France, Spain, Italy and the United States are all chock full of history, landmarks and culture and are no stranger to tourists. While they might all comfortably sit on many travelers’ bucket lists, in today’s new normal of social distancing and avoiding large crowds, it might be a while until millions of yearly visitors return to these countries.
As restrictions begin to lift around the world, travelers might be beginning to dig out their passports and planning their next trip. But where to? It might be more appealing now than ever to check out destinations that are not on the top of everyone’s bucket list—some that you might not have even heard of before.
Undiscovered Destinations, a tour agency based in the United Kingdom, recently analyzed Google search data to discover the least-searched-for countries around the world when looking to travel. To do this, the company looked at the search volume for the phrases “[country name] vacation” and “[country name] holiday” during a 12-month period from the end of July 2019 through the end of July 2020. This was done for every country in the world.
Beyond COVID-19-related travel restrictions that exist in some of the listed countries, many are grappling with political turmoil and security concerns that have existed for years that prevent tourists from entering. It is important to check each country’s guidelines before making any plans, as they are constantly changing.
Newsweek has gone through the list and pulled out some places that you might consider adding to your travel bucket list. Many are gems worth checking out, especially while they remain relatively, well, undiscovered.
Table of Contents
Much like Vatican City and San Marino, No. 3 on the list Lesotho, officially known as the Kingdom of Lesotho, is an independent state completely surrounded by another country—in this case, South Africa. Much of this small independent state offers beautiful scenes of mountains and greenery. One of the more breathtaking sights is Maletsunyane Falls, which crash down from a 192-meter ledge.
No. 14 on the list is the world’s oldest surviving republic, San Marino, dating back to the year 301. Like its Italian city-state neighbor, Vatican City, San Marino is completely surrounded by Italy. The centerpiece of nation, which only spans eight miles from northeast to southwest, is Mount Titano, which is topped with fortresses that give visitors a look into the city’s ancient past.
St. Vincent and the Grenadines
This collection of over 30 islands and cays that make up St. Vincent and the Grenadines are a tropical paradise. A popular spot for travelers looking to take advantage of water sports, from sailing to scuba diving. It is surrounded by the turquoise waters one imagines in an island getaway. It’s a bit tougher to get to than some of the other Caribbean islands, which might be the reason for its rank of No. 23.
No. 18 on the list is one of the smallest countries in Europe and the sixth smallest in the world. Liechtenstein, which sits between Switzerland and Austria, is filled with history and plenty of opportunities to enjoy the great outdoors. Much of its landscape looks straight out of a storybook with the Alps in the background and castles in the foreground.
In central Asia, we find No. 22 on the list, Kyrgyzstan, which is filled with both man-made and natural sights. It is a mountainous country that borders China to the south and Kazakhstan to the north. Ala-Köl, a blue-green lake surrounded by snow-covered mountains, is a must-see for visitors.
Rwanda, which made its mark as No. 53 on the list, opened its borders to tourists on June 17 via chartered planes in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. The country is full of opportunities to get up close and personal with animals—from gorillas to zebras—in one of the many national parks within the country’s borders. The nation’s capital, Kigali, offers visitors many opportunities to experience art and culture, including a genocide memorial that reckons with the country’s painful past.
The Solomon Islands, which sit in the South Pacific Ocean off the coast of Papua New Guinea, come in at No. 45 on the list of the least-searched countries. The indigenous culture throughout the islands is alive and thriving. The islands, where many World War II battles took place, also are home to many relics of that event. From scuba diving to journeying through the islands’—and the world’s—history, the Solomons have lots to offer visitors.
Undiscovered Destinations listed the top 55 least searched countries, here are the top 20.
1. Democratic Republic of the Congo
6. Burkina Faso
8. Central African Republic
10. South Sudan
14. San Marino
15. São Tomé and Principe
Start your unlimited Newsweek trial
Gallery: 10 Awe-Inspiring UNESCO World Heritage Sites Everyone Needs to Visit (Reader’s Digest)