From pristine powdery beaches to rugged, hulking mountains and jungle-cloaked hills, the world is full of beautiful and fascinating places.
But while some destinations are undeniably stunning, other places offer visitors an experience they won’t be able to find anywhere else.
Whether it’s a landscape like no other or a culture that’s entirely distinct, some locations just feel more unique than others.
So, to inspire you, here are 10 unique holiday destinations you might want to explore – many of which you can find some top travel deals for.
1. Newfoundland and Labrador
The Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador isn’t only like nowhere else in Canada, it’s like nowhere else in the world. Not just in terms of its landscape and wildlife but its culture and history too.
Thanks to its remote location, which could once only be reached by boat, the island has a fascinatingly distinct dialect; rather like a mix of Old Irish and English, due to the first settlers.
Newfoundland and Labrador’s history is utterly fascinating, and you can learn about Viking landings, visit 16th-century whaling villages, and immerse yourself in a culture that’s influenced by Métis, Innu, and Inuit people just as much as it is by Europeans. The capital of St John’s is packed with colour and character, and you can spend days here visiting museums, listening to folk music, or dining at fine restaurants.
But it’s the nature of this place that attracts most visitors. You can feel the true power of the elements here – from the windswept rocks to the rolling ocean, which is dotted with icebergs and home to many species of whales, including humpbacks, fin, and orcas.
There are also snow-capped mountains, churning rivers, and dazzling fjords, and you can spot moose, caribou, puffins, and even polar bears.
If you’re dreaming of a sultry, tropical escape but want to go somewhere entirely unique, why not head to Bermuda?
Bermuda’s remote location in the North Atlantic (around 600 miles off the U.S. coast) has done much to make this lonely island like nowhere else in the world. And while it boasts equally dazzling beaches as the Caribbean, it’s very much its own place.
Although it’s a British territory, Bermuda’s African, Portuguese, West Indian, and American influences are obvious – and because this island is only 21 square miles, you can see and do a lot while you’re here.
History buffs will enjoy visiting the many forts, and adventurers will love exploring the Crystal and Fantasy caves, where you can walk among stalactites, stalagmites, and underground lakes.
But Bermuda is perhaps best known as one of the finest places in the world to go diving. The vibrant reefs that ring this island are both numerous and treacherous, certainly playing a part in the myth of the Bermuda Triangle. Today, the island’s 300+ shipwrecks are hugely popular with divers and snorkelers, and swimming through these ghostly vessels is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Discover the bliss of Bermuda
Famous for its long, thin shape, Chile already stands out – on the world map, at least. Flanked on one side by the towering Andes and the crashing Pacific on the other, this is a land of extremes.
In the north of the country, you can explore the barren beauty of the driest place on earth, the Atacama Desert, and in the south, you can marvel at vast glacial fields.
If you’re looking for adventure, you’ll find that here. In Atacama’s Moon Valley, you can rent bikes and travel across this strange, lunar-like landscape with its unique rock formations, rugged mountains, and sweeping sand dunes. Then there’s Chilean Patagonia, where you can hike past gleaming glaciers, through ancient forests, and along milky-blue lakes and lagoons that’ll make you gasp.
Patagonia is one of the world’s last wildernesses, and you can feel it as soon as you arrive. The jagged mountains, lush valleys, and bright blue icebergs are otherworldly, as is the wildlife: here, you can see pumas, flamingos, foxes, and armadillos.
Chile is also known for its exceptional wine, from rich reds to crisp whites and floral rosés – so if you’re looking to enjoy some tastings, you’ll be spoilt for choice!
Find adventure in Chile
If you’re looking to enjoy warmer temperatures and glorious beaches, but still want to discover a fascinating mix of cultures, why not head to Malta?
This Mediterranean island may be small, but thanks to its intriguing history, it’s extremely diverse. Malta is where Roman Catholic traditions merge with Middle Eastern nuances and Sicilian flavours to create a place that’s entirely unique.
