Top 10 Off-the-Beaten-Path Travel Destinations to Discover in 2016

Katrin Meschin • 27 Jan, 2016

If you’re bored of well-known travel destinations or are searching for a place that not everyone has visited, here are some suggestions from Like A Local Guide. We looked through the tips written by our local ambassadors and selected 10 of our favourite alternative travel destinations. Travelling more was surely one of your New Year’s resolutions for 2016, so let’s see if we can help to inspire.

1. Tel Aviv

The infinite blue sea and white sands of Tel Aviv aren’t the only reasons why this city should be on your bucket list this year. It’s a city of artists and young souls, attracting culture diggers as well as surfers and party animals. Our local ambassadors say that Tel Aviv has more cafés than street cats, and that its nightlife has been compared to that of NYC. The clubs offer free entry and, as the city is small, you have time to visit three or four in one night. You’ll meet locals of all ages simply enjoying life and having fun.

The choice of restaurants and pubs is wide as well, so you should be able to find something to your liking. Head to Orso Laboratorio Caffè for a cup of coffee, soak up the retro atmosphere of this awesome 70s-inspired café or stop by La Cricca to watch a football match. Just keep in mind that the prices in Tel Aviv are as varied as the range of cuisines on offer.

For an even more alternative destination, consider visiting Rehovoth – a city full of hidden gems just 20 kilometres south of Tel Aviv.

Tel Aviv blog posts | Tel Aviv tips | Tel Aviv tours

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Photo credit: Sepio

2. Reykjavík

Iceland – the land of fire and ice. Although it’s a dream destination for many, its location in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean and unpredictable Nordic weather make many people skip it as a travel destination. Nevertheless, Reykjavík is worth visiting for its natural beauty and uniqueness. Whether you’re interested in soaking in natural hot springs, going on a daring hike to discover hidden volcanoes or visiting local flea markets to get to know Icelandic hipster culture, Reykjavík has it all. Check out the cosy cafés in the artistic area of Álafoss, join an adventurous jeep safari to the Langjökull glacier, hit Micro Bar for some locally brewed beer or enjoy a seaside stroll in the Grótta area.

If you get hungry, grab an authentic Icelandic hot dog or try some more traditional dishes such as boiled sheep head, rotten shark or salted fish cooked in sheep fat. You won’t get bored; I can assure you that.

Oh, and did I mention the possibility of seeing the northern lights in autumn and winter?

Reykjavík blog posts | Reykjavík tips | Reykjavík tours


Photo credit: Mariusz Kluzniak

3. Vilnius

Some people think there’s hardly anything to be found east of Germany apart from relics of communism, crumbling statues of Stalin and a bunch of people who don’t speak English. Well, this stereotype isn’t true and Vilnius is good proof. It still has plenty of Soviet relics that many locals now make sarcastic jokes about, but the country’s history extends beyond the 20th century to a time when it was part of a bigger kingdom with its own medieval kings and heroes.

Visit the Republic of Užupis and read its constitution, which includes rights such as: the right to be happy or unhappy, the right to have a cat and the right to not be distinguished and famous. Try bison meat at the 7 Elephants restaurant, head to Dione for some of the best ice cream in the city (there’s even a tomato flavour) and grab a drink at The Portobello pub. Vilnius is full of surprises!

Vilnius blog posts | Vilnius tips | Vilnius tours & activities

vilnius
Photo credit: Mantas Volungevicius

4. Boulder

Boulder is a city of outdoor enthusiasts, with the Rockies attracting climbers and the walking trails of Chautauqua Park attracting people who enjoy a simpler and safer way of being at one with nature. If the outdoors is your thing, Boulder offers plenty of wonderful possibilities: you can do some climbing at Eldorado Canyon, play Frisbee or go sledding in Tantra Park, swim in Boulder Creek pr relax by the water at Boulder Reservoir.

Breathtaking scenery isn’t the only reason Boulder should be on your must-visit list this year. Step into one of the city’s brewpubs to feel like a true local, enjoy an authentic American BBQ at the West End Tavern and savour some high-quality seasonal dishes at OAK at fourteenth.

If you’re more into culture, check out the events and exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art. While you’re in the area, be sure to visit the best farmers market in the state.

Boulder tips

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Photo credit: Keith Cuddeback

5. Cluj-Napoca

Although an unknown destination for many, Cluj, the second-largest city in Romania, has much to discover. Being the capital of Transylvania and one of the cultural centres of Romania, it impresses visitors with its beautiful architecture and surrounding nature.

