After writing a handful of blog posts, I realized there is a consistent pattern and viewpoint of many of the destinations I have traveled to. Even while sharing travel stories with friends, family, and travelers alike, many of my sentences start out the same.
“I wasn’t planning on going there.”
I tend to travel with a pretty open schedule, and when I hear about cool places or things it’s hard to justify not making the trip! The most common way I hear about off the beaten path travel destinations is from staying in hostels with like-minded travelers.
One of the main reasons I preach staying in hostels so much is that you have the ability to meet other people from around the world. These people may be following the same route as you, or traveling in reverse and had just visited a far off European dreamland that you have never even heard of! Whenever you hear of that awesome must see places don’t be afraid to take the leap!
Travel off-road for a bit. Abandon that group tour you were questioning anyway. Some of my fondest memories have come from places I never knew existed. The territory that is not listed in the guidebooks. Of all those moments and memories, these were some off the beaten path travel destinations I have traveled to on a whim.
Off The Beaten Path
A.K.A. Bunny Island. I was told about the land of bunnies while chit-chatting with another American in Kyoto and knew I couldn’t miss it. Read my full experience here.
A self-governing “free town” inside the Danish capital city full of color, art installations, bars, and autonomy for cannabis? Count me in! We heard about this free state while couch surfing in Iceland.
We stopped in Varna with no expectations on our way from Budapest to Istanbul. What we thought was going to be just another stopover city turned into a mini vacation. Varna is the Bulgarian equivalent of Miami.
The coast is lined with resorts, and the tan, topless, posh women line the boardwalk. Varna also has the best and cheapest mussels we’ve ever plopped into our mouth.
Along the Bay of Kotor is a the small medieval town of Kotor. I learned about this stunning and historic town while staying in a hostel in Mostar – and was told it was a must see.
Mostar, Bosnia & Herzegovina
And that brings me to my next favorite Balkan city. Mostar is gaining traction in the tourism field, however, as the hardest hit city during the Bosnian War – the hardship is still visible. Perhaps the most iconic architecture is Stari Most (above,) the UNESCO World Heritage Site that was completely destroyed and rebuilt. Day or night, views of this bridge never get old.
Wanting to get away from the typical tourist destinations in Thailand landed us in Ayutthaya. An ancient capital city with enough ruins and culture to fulfill your wandering soul, and it’s only a 2-hour train ride from Bangkok!
Koh Kong, Cambodia
Explore the wildlife, waterfalls, mangroves, temples, and mountains all in one city located about 10km away from the Thai border. We stayed on the Koh Kong mainland after crossing the border by land and was able to accomplish quite a bit of traveling in a couple days on a moped. Unexpectedly, Koh Kong turned out to be one of our favorite cities in Southeast Asia.
Nimbin is comparable to the Danish town mentioned above. Like Christiania, the town is run by hippies and is visited by many tourists to experience the alternative lifestyle. The streets are lined with cafes, little shops, art, and of course people selling marijuana.
My hope is that this list will only continue to grow as we travel more. Who needs a guidebook when you have the word of mouth spreading faster than the bubonic plague? There is excitement in venturing more and more down the road less traveled. What off the beaten path travel destinations have you been to that you never had heard of before or planned?
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