You know that this blog is no stranger to expanding your mind when it comes to travel inspiration. Travelling should always be fun and adventurous, so when we see people posting their holiday selfies from the same places year after year, it gets a little disheartening to know some people will settle into holiday habits rather than exploring somewhere new, even if it’s just a few minutes in the other direction.
Are you someone who always has to go to the same spot in southern Spain every year with the same bars and spot by the pool? Are caravan holidays turning into a case of Keeping up with the Joneses that you just aren’t that bothered for anymore? And when was the last time you went somewhere unexpected on holiday and came back with a million new stories?
To give you some much-needed travel inspiration, we’ve handpicked a few destinations that may be under your radar but should pique your interest if you are in the middle of organising a holiday. Shall we start with a quick trip across the Irish Sea?
Underrated Spot 1: The North Coast of Northern Ireland
At the time of writing this, The Open is taking place at Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland. The “wee country” (as locals like to put it) has seen a massive tourism boom in recent years around Belfast in large part due to the growth of the Titanic Quarter and the massive success of Game of Thrones.
And while the city has gone a little GoT mad (there’s even an escape room based on the show) if you’re looking for a caravan or camping holiday spot, heading just an hour up the road to the north coast is a must. Michael Palin described the train route along this tiny part of the country as “one of the most beautiful rail journeys in the world” and when the sun is out, the view from a caravan park can see you looking across the water to scenic Donegal and the west coast of Scotland on a sunny day.
The main seaside towns are Portrush (their Blackpool) with its numerous attractions and scenic golf spots, and Portstewart which is known for its café culture and quite competitive ice cream scene. Bushmills just down the road is the home of the world-famous whiskey, while the has to be seen to be believed Giant’s Causeway is constantly up there as one the top-rated natural attractions in the world.
Underrated Spot 2: Foça
If your family is used to flying to Antalya, Bodrum or Dalaman whenever you’re going on a Turkish holiday, flip things up a bit and do a little research on Foça.
Don’t be thinking you’re saying a naughty word here. Foça (pronounced Pho-cha) is tucked away in the west coast of Turkey and definitely flies under the radar. If you want to swap tourist heavy spots for somewhere that genuinely feels like you’re on a quaint beach in Turkey, this is the place, with spots like Phokaia Beach Resort ramping up the luxury feel.
Because of the location of the bay, the water here is pretty much crystal clear, and restaurants dotted by the harbour are where you’re guaranteed catch of the day quality fish. You don’t have to fall foul either of waiters trying to attract your attention as you walk by deciding which restaurant to try out.
Underrated Spot 3: Iceland
You might look at it on a map and think Iceland is pretty far away, but with a direct flight from Glasgow taking on average 2 ½ hours (3 from Manchester), we think it’s a great spot right now for couples who are having a lull in picking their next summer city break spot.
Iceland is becoming a travel hub for international flights (many stop here on their way to America), and the country is capitalising by upping its tourism game and spending just a few days where can see you take a whirlwind tour of Reykjavik, visit black sand beaches and be awestruck by amazing waterfalls. Summer is a good time to visit. The weather can still be a little unpredictable, but July and August are ideal for hiking.
Truth be told, it is still quite an expensive destination, but as we mentioned in a recent post Iceland is a bucket list destination that you really should have on your radar.
Underrated Spot 4: Malta
It’s baffling to us how flights to Malta are still so cheap, even in the summer. It may be the smallest EU country, but that doesn’t mean it packs a punch for a holiday spot.
The island is so small you can drive from one to the other in under 45 minutes and driving is the way to go here. Because it is a country that has pockets everywhere, roads go in all directions, and all the best spots are hidden in plain sight. You could be walking around catacombs one minute and visiting Popeye Village (where the movie was filmed) the next.
Most travel companies will point you towards St Julian’s Bay and Bugibba, but these are the most touristy spots. Malta is amazing if you can grab a hire car and go exploring. Marsaskala will give you a true sense of the laid back fishing village life, while Marsalokk is where we can guarantee you’ll have some of the best dinners dining al fresco.
Most people speak English as a second language here too (it’s a former colony) so it’s easy to find your way about and talk with locals.
What’s underrated in your opinion?
This is just a handful of summer destinations we think deserve a little recognition. If there are any spots you think are flying under the radar just now, get in touch and let us know.