The world’s biggest tourist cities became such for a reason. Yes, Paris really is a romantic wonderland and Sydney continually sweeps us off our feet. But sometimes the overwhelming crowds of tourists struggling to follow a tour guide with a flag can put a pretty big damper on the fun.
So if you’re fed up with crowds and high prices, but still want the same exciting travel experiences, check out these 10 alternatives to popular tourist destinations.
If you don’t want to fight the crowds at the Coliseum, but still want to see Roman ruins, Pula, Croatia is your best bet. This seaside town sits on the southern tip of the Istria peninsula and features a multitude of ancient Roman buildings, including one of the best-preserved Roman amphitheaters. With easy access to the beach, you can get your fill of history, relaxation, and delicious food in one fabulous place.
The “City of Love” doesn’t feel so romantic when you’re struggling to find a table at a nice restaurant. Instead of jetting off to Paris, spend the weekend in Bruges, Belgium. This romantic corner is not exactly off the beaten path, but it’s definitely not the hotspot that Paris is. Featuring adorable canals, medieval buildings, and charming cafes you’ll be able to set the mood perfectly.
Santa Barbara California
The bright lights of Hollywood usually come in the form of traffic headlights. LA is chaotic and messy, so if you want a quieter Californian vacation, head north to Santa Barbara. This fun yet peaceful town features exquisite wine tasting, sunny beaches, and charming streets where you can shop local crafts or designer labels.
Kyoto is the land of shrines and tourists, but up in the mountains you can find its quieter counterpart Nikkō. While not necessarily a secret, this city often gets overlooked, which is a shame because it features an impressive collection of UNESCO shrines and temples. Plus, you have the added benefit of easy access to stunning nature.
Travelers often pass this coastal town on their way to Marrakech, Casablanca, or Fez. But Essaouira is bright and breezy with a colorful port and ancient ramparts that will instantly make you fall in love. This resort town is more laidback than its counterparts, but with the same vibrant culture that makes Morocco so special.