The Top 10 Unusual vacation destinations

1. Albania

Best known as the last bastion of Eastern Bloc communism, Albania remained firmly closed to outsiders until very recently. An era of isolation has preserved a hodgepodge of Ottoman minarets, abandoned bunkers, mosques, the tumbling hillside of houses in Berat and the crumbling remains of the great Greek, Roman and Byzantine empires. Lace up your walking boots to hike Albania’s very own Alps, evocatively named the ‘Accursed Mountains’.

Best time to go: April to June and September to October
Our top selling trip: Albania vacations, small group tour
See all our trips: Albania vacations
Read more: Albania travel guide

2. Borneo

The Galapagos Islands famously inspired Charles Darwin, but it’s Borneo that influenced partner Alfred Russel Wallace’s studies on natural selection. Its large areas of unexplored, virgin forest are home to some of the weirdest and most wonderful wildlife, from sun bears and bearded pigs to proboscis monkeys, mouse deer and Borneo’s famous residents: orangutans. Hiking boots come in handy here too, as most tours visit the rainforest trails.

Best time to go: April to September
Our top selling trip: Borneo tour, great apes and beach escapes
See all our trips: Borneo vacations
Read more: Borneo travel guide

3. Bhutan

If you’re looking for somewhere really ‘off the beaten track’, you can't beat Bhutan. While much of the world worries over overtourism, Bhutan's daily $250 traveler's fee has preserved its remote and rural communities. It’s a shrewd move that not only protects local culture but promises low volume, high value tourism: mystical mountaintop monasteries are shrouded in clouds, not crowds.

Best time to go: August to May
Our top selling trip: Bhutan vacations, cultural tour
See all our trips: Bhutan vacations
Read more: Bhutan travel guide

4. Colombia

Colombia is a little piece of every part of South America, from the cowboy film landscapes of red rock Tatacoa Desert, to the Andes and the palm fringed beaches of Tayrona National Park. Forget fears of cartels, Colombia is better known these days for its best drug: coffee. Travel with a local guide for an insightful tour of Bogota's beating heart, the colonial city of Cartagena and modern Medellin.

Best time to go: July to September
Our top selling trip: Colombia vacation, small group
See all our trips: Colombia vacations
Read more: Colombia travel guide

5. Georgia & Armenia

Both former Soviet Republics rarely feature on travelers' 'to-do' lists, but this double team has plenty of surprises up its woollen sleeves. Georgia was the birthplace of Stalin, but also of wine, while Armenia was the earliest adopter of Christianity. It's a different side of Europe, where over 14 different languages are spoken, and dramatic landscapes are formed by lakes, forests and monastery dotted mountains.

Best time to go: May to September
Our top selling trip: Georgia and Armenia vacation
See all our trips: Georgia vacations
Read more: Armenia and Georgia travel guide

6. Madagascar

Madagascar is a one of a kind, kinda place. Since its physical split from Africa 160 million years ago, the island has developed its own distinct take on nature. Loveable lemurs aside, it’s the striking landscapes that steal the show. Oddities like octopus trees grow alongside avenues of baobabs, rising like giant green-topped tubers, while a fierce forest of limestone needles fills Tsingy de Bemaraha National Park.

Best time to go: March to December
Our top selling trip: Small group vacation to Madagascar
See all our trips: Madagascar vacations
Read more: Madagascar travel guide
Travel Team
If you'd like to chat about Unusual destinations or need help finding a vacation to suit you we're very happy to help.

7. Oman

Like a desert oasis, abundant with natural beauty, Oman is the antithesis to UAE’s unbridled opulence. Fertile fruit orchards fill markets with apricots and pomegranates, water-filled wadis (ravines) promise serene wild swimming and green turtles breach turquoise waters to lay eggs on the beaches. Spend your nights under Arabian skies with a Bedouin tribe, or try a thrilling desert drive through the rippled dunes of the Wahiba Sands.

Best time to go: October to March
Our top selling trip: Oman small group tour
See all our trips: Oman vacations
Read more: Oman travel guide

8. Romania

Fairytale castles and monstrous fables are rife in Romania, but leave the garlic in the kitchen – you’ve more chance of a brush with bears than a bite from Dracula. It’s a wonderful place for wildlife watching, where deep, dark woods are filled with wolves and wildcats, and caves conceal bats in the Carpathian Mountains. Yes, there are still plenty of things that go bump in the night.

Best time to go: May to October
Our top selling trip: Carpathian Mountains vacation, conservation and culture
See all our trips: Romania vacations
Read more: Romania travel guide

9. Tasmania, Australia

Like its famously feisty animal icon, Tasmania may be small, but it has a big personality. An irrefutable treasure trove of natural gems, Tassie boasts an astonishing 19 national parks, ranging from eucalyptus groves to glacial lakes – not to mention its devilishly interesting wildlife. It’s also the ideal destination for a self drive vacation, leaving you the freedom to explore this friendly island on your own.

Best time to go: September to May or May to July for whale watching
Our top selling trip: B&B self drive tour of Tasmania, meet the locals
See all our trips: Tasmania vacations
Read more: Tasmania travel guide

10. Uzbekistan

A landlocked country surrounded by landlocked countries; in Uzbekistan the desert is never very far away. Here, ships in the sand guard the graveyards of former seas, desert castles stand deserted and yurts are still made from camel hair. Alright, the cuisine is divisive at best, but it's balanced out by the grand cities of Samarkand, Khiva and ancient Kesh and the illustrious Silk Road.

Best time to go: March to September
Our top selling trip: The Silk Road small group tour
See all our trips: Uzbekistan vacations
Read more: Uzbekistan travel guide
Written by Bryony Cottam
Photo credits: [Page banner: Bernd Thaller] [Albania: Tobias Klenze] [Colombia: Jorge Gardner] [Oman: Andries Oudshoorn] [Uzbekistan: Ekrem Canli]
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