5 Off the Beaten Trail Destinations away from Tourist Crowds
Here are a few off the beaten trail travel destination ideas for those times we just want to get away, away from the madding crowds. It seems like everyone wants to visit the famous and well-known places and that’s understandable.
But if you are yearning for more peace and quiet, solitude or just want to get far away from the tourist haunts then you might consider one of these “lonely” destinations.
1. Dugi Otok – An Island Escape To
As the largest island in the Zadar archipelago, Dugi Otok has plenty to offer tourists. The island is known for its peaceful, relaxing and even spiritual vibe. Dugi Otok is gifted with outstanding natural beauty with its impressive cliffs and luscious vegetation.
Charming villages occupy the island while secluded beaches and coves welcome any traveler who is looking for some tranquility and privacy.
Dugi Otok Stats
Area: 114.44 km2 (44.19 sq mi)
Highest elevation: 300 m (1,000 ft)
Largest city: Sali
Population: 1,772 (as of 2001)
The administrative capital of Dugi Otok is Sali, situated on the northeast coast of the island. The town is home to the largest population on the island. Sali has an extensive tourism industry, organizing frequent excursions, sports and activities for island guests. The town has important facilities like medical and dental clinics, a sport office, and an ATM.
The main harbor office is also located within the town’s vicinity. Sali’s reading room is not only a place to borrow books written in different languages, but it is also a regular host of events like music concerts and traditional food tasting events. Sali’s cultural and religious heritage is reflected through its old traditional churches like St. Roch, St. Nicholas and the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The town beautiful countryside is given more character by hundreds of olive trees, some of which are about 700 years old.
If you came to Dugi Otok to relax on the beach, then proceed to Sakarun, the most widely known beach in the Zadar archipelago. Located on the northwest coast of the island, this 800 meter long beach has an outstanding reputation because of its clean water and white sand, adorned with pine trees. Aside from Sakarun, there are other untouched beaches and hidden coves left to discover. Just ask the local tourism office and locals for some suggestions.
Near Sakarun are other interesting spots like Soline, Veruni, Bozava and Veli Rat. Speaking of Veli Rat, this fascinating spot is the location of the island’s 19th century lighthouse. Specifically located on the northwestern tip of Dugi Otok, it is Adriatic’s tallest lighthouse, standing at 42 meters. The lighthouse offers amazing views of the sea and the island’s landscape. It even has apartment accommodation for tourists to stay in.
Dugi Otok is a good jumping off point to see the other outstanding attractions around the Zadar archipelago. Some examples of attractions you don’t want to miss are Nature Park Telaöcica and the National Park Marine Park of Kornati.
Fishing is definitely one of the highlight activities on the island. It can be enjoyed in several ways like rock fishing, underwater fishing and big game fishing. The best time to catch huge fish species in the region is during spring until autumn. The surrounding waters of Dugi Otok are blessed with bountiful marine life, making it one of the best spots in the region for diving. Around the island, there are three main dive sites.
The adventurist in you will find that the best ways to experience the island are by hiking or cycling some its numerous routes and trails. Mountaineering is also a popular activity for nature lovers as the island’s landscape is mostly rocky and mountainous. Dugi Otok also has three hunting zones, where you can put your hunting skills to the test and capture some mouflons.
2. Bodo – A Gateway to the Arctic
The charming city of Bodo is considered by many to be the gateway to the Arctic. Situated in the Nordland Province of Norway, Bodo is less a degree north of the Arctic Circle. Bodø is the largest urban area and city in Nordland county, and the second-largest in North Norway.
|Area||1,391.96 km2 (537.44 sq mi)|
|Area rank||62 in Norway|
|Total Area||1,391.96 km2 (537.44 sq mi)|
|Land Area||1,308.57 km2 (505.24 sq mi)|
|Density||36.6/km2 (95/sq mi)|
|Change (10 years)||15.2 %|
Visitors travel to this remote place for variety of reasons. One of them is the Arctic or Northern lights, a natural phenomenon that will take anyone’s breath away once once you see them. When this phenomenon occurs, various colors paint the sky and produce a dramatic shimmering effect.
