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    "Everyone Comes Back Raving About This Place": People Are Sharing The Low-Key Vacation Spots That Completely Blew Them Away

    "I thought this would just be a pass-through stop on my way to my final destination, but I was so pleasantly surprised."

    Whenever you visit a new place, you probably go into it with some idea in your head of what to expect. And there's nothing better than traveling somewhere only to have your expectations blown away. So, I asked the BuzzFeed Community to tell me about a destination they loved even more than expected. Here's what they said, plus a handful of responses from some travel-loving redditors.

    1. "Moab, Utah. We stayed a week. Every day there were spectacular day roadtrips to take. The scenery in Canyonlands and Arches National Parks was beyond anything we'd ever seen. We saw petroglyphs and dinosaur tracks and fossils. There are short and long hikes with amazing scenery, but you can also see it right from the side of the road. Four-wheel drive tours and rafting on the Colorado River are just a few of the outdoor activities you can take part in. And the fall colors in the nearby mountains were enchanting. Make sure to hit Monument Valley and Canyon de Chelly while you’re in the area!"

    Scenic view of a desert with towering rock formations and a valley with sparse vegetation

    2. "Sintra, Portugal. I like to stay away from the larger cities when I travel. Instead, I tend to rent a car and see the smaller towns. Sintra, a beautiful town 20 minutes outside of Lisbon, is one of those places. I planned just one day there but could’ve spent a couple more. There's a colorful castle, an ancient fort, and gorgeous views all around. Our hotel was a magical villa/hotel-walled garden in the center of town. I would spend an afternoon swimming and lazing surrounded by flowers."

    Aerial view of Sintra, Portugal

    3. "I highly recommend the Seto Inland Sea between Hiroshima, Beppu, and Kure. There are lots of small and bigger islands. It's a great destination for fishing, beaches, mountains, onsens, hiking, food, and nature. Many parts of it feel extremely untouched."

    Secluded beach with a narrow strip of sand, surrounded by trees, and clear waters with distant islands

    4. "Budapest. I have traveled there six times now. Many people visit Prague over Budapest, which is a mistake, IMO. Like Prague, the city spans both sides of a river, one old and one new. But Budapest is much bigger and more interesting. There’s a castle, an underground labyrinth, a bunker/hospital built into the rocks, thermal spas, a beautiful parliament building, and art galleries galore. It has its own currency, and it is very cheap. The weather is lovely in the summer, and the food is great. What’s not to love?"

    Fisherman's Bastion with decorative lamp posts and statues overlooking Budapest cityscape

    5. "Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The city felt like a fairytale — just beautiful. And it's steeped in history, most of which is shocking and stunningly recent."

    Sarajevo, Bosney

    6. "Siem Reap, Cambodia. I wasn’t expecting much, but it quickly became the highlight of my trip to Asia. There were amazing food options for a great price, tons of cultural experiences, and an overall really comfortable and safe environment. I really enjoyed Angkor Wat, exploring the archaeological temple from so long ago."

    Narrow alley with motorcycles parked and buildings on either side; lanterns hang above

    7. "Romania! I spent two weeks driving around. It's a gorgeous country, with many UNESCO properties, beautiful farmland, gorgeous mountains, and incredibly friendly people."

    Historic street with buildings, outdoor cafes, and pigeons, no people visible

    8. "The Hague. It's like Amsterdam but way more relaxed. I preferred the coffee shops in The Hague to those everywhere else in the Netherlands. It’s a really beautiful city with a lovely main square. And the Mauritshuis museum there houses Vermeer's famous 'The Girl with the Pearl Earring.'"

    View of The Hague

    9. "Taipei, Taiwan. While Taipei is already quite a popular destination in Asia, it's not as well known as other international cities like Tokyo, Shanghai, Bangkok, Osaka, Beijing, Seoul, and Singapore. I had already visited a handful of these major cities, but never Taipei, and I didn't expect to be overly impressed. But much to my (pleasant) surprise, Taipei and Taiwan became my favorite place in Asia. The food is nothing short of heavenly, and it's surprisingly affordable. The famous night markets are truly worth the hype..."

