The world is a big place. While you can't avoid crowds altogether, there are options for a pleasant vacation without souvenir shops and tour buses. If you'd like to avoid jostling against selfie-snapping tourists in 2020, then it's time to get off the beaten path. Check out these six "undertouristed" destinations, and book your tickets NOW before the rest of the world discovers how awesome they are.
Dreaming of exploring medieval castles, wandering down cobblestone streets, and eating at quaint sidewalk cafes? Leave Italy to the tourists and head to its neighbor to the east, Slovenia. The capital city of Ljubljana is the perfect place to live out all your European travel fantasies.
Ljubljana Castle crowns the city and can be accessed by funicular railway. In case you're wondering, the latter (also called an inclined plane railway) is a great way to travel up and down steep slopes. It's ideal for visiting the castle, which is located atop Castle Hill. By April 2019, the Ljubljana Castle Funicular had reportedly carried more than four million visitors up to the top.
So, what can you do at the castle? You may be interested in a staff-guided tour. There's also an escape room experience to help you learn about Ljubljana's history in a fun way. To play, you'll have to save the guardian of the city, a dragon that fell into the abyss while battling St. George. After you're done, you may want to visit the exhibit "The Dragon of all Dragons," which highlights the importance of dragons in Slovenian culture. Don't forget to check out the castle weapons, Museum of Puppetry, ancient Baroque wall paintings, and the hand-blown crystal drip-stone exhibit.
Finally, explore the city's famous bridges and then head down to the sidewalk cafes overlooking Ljubljanica River for a bite. Be sure to check out the city's farmers market just beyond the famous Triple Bridge, as well. You'll find local produce as well as handmade goods that make great souvenirs of your time spent in this fairy-tale land.
The once-forgotten city of Dubrovnik is now flooded with tourists, thanks in large part to the HBO series "Game of Thrones." Producers used the city as the setting for King's Landing. If you want to skip the tourist traps and tours, then head two hours south to the city of Budva in Montenegro.
The Greeks founded the city in the fourth century. Budva's medieval walls are still intact, giving it a similar character to Dubrovnik. What you won't find here, however, are sidewalk cafes brimming with tourists (especially in the winter). It's not just the medieval charm that'll make you fall in love at first sight. The dramatic landscape is also home to 17 beautiful beaches, according to the official Montenegro travel site. We recommend visiting at least two: Slovenska Plaža and Mogren Beach.
Christmas Island, Australia
According to the island's official website, more than 250,000 tourists visited the Galapagos Islands in 2015. That number continues to increase annually, due to interest in the island's unusual wildlife. If you aren't interested in braving the crowds to see giant sea turtles, we suggest detouring to Christmas Island, instead.
This remote Australian territory is located south of Indonesia, but according to Australia.com, you can catch regular flights out of Perth to get there. If you visit at the right time, you can catch the annual red crab migration, when 60 million of the critters leave their forest home to lay eggs in the ocean.
In case you were wondering, Christmas Island became an Australian external territory on October 1, 1958. Today, two-thirds of the island has been designated a National Park. The island is also one of the world's premier seabird rookeries: more than 80,000 birds nest here annually. While there's plenty to keep nature lovers entertained, visitors won't lack the necessary modern conveniences. The island offers a variety of gorgeous lodging options, available through its official website.
According to the Nassau Guardian, a record-breaking number of tourists visited the Bahamas in 2018. If you just felt a throb of disappointment, relax. Avoiding tourists doesn't mean you have to give up on your Bahamian daydreams. You just need to know where to go.
We suggest skipping popular Nassau and heading to the western-most point of the Bahamas. That'll take you straight to Bimini. The island is just 50 miles to the east of Miami, making it fairly easy to reach. Ernest Hemingway enjoyed fishing for blue-fin tuna, marlins, and even mako sharks off the coast of Bimini. Many of Hemingway's fishing adventures in the area provided material for "The Old Man and the Sea."
As Hemingway discovered, Bimini is unique for its lack of tourists. The tropical paradise is relatively serene, so you can enjoy plenty of beach time and water-sports at your leisure. Head to the Bimini Big Game Club Resort & Marina if you want a real adventure, however. The staff will arrange for a hammerhead shark safari, as long as you're visiting sometime between December and April.
While locations such as New Delhi and Agra are used to catering to large groups of tourists, Varanasi throws us for a loop. It's not a place for the faint-of-heart, certainly, but it's also a place you won't forget anytime soon.
According to Mother Nature Network, Varanasi is the world's oldest city and the spiritual center of Hinduism. That's thanks to its location along the Ganges river, Hinduism's most sacred body of water. Many Hindus make their way to the river to die, hoping to escape the cycle of reincarnation.
Yes, everything you've heard about the city is true. Varanasi is colorful, mysterious, and loud. For a unique experience, walk along the Ghats, the steps leading down to the river where Aarti ceremonies take place each day at dawn.
On the banks of the Ganges in this holy city, you'll also see people gather at specific ghats (like the Harishchandra Ghat) to cremate their dead and sprinkle the ashes into the Ganges. Boat rides are available if you prefer to take it all in at a distance, but keep your camera in your pockets. It's considered ill-mannered to take pictures of the funeral ceremonies, even if you're out on the river.
The Telegraph dubs Bagan the "trip of a lifetime," and for good reason, too. The city is home to thousands of Buddhist temples scattered across 26 square miles. The best way to see the temples is from the sky in a hot air balloon. It makes for a magical experience.
Consider ditching the guidebooks and simply chatting up the locals to get their recommendations about where to go and what to see. Bagan is a rapidly changing area, so a sense of adventure is a must. You'll want to take in both Old Bagan and New Bagan. Don't forget to check out Bagan's famous festivals, such as the Ananda Pagoda Festival in January.