During summer, the midnight sun produces a powerful orange glow that is too captivating to avoid.
For the best views of the Arctic light, climb your way up to the Landehode lighthouse. You can admire the midnight sun from the one Bodo’s beaches, or on top of Mount Rønvikfjellet. To catch the midnight sun, visit Bodo between early June and early July. But for the most compelling views of the northern lights plan your trip from September to April.
The Arctic Light and the Midnight Sun are not the only stunning visuals that you can witness in the Bodo region. At Saltstraumen, 33 kilometers from the city, the world’s strongest maelstrom is generated.
Every 6 hours, about 400 million cubic metric of water hurling at a speed of around 20 knots clashes to the sound that links Saltfjord and the Skjerstadfjord. This is such a powerful sight that is too good to be missed. While in Saltstraumen vicinity, you should also consider some great fishing as the surrounding waters have abundant amounts of cod, saithe and halibut.
Bodo’s city center is small enough that it can easily be traveled on foot. In fact the airport is less than a mile from the city center. The city experiences strong winds so don’t forget to bring your wind jacket if you plan to do a lot of walking.
Visit fascinating museums like the Norwegian Aviation Museum and the Nordland Museum, which is actually located in one of the oldest buildings in Bodo.
To witness Baroque architecture at its finest in Norway, pay a visit to the Bodo Cathedral and the 13th century Bodin Church, which is only a few kilometers from Bodo’ center. For souvenir buying and shopping, drop by the City Nord and Glasshuset Malls.
After marveling at the city sights, proceed to the quayside, where you can grab a drink at an outdoor cafè or bar and take in the view of the gorgeous sea.
Bodo is a haven for nature and outdoor enthusiasts. It offers various activities like cycling, skiing, and fishing and climbing. A number of mountains surround the city, and it is so easy to pick the right one for you to climb. One of the more popular mountain ranges is the Børvasstindene, which is frequently visited because of its various hiking trails.
If you want to explore the islands on Bodo’s archipelago, you can go for a organized tour or take one of the public ferries that regularly go to these islands. On your way you will experience islands like Landegode, Givaer, Helligvaer and Bliksvaer, and it is likely that you will encounter the white-tailed eagles, whose population is the densest in the Bodo region.
Another fantastic island to visit is Landegode, which offers steep mountains worthy of exploration, and stunning beaches for you to relax in.
3. Reunion Island – a French Territory in the Indian Ocean
A tiny island in the Southwest of the Indian Ocean, Reunion Island, is a French territory, and is home to one of the world’s most active volcano. Reunion is breathtaking for its rugged landscape. As it is in the Indian Ocean, white and beautiful beaches are also plentiful around this island.
Reunion may not be where the best beaches in the world are, but it is where you commune closest to nature. Get immersed in the natural draw of the seemingly remote island, but still receive amazing French comfort, especially in terms of the gastronomic side.
You can also engage in many sport activities that get in close contact to nature. Some of these activities include canyoning, trail biking, kayaking especially along the famous waterfalls, horse riding, and paragliding.
If that list is not adventurous enough, the water activities will certainly keep you busy. Water sports here are the best – surfing, wind surfing, kite surfing, diving and fishing.
Hiking, however, is the biggest thing on Reunion, as the island has some hundred thousand hectares and two volcanoes; all enclosed in what is considered to be a national park. This area features many hiking routes to choose from encompassing one thousand kilometers of trails.
Some of them are for the go-getters like the 130 kilometer route across the island starting from St. Denis in the north down south to St. Joseph. There is also the abridged 4-day hike covering three major destinations, which are the Cilaos, Mafate and Silazie craters.
For those who are not hard core hikers, there are easier and enjoyable routes. Within the Cialos crater alone, there are already seven trails, with La Roche Merveilleuse probably being the most enticing as it gives the best panoramic views of the crater in the middle of the forest.
