Instead of visiting overcrowded tourist hot spots, why not explore somewhere off the beaten track this year with our top 5 alternatives?
There’s nothing worse than getting stuck in a sea of tourists when you’re trying to enjoy a relaxing break and paying over the odds for the privilege.
That’s why we’ve tracked down the best alternatives to the most visited locations in the world so you’re guaranteed to leave with only happy memories.
Avoid – The Pyramids
The pyramids are a sight to behold and are on nearly everyone’s bucket list. However, be warned that many tourists are left disappointed due to the amount of hassle they receive from vendors soliciting goods, camel rides and overpriced ‘tours’.
It’s hard to enjoy the magnificence of the pyramids when trying to constantly having to say no to people trying to sell you something so maybe the best way to enjoy them, is from a rooftop terrace or a hotel room located close by.
Instead - pay a visit to Hathor Temple
This is one of the most well-preserved temples of ancient Egypt. It was built to honour Hathor, the goddess of birth and motherhood and is such an incredible example of architecture.
From the columns in the front room to the crypts, chapel rooms, sanctuary, and rooftop temple, each room is intricately decorated and the original colour still shows through very brightly considering its age.
However accessing the temple may not be for everyone as you will need to go down a steep staircase, getting on your knees and make other minor body contortions so to get in being small will definitely help.
Top tip – As it’s required for a professional tour guide to accompany you on a visit, it’s best to go with a private tour as you’ll get more viewing times than with a standard larger group tour.
Avoid - The leaning tower of Pisa.
As much as you want to get the iconic tourist photo of you holding it up, resist.
All the fun of it is stripped away when you have to battle through the crowds to get up close, and if you’re planning on climbing to the top, there’s no guarantee that you can.
There are lots of horror stories of tourists paying the entrance fee only to be turned away on the day.
If this hasn’t put you off, the best time to visit is from October to May as there are fewer tourists, shorter queues and cheaper prices.
Instead – Take the ‘Flight of the Angel’
Make your way to Basilicata in southern Italy and try Il Volo dell’Angelo - a high speed zip line between two mountain peaks over a picturesque valley.
This is not for the faint-hearted, as the zip line’s top speed is 120km/h and takes place 1,020m off the ground. However, if you dare, the views are incredible.
Top tip – Strap on a Go Pro so that you can share your experience with family and friends on your return.
Avoid - The Taj Mahal
Don’t get us wrong, the Taj Mahal is a very impressive piece of architecture and if it’s on your bucket list, it’s there for good reason.
The problem is that you will never be able to get that Princess Di style photo.
Instead, you will wait in a long line for what will feel like an eternity, and when you finally make it inside, you’ll be accompanied by thousands of other tourists, quickly killing any idea of peace and tranquillity you may have had.
Instead – visit the Turtuk Waterfall
For stunning views, venture off of the beaten track and head to the Turtuk Waterfall. Surprisingly, the small village of Turkuk is one of the lesser explored places in India, but it is breathtakingly beautiful.
Located on the bank of the Shyok River, this quaint little village is home to a stunning waterfall accessible after a tricky climb up the mountain side. You will be rewarded with the most incredible view of the landscape and K-2 (second highest peak in the world!)
Top tip – It’s a relatively challenging 3 hour trek, so ensure you’re wearing comfortable shoes, and take plenty of water and snacks to keep you going.
Avoid - Hollywood Boulevard
Let’s face it - it’s just a pavement. A pavement that costs money to walk on.
It’s nowhere near as glamourous as you would think as its crammed full of tourists, street vendors and hustlers parting unsuspecting people from their money.
Unless you’re desperate for a selfie next to your favourite star, give it a miss.
Instead – Visit the Fly Geyser, Nevada
Book yourself a trip to Nevada and immerse yourself in the wonderful Fly Geyser located on Fly Ranch.
Starting off as a man-made well in the early 1900s, geothermally heated water started to rise through the cracks in the well up to the surface, until it became what it is today.
The bright reds, yellows and greens have been created by the constant eruptions of dissolved minerals over time with help from thermophilic algae.
Top tip - As Fly Ranch is not open to the public, you will need to book yourself on to a guided tour to be able to see the Fly Geyser up close.
Avoid - The Great Wall
Unless you love being stuck in a dense crowd of other tourists all shuffling along, avoid The Great Wall.
As one of the Seven Wonders of the World, there’s no surprise that people flock from all over to see it, but your experience will almost definitely be ruined by not being able to walk at your own pace, struggling to get a great picture through the crowd and be swept along like a Saturday in Ikea.
If you’re still desperate to go, try to avoid the Badaling section as this is the most popular part of the wall. Instead, try Mutianyu or Juyongguan, which are quieter in comparison.
Instead - Visit the Rainbow Mountains
Located in Zhangye National Geopark, this unique geological phenomenon is the result of 24 million years of sandstone and mineral deposits.
The mountains themselves are incredible to look at. Under the sunlight, it looks like an endless sea of fire.
There are four viewing platforms around 5 miles apart. There are buses running between, so when you get tired, you can just hop on and hop off.
Top tip - The best time to see the mountains in all their glory is during the late summer season, as the weather will be pleasant and with the rainfall in summer deepening the impressive colours.
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