The Weekend Series: five must-visit travel destinations you haven’t heard of
When the travel bug bites, no salve or balm will stop the itch. The only way to get rid of it is to pack a bag, jump on a plane get go exploring. While we’d never turn our noses up at a holiday, sometimes the run-of-the-mill travel destinations aren’t enough. We want new experiences, we want to get off the beaten track, we want to go to a paradise of love and joy – a destination unknown. We’ve picked five magical destinations that are not only must-visit locations but also are spots you might not have heard of before.
Should you be eager to go somewhere cold (a smart move considering summer is approaching), then the Svalbard Islands is a suitably chilly – yet beautiful – holiday spot. Located halfway between Norway and the North Pole, Svalbard is the home of polar bears and a great array of arctic wildlife. Longyearbyen is the largest settlement on the island with a rough population of 2000. This community boasts a vibrant culture, with festivals, exhibitions and a great food scene (the world’s northernmost sushi restaurant can be found here) making the town a great place to visit. The rest of the island boasts nature reserves, national parks, bird sanctuaries and more.
Image: Thousand Wonders
Brazil is one of the most entertaining countries you could consider when picking an overseas holiday, but if you aren’t up for the crowded beaches of Rio de Janeiro or the bustle of São Paulo, then Jericoacoara is definitely the spot for you. Situated on Brazil’s northern coast, Jericoacoara is an idyllic fishing village that is far removed from the troubles of modern civilisation. Until 20 years ago, Jericoacoara didn’t have electricity, roads or newspapers. Here travellers can wander down roads paved with sand, recline in hammocks on the beach, go kitesurfing, windsurfing and much more.
Image: Pousada Carcara
Okay, so the Greek Islands might not be a novel travel destination, but beyond the big names such as Santorini, Mykonos and Crete, there are so many under-appreciated islands that host a goldmine of food, drink and culture. Sifnos is our pick for the best least-heard-of Greek Isle. Hailed as the most delicious Greek Island, Sifnos is home to some truly gorgeous villages and traditional cuisine. Nicholas Tselementes, a Greek chef who wrote the first Greek book of recipes in the early 1900s, was from Sifnos and it was because of his work that Sifnos has its culinary reputation today. Each taverna serves up traditional Greek delights, and the islands capitol Apollonia boasts a lively nightlife.
Image: Island Touch
Speaking metaphorically, a holiday can be an oasis in the vast desert of the yearly grind. Imagine spending that holiday at a literal oasis? Huacachina is a tiny desert village located just outside of the city of Ica in Peru. The village surrounds an oasis, which is ringed by palm trees and hotels. Those looking to relax can indulge in some revelry at several bars surrounding the lagoon or go on winery tours, while adventure seekers can get revved up while racing dune buggies across Huacachina’s surrounding sand dunes or go visit the Humboldt penguins and sea lions that live on The Ballestas Islands just off the coast.
Socotra, an island off the coast of Yemen, is probably the most unique of our selections so far. Most articles on the destination describe it as ‘alien’, but in this instance they are simply referring to the remarkable biodiversity that can be found the island. Socotra has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site thanks to the local plant species, making it a great destination for adventurous travellers. The island doesn’t boast much in the way of modern infrastructure, but there are several small hotels and lodges around the island. Camping on the beach is popular, and surfers can take advantage of some excellent conditions.
Image: Csilla Zelko