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Travel Tuesday question of the week – what’s the most underrated destination?

October 25, 2010
by budgettravelsac

Last week on the Travel Tuesday question of the week, we talked about the most overrated destination.  Places like Venice, Disney, and Vegas all got some votes.  While a place is overrated, it doesn’t mean it doesn’t have value.  However, it may just mean that expectations weren’t met and it was a bit disappointing.

This week, the question is about the most underrated destination.  And for many places all over the world, there are unknown gems that are discovered when traveling.  It’s the underrated places we find when we travel that make us fall in love with travel all over again.

Underrated places are fun to discover but a bit harder to talk about.  Why?  It’s difficult to let someone else in on your secret destination that is hidden away for you and few others to enjoy.

For me, I have a couple of them – one small town and one big city.  My small town is Lake Bled, Slovenia.  I just like Slovenia in general because it is a forgotten or unknown country in the Alps of Europe.  And Lake Bled is the perfect Alps town.  This mountain town is centered around Lake Bled with its picturesque church in the middle of the lake surrounded by the Alps.  With its hiking trails, walking paths, quaint shopping, and peaceful getaway just an hour’s drive from Ljubljana, it’s the perfect mountain oasis for summer or winter.

On the flip side, Budapest is a bustling city with one of the most unique cultures in all of Europe.  Hungary was a land discovered by the Magyars – a group of people of Finno-Ugrian origin near the Ural mountains.  Budapest is made up of two sides – Buda and Pest and offers a unique and enjoyable look at life in Hungary’s capital city.

While places like Lake Bled and Budapest are just two of the many gems in the world, what is your most underrated destination?

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30 Comments leave one →
  1. October 26, 2010 4:23 am

    Don’t know about ‘the most’ but I thought similar when I was in Siem reap, Cambodia. It is amazingly more than Angkor wat. More than Half of the people won’t visit Angkor archeology park more than one of two days. It was much, much more. And the town. It amazes me. I met friends who stayed for two weeks in siem reap. Much more than just base town for Angkor wat.

    • October 26, 2010 3:39 pm

      Thanks Juno. I’ve read your posts about Siem reap and I like the idea of getting away from the popular, touristy areas for find areas more local and unique in their cultural experience.

  2. October 26, 2010 4:41 am

    I would say…Syria. The prices are very affordable. The history, art, architecture, etc. are fascinating–eg, Krak des Chevaliers, an incredible crusader castle that is not to be missed. And the people are friendly, welcoming and helpful. And, contrary to what many people believe, it’s a very safe country.

    I don’t think there’s enough information about Syria (perhaps I should blog about it); also, there’s a pricey visa (for Americans). I thought it was fantastic and I would definitely visit again (and see what I missed)…and I don’t usually visit the same country twice.

    • October 26, 2010 3:38 pm

      I know someone from Syria and any time you get to know someone from there, it makes the area that much more interesting. I think the Middle East is very underrated and the media makes it seem so dangerous. Thanks for sharing a different side of the country and I hope it’s a place people get a chance to visit.

  3. October 26, 2010 5:04 am

    I made a trip out to Pattaya, Thailand last year and was surprised at what else is there. Known primarily for it’s bars and, shall I say Ladies (and Lady Boys) of the night, there is plenty else there to keep you busy for a week. Cultural attractions, the island of Koh Larn, Zip Lining in the nearby rainforest and some great dining locations including Easy Corner Pub and Rimpa Lapin.

    But if you want cheap drinks and easy sex, you can find it there too.

    • October 26, 2010 3:37 pm

      It’s hard for me to consider Thailand underrated because of the popularity of Bangkok and the travel award it recently received. It’s also hard for me, personally, to overlook the bars and the “ladies” there because of my personal experience. I know it’s not fair to do so but I really have a strong association with that and a perspective many people don’t get to experience. I am glad Thailand has areas that are underrated and appreciated but some aspects of it are a turn off for me.

  4. October 26, 2010 5:16 am

    Ukraine for me. Its dripping with history and culture, with many beautiful buildings, cathedrals and museums. Its also very cheap to travel around (you will not believe you’re in Europe!).

    I also totally agree with Lake Bled – I went there last year not knowing much about it, and I was taken aback by its beauty. I would highly recommend it to anyone.

    • October 26, 2010 3:16 pm

      I know a friend who lived in the Ukraine and loved it. I’ve been to Estonia but not the Ukraine. In that sense, I can relate to your feelings about a place with great history and culture but relatively unknown in the former Soviet Union.

      As for Bled, I wouldn’t mind having a summer home there!