Le cirque Mafate is contestably the most popular. Visitors hike this trail for the views that are very spectacular and very varied. It is like being on different mountains every time, because the foliage differs from one area to another. Mafate also nestles a number of quaint villages, which makes a great resting areas.
Another stunning trail is Le cirque Salazie, the greenest of all routes and provides three shorts hikes , including the Bridal Veil where lush vegetation is slivered by the famous Reunion waterfalls. People usually take a walk right through the forest and down to the heart of the waterfall as it is ideal for picnics.
There is also the famous Le Piton de la Fournaise, which may feasibly be the most exhilarating route to take. There is much to surprise you within this 5-hour walk. This trail is also relatively easy, and the first stop after a nice few meter walk through the foliage, will delight you with a sweeping view of the Plain des Sables, a plain of black sand spewed by one of the world’s most active volcanoes.
Another short walk will bring you to the second surprise, a breathtaking view of the caldera. Getting to the viewing area although short is quite a thrill as it is inundated with potholes. Although there are staircases, you will literally be walking over rocks, roots of trees and pebbles.
From the caldera, you will make your way down to a small inactive volcano called Formica Leo with a ruddy tip. From Formica Leo, the trek takes you to the peak where the exciting walk over newly discharged lava happens.
4. Faroe Islands
Most unexpectedly beautiful, desirable, cool, rugged and prim at the same time, Faroe Islands is an autonomous Danish region of 18 islands. The islands lie in the north of Scotland and partly between Iceland and Norway. This is perhaps one of the world’s most beautiful group of islands.
The Faroe Islands are an island group consisting of 18 major islands about 407 miles off the coast of Northern Europe, between the Norwegian Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean. They are about halfway between Iceland and Norway. The closest neighbours are the Northern and Western Isles of Scotland.
The islands cover an area of 540 sq. mi and have no major lakes or rivers. There are 694 mi of coastline. The only significant uninhabited island is Lítla Dímun.
The islands are rugged and rocky with some low peaks; the coasts are mostly cliffs.
The highest point on the island is 2,894 ft above sea level.
|Capital and largest city||Tórshavn|
|Country||Kingdom of Denmark|
|Language||Faroese & Danish|
|Area||1,399 km2 (180th) – 540 sq m|
|Population – July 2013 estimate||49,709|
|Population – 2011 Census||48,351|
|Population Density||35.5/km2- 91/sq mi|
The National Geographic Center has in fact christened Faroe Islands as the most appealing islands on earth. Because the islands are built upon layers of lava, the lands take craggy contours sloping up the high plains and down the oceanfront making them the most scenic, unspoiled nuggets of earth in the Atlantic.
Faroe Islands’ relative seclusion from the fast-paced mainland Europe, render the air the cleanest you can breathe.
A trip to the Faroe Islands guarantees expansive sightseeing and ample activity both on land and at sea. Some of the many things these 18 islands can offer range from nature sightseeing, sea adventure, to cultural and historic exploration.
When traveling through Faroe, its useful to consider the most irresistible islands first, so you make the most of your visit and do not miss some remarkable experiences.
Vestmannabjorgini, is the islands most popular and must-see attraction. It is also known as Faroese Bird Cliffs located in the northern part of Vestmanna, and is best appreciated by cruise or boat exploration. Fortunately, there are a couple of tour companies that can arrange this cruise for you.
The usual boat excursion will take you between the bird cliffs and into the narrow fjord. Along with the bird watching and sightseeing along the bird cliffs, you will also be guided into the various grottoes, some deep, in the area. Such experiences are indeed spectacular and are quite rare in the world.
The Faroe Islands are not just about jagged topography and nature. The prim side is reflected in the prettiest multicolored villages peppered by homes and other village buildings with pointed roofs and colorful walls. Such architectural structures are modest mini versions of those in the mainland Denmark.
One of the picturesque villages you want to visit is Gjogv. Slated as the most charming village on earth, Gjogv is located in the northern part of Eysturoy Island. What you really would like to do here is to wander around the village to discover architectural treasures like a 1920s church and a school built in the 1880s.
