wandering through Haarlem

10 Beautiful Underrated Summer Destinations

Summer vacations often bring to mind crowded beaches and overbooked hotels. However, there are still some hidden gems that offer a unique retreat from the common crowds at popular tourist spots.

The list we’re about to explore includes some of the most underrated summer travel destinations; from Puglia’s charming coastal towns in Italy to Taiwan’s beautiful East Coast.

These spots are slowly becoming more popular, however they’re not yet discovered by mass tourism. This makes them definitely worth visiting this summer!

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Top 10 Underrated Summer Travel Destinations

Here are my top 10 picks for underrated summer travel destinations, filled with hidden gems in Europe and Asia. These places offer more unique travel experiences this summer and less tourist crowds:

1. Puglia, Italy

The Amalfi Coast is stunning, however every summer it gets flooded with crowds. Hence, consider going to the beautiful region of Puglia instead.

Although Puglia is being discovered by more and more people, it’s still definitely worth visiting. Puglia is a gem in Southern Italy, where you’ll find yourself surrounded by historical sites and charming villages.

From the azure waters along the Mediterranean coast to Lecce’s significant landmarks, this region invites you on a journey through time. It combines centuries of history with scenic landscapes that are nothing short of breathtaking.

Affordability and friendliness define your travels here, setting the stage for an unforgettable road trip adventure.

If you appreciate delicious Italian cuisine, beautiful blue sea waters and charming villages, then put Puglia on your summer list.

unique house in Puglia region
Puglia, Italy. © Alessio Roversi

2. Lofoten, Norway

Lofoten, Norway is filled with amazing landscapes such as towering mountains, pristine beaches and serene fjords. Here you’ll find places where the mountains meet the sea, that almost feel surreal.

This destination is great for nature lovers, photographers and adventurers seeking an escape into the wild. Visit traditional fishing villages, go kayaking through turquoise waters, go surfing on Arctic waves or simply tasty some fresh seafood.

Choose Lofoten this summer if you’re looking for an unforgettable scenic adventure and discover the beauty of Norway’s northernmost archipelago.

Lofoten Island: mountains meet the sea
Lofoten, Norway. © Grace Sungura

3. Siagao, the Philippines

Siargao is without a doubt my favorite island in the Philippines. It’s truly one of the most beautiful islands here and it’s becoming more and more popular. However, it’s still definitely worth visiting.

Although several islands in the Philippines witness Monsoon season in August, Siargao luckily doesn’t.

So, who should visit this island? Well, the island is known as the surfing capital of the Philippines. However, it’s not just great for surfers. If you love beautiful beaches, natural scenery, friendly locals and island life, then you’ll love it here.

There’s a certain kind of welcoming atmosphere here. It feels a bit like what Bali would’ve been like 20 years ago.

Siargao road lined with palm trees
One of the many palm tree lined roads in Siargao

4. Gandia, Spain

If you like to visit Mediterranean places, however you don’t want to go where everyone else goes, then consider visiting Gandia.

In the summer it gets very popular with locals and people from Madrid, however it’s not yet discovered by mass tourism. Situated between mountains and the Mediterranean Sea, Gandia offers a perfect mix of sun, sand, and cultural sights.

This hidden gem on the Mediterranean coast is home to stunning beaches where you can soak up the Spanish sun. It’s only an hour away from Valencia by train, so you can easily combine Valencia and Gandia in one vacation.

Wander around Gandia’s old town to discover historical sites or sit on a terrace surrounded by locals. There are many things to do here. Especially during the summer, there will be several festivals going on.

As this town is not yet discovered by the masses, prices are still very affordable here. It’s also filled with lots of great local restaurants. When I visited Gandia this month, we had 3 tostadas with manchego and three oat milk cappuccinos for 10.20 euros in total.

Unlike more popular destinations crowded with British tourists or expats, Gandia remains relatively undiscovered. This is truly one of Spain’s underrated seaside towns worthy of your summer itinerary.

person cycling in Gandia city
Underrated Gandia: An hour by train from Valencia

5. Sao Vicente, Madeira

Sao Vicente, located on Madeira Island, is your perfect getaway if you want to have an adventurous vacation filled with beautiful natural scenery.

There are so many amazing hiking trails here, that it’s especially worth visiting if you’re into hiking, breathtaking landscapes and outdoor adventures. There are also some stunning beaches to admire.

Although Madeira in Portugal in becoming more popular, Sao Vicente is still considered a hidden gem. Go here to explore spectacular viewpoints, discover lots of waterfalls and drive around scenic roads.

