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PICS: World's most unconventional tourist destinations

Last updated on: June 17, 2013 09:51 IST

Image: Trieste, Italy
Photographs: Stefano Rellandini/Reuters

Lonely Planet's list of under-the-radar destinations of the world!

Presenting a select list among Lonely Planet's under-the-radar destinations of the world! (And yes a particular state from India features in it too! Keep clicking!)

The iconic travel book and magazine Lonely Planet brought out its list of under-the-radar destinations around the world. Included in this list are places that you've probably heard of but never bothered to visit.

Needless to say an Indian state also featured in this list and one that hopes to make the most of the tourists that it will send in.

Which one is it? Keep clicking to find out more.

We begin with:

Trieste, Italy

Home to the great author James Joyce for ten long years, Trieste in Italy was one of the most influential centres of politics, art, literature, music and culture under the Austrian-Hungarian dominion.

Tourists often give this city a pass as they choose rather to head to the larger Italian cities of Rome and Milan.

WikiTravel describes Trieste as 'a very charming underestimated city, with a quiet and lovely almost Eastern European atmosphere, several pubs and cafes, some stunning architecture and a beautiful sea view'.

Visit Trieste and give motorised transport a pass, choosing rather a stroll through the town and admire its architecture and swing by a cafe for a coffee, a drink the Triestini love almost as much as Romans and Viennese.

Ikaria, Greece

Image: Ikaria, Greece
Photographs: Man77/Wikimedia Creative Commons

Known best perhaps for its inhabitants' exceptional longevity, Ikaria is a place that isn't difficult to fall in love with. Besides of course its air (and wine), Ikaria offers serenity to the wandering traveller.

Get lost amidst secluded ruins and bays and villages where residents still gather around to play backgammon, share stories of their lives and of course drink!

Ikaria is believed to be the birthplace of the Dionysus, god of wine and unsurprisingly is also known for its wine.

Visit Ikaria in summer to experience Greek hospitality and chances are you'd hate the idea of leaving it.

Richmond, North Yorkshire, England

Image: Richmond Falls
Photographs: Andrew Spencer/Wikimedia Creative Commons

The thing about Richmond is that there are dozens of place that go by that name around the world but the original one happens to be in North Yorkshire, England.

A market town and the administrative centre of the district of Richmondshire, Richmond's primary tourist attraction is the Yorkshire Dales National Park.

Dubbed by The Rough Guide as 'an absolute gem' and 'the most romantic place in the whole of the North East (of England)' by the American businesswoman Betty James, Richmond is as quaint as England can get.

Visit the marketplace (held every Saturday) or walk along the cobbled streets and admire the wonderful Georgian buildings and stone cottages as Richmond takes you back to another era altogether.

Sao Tome and Principe

Image: Pico Cao Grande, Sao Tome
Photographs: Rui Almeida/Wikimedia Creative Commons

Officially known as Democratic Republic of Sao Tome and Principe, the tiny nation is made up of two archipelagos around the two main islands -- Sao Tome and Principe,

The former Portuguese colony of Sao Tome is a tropical island through which passes the Equator and is known for its virgin rainforest region as well as a wide variety of birds and plants species. Sao Tome is named in the honour of Saint Thomas on whose feast day Portuguese explorers arrived on the island. Principe is its neighbour and is known for its cocoa and coffee around the world.

Perhaps the best known landmark of this country is the Pico Cao Grande (or the Great Dog Peak), a needle-shaped volcanic plug peak that rises over a thousand feet and is located in the Obo National Park.

Arras, France

Image: Arras, France
Photographs: Paul Hermans/Wikimedia Creative Commons

One of the most fought over territories during World War I, Arras in France isn't the most visited of all the travel destinations in France. It is however one of the most beautiful ones.

Lined by 155 gingerbread-like houses, Arras is a surprise that needs a full day (at the very least).

Walk around Arras to admire the 17th and 18th architecture and climb up its bell tower for some breathtaking views of the city but don't forget the wonder that lays beneath the streets.

The town is equally known for it 22km-long underground tunnels that were once used by soldiers during World War I.

Torun Poland

Image: Nicolaus Copernicus' House (L) and St John's Church where Copernicus was baptised
Photographs: Lakshmi Sharath

Even as most of Poland's cities suffered massive destruction during World War II, Torun remained miraculously untouched.

A World UNESCO site with loads of history attached (and preserved) to it, it is legendary for its gingerbread that makes it irresistible.

However beyond the immaculately maintained towers and houses, Torun really does revolve around one man -- the city's most famous son, the astronomer Nicolas Copernicus Thorunensis.

The 15th century astronomer quite literally lives to this day today in Torun as you walk into his elegantly designed two-storied house that retains the original flavour since his time.

The house, now a veritable treasure house and a museum gives you a peek into his mind.

Statues and shops, universities and restaurants are all named after this Copernicus who observed that it was the earth that revolved around the sun and not the other way around.

Take a walk around Torun as history comes alive in every brick around every turn.

As Lakshmi Sharath wrote in her travelogue here: "If you can think of a place where time would have liked to stop, it is probably Torun!"

Byblos, Lebanon

Image: Byblos, Lebanon
Photographs: Karan Jain/Wikimedia Creative Commons

Said to be one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, Byblos is said to date way back to the Stone Age.

WikiTravel describes this port city as 'a true microcosm of the civilisations that have populated Lebanon over the centuries'.

Byblos is where papyrus received its early Greek name and from which was derived the English word -- Bible or 'the (papyrus) book'.