  5. October 26, 2010 6:56 am

    Glacier National Park. Hands down our favorite place in the entire world (and we get around)!

    • October 26, 2010 3:13 pm

      Montana is on my list of places to go. That area has some of the most natural, undisturbed beauty in the US. It seems like a beautiful, peaceful place to go.

  6. October 26, 2010 8:46 am

    there are other places that people dont know about, Lake Bled is one of them. its a great place to be in

  7. October 26, 2010 11:31 am

    I visited Bled… OMG… more than 20 years ago… and found it a lovely place. And I’m glad you loved it because that means it must not have changed that much.

    Regarding underrated destinations… There are so many. Just to speak about my country, Italy, most travellers focus on Venice, Florence and Rome, missing lots of little jewels. A few examples?

    - Tropea/Capo Vaticano in Calabria is a lovely little city (or big town) with stunning beaches and crystal clear water whose colors range from green to blue and turquoise

    - Smaller cities like Parma, Arezzo, San Gimignano, Padova, Treviso, and lots more

    - Awesome areas like ‘le Langhe’, with its smooth hills, wonderful wines and excellent food

    There are little gems in every country. It just needs a bit of curiosity and being ready to explore what is just a few step beyond the famous and often overrated destinations.

    • October 26, 2010 3:11 pm

      I agree that getting away from the big cities in Italy are important to find underrated places. The only problem with Italy is that even the small villages like in Tuscany and other areas like the Cinque Terre are no longer underrated because village life in Italy is just as popular these days.

      Honestly, it’s one reason why Italy isn’t high on my list. I’ve been there and done it but I think there is just as much charm in a village in Slovenia near the Alps as there is in Italian towns. Italy is appreciated for its culture and art but it is much harder now to discover the charm and genuineness of the people and culture with so many people visiting the cities and villages. I guess that is why it is so easy to go next door to Slovenia and experience that same kind of underrated place that many have already been seeking out in Italy for years.

  8. Red permalink
    October 26, 2010 11:53 am

    Sri Lanka.
    Countless UNESCO sites, plenty of amazing wildlife, stunning beaches, great food, challenging hikes…and very few tourists. Spent 6 hours on safari in Bundala National Park watching crocodiles, birds and elephants, without seeing a single other tourist or vehicle.

    • October 26, 2010 3:06 pm

      Sounds like a great place to visit. Like the idea of wildlife and hiking. I think many areas in Asia would fall into this category of underrated as they are not as well known.

  9. October 26, 2010 3:01 pm

    Great call on Bled! I visited the area about a decade ago and it was simply enchanting.

    I believe countries of the former Eastern bloc are underrated and people don’t know a whole lot about them (or how Western they are, while preserving their historic beauty. And don’t even get me started on the distinction between Central vs. Eastern Europe… )

    Krakow, and especially Prague, draw millions of visitors every year, but e.g. Bratislava, Lvov, Vilnius, Riga still haven’t entered the general world travel map as much as they could. I’d agree with Budapest, but I believe it represents this larger issue.

    • October 26, 2010 3:05 pm

      I am not as big of a fan of Prague as other people. I found Krakow very interesting and conservative and a relaxing getaway for a big city in Eastern Europe. I believe Budapest to be the same although it’s larger and busier than Krakow. Many of these big cities in Eastern Europe are underrated in the sense that they aren’t well known. However, other cities within these countries would definitely be considered more underrated because they over great cultural experiences with even less popularity and fame.

      As for the term Eastern vs Central, the former is a historical/government reference while the latter is more geographically correct as it applies to these countries.

  10. October 26, 2010 3:26 pm

    Krakow is my hometown, and I find it interesting that you’d call it conservative. In some respects yes, but it also has a big student and freethinker/artist population.

    Prague is lovely, but flooded with foreigners.

    I see your point about other, lesser-known cities in that region. e.g. Torun, Poland – beautiful architecture, smaller, but worth a visit.

    As for Eastern vs. Central, Central Europe as a political term emerged after 1989 to refer to those countries that broke away from the Soviet Union and the communist system imposed by it. Many people nowadays get offended when called Eastern-Europeans if they consider themselves Central-Europeans. It has a lot to do with the hated regime that they didn’t want, the fact that it’s been over 2 decades since demogracy was resumed, and because they’re members of the EU. But I could talk for hours about this… :)

    • October 26, 2010 3:35 pm

      I found Krakow to be the most conservative of all the cities I visited in Eastern Europe. Catholicism is still a huge part of Poland and while I understand that universities are more liberal and free thinking, Krakow still seemed quite conservative compared to many other parts of Europe. I was surprised at how conservatively people dressed, even students, as I spent a couple of days there.

