Off the Grid: 5 Familiar Spots ... Routinely Overlooked

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The world is a big place. Time is short. When charting your travels, sacrifices must be made. But don’t make the same mistake so many others have by taking the following list of destinations for granted. Compared to more well-traveled locales, these places are just as deserving, if not more.

All of you have heard of them, and know them intimately—if only by reputation. However, for whatever reason, these world hubs don’t get booked as often as they should. It’s time we change that.

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

You’ve seen the pictures (like the one above). You probably already appreciate how God-like this metropolis is. But you’ve also been distracted by Europe and more status-enhancing places for too long, which have kept you from seeing Rio for yourself.

Upon doing so, you’ll quickly realize how messed up your priorities were. Rio is unreal. It may be the most beautiful city on the planet. Although greatly appreciated by many as the country’s top tourist destination, international travelers still don’t get it. What a shame.

Havana, Cuba

Photo: Flickr/Anto?nio Milena

For U.S. travelers, the floodgates have finally opened to Cuba this year. Hallelujah!

As the most isolated big city in the West Indies, stepping into Havana is like stepping into a 1950’s Afro-Latin time warp. Bright colors juxtapose faded architecture. Oversized Detroit cars populate narrow Caribbean streets. And bright smiles fill the ancient Antilles neighborhood of Old Havana.

To avoid the heat and hurricanes, visit from November to May.

Taipei, Taiwan

Photo: Flickr/AngMoKio

You’ve heard of Taiwan. A lot of your electronics come from there. But, you’ve probably never visited—either because you’re more enamored with nearby giants such as China or Japan, you still think Taipei is a polluted mess (it no longer is), or you never got the memo.

Whatever the case, this lush, urban, Mountain-scape city is one of the fastest-growing tourist spots for a reason: it’s stunning. It’s also adventurous, thanks to nearby hikes and biking paths, historic temples and roadside scenery and the world-class Taipei zoo, a genuine must-see for its exoticness. Get here before word fully spreads.

Cape Town, South Africa

Photo: Flickr/Henry Trotter

The Rio de Janeiro of Africa. That’s an unfair comparison. But it attempts to describe the beauty of Africa’s most beautiful port city.

Nestled beneath the towering Table Mountain, Cape Town is a jaw-dropping sight. Cable cars (and hikers) climb to the top of the mountain to observe the city, Table Bay and Robben Island from above. There’s more award-winning hotels here than you can shake a stick at. And good vibrations, intense hues and rich ethnicity abound, especially in the Bo-Kapp area.

Newfoundland, Canada

Photo: Newfoundland Tourism

You’ve heard of this Ireland-sized island before. But you probably have no idea what you’re missing. In a word, Newfoundland is astonishing. Canadians swear by the place.

That’s primarily due to Gros Mourne National Park, the many provincial coastal towns, St. John’s old-world charm, icebergs, humpbacks and immortal views like those at Western Brook Pond, the most fantastic fjord of North America.

Granted, Newfoundland is a cold, dark place for much of the year. But it’s heaven on Earth in summer. See it for yourself.

Off the Grid columnist Blake Snow writes epic stories for fancy publications and Fortune 500 companies. Visit his website or follow @blakesnow.

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