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The World's Best Hidden Gems (That Won't Stay Hidden Much Longer)

The world's a big place. Don't get stuck in a rut.

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1. Meteora, Greece

Vasilis Karamouzos/flickr/(CC BY-ND http://2.0) / Via Flickr: 125904492@N06

Hidden gems can make your holiday, especially if you want discover more than a classic Greek beach and white villa. (And boy, this gem could not be further from that stereotype.)

Literally translating to "middle of the sky", Meteora is a complex of 11th to 16th century monasteries nestled on natural sandstone pinnacles. Though the climbs are not for the faint hearted, the stunning views from the Great Meteoron monastery alone are definitely worth every blister.

Pro tip: The Friday morning market in nearby Kalampaka is bursting with local life and culture, with not one tacky ouzo shot glass in sight.

2. Electric Ladyland: Amsterdam, the Netherlands

Michael Delaney (CC By http://SA-2.0) / Via Flickr: takeiteasybut

Electric Ladyland would be absolutely overrun if it were easier to locate. It's a museum dedicated to neon lights and is a visual marvel.

Pro tip: The black lights reveal *every* stain.

If you're hungry after a day's strolling, try Singel 404: a tucked-away sandwich shop on the canal. No-one can quite pinpoint what makes it so much better than its competitors, but a good guess says it's the apple cakes and pies!

3. Wieliczka Salt Mines: Wieliczka, Poland

If you desire to be truly astounded by human ingenuity, head 14km southeast from Krakow to the Wieliczka salt mines. Carved by hand from salt blocks over 700 years, the eerie labyrinth of tunnels runs over 300km and reaches a depth of 1,073 feet, connected by chambers, pits, and underground lakes.

Pro tip: Make sure to see the Chapel of St. Kinga, where every single element, be it statues or chandeliers, has been carved from salt. Mind = Blown.

4. The Carnaval de Dunkerque: Dunkerque, France

For something so blindingly fun and full of colour, the only reason we can muster for why this riotous carnival isn't better known is all those memories of Dunkirk school trips.

Described as pure "bedlam", it lasts a staggering three months and culminates in thousands of locals lining the streets to demand "the herring they deserve" from the local mayor. Priceless.

Pro tip: Time your visit for the Trois Joyeuses, the festival's final three days before Ash Wednesday, when the town really descends into fun-filled mayhem.

5. The Smoky Valley: Reykjadalur, Iceland

Just outside of the small town of Hveragerdi lies this epic valley, shrouded in a constant blanket of smoke conjured up by the geothermal waters underneath. Thankfully, Reykjadalur is easier to locate than it is to pronounce. Around 45km south of the capital, a popular hiking trail will lead you straight into the secluded valley where you'll find this amazing paradise. Just make sure you pay attention to the appropriate "Danger" signs!

Pro tip: There aren't any changing facilities at this all natural spa, so you'll need to be prepared to strip off out in the open if you want to sample its delights.

6. Pitigliano, Italy

If anything, Pitigliano, aka Little Jerusalem, is too far off the beaten track. But that's OK, it just makes this magnificent medieval Tuscan village even more special – utterly saturated in history, Jewish culture, and breathtaking scenery.

Pro tip: Get lost strolling through the ancient Jewish Quarter, be entranced by the picturesque surrounding olive groves and rolling hills, or visit the Palazzo Orsini, a 14th century fortress, now a museum, near the town's entrance.

7. Silencio: Paris, France


No one really knows about Silencio, the creative's answer to Berghain, unless they're a local. It's a members club conceived by David Lynch and fans will immediately recognise which cult classic this exclusive underground hotspot is in homage to.

Pro tip: You'll need to be a guest of a member to enter officially, so either befriend a local or work on charming the doormen, who have been known to let non members in after midnight.

8. Ronda, Spain

Klomiz (CC By http://2.0) / Via Flickr: 24395823@N03

Shielded by the more touristy hotspots further down the Spanish south coast, Ronda continues to successfully hide its light under a bushel, to the delight of visitors. Eyes can't help but immediately be drawn to the Puente Nuevo bridge, which connects the old and new towns, both equally full of charm and history.

Pro tip: Ronda is the birthplace of modern bullfighting, and the traditions are revived once a year at the Feria Goyesca festival each September. The rest of the time, the Plaza del Toros bullring is a museum and fully open to the public to explore.

