12 Travel Hot Spots You Haven’t Heard of… Yet
These under-the-radar destinations are about to blow up. Our advice? Book your trip ASAP.
Gangneung, South Korea
If this were a race, Gangneung would be the runaway winner. No surprise given that many of the events—including ice hockey, figure skating, and curling—for the 2018 Olympic Winter Games will be held there. But there’s plenty to explore beyond the sporting arena year-round—namely beautiful beaches and specialty museums, from Ojukheon to Haslla Art World.
Bournemouth, United Kingdom
One of England’s best-kept-secrets—that is, until now—the resort town, Bournemouth, has long lured Brits with its temperate climate (its blessed with the warmest weather in the U.K.), tropical gardens, stunning seascapes, nightclubs, and casinos. Now, it’s drawing attention from sun-worshippers and nightlight-enthusiasts around the globe.
More than just Alberta’s capital, Edmonton is an urban gateway to outdoor adventure. Its contemporary attractions—such as the Royal Alberta Museum, Muttart Conservatory, and the sprawling West Edmonton Mall, an 800-store shopping complex, complete with an indoor roller coaster and water park—coupled with its proximity to the rugged allure of Elk Island National Park and the Canadian Rockies make it a top pick for city-slickers and outdoor-lovers alike. No wonder Edmonton is on the list of 2018’s must-see places.
Da Nang, Vietnam
It’s no secret that Vietnam is gaining notoriety (in a good way), and Da Nang is one of the areas driving that boom. What was once a French Colonial port has evolved into a metropolitan mecca with tranquil shores, verdant mountains, contemporary bridges, centuries-old pagodas, and exceptional cuisine. For a taste of authentic local flavor, head to the many street-food vendors that line the Han River.
For those seeking outdoor adventure, few places compare to Whitefish. Situated at the base of Big Mountain, near the craggy peaks and bowl-like valleys of Glacier National Park, this rustic retreat offers everything from skiing and snowboarding in the winter to hiking and biking in summer. For a more low-key afternoon, take a stroll through the quaint downtown, dotted with artisan boutiques, coffee shops, and breweries. (If your dream getaway is traversing the untamed wilderness, these extreme escapes will be right up your alley.)
While Greece has long held the title of most in-demand Mediterranean destination, people are starting to discover the idyllic (and less expensive) island of Cyprus. In fact, Famagusta, also known as Gazimagusa, saw the second-highest spike in all of Europe, according to recently-released Airbnb data. This Cyprian gem abounds with history and medieval architecture. In addition to ancient ruins, churches, and mosques, you’ll find rock-lined shores and crystal-clear waters.
Bilbao marries man-made and natural beauty. There’s no denying that the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao—both the titanium-clad building that solidified Frank Gehry as a household name and the modern and contemporary within—is the star, but it’s not the only architectural marvel. The Norman Foster-designed, curved glass structures that announce the metro, lovingly referred to as “fosteritos,” have become iconic in their own right. And its rolling hills are the crown jewel of the Basque Country. These dazzling destinations also deserve a spot on your vacation bucket list.
There’s more to Brazil than the big cities of Rio and São Paulo. And, based on a 209 percent booking boost for Matinhos, it seems travelers are taking notice. People are flocking to this coastal community for its picture-perfect beaches and recreational activities. Bringing the kids? They’ll have hours of fun at Parque Aguas Claras, a massive water park with slides, rides, and more.
Since being coronated the capital of Wales in 1955, Cardiff has bounded into the 21st century, establishing itself as one of Britain’s leading urban hubs in the process, without losing its connection to the past (the 11th-century Cardiff Castle retains its must-see status). This bustling metropolis boasts an ultra-modern waterfront and an exuberant spirit that can be felt throughout the numerous pubs, music venues, and hip hotels.
Another high-growth Brazilian hot spot is Guarapari. This oceanfront oasis, about an hour south of Vitória, is climbing the ranks due to its relaxed atmosphere and whopping 23 beaches with scenic mountain views. There’s also an abundance of fresh seafood, which you can wash down with a caipirinha.
Tokyo is a mainstay on literally every most-booked list. But, now travelers are beginning to broaden their focus to other regions of Japan. Set on the southern island of Kyushu, Ōita is known for its hot springs, including as Daishindo Chinetsu Onsen and Tsukano Kousen. Umitamago Aquarium and Takasakiyama Natural Zoo are other popular attractions. While you’re there, be sure to indulge in local delicacies like fugu (blowfish) and tori-ten, a tempura-style fried chicken dish that originated in Ōita.
Dunedin, New Zealand
Sure, you’ve heard of Auckland, but what about Dunedin? Located in the South Island, New Zealand’s oldest city is making its mark thanks to its dramatic landscape, exotic wildlife, and Scottish heritage. This animal-lovers paradise is home to rare yellow-eyed penguins, fur seals, and the only mainland albatross colony in the world. And Downtown Dunedin has historic, Edwardian architecture from the early Scottish settlers. The best way to see it all? A self-guided walking tour.