The first Time Out Most Underrated Travel Destinations list is being released today, with the aim of inspiring and enabling people to discover places which pack a punch in terms of food, culture and experiences but are often overlooked by travellers. Time Out – the global media and hospitality company – has curated a 14-strong list of locations around the world, which it feels deserve more attention this year.
The global locations on the list include Plymouth in the UK, Burlington (Vermont) in the USA, Gippsland in Australia and Srebrenik in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
In number one position is Mongolia, selected as it is much easier to reach and cheaper than people realise and offers a unique nomadic experience with a true feeling of stepping back in time. More than half of the country’s population live in gers (felt-roofed, round structures), which you can stay in and experience the local, traditional way of life. The country has a plethora of landscapes and cultural activities to discover and explore including the Gobi Desert, breathtaking national parks and festivals including Naadam (July 11-13) with horse racing, wrestling and archery; a trip there is truly an other-world escape.
Lake Bacalar is second on the list – an area of outstanding natural beauty on the Yucatán peninsula which is often missed off Mexican itineraries. The 30-mile-long lake close to the border with Belize is known for its seven shades of blue; you can while away your days on its many beaches or take out a kayak or SUP or snorkel, swim, dive or take a boat trip. The Lake is punctuated with several cenotes (sinkholes), one of the most magical being Cenote Cocalitos, where you can share the water with stromatolites (living fossils). When you’ve finished exploring the lake, Mayan ruins in the surrounding jungle are in easy reach.
In third position on this year’s list is the charming Ecuadorian city of Cuenca in the Andes mountains. Arguably the country’s most beautiful city, it is more relaxed than the capital, Quito, and packed with well-preserved Renaissance buildings as well as interesting food and drink options; make sure you try the Cuencan version of Tamal, a cornflour dough containing shredded pork, egg and raisins, all wrapped in leaves and steamed. The city is also a great base from which to explore the stunning nature of nearby Cajas National Park - a 40 minute drive away - and its abundance of wildlife, hiking trails and lakes.
The 14 featured destinations were selected with the help of Time Out’s global network of local expert editors and writers. For the full list of locations, please see here.
Time Out’s Deputy Travel Editor, Grace Beard, explains what made Time Out’s editors land on the final selection: “2023 is the year to travel somewhere you’ve never been before – or maybe have never even heard of – and these under-the-radar destinations are real gems. They offer a local, authentic vibe and are often overlooked by travellers focusing on the usual tick-list destinations.”
Grace adds that visiting an underrated travel destination doesn’t just mean a quieter and more authentic experience but often also a better-value one: “Not only do lesser-visited destinations mean fewer crowds and the opportunity to feel that you are discovering somewhere off the beaten track – they can sometimes be more affordable for eating, drinking and doing activities compared with their well-worn counterparts. For example, going to local restaurants in Finland’s Turku will see you pay around 15% less than in Helsinki*. Similarly, in Cuenca in Ecuador, restaurants are, on average, 11% cheaper than in the capital, Quito.”
She adds: “Popular places on many best-of lists come with a high price tag. By visiting less popular destinations, you might not only avoid those steep costs but you’ll also be helping to take the pressure off over-touristed regions. Visiting these overlooked places will mean that you’ll be helping to distribute the economic benefits of tourism around local communities that don’t often see their fair share of tourism.”
*food and drink cost comparisons taken from numbeo.com
Notes to Editors:
Time Out’s travel content team is available for interviews. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for further information or interview requests.
About Time Out Group
Time Out Group is a global media and hospitality business that inspires and helps people experience the best of the city through its two divisions - Time Out Media and Time Out Market. Time Out launched in London in 1968 to help people discover the exciting new urban cultures that had started up all over the city - today it is the only global brand dedicated to city life. Professional journalists curate and create content about the best things to Do, See and Eat across 333 cities in 59 countries and across a unique multi-platform model spanning both digital and physical channels. Time Out Market is the world's first editorially curated food and cultural market, bringing a city's best chefs, restaurateurs and unique cultural experiences together under one roof. The portfolio includes seven open Markets, several new locations with expected opening dates in 2023 and beyond, in addition to a pipeline of further locations in advanced discussions. Time Out Group PLC, listed on AIM, is headquartered in the United Kingdom.