2014 was one of the best years of my life. I had a chance to travel to so many extraordinary, uncommon and off the beaten path destinations I had always been dreaming of visitng. Now, 2015 has come and many of you probably have started planning your summer holidays. There are multiple lists about the best countries you should visit on the Internet, TV and in travel magazines. Most of them repeat the overrated and overrun by tourists places like London, Paris, etc. Some are trying to introduce some new destinations. I have prepared another list of exciting places that media don't show (most likely you didn't even know some of them existed) which, I believe, have great potential for those seeking adventure and wanting to explore something new and unknown.
Watch the youtube video below or scroll down to see the list:
The media have shown Ukraine in bad light recently, due to the ongoing conflict with Russia. Most of the footage from Ukraine you can see on TV is gloomy, dark, deprived of colors. I, for a change want to show you the true colors of this very exotic, although being set in Europe, country. As for now, all the parts of the country (with the exception of the Eastern oblasts) are safe for independent travelers.
A few of the things the country has to offer: Ukrainian capital - Kiev is extraordinarily beautiful with its parks, squares and orthodox churches, Crimean Peninsula (now disputed territory occupied by Russia) boasts spectacular coastline, ancient Greek ruins and the Disney-like fairy tale castle "Swallow's Nest". Don't miss Chernobyl and Pripyat - the infamous site of the nuclear disaster from 1986 is now safe for visitors and offers unforgettable experience of walking through a real ghost town being slowly engulfed by nature.
Click here to find out more about places to visit in Ukraine (still being updated).
Ireland, although quite a well known country (mainly for the Guinness bear and Irish Pubs), still keeps some unique gems secret and few visitors to The Emerald Island know about them. And, you won't find them easily in a tourist guide. The examples: Achill Island with it's exotic looking Keem Beach, Skellig Island - "Irish Machu Picchu" with thousands of puffins posing for perfect photographs, Ben Bulben Mountain - the table mountain that gives Ireland really outlandish feeling, the beautiful coastline and cliffs right beside Dublin, and much more.
Click here to find out more about places to visit in Ireland (still being updated).
Jordan is a very safe country to visit in the Middle East. Apart from the magnificent, carved in sheer rock by the Nabataeans monument Petra, it boasts magnificent, extremely well preserved ancient Roman ruins in Jerash and Amman (forget Rome!), the lowest point on Earth at the saltiest of the world's lakes - Dead Sea, covered with red sand Wadi Rum desert and the historically significant Holy Land.
Click here to find out more about places to visit in Jordan (still being updated).
Armenia offers the best, absolutely breathtaking views of Mount Ararat - the mountain where Noah's Ark supposedly landed after the biblical flood. It also has numerous unique, carved entirely into a cliff wall magnificent monasteries, the only Roman style temple in the region of Caucasus and truly original ancient Zvartnots cathedral. The capital city - Yerevan is very modern and bustle with life, especially in the summer after the sunset. Its the best time for dancing fountain and laser light shows as well as admiring the views of Mount Ararat from the Cascades.
Iceland is one of the places on our planet that are both, extremely out of this world and at the same time quite easily accessible. Not everywhere you can admire one of the most spectacular natural phenomenon - northern lights, watch the geysers explode with boiling water, spot rainbows in the waterfalls, swim in hot, milky waters outdoors when the temperature outside is well below freezing and the snow is falling on your head, climb the glaciers and roam around the world's safest capital - Reykjavik.
Click here to find out more about places to visit in Iceland (still being updated).
5. Brazil (The Northern States)
Rio de Janeiro is one of the most famous cities on Earth. However, when you travel out of it to the north of the country, you'll be lucky to meet any foreigners. And that's a pity because, in my opinion, there's so much more to see and do there than in Rio itself.
