If you’re like me, being cooped up inside at home during the winter months just makes me want to start planning my next adventure. If you’re also like me, you also appreciate taking the road less traveled, literally. There’s something about avoiding crowded Parisian squares or beaches covered in tourists and actually finding yourself alone in a new country that is just so appealing.
The countries on this list are less traveled countries you don’t exactly hear people adding to a typical travel bucket list, but they should because they’re missing out on some amazing places. Some of these countries are often cheaper for Western tourists than other hotspots, making them excellent choices if you’re looking to travel but don’t have a large budget. Here are eight countries that are safe, less traveled, and excellent choices for your next getaway in 2023.
1. Republic of Georgia
No, I’m not talking about the Georgia with Atlanta and peaches; I’m talking about the country that claims they’re the birthplace of wine. The less traveled Georgia where you can swim in the Black Sea, eat cheesy bread concoctions called khachapuri, and stuff your face with khinkali. The Georgia with a rich history dating back thousands of years and a culture so welcoming and inviting you’ll feel at home.
The Republic of Georgia is located in the Caucus region near Armenia, Azerbaijan, Turkey, and Russia. It’s consistently considered one of the safest countries in the world and, in my opinion, has a lot to offer in terms of tourism despite being one of the less traveled countries of the world.
Whether you travel through the wine route of Khaketi and stop at every winery drinking your fill, go to Batumi to swim in the Black Sea and lay on the beach, or travel to the northern region of Kazbegi to see monasteries built on mountain tops, there is sure to be something in Georgia for everyone.
2. The Andaman Islands
The Andaman Islands are an archipelago off the coast of South East Asia, closer to Myanmar and Thailand than India itself. Those looking for a getaway in February or March would find themselves at the perfect time to visit the Andaman Islands as that’s when it’s warm, sunny, and has the best conditions for scuba diving or watching the native turtles nest. Later in the year, the islands are colder and less favorable for tourism but is still quite warm compared to other less traveled countries on this list.
The main city, Port Blair, is your typical busy capital, but once you begin branching outside of it, you’ll find why people fall in love with these islands. Beaches backed by lush jungles with clear waters perfect for diving, swimming, or fishing surround you as you spend your vacation traveling around the islands.
Those looking to surf would do well to visit Little Andaman. This island is famous for its white beaches, mangroves, and beautiful blue waves that are begging to be surfed. Others find themselves snorkeling around North Andaman or venturing deeper into the islands to find lush rice fields and rich jungles filled with flora and fauna.
You would do well to avoid North Sentinel Island to the West while on your stay. Not only is it illegal, but the local tribe, the Sentinelese, is hostile to any and all outside contact. Don’t ruin your vacation by trying to take a boat to it!
Another less traveled country in the Caucus region, Armenia is a country rich in history, nature, and cuisine. They’re the first country to accept Christianity as their national religion, way back in 301 AD. This means if you’re a fan of old monasteries, churches, and religious history, there’s plenty of it throughout the country.
The capital Yerevan is bustling with activity. There are great restaurants and hotels right next to the city center, and an efficient metro system ensures you’re always within reach of your next stop. Once you’ve seen the Vernissage market, Republic Square, and climbed the Cascade Complex, you can begin branching out into other parts of this beautiful country.
Some like to travel into the mountains to villages like Goris. Goris is located in the heart of the mountainside and is located just a short hop from the longest cable car ride in the world. This cable car has you hundreds of feet above the ground passing between mountain tops with an ancient monastery on one side. Others like to travel to Lake Sevan, the largest body of fresh water in the region, where they can relax on the lakeside and grill up some delicious food.
4. The Faroe Islands
Iceland is a common travel destination for those who want snowy views, volcanoes, and geothermal activity. For those looking for an off-the-beaten-path destination but still want those same vibes, the Faroe Islands are for you. If you don’t know where the Faroe Islands are, they are actually in the same region of the world, situated between Iceland and the other Scandinavian countries.
