I've traveled to over 40 countries around the world. These are the 5 underrated spots everyone should visit.

Buildings along the water in Valletta, Malta. There are boats in the water.
Malta is one of the many underrated spots I've visited.Yuriy Biryukov/Shutterstock
  • I've always loved traveling and have visited over 40 countries around the world.

  • Many of my favorite places that I've visited aren't typical tourist spots.

  • Of all the countries I've been to, I've loved places like Colombia, Zimbabwe, and Morocco.

I've always loved traveling. In my opinion, there's nothing like waking up in a new country with a sense of excitement about what the day could bring.

Growing up in Australia, my bucket-list travel destinations were usually those you'd see in movies or on postcards — places like the Eiffel Tower and Disneyland. And it seems like many tourists have similar travel goals, with spots like Paris and Los Angeles predicted to be two of the most-visited summer vacation destinations in 2024.

But the more I traveled, the more I realized the countries I've enjoyed most are not necessarily the typical tourist hot spots. After visiting over 40 countries, these five are the underrated gems I recommend visiting.

Colombia offers lush scenery and vibrant architecture.

A street lined with colorful houses with balconies. There are lots of flowers and plants.
Visiting the colorful city of Cartagena, Colombia, was one of the highlights of our trip.Jess Kraft/Shutterstock

My husband and I did a three-month backpacking trip through South America in 2012. Beforehand, we were so excited about seeing the Carnival in Rio de Janeiro, ticking off Machu Picchu, and checking out Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia.

Although we loved all of those places, we were also pleasantly surprised by how much we enjoyed Colombia, with its warm people, lush scenery, and vibrant architecture.

In Salento, we explored coffee estates and did an amazing hike in Cocora Valley, home to the Quindío wax-palm trees. We couldn't get over how green everything was.

But the colorful city of Cartagena was by far one of the highlights of our South American adventure. We spent countless hours walking the streets, admiring the multicolored colonial facades, and taking in the Caribbean vibes.

Note that the State Department has a Level 3 "reconsider travel" advisory in effect for Colombia, updated as of January. Wherever you travel, it's important to stay up to date on the latest conditions, which often vary even within countries.

We were blown away by the natural scenery in Laos.

Small waterfalls, surrounded by trees, that lead into pools of turquoise water.
Our favorite place in Laos was Kuang Si Falls.Mr. James Kelley/Shutterstock

When we traveled to Laos, we were blown away by the genuine, kind-hearted people and spectacular natural scenery.

Our favorite place we visited in this Southeast Asian country was Kuang Si Falls, where swimming is permitted in certain parts of the three-tiered, turquoise waterfalls.

Another thing we loved about Laos was the fresh and delicious food. After a day of exploring, we'd head to the local markets for some larb — a meat-based salad flavored with mint leaves, fish sauce, lime juice, and chiles.

Malta packs a big punch when it comes to things to see and do.

Buildings along the water in Valletta, Malta. There are boats in the water.
The walled capital city of Valletta is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.Yuriy Biryukov/Shutterstock

My husband and I traveled to Malta during a trip to London. The country had always been on my list of places to visit, as my grandfather was stationed there during World War II.

For such a small island nation, Malta packs a big punch when it comes to things to see and do. For example, the walled capital city of Valletta is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We loved wandering its streets and taking in the fortifications, churches, and Baroque architecture.

Visiting the Blue Grotto, which is a series of sea caves, was also breathtaking and a highlight of our trip.

Zimbabwe is home to extraordinary natural beauty.

A large waterfall on a sunny day. There is grass in the foreground.
Victoria Falls is one of Zimbabwe's most popular attractions. kavram/Shutterstock

Zimbabwe is home to some extraordinary natural beauty. One of the most popular attractions is Victoria Falls, the world's largest curtain of falling water. Locals call it Mosi-oa-Tunya, which means "the smoke that thunders."

We ended our day at the falls with drinks at the Victoria Falls Safari Lodge, which overlooks a waterhole. As we enjoyed our cocktails, we watched the African wildlife come in for a drink.

Later, we headed to The Boma for dinner and a drum show. The buffet featured every type of game meat imaginable.

There's so much to see in Morocco.

Hundreds of people walking around a city square in Morocco at sunset.
We enjoyed seeing the snake charmers in Jemaa el-Fnaa Square.Matej Kastelic

My husband and I traveled to Morocco with his parents in 2013. Arriving in Marrakesh was a real culture shock for his folks, who were from country Victoria in Australia.

There was so much to see, from the snake charmers in Jemaa el-Fnaa Square to the donkeys cruising up and down streets.

The highlight of our trip was a tour of a Berber camp in the Sahara Desert, complete with a camel trek. We ate chicken tagine under the stars and chatted with our host about life in the desert. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience I'll never forget.

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