BBC lists three sites that are a must-visit while in Byblos -- the reconstructed Roman amphitheatre, the 12th-century Crusader castle and wondrously restored medieval marketplace.

Meknes, Morocco

Image: Meknes, Morocco
Photographs: Bernard Gagnon/Wikimedia Creative Commons

Get away from the larger and more commercialised cities of Morocco and head out to this vibrant city that not only boasts of a bustling nightlife but also a fantastic palace.

Since fewer tourists visit Meknes, there are lesser touts, fake guides and the likes even as the city is peppered with numerous historical monuments and mosques by the dozen, which gives Meknes its nickname of 'a city of a hundred minarets'.

Being under the radar also means that the prices here are more reasonable and the people far more polite and nicer than in most other places.

While in Meknes, visit also the nearby Volubilis -- site of the largest Roman ruins in Morocco.


Avila, Spain

Image: Avila, Spain
Photographs: Pelayo2/Wikimedia Creative Commons

Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1985, Avila in Spain is also known as the City of Stones and Saints. And why not, it is said to boast the highest number of Romanesque and Gothic churches per capita in Spain.

However the most important monument of Avila are its imposing walls whose work is said to have started in 1090. The Walls of Avila fence an area of 31 hectares and have a perimeter of a little over 2500 meters. Also present are 88 blocks or semicircular towers, 2500 merlons and the average height of the Walls is about 12 m.

The Walls of Aliva are also the largest fully illuminated monument in the world and is possibly to walk upon them for about half their circumference.


Arunachal Pradesh

Image: Child monks attend morning prayers inside the 17th century Tawang Tibetan Buddhist monastery in Arunachal Pradesh.
Photographs: Frank Jack Daniel/Reuters

Quite literally translated as the land of the rising sun, Arunachal Pradesh is also known as India's Orchid State.

The largest in the group of the seven north east Indian states, Arunachal Pradesh also boasts of the largest number of regional languages among Indian states.

Arunachal Pradesh is surrounded by Myanmar, China, Tibet and Bhutan and is often termed as a natural wonder. The state boasts of four national parks and seven wildlife sanctuaries besides of breathtaking sites at every turn of the road.

Southeastern Anatolia, Turkey

Image: Southeastern Anatolia, Turkey
Photographs: Karpidis/Wikimedia Creative Commons

The region of Southeastern Anatolia isn't anywhere close to the cosmopolitan Istanbul but most certainly deserves to be visited.

Known for its historic sites including the most recently excavated stone circles of Gobekli Tepe that are believed to be part of the world's oldest temple as well as the Sanliurfa or the Prophet's City' which is believed to be Prophet Abraham's birthplace.

Visit the various mosques, shady courtyards as well as the huge bazaar and soak in the history over copious amounts of chai and kebabs.

Sequoia and King's Canyon National Park

Image: Sequoia and King's Canyon National Park
Photographs: Jim Bahn/Wikimedia Creative Commons

Even though they are two separate national parks the Sequoia and Kings Canyon usually operate as a single unit. Between the two, they cover an area of 865,952 acres with the altitude ranging between 1300 feet to 14,505 feet.

The Sequoia National Park is also the home to the world's largest tree -- a giant sequoia and is named as General Sherman -- standing at 52,508 cubic feet and one of the world's largest living things.

Kiso Valley

Image: Kiso Valley
Photographs: Alpsdake/Wikimedia Creative Commons

Over two centuries ago, the Kiso Valley was part of the old Nakasendo Highway and a primary route that passed through central Japan that connected Kyoto with Edo (modern-day Tokyo).

The path largely followed the River Kiso and preserves a fair number of old post stations including Tsumago, where as the BBC writes, 'modern development has been restricted and dark-wood, lattice-fronted houses line the car-free main street'.

You could spend considerable time in souvenir shops here or enjoy a meal in traditional restaurants and head back or as the folks at BBC suggest, extend your stay and 'take the five-mile hike along the route of the Nakasendo, past farmland, forest and waterfalls, which connects Tsumago to the village of Magome -- another time capsule'.

Inchcolm Island

Image: Inchcolm Island
Photographs: Michael Wills/Wikimedia Creative Commons

With a medieval Abbey that is pretty much the only tall structure on this pristine island, Inchcolm was most recently in the news after Historic Scotland, the executive agency of the Scottish Government, responsible for historic monuments in the country advertised for the post of a manager of this island.

The job included living on and managing the island and came with a residential quarters -- a quaint two-bedroom cottage -- next to the abbey for eight months a year.

A 30-minute boat ride from Edinburgh, Inchcolm is said to have one of the best-preserved monastic complex in Scotland. Besides the abbey there is little else to see… but a lot to explore -- including tunnels and bunkers dating back to the two World Wars.


Image: Yukon
Photographs: Dave Bezaire and Susi Havens-Bezaire/Wikimedia Creative Commons

One of the three territories of Canada, located in the North, Yukon is very, very sparsely populated. With a population of a little over 33,000 people, Yukon's population density is… hold your breath… 0.07/sq km.

Even though most of its visitors are those who are travelling to Alaska on the Alaska Highway, the government is hard selling the pristine nature as its USP. Thus you can experience anything form rowing in canoes and kayaks to skiing and snowboarding or even dog sledding.

According to the BBC, road trips across the Yukon also make for an adventure, 'whether you take the historic and well-paved Alaska Highway, or the more rough-and-ready Robert Campbell Highway or Dempster Highway'.

Head out to Canada, it's more friendly and safe than its neighbour can ever hope to be.