In the historic capital of Valletta – a UNESCO World Heritage Site – you can wander along the bustling waterfront, admire the grand 16th-century buildings, and marvel at the incredibly lavish baroque interior of St John’s Co-Cathedral. There are also Megalithic Temples, elegant fortress towns like Mdina, and charming fishing villages like Marsaxlokk, where you can dine on the waterfront.
But Malta is also a paradise for nature lovers. If you like hiking and exploring, you’ll be in heaven here. The island is packed with fossil-adorned cliffs and secret beaches, and the crystal-clear waters are excellent for swimming, snorkelling, and diving.
If that wasn’t enough, the sister island of Gozo is also a joy to explore, with a rocky coastline, medieval citadels, and the best beaches in all of Malta.
You might want to check out our article, 10 places to visit and things to do in Malta and Gozo, to find out more.
Soak up the sunshine of Malta
Finland might not get quite as much attention as its Nordic neighbours, Sweden, Norway, and Iceland, but it’s just as spectacular.
Despite its size (Finland is the eighth-largest country in Europe!), it has one of the smallest populations, so if you’re looking to get off the beaten track, escape the hustle and bustle of modern life, and soak in one of the two million saunas here, it’s an excellent choice.
Having said that, the capital, Helsinki, located in the south of the country, is a truly electrifying city. Known for its slick architecture, lively music and arts, and flourishing food scene, it’s ideal for a city break.
If you love visiting unique restaurants and quirky bars, and really immersing yourself in the local food scene (including learning how to forage for food with residents!), you’ll be in your element.
Outside the cities, however, are vast expanses of wilderness perfect for hiking and kayaking. The further north you go, the bleaker and more remote things get, and eventually, the fairytale forests and gleaming lakes give way to snow-swathed pines, and you need a snowmobile to get around. This is Lapland, where reindeer outnumber humans – and in winter, there’s nowhere more magical to be!
Experience the magic of Finland
6. Costa Rica
Costa Rica is not only another country of extremes, but it also has astounding biodiversity. This is a place where you have just as many opportunities to kick back on the sand and enjoy a lazy beach break as you do to have an intrepid, Tarzan-style jungle adventure.
Boasting active volcanoes, blissful beaches, steamy rainforests, hippy resorts, fascinating wildlife, and crashing surf, Costa Rica has it all!
Costa Rica is so special, in fact, that around a quarter of the country is protected. If you’re an animal lover, there’s almost too much to see here. It’s home to jaguars, tapirs, monkeys, toucans, and sloths (to name just five land animals!), and if you dive beneath its turquoise waters, you’ll find rays, turtles, dolphins, and whales. On the Pacific coast, there’s excellent surfing too.
Alternatively, there are other unrivalled opportunities for adventure. You can zip-line over jungle canopies, white water raft down frothing rivers, kayak through tangled mangrove forests, explore ancient caves filled with bats, and trek up to steaming hot springs.
If you want to relax, Costa Rica is also the land of ‘Pura Vida’ – pure life – and opportunities to enjoy peace and serenity on the beach are all around.
Discover Pura Vida in Costa Rica
Mongolia is another unique destination – especially for wilderness lovers.
This East Asian country might be most famous for being the home of the legendary Genghis Khan, but its vast, untouched landscapes, endless blue skies, and rugged beauty are even more compelling. Some parts of the country are so isolated you can drive all day and not see a single sign of human life.
But of course, humans do live here, and Mongolian culture is just as unique as its landscape. Shut off in a Soviet bubble for much of the past century; today, this fascinating country is a young democracy, and tourism is pumping money into the economy.
The hospitality of the Mongolian nomad is famous. Tourists are welcomed with open arms – and open yurts, an experience many travellers take up.
While the country was once half nomadic, today, most people live in urban centres, and visiting cities like Ulaanbaatar (the coldest capital city in the world!) is an unforgettable experience.
However, most people come here to experience the wilderness, lose themselves in nature, admire vivid blue lakes, and enjoy the sensation of being somewhere totally remote. If you’re looking for solitude, you’ll find that here.
Situated on the southern tip of Spain, just eight miles off the northern coast of Africa, Gibraltar is known as the ‘key to the Mediterranean’.