    A street in Taipei

    10. "Vietnam overall, but especially Hoi An. I went in with very high expectations, but Hoi An still blew them away. The locals are incredibly kind and friendly, the architecture and scenery were beautiful, and the coffee was excellent, as was the food (and it was surprisingly cheap). I spent three weeks in Vietnam about two years ago, but I still think about this trip every day."

    City view of Hoi An, Vietnam

    11. "Salvador, Brazil. This city is well known in Brazil and somewhat well known in Latin America, but it never gets mentioned by international travelers in the same way as Río, Buenos Aires, São Paulo, Medellín, or Mexico City, much less any major European cities."

    Pedestrians and cyclists on a broad cobblestone street flanked by colorful colonial buildings

    12. "Aveiro, a little town in Portugal. On my way to Porto, I decided to stop in Coimbra and somehow ended up in Aveiro. It's a quaint little town with a canal, and everything about it is so pretty, from the delightful designs on the pavement to the colorful boats on the canal. I was mesmerized. l spent two days just wandering around and taking it all in."

    Woman in hat and striped dress viewed from behind approaching a church with intricate facade

    13. "Rovinj, Croatia. I spent three nights in Rovinj and Croatia's Istrian peninsula as part of a three-week European roadtrip. In retrospect, I wish we spent at least a week there. I haven't come across many more romantic settings. Between the food (fresh seafood and truffles), the scenery (gorgeous land and sea vistas), the fascinating history, the super nice people, and the fact that nearly everyone is fluent in English, Rovinj blew away our expectations."

    View of Rovinj, Croatia

    14. "I was floored by the food and the views in Grenoble, France. I expected it to be beautiful as it is very close to the Alps, but I still wasn’t prepared for the reality of it."

    River with a bridge spanning it and a high cliff on the left under a clear sky

    15. "Tallinn, Estonia. I went last year because I wanted to take a European vacation, but I didn’t want to be surrounded by tons of crowds. Tallinn is a sweet city with an amazing and historic old town village. The food blew my mind, and the bread, in particular, was the best I’ve ever had. The whole city is easily walkable, and the locals are charming and welcoming. You can even take a two-hour boat ride to Helsinki. I loved it so much I’m going back again this year."

    Street view of Tallinn Estonia

    16. "Saint-Jean-de-Luz, France. It's on the west coast of France in Basque Country. Imagine the perfect beach town, but without the overwhelming crowds of Nice or Marseille. Plus, you’re a quick drive from San Sebastián, Spain, another incredible destination. The food, architecture, and culture were amazing. Basque French culture is so different from the rest of France, and the food is to die for. I’d recommend this over Paris or other popular tourist sites in France."

    Beach with people and traditional houses on a hill under a clear sky

    17. "Zermatt, Switzerland. I visited on my first trip to Europe. Everything about Europe blew me away, especially Zermatt. It's a small mountain town right at the base of the Matterhorn, and the views are breathtaking. We went on an amazing hike, went zip-lining, and took a gondola and train ride up into the Alps for more spectacular views. My favorite experience of all was a mountain bike ride that led to an adorable flock of sheep in the middle of the path. Zermatt itself was a super cute albeit expensive town. 10/10 would recommend."

    An Alpine town with cobblestone streets

    18. "Gdansk, Poland. The Old Town looked straight out of a movie set. It has great architecture and history and is not as touristy as many other European cities. I also met some of the nicest people in Gdansk."

    Old Town Square with historical buildings and pedestrians in daylight

    19. "Ecuador is a place that really blew me away. I had a few weeks off before starting a new job and joined some friends for a last-minute adventure cruise around the Galapagos Islands. It was a last-minute decision, but the Galapagos was absolutely mind-blowing. It was so untouched and pure and stunning, and we woke up to a new island to explore every day. It was the adventure of a lifetime. But mainland Ecuador is what really surprised me. I thought it would just be a pass-through stop on my way to Galapagos, but I was so pleasantly surprised."

