The new year brings with it opportunities for new adventures. To help satisfy your wanderlust and inspire your next getaway, the UNWTO shares its list of top off-the-beaten-path destinations to visit in 2024 before peak season hits this summer. Escape the ordinary and explore the world’s undiscovered rural treasures offering unique experiences at these charming lesser-known top destinations, promising unforgettable memories.
Schladming, Austria – For ski enthusiasts and culture lovers
Nestled within Austria’s snowcapped Niedere Tauern mountains lies Schladming, a most picturesque village that is the perfect place to beat the January blues with its harmonious blend of history, culture, and nature. Beckoning ski enthusiasts and culture lovers alike, the enchanting village boasts a blend of exhilarating alpine experiences alongside two captivating Romanesque and Gothic churches, an 18th century town square and vibrant cultural scene complete with local craft markets. To top it all off, the village is known for its stunning natural landscapes. From majestic mountain tops to serene lakes, every corner of this hidden gem reflects the villagers’ tender embrace of nature’s beauty, inviting visitors to immerse themselves a tranquil haven.
Chacus, Peru – For nature fiends and adventurers
Perched dramatically on the eastern slope of the majestic Cordillera Blanca in the Callejón de Conchucos, Chacus village emerges as a captivating jewel within the Huascaran National Park. Recognized as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve and World Heritage Site, this ecological oasis boasts 14 awe-inspiring snow-capped peaks and 38 pristine lakes. Beyond its breath-taking landscapes, adventure beckons as the village unveils a rich historical tapestry with nearby pre-Inca archaeological remains of the Antash, Chagastunán, Huaraspampa, and Pirushtu. Chacus not only captivates with its natural beauty, but also enchants with non-fatal bull fights and Andalusian-style architecture, featuring cobblestone streets, whitewashed houses, and sun-kissed terracotta roofs adorned with intricately carved balconies and gates.
Sehwa, South Korea – Perfect for beach lovers
For those seeking a tranquil escape, Sehwa beckons with pristine white sand beaches and emerald waters, set against the striking backdrop of black basalt formations. Nestled within a vibrant and lively atmosphere teeming with local markets, this village is a leisure lover’s paradise. Situated on a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Sehwa boasts exceptional natural resources, including the enchanting Darangswi Oreum, a parasitic volcano, and the untouched serenity of Sehwa Beach, creating a uniquely rejuvenating haven for all who venture here.
Oku-Matsushima, Japan – For history buffs
Nestled within the cradle of Matsushima Bay, Oku-Matsushima unveils an enchanting coastal sanctuary where time seems suspended, intertwining echoes of a 7,000-year-old history with the pulsating rhythms of modern sustainability. Celebrating a delicate balance between cultural heritage, nature, and contemporary pursuits, the village invites discerning visitors to immerse themselves in its rich historical tapestry. Bearing witness to the human narrative etched into the landscape of the Satohama Shell Mounds, one of eastern Japan’s largest and most evocative remnants of human activity, the site features remanent of past civilizations that echo a bygone era of harmonious coexistence with nature. Step into the past at the Satohama Jomon no Sato Historical Park, an outdoor museum that forges meaningful connections with the cultural heritage of this extraordinary village.
Tân Hoá, Vietnam– For nature enthusiasts
Tân Hoá is the ultimate destination for adventure seeking nature lovers. The lush village oasis invited visitors to explore the village’s natural beauty with a wide array of high-octane activities including cave trekking and a quad bike tour through the Lim Forest. The quaint village is surrounded by dense forests, limestone mountains, caves and the gentle Rao Nan River, exhibiting a simple and enduring beauty that leaves a lasting impression on visitors.
Ericeria, Portugal – A haven surfers paradise
The charming coastal town of Ericeira is situated along Portugal’s western coast is a surfer’s paradise having been recognised as the first World Surfing Reserve in Europe for its quality of waves, cultural importance of
local surfing, environmental sensitivity, and strong community mobilization. To grow its budding surf culture, the village hosts an array of international events such as the Portuguese Surf Film Festival. In addition to its budding surf culture, the historic village, tracing its history back to the 12th century, prominently features picturesque houses painted in shades of blue and white that reflect its centuries-old fishing heritage, exuding a timeless charm with its decorative and architectural details.
To discover a world of extraordinary off-the-beaten-path destinations click here to view the UNWTO’s full list of 2023 ‘Best Tourism Villages’.
About UNWTO’s Tourism for Rural Development Programme
The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) is the United Nations agency responsible for the promotion of responsible, sustainable, and universally accessible tourism. As part of this mission, the UNWTO launched the Tourism for Rural Development Programme to make tourism a driver of rural development and wellbeing. It is dedicated to leveraging the potential of tourism to drive sustainable development in rural areas worldwide and is driven by the belief that tourism can be a catalyst for positive change in rural areas. By supporting community-based tourism initiatives, capacity building, and destination management, the programme empowers local communities to actively participate in and benefit from tourism development.