We have all had the dream of our perfect vacation. For some of us, it may involve going to our destination single, and coming back home in a relationship with our soul mate. It could involve fulfilling a lifelong dream, like climbing the Sydney Harbour Bridge, climbing Mount Everest, going to the Great Wall of China, or going to that one tour date to see your favourite band for their final show just so you could say that you were there. For most, it involves the usual destinations. Going backpacking in Europe and seeing all the usual touristy stuff that is expected of you when you go to Europe (i.e.: Stonehenge, Buckingham Palace, The Louvre, The Eiffel Tower, The Vatican, kissing the Blarney Stone, etc). However, you will find that most of these places nowadays, are well, really crowded. As one Eric Theodore Cartman says, “But the lines! Everywhere you go, people, crowds, the rides are great, but... all the lines, lines, LINES! If there's one thing I hate, all the lines, lines, lines, LINES!! And then there get to be so many people that they make FastPass. So then there's lines for FastPass. You stand in line to get a ticket to stand in line later. Then there's lines for the bathrooms, lines for the drinks, lines for cantakuras and rare Kartankulas Plinks!” For some, it doesn’t matter if you are standing in line for 10 minutes or 10 hours; it’s worth the wait. For others though, it’s enough to put strain and a downer on the whole trip as you may have to start making sacrifices such as skipping the gift shop (or power shopping like a champ). Hopefully with this list of 10 of the Biggest Tourist Destinations that you don’t know about, it will give you hope, fulfill all your dreams of the ideal vacation, and it won’t make you say, “Screw you guys…, I’m goin’ home!”
10 Wanna go somewhere where you won’t freeze to death? Pick Latvia!
Latvia is bordered with the Gulf of Rige (which is a gulf off of the Baltic Sea), Estonia, Lithuania, Belarus, and Russia. That being said, it is pretty easy to hop, skip and jump to pretty much anywhere else in Europe from here, but Latvia does have some pretty cool stuff going on for it. In Valmeria, there is a former hostel called Ezi, whose sole purpose is to keep you entertained in a range of seasonal outdoor activities such as canoeing, hiking, biking, river rafting, zip lines, cross country skiing tours, AND it even rents kids seats, helmets, saddlebags, heck even the bikes. And in Kuldiga, despite the Ventas Rumba being hailed as “Europe’s Widest Waterfall”, if you have seen Niagra Falls, you might not be horribly impressed with it as the chute is only a few feet high. But it’s still worth the outdoor romp so check it out. You can also check out lots of other cool stuff like the Aerodium, the Bobsled Track, and also Gauja National Park. Or you could go to the Riga Motor Museum…, yup. Awesome.
9 Outdoors for him; shopping for you???
Sounds like a pretty sweet deal. Enter the Czech Republic.
The Czech is landlocked between Austria, Germany, Poland and of course Slovakia. Not only is The Czech loaded with historical sites with all the monasteries and historical buildings to see (check out their clock), but The Czech has a lot of outdoors things to do such as bungee jumping off of Zvikovské podhradí (a bridge that is over the Vltava valley), go and get some peace in Kampa, go take a gander at the Terezin Concentration Camp (especially if your outdoorsman is a history buff), go caving on the Moravian Karst…, lots, even if you just end up going to the zoo! For those of you who get their physical activity by using their credit card at Coach or Michal Kors, one word: Prague. That is all.
Worst case scenario, The Czech is known for their beer, so hey. At least there is beer.
8 Go see some animals!
What isn’t Brazil known for? Seriously! You have Carnival, some of the most beautiful beaches and mountains you will ever see, the huge statue of Jesus, tons to do! And so little time. Well, might we suggest that you go to the Pantanal Wetlands? The Pantanal is the largest tropical wetland in the world, and it’s becoming a huge tourist spot for eco-tourists. The wetlands include semi-arid woodland plants, Amazonian rainforest, Brazilian cerrado savanna plants and Chaco savannas which allows the area to be the largest habitat of birds and animals. Basically, if you are a zoologist or an ecoloigist, you will think you have died and gone to heaven, especially since it houses over 3500 plant species and animals such as the Hyacinth Macaw, Marsh Deer, South American Tapir, Jaguar, and more. Plus part of the area has been turned into a national park and is now a protected area because of some of the fauna in that area is actually endangered. Yes it’s birds in trees, but they’re FANCY birds in FANCY trees so check it out, just watch out for the rainy season (November to start of April).
