombia
Cartagena has beautiful beaches, history and vibrant colonial architecture. You won’t want to leave.
23. Ha Long Bay, Vietnam
Ha Long Bay is renowned for its beauty, and is a UNESCO World Heritage site. It’s mystical waters will take your breath away.
24. Ulan Bator, Mongolia
Ulan Bator is the capital of Mongolia and one of the most remote locations in the world. It’s not the most glamorous city, but it makes up for it in culture and history.
25. Brussels, Belgium
Brussels is often seen simply as a hub of politics and business, but don’t be fooled. The architecture is incredible, the food is delicious and the people know how to have a good time.
26. Juqueí, Brazil
Rio de Janeiro might be more well known, but Juqueí is beautiful, quiet and has some of the most delicious seafood you’ll ever taste.
27. Tzaneen, South Africa
Tzaneen is a tropical town located in the north of South Africa. It’s beautiful and full of natural attractions, including a monkey sanctuary.
28. Zaanse Schans, The Netherlands
If you like windmills, museums and unique architecture, you’ll love Zaanse Shans. It’s not too far from Amsterdam.
29. Eilat, Israel
Eilat is where the desert meets the sea. It’s a beach town where the weather is always good and the food is excellent.
30. Belgrade, Serbia
Belgrade may be a poor city, but it’s absolutely beautiful and rich in culture and hospitality.
31. Monasterio de Piedra Park, Spain
This natural and beautiful waterfall park is also the site of a monastery built by the Moors. It’s the perfect combination of hiking, scenery and history.
32. Ljubljana, Slovenia
Slovenia’s capital and largest city is full of friendly people who appreciate visitors. Set on the banks of the Ljubljanica River, it’s the perfect place to explore and party during the summer.
33. Isla de Vieques, Puerto Rico
This rural island is only about 22 miles long and four miles wide, but it’s impossible to be unhappy there with its crystal clear water and glistening beaches.
34. White Sands, NM, USA
The White Sands National Monument is the world’s largest gypsum dunefield (275 square miles of white sand). There’s not a single place like it anywhere else in the world.
35. Budva, Montenegro
Budva is a beautiful and historic town with excellent beaches and an endless nightlife. If you like to party, you’ll fit right in.
36. Coles Bay & Freycinet National Park, Tasmania, Australia
If you like beaches, hiking, camping, great views and adventure, visit this beautiful national park.
37. Gothenburg, Sweden
Often referred to as one of the friendliest cities in Sweden, Gothenburg is renowned for its food and architecture. It also has quite a creative side, spawning artists and musicians alike.
38. Seoraksan National Park, South Korea
This park is home to Seoraksan Mountain, which is the third highest mountain in South Korea. It’s full of beautiful nature, making it perfect for hiking.
39. Atacama Desert, Chile
The Atacama Desert might be the driest place in the world, but it also offers some of the most stunning and dramatic scenery on earth.
40. Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia
This UNESCO World Heritage Site contains beautiful lakes, caves and waterfalls. It’s also populated by deer, bears, rare bird species and wolves.
41. Jiuzhaigou Valley Scenic and Historic Interest Area, China
Located in central China, this natural park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and home to some of the most spectacular waterfalls in the world.
42. Rotorua, New Zealand
Full of hot springs, mud pools and geysers, this is one of the most relaxing and scenic destinations you could ever visit.
43. Taman Negara National Park, Malaysia
This natural park is home to many of the world’s most endangered species, including Asian elephants, tigers, leopards and rhinos. You might even see a flying squirrel in the dense and mystical jungle.
44. Zanzibar, Tanzania
This East African island is the perfect place to chill. It’s also home to Stone Town, a dynamic city influenced by centuries of history and a number of cultures.
45. Chavin de Huantar, Peru
Most people visit Peru to see Machu Picchu, but Chavin de Huantar is centuries older and definitely worth the visit. The archaeological site is located about 150 miles from Lima.
46. Broome, Australia
This picturesque, historic and remote beach town is a wondrous sight. It’s the epitome of peacefulness.
47. El Chaltén, Argentina
This small mountain village offers some of the most stunning views in the world. Founded in 1985, this town has hippie vibes and is the perfect spot for backpackers and adventurers.
48. Varanasi, India
This vibrant and holy city is one of the oldest on the planet. It’s the type of place that will be forever etched into your memory.
49. Kazan, Russia
Kazan could arguably be compared to Istanbul. The city is a blend of Islam and Christianity, Europe and Asia. It’s beautiful, historic and cosmopolitan.
50. Bagan, Myanmar
This ancient temple town is said to rival Cambodia’s Angkor. If you’re looking for a place relatively untouched by tourism, this is it.
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