The natural harbor, which is in a ravine, is a gorgeous serene spot that seems to invite you to wade right into the water. There’s also a tea shop for those wanting refreshment after a walk around. If you fancy a longer stay in Gjogv village, there’s a lovely guesthouse you can stay in complete with a roof that amazes as it is in the fashion of old Faroese homes – a living green grass cover!
To see an exhibition of the Faroese and Nordic life and culture, which is deeply ingrained in the fantastic nature that envelopes the people here, you visit Nordic House. This is considered the most important institution promoting the culture of Faroe Islands in the Nordic region.
The architectural design is very notable as it is modern and quaintly Faroese at the same time. Inside is a cafe, an amphitheater and spacious lobby for several activities or exhibits.
The Faroe Islands are situated only a few hours from mainland Europe by air and offer the visitor dramatic landscapes to explore as you follow over 1200 kilometers of coastline and beautiful mountain ranges and stunning sea views. With 18 islands to explore, you can experience everything from meditative calm of the scenery to thriving nightlife in the capital – Tórshavn!
5. Sentosa Island in Singapore
If you must visit just one island out of the sixty three (63) in Singapore, make sure to pick the one where the city-state’s heart lies: Sentosa. The sunny resort island, whose name means “peace and tranquility” in Malay, saturates the senses with awe, color and energy.
What used to be a small fishing village of just 1,000 inhabitants now welcomes around five million people every year. In Sentosa you will discover a whole new world where beaches, mega-structures and a salad bowl of culture weave a beautiful tapestry of life’s best.
Book a luxurious room with a king-sized bed at Festive Hotel. You will love the small things that can make your stay here extra special. From creative welcome novelty packs to bathrobes tailored for the kids, this chic cove will surely be your home away from home. Plus, it is located near Festivewalk, the epicenter of 24-hour entertainment.
Hit the beach at Sentosa. The 3.2km stretch of white sand is a tropical haven framed by coconut palms. For those looking for a rustic eco resort surrounded by lush foliage, Siloso Beach Resort is the right one for you. Palawan Beach Resort is the perfect activity getaway for friends but Tanjong Beach is your choice if youíre after a relaxing carefree afternoon.
For lunch, why don’t you try out the boiled shrimp in herbal soup and black pepper crab at Singapore Seafood Republic? The food here is always fresh and delicious, and the service top-notch. The lobster cooked the local way is always perfect with noodles.
It may be a little pricey but food this good is worth every penny. Nestled at the grand Resorts World Sentosa, this place is definitely a must for all food lovers!
No visit to Sentosa is complete without meeting its celebrity 37-metre tall resident, The Merlion. The half-lion and half-fish has been not just the most important trademark of Singapore but also a reminder of Singapore’s roots as a simple fishing village.
Inside the structure you will find legendary sea dragons and mythical mermaids. Climb to the crown to gaze at Singapore’s breathtaking panoramic skyline.
Bring your entire family to Universal Studios Sentosa. The theme park is packed with 24 movie-themed rides and endless blockbuster fun activities. If the kids are coming with you, take them to Far Far Away where they will get to sing along Donkey, tour around big castles, and make friends with royal princesses.
If this isn not enough, choose among the six other zones: Hollywood, New York, Sci-Fi, Ancient Egypt, Lost World, and Madagascar. Or, if you have at least two days to spare, sweep all zones and leave no dazzling entertainment experience unexplored. To save time queuing, you can get your tickets online. A One Day Pass costs $74 (SGD) while a Two Day Pass costs $118 (SGD).
Before you troop back to your hotel, drop by the Lake of Dreams at FestiveWalk before 9:30 pm. The show is free and literally priceless! Witness a musical extravaganza that works with fire, water and light like no one else does. This should come as no surprise given that four-time Emmy award-winner Jeremy Railton is at the helm of this nightly production.
I hope these travel destination ideas have given you some food for thought. They definitely are not the run of the mill travel getaways everyone might think of. If you’ve been to any one of the above places please leave a comment about your experiences.
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