Unique Travel Destinations
We all love tourist hotspots like Paris, Rome, Vegas and New York, but sometimes we get the urge to go beyond and uncover the hidden gems that each country has to offer. With the world reopened after the pandemic and the year 2023 being dubbed “the year of travel,” more and more people are looking to experience those less-travelled roads where they can immerse themselves in the local culture and feel a sense of epic adventure.
Here at Flytographer, we easily connect people with trusted photographers for fun photo shoots — over three million memories have been captured worldwide. Today, we asked local vacation photographers about some of the most talked-about off-the-beaten-path destinations for 2023. Are you ready to step out of your comfort zone with us?
(A little sneak peek just for you 😊)
- Guanacaste & Tamarindo, Costa Rica. a true haven for nature lovers where waterfalls, beautiful beaches, national parks and dazzling Pacific Ocean vistas await you.
- Chefchaouen, Morocco. famous for its medina — an old town dominated by blue-washed houses Chefchaouen is a must see.
- Jerusalem, Israel. An array of great museums and lively markets as well as an exciting and multicultural food scene make a unique experience.
- Cairns, Australia. Steps away from the Great Barrier Reef, Cairns is home to one of the world’s greatest wonders.
- Hoi An, Vietnam. A small ancient town on the central coast of Vietnam, is a feast for the eyes and a must-see destination in Southeast Asia
- The Kiso Valley, Japan. Scenic beauty, fascinating culture, fantastic cuisine and hot springs are essential parts of a trip to Kiso Valley.
- Koh Samui, Thailand. Travellers looking for warm sunshine combined with the benefits of an excellent infrastructure and a bustling and trendy lifestyle often choose Koh Samui.
- The Algarve, Portugal. The Algarve is known for its beautiful beaches with long stretches of white sand, rocky cliffs and secluded coves.
- Mexico City, Mexico. Vibrant arts, scenic architecture — highlights include the stunning Palacio de Bellas Artes and the iconic Frida Kahlo Museum.
- Tofino, Canada. With incredible hiking trails (that cut through forests of giant trees), camping spots and endless beaches where you can go surfing and whale watching.
1. Guanacaste & Tamarindo, Costa Rica
The province of Guanacaste in the northwestern part of Costa Rica is a true haven for nature lovers where waterfalls, beautiful beaches, national parks and 400 miles of coastlines with natural beauty and dazzling Pacific Ocean vistas await you.
One of the most famous spots in the region is Tamarindo. Originally a fishing village, today, the town offers several all-inclusive resorts as well as a boulevard lined with bars, restaurants, boutiques and art galleries. Still, the place has retained its character: the warm turquoise waters of Tamarindo Beach and its laid-back vibes continue to attract surfers and sunbathers from all around. Close to the town, the Tamarindo Estuary offers an excellent opportunity for kayaking, exploring the waterways and crocodile spotting. Snorkelling, sailing and fishing are popular activities on the neighbouring beaches. The best part? Everything is very accessible thanks to the Liberia International Airport located in Liberia, the capital of Guanacaste. 🛬
2. Chefchaouen, Morocco
Chefchaouen is not the first destination that comes to mind when we think of the northern coast of Africa. Still, more and more travellers are discovering this instagrammable small town — one of Morocco’s best-kept secrets. Chefchaouen sits on the Rif Mountains in the northwestern part of the country and is famous for its medina — an old town dominated by blue-washed houses. Getting lost in the city’s cobblestone streets is one of our top travel tips for a delightful, picture-perfect experience. You’ll stumble across charming cafes and local vendors showing off their mesmerizing Moroccan carpets — an interesting counterbalance to the blue of the houses.
