Underrated Cities For Your 2023 Bucket List

Iconic metropolises like London, Paris, New York, and Tokyo tend to overshadow others. Some people need to be more widely known. Step this way if you’re seeking one-of-a-kind city tours and vacation spots to visit in 2023 and beyond. You should visit eleven under-the-radar cities before everyone else, from Italy and France to Australia and Thailand.

Modena, Italy

Rome, Venice, Florence, and Naples are famous Italian cities. Milan and Verona overwhelm the North’s lesser-known towns. However, Modena has some of the best food and architecture in Italy.

Balsamic vinegar, salty prosciutto, sparkling Lambrusco, Parmigiano cheese, tiny tortellini, and Michelin-starred restaurants are famous in Modena. The Enzo Ferrari Museum and Ferrari’s childhood house are here.

Art and culture fans will like the pastel façades in the Old Town and the UNESCO-listed Piazza Grande with its 12th-century cathedral and Torre Civica. In the birthplace of Luciano Pavarotti, visit the 18th-century Museum Palace and Estense Gallery to see Correggio, Bernini, and Tintoretto.

Évora, Portugal

One of our lesser-known city locations, Évora, is frequently skipped over in favor of more well-known cities such as Lisbon and Porto. In its former incarnation as the capital of the Alentejo region, it is a veritable treasure trove of historical artifacts.

Beginning in the UNESCO World Heritage Centre of Évora, go on to the breathtaking Cathedral of Évora. This impressive Gothic structure dates back to the 12th century. Visit the Roman temple and the Church of St. Francis, home to the Chapel of Bones and lined with skeletons.

Explore the city on foot by ambling around the historic city walls, walking among the whitewashed houses, and looking for the magnificent blend of Romanesque and Gothic architecture throughout the city. At the end of the day, unwind in the lovely Praca do Giraldo with a cup of bica (espresso) and a pastel de nata.

Kanazawa, Japan

If visiting Japan is on your bucket list, you have big names like Tokyo, Osaka, and Kyoto. However, are you familiar with Kanazawa? Ancient castles, elaborate gardens, serene temples, and a neighborhood of traditional teahouses known as “Little Kyoto” are just a few of the city’s many treasures.

Beautifully restored samurai homes may be seen lining old stone alleyways in the Nagamachi District as you stroll. The Nomura residence is a magnificent samurai mansion that you must see. Visit the superb Gardens of Kenrokuen, where beautiful ponds, trees, flowerbeds, and temples have developed for a century.

The 1580s-era Kanazawa Castle is another magnificent structure. Once you’ve built up an appetite, explore the Omicho market to sample fresh seafood and get a feel for this coastal city’s daily life. The delicate skill of gold leaf painting, practiced in Japan since the 16th century, can be learned in Kanazawa.

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Lille, France

We’ve all heard of and loved the fabled cities of Paris, Nice, Bordeaux, Marseille, Lyon, and Cannes. It is also time to include Lille on that list. This northern French city on the Belgian border is only one hour from Paris. It is complete with culinary and cultural wonders – without the crowds. Begin your Lille tour at the city’s historic center, Vieux Lille. Admire the 17th-century brick homes, cobblestone streets, and Grand Place, a magnificent square.

Explore the remarkable art collection at Palais des Beaux-Arts or take the breathtaking 360° panorama from the Hôtel de Ville’s bell tower, the tallest belfry in northern France. Gastronomic delights, such as the Michelin-starred restaurant at the Clarance Hotel, are also not to be missed. The city is also famous for its carbonnade flamande, a beer-stewed beef, or traditional genièvre at Lille’s sole remaining distillery, the Distillerie Claeyssens de Wambrechies.

Adelaide, Australia

Adelaide may not be as well-known as Sydney, Melbourne, or Brisbane. Still, it may be the trendiest capital in Australia. In 2021, it was ranked the third most livable city in the world despite being one of the most off-the-radar urban destinations.

Radelaide is the only city in the world located entirely within a park. It is also known as the Festival State and a UNESCO City of Music. Adelaide has everything from vibrant street art, world-class restaurants, and charming speakeasies to lush vineyards and dazzling coastlines.

Discover why it’s known as the “City of Churches” while you’re here (hint: there are dozens of magnificent chapels and cathedrals). You should also indulge at the Adelaide Central Markets, beach comb in the beachside suburb of Glenelg, and imbibe at the beautiful wineries of the Adelaide Hills.

Ljubljana, Slovenia

Ljubljana, the capital city of Slovenia, is like something out of a fairy tale. It is full of old castles, beautiful parks, and buildings from the Middle Ages. Even though it’s not as big or fancy as towns like London, Paris, or Rome, Ljubljana is one of those places that really makes you think, “Could I live here?”

