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Looking for travel inspiration? I’ve got some unique holiday destinations for you.
As someone who travels quite often, I’m continually in a state of travel planning and wondering where I’ll be headed next. For instance, as I’m currently planning our upcoming trip to Scotland, I’m thinking ahead to my road trip towards Maine a month later. After that, I have a space in my travel schedule. While I sometimes tend to plan my holidays according to the cheapest flights I can find, it also comes from a personal travel bucket list of places I’d like to see in my lifetime.
As time goes on, my collection of countries and regions tends to grow larger. I keep learning about more and more spots that I need to visit, primarily thanks to some brilliant travel blogs out there. However, there are times where I need some travel inspiration. Are you in this situation where you’re not quite sure where to start your journey? I’ve got a sensational list of unique holiday destinations. You have likely heard of these countries, but you might not know much about them. These are the unusual places to visit, the spots that have your friends asking, “Why are you going there?”. Here’s my list of 8 unusual holiday destinations that will surely find a way to your bucket list and upcoming travels soon.
What comes to mind when you think of Botswana? Botswana is an amazing holiday destination for safaris, home to one of the greatest wildlife spectacles on the planet. Known as the “Jewel of the Kalahari”, the natural scenery is almost too stunning to be real. The Kalahari Desert is largest unbroken expanse of sand on earth. You can visit the baobabs of Nxai Pans, Kubu Island in the north, the salt pans of Makgadikgadi, and the wild creatures of the Okavango Delta.
The government of Botswana is committed to responsible and sustainable tourism, including the preservation of its environmental and cultural heritage. They take control of visitor numbers, manage anti-poaching operations, protect the country’s wild regions that cover 20% of its land mass, and lead conservation efforts in Africa. Best of all, you’ll be amazed by witnessing animals like lions, hippos, elephants, and leopards. Take a luxury safari to Botswana for an exclusive safari experience, staying in lavish lodges as a base to visit remote game reserves. Botswana is one of the most unique holiday destinations for lovers of nature and animal encounters.
If you’re seeking more unusual holiday destinations, head to Peten, Guatemala for charming villages and incredible historic sites. While many visitors to Guatemala stick to Antigua and Guatemala City, you’ll want to book your flight north to Flores. I recently volunteered at ARCAS, a wildlife rescue center across from the island of Flores. While it was an incredible experience to help animals (victims of wildlife trafficking), there are many other sights and attractions in the region that remain off the beaten path.
You can visit ARCAS’ education center for a short trip if you’d like to learn more about their goals, as well as view animals in their long term care. It’s just a water taxi ride away from Flores. While in Flores, wander around the cobblestone streets of this bohemian island. Marvel at its colorful homes and check out a beautiful church at its center. The main attraction of Peten is Tikal National Park, a major site of Mayan civilization in the middle of the jungle. Set aside an entire day to explore this ancient site’s temples, palaces, and public squares. You can climb several of the historic structures and even book a sunrise trek to the top of one of them. While many flock to Costa Rica and Belize, I recommend that you visit the lesser trekked regions of Guatemala for one of the most unique holiday destinations.
When I traveled to Sri Lanka, I had many of my old co-workers wondering why I was going there. Well, Sri Lanka is the “Jewel of the Indian Ocean” with beautiful beaches, fascinating natural and historic wonders, and incredible wildlife. From the ancient ruins at Sigiriya Rock to the spectacular cave temple at Dambulla, you certainly won’t run out of places to discover in Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka is one of the most unique holiday destinations that stole my heart. I’d love to return to see more in the future.
Sri Lanka is also an ideal country to explore the wonders of Ayurveda, yoga, and wellness. Set aside some time to better your mind, body, and spirit. Ayurvedic medicine is thought to be the world’s oldest healthcare system. The traditions are over 5000 years old, and people still practice them today. I recommend visiting a wellness retreat where you can practice meditation, yoga, and receive Ayurvedic spa treatments.
Seeking a more relaxed getaway? While Croatia is growing in popularity as an alternative to Italy or Greece, I recommend traveling around this gorgeous nation by boat. You can cruise Croatia in style aboard a small ship to travel to unspoiled islands and tiny historic villages. It’s one of the best ways to discover the Dalmatian coast to check out pristine beaches and medieval towns.
