Who says the Highlands should have all the fun? More than 800 islands lie within reach of Scotland’s rugged coastline, scattered across the North Sea and Atlantic Ocean, and the country’s collection has something for everyone, whether you’re a whisky aficionado, seeking spiritual sustenance, or just looking to lie on a white-sand beach with no one else around.
A “speck” of a microstate, teensy San Marino claims to be the oldest surviving sovereign state in the world. It saw just 60,000 visitors in 2016, which means you can have the historic center (practically) all to yourself. The place is so relaxing and beautiful even if you travel solo the town is busy enough to keep you busy
Athens and the islands have been on the up for the past couple of years, but Greece's second city, in the eastern Macedonia region, still feels off the radar—which means you won't elbow through the crowds to sample koulouri bread rings at the Modiano Market or wait in line to admire the ninth-century mosaics inside the Hagia Sophia.
Rustling with bug-eyed lemurs, shy geckos, giant moths, and other freaks of nature, this island in the Indian Ocean is the “greatest adventure you haven’t had yet.” Compared with the zoo of the Galápagos Islands, where boats crowd the ports, Madagascar is an empty real-life Jurassic Park.
Lord Howe Island Australia
Located 370 miles off mainland Australia, this seven-square-mile island was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1982 for its rare flora, fauna, and marine life. In surrounding waters, there are more than 400 species of fish and 90 species of coral. Also considered one of the cleanest places on earth, approximately 75 percent of the island’s original vegetation remains undisturbed. With just 350 full-time residents and a limit of 400 visitors on the island at any given time, there are ample spaces to call your own.
Looking for what feels like Germany, Austria, and Switzerland in one? Try Lichtenstein, Europe’s second-least-visited country. Tucked between Austria and Switzerland, the tiny country has the same mountain scenery and winter sports as its bigger siblings, as well as a number of detour-worthy museums; traversing its 16-mile length by foot is popular with hikers and runners.
A ferry ride away from the popular Croatia coastal town of Split, the island of Vis is one of the last unspoiled places in the Adriatic. A Yugoslav army base until 1989, Vis today is filled with vineyards, picturesque fishing towns, and cozy restaurants, and has largely managed to keep out invaders of all kinds—soldiers and tourists alike.
High on the Himalayas’ eastern edge, the Buddhist kingdom of Bhutan prides itself on “low volume, high-value” tourism. All foreign visitors—except those holding Indian, Maldivian, or Bangladeshi passports—must get a visa and book their holiday through a licensed Bhutanese tour operator. Visitors must also pay, in advance, the "minimum daily package" (either $200 or $250 a day, depending on the month) set by the Royal Government of Bhutan, via money transfer to the Tourism Council of Bhutan
Český Krumlov Czech Republic
Tired of wading through crowds in Prague? Try Český Krumlov, dubbed “Prague in miniature.” The city—one of the most picturesque in Europe—has a 13th-century, UNESCO-listed castle; a stunning old town; and streets of cozy cafes. Go in winter when the backpackers are gone and the castle is dusted with snow.
Belize, Central America’s least visited country and one of its safest, has the best of both worlds—Caribbean shorelines to the east and dense jungle in its west. To really get away, head offshore to the Belize Barrier Reef, which has rich marine life and hundreds of low-lying islands.