There is no better way to check ‘be more adventurous’ off your New Year’s Resolutions than by taking the road less travelled.
And yes, we mean that literally. If you’re tired of heading to your usual haunts this year (Bangkok, Seoul, Tokyo… snooze), check out our list of 25 most underrated cities you should visit in 2019 instead.
Not only will your passport appear that much more impressive, we guarantee that you’ll come home with a lot more worldly tales to impress your loved ones with. Ready, jet set, go!
1. Bergen, Norway
A large city with small-town charm, Bergen is Norway’s second largest city.
You can expect great offerings of museums, art galleries, cultural events as well as dining opportunities there, and get this: 10% of their whole population comprises of students, which adds a fun, youthful vibe to the city.
They are also known for their seven mountains surrounding the city centre, the Hansetic Wharf (their fish market), as well as hosting one of Norway’s biggest cultural event: the Bergen International Festival.
2. Porto, Portugal
Porto has recently struggled with an economic crisis, but you can rest easy knowing that they’re back and better than ever in 2019.
Boasting an extensive history, interesting tourist sights, as well as a buzzing nightlife, you can be sure that you won’t run out of fun activities to try in Porto, Portugal.
The multi-coloured Ribeira district, located in the city centre on the banks of the Douro River, is one of the city’s most beautiful highlights, so be sure to snap a shot for the ‘gram there!
3. Sarandë, Albania
Love sightseeing and lounging on the beach (in that order?) Then, Sarandë is the one for you, with it being known for its gorgeous archaeological ruins and beaches.
In fact, you’ll be able to find the remains of a 5th-century synagogue in the town itself, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that dates to prehistoric times. Neat! Failing that, there are always great beaches and fantastic views to take in.
4. Essaouira, Morocco
If you’re a die-hard Game of Thrones fan, you’re bound to recognise the familiar streets of Essaouira. Used as set in season 3, this beach city has a laid back vibe that those living in a urban city are sure to love.
Learn how to catch a wave, fly kites, and pat a camel or two (nope, we’re not pulling your leg) while you’re there. A relaxing holiday guaranteed!
5. Canberra, Australia
Can — what? We don’t blame you if you haven’t heard of Canberra. Considered to be relatively more low-key as compared to locations such as Melbourne and Sydney, Canberra doesn’t have glistening beaches or significant structures such as the Opera House.
It does, however, have various other beautiful things to see and do. Walk along the roof of the parliament house, visit museums such as the National Portrait Gallery, and have some amazing sangria and tacos over at one of their numerous dining establishments.
Ranked by the US News and World Report as a Caribbean island with the best beaches, Anguilla is the ultimate destination for a holiday that is all sun, sand, and surf.
While it is not a city per se, it is definitely a destination to visit if you’re looking for some peace and quiet. Did we mention that there is a embargo on cruise ships, casinos, and even high-rise hotels?
Head down to enjoy the white sand beaches, crystal clear waters, and beautiful scenery.
7. Historic Villages of Shirakawa-gō and Gokayama, Japan
Avoid the hustle and bustle of Tokyo and head over to the historic villages of Shirakawa-go and Gokayama, instead.
Charmingly nestled in a river valley in central Japan, you’ll feel as if on the set of a high-fantasy movie upon arriving (don’t the adorable farmhouses remind you from something right out of The Hobbit?).
It is not much of a city either, but the stunning views and friendly locals sure make it feel like one. Take yourself some gorgeous photos and tick ‘visited a world heritage site’ off your bucket list.
8. Skopje, Macedonia
One of the cheapest and best value destinations in Europe? We know, we are just as shocked as you are!
Head on over to Skopje, Macedonia to check out interesting neo-classical architecture, shop at Albanian-influenced bazaars, as well as hop on a London style double-decker bus to explore the city.
You can also expect to see huge, quirky bronze statues scattered all over the city, too! Not only do they make great photo spots, they also make fantastic conversation starters.
9. Valparaíso, Chile
Chile’s second largest city is known for their eye-catching graffiti, steep roads, as well as their beautiful rainbow coloured houses.
Did you know that Nobel prize winning Chilean poet Pablo Neruda lives here, too? In one of his poems, he talks about Valparaiso looks as if ‘life has always surprised it’. Hmm, how intriguing!
10. São Paulo, Brazil
We’re not sure how a majority of us missed out on Sao Paulo, considering it is the biggest city in Brazil, but we suspect that it is all going to change soon.
With a super quirky, eclectic mix of different neighbourhoods led by artists and restaurateurs, Sao Paulo has a booming cultural and food scene. Drop by one of their many museums in between drinking cups of coffee, or gorge yourself on some of the delectable Brazilian eats in your time there. Sounds like an amazingly indulgent trip already!
11. Calgary, Canada
There is a lot more to Canada than maple syrup and hockey. A cosmopolitan Alberta city with countless of skyscrapers, it is actually located at the foothills of the legendary Canadian rockies.
Experience famous mountains whilst you’re there, or even an actual rodeo. Nope, we’re not messing with you! This former cattle-ranching capital is best known for the annual rodeo event called the Calgary Stampede, which lasts for 10 whole days. Whoa!