The Amazon jungle is great for those who crave adventure, you can swim with the dolphins in one of the rivers, catch piranha fish and crocodiles and sleep in a jungle listening to the sounds of nature. In Lencois Maranhenses, you will have a chance to feel like you are in a desert squeezed between the sea and the rain forests. During the rainy season, the sand dunes fill with water and also contain fish! The patchy landscape is best admired from a bird's eye view. Chapada Diamantina offers unforgettable scenery of world's most spectacular caves and waterfalls. Porto de Galinhas has natural pools made of coral reef where, during low tide, you can swim with the fish. Not to mention the old, colorful towns of Recife, Olinda, Salvador and Sao Luiz that will also enchant you for sure!
Click here to find out more about places to visit in Brazil (still being updated).
4. Bosnia and Herzegovina
Bosnia and Herzegovina is a tiny country in the Balkans. It's a perfect place for those who are interested in history, nature and magnificent scenery. Sarajevo, the city that suffered a lot in the last century, now is a bustling with life capital. It was here where the first world war started at the Latin Bridge following the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. The city has both European and Oriental feeling, as if Prague and Istanbul were merged into one.
Down south, the climate changes dramatically. Near the coast, the winters are mild and subtropical plants can be grown. In such beautiful surroundings, among mountainous landscapes, lies the charming town of Mostar. Original, stone roof tiles, impressive bridge and the cozy atmosphere make this place perfect for a weekend trip. Not to mention the unreal, green river that looks as if taken from a fairy tale.
Click here to find out more about places to visit in Bosnia and Herzegovina (still being updated).
Georgia was one of the most interesting and surprising countries I have been to. It's a place of great history, where wine-making started, full of ancient (several millennia BC) cave cities, oriental towns and superb cuisine. The country which is roughly the size of Switzerland boasts a few climate zones that change as you drive within a couple of hours. From the desert, through the snowy mountains to subtropical, ever green Black Sea's beautiful beaches.
If that's not enough, the main cities are spectacular! Especially at night when every tree and every building is illuminated with different colors. Tbilisi old town is one of the most charming I have visited with the wooden balconies and the ultra modern Bridge of Peace. Georgia was the only country in the world where the passport control staff is actually really friendly - I got wine as a gift for visiting their land! How a country that has so much to offer is practically unknown in the west is a mystery.
Click here to find out more about places to visit in Georgia (still being updated).
Turkmenistan is one of the least visited countries in the world. And it's not that difficult to get there at all. People usually know absolutely nothing about it. It is a true hidden gem. Politics aside, the country boasts, among other things, stunning natural landscapes (Karakum Desert and Yangykala Canyons), the ancient towns of the famous silk road, underground warm springs, mountainous villages, the peculiar white marble, clean to the extreme capital Ashgabat and the Door To Hell crater which has been burning for over 40 years. Visiting Turkmenistan you will really feel like an explorer as you can see what not many have seen before.
Click here to find out more about places to visit in Turkmenistan (still being updated).
Albania is the best kept Europe's secret. Just like Georgia, it's hard to believe that the country is literally unknown (and skipped by those who travel to Croatia or Greece), being located right in the center of Europe. This is probably (just like with Ukraine) because of the almost always bad coverage by the media.
However, when you visit Albania you'll feel as if you were transported to an exotic, tropical country full of colors. Among others, you can see here: breathtaking beaches (both fancy and completely wild and virginal) with the clearest waters, mighty mountains, cozy, charming, oriental villages of Berat and Gjirokaster, interesting capital Tirana, ancient Greek and Roman ruins and the Blue Eye spring - the clearest fresh water lake that looks like artificial aquarium. Also, try rafting down the river in Osum canyon! It's a lot of fun!
The prices - 20 EUR (24 USD) for a room with the stunning Ionian Sea view, 5 EUR (6 USD) for a meal and a pint of beer in a nice restaurant. And the locals are the friendliest in Europe. The seem to love foreigners. Visit Albania now before the hordes of tourists arrive and make it loose it's authenticity - just like, for example, Dubrovnik, that feels as if it were inhabited by Western visitors.
Click here to find out more about places to visit in Albania (still being updated).
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