Africa & The Middle East | Destination Guides

10 off-the-beaten track destinations you should add to your bucket list in 2023

Ready to go on a totally unique adventure in 2023? If you want to avoid the tourist crowds and discover some of the most underrated destinations on the planet, we’ve got you covered. We delve into 10 of the most incredible off-the-beaten track destinations you can visit with Trafalgar, from remote destinations like Sighnaghi in Georgia to the hard-to-get-to locations like the Inkaterra Forest in the Amazon. We even cover some of the hidden travel gems in the most popular destinations like Monreale in Italy and Gokayama in Japan. Get inspired and start blazing your own trail in 2023.

1. Georgia

Georgia is already an underrated destination, but many people who visit only scratch the surface with a stay in the capital, Tbilisi. We’ll take you even further off the beaten track, with a journey into the Caucasus Mountains in the heart of the wine region. Stop by the fortified town of Sighnaghi and visit Bodbe Monastery, an incredible pilgrimage site. Then meet locals in the Kakabeti village in Sagaredjo where you’ll share lunch and enjoy a wine tasting with an exclusive Be My Guest experience. You’ll also get a masterclass in baking Georgian bread and churchkhela sweets, all while washing it down with the local wines.

EXPERIENCE IT FOR YOURSELF: Georgia & Armenia Uncovered

2. Gokayama, Japan

If you want to visit Japan you’ve probably already got the likes of Tokyo, Mount Fuji and Kyoto on your bucket list. We’ll show you all the iconic places, but we’ll also take you to the best off-the-beaten track destinations to really get to the heart of Japan. One of our favourite hidden travel gems is the stunning UNESCO-listed Gokayama area, where you’ll find idyllic mountain villages set among the lush green valleys. 

RELATED CONTENT: Japan is now open to tourists – here’s where to visit first

It’ll feel like something out of a fairytale as you set eyes on the centuries-old traditional buildings. The Gassho-zukuri wooden houses are built without nails and have sloped thatched roofs to stop snow from building up on them. While you’re here, you’ll meet local artisans to learn about the art of making washi paper – and try your hand at making your own. 

EXPERIENCE IT FOR YOURSELF: Splendours of Japan

3. Taurus Mountains, Turkey

Turkey is another one of those off-the-beaten track destinations that are now up-and-coming.  While you’ve probably got Istanbul, Cappadocia, Gallipoli, and Antalya on your Turkey bucket list, we’ll take you to some lesser-travelled places. We’ll journey through the stunning countryside in the Taurus mountains where you’ll meet members of the remote Yazir community. You’ll join them for a Be My Guest lunch and get an incredible insight into their traditions, local foods, and way of life.

EXPERIENCE IT FOR YOURSELF: Best of Turkey

4. Monreale, Sicily

Italy is the world’s most popular tourist destination – so how can you possibly find any off-the-beaten track destinations here? We’ve got you covered. Journey down to the spectacular region of Sicily and you’ll discover some secret treasures like Monreale. Set on the slopes of Monte Caputo in the lush valleys near Palermo, this old town is lined with ancient Norman architecture and colourful mosaics. Be sure to check out the 12th-century Cathedral of Monreale and see the stunning views of the almond, olive and orange groves of La Conca d’Oro.

EXPERIENCE IT FOR YOURSELF: Best of Italy and Sicily

5. Peruvian Amazon

The Amazon Rainforest is a massive, ten million-year-old rainforest and few people get to really go beneath its surface. We’ll take you on a special journey through the Peruvian side of the Amazon, first cruising down the Madre de Rios River. You’ll arrive at your Inkaterra jungle lodge set in the heart of a remote and private ecological reserve. Throughout your stay, you’ll get up close and personal with the Amazon, from boat expeditions to jungle hikes. 

RELATED CONTENT: 15 picturesque places to visit in Peru

Walk the exhilarating Inkaterra Canopy Walkway above the rainforest and spot the cheeky monkeys on Monkey Island. Explore the jungle at the Tambopata National Reserve and see caimans, birds, monkeys, giant river otters, and even anacondas at Sandoval Lake. You’ll also discover the surreal guajales rainforest swampland and meet locals who will show you around an organic bio-orchard. Here you’ll see some of the tropical plants and learn about their incredible healing capabilities. You’ll even have the chance to venture out after dark with a Local Specialist and discover the nocturnal animals that come alive at night.