Plaza Uta El-Hammam, the central square, is a great place for finding more lovely restaurants and cafes. There, you can visit the Grand Mosque and see its gorgeous architecture. The town has more of a chill vibe, unlike Moroccan cities such as Marrakesh and Fez, which are more hectic. Another big draw is the very inhabitants of Chefchaouen, who are extra friendly, which make visiting the so-called “Blue Pearl” of Morocco even more enjoyable. 💙
3. Jerusalem, Israel
Many think that Jerusalem is all about religious pilgrimage. Well, that’s indeed a big thing: Muslims, Christians and Jews from all around the world come to the city to visit significant religious monuments, most of which are located around the city’s old town area. From the Dome of the Rock and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre to the Wailing Wall, the importance and magnetism of Jerusalem captivate even non-religious travellers.
Besides being a spiritual centre and, at times, conservative, the city is dynamic and developed. An array of great museums and lively markets as well as an exciting and multicultural food scene make Jerusalem a destination on many people’s 2023 bucket lists. You can spend a few days in town or take a day trip to the more liberal Tel Aviv, a popular choice, which is only a 45-minute drive. If it’s your first time visiting the ancient city, joining a tour is a good idea so you won’t miss the incredible little details and impressive historical facts of this marvellous destination. 🙌
4. Cairns, Australia
The coastal city of Cairns in the Australian state of Queensland is famous for being the gateway to one of the world’s most beautiful places. We’re speaking about The Great Barrier Reef — the largest coral system on the planet and one of the world’s most biodiverse places. Thousands of species of marine life live in and around the reef; it is an underwater wonderland. 🐠
On solid grounds, travellers have the opportunity to trek through the Daintree Rainforest — a Unesco World Heritage site and the world’s oldest rainforest. Beyond admiring the exuberant flora of this tropical haven, you can also go spotting for wild crocodiles or swimming in crystal-clear water holes. That’s not all, Cairns also boasts pristine white-sand beaches and is a hotspot for cruise ships all year round. The city with its fair share of bustling bars, superb restaurants and great art galleries, has a laid-back vibe. Another reason to visit this tropical destination is that you can take road trips and explore North Queensland further.
5. Hoi An, Vietnam
Hoi An, a small ancient town on the central coast of Vietnam, is a feast for the eyes and a must-see destination in Southeast Asia. The old town’s well-preserved Chinese and French colonial architecture makes it an absolutely stunning backdrop. Most of the old buildings are painted yellow, which adds to the visual feast. They house charming cafes, restaurants and boutiques. Chinese temples and picturesque wooden bridges are spread across the ancient city. At night, Hoi An shines with colourful lamps that adorn every facade — a romantic and magical sight. At Hoi An market, you can experience local life at its actual pace: the honking motorbikes, the smell of spices and the lovely sight of vendors wearing Vietnamese hats. This is Vietnam at its best! 🇻🇳
Only a 30-minute drive from Hoi An is Da Nang, where you’ll find some of the country’s best beaches as well as the social media hit — the Golden Bridge.
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6. The Kiso Valley, Japan
Often overlooked as a tourist destination, the Kiso Valley offers visitors much of what Japan is known for: scenic beauty, fascinating culture, fantastic cuisine and hot springs. The area is also known as “the Kiso Road” or “the Nakasendo Way” and was an important trade route during the Edo period: connecting Kyoto with Tokyo. The valley is replete with towering mountains, lush forests and winding rivers, and it feels like a world frozen in time. The stunning natural scenery is a backdrop for well-preserved ancient towns such as Magome and Tsumago — all boasting traditional houses and temples.
Throughout the region, there are also plenty of opportunities for outdoor activities such as hiking, river rafting and even skiing. With its peaceful and enchanting atmosphere, the Kiso Valley is really the ultimate escape from the hustle and bustle of modern Japan. 😌
7. Koh Samui, Thailand
Deciding which island to visit when planning a trip to Thailand can be challenging because they’re all paradise-like. Still, each is quite special in its own way. Travellers looking for warm sunshine combined with the benefits of an excellent infrastructure and a bustling and trendy lifestyle often choose Koh Samui. The island is well known for its luxury resorts, world-class spas and vibrant nightlife. However, it still feels like a tropical getaway a million miles away because of its stunning natural beauty composed of vast coconut grooves, lush tropical jungles and powdery sandy beaches with crystal-blue waters.