You can choose from a range of inspiring itineraries while enjoying a luxurious experience. Check out Korcula, Vis, Hvar, and the untouched natural wonders at Mljet National Park. When you’re back on board, enjoy the views from your own spacious private balcony. Savor delectable meals prepared by talented chefs. While I’m a huge fan of trekking around new places, sometimes it’s nice to have a relaxing and rejuvenating experience where you don’t need to worry about your transportation or many of your meals.
Guyana might be flying under the radar, but it’s one of the most unusual places to visit with plenty to offer. If you love nature and wildlife, you’ll want to pack your bags and head straight to Guyana. There are over 700 bird species that live in Guyana in a rainbow of colors. In fact, Georgetown has the largest number of bird species among and capital city in the world. As far as unusual city breaks go, Georgetown might not immediately come to mind, but you’ll want to visit on your trip to Guyana.
For the adrenaline junkie, learn abseiling at Mount Roraima for an exciting adventure that takes courage and strength. Hop in a small plane to view the magnificent Kaieteur Falls from above. You can even take a night safari with trained naturalists from various eco-lodges. Check out several adventures that await in Guyana, South America, for unusual travel destinations that will blow your mind.
For those who think that Iceland is completely overrun with tourists, think again. While we do have to pay attention to overtourism in many places like Iceland, I didn’t find it to be a problem in many spots we traveled to in the country. For more unique holiday destinations in Iceland (that are arguably more memorable anyway), head north to the Westfjords.
We rarely saw any cars or other people while driving the narrow, windy roads of this northern Icelandic region. If you’re seeking isolation and dramatic beauty in Iceland, you’ll want to add some extra time to see the Westfjords. One main draw are the Latrabjarg cliffs, the westernmost point of the country and the largest bird nesting site in Europe. There are millions of birds that live there, including puffins, nestled into the massive, craggy rocks. In mid-June, we had no problems seeing tons of adorable little puffins.
It’s one of the more unusual holiday destinations in Iceland, considering that most people flock to the Golden Circle and the South Coast. However, the Westfjords are one of the more magical and remote regions of the country that you don’t want to miss.
West Coast of New Zealand’s South Island
Okay, so New Zealand is definitely a popular place to visit. It’s not one of the most unique holiday destinations in the world. However, many vacations and tours hit up the bigger cities and towns, like Auckland, Queenstown, Christchurch, and Wellington. While I’m not advocating that you skip any of the popular spots, I suggest renting a car in New Zealand and exploring on your own terms.
While in New Zealand’s South Island, drive from Wanaka through the Haast Pass and towards the West Coast. You’ll find brilliant coastal views, stunning beaches, and impressive rock formations. Book a helicopter ride at Franz Josef Glacier. Visit the fascinating limestone landscape at Punakaiki (Pancake Rocks). When we stayed at Port Elizabeth (near Greymouth), we had an entire rocky beach to ourselves to marvel at the waves crashing along the shore. Traveling by car or camper van allows you to drive wherever you’d like, which also means making the journey to unique holiday destinations that the larger tour buses don’t frequent.
And lastly, I couldn’t help but include part of my own home country, Canada! Newfoundland has the perfect mix of beautiful natural scenery and charming towns with a vibrant culture. While I only scraped the surface of what Newfoundland has to offer, I can’t wait to return someday to explore as many regions as possible. For a beginner’s trip to Newfoundland lasting a weekend, take a road trip around the Avalon Peninsula from St. John’s.
I recommend watching the sunrise at Cape Spear, the first sunrise of the day across North America. Drive around the coastline to witness craggy cliffs and quaint seaside villages. Hop on a boat tour to view millions of birds and puffins, nestling on small offshore islands. If you expand your trip to include several other regions of Newfoundland, I recommend checking out Gros Morne National Park, the Torngat Mountains, and Fogo Island for the most interesting and unique holiday destinations.
Hopefully I’ve provided you with some travel inspiration with these unusual travel destinations and unusual city breaks. You’ll have to let me know if you end up visiting any of them (or if you have in the past!).