      As for the Eastern vs Central Europe, Eastern Europe is a term used by those outside of the area to refer back to its political/Communist past. I understand Central Europe is preferred in the area as an attempt to leave that behind and establish a new identity. I think for most people in the US, “Eastern Europe” helps people identify these countries people know little about and gives them some basis for understanding where they came from – fair or not.

  11. October 26, 2010 3:43 pm

    The most underrated destination is our own city. We’re often so busy traveling that we forget to spend time in our own city as a tourist.

    • October 26, 2010 7:40 pm

      Agreed! ;-)

  12. pola permalink
    October 26, 2010 4:01 pm

    Like I said, your observations are very interesting to me because the way people think of themselves may differ much from how they’re perceived.

    As strange as it sounds, there is some duality with regards to Catholicism. A lot of people don’t really care, but it’s too strongly tied to tradition, history etc. Practicing is what’s expected, even if it’s half-hearted.

    When were you in Krakow?

    And to your last sentence – unfair – and insulting. It’s like people are stuck in the past and refuse to acknowledge the events of the past 2 decades and efforts of so many.I doubt the younest generation of Poles would think of themselves as Easter-Europeans, they didn’t experience that world.

    • October 26, 2010 10:12 pm

      Pola, I completely understand your perspective of the Eastern Europe vs Central Europe thing. Yes, it may be unfair but the term is used because travel is dumbed down to people who don’t understand the history. From the American perspective, it really isn’t meant as an insult. I learned a lot about the countries when I was there and I really appreciate where they have come from and what I learned about the history. You’ve seen that some of my favorite places are from that area and I’ve spent time writing about it as well.

      From a different perspective, it’s unfair that many people in the Middle East think Americans live like what they see on TV and in Hollywood and want to kill us for our infidel ways. Stereotypes and terms that are used, in many respects, are based on ignorance or the dumbing down of a society.

      In no way is the term Eastern European meant to disrespect anyone as I doubt many Americans know it is offensive. It’s just a way of understanding the history of those countries with that term. Otherwise, many don’t understand it at all. Many Americans are naive or ignorant about the Velvet Revolution in Czechoslovakia or what really happened in Yugoslavia. Many people have no idea how those countries even came about or what they are about – even 20 years later. So the term is a point of reference to help understand the area.

      As for me, I was there in 2006 and absolutely loved the area.

      • October 27, 2010 6:39 am

        I hear you! Glad we shared our perspectives.

  13. October 26, 2010 5:07 pm

    My underrated destination’s not far off the map from Montana. Straight north that is to the Badlands of southeastern Alberta, Canada. No traffic, big skies, outer space-like land formations, and dinosaur
    fossils- millions of them. Amazing part of Canada. Easy fly-drive from Calgary. I like to call it the ultimate road trip in Canada.

  14. October 26, 2010 7:30 pm

    Wow, so many great places!!

  15. October 26, 2010 7:42 pm

    The Philippines.
    Often overlooked because it’s not located on the backpacker trail of Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, etc. The tropical islands are some of the most spectacular on the planet, with SE Asian prices (as opposed to the South Pacific). Over 7,000 islands to choose from…!

  16. October 27, 2010 1:09 pm

    I think that places in the midwest U.S. are underrated. People often refer to the midwest as “fly-over” states as they travel at 37K ft. from east to west coasts. Cities like Chicago and Minneapolis have so much to offer travelers and residents — arts, culture, entertainment, history, architecture, events, etc. Also, the midwest states themselves offer much diverse scenery, historic sites and interesting people and culture.

  17. October 27, 2010 11:01 pm

    According to me Tunisia may be the one of the most underrated tourist place.Tunisia is North Africa without the crowds. About seven million people visit Tunisia every year but you won’t see many of them once you’ve done the day-trip from Tunis to Carthage – the Phoenician village Hannibal left to conquer the Romans – and the Moorish village of Sidi Bou Said.

    Fill an itinerary with sun-soaked Mediterranean beaches, afternoon walks along the tree-lined streets of Tunis’s medina, shopping expeditions to the cool arcades of the souks, days exploring the roasted sand dunes and Troglodyte villages of the southern deserts, and expeditions to ruins built by the Phoenicians, Romans, Byzantines, Ottomans, Arabs, Turks and French.

    • October 29, 2010 3:10 pm

      Thanks for sharing. I would have never thought of going to Tunisia. Not sure I ever will but glad there are those who do who can share a piece of it with us.

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