It’s the dream of many a traveller to go to every continent on the planet, but the task might seem too daunting to even consider. After all, even though there are only seven continents, they each contain so many countries that it seems impossible to choose. So we’ve done the work and picked out places that are too fantastic to miss out on.
These seven countries are fascinating, packed to the brim with a strong mix of cultural curiosities and natural wonder, and often overlooked. Rather than heading to the same places as everyone on your Instagram feed, these countries will give you an experience no one will be able to match. They’re more affordable, too.
Buckle up, zip up your suitcase, and take the road less travelled – it worked for Robert Frost, after all:
AUSTRALIA: New Zealand
As the name of both a continent and a country, Australia generally causes some confusion – would it be better to call it Oceania or Australasia? Luckily the beauty of New Zealand is so stunning it makes up for any geographic confusion. It contains scenery so beautiful that it’s almost unearthly, and filmmakers agree, since the island is well-known as the backdrop of the Lord of the Rings films. If you fancy being a part of Tolkien’s work, you can even visit Hobbiton, squeezing into a burrow or two.
If you’re not a fan of Middle-Earth, there’s plenty of stunning vistas to amaze at. Even extreme sports fans will find something to love, with a roster of reckless adventures to indulge in. There are vineyards, caves with millions of glow-worms, and fascinating glimpses into Maori culture – what more could you want?
Taiwan is a tiny island with the perfect mix of concentrated culture and wild beauty, chock full of everything you could ever want. Are you a foodie? There’s the best beef noodle soup in the world. A culture aficionado? There are temples and museums, including the formidable National Palace Museum, with almost 700,000 pieces of ancient Chinese artworks and artifacts. Do you like being active? The 100 Peaks of Taiwan will keep any enthusiastic hikers happy for years.
There are tons of delights for travellers who like to go out at night, with a great clubbing scene, a horde of night markets, and 24-hour karaoke and shrimping. For budding musicians, the C-pop and indie music scene blossoms here like nowhere else. And for anyone who prefers to take it easy on their vacation and catch up on their reading, well – there’s Eslite Dunnan, the world’s only 24-hour bookstore.
There’s no shortage of things to do in Tanzania, starting with the standout attraction, Mount Kilimanjaro. A mountain so majestic that it garnered special mention in an iconic song, it’s the perfect destination for anyone wanting to take a long hiking trip. The entire trip takes around 4 – 5 days on the fast trail, and the view is well worth the effort. For those who like staying on the ground, there’s also the 12-mile-wide Ngorongoro Crater, sitting at around 5,900 feet above sea level and earning the accolade of being one of the seven natural wonders of Africa.
And if you’re keen to soak up the culture of this sun-soaked country, head over to Dar es Salaam to listen to some good music, or to Zanzibar’s Stone Town to visit an intriguing piece of Tanzania’s history.
EUROPE: Czech Republic
The Czech Republic proves a treat to any traveller, especially in the areas of castles and beer. It has the largest density of castles in Europe, and a long history of beer culture, with Czech beer commonly described as light and frothy. The jewel of the country is its capital, Prague, with stunning architecture and a plethora of cultural delights. Summer is an especially good time to soak up the market atmosphere in Prague, with food and music that you can enjoy for hours on end. And if you want something a little different, you can check out a 600 year-old clock or the Sedlec Ossuary, a church decorated with bones.
Prague is a bit more affordable than many European cities, but if you want to take a break from country-hopping and spend some time in Europe, it’s a great halfway point to a number of notable European cities, including Berlin, Budapest, and Vienna.
NORTH AMERICA: Canada
If you’ve always wanted to visit New York and been put off by the astronomical prices, Canada is a good alternative. Arguably, the city of Vancouver is more New York than New York City, considering how many movies set in New York are actually shot there. But Canada has a spirit of its own, and makes for a fantastic trip. The array of natural places it holds will make you dizzy from their beauty, from the famed Niagara Falls to the beauty of Prince Edward Island.
Newfoundland and Labrador, on the coast, are cute – both in terms of the towns and the puppies that hold their name. The towns are one of the draws of a holiday to Canada, with quaint cottages on a serene coast. In contrast, the quirky and wonderful architecture of Quebec will have you gasping in awe, especially when you look up the formidable Château Frontenac, a hotel that rises above the town in multi-turreted splendour.
SOUTH AMERICA: Argentina
First things first: food. There’s a lot of it, and it’s all extraordinary. From dishes decked out in chimichurri sauce, to the sensational dulche de leche (sweetened milk), there’s no end to the culinary delights available in Argentina.
To work off the food coma, you could then head to tango lessons in the ballroom dance capital of the world, and then infuse your holiday with a taste of luxury at the El Ateneo bookstore. A converted theatre, the bookstore is one of the most stunning in the world (link), so you can book-shop in grandeur before heading back into the heart of Argentina for all the frivolity and fun you could ever hope to find.
If you’re looking for something a little less urban, you can go for a horse ride, visit the Iguazú Falls, or trek across the magnificent glaciers. Once you’re done exploring to your heart’s content, you can go to the end of the world – literally. Head over to Ushuaia, commonly called ‘The End of the World’, as per its status as the southernmost city in the world. And from Argentina, it’s only a short flight – or a long boat trip – to the next destination.
Even though it’s not packed full of tourist traps, Antarctica has its own charms – namely, the glorious wildlife and scenery that you’d be hard-pressed to find elsewhere. It’s an unconventional destination that deserves any attention it gets: with penguins, seals, and whales making it their home, you’ll never be bereft of fascinating wildlife to observe. The enormity of the icebergs that grace the ocean are another feature you have to see to believe, especially when you consider that the gargantuan pieces of ice are far larger below the surface.