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Travellers have for as long as time, (or at least as long as Pinterest has existed), had bucket lists prepped with the names of iconic sites they want to see and things they want to do. We have all heard it before, and travel magazines pay into it with their “Top 10 non-stereotypical destinations that actually are really stereotypical and totally predictable” articles. Ever heard a friend talk about their bucket list sharing their dying wish is to “be kissed under the Eiffel Tower”, “go on a safari in Africa” or “take a picture with the Hollywood sign”? Totally predictable right? However, if you are looking to explore places beyond those stereotypical Instagram posts and come home sharing incredible stories that half of your friend group haven’t already heard, then check out my top 6 under-the-radar destinations that aren’t on your bucket list, but should be.

1. Prague, Czech Republic

I actually visited Prague for the first time this winter and was absolutely shocked that I had not heard more about this stunning European city. I promise you I am not lying when I say that Prague is a strong competitor to beat Rome and Paris in the competition of being Europe’s most beautiful city. Best thing about it? It is so cheap! Not to mention that the city is full of young people! Additionally, Prague is beautiful all year round, so no matter if your vacation is set in February or July, in this city you will be guaranteed a good time!

My top 3 recommendations if visiting Prague:

  • Climb up the ‘Powder Tower’ in Prague’s old town: It cost near to nothing and provides the best view of the Charles Bridge and Prague castle.
  • Try the traditional Czech pastry ‘Trdelník’: It’s a type of spit cake made from rolled dough that is wrapped around a stick, grilled and topped with sugar and walnut mix. Absolutely delicious and sold on almost every street corner.
  • Feed the Swans by the lake: You can buy bread in a nearby supermarket before feeding the many beautiful creatures by the shore whilst dreaming you are Odette from the Swan Lake. 

Photographs: Isabel Mueller Eidhamar

2. North Cyprus

North Cyprus is the secret twin and other half to one of Europe’s most beloved vacation islands, Cyprus, but with no sunburned Germans occupying the ten first rows of sunbeds on the beach.  Picture this…28 degree, azure blue waters splashing against your bronzed legs whilst you gaze at a sunset that will make all your Instagram followers think its photoshopped while casually sipping on an ice-cold Piña Colada. The north side of the island is a quiet and calm opposite to the party streets of Ayia Napa whilst still providing plenty of vibrant nightlife. North Cyprus has something for the whole family: charming streets with excellent restaurants, the cleanest ocean water in Europe, boat trips, baby sea turtles, wild donkeys, mountains and castles. It is even said that Walt Disney’s castle in Snow White was inspired by the island’s famous St. Hilarion castle. North Cyprus is the perfect Mediterranean getaway for anyone craving a bit of sun.

My top 3 recommendations if visiting Northern Cyprus:

  • Release a baby turtle into the ocean: By far one of the cutest and most memorable moments for any animal lover. Cyprus is the home and birthplace to thousands of endangered sea turtles, and if you visit the island between August-September, you can join a team of volunteers in releasing the babies into the Mediterranean Ocean. This is an experience you will never forget!
  • Have dinner in Bellapais: The charming village is located north of Kyrenia and provides the most aesthetically pleasing views to your sunset dinner. Not to mention that some of the best restaurants are located here. My top picks? Slow food restaurant Bellapais Gardens, which makes the best foie gras, or Kybele Restaurant, which is located inside the garden of Bellapais Abbey and the perfect choice for a romantic dinner.
  • Go swimming in the turquoise waters at Golden Beach: This is by far the most beautiful beach on the entire island with ocean temperatures reaching up to 30 degrees in the summer. Best part? There is barely any people here, so no matter when you come, you will have the 3km long beach all to yourself to lounge around on.

Photographs: Isabel Mueller Eidhamar

3. The Oregon Coast, United States

Trust me when I say that there is no bad time to visit the Oregon coast, and till this day it baffles me that not more people are talking about the stunning neighbouring state to California. Not to mention that hipster-central, 2017 ‘it’ city and state capitol, Portland, is only about an hour or two away (depending where you go, because you know, the USA is HUUUUGE). Although the Oregon Coast is not the place to go if you are expecting warm swims in the ocean, it provides plenty of opportunity for nature hikes; bike rides along the coast, excellent clam chowder and late-night bonfires on the beach. With the view of the Pacific Ocean stretching along the horizon and sunsets dipping into the waters every night, you will be sure to have a whole portofolio of photographs in your cameraroll by the time you go home. Plus, if you love waterfalls and have been admiring the view of the stunning Multnomah Falls on Pinterst,  you will be happy to know that the waterfall is located in Oregon, and with a rented car and a bag of peanut butter M&Ms you will be there in no time!