12. Richmond, Virginia
History lovers are sure to adore Richmond, Virginia. You can check out impressive American Revolution Sites (such as St. John’s Episcopal Church) as well as an extensive chronicle of Civil War memorabilia (found in the American Civil War Museum or the Virginia Historical Society).
Not all that much into history? Don’t worry, Richmond also contains lots of street art, fine restaurants, and entertainment options to keep just about anyone pleased and happy. Psst! They are also one of America’s most tattooed cities, with 14.5 tattoo shops per 100,000 people. Definitely a location to consider if you’re looking to get some fresh ink.
13. Isfahan, Iran
You will be awed by the impressive architectural feats over at Isfahan, Iran.
Imagine lots of mosques covered head to toe in glided, painted glasses, bustling market places, and a famous 33 arch bridge.
A must-visit location when you’re there? Imam square, which is one of the largest city squares in the world. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site as well!
14. Salta, Argentina
A lively city that moves to rhythm of its very famous folk music, Salta, Argentina is filled with winding streets, friendly locals, and fascinating architecture that will have stopping to ooh and aah every three seconds.
Food is wine is also supposedly crazy cheap, making it an affordable option especially if you’re backpacking. Phew, sounds good to us!
15. Hobart, Australia
The capital of Tasmania, Australia, Hobart has a thriving arts and music scene that will keep you entertained for days on end.
Animal-lovers are also sure to love Hobart, with there being a wildlife sanctuary located just 30 minutes out from the city. You’ll get to see iconic Tasmanian Devils, koalas, kangaroos, and marsupials, too!
16. Ahmedabad, India
The largest city and former capital of the Indian state of Gujarat, Ahmedabad is actually a walled city that has gorgeous architecture, yummy foods, and activities that are packed with interesting culture.
We recommend going by around mid January — that is when they have their famous annual kite-flying competition, which is a sight that you just can’t witness anywhere else.
17. Helsinki, Finland
This vibrant seaside city is compact and easily explored by foot, with there being great design, architecture, culture and shopping. They are also known for their gorgeous parks, where you can sit on a bench and admire the view with the balmy sea breeze blowing through your hair.
They also have a great nightlife scene — from sweaty rock shows to classy cocktail lounges — so be sure not to turn in too early while you’re there!
18. Taipei, Taiwan
Locations like Seoul and Hong Kong are super popular amongst us Singaporeans, but not so much Taiwan.
If you haven’t been before, be sure to add Taipei, Taiwan to your must-travel-to list! Known for the lively street-food scene, night markets (yes, including that Shilin Night Market) and the Taipei 101 skyscraper, you are sure to have an amazing time there. It also allows for shorter getaways, so be sure to consider it if you only have a few days to spare!
19. La Paz, Bolivia
The world’s highest administrative capital?! That’s right — La Paz, Bolivia, can be found sitting at an elevation of between 10,650 and 13,250 above sea level. To view all the gorgeous Andean scenery from above, make sure to take a ride on the Mi Teleferico, which is the city’s aerial cable car system.
Lonely Planet has also named La Paz one of the best value cities, making it super friendly for backpackers or anyone looking to save on some cash.
20. Cologne, Germany
Museum hop, sip on Rhine Valley wine, or watch Western Germany’s cultural heart at play while you’re over at Cologne, Germany. Be sure to check the Dom cathedral and fragrance museum while you’re there, too!
Psst! Cologne is also recognised by many as one of Germany’s gayest cities, with a vast and incredible LGBT nightlife as well as pride celebrations.
21. Lima, Peru
One of the fastest emerging cities in South America, make sure to check out Lima, a city filled with cultural sights as well as top notch restaurants.
Go on over to the Museo Larco if you’d like to get your fill of mummies and ancient artworks, or trendy Miraflores, the ultimate place to dine, party, and have a great plate ceviche to commemorate your journey.
22. Oslo, Norway
Oslo has a unique aesthetic that you won’t be able to experience anywhere else in Europe. Considering this is the country that produced Edvard Munch, we can’t say we’re surprised! You can see some of his masterpieces at his namesake museum in Oslo.
You can also explore their polar ship Fram, dive into the history of Norway’s Vikings, and also check out arguably the world’s most beautiful and striking modern Opera House outside of Sydney. Rad!
23. Valencia, Spain
Known for their amazing culture as well as beautiful natural beaches, Valencia is a great city to wander and explore.
Check out their City of Arts and Sciences, with futuristic structures including a planetarium, an oceanarium and an interactive museum or walk on over to one of their several beaches— including some within nearby Albufera Park, a wetlands reserve with a lake and walking trails.
24. Xi’an, China
Located In the heart of Sha’anxi province, the historical Chinese capital of Xi’an is widely considered to be the root of Chinese civilisation.
Widely known as the place to head to see Terracotta warriors, you can also watch multiple performances, buy unique souvenirs from small craft markets, and eat yummy Cantonese and spicy Sichuan cuisine. Mm!
25. Buffalo, New York
Situated near the Canadian border and on the crystal waters of Lake Eerie, this tiny city (population: 300,000) is a great place to go to if you’re looking for a friendly, laid back place to have a amazing cuppa as well as to make local friends.
From indie book stores to multiple art museums, it also has a booming arts scene that hipsters are sure to love. Franchises and tourists are far and in between, too, making it a ideal, underrated location for those looking to try something a little different whilst travelling.