7 Take a Roman Holiday without Rome
That’s right. We said Roman without Rome! Enter Leptis Magna.
Background: You actually will have to go to Libya for this one; Khoms, Libya to be exact which is east of Tripoli. At the end of the Third Punic War, this town became a part of the Roman Empire and when emporer Tiberius came into power, the city got turned from being basically independent into a major trading post in the Roman Empire, as it was now part of the Roman province of Africa. But when Lucius Septimius Severus became emperor, like most politicians who come to power, poured a whole boat load of money into the town because it was his home town, and it was cause of these events that Leptis Magna got cracking in the construction business and built a whole bunch of new stuff including a new forum and new docks. However, during the crisis of the Third Century, Leptis Magna’s importance fell by the wayside since the need for trade declined in the area, and large parts of the city got abandoned. Basically, if you are a history buff with the Romans being your culture of choice, trust us, this place is for you.
6 It’s all about time with the FamJam
If you are a family and are tired of going to Disneyland and want to try something new and exciting, go somewhere that has historical meaning and is cool even for kids: The Galapagos Islands. Think about it: where else can you go to a museum to learn about the history of the area, go to beaches that not only have white sand, but feels like flour is being sifted between your toes, snorkeling, diving, and surfing in some of the clearest water you have ever seen, and look at some of the coolest animals on the planet? All while enjoying some tastes of home at restaurants like the Calypso Restaurant? Trust us, this is a win-win situation for everyone.
5 Speaking of beaches…,
If you are a beach person, you are in luck. These guys won World’s Best Beach in 2012 but they also have a lot of other sights to see including going to the sugarcane fields and tea plantations, go to Chamarel (ask about The Colored Earth and you will like what you see), do the Undersea Walk, or just hang out on the beach. Worst case scenario: WHAT ABOUT THE RUM?!? Mauritius produces its own rum. Wannabe Hollywood Pirates: Rejoice!
4 How did THIS make the list?!
Sri Lanka is a country in the Indian Ocean of the coast of India and it was primarily known for being a part of Silk Road as it is extremely strategic for trade, and when needed, war. The “Pearl of the Indian Ocean” also produces tea, coffee, coconuts, gemstones (sapphires being a big one), cinnamon and rubber. In terms of things to do, there’s lots to do! There are of course beaches, but also there are a lot of parks such as Bundala National, Wilpattu National, Yala National, but there is also Sigiriya which is an ancient palace which looks epic, and worst case scenario…, you can go play with ELEPHANTS, or at least visit them at the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage. Who doesn’t love a baby tembo???
3 No, they don’t want to suck your blood.
On the edge of the Black Sea, Romainia has been becoming more and more popular to tourists but it hasn't peaked yet, so bonus for you. It’s also like Latvia in a way as, since it’s in Europe, you can peg off another country or two if you so desired as it’s all a quick flight away.
This place has tons of history though, as you would see in the many historical sights and sounds such as Corvin, Bran and Peles Castles, the Black Church which is not as creepy as it sounds, BUT, it also has a Sphinx AND an Arcul de Triumf. AND…, best part…, Transylvania! A thousand times better than anything Twilight could come up with.
2 Ok, so it’s in the Middle East…,
Jordan is mostly for the history buff in us all but it does have lots to do and see such as the Dana Nature Reserve, Shobak Castle, Al-Maghtas, the Cave Bar (FYI: the oldest bar in the world…, alcoholics unite), but the most visited site is the city of Petra. Built in the third century, the city of Petra is made of sandstone. And we mean city. We’re talking temples, tombs, storerooms, The Treasury, the theater (seats 7000), dude, even stables. If you aren't going to Egypt, go to Jordan. It’s breathtaking and worth being on the bucket list.
1 Again, we know it’s the Middle East…,
Whether you are religious or not, Israel is a must on your bucket list just for the history in itself. There is just so much to do and see in this country. You've got the Western Wall, Nimrod Fortress, Luna Park (awesome roller coasters), Jerusalem Biblical Zoo, the Sea of Galilee, and the Dead Sea (which is believed to keep you youthful and also allows you to float cause of the salt factor), but one of the most moving places to go is Yad Vashem. It was featured on the A&E Show “Gene Simmons Family Jewels”, and for good reason. Yad Vashem is the world center for holocaust research, education, documentation, and commemoration, and it’s truly an eye opening experience, no matter your religious/non-religious beliefs. As always, before you travel, always check with a travel agent or with travel advisory pages to make sure you are clear to go.