The Faroe Islands have lush, green, scenic landscapes topped with waterfalls, lakes, rocky cliffsides, and more. The famous Puffin bird can be found on these islands, and it’s common for tourists to hike, and birdwatch as flocks of them come pouring on and off the hills.
We suggest you visit the many little villages and cities spread out on the islands as you travel and bask in how quaint and peaceful they look along the countryside. You also must try some of the cultural foods such as fermented meat, those puffins you may have seen earlier, and seasoned fish. If you like alcohol, there is a brewery producing beers and soft drinks that have been operating for almost one hundred and fifty years on the islands!
5. Sri Lanka
If you’re looking to diversify your travel experiences and not head to a resort in the Caribbean again this year, Sri Lanka is a great country to travel to for those looking to dive head-first into new experiences! With a diverse landscape ranging from rainforests to mountains to beaches, you’re sure to love everything this country has to offer.
Most tourists begin their trip getting adjusted to the capital, Colombo. Here, you can relax on pristine beaches in affordable luxurious hotels while you plan your travel arrangements to see the rest of the island.
Some prefer to go whitewater rafting along the Kelani river, while others like to stick to the ocean and go surfing or scuba diving. Others who want to learn about the history and culture of Sri Lanka might head to Anuradhapura or Pollonnaruwa, where there are ancient ruins of past kingdoms and religious structures. Adventurous travelers might find themselves hiking to waterfalls or through jungles. Either way, Sri Lanka is sure to have something to entice you to visit this wonderful place.
Namibia is a country that some people usually don’t consider traveling to, but certainly should. Some people are worried about the safety of traveling to Africa in general, but there are a lot of great spots in Africa that you will miss if you keep listening to an older generation afraid of anything new.
Yes, there are some parts of Africa you should definitely avoid, but Namibia is far from it. Even the U.S. Department of State gives it the lowest travel warning possible, a 1. Peru is definitely more popular as a travel destination, and they have the second highest warning, a 3! That should show you just how safe Namibia is.
So why the less-traveled Namibia? This country has some of the best scenery in Africa, thanks to a system of well-protected national parks. If you love wildlife and photography, you will fall in love with Namibia. You’ll be able to see wild animals at watering holes, like giraffes, zebras, rhinos, and more. On top of that, Namibia has a gorgeous sprawling desert, and you can even visit a town called Kolmanskop that has been abandoned and is slowly being retaken by the sand. Nothing is out of bounds, from quad biking to shipwreck spotting to safari rides.
Everyone wants to go to the islands of Fiji without the tourist-covered beaches. Luckily for them, there’s a little spot of less-traveled paradise called Tuvalu – or spots, I should say. Tuvalu is a group of nine tiny islands in the South Pacific that rarely see tourists. In 2019, there were a record-breaking 3,600 tourists! If you hate crowds, this is the place.
The main island and capital, Funafuti, has the only international airport. To get to other spots from there, you’ll have to rely on ferries and boat transports to get to the other spots. Once you’re on any of the islands, you’ll find pristine beaches with clear, blue water. Expect to go scuba diving, snorkeling, or even just get your tan on in this sunny paradise.
8. San Marino
If you plan on visiting Italy later in life, you should make an excuse to go to San Marino this year and kill two birds with one stone. San Marino is a small, less traveled micronation located in Northern Italy that is known for its beautiful cliffside views and castles perched precariously on mountainsides. The capital, also called San Marino, has a history that dates back to the year 301 AD, a time when Christians were fleeing from Roman persecution.
Some must-see things while you’re in this little nation-state are the Falesia tower, the Public Palace, and the castle Cesta which dates back to the 13th century. You’ll fall in love as you drive around admiring the gorgeous countryside and the cute villages that dot it.
While we wouldn’t suggest traveling to this part of Europe just for San Marino, if you’re in Italy and are looking to knock another country off your list nearby – San Marino is the one.