Green valley
© Ivanna Vinnicsuk

6. Flores, the Azores

Another great destination in Portugal is the island of Flores in the Azores. However, I must warn you: it’s not that easy to get to. At the same time, because of this, you won’t find plenty of tourists here.

Flores is a natural paradise home to unparalleled natural beauty. Here, you’ll find yourself wandering through lush forests leading to fairytale lakes and cascading waterfalls. The island is filled with breathtaking views that feel like you’ve stepped into another world.

The island’s remote destination ensures a secluded atmosphere, so if you’re looking for a unique place to visit, then this is it. Especially if you’re a nature lover.

Do keep in mind that it’s recommended to hire a car, as tourism is not that well developed here. It’s also best to combine your visit with other islands in the Azores, as you’ll probably have to stop over here.

For an adventurous island escape filled with greenery, head over to the island of Flores. It’s definitely one of the most underrated summer destinations.

green mountain filled with three waterfalls beside a green lake in Flores Azores: an underrated summer destination
Flores, Azores. © Benjamin Knoll

7. Taiwan’s East Coast

Thinking of going to Asia? Consider visiting Taiwan’s East Coast, filled with its breathtaking landscapes and lush beauty. It’s the perfect destination for a unique adventure.

There are many hiking trails at the beautiful Taroko Gorge, such as the accessible Shakadang Trail.

Once known as “Ilha Formosa” or “beautiful island,” Taiwan is one of the most underrated destinations in Asia.

It lives up to its name with an abundance of natural wonders from tropical forests to majestic sea cliffs. One of the sights you should definitely see is the almost surreal looking Qingshui Cliff.

Dive into ecotourism or seek out remote destinations along Taiwan’s East Coast for an adventure travel experience unlike any other.

girl in front of qingshui cliffs
Qingshui Cliff: one of the most beautiful places along Taiwan’s East Coast

8. Haarlem, the Netherlands

People often opt for Amsterdam when thinking of a destination in the Netherlands. However, Haarlem is also worth visiting.

It’s a charming Dutch town just a stone’s throw away from Amsterdam. It feels a bit like a smaller version of Amsterdam, as it’s also home to beautiful canals. There are many great things to do here.

This gem has a historical centre that takes you back in time and is home to several great museums worth visiting.

Picnic along its canals and discover the Dutch charm. Perhaps even try some Dutch snacks while you’re here.

Haarlem promises an authentic Dutch experience far removed from typical tourist paths. Stay in one of its great boutique hotels and have a unique experience in the Netherlands.

Tip: another hidden gem in the Netherlands is the seaside village of Castricum. It’s only half an hour away from Amsterdam by train and is a favorite holiday destination among Amsterdam locals.

Danae standing in a street in Haarlem

9. Roscoff, France

Do you prefer to visit a coastal gem in France? Then consider going to Roscoff. This is a seaside town that captures the heart with its picturesque beauty and Gothic architecture.

Located in Brittany’s rugged coastline, this treasure has over 1,000 kilometers of shoreline. You’ll wander through narrow lanes home to 16th century granite buildings.

Dive deeper into Roscoff by exploring its top attractions like the exotic Jardin Exotique et Botanique de Roscoff or admire the flamboyant Gothic style of Eglise Notre Dame de Croaz Batz.

For a lesser known destination in France, discover the coastal charm of Roscoff.

Roscoff waves and sea
A beach in Roscoff, France

10. Ahangama, Sri Lanka

For beautiful beaches in Asia, not yet discovered by mass tourism, head over to Ahangama in Sri Lanka. This is truly a hidden gem worth visiting and one of my favorite places in Sri Lanka.

This serene coastal town is home to some incredible surfing spots like Kabalana Beach where waves welcome surfers of all levels. It’s a great destination for people who love culture, nature and pristine beaches. Besides, it’s very affordable.

It’s not that far away from the more crowded Unawatuna, yet it has a totally different ambiance. While you’re here, don’t forget to visit the Pickled Pelican Restaurant, where you can admire the sea while sipping your cocktail.

Ahangama Sri Lanka: a table next to a palm tree, with a candle on top of it and with the sea in the background
Ahangama, Sri Lanka

In conclusion

If you want to escape the crowds this summer, consider spending your summer in one of these 10 underrated summer travel destinations. Discover hidden gems that still promise unforgettable adventures.

From Puglia’s charming coastal towns to the serene lake views in Lofoten, Norway, each spot offers their own uniqueness. Let your curiosity lead you to these lesser known summer destinations.

Away with Danae

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