8 Under-the-Radar Places to See Now
We can’t deny the beauty of Paris, Buenos Aires and Bangkok, but there are plenty of other hidden gems just waiting to be discovered. Chelsea Bengier unearths the eight places that have us hooked. Go now (before everyone else does).
Thanks to its rapidly emerging food scene, Colombia’s capital is making a comeback. Take Mercado, where chef Leonor Espinosa whips up farm-fresh pollo campesino (braised chicken) served with four traditional Colombian sauces on the side. For something lighter, there's Abasto, a restaurant/market in the trendy Usaquen neighborhood; the grilled octopus with veggies is a must-try. While you're exploring the city, make sure to grab a mouthwatering arepa and corn on the cob from a local street-food vendor — chase it down with a fresh smoothie made from exotic fruits like feijoa (cucumber-ish), guanabana (like coconut and banana), and mora (sweet, tart berry). As if you needed another reason to go, there's a huge sale on round-trip flights from LA ($400) and NYC ($290).
Don’t get us wrong, neighboring Iceland is beautiful, but it gets touristy, especially during spring and summer. We’re ditching the crowds in favor of a way more isolated archipelago: The Faroe Islands. These 18 remote inlets sit between Scotland, Iceland and Norway, and have postcard-perfect landscapes of vibrant green fjords, volcanic mountains, colorful fishing villages and thundering waterfalls (see: Mulafoss, otherwise known as Gasadalur). Much like its Scandinavian lineage, the culture here is design-centric — hit Østrøm (a cafe/boutique/art gallery) for crafts, Sirri for sheepskin rugs, Gudrun & Gudrun for hand-knit threads, and Shisha for wool products — and the food is surprisingly on point. Hotel Føroyar's award-winning restaurant, KOKS, (the Faroese answer to Copenhagen's Noma) serves a 16-course, $200 per person tasting menu of horse mussel consommé, fresh sea urchins, crispy cod-skin chips and skerpikjøt (lamb). Locals, however, will tell you the best table is in their own kitchen (Faroe islanders are big on hosting guests and friends at home).
This Gothic city is in the midst of a quiet cultural revolution. Historic sites like Old City’s Rynek Glówny — the largest medieval square in Europe — and Wawel Royal Castle are still the main draw, but a hip boho vibe is blooming in the Jewish quarter (Kazimierz). Pop in the low-lit Alchemia bar for drinks, before browsing through vintage postcards and antique treasures at Hala Targowa flea market. Then, check out contemporary Polish works at Starmach, a synagogue-turned-gallery in the Podgorze neighborhood, which is known for its cool street-art scene. Refuel with a zapiekanki (think open-face sandwich meets pizza) at Endzior, or nosh on smoked cheese and cured sausage at Stary Kleparz's famous food stalls.
Skip the glitzy Côte d'Azur and escape to France’s “Isle of Beauty,” just south of the riviera. There, you’ll find 620 miles of coastline, craggy mountains, medieval clifftop towns and thriving vineyards. Check in (and bliss out) at the Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired Casa Agriates, an eight-bedroom villa on 40 acres of gardens and olive groves. When hunger strikes, the local markets are the place to go: stands are piled high with French-Italian fare like maquis herbed salami, brocciu (goat cheese), huitres (oysters), and slow cooked wild boar or lamb. Wash the meal down with a glass of rosé from the northern St. Florent and Cap Corse regions. It's easy to work off those calories on a hike — we love the GR20 trail — since one third of the island is a protected park, or rent a boat and swim around the caves and cliffs. And if a white strip of sand is all you need (hey, we don't blame you!), head to Palombaggia on the Porto-Vecchio coast.
At just 180 square miles, it’s no wonder this tiny country between Spain and France is still a secret. Andorra’s slopes in the Pyrenees Mountains are ideal for skiing without the long lift lines of more popular resorts in the French Alps. Catch some fresh snow at Vallnord, then soak your sore muscles in the thermal baths at Caldea. Come evening, the best après-ski meals are served at traditional bordas (stone restaurants) — our favorite spot, Estevet, grills up mouthwatering oxtail and suckling pig.
In Eastern Africa, the lesser known country of Mozambique is attracting in-the-know jetsetters to its untouched beaches. Along the northern coast, rustic-chic lodges like Vamizi Island, Ibo Island and Azura are redefining the once wild Quirimbas islands, while in the south, high-end hotels are opening in the Bazaruto Archipelago. Bed down in a casita or villa at andBeyond Benguerra Island, set on a mangrove-fringed shoreline with powdery white sands and crystal clear water. Spend your days diving in the coral reefs, and spotting sea turtles and dugongs, or live out your Castaway fantasies catching some rays on a secluded beach all to yourself.
When you’re bordered by major players like Austria, Italy and Croatia, it’s easy to get overlooked. But that doesn’t mean Slovenia isn’t worth a trip of its own. This country has mountain ranges that rival the alps, crumbling castles, and romantic vineyards (take that, Tuscany). Its crown jewel is Lake Bled, with a fairytale island temple dedicated to an ancient Slavic goddess. We also recommend tasting the local sauvignon and merlot at Movia, one of the country's 28,000 wineries, or riding the underground train through Postojna Cave's labyrinth-like tunnels.
This country used to be off limits to American travelers, but now President Then Sein aims to open 1,100 hotels to prepare for the new wave of tourists (three million people visited just last year!). And there are plenty of reasons why: golden stupas, floating villages, Buddhist monasteries and colonial-style cities. Go to Shwedagon Pagoda, one of the most iconic holy sites, then see Inle Lake and its stilted waterfront buildings by boat. Another must do: sampling Burmese staples like fried rice and Shan noodles at Bogyoke Market, lephet thoke (tea leaf salad) at Taung Chune Restaurant, and pork curry with mangoes at Padonmar Restaurant.