The world’s most famous attractions are famous for a reason. No-one goes for a swim in Iceland’s Blue Lagoon or wanders Dubrovnik’s city walls and comes away thinking they were just okay. Despite all the marvel, over-tourism can make it difficult to fully enjoy the world’s most iconic attractions - as anyone who has attempted to watch the sunset in Santorini will testify.
If you have a passion for seeing the world but don’t want to spend your holiday jostling with bus loads of tourists trying to snap that perfect holiday pic, there are other options. Not only does travelling to lesser-known destinations make for a better experience, it also gives you some off-the-beaten-track travel kudos. To give you a helping hand finding incredible destinations and attractions that aren’t on everyone’s bucket list, we’ve sought out other options to consider.
Here's the Flexicover team’s guide to smart alternatives to world-famous attractions.
Swap Iceland’s Blue Lagoon for Myvatn Nature Baths
One of Iceland’s most famous attractions, the Blue Lagoon is a geothermal spa where opaque aquamarine waters are surrounded by low snow-dusted peaks. It’s beloved by celebrities: Queen Bey and Jay Z have graced its waters, and it recently showed up on Kourtney Kardashian’s Insta stories. However, it’s also beloved by tourists and if you don’t have the money (or social media clout) to demand a private swim, the Land of Fire and Ice is home to an incredible array of otherworldly rivers, lakes and streams. Head north to Myvatn Nature Baths, where the aesthetic is very similar to the Blue Lagoon but the distance from Reykjavik results in fewer fellow bathers. Travelling further north also improves your chances of spotting the Northern Lights painted across the sky.
Swap Canada’s Banff for Yoho
Banff isn’t just a picture-perfect destination in the Canadian Rockies - it’s also a lot of fun to say. The Banff National Park encompasses vast glacier lakes, jagged peaks and heaps of outdoor adventure activities. Yet this Alberta destination attracts nearly three million visitors between April and September, meaning your holiday pics might contain an inadvertent photobomber or two. If you don’t want to spend your vacay in close proximity to lots of other visitors, consider swapping Alberta’s Banff for Yoho in British Columbia. Yoho holds its own on the scenery and outdoor activity front, and it has a similarly pleasing name. In Yoho National Park you can kayak on the ethereal Emerald Lake, explore the Burgess Shale Fossil Beds, and hike to spot wild orchids.
Swap Egypt’s Great Pyramids for Mexico’s Chichen Itza
Got a hankering for pyramids but want to get further off the beaten track than Egypt? Luckily Egypt isn’t the only country boasting these wonders of the world. You might more commonly associate Mexico with tequila and cacti, but it’s also home to Chichen Itza, one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. At the centre of this impressive Unesco World Heritage Site you’ll find El Castillo, a Mesoamerican step-pyramid constructed by the Maya people between the 8th and 12th centuries CE. But don’t stop there - Chichen Itza was one of the largest Maya cities from the 7th to the 13th centuries, and is thought to have had the most diverse population in the Maya world, giving it a variety of historical architectural styles.
Swap the Greek island of Mykonos for Syros
With whitewashed houses and fancy bars dotting the sparkling turquoise coastline, the party island of Mykonos has beauty by the bucketload. But it comes at a cost – don’t be surprised to find yourself paying €15 for a cocktail. For a more authentic Greek destination, opt for the island of Syros, just a 50-minute ferry ride way. Ermoupoli, the marble-clad capital, is packed with lively bars and restaurants from authentic backstreet tavernas to upscale establishments. Hike uphill to explore the authentic old town of Ano Syros, or drive to the beach town of Kini for true Grecian peace and beauty. It offers both the glamour of Mykonos (superyachts commonly line Ermoupoli’s port) and a traditional Greek experience, but you can enjoy Syros for much less - and without bumping into busloads of tourists too.
Swap Croatia’s Dubrovnik for Montenegro’s Kotor
Thanks in part to its Game of Thrones publicity, Dubrovnik now receives several cruise-loads of tourists every single day, meaning that in high season, walking around this beautiful, historic gem can be less than peaceful. Instead, why not give off-the-beaten-track Montenegro a go? Montenegro’s Kotor has much of what makes Dubrovnik special: stunning churches, upmarket restaurants and breathtaking vantage points from the city walls. And all within one gorgeous white marble old town, where live music floats through the narrow streets and thousands of cats roam. Situated on the Bay of Kotor, surrounded by mountains, there’s plenty of activities and impressive scenery to explore outside the old town too. While Kotor is a lot less busy than Dubrovnik, more and more tourists are cottoning onto this hidden gem - so get there fast!
Wherever you plan on heading to over the coming months it’s good to know that Flexicover Travel Insurance is committed to providing you with the highest level of protection to ensure you are safe and secure 24 hours a day when away.