During my first few years of solo travelling, I visited all the big cities all over the globe because I wanted to see all the famous landmarks, popular travel destinations and all the top vacation spots.
But after exploring many capital cities and well-known places, I am more drawn to off the beaten path travel destinations that are unknown to many people. I like the idea of discovering something that is not mainstream and places that are not filled with tourists.
I travelled a lot in the past 20 years and saw so many hidden gems around the world. I came up with a list of 10 favourite places that are excellent hidden vacation spots that nobody seems to know about. They are fantastic places for solo travellers who may or may not have a lot of travel experience. Maybe these off-the-beaten-path destinations will inspire your travels for the upcoming year.
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10 Off the Beaten Path Travel Destinations for solo travellers
I’ve been to each destination and had a fabulous time. Some of these were suggestions from other fellow travellers, and some places I randomly found on my own.
So glad I found these hidden vacation spots that nobody knows about (well, maybe by now, more people are discovering them). Check out some underrated travel destinations if you want to get off the beaten track.
Summary of top 10 off the beaten track path destinations for solo travellers. Click on the hyperlink, and it will take you directly to the specific section.
- Ito, Japan
- Yilan, Taiwan
- Mui Ne, Vietnam
- Sibenik, Croatia
- Sighisoara, Romania
- Plovdiv, Bulgaria
- Aveiro, Portugal
- Stavanger, Norway
- Puebla, Mexico
- Punta del Diablo, Uruguay
Going off the beaten track in Asia
1. Ito, Japan
Ito is a seaside town located on Japan’s eastern coast of the Izu Peninsula. Visitors can experience authentic Japanese hot springs by going to one of several public onsens like Tokaikan or staying overnight at a Japanese or Western-style hotel.
And just south of Ito, visit Izu Kogen, where you can climb (or take a chairlift to) Mount Omuro, an extinct volcano with a walking trail around the perimeter of the crater. On a clear day, you can see as far as Mount Fuji. Also, you can hike the 10km hiking trail along the Jogasaki Coast and the jagged coastline formed by molten lava.
If you want a hot spring experience, skip Hakone and visit this off-the-beaten-path destination in Japan instead.
Related Post – Onsen Etiquette Guide
2. Yilan, Taiwan
Yilan County is a small county located in northeastern Taiwan. The small county is known for its historical towns, hot and cold springs, black sand beaches, and ancient trails around the mountainous region.
While there are many townships in Yilan County, all the best things to do in Yilan are concentrated around a few cities like Toucheng, Jiaoxi, Yilan City, Luodong and Su’ao.
Some of Yilan’s highlights include hot springs in Jiaoxi, cold springs in Su’ao, epic hiking trails in Jiaoxi, Neipi black sand beach in Nanfangao, surfing in Waiao Beach and taking a boat trip to Guishan Island (Turtle Island).
This part of Taiwan is affordable and has so much good food, making Yilan one of Taiwan’s most unique travel destinations.
Related Post – Southeast Asia Travel Tips
3. Mui Ne, Vietnam
The small beach resort town is known for its gorgeous beaches, kitesurfing, seafood and two unique attractions: Fairy Stream and Sand Dunes.
The Fairy Stream is so surreal! You walk along the peaceful stream with golden-orange sand and rock formations. And at the end, there is even a waterfall!
And don’t leave Mui Ne without visiting one or both of the famous sand dunes. White Sand Dune is the bigger sand dune where you can sandboard and drive across the dunes with a dune buggy. Red Sand Dune is picturesque in every way.
Getting off the beaten track in Europe
4. Sibenik, Croatia
I was on a road trip with friends travelling through Croatia, and we stumbled upon a small picturesque town called Sibenik. We saw medieval monuments in the main square and hiked up the hill in St. Michael’s Fortress in the evening to see a panoramic view of the town. Then the night was topped off with an alfresco dinner featuring local cuisine and a lot of Gemišt (white wine cocktail).
We also spent much time by the Adriatic Sea outside our seaside apartment. The picture below is what we saw from our window.
Even though I wasn’t travelling alone, I could see myself returning because there were so many unique things to do in Sibenik. I love finding hidden vacation spots when I go off the beaten track, and Sibenik is one of them!