Samui is also a great place to experience the fascinating Thai culture. You can go temple hopping, checking out a variety of local markets and indulging in the most delectable Thai cuisine you can imagine: from high-end restaurants to street food. This place is a dream for any foodie! There’s also the advantage of being only a short ferry ride away from the scuba-diving paradise of Koh Tao and the party island of Koh Phangan. Indeed, there are many options, but one can safely say that Koh Samui is the quintessential Thai island. 🏝️
8. The Algarve, Portugal
In your next trip to the old continent, instead of exploring popular European places like Santorini in Greece, Ibiza in Spain, Dubrovnik in Croatia and the Amalfi Coast in Italy, why not choose this out-of-the-way hidden gem in the southernmost region of Portugal? The Algarve is no stranger to tourism, but it is still undervalued when compared to more popular destinations.
Well-connected by air and more affordable than most popular travel destinations and capital cities in Europe, the Algarve is known for its beautiful beaches with long stretches of white sand, rocky cliffs and secluded coves. The weather is a typical Mediterranean delight: warm sunny days during summer and mild in winter. The Algarve is also a place for history and culture. It’s fun to lose yourself on a road trip through the rolling hills while discovering the old towns and villages of the region, learning about the local heritage and tasting wonderful food and wine. Sun, sea and sand balanced with culture and delicious cuisine. What’s not to like? 🤷♀️
9. Mexico City, Mexico
Often overshadowed by other major destinations in the continent, Mexico City, Mexico is North America’s largest city. It has everything you could ever want: a bustling metropolis and much more. Besides the vibrant arts, scenic architecture — highlights include the stunning Palacio de Bellas Artes and the iconic Frida Kahlo Museum — and the superb restaurant and bar scene, you’ll also find ancient history. The capital city of Mexico has its roots in the Aztec empire. It boasts several UNESCO world heritage sites such as the colonial-era Zócalo and the ruins of Templo Mayor next to it. There are also the pyramids of Teotihuacán about an hour’s drive away. Undoubtedly one of the most exciting destinations in the continent, CDMX is beaming with life, colour and thrilling activities. 👌
10. Tofino, Canada
One of Canada’s most westerly points sitting amidst dramatic rocky shores and sandy coves is Tofino — a small town on the west coast of Vancouver Island. With incredible hiking trails (that cut through forests of giant trees), camping spots and endless beaches where you can go surfing and whale watching, Tofino is becoming a mecca for those looking for adventure. This is an increasingly popular off-the-beaten-path destination, even in the storm season from November to March, where visitors stand in awe admiring the powerful waves that roll ashore. 🌊
Tofino is also a gateway to the Pacific Rim National Park. This park offers amazing hiking trails, beaches, scenic viewpoints and wildlife spotting activities within its 500-square-kilometre property. There’s also plenty of culture in the region. Visitors can learn about the history of some Canadian indigenous groups by visiting their villages and museum — the complete off-the-beaten-path package in Canada. You’ll undoubtedly fall in love.
Capturing memories off the beaten path
Believe it or not, there are still some hidden gems out there for you to discover. Some honourable mentions go to the spiritual city of Rishikesh in Northern India where the Beatles learned to meditate and to the otherworldly landscape of the Atacama Desert that spans from Chile to all the way Peru in South America. To make your adventures even more memorable in all these beautiful spots, book one of our local Flytographers and let them capture your trip of a lifetime.
“Kait was fabulous to work! She communicated really well before during and after our shoot. She was very friendly and made us feel comfortable from the first minute we met her. Oh and by the way, her photos are amazing! So many of our family and friends were blown away with Kait’s work when we shared them.”
“Olga was absolutely amazing!!! From asking questions about what types of photos we wanted, to making suggestions and being flexible, she was a delight to work with and the finished photos are truly stunning!! I highly recommend Olga if you’re looking for breathtaking shots with gorgeous scenery. She captured the fun and joy in our trip perfectly!
Thanks so much, Olga!!”