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Top Lesser Known Destinations For 2024 – Best In Travel Award

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Among the top travel trends we have observed this year, off-path tourism has indisputably sparked the most interest among our readers.

We are, after all, named Travel Off Path, and tracking unheard-of spots that have been trending lately and establishing what it is about them that has travelers so enthralled in the first place is one of the main reasons why we do what we do.

As travelers ourselves, there is nothing that excites us more than booking a ticket somewhere foreign we can't even pronounce, that is not a regular feature on your usual travel brochure, and that is not all over social media (yet).

It's typically where we find the best gems, often hiding in plain sight, with the most hospitable people, and on top of that, offering the best value for money, as unlike their hugely-popular, gentrified counterparts, they are still largely protected from over-development and soaring prices.

In 2024, the hunt for the world's best-kept secrets is on, and that's why the destinations below have won Travel Off Path's Best in Travel 2024 Award:

Top Lesser Known Destinations For 2024 - Best In Travel Award

10) Santa Marta, Colombia

Overshadowed by the major cruising port that is Cartagena, Colombia's number one beach destination, the smaller, much more quaint Santa Marta is the fourth largest conurbation on the Colombian Caribbean and one of the oldest cities in the country.

Boasting a charming historical center and a high concentration of colonial buildings, attractive prices, and located within driving distance of beautiful nature reserves, including the Tayrona National Park, it is a perfect beach getaway with a generous dose of culture.

Santa Marta Award Photo (2)

9) Kotor, Montenegro

Montenegro's answer to Dubrovnik in Croatia, the arguably more picturesque Kotor sees smaller crowds than its iconic sister over the high season, and though it is becoming increasingly touristy, somehow it has managed to retain much of that Old World charm.

With winding limestone alleys that lead to hidden patios and centuries-old Dalmatian churches, and the rugged beauty of the bright-blue Bay of Kotor, an inlet of the Mediterranean that it straddles, Kotor is the textbook example of a fairytale European destination.

Kotor Award Photo

8) Malang, Indonesia

Looking to beat the tourist crowds in Jakarta and avoid the overpriced Westerner-run wellness retreats that have overtaken Bali?

Perhaps it's time you venture deeper inland and give criminally underrated and just as fascinating Malang a shot.

The cultural wealth found in this 846,000-people-strong metropolis is truly inestimable, with a mixed demographic comprised of at least four ethnic groups and a cityscape that reflects a multicultural past: here, Singhasari temples and Neo-Gothic Dutch cathedrals coexist somehow harmoniously.

Malang Award Photo

7) Essaouira, Morocco

A strategic port on Morocco's wild Atlantic coast encircled by Argan trees, Essaouira is best known for its whitewashed medina, designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2001, imposing seafront citadel, and up-and-coming resort scene.

A year-round warm destination, where daily expenses for travelers average a reasonable $45 and a mid-range riad is as cheap as $51 per night, it is not only hugely affordable but one of Morocco's most culturally-charged tourist offers.

Essaouira Award Photo

6) Batumi, Georgia

Tucked away on the Eastern end of the misleadingly-named Black Sea, Batumi is the Georgian Dubai, with clusters of innovative skyscrapers that line an elongated strip bounded by azure waters and its fair share of ultra-luxurious spa resorts.

As the largest city in an autonomous province, Batumi is the spiritual capital of the Adjaran people, a distinct subset of the Georgian populace with their own characteristics and defining lingo, as well as a food mecca, being the birthplace of the world-renowned Adjaran khachapuri.

Batumi Award Photo

5) Ksamil, Albania

Pulling up to Ksamil on the long drive down the Albanian Riviera and coming upon villas arching over a teal-colored sea and white sands, it doesn't take long to understand why this offbeat, mysterious town is a leader in AirBnB bookings this year.

Pick a beach bar of your liking, sip on homemade rakija as you watch a blood-orange sunset over the Adriatic, or explore the nearby ruins of the Greco-Roman city of Butrint: Ksamil has enough natural and manmade wonders to keep you entertained for days.

Ksamil Award Photo

4) Tunis, Tunisia

A sprawling capital on the shores of the Mediterranean, Tunis is the beating heart of Tunisia and a North African queen that's been charming travelers for centuries, owing to a History spanning several millennia and a diverse architectural heritage:

It lies next to the archaeological zone of the legendary Carthage; its historical core comprises an Arab-built medieval medina, one of the largest in the continent, and the French-inspired Ville Nouvelle is dominated by colonial structures.

Tunis Award Photo

3) Bodrum, Turkiye

The Turkish Saint-Tropez, Bodrum is an upscale resort town on Turkiye's Aegean Coast, defined by its medieval fortress, built out of stones taken from a former Wonder of the Ancient World, and vibrant nightlife, two sides of a coin that pulls in History buffs and partygoers alike.

Other than the youthful atmosphere and fascinating sights, Bodrum has achieved notoriety for its laid-back, far less conservative atmosphere when compared to other parts of Turkiye, especially the Anatolian hinterland, and its award-winning Mandarin Oriental Resort, voted best in the country.

Bodrum Award Photo

2) San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

Miles away from the glitzy resort zones of the Mexican Caribbean, San Miguel de Allende is a well-preserved remnant of the bygone Spanish Empire, and a most charming colonial-era city traversed by cobbled lanes and easily recognized for its landmark Neo-Gothic cathedral.

Beyond the Instagrammable alleys, the World Heritage status of the Old Town, and the numerous family-owned eateries serving delectable traditional food, San Miguel has been rising as an unlikely wellness hub in the middle of Mexico, with a growing number of spa centers and boutique hotels.

San Miguel de Allende Award Photo

1) Saint-Emilion, France

During our travels this year, we stumbled upon this small village of around 1,800 inhabitants, perched on a limestone eminence amid the Libournais hills, easily spotted from a mile due to its imposing walled citadel and massive monolithic church entirely etched onto a rock.

Saint-Emilion is your wildest cavalry-tale fantasy come true, and somewhere you go for slowing down, brushing up on your French skills with some friendly, non-Parisian locals, and sampling homegrown wine and deep French culture without a single fellow tourist in sight.

Saint-Emilion Award Photo

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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com

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