My top 3 recommendations if visiting the Oregon Coast:

  • Walks on the beach: Now this might seem like an obvious suggestion, but honestly, thank me later. The beaches along the Oregon coast are absolutely stunning and you can spend hours on hours just wandering up and down dreaming about your next visit to Voodoo doughnuts.
  • Eat clam chowder in one of the seaside towns: Nothing taste quite as good as a hot homemade bread bowl filled with clam chowder. Yes, they do actually give it to you in an eatable bowl of bread! Don’t forget, you will never find better seafood than by the seaside.
  • Rent a bike: There is no better way to enjoy the stunning coastal views than on a bike with your hair flowing wildly in the wind (not to mention that it looks super hipster). Beautiful views and exercise? I have never felt more motivated.

Photographs: Isabel Mueller Eidhamar

4. Hamburg, Germany

There are so many reasons to chose to visit Hamburg over Berlin that it’s difficult to list them all in a blog post. Hamburg is the second largest city in Germany with an extensive maritime history, multiple great museums, endless canals and a youthful vibe. With many universities and a vibrant nightlife, Hamburg remains a favourite among the younger generation. St. Pauli and the Reeperbahn area is full of clubs where young people spend their Fridays and Saturdays. The city also recently opened their impressive state opera Elbphilharmonie, which cost a baffling €500m. The city is also the home of the world’s largest model railway system, Miniature Wonderland, which has been voted the most popular tourist attraction in Germany. And my insider’s tip: Go visit Eppendorf, an upscale residential neighbourhood located near Lake Alster and Hamburg’s largest park, packed with charming restaurant terraces and chic boutiques. 

My top recommendations if visiting Hamburg:

  • Eat a delicious pizza or a portion of pesto pasta at Die Pizzeria in Eppendorf on a late summer’s evening: The area is calm and charming, and the perfect place to catch up with an old friend.
  • Visit City Hall: Die Rathaus (City Hall), is located in the heart of Hamburg, and is one of the city's most famous sites. Insider's tip: Go inside the building and enjoy the stunning architecture hidden behind its walls, not to mention the beautiful courtyard on the back. It will make you believe you have been transported to Italy.
  • Visit the city’s world famous Christmas markets in December: Meet Saint Nicholas, drink mulled wine and walk around among the many festive Christmas stalls. The perfect choice for Christmas lovers across the world!

Photographs: Isabel Mueller Eidhamar

5. Vietnam

From excellent noodles, charming oriental lamps, streets filled with motorbikes, Parisian style architecture in Ho Chi Minh City and breath-taking beaches on its many islands, there are few reasons not to visit Vietnam. Not only is the country the Kingdom of motorbikes, with more than 7.4 million motorbikes in Ho Chi Minh City alone, the Vietnamese are also some of the friendliest people you will ever meet. No wonder since they are neighbours to the “Land of Smiles” aka. Thailand. If you are looking for unique souvenirs to bring home, I got you covered, because in Vietnam they sell the most beautiful handmade cards you have ever seen, coming in a vast variety of shapes and colours. Who would ever have thought you could buy a birthday card with a pop-up of a Vietnamese woman on a bicycle? A visit to one of the countries’ historic museums is recommended, and a beach getaway to Phú Quốc Island is a must. Here you can enjoy freshly cut mangoes on a beach that most likely is the scene photographed on your desktop wallpaper.

My top 3 recommendations if visiting Vietnam:

  • Buy one of the handmade cards and support the locals: Trust me, your mum will absolutely adore you if you buy her one. The most amazing thing is that they are all hand cut! Talk about attention to detail.
  • Visit one of the night markets: Filled with great local food and an authentic atmosphere, there is no better way to experience the real Oriental.
  • Eat noodles, lots of noodles: The food in Vietnam is absolutely incredible. Forget about your local Chinese, this will make you look back with disgust to the many late nights at Uni eating pot noodles.

Photographs: Isabel Mueller Eidhamar

5 places that aren't on your bucket list (but should be)