Almost every year France, the United States and Spain take the top spots as the most visited countries in the world. And, while countries often tend to earn their high rates of tourism with good reason, it can be nice to journey somewhere a little less explored. Obviously, safety risks can be a large factor in driving away tourists, however there are plenty of perfectly-safe locations that tend to get skipped over for their neighbors. A list of locations that deserve more attention could get lengthy, but here are five overlooked countries to start.
While the country of South Africa has seen tourism growth in recent years, other southern African countries are drastically passed over. One of which, Botswana, is often bypassed even though it proudly maintains some of the most pristine landscapes and wildlife, not only throughout Africa, but in the entire world. This is another destination not particularly favored by city-seekers, yet loved by those searching for the best that nature has to offer. In Botswana, it’s possible to even see some of the most endangered species in their world roaming their natural habitats.
© Patrik Loeff
READ MORE: 20 Reasons to Travel
Any of the three Baltic States could very easily make this list; Estonia is just one example of an overlooked Eastern European gem. The capital city of Tallinn is beginning to rise in thanks to its incredible affordability. A good deal isn’t the only catch though. Tallinn boasts great nightlife, a blend of old and new architecture, sandy beaches and delicious food too. And, beyond Tallinn lies everything from sprawling forests to other charming cities, such as Tartu, to enjoy.
© Neil Howard
With Nepal looming to its west, home to Mount Everest, the tiny but also rather mountainous country of Bhutan often goes forgotten. Bhutan’s capital city of Thimphu is also its only city, meaning it isn’t exactly a hotspot for travelers seeking thriving city life. However, it’s simultaneously known as a paradise for both relaxation and adventure. Bhutan is so well-loved as a meditation spot that Buddhists from all over flock there, and this ever-present spirituality, paired with famed hot springs, draws plenty of people looking to better their physical and mental wellness. And, adventurers take to the Himalayas for remarkably-breathtaking treks past prayer flags and temples galore.
© Michael Foley
Bordered by the allures of Argentina and Brazil, Uruguay often has trouble getting any attention. Many travelers simply turn it into a day trip from Buenos Aires, but Uruguay is an amazing country that deserves to be seen as a destination all on its own. The vibrant capital of Montevideo and the glamorous Punta del Este tend to be the most visited spots, but there’s so much more to see. Colonia del Sacramento was declared a UNESCO world heritage site for its lovely historic quarter once built by the Portuguese. Punta del Diablo is another fantastic beach, especially for surfing, that’s a must-see.
© Eduardo Fonseca Arraes
READ MORE: My Journey to Everest Base Camp
Victoria Falls is a popular tourist attraction in Africa, yet it’s mostly frequented from the Zimbabwe side. With Zambia sitting on the other side, this landmark should in reality act as a bridge between countries. While Zambia does have some cities and towns to offer, nature once again takes the spotlight here. It’s easy to find travelers off the beaten path exploring wildlife they’d only ever seen in zoos, or rafting through speeding rapids within this great nation.
© Alex Berger