9. The Town of Books: Hay-on-Wye, Wales

Hay-on-Wye is a small market town with a big heart. Known as the "town of books", it has evolved into a cultural mecca for literary writers and enthusiasts all over the world.

Whether it be the fire station, the cinema, the florist... You name it, you can find a good read there. In a digital age, it's a wonderful throwback and one we hope never changes.

Pro tip: Llanthony Priory is only short 30-minute drive away, a historic medieval abbey looking out over a beautiful Welsh valley.

10. Waterfall Trails: Yorkshire, England

There's a reason why Yorkshire is nicknamed "God's Own Country" and the beautiful Waterfalls Trail in Ingleton Carnforth is as good as any. Hidden away in the woodland, it's a veritable dream for both amateur and professional photographers alike.

Pro tip: Hungry travellers can end their journey with a good old-fashioned roast dinner at the Cow and Calf.

11. San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

Patrick and Martha Dundon (CC By http://2.0) / Via Flickr: dundon

An elegant, artistic, and romantic Mexican town, San Miguel de Allende is spellbinding. The colonisation over the last 50 years by American artists moving south created a cultural renaissance, resulting in a wonderful mestizaje, or cultural mixing. It's no wonder so many visitors call it a "home away from home".

As well as the glorious climate and quaint architecture, San Miguel is quietly being touted as the new gourmet capital of Mexico – surely a hidden gem that won't stay hidden for much longer.

Pro tip: Wile away an hour or three at cafe Cumpanio, a beautiful little restaurant with a built-in bakery that makes the most sumptuous breads and pastries.

12. Worm's Head: Rhossili, Wales

Worm's Head is possibly the most dramatic and exhilarating pieces of landscape within these fair isles. Hidden away at the most westerly point of the Welsh Gower Peninsula, Worms Head is a tidal island located a mile out to sea, accessible only by the treacherous Devil's Bridge.

A journey there and back may only be an hour's excursion in total, but with few people around it feels like some kind of wonderful, Enid Blytonesque adventure.

Pro tip: The causeway leading to the island is only exposed for 2.5 hours either side of low tide, and can take a half day to return, so be careful to check your timings before you visit!

13. The Smallpox Hospital: Roosevelt Island, New York

Aubree Lennon & Ryan Hynes / ©BuzzFeed

With its crumbling walls and collapsed ceilings, the abandoned Gothic ruin of the old Smallpox Hospital on Roosevelt Island, Manhattan, looks like the set of the scariest horror film, ever. After a century of its doors opening, the hospital was shut down and was eventually declared a New York City Landmark in 1976.

Pro tip: Though not currently open to the public, you are able to explore the ruins by strolling around the paved walkways surrounding the haunting ruins.

14. G-Cans Project: Tokyo, Japan

Stan Chow (CC By http://2.0) / Via Flickr: technostan

The G-Cans project is an incredible feat of modern industrial design: an awe-inspiring labyrinth of underground waterways built by the Japanese government to protect Tokyo from the risk of floods during monsoon seasons. The sheer scale of it has to be seen to be believed.

Pro tip: Free tours are available, but they are in Japanese only, so for safety, you'll need to be accompanied by a translator.

15. Lastovo, Croatia

Up until the 1990s, Lastovo was closed to foreigners for nearly half a century as a designated Yugoslavian military base, and even today, it remains relatively untouched by both locals and tourists alike. Lastovo requires some island hopping in order to reach its little collection of 46 different islands and inlets, but its natural beauty and utter tranquility make it all worth it.

Pro Tip: Stick around for the nighttime, as Lastovo boasts the darkest night sky across the whole of Europe and, as a result, the brightest stars too.

16. Gaomei Wetlands: Taichung, Taiwan

攝影家9號 - Photographer http://No.9 / Via Flickr: corker888

The Gaomei Wetlands are kind of a fluke. It used to be a decidedly average beach, only to be shut 20 years ago. However, the mix of mud and sand led to an ecology that attracted all manner of wildlife, and in 2005, it was officially established as a wetland.

But as diverse as the nature is, it's the sunsets that push this into #nofilter territory. The way the sun meets the clouds to create blues, reds, yellows, and oranges, you'll feel as if time just stands still.

Pro tip: After you've stayed for the sunset, grab some food at the famous Fengjia Night Market in Taichung.

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