Like Bermuda, it’s also a British Overseas Territory, and this tiny headland is definitely a place like no other. If you’re looking for a Mediterranean-style environment, African wildlife, and some of your favourite British comforts, you’re in luck.
Gibraltar is a place where you can relax on white sand beaches, warm yourself under blisteringly hot blue skies, admire elegant Palladian, Spanish, and Moorish architecture, and spot dolphins, monkeys and bats – all while walking past British-style pubs, traditional fish and chip shops, and red pillar boxes. The merging of all these cultures can feel a little unusual, but it’s wonderfully intriguing too.
Despite its size, there’s lots to do. The Rock of Gibraltar – a 400-metre-high limestone cliff – is the top attraction, and you can trek up its steps or take the cable car to the top, where you can enjoy stunning views of Europe and Africa.
You can also explore St Michael’s Cave (a maze of caves and tunnels where Neolithic people once lived 40,000 years ago), see the cheeky Barbary macaques (Europe’s last wild monkey) at the Gibraltar Nature Reserve, or visit the famous Gibraltar War Tunnels.
To find out more, why not check out our article; 8 things to see and do in Gibraltar?
Soak up Gibraltar’s unique streak
You may have noticed that several of these unique destinations have one thing in common: a sense of wilderness.
In our overpopulated, globalised world, places that feel truly raw and wild are increasingly difficult to find, but Alaska is one of those places. It’s the U.S. state where phone coverage is scant, slick urban sophistication barely exists, and adventure and tranquillity abound.
In terms of landscape and nature, dramatic doesn’t cover it. Alaska is the place where Jack London felt the “call of the wild”, and you’ll feel it all around you too. From the thundering roar of glaciers crashing into the ocean to the sight of bald eagles soaring over the majestic mountains.
While there are cities here, it’s Alaska’s wide open spaces and virtually untouched landscape that really appeal. Animal lovers will be overwhelmed by the wildlife here: you can spot grey wolves, brown bears, caribou, moose, whales, and orcas, just to name a few.
While you can explore independently, you might get more from Alaska in the hands of an expert. Why not hire a guide to take you deep into the backcountry, pay a pilot to fly you to a lonely glacier, or take a scenic tour of peaceful rivers and colossal waterfalls?
Explore the wilds of Alaska
Despite being one of the smallest countries in Europe, Luxembourg also happens to be the richest country in the world.
Known for being a tax haven for the mega-rich, Luxembourg is largely neglected by tourists in favour of its neighbours, France, Germany, and Belgium. But its staid reputation and association with finance have meant this country is incredibly misunderstood – and underestimated.
The capital, Luxembourg City, is as charming as it is historic, with its UNESCO-listed centre easily one of the most beautiful in Europe. Set on two levels – perched on sprawling hills, then falling into two river valleys – it’s one of the most photogenic cities in the world. The country’s painful history can be explored in its many fine museums, and if you like Michelin-starred dining, you’re in the right place!
But there’s much more to Luxembourg than history, charm, and glamour. Head into the dense forests and craggy hills beyond to find clusters of enchanting villages and medieval castles that look straight out of a storybook.
The rocky gorges of the Müllerthal region are great for hiking, kayaking, and exploring, and the Moselle Valley offers some of the best wine tastings in the world.
Discover the charm of Luxembourg
When planning your next trip, many places might first come to mind – either those tried-and-tested destinations you already know you love or locations that are so obviously spectacular they’re on countless people’s travel bucket list.
But part of the joy of travel is discovering new cultures, not knowing what to expect, and being continually astonished by the beauty, individuality, and diversity of our wonderful world. Visiting somewhere that’s totally different from anywhere else you’ve been is a truly special way to do that.
So, whether you’re drawn to the raw wildernesses of Alaska, Mongolia, or Chile, or are dreaming of idyllic beach destinations with a difference, like Costa Rica, Bermuda, or Malta, we hope these 10 destinations have inspired you.
Looking to book your next getaway?
Have you visited any of these unique destinations? Or do you have your own ideas for your dream holiday? We’d love to hear about your travel experiences and plans in the comments below.