5. Sighisoara, Romania
Sighisoara is a small fortified medieval town 300km north of Bucharest in Romania. The city was founded in the 12th century by German craftsmen known as Transylvanian Saxons and is part of the historical region of Transylvania. They strategically placed the city on a hill for protection against invaders and commercial trading.
Today, Sighișoara is known for its colourful houses, soaring watch towers, and well-preserved historic centre, which has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. And did I mention it is also the birthplace of Vlad Dracul?
It is possible to spend one day in Sighisoara and see all the best attractions. But I would stay a few days because the town is so lovely and has many things to do. Plus, it is very safe for solo female travellers.
6. Plovdiv, Bulgaria
As the second largest city in Bulgaria, there are plenty of things to do in Plovdiv. The ancient city is known for its cultural, historical and natural landmarks as Plovdiv is one of the oldest cities in Europe. There are over 6,000 years of history in this small quaint town!
When you are in Plovdiv, you can wander around the cobbled streets of Old Town Plovdiv, see ancient ruins around the six hills of Plovdiv, see art murals and enjoy nightlife in the hip and cool Kapana District.
And doing a day trip to Plovdiv from Sofia is possible but I highly recommending staying at least overnight to experience one of the best cities in Bulgaria.
7. Aveiro, Portugal
Located on the west coast of Portugal, Aveiro is a picturesque fishing town known for its Art Nouveau buildings, salt flats, patterned Portuguese pavement, and an egg-y dessert called ovo moles. The town is also known as the Venice of Portugal because of the canal system and the gondola-type boats called moliceiros.
If you are travelling in Porto, you can easily take a day trip to Aveiro as the town is only 75km south of Porto.
But I highly recommend staying longer. Aveiro is such a picturesque city and safe for solo female travellers. Plus, you can take a trip out to the coast and see Praia da Costa Nova, a gorgeous beach and fishing village with wooden waterfront cottages in vertical stripes.
8. Stavanger, Norway
Located in southwestern Norway, Stavanger is a compact city where everything can be seen on foot. There are many museums, colourful houses on the shopping street and excellent eateries everywhere.
Most people visiting Stavanger will visit Prekeistolen (the Pulpit Rock). The 3.8-kilometre self-guided hike is easy to get to from the city centre and has one of the world’s most spectacular viewing points.
The hike is relatively easy, but the most challenging part is standing at the edge of the rock and looking into Lysefjord. Many people will take a photo at the tip of the rock. For someone who is afraid of heights, I also went to the tip of the rock (but I was sitting and moved towards the edge one inch at a time! Ha!)
Travel off the beaten path in North and South America
9. Puebla, Mexico
Many people visit Mexico City, but there are a ton of places outside of the capital that are worth visiting. That’s when I found out about Puebla, a quaint city 130km east of Mexico City.
While the old town has colourful colonial architecture, modern buildings are starting to pop up in different pockets of the neighbourhood. There are also beautiful churches and cathedrals and a vibrant arts-and-crafts culture scene.
And if you get outside of Puebla, you can visit one of the oldest cities in Mexico called Cholula. Some people go to Cholula to hike Popocatepetl Volcano, the second highest peak in Mexico. But you can also admire the active volcano from afar.
10. Punta del Diablo, Uruguay
Located 180km east of Punta del Este in Uruguay, Punta del Diablo is a sleepy beach town with a lot of character. There are brightly painted houses or cabaña lining the edge of the spectacular beach, and fishermen sell their catch of the day at Playa de Los Pescadores. There’s even a spot by the beach where you can watch whales swimming in the ocean.
While there, I spent my time in beach huts and strolling the never-ending beach. I can understand why this laid-back beach town is popular for solo backpackers and a favourite of Brazilians and Argentinians.
Punta del Diablo is one of the best unknown places to visit that I have ever discovered. There aren’t a lot of tourists, and the town is very welcoming, especially if you are travelling alone. If you are travelling in South America, make sure to add it to your itinerary.
Which of these off-the-beaten-path destinations are you interested in going?
I love to travel and go off the beaten path to find the best hidden vacation spots. It takes a bit of research and also talking to other fellow travellers. But the effort and all the research are worth finding the best-underrated travel destinations.
I hope this post will inspire your future travels! Is there one off the beaten path travel spot you want to visit? Let me know in the comments below.
Thank you for reading my solo off-the-beaten-path destinations post
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