It can be tempting to opt for the classic destinations when planning your next holiday – especially if your holidays are scarce and you don’t want to risk wasting them on somewhere with less traditional tourist appeal. The downside is that a lot of holiday planners are thinking along similar lines, making trips to the most popular destinations feel a less special. Avoid tourist traps and go somewhere with authenticity by choosing a more offbeat destination, but which is guaranteed to still offer you that much-needed break.
Las Vegas, USA
Obviously it would not be fair to reduce Las Vegas to the iconic ‘strip’ that has inspired countless movie scenes, to which gamblers and thrillseekers automatically flock for a dose of American hedonism and sensationalism. The nightlife and gambling scene is, however, inescapably one of Las Vegas’ defining selling points – and you can expect a vast proportion of the city’s visitors to be there for that reason. Unless you’re a keen gambler, it will get boring, unbearably hot and irritatingly consumerist. Sure, there are other things to do on the outskirts of Vegas (the Nevada desert is undeniably beautiful) but unless you’re planning a side trip to the Burning Man, skip Vegas and go somewhere a little less cliché.
Where to go instead: Macau, the significantly more exotic and interesting version of Vegas. The autonomous Chinese region gives you a taste of Asian culture whilst still offering you the excitement of a glamorous, modern city. Having been governed by the Portuguese Empire up until 1999, there are plenty of Portuguese influences to be found in the food and culture, as well as Macau’s architecture which is equally representative of its versatile history.
It’s loud, hectic and full of young people. If you’re a party animal, that might sound like paradise. For the rest of us, Ibiza might at times feel like nothing more than a rock full of cheap alcohol and techno raves. Whilst there exist quiet and peaceful Ibiza villages where the people are more interested in yoga than vodka shots, the notorious nightlife scene can be found all across the island, and at some points can seem to overshadow the natural beauty and interesting history Ibiza has to offer. Warm temperatures are good – but not when every bar gets quickly overcrowded all year round. If the priority for your holiday is not partying, then skip Ibiza in favour of something with a little more character.
Where to go instead: Malta, one of the most historically diverse nations in the whole of Europe, with beautiful beaches, a wealth of culture, UNESCO heritage sites and tropical temperatures. Before you say it sounds too good to be true – there’s more. English is one of Malta’s official languages, happy hour can be found everywhere, and the summer sometimes lasts way into October.
Hong Kong, along with Tokyo and Seoul, epitomizes the cinematic image of a modern Asian city, with its neon signs, skyscrapers and bustling streets. Hong Kong also benefits from being fairly westernized and therefore welcoming for tourists, with many English streets and shops selling Western products. As unique and accessible experience Hong Kong can be – there’s no getting away from its terrible air pollution and intense overcrowdedness. On top of that, the city is notoriously expensive. Everything from accommodation to transport will hit your wallet hard.
Where to go instead: Singapore is less expensive and has a lower crime rate whilst also being more eco-friendly. The city state gets around 15 million visitors each year, whilst Hong Kong caters to 28 million tourists annually. Singapore is more culturally diverse and has a reputation for being friendlier too. All in all, Singapore has just as many amazing sights and experiences to offer as Hong Kong.
At first, Gibraltar might seem like an ideal destination – but don’t be too deceived by the picturesque post cards of the iconic green rock and deep blue sea backdrop. Gibraltar has a unique charm, but is unfortunately not an ideal holiday location if you are planning to stay for more than few days. Small and cramped with a lot of concrete buildings and terrible traffic; Gibraltar may leave you feeling relaxed at times but will leave you exasperated just as frequently.
Where to go instead: Barcelona. If you’re after the combination of a beach and city lifestyle, delicious Mediterranean food and sunshine – Barcelona is a better bet. Whether it’s nightlife or shopping, there’s little you’ll find in Gibraltar that you can’t get in Barcelona (except maybe the Barbary macaques).
When you make the extra effort to look for a destination similar, but more low-key, to everyone’s go-to holiday spot, you might well end up making a wiser choice – and save some money too. Check out The Telegraph’s list of underrated destinations for more inspiration on where to plan your next break.