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Saturday, July 13, 2024

Top 10 Most Underrated Cities in the World

When it comes to travel, many tourists flock to popular destinations and famous cities. However, some of the most captivating and unique places in the world often remain hidden gems, overlooked and underrated. These cities offer incredible experiences, rich cultures, and breathtaking sights that deserve more attention from travelers. This article explores the top 10 underrated cities worldwide, ideal for every adventurer’s bucket list.

  1. Valparaíso, Chile

Chile, Valparaíso
Chile, Valparaíso

Valparaíso is located along the Pacific coast of Chile. It’s a vibrant port city known for its colorful houses, steep hillsides, and bohemian atmosphere. Often overshadowed by the capital city Santiago, Valparaíso has a unique charm that enchants every visitor. Reasons why Valparaíso is underrated:

  • Street Art Haven: Valparaíso is a paradise for street art lovers. Colorful murals, graffiti, and artistic expressions adorn its narrow alleys and staircases, showcasing the city’s creativity.
  • Historic Elevators: The city boasts historic funicular elevators, offering stunning views as they transport you up and down the hills
  • Cultural Scene: Valparaíso’s cultural scene thrives, offering diverse experiences in art galleries, theaters, and live music venues for varied tastes..
  1. Ljubljana, Slovenia

The capital of Slovenia, Ljubljana
The capital of Slovenia, Ljubljana

Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia, often gets overshadowed by its neighboring European cities like Vienna and Prague. However, this small city has much to offer in terms of natural beauty and cultural heritage:

  • Green Spaces: Ljubljana is one of Europe’s greenest capitals. It has expansive parks, botanical gardens, and the Ljubljana River flowing through the city center. The environment is relaxing and picturesque.
  • Dragon Bridge: Guarded by four dragon statues, this iconic bridge symbolizes the city’s strength and resilience.
  • Ljubljana Castle: Atop a hill, the medieval castle offers panoramic views, hosting diverse cultural events and exhibitions.
  • Preseren Square: The central square houses the statue of Slovenia’s greatest poet, France Preseren. It’s a popular meeting place for locals and tourists alike..
  1. Porto, Portugal

Portugal's second-largest city, Porto
Portugal’s second-largest city, Porto

Porto, Portugal’s second-largest city, is renowned for its production of port wine and its stunning architecture. Despite being an attractive destination, it often falls in the shadow of Lisbon. Here’s why Porto deserves more recognition:

  • Ribeira District: Porto’s Ribeira District, a UNESCO World Heritage site, invites exploration with narrow streets, colorful houses, and charming cafes.
  • Port Wine Cellars: No visit to Porto is complete without tasting the famous port wine. Tour the cellars in Vila Nova de Gaia and learn about the wine-making process.
  • Dom Luis I Bridge: This iconic double-decker bridge connects Porto and Vila Nova de Gaia, offering stunning views of the city and the Douro River.
  • Contemporary Architecture: Porto is not just about historical buildings. The city also boasts contemporary architecture, with the Casa da Musica being a prime example.
  1. Chiang Mai, Thailand

Thailand, Chiang Mai
Thailand, Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai, situated in northern Thailand, has its allure and unique cultural experiences, distinct from Bangkok’s tourist-drawing appeal:

  • Temples: Chiang Mai is home to over 300 temples, each with its own distinctive style and history. The most famous of all is Wat Phra Singh.
  • Night Bazaars: At night, the city buzzes with vibrant night markets, offering local crafts, delectable street food, and live performances.
  • Doi Suthep: The sacred mountain offers breathtaking views and houses the revered Wat Phra That Doi Suthep temple, just outside the city.
  • Elephant Sanctuaries: Chiang Mai promotes ethical elephant sanctuaries, allowing responsible interaction and avoiding support for unethical tourism.
  1. Porto Alegre, Brazil

Brazil, Porto Alegre
Brazil, Porto Alegre

Porto Alegre, overshadowed by Rio de Janeiro, is a vibrant city in southern Brazil, blending history, culture, and natural beauty:

  • Gaucho Culture: Porto Alegre is the gateway to Gaucho culture, known for traditional music, cowboy heritage, and delicious barbecue.
  • Guaiba Lake: On the shores of Guaiba Lake, Porto Alegre offers stunning sunsets cherished by locals and visitors alike.
  • Mercado Publico: Explore authentic Brazilian cuisine, local products, and vibrant vibes at Porto Alegre’s lively public market.
  • Cidade Baixa: Experience Porto Alegre’s nightlife at Cidade Baixa, a bohemian district with bars, restaurants, and live music venues.
  1. Hoi An, Vietnam

