Top Off-the-Beaten-Path Travel Destinations
One of the most rewarding things while travelling is stumbling upon the undiscovered gems and in the process, learning more about a destination than you had hoped for. We line up four destinations to prove that straying off the beaten path is, sometimes, the best way to travel.
Goa has earned a reputation as the tourist hotspot of South India, although it can feel overrun by tourists at times. To make the most of your trip in this former Portuguese colony, we recommend you head straight to South Goa.
Far removed from the constant buzz of North Goa, you’ll be treated to secluded stretches of coastline in South Goa. Palolem Beach, Butterfly Beach and Majorda Beach are our top beaches to relax at, each with their own unique attractions.
For a truly authentic experience, rent a scooter and get lost in the Goa countryside. You’ll stumble upon local restaurants serving Goan dishes and an assortment of cocktails. Feast on a fragrant seafood curry as you watch golden sunsets along the Indian Ocean, or browse the spice markets with their enchanting colour palettes and smells.
The Camino de Santiago
The idea of a pilgrimage might seem archaic to the modern traveller but every year, thousands of tourists embark on a spiritual undertaking that spans hundreds of kilometres throughout Western Europe.
With paths running from France, Spain and Portugal, the Camino de Santiago is a vast network of pilgrim routes that all lead to Santiago de Compostela, a cathedral in the town of Galicia. This town in north-western Spain is said to be the resting place of the apostle Saint James the Great – the patron saint of the country where his remains lay.
The most popular of these ancient pilgrim routes begins in France, from St. Jean-Pied-du-Port near Biarritz, and spans close to 780km. Along the way, you can join any one of the feeder routes, like the Voie de Tours, the Voie de Vezelay, and the Voie du Puy. If you’re looking to make the trek from Spain, you can start at the Ruta de Tunel from Irun, the Camí de Sant Jaume from Montserrat near Barcelona, or the Camino Primitivo from Bilbao and Oviedo.
Vatnsnes Peninsula, Iceland
Iceland has become a go-to destination for those yearning a quintessential unadulterated travel experience. Sweeping landscapes and striking vistas make it perfect for those wanting to stray away from the well-worn paths of other locations.
One relatively undiscovered Icelandic attraction is the Vatnsnes Peninsula, known for its burgeoning seal population. This coastal hideaway is also listed as one of the 5-Least Instagrammed Destinations on Earth, making it all the more alluring.
Tall tales of seals morphing into temptresses are woven into Icelandic folklore – the locals even believe that every year on New Year’s Eve, the seals take human form to usher in the coming year.
At the Icelandic Seal Centre, you can observe marine scientists at work, learn more about seal research and even have the chance to volunteer to collect seal data. To really ‘seal’ the deal, sip on hot chocolate and munch on traditional Icelandic doughnuts, otherwise known to the locals as “ástarpungar”.
South Korea has seen a resurgence amongst culture-hungry travellers of late, with most visitors choosing to delve into the bustling cities of Seoul or Busan.
A secret that most don’t know about is the 1700km of cycling track that spans the country. As part of its low carbon, green growth program and to promote health and wellness, the Lee Myung-bak government has built an expansive biking network. The 4 Rivers Project, as it is known, is a mere six years old and remains relatively undiscovered as a travel attraction.
The most popular routes are undoubtedly in cities like Seoul and Daegu, but look a little further and meander through miles of gorgeous Korean countryside and experience true hospitality from the locals.
Don’t forget to get your cycling passport stamped at the bright red telephone booths! If there are no stamps, did it even happen at all?
by Rebecca Brown