Every good traveller has a bucket list of things to tackle: hike the Inca Trail all the way to Machu Picchu, dive the Great Barrier Reef, ride a camel next to the pyramids in Giza. But the world has so many wonderful things to offer that it is very easy to lose yourself in the typical touristic attractions, and miss the opportunity of seeing and experiencing something completely unique and ultra local.

Thanks to a curious mind, an itch for adventure, Google, and a couple of crazy friends, I have had the chance to visit some places that many tourists pass by. Don’t get me wrong, these are not – by any mean – exclusive hidden treasures that no tourist has ever wandered too (hello, I was there!) but they are certainly less mainstream and will guarantee you a great time and one-of-a-kind stories.

Los Nevados – Mérida, Venezuela

Venezuela holds a couple of world records. While the most famous is likely its record for the world’s highest uninterrupted waterfall, Angel Falls, most others were broken in Mérida, an Andean city bordering Colombia. Highest and longest cable car in the world? Check. Most ice-cream flavours in an ice cream shop (Heladería Coromoto)? Check. But while visiting Mérida, many people skip the small village of Los Nevados.

Founded by the Spanish in 1591 in an already existing indigenous village, Los Nevados provides its visitors with an interesting opportunity to learn about the history of the Andean region while enjoying stunning views of the mountains and their unique vegetation. With few vehicles other than jeeps that transport people to Mérida and with food grown primarily by the villagers, Los Nevados offers a chance to experience mountain living to its fullest.

There are only two ways of getting there: a 4 hour long jeep ride (the boring way), or by donkey ride from Loma Redonda, the second to last cable car stop of the Sierra Nevada cable car. Make sure to bring extra change of clothes and a poncho, as it sometimes rain (and you don’t want to be drenched in cold temperatures!)

Havasupai Falls – Arizona, USA

The Grand Canyon: certainly a must-go for anyone into nature and natural world wonders. Most people limit their visit to the South Rim or the North Rim (or both!) however; many miss the jewel that is Havasupai.

Havasupai is located a mile away from Supai, the most remote community in the lower 48 states and one of the only two places where mail is still carried by mule. The falls are sure to take your breath away and forever imprint themselves in your mind. There is no other place in the world where you will see turquoise, Caribbean-like waters contrast with the brick-red canyon rocks. There are four falls in total, where you can swim and cool off after the hike (or jump from the top for the more daring). The most impressive one is certainly Havasu: if you ever thought about an oasis, this is it!

The trip to Supai – and the falls – is not for the faint of heart, and certainly something to think twice about if you are not into nature. Remote is an understatement as your GPS will stop working after a certain point. Go down the road to get to the Hualapai Hilltop. From there, you will need to either hike (cheapest option), ride a mule, or hop on a helicopter. Make sure to pack light and to take provisions (water, sunscreen and snacks), since you’ve got 8 miles ahead of you before seeing anything man-made. Obstacles and all, a trip you will never forget.

Port Lligat – Spain

Art junkies will definitely have this place pinpointed already, but for regular folks, Port Lligat may be quite an unfamiliar name. Salvador Dalí, on the other hand, may ring a bell. This is where the famous, eccentric painter lived for most of his life. Eccentric is a key word here.

Dalí’s house is built in a labyrinth form, and each room is completely different from the next (even the windows are all different). The décor is also very peculiar, since it consists of a mix of his own art alongside taxidermy animals. You can even find a sculpture of the Michelin man by the pool. The house is a great place for a crazy photo shoot.

Getting here is not as easy as you may think. From Barcelona, you will need to take the train to Figueres and from there take a bus or train to Cadeques. When in Cadeques, do not trust locals when they say the house is within walking distance (unless you like long walks). If you want to make a day trip, you better leave Barcelona in the morning, because the last visit ends at 5PM, which is already too late to make it to the bus to Figueres.

Lake Zakrzówek – Krakow, Poland

When people talk about going to Krakow, it is mainly because of one thing: Auschwitz. But not many people expect to find a fairy-tale looking city, complete with a dragon on its castle, and hospitable and friendly people. Least of all, you would never imagine there is a natural piece of heaven just a couple kilometers outside of the city.

Lake Zakrzówek, in Krakow, is quite a popular spot among the young locals during the summer. You can grab a bike and head 20 minutes outside the city and cool yourself from the summer heat in this gorgeous reservoir. The lake is hidden in an old mining quarry, which is why few tourists know about it.

When visiting Lake Zakrzówek, it is best to just take the bare essentials since there are no secure places to store your belongings and its not uncommon for unattended items to go missing. Other than that, I would suggest to grab some munchies and beer/wine in the supermarket and have a picnic while you relax.

I need to thank the people at Mundo Hostel (by far the best hostel I have ever been to) for suggesting this plan. I highly recommend it as your choice of accommodation when in Krakow.

Prince Edward County – Ontario, Canada

I am a bit obsessed with lavender. The scent, the flowers, the colours, everything. After seeing pictures of lavender fields, I made it my mission to go to one as soon as I had the chance. I didn’t have to go too far while living in Toronto. Prince Edward County, a two-hour drive from the city, offered lavender fields for my friends and I to go play in during the early summer. There is even a lavender festival with food, live music, and all sorts of lavender activities to enjoy. And best of all, Sandbanks Provincial Park is not far from the fields.

For a tropical girl like myself, getting used to going to “the beach” (a.k.a. lake for the rest of the world) was not easy, but Sandbanks Provincial Park really felt like the Caribbean. Not only is the water turquoise and the sand light, but there are also tons of waves. You will really not believe you are on a lake. Take a basket of goodies and beach games and enjoy well-deserved sunshine during the summer.

This list could go on forever, but the beauty of it is exactly that. Do you have a list of your own? Tell us the coolest, off-the-radar place you have been to!

Photos courtesy of Arthur van Beveren, Laura Delgado Ranalli, Jeremy Evans


Laura Delgado Ranalli

Laura Delgado Ranalli

Laura was born and raised in Caracas, Venezuela, but has lived in cities including Sydney, Toronto, Montreal, and Florence and considers herself a citizen of the world. She currently lives in San José, Costa Rica, where she’s opening a boutique for emerging Latin designers. She is a football (soccer) junkie, loves extreme sports and adventure, and enjoys cooking (or anything related with food, to be honest). She also has a passion for learning about WWII and the Holocaust.

Departful is a travel magazine that provides accessible, relevant, and thoughtful travel tips and ideas to inspire people to explore the world around them. We feature travel articles, travel tips, and photography based on our own experiences from over 100 countries covering all things adventure, culture, food and drink, technology, and gear. Made with ❤ in Toronto.


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