Visit the 15th-century Piaţa Unirii cathedral in the heart of the city, get to know modern Cluj at the Paintbrush Factory and shop for unique Romanian handicrafts at Targ Hand-Made. Sample some delicious pastries in the local cafés, chill out in the amazing Samsara Teahouse and make the most of the busy local nightlife and summer festivals. If you dare, take a walk in the haunted forest, but watch out – apparently there are ghosts lurking about. Maybe not exactly the kind of locals you were hoping to meet…

Cluj tips | Cluj tours & activities


Photo credit: teens4unity

6. Tbilisi

To fully admire the beauty of Tbilisi, you have to see the city from above (from the 144 Stairs café, for example). The Georgian capital is tucked between hills and surrounded by beautiful nature. Discover the Old Town and beyond, walk over the gorgeous Peace Bridge and definitely try some fresh local cuisine and Georgian wine.

Start your morning with a nice cup of coffee and a slice of cake at the lovely Gardenia café, or check out the amazing interior of Cafe Gabriadze designed by the celebrated Georgian screenwriter/painter/puppeteer Rezo Gabriadze. Later in the evening visit Jazz Cafe Aroma and enjoy the chilled atmosphere, or have a drink in the yard of Moulin Electrique. If you don’t feel so well after your night out, relax in the Sulfur Baths – apparently this will cure your morning headache. Considering they live in one of the best wine-producing countries in the world, the locals surely know what they’re talking about.

Tbilisi blog posts | Tbilisi tips | Tbilisi tours

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Photo credit: naridzer

7. Caracas

Politics can often affect where we travel, and this is one reason why Venezuela doesn’t often appear on bucket lists. Nevertheless, thousands travel to Caracas each year, and the city has much to offer its guests. To get a better understanding of the country and learn more about South American culture and history, visit Hannsi and the birthplace of Simón Bolívar.

Take a cable car to the top of El Ávila Mountain to admire the beautiful nature and, later on, enjoy a cup of hot chocolate made with fresh local cocoa beans in Cacao Oderí. Stop by Cafe Noisette for some crepes before dancing the night away in Lounge Avila.

Caracas isn’t full of touristy places, so you’ll have plenty of opportunities to join the locals for a cup of coffee or some salsa dancing and tequila shots.

Caracas tips

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Photo credit: franzconde

8. Baku

The capital of Azerbaijan is modern, but it also hides sights that illustrate its medieval past. To get an overview of the city, join a walking tour with our local Nijat – he’ll show you all the secret gems and make sure you won’t miss a thing. Visit the Palace of Shirvanshahs in the Old Town and discover its courtyards, Turkish bathhouse and mosque. Stroll along the glamorous Nizami Street, admire the impressive modern architecture and many exhibitions of the Heydar Aliyev Center and see Baku’s own Mini Venice.

When you feel like shopping, try to find some unbelievably cheap local caviar, check out the local handicrafts at Baku Corner and admire the locally woven carpets at Sehirli Ilmerer.

Baku is a city where you’ll collect great stories for your journal and amazing pictures for your photo album.

Baku tips | Baku tours

Baku
Photo credit: Dieter Zirnig

9. Minsk

Have you been to Minsk yet? If you haven’t, it’s worth considering! Another city where different cultures meet, Minsk is full of history but still contemporary and comfortable, which the welcoming locals will prove.

Walk around the Mikhaylovski Public Garden, admire the beautiful 19th-century houses of the Trinity Hill district and check out the city’s old Soviet-style department store. Don’t forget to visit the diamond-shaped National Library at night when it’s illuminated with LED lights. For local cuisine, order draniks (potato pancakes) at Grunwald Cafe and maybe even try some of their homemade liquor. For a night out, hit BarDuck or Huligan Bar.

Make sure you plan your trip well – although many things are quite cheap, for example metro tickets in Minsk are the cheapest in the world at just €0.25, the hotels can be particularly expensive.

Minsk blog posts | Minsk tips

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Photo credit: Thomas Depenbusch

10. Turin

Juventus F.C., Fiat and the 2006 Winter Olympics – these are just a few things Turin is famous for. The city shows off with its medieval and 19th-century architecture, luring visitors into its streets to discover its innumerable hidden gems. Known as the capital of the Alps, it’s surrounded by mountains and offers breathtaking views right in the middle of the city. It’s also the perfect place to get to know Italian culture.

You’ll probably notice the iconic Mole Antonelliana, but be sure to take a look inside as it houses an excellent cinema museum. It you’re into history, here’s a list of palaces and museums worth visiting. To fully embrace Turin’s beauty, walk up to the Monte dei Cappuccini viewing platform to admire the city from above.

Turin tips

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Photo credit: SplitShire

Katrin Meschin
Customer happiness manager at Like A Local. Studying geography at Durham University. Lived in Norway and worked with huskies. Occasionally plays the bagpipe.

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    Love this list! I'm just back from Vilnius, and already have a trip to Transylvania booked and I am in the middle of planning a trip to Minsk!
    Emma Jane • Feb 05, 2016 • Reply
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