10 alternative attractions in top tourist destinations around the world, from Utah to Sicily to Galicia in Spain, Lifestyle News

The huge pent-up demand for international travel means that when all pandemic-related travel restrictions are removed, the world’s alpha attractions are likely to be even busier than they were in the pre-coronavirus era.

For those who prefer fewer people, here is another tourist suggestion for each of the 10 most visited countries on the planet.

Disneyland, the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre top the to-do lists of visitors to France, but since Paris may soon be crowded with travel-hungry tourists, let’s head to the French Basque Country instead.

Straddling the border between Spain and France, at the western end of the Pyrenees, the Basque Country offers grandiose natural landscapes, mountains and beech and fir forests.

Drivers avoid sheep on rural roads that lead to villages where firewood is stacked in neat heaps next to traditional dark red and white painted houses.

Find a bed and breakfast, order a hearty stew from Axoa d’Espelette and congratulate yourself on being halfway across country from Mickey Mouse and Co.

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When Spain opens its doors to tourists, attractions such as the Sagrada Familia Basilica in Barcelona and the Alhambra in Granada will once again be teeming with international travellers.

On the other hand, Galicia welcomes informed national visitors and pilgrims en route to Santiago de Compostela. Hire a car and explore some of the Celtic province’s 1,660 km (1,030 miles) of coastline. Scenic roads lead past rocky bays and uncrowded beaches. A 40-minute ferry connects Vigo to the Cíes Islands, where you’ll find the white beach of Rodas, once voted the best in the world by a British newspaper.

For a bit more excitement, head to fishing towns like Muros, where trawlers come and go, seagulls screech and staff at pulperías (octopus restaurants) prepare the daily specials. This is Spain but far from the overdeveloped Mediterranean coasts.

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Times Square, Central Park (both in New York), Niagara Falls and the Grand Canyon currently content themselves with locals and staycationers, but when foreign visitors return to the US in droves, allegations of overtourism won’t be far behind. . You can always opt for the quieter American (rather than Canadian) side of Niagara Falls and the less-visited north, rather than the south rim of the Grand Canyon.

A better idea would be to avoid the Arizona sinkhole altogether and instead aim for the rugged red rock landscape of Utah. Base yourself in the charming desert town of Moab, the mountain biking capital of North America. If you’re not into biking, sign up for a jeep safari, a rafting trip along the Colorado River, or a Moab zipline.

Hikers will find plenty of scenic trails, not to mention Utah’s Mighty Five National Parks (since we’re trying to escape the crowds, 1,366 sq km [527 square mile] Canyonlands is the least visited of all).

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The Great Wall, Forbidden City, Terracotta Warriors and Pinnacles of Guilin are at the top of most sightseeing itineraries in China. The latter attracted 80 million visitors in 2018, and even its downstream lookalike, Yangshuo, has reached the limits of its capacity. So hire a bike and cycle through rice paddies and limestone landscapes populated by industrious farmers and water buffaloes.

Thirty minutes from the Yangshuo traffic jam, you’ll reach the ancient town of Fuli, where the cobbled lanes are lined with shops selling paper fans and scroll paintings.

The peaceful village of Xingping is a further 17km and offers overnight accommodation options – some with spectacular views of the Li River and rock formations breathtaking enough to be depicted on the Chinese 20 yuan banknote. (4 Singapore dollars).

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Vacationers wanting to get away from the madding crowds and overpriced restaurants of Florence, Rome and Venice could do worse than a detour to southern Italy.

The island of Sicily is considered the crossroads of Mediterranean civilization – specialists consider the capital, Palermo, the most conquered city in the world. Greek ruins litter the landscape, UNESCO-designated towns including Ragusa attract photographers and there’s even an anti-mafia museum.

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The magnificent city of Syracuse dates back 2,700 years and Taormina, which overlooks the turquoise Mediterranean Sea from its hilltop location, is in turn dominated by Mount Etna, one of the most active volcanoes in the world.

Vineyards and olive groves line the mountainous interior of the island, and the humid Sicilian breeze carries the scent of lemons. Rustic trattorias covered in family photos serve delicious dishes like Sicilian-style swordfish, followed by ice cream.

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Visitors to Istanbul, Turkey head to the Hagia Sophia Mosque, photograph Topkapi Palace from Bosphorus ferries and admire the Blue Mosque from the Galata Bridge. They tick off the ancient Greek city of Ephesus and sunbathe on the bustling Mediterranean beaches of Turkey.

Those who want to get away from it all travel 800 km (500 miles) inland to the dry high plateau of Cappadocia. The area is home to a succession of dimpled hills and soft volcanic rock formations that serve as homes and hotels, stables and warehouses.

The “fairy chimneys” attract their share of tourists, but Göreme National Park covers a huge area and there is plenty of space.

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The resort town of Cancun was the world’s second most visited destination (after Dubai) in 2021. Mexico’s purpose-built Caribbean party town is handy for archaeological sites such as Tulum and Chichén Itzá, although it It’s hard to imagine the college crowd taking the time to inspect the Mayan ruins.

For a more authentic Mexican experience, head south to the Spanish colonial town of San Cristobal de Las Casas. An architectural gem, recognized by Unesco as a member of its Creative Cities Network, the center of San Cristobal is a mix of cobbled streets and brightly colored buildings, churches, craft markets and crowded plazas .

San Cristobal has generally avoided the drug-related violence that has plagued other parts of Mexico, but to avoid hostility of a different kind, ask permission before taking photos – a few natives still believe the camera steal their soul.

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Holiday hotspots in Thailand range from the Grand Palace, Bangkok, to Maya Bay, on Koh Phi Phi, famous for its appearance in the drama adventure film The Beach (2000). The spectacular place has become so popular that it had to be closed to tourists in June 2018 and only reopened in January 2022. Since we’re trying to avoid hordes, let’s go as far as possible.

The sleepy town of Tha Ton is located on the Mae Kok River, which meanders through southern Myanmar, a few kilometers upstream. Traveling to this mountainous part of northern Thailand is safe, scenic, and scenic. Fishermen cast their nets into the currents, children play and water buffaloes venture into the shallows to cool off.

To get your bearings, head to the perched Wat Tha Ton temple, from where northern Thailand unfolds like a map below.

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Must-sees for vacationers in Germany include the Brandenburg Gate, which marked the Cold War border between East and West Berlin, and Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria. You won’t need to travel far to escape the latter’s coach crowds – most snap photos, upload them online and are back on the bus within an hour.

Those who visit the nearby town of Füssen are rewarded with alpine vistas reflected in shimmering lakes and delightful riverside hiking trails that lead into Austria. The Neuschwanstein Circus feels millions of miles away.

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Britain’s most popular tourist attractions include the Museums of London, Stonehenge, Edinburgh Castle and the designer shopping center of Bicester Village in Oxfordshire (over 7 million people visited in 2019). But since we’re trying to avoid the holiday honeypots, let’s head to Rutland.

The country’s smallest county has been named Britain’s best rural place to live and it’s easy to see why. Neat villages with duck ponds, cottages, medieval churches and pubs are linked by country lanes that wind through former hunting grounds. Oakham, one of only two towns in Rutland, is more like an overgrown village.

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The tiny county recently made headlines after a Roman mosaic and a villa complex were discovered in a farmer’s field. This was followed by the discovery of a 180 million year old ichthyosaur skeleton, a marine predator from the time of the dinosaurs.

Despite these hugely significant archaeological finds, Rutland remains under the radar and most Britons would still struggle to find it on a map.

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This article was first published in South China Morning Post.