For those with a sense of adventure, the usual humdrum tourist hotspots just won’t do. That’s why you need this concise guide to unique travel destinations around the world. You’ll discover ancient palaces built just for birds, geothermal wonders set in ancient lava fields, and everything in between.
Here are the top 7 travel destinations for the more curious international traveler.
Snow Hill Island – The Weddell Sea, Antarctica
For the best opportunity to see one of the world’s largest colonies of Emperor penguins up close, make your way to Snow Hill Island. You’ve never heard of it? We’re not that surprised. It’s in the middle of the icy Weddell Sea! And if you’ve never heard of that, then it’s time to book an Antarctica Cruise.
Your cruise of the world’s southernmost and least populated continent will delight you with action, adventure, and of course, magnificent wildlife. And the type of memories that’ll last a lifetime.
First, you’ll be crossing the infamously tempestuous Drake Passage by ship, followed by some penguin and whale spotting from a zodiac, and of course, some glacier trekking too. If that all sounds like your type of travel, you’d best book an Antarctica tour today.
Blue Lagoon – Reykjanes Peninsula, Iceland
If that first destination sounds a bit too adventurous for you, don’t fret. This next one’s at the other extreme, in what is known as the Arctic Circle. But the journey won’t be nearly as arduous as the trip to the south pole.
The Blue Lagoon is a man-made spa with warm waters rich in healing algae and silica. The setting amidst an ancient lava field contributes to its mystical ambiance. Fortunately, the Blue Lagoon is easy to find.
After your flight into Reykjavik, or Keflavik (the main international airport in Iceland), get on Highway 41, and then Highway 43 until you reach the signs for Blue Lagoon. It’s approximately 20 minutes drive from Keflavik Airport, and just under an hour’s drive from Reykjavik Airport.
“Rose City” – Petra, Jordan
Don’t like the cold? No problem. You’ll enjoy a warm desert climate in Petra, Jordan. The summers are the best time to visit, as the days never get too hot for a bit of sightseeing. That’s great news because you wouldn’t want to miss out on seeing the “Rose City”.
The ancient architecture of the city of Petra has earned it a place as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. And this is very much deserved, as the carved red sandstone cliffs are a magnificent sight to behold.
This is where the name “Rose City” comes from, thanks to the dusty pink rock face that rises out of Petra’s ancient past to greet the weary traveler.
Organized tour buses go through the region daily. But you can do your tour of the city, to view the millennia-old temples and monuments carved (by hand!) into the sandstone.
Zhangjiajie National Forest Park – Hunan Province, China
The continent of Asia is known for its countless mystical places including some of the world’s most ancient temples. And of course, it’s supposedly the birthplace of rice. The first domestication of rice happened in China’s Yangtze Valley. But that’s not all that is found here.
Situated in the northwestern part of Hunan Province in central China, this park is famous for its sandstone pillars and peaks. And if they look vaguely familiar, there’s a good reason. This is the scenery that inspired the movie Avatar’s floating mountains.
Of course, like any good national park, it also houses a wide variety of local wildlife, including some rare and endangered species. The Chinese water deer, clouded leopard, red-bellied squirrel, and golden pheasant can all be found here.
Ottoman Bird Palaces – Istanbul, Turkey
Who doesn’t love birds, right? These winged creatures are said to have evolved from ancient dinosaurs. How true that is, we can’t be certain. But one thing is evident on a trip to Istanbul in Turkey. The Ottoman Empire’s people must’ve been big fans of all things avian.
Why do we say this? During these times, the city’s residents built elaborate structures to house them and erected them all over the place. This was a common practice throughout Turkey in those days. But the best example of this bird mania can be found in the 16th-century bird palace attached to Istanbul’s Büyükçekmece Bridge.
It’s yet another reason why Istanbul is one of the most fun cities to visit in Turkey.
Enchanted Valley (Valle del Encanto) – Norte Chico, Chile
For a true adventure off the beaten [path, you can’t beat Valle del Encanto, the “Enchanted Valley”. You’ll find the entrance to this unique destination in the desert region of Norte Chico.
Look out for a ranger station, somewhat surprisingly decorated with vibrant street art. It’s the only modern touch throughout the whole valley, except for the boardwalk – although this has been given a rustic look.
A walk through this boulder-filled valley will entertain you with pre-Columbian petroglyphs of strange animals, natural elements like the sun, and even alien-looking humanoid creatures. The resident ranger is happy to give a guided tour and supply you with a map, but knowledge of Spanish will be advantageous.
The Ruins of Meknes – The Saïss Plain, Morocco
Once the capital city of Morocco, the 9th-century Medina of Meknes now stands in ruins. But there is still much to see here in this old imperial city, and it’s of major cultural significance to the history of the region.
Several ancient landmarks are situated at this location and make fantastic day-trip destinations. Bab Mansour el Aleuj Gate, the Mausoleum of Moulay Ismail, and the Ancient Medina (UNESCO site) are some noteworthy examples.
To get to this historical treasure trove, you can take a scenic train or bus journey. The train operates from Casablanca. And the bus, from the same starting point, every three hours. However you choose to make the journey, you’re guaranteed a unique destination here under the North African sun.