Start your trip in Tivoli Park, which has beautiful botanical gardens, a tropical glasshouse, and two historic mansions. Visit the old Ljubljana Castle on Castle Hill or ride down the peaceful Ljubljanica River.

The National Museum of Slovenia, the Slovenian Museum of Natural History, and the Slovenian Ethnographic Museum are just a few of the great museums and galleries in the city. The food scene in Ljubljana is booming. Our choices are Slovenian Cremona retina, potica, and Štruklji. You can also go to the local shops to find the best Slovenian foods.

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Lake Bled is a beautiful place that is only 45 minutes away. Enjoy the snowy hills and alpine forests as you sail across the sparkling water. You can also visit Bled Island, the Church of Assumption, and the Bled Castle, which dates back 1,000 years.

Durban, South Africa

Durban is known as the “warm city” because of its near-constant sunshine. But there are other incentives to check out one of the lesser-known urban centers in all of South Africa. The white sand beaches are as beautiful as those in Cape Town but with few tourists. Golden Mile Beach and the pleasant promenade will quickly become your new favorite place. Addington Beach is the place to go if you want to try surfing, while North Beach is great for families due to its tranquil waters.

Durban Botanical Gardens is home to various African plant species, and the city’s seafood is some of the best in the world. The Oyster Box Hotel is one of CodedHits’s top picks for Stays with Stories in Durban. This five-star hotel features a delicious curry buffet overlooking the ocean and the famous Umhlanga lighthouse. We have a soft spot in our hearts for the Tollman family, who own and operate the CodedHits, and for the city of Durban.

Helsinki, Finland

Stockholm and Copenhagen may be the most well-known cities in Scandinavia. Still, we place Helsinki right up there with them. Interesting architecture, bustling markets, one-of-a-kind specialties, and a culture of relaxing saunas are just some of the things you may experience in Helsinki, the hip city of Finland.

While exploring this port city, pause and admire the marble facades of Finlandia Hall and the red-brick front of Uspenski Cathedral. Stroll down Mannerheimintie, the city’s main boulevard, with museums, including the National Museum and Kiasma art museum, and the magnificent Parliament House.

In addition to that, you can take advantage of the vibrant vendors that are located in Market Square. This is the ideal location to indulge in regional specialties served here, such as smoked reindeer, licorice, and aquavit. Kippis!

Santa Fe, New Mexico

New Mexico is a hidden gem compared to Arizona, Utah, and Colorado. Santa Fe is a top destination. The state capital is undervalued. Santa Fe’s Pueblo-style architecture, museums, scenery, culture, and gastronomy are set amid the Sangre de Cristo foothills.

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The Plaza, Palace of the Governors, and beautiful church are visible as you walk through the twisting streets. Visit San Miguel Mission Chapel, El Rancho de Las Golondrinas, Taos Pueblo, and Acoma Pueblo. Visit the Barrio de Analco Historic District’s Pueblo dwellings.

The 50-acre Allan Houser Sculpture Garden features stunning works surrounded by juniper trees. Tesuque Pueblo Community Farm: Travel Matters. This Indigenous community preserves heirloom seeds and seeks food sovereignty. Visit the Nambe village and eat with the indigenous inhabitants at the Sangre de Cristo Mountains base beside the Rio Grande.

Chiang Mai, Thailand

Pay attention to Chiang Mai, even though Bangkok might be your first stop, and Phuket might be where you go to the beach. Northern Thailand is home to this charming city encircled by beautiful mountains and gushing waterfalls. When you get there, you’ll fall in love with the slower tempo and enchanted environment. Exploring the shady lanes and coming across secret gardens and sparkling temples is fun.

We will learn about Buddhism at Wat Suan Dok, where we meet a local monk and marvel at the stunning golden chedi. Additionally, you must travel up Doi Suthep mountain to see the revered Wat Doi Suthep temple.

As the sun sets over the temple and the light reflects off the golden buddhas, listen to the monks chanting while taking in the vistas of this lovely city. There are also a ton of fantastic eateries and pubs in this area where you can sample the regional fare, like the well-known Khao Soi, a famous Northern Thai noodle soup.

San Carlos de Bariloche, Argentina

After seeing the renowned Buenos Aires, visit “Switzerland of South America,” Bariloche. Set in the magnificent Nahuel Huapi National Park, this is an outdoor playground where the mountains meet the city. Snowy mountains, verdant forests, dazzling beaches, and glacial lakes surround Alpine-style architecture.

The best view is from the Campanario Hill chairlift, which offers stunning Catedral and Tronador peaks vistas. You can also go to Playa Bonita and enjoy the views from St. Edward’s Chapel on the hills. If you have a sweet tooth, you will adore Bariloche. Chocolate has been made throughout the city for generations. You can go to Chocolates to learn about the product and try a delicious selection of locally created chocolates.

What are your favorite off-the-beaten-path city getaways? Let us know in the comments…

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