EXPERIENCE IT FOR YOURSELF: Land of the Incas

6. Skopje, North Macedonia

Move over Paris and London… If you’re looking for off-the-beaten track destinations and cities in Europe, head to Skopje. As the capital of North Macedonia, Skopje has a fascinating history as a medieval trading centre. You’ll see remnants from the Ottoman and Byzantine empires, and ancient architecture like the 15th-century Kameni Most (Stone Bridge) and the 5th-century Tvrdina Kale Fortress. We’ll take you wandering around the stunning mosques and bazaars with a Local Specialist and you’ll also spot plenty of marble-clad buildings, huge neoclassical buildings, and gorgeous fountains. Don’t forget to check out the excellent dining scene in the leafy Debar Maalo neighbourhood.

EXPERIENCE IT FOR YOURSELF: Balkan Adventure

7. Honningsvåg, Norway

You may have been everywhere, but have you gone as far north as Honningsvåg? This little town in Norway is the gorgeous gateway to the North Cape… And it’s about as far north as you can get! You’ll love wandering among the brightly painted houses, boats, and harbours, or taking an Arctic Cruise to explore the rugged islands and unique wildlife of the area. You can also head to the literal ‘Edge of the World’ at the North Cape Visitor Center where you’ll see the surreal Midnight Sun or the dancing Northern Lights in all their glory. 

EXPERIENCE IT FOR YOURSELF: Nordic Adventure

8. Damaraland, Namibia

If you’re looking for off-the-beaten track destinations, you can’t go past Namibia. This spectacular country is often overlooked in favour of more popular safari destinations like South Africa, Tanzania and Kenya… But it’s one of the world’s most extraordinary countries. While you can go on a safari to spot wildlife in Etosha National Park and see the famous sand dunes of Sossusvlei and Deadvlei, we’ll take you further off-grid with a journey to Damaraland.

RELATED CONTENT: 6 incredible Africa safari tours that will leave you speechless

This astonishing region is bordered by the Namib Desert in the west and the Kalahari Desert in the east. As you wander the burnt-red landscapes dotted with ethereal flat-topped lava mountains, you can spot elephants, rhinos, lions, and zebras. You can also see thousands of ancient rock paintings at the rocky outcrops of Twyfelfontein and the Brandberg, Namibia’s highest mountain. Or stroll through the haunting Petrified Forest, with enormous fossilised stress dating back millions of years. 

EXPERIENCE IT FOR YOURSELF: Namibia Explorer

9. Armenia

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Armenia is another well-kept secret in the Caucasus, but again, we go beyond the capital of Yerevan to really get an insight into this beautiful country. You’ll kick things off by exploring the UNESCO-listed monastic complex of Haghpat, where you’ll marvel at medieval Armenian architecture. You’ll enjoy delicious local food in Dzoraget village, with a backdrop of the forest-clad Caucasus Mountains and the Debed River. Then sample traditional pancakes and homemade tea with locals in nearby Fioletovo village. 

EXPERIENCE IT FOR YOURSELF: Georgia & Armenia Uncovered

10. Tirana, Albania

Set on the Mediterranean coastline, Albania has beaches and villages just as beautiful as its Greek and Croatian counterparts… But it continues to be one of the most underrated, off-the-beaten track destinations in Europe. You’ve got to start your Albanian adventure in the capital Tirana, which has recently emerged from decades of communist rule. It’s now a vibrant, colourful city, with painted facades, bright murals, and stunning buildings. See the Palace of Culture, the National Library and the old Clock Tower. Then stroll down the grand boulevards lined with the architectural remnants of the Ottoman, Italian, and communist rulers. 

EXPERIENCE IT FOR YOURSELF: European Supreme

Are you planning where to travel in 2023? Let us know your favourite off-the-beaten track destinations in the comments below!

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