From Trading Post to Marvel
From Trading Post to Marvel

Hoi An, a UNESCO World Heritage site, exudes nostalgia and tranquility with its charming ancient town in Vietnam. While it has gained some popularity in recent years, it remains underrated compared to other tourist-heavy destinations in Vietnam:

  • Old Town: The well-preserved Old Town of Hoi An is a delight to explore, with its yellow-walled buildings, ornate temples, and lantern-lit streets.
  • Culinary Delights: Hoi An is a food lover’s paradise, offering an array of delectable Vietnamese dishes, including the iconic Cao Lau and White Rose Dumplings.
  • Tailor Shops: The town is famous for its tailor shops, where visitors can get custom-made clothing at reasonable prices.
  • Lantern Festival: During the Full Moon Lantern Festival, Hoi An becomes even more enchanting as the town is adorned with colorful lanterns and traditional performances take place.
  1. Ghent, Belgium

Belgium, Ghent
Belgium, Ghent

Ghent, a medieval city in Belgium, boasts rich history and modern vibrancy, often overlooked in favor of Brussels and Bruges:

  • Gravensteen Castle: This medieval fortress in the heart of the city offers a glimpse into Ghent’s history and provides panoramic views from the tower.
  • Graffiti Street: Werregarenstraat, also known as Graffiti Street, is a must-visit for street art enthusiasts, as its walls are covered in ever-changing graffiti and murals.
  • Ghent Altarpiece: Art lovers should not miss the opportunity to see the world-famous Ghent Altarpiece, a masterpiece by the Van Eyck brothers, displayed at Saint Bavo’s Cathedral.
  • Gentse Feesten: Every July, Ghent hosts the ten-day-long Gentse Feesten, the largest city festival in Europe, with music, theater, and street performances throughout the city.
  1. Salta, Argentina

Argentina, Salta
Argentina, Salta

Salta, in Argentina’s northwest, often overlooked by Buenos Aires or Patagonia, holds unique charm and cultural significance:

  • Colonial Architecture: The city’s historic center is home to stunning colonial architecture, including the iconic pink Cabildo and Salta Cathedral.
  • Cafayate Vineyards: Salta is part of Argentina’s wine region, and a trip to Cafayate offers the chance to taste exceptional wines and admire the stunning landscapes.
  • Train to the Clouds: This famous scenic train ride takes passengers through the breathtaking Andean landscapes, reaching heights of over 13,000 feet above sea level.
  • Cultural Heritage: Salta preserves its traditional culture, including folk music, dance, and religious festivals, making it a fascinating destination for those interested in Argentine traditions.
  1. Tallinn, Estonia

Estonia, Tallinn
Estonia, Tallinn

Tallinn, the capital of Estonia, is a well-preserved medieval city that often gets overshadowed by other more mainstream European destinations:

  • Old Town: Tallinn’s Old Town, a UNESCO Heritage site, invites exploration with cobblestone streets, Toompea Castle, and Alexander Nevsky Cathedral landmarks.
  • Estonian Cuisine: The city offers a variety of traditional Estonian dishes, including black bread, kama, and various hearty stews.
  • Kadriorg Park: This beautiful park is an ideal spot for a leisurely stroll and is home to Kadriorg Palace, a magnificent Baroque palace now housing the Art Museum of Estonia.
  • e-Estonia: Estonia is renowned for its digital advancements, and visitors can learn about its e-governance systems and digital innovations at various interactive centers in Tallinn.
  1. Colombo, Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka, Colombo
Sri Lanka, Colombo

Colombo, Sri Lanka’s capital, often overshadowed by beaches and ruins, offers a blend of history, culture, and urban development. However, Colombo offers a blend of history, culture, and urban development:

  • Gangaramaya Temple: This iconic Buddhist temple features a mix of Sri Lankan, Thai, Indian, and Chinese architecture and houses an extensive collection of religious artifacts.
  • Viharamahadevi Park: The largest park in Colombo provides a green oasis in the city center, with walking paths, playgrounds, and beautiful flower beds.
  • National Museum of Colombo: History enthusiasts can explore Sri Lanka’s heritage at the National Museum, which displays an impressive collection of ancient artifacts and artworks.
  • Galle Face Green: A popular gathering spot for locals and visitors, Galle Face Green offers stunning sunsets and various street food options to enjoy by the sea.

These 10 underrated cities have much to offer in terms of culture, history, natural beauty, and unique experiences. While they may not always be on the top of travel lists, they certainly deserve more attention from adventurous travelers seeking something off the beaten path. So, consider adding these hidden gems to your travel itinerary and immerse yourself in the lesser-known wonders of the world!

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