    View of a city with historical buildings and a hill with a statue on top in the distance

    20. "Heidelberg, Germany. We visited much bigger cities on the same trip, and I didn’t know much about Heidelberg before visiting. But it turned out to be a beautiful city with spectacular architecture and excellent food. I spent two weeks in Europe, but some of the best things I ate were in Heidelberg. The hills, colorful buildings, and river were just gorgeous, plus there were stunning ancient castles around. The city itself had winding, cobblestone streets that were just so charming. It was just as wonderful as other big cities we visited, but it was smaller, cleaner, and cozier."

    Historic bridge over river with old European buildings and a hill in the background. Statue on left

    21. "Perugia, Italy. This city is about two hours from Florence by train. It's a fully walled city with a medieval city center. All of the food I ate there was so delicious. I'd highly recommend visiting if you are interested in archaeology or if you're just searching for a beautiful place. I was only supposed to stay overnight but ended up staying two extra days."

    Historic hilltop town with a prominent stone tower and buildings surrounded by trees

    22. "Santiago, Chile. The weather is nice, the city boasts amazing views of the snow-capped mountains, there's good public transit, and the Plaza de las Armas is very cool. I think this city is one of the most livable cities in Latin America."

    Aerial view of Santiago, Chile

    23. "Essaouira, Morocco. It’s an absolutely beautiful coastal town with lots of great views, plus it's very clean and walkable. We stopped there while traveling from Marrakech to Rabat and really enjoyed it!"

    View of Morocco

    24. "Bournemouth, UK. I went in September and got beautiful, sunny weather the whole day. This resort town located two and a half hours from London has a beach and a gorgeous pier that overlooks the water. There's plenty to do there: The Russell-Cotes museum is a brilliant, hidden gem, and there's a serene memorial gravesite for Percy B. Shelley and Mary Shelley. It's so peaceful that there are even goats hanging out on the seaside cliffs. The town is quite walkable with lots of cute shops. We collected seashells on the beach and ended our day with a glass of champagne seaside. It was total perfection and is well worthy of a day trip."

    Busy beach scene with people sunbathing and walking, including umbrellas and a backdrop of buildings on a hill

    25. "Dijon, France. It's a city in the Burgundy region, which is home to amazing wine, cheese, and a UNESCO medieval old town."

    Gothic cathedral with spire between trees under a sunset sky

    26. "Laos. Traveling down the Mekong River was incredible. The landscapes were beautiful, the people were so kind, and the towns were magical."

    Aerial view of a town in Laos

    27. "Kerala, India. The landscape is so pretty and so lush. The locals were all so friendly and treated everyone like family. Everywhere we visited felt like the perfect mix of traditional and modern. I would definitely recommend visiting, but be sure to take a houseboat ride and visit some of the many historic castle forts and palaces."

    Tropical beach with people, palm trees, and cliffside cafe at sunset

    28. "Savannah, Georgia. I won a free stay at a hotel there, so I went into the trip with no expectations. I ended up loving it, though. Savannah is such a cute city with so much history and character. There are excellent museums, restaurants, and tours."

    A sunlit street in Savannah, Georgia

    29. "Edinburgh absolutely blew my mind. My best friend and I were taking a trip across the UK in 2019. We had already seen London with its massive old buildings, but nothing could have prepared us for the stunning views of Edinburgh. The moment we stepped out of the railway station, we stood in the middle of the road gazing at the architecture. The scenery made us feel like we had entered a real-life Harry Potter universe. I would absolutely visit the city again!"

    Old stone buildings near a river in Edinburgh, Scotland

    30. "Ottawa is very underrated in Canada. It’s a beautiful city with lots of greenery. It's an interesting mix of English and French culture and language. You may forget where you are when you enter a restaurant and are greeted with 'bonjour.' Everyone I know that has been there has come back impressed by how beautiful it is."

    Ottawa's Parliament Hill beside a river at dusk with clouds in the sky

    What's a destination that you would add to this list — somewhere that exceeded your expectations and made you want to spend more time there? Tell us in the comments or in this Google form.