Travel Alternatives: Uncrowded Holiday Destinations

Travel+Leisure World's Best Awards 2023 logo in white
Written by
Louis Dhont

Published on: July 27th, 2018

Last modified: July 28th, 2023

Overtourism can turn once popular destinations into unsustainably crowded hotspots.

While some tourism is positive, overcrowding has a detrimental impact on the environment.

Who likes to be stuck in a crowd anyway, when you can be exploring and enjoying yourself?

At Jacada, we like to do things a little differently. So we've put together a list of our favourite uncrowded holiday destinations.

Want to try Machu Picchu?

Machu Picchu – the world renowned Incan remains ascending the side of a steep hill. While it offers incredible views and a feat of engineering, steps have been taken to handle the large number of tourists who descend en masse at peak season. With a timed ticket enabling a stay in the morning or the afternoon, tourists are no longer able to stay for a full day (unless you purchase two tickets).


Hike to Choquequirao instead

Sitting over 3,000 metres above sea level, the entrancing entrance city of Choquequirao is considered to be Machu Picchu’s not-so little sister. It was also only excavated in the 1970s and only around 40% of has been unearthed, meaning there is still plenty to discover. On a four or five day private trek, you can hike 20 miles to this lost Incan city in the mountains of Salkantay and enjoy serenity among the clouds.


Love the sunsets in Santorini?

The stunning Greek island made famous thanks to its steep hillside of whitewashed houses and the blue domed roofs in Oia that create a perfect postcard picture. However, behind its undeniable beauty, Santorini suffers from the effects of people loving it too much! The small island is descended upon by as many as 2 million visitors per year, with most arriving during the warm summer months. If you’d like to visit Santorini, the months of May or October are cooler and quieter.


Experience them in Folegandros instead

Sitting in the Aegean Sea, Folegandros is only a hour ferry ride away from Santorini but untouched with far fewer crowds. A mountainous landscape decorated with rugged rocks, and the iconic whitewashed hillside towns, Folegandros is reminiscent of its other Agean counterparts. Take an early morning hike up to the highest point for a spectacular sunrise and spend your days on the quiet beaches, snorkelling and trying the local tavernas.


Enticed by the landscapes of Iceland?

After its economic crash in 2008, Iceland has done a magnificent job of repairing its economy… through tourism. However, the breathtaking land of fire and ice has seen an unprecedented increase in tourists reaching just over 2 million in 2017. While the striking landscapes of geysers, waterfalls and volcanoes are unique to the country and perfect for adventure travellers, it also means that you are sharing the space with many other visitors.

Church in Vik - Little Town in Southern Iceland

The Faroe Islands are spectacular!

A short flight away over the Atlantic, and encompassing a much smaller land mass than Iceland, sits the archipelago of the Faroe Islands. Self-governing under the sovereignty of Denmark, these volcanic islands are just as impressive with lush green valleys, sheer cliffs and thundering waterfalls. The islanders themselves are warm and welcoming, and eager to show your their way of life, culture and traditions.

Village of Mikladalur located on the island of Kalsoy, Faroe Islands, Denmark

Adore the ancient city of Dubrovnik?

Croatia has gone from strength to strength over the past five years, particularly after its recent admission into the EU; and it’s not hard to see why. The country has been one of the Europe’s best hidden secrets thanks to its plethora of idyllic islands, world famous national parks and fascinating cities. In recent years, however, Dubrovnik has seen its old town inundated with tourists, as many as 10,000 in one day, in search of the setting of Game of Thrones.

Try the old town of Zadar

For a quieter spot, head a little further north along the coast to the city of Zadar. Here you can find the same limestone paved walkways, ancient Roman ruins, an architectural sea organ and plenty of intricate churches. Centrally located, it’s also a great base to explore the best of Croatia. Take a trip out to the nearby Kornati archipelago where you can cruise between the 89 islands in peace. Alternatively, make your way inland to Plitvice National Park and Krka National Park where you can hike through lush forests in search of the emerald lakes and magnificent waterfalls.

Want to sail down Halong Bay?

With over 2,000 limestone islets and towering plinths rising out from the emerald waters of Halong Bay, there’s no doubting that this UNESCO World Heritage Site is a natural marvel. Over time, wind and waves have eroded the islands creating caves, grottos and sandy coves, all making for a stunning setting. It also happens to be Vietnam’s number one tourist destination – there can be up to 8,000 people and 500 boats in the bay at any given time.


Bai Tu Long is just as pretty

However, if you turn the corner and veer away from the crowds, you will encounter Bai Tu Long Bay, which is equally as beautiful but much quieter. With around 10% of the number of visitors to Halong Bay, and over 1,600 limestone karsts rising from the sea, you will be spoilt for scenic views and you can expect a more tranquil experience. Hire one of the boats (known as junks) and take your time exploring the area.

Want to visit Venice?

It’s no secret that Venice has been under a great deal of strain from its ever-increasing number of tourists to the iconic canal city. Partly due to the rising sea levels and the disappearing buildings, people want to visit before it completely disappears. The city is also incredibly beautiful, with its intricate waterways, winding alleyways and world-famous Italian architecture. If you are interested in visiting Venice, make sure to take a trip in May, early June, late September or October.

Santa Maria della Salute cathedral and the Venetian lagoon

Pick Puglia as an alternative

From the north east coast to the south east, the region of Puglia is located in the heel of Italy and is a myriad of whitewashed buildings. The metropolitan city of Bari is also a port town, akin to Venice, with a labyrinth of alleyways in its old town, an 11th century Basilica holding the remains of St Nicholas and plenty of tavernas overlooking the water.

Otranto with historic Aragonese castle in the city center, Apulia, Italy

If you would like to get off the beaten path and explore some of the more untouched destinations, get in touch with our travel designers today.