a boat on a lake

Goodbye, pushy tourists…

Social media has changed the world more than anyone could’ve ever fathomed. It’s not only turned tragically cat obsessed people into web stars, its turned destinations into must see, trending hotspots, often with just a single snap. Is there anyone who hasn’t been mesmerized by a photo of Iceland in the last few years? It’s not as if the idyllic places weren’t incredible before, but once they make it onto a popular Instagram or Pinterest feed, everyone sets out to book and capture the scene for themselves. Like most things, the problem with everyone setting out to book the same exact thing, is that prices skyrocket and the experience suffers. I mean, who likes a sea of selfie sticks for a photo backdrop? Here are a few alternatives to the priciest and most popular destinations, which will offer a similar, if not better experience, at much lower prices.

a small island with a church on it surrounded by waterLake Bled, Not Lake Como

Lake Como is the spectacular fan favorite and there’s just no denying it. Everyone knows it and yes, everyone wants to go. Naturally, the issue with this is that already steep Western European prices go through the roof during peak seasons, as travelers splurge for the often celebratory experience. If you’re looking for just as much natural beauty and romance, but about half the cost, check out Lake Bled. The beautifully picturesque spot in northwestern Slovenia is just as incredible in real life, offering rich blues and mirrored waters – with more affordable rates and fewer crowds! And yes, it’s the cover photo!

a red house on a beachLofoten, Norway, Not Iceland

The Northern Lights are one of nature’s most captivating phenomenon, and are best when viewed in extreme darkness, with no light pollution. Every year people flock to Iceland in droves, just to try and catch a glimpse of the fabled dancing lights; but not every traveler realizes that the light spectacle can also be seen from Greenland, Finland, Alaska and this untouched part of Norway, known as Lofoten. The area offers quaint villages, rugged mountains, clear waters and a mere fraction of the (annoying) tourists. Long story short: you’ll get the incredible winter getaway you’re looking for, without the gouge.

a city skyline with a tall towerSeattle, Not San Francisco

There’s something inimitable about the West Coast of the United States – and every travelers first thought usually includes San Francisco. But the highest hotel prices in the country, and a rising homeless crisis has smart travelers looking elsewhere. Enter: Seattle. The hip, artsy city is now home to the best restaurant in the country, a stellar bar scene, incredible views in every direction, it’s own stellar wine region and plenty more, like the Boeing factory. It is also easy to take a ferry or sea plane for a Vancouver side trip, which is definitely one of the most fun, adventurous cities. Why not make a two in one trip, making the most of the lovely Pacific Northwest.

a city on a hill with a body of water

Naxos, Not Santorini

When people think of the Greek islands, most will imagine the picture perfect blues of Santorini with white washed buildings providing the perfect backdrop. While you can pay upwards of $500 for a standard hotel room on Santorini, the fabulous island of Naxos is an underrated destination which offers just as much natural beauty, with fewer “mainstream” crowds. And yes, the prices are far better too. It’s full of history, beautiful mountain villages and glorious stretches of beach – making it the perfect spot for your next holiday. And if you like fish, you won’t find better.

aerial view of islands in the waterBai Tu Long Bay, Not Halong Bay

Halong Bay is a World Wonder and UNESCO World Heritage site, and with more than 500 tourist boats on the water at any time, it’s a popular one. Unfortunately, like many great sights, the social media influx has lead to pollution, and a somewhat impaired ambiance, as selfie sticks ruin shots of the iconic emerald coves. Yet, just a few miles away, completely under the radar, you’ll find Bai Tu Long Bay, which shares many of the same geological features, without the fracas of tourists. If you’re making the effort to go all the way to Southeast Asia, just go a little further and bask in the charming, (almost) untouched beauty of Bai Tu Long Bay instead.

What’s your favorite destination?

Featured Image Copyright: jojjik / 123RF Stock Photo

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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    1. Uh, Kyoto has an immense number of tourists also. It is the 2nd most popular city for tourists heading to Japan, followed by Osaka.

  1. Nice post with some quite practical ideas. I personally prefer Budapest to Vienna, as it has at least as good infrastructure and better prices. For Greek islands, Crete is really tough to beat, with around 4,000 years of history, great food, and won’t break the bank.

    1. Portlander here. I have to agree that Seattle is the better substitute for SF than my town. The only city that beats the natural beauty of Seattle is Vancouver, BC!

  2. Graz, not Vienna. Innsbruck, not Munich. Trieste, not Venice. (Or shoulder season anywhere…)

  3. Seattle is home to the best NEW restaurant in the country. The best restaurant is Highlands Bar and Grill, the winner of the 2018 James Beard Award.

  4. Why did you have to let your readers in on the secret of Seattle 🙂
    At least you didn’t tell them that Portland (OR) is the best foodie city on the west coast.

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