BY ANITA SHAYLEN
It’s quite rewarding if you step off-the-beaten-track and venture out to destinations you have never fancied to visit before. Start your holiday with new ideas and insights and leave the flocks of tourists behind, and journey into some of the world’s coolest off-beat regions. Here are a few we have picked that might tempt your travel tastebuds!
Belfast: Northern Ireland
Belfast, in many ways, is a brand-new city. The Titanic Belfast center, covering the ill-fated liner’s construction here has become the city’s number-one tourist draw; named the world’s leading tourist attraction at the 2016 World Travel Awards. New venues keep popping up this decade, the historic Crumlin Road Gaol and the SS Nomadic—opened to the public. They all add to a list of attractions that include beautifully-restored Victorian architecture, a glittering waterfront lined with modern art, a fantastic and fast-expanding foodie scene and music-filled pubs.
Abu Dhabi: United Arab Emirates
The capital of the United Arab Emirates, Abu Dhabi is a glittering, glamorous city, with a pretty waterside location. The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is the major sightseeing attraction and wows all who visit. But the city also makes a good base for excursions to the desert landscapes of Liwa Oasis and the oasis city of Al Ain. Ferrari World is a Ferrari- branded theme park. For the best views of Abu Dhabi’s glittering skyscrapers, you need to head out into the marina, where the look of the highrises are quite spectacular.
Finger Lakes: New York
The Finger Lakes region is located in west-central New York State. Surrounding many thin finger-shaped Lakes that gave its name, the area is home to over 100 wineries, dozens of inspiring waterfalls, museums, art galleries, fabulous restaurants, and countless outdoor recreation activities. From waterfalls and gorges—to thick, cool woods, and rolling hills, then into miles of spectacular shoreline on 11 glacial lakes and one Great Lake. It’s a world of sparkling lakes, acres of forests, farms, and vineyards. Visit the region’s world-class wines, award-winning brew, and acclaimed ciders and spirits.
Riga, the capital of Latvia, offers a beautiful slice of European history and culture. The rest of the country has different historical, natural, and religious aspects which can be exciting, especially outside the capital. It has ancient historical towns such as Cēsis, in the center of the Gauja National Park, with a beautiful castle and old medieval places of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Along the coast of the Baltic Sea, between the most famous tourist centers of the country, are Jurmala, Liepaja, and Ventspils—all popular seaside resorts during the summer.
The Setouchi Region, Japan
Setouchi is the largest inland sea in Japan, surrounded by the Hyogo, Okayama, Hiroshima, Yamaguchi, Tokushima, Kagawa, and Ehime Prefectures. The region fosters a history and culture through the sea and creates a wide variety of tourist resources. It is also home to plentiful tourist attractions such as Himeji Castle, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and several hot spring areas. Kobe beef, one of the three major brands of wagyu beef, is a delicacy. Hiroshima’s Atomic Bomb Dome communicates the importance of peace; and many other attractions worth a visit.
One of the best day trips you can do from Lisbon, Sintra has long been the home of Portugal’s monarchs. It is a magnificent town of marvelous old mansions, all set against the backdrop of lush hills. Sintra’s many castles include the Palácio Nacional de Sintra (a main abode of Portuguese royalty until the early 20th century), the hilltop and storybook Palácio da Pena, Quinta de Regaleira (incorporating several architectural styles and with gorgeous surrounding gardens), the Castelo dos Mouros (Moorish Castle), and the Palácio de Monserrate. The exquisite Palacio da Pena is one of the most beautiful tourist attractions of Portugal.
Located 11,000 feet above sea level, Cusco in southeastern Peru, was the historic capital of the Inca Empire from the 13th to the 16th-century Spanish conquest. In 1983 Cusco was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. The undisputed archaeological capital of the Americas, Cuzco is the continent’s oldest continuously inhabited city and the gateway to Machu Picchu. And it has served as a travelers’ mecca for hundreds of years. Cosmopolitan Cuzco thrives, yet offers ornate cathedrals, Inca temples, narrow cobblestone passages, and intricate hidden markets. The Plaza de Aromas and trendy San Blas offer all the tourist highlights.
The Peloponnese Peninsula Region, Greece
The Peloponnese is the large peninsula that hangs from the rest of the Greek mainland by the narrow Isthmus of Corinth. Its wild, mountainous landscape is filled with the ruins of Mycenaean palaces, ancient temples, frescoed churches, and countless medieval hilltop castles built by the Crusaders and the Venetians. At Mycenae, visit the hub of a civilization that dominated Greece from 1600 to 1200 B.C. Hike up the stone rows of the world’s best-preserved ancient theater, at Epidavros. Meanwhile, the ruins of Olympia is the site of the first Olympic Games. Savor the nuances in architecture, food, and the friendly population.
Botswana: East Africa
Botswana is one of Africa’s best countries to view wildlife in its numerous wildlife reserves. Other attractions include the historic Okavango Delta region, which during the rainy season is a maze of waterways, islands, and lakes. Tourist accommodation is well-provided for, with a choice of private lodges, safari camps, and public camping sites. Central Kalahari Game Reserve is an extensive national park in the Kalahari desert of Botswana and is a significant attraction, offering magnificent views of wildlife such as giraffe, brown hyena, warthog, cheetah, wild dog, leopard, lion, blue wildebeest, eland, gemsbok, kudu, and red hartebeest.
Goa is a world’s famous destination that attracts millions of tourist every year, whether they are honeymooners, backpackers, or families. Goa’s numerous beaches such as Arambol, Anjuna, Baga, Bogmalo, Majorda, Colva, Benaulim, and Aguada Beach are all popular. Accommodation ranges from 5-star world class hotels and resorts to simple backpacking hostels. Time your visit to coincide with Goa’s annual colorful three-day festival, or with cultural events held year-round such as the Feast of the Noven, Feast of Our Lady of Miracles, Feast of St. Lawrence, Pop, Beat, and Jazz Music Festival, Goa Heritage Festival, and many more.