Traveling often comes with a set of expectations. Maybe you've visited a destination you didn't know much about and it ended up being a total hidden gem. Or, on the other end of the spectrum, perhaps a place was so hyped up in your mind that the reality actually fell short. So I browsed the subreddit r/travel and rounded up a list of destinations that defied travelers' expectations...for better or for worse.
1. "French Basque Country. San Sebastián is a nice town that you hear a lot about, but French Basque Country is also really nice. It's a 30-minute drive from San Sebastián all along the Atlantic coast, and no passport is needed to visit. Saint-Jean-de-Luz and Biarritz are two beautiful towns, and Bayonne is worth a visit for great Basque food. The countryside is amazing, with quaint villages and rolling hills. This part of the country goes to show that there is way more to visit in France than just Paris."
2. "Tallinn, Estonia. I really wasn't expecting much when I visited. In fact, I mostly just went because I was traveling from Helsinki to London and it was an off-the-beaten-path destination for a quick day trip. But wow, Tallinn was beautiful, and the people were so friendly! I'd go back for a proper vacation in a heartbeat."
3. "Venice. I know that sounds like blasphemy to some people, but I found it stinky, dirty, and unnecessarily expensive. I was bored within six hours, and I had three days to fill. I ended up traveling out of the city and exploring the lovely surrounding cities and countryside instead of spending my time in Venice."
4. "Southern Chile. The whole southern part of Chile, from Valdivia to Punta Arenas, feels like an enchanted forest from a fantasy novel or video game. IMO, Chile is probably the most underrated travel destination on the planet. It's home to every kind of landscape you could hope to visit."
5. "Krakow, Poland, is a stunning city that is often overlooked. Unlike Warsaw, Krakow wasn’t devastated by World War II, and the Soviets didn’t rebuild anything, so it still boasts its old city architecture. It's genuinely so beautiful, and I'd highly recommend seeing the city center at night."
6. "Olympic National Park in Washington. It's definitely one of the more underrated national parks in the US. It's a literal rainforest in the Pacific Northwest, and it boasts great hiking, lodges, lakes, and more. It's really a one-of-a-kind environment in the US."
7. "Taipei, Taiwan. So far, it's my favorite city in Asia. It has a great mix of traditional Chinese, Japanese, and US influences. There's fantastic food, including a great street food scene at the night markets. It's modern enough to be convenient, but it's not as expensive as other Asian cities. It's also big enough that there's lots to do, but small enough to be manageable and not overwhelming for tourists. The people are super friendly, open, and helpful."
8. "Slovenia. I went on the recommendation of an old roommate and was blown away. The country is full of absolutely stunning scenery. It's an excellent holiday destination if you like the outdoors or road-tripping. I will absolutely go back at some point."
9. "Goa, India: People tout Goa as a legendary beach destination, but it really wasn't that great. The beaches themselves were subpar, it was so busy, the water can be polluted, and it's not really the relaxing beach destination you might expect."
10. "The southwest coast of the Dominican Republic. The DR is a major tourist hub around Punta Cana and Santo Domingo, but beyond these concentrated areas, there are hidden gems. The southwest coast from Barahona to Enriquillo boasts the most beautiful drive in the Caribbean. You'll find little beach towns, rivers, mountains, and coffee farms. It’s also the cheapest part of the country. You can easily find accommodations for less than $20 per night."
11. "Uganda. I visited and had a blast. The tourism infrastructure isn't great and it can be a bit expensive, so budget accordingly. You can see most of the big cats, elephants, and giraffes in Uganda as well as all the primate species. Murchison Falls was gorgeous, and the parks are not at all crowded. The people are lovely, and there are very few tourists who visit the country."
12. "Puerto Rico. If you're looking for a Caribbean escape, this one has so much to offer. There's city life, beaches, hiking, history, and more."
13. "Newfoundland, Canada. I spent a whole summer exploring this province and have nothing but spectacular praise for this unsung gem. It's astoundingly beautiful, full of incredibly friendly locals, and between the wildlife and the scenery, there's so much to see. There's never a dull moment."
14. "I personally thought Bali was pretty overrated, at least in comparison with the sky-high expectations everyone seems to have and how it actually looked compared with all the pictures on Instagram."
15. "Antalya, Turkey. This was once a beautiful, ancient city, but it seemed to be ruined by the massive number of tourist traps. During my stay in the city, I had the constant feeling I was going to be ripped off in shops, cafés, and restaurants."
16. "Georgia. It's one of my favorite countries I've visited to date. I had such an amazing time there. There was great food, beautiful scenery, interesting history, amazing people, and as an added bonus, it was super cheap."
17. "Lima, Peru. I hear so many people say skip it or only spend a day there. But the historic downtown is gorgeous, and it’s on the coast with plenty of beaches. Plus, the food and people are awesome. I spent four days there and still wished I had more time."
18. "Iceland. Despite its growing popularity and tourism, I still think it's underrated. The nature there is just plain unparalleled by anywhere else I've been in the world. I've visited twice, and I'm already looking to go back a third time."
19. "Algeria. I actually found Morocco not worth visiting due to the tourists and hassles, but Algeria was underrated. It had amazing ruins, few to no tourists, wonderful architecture, great people, and the opportunity to explore the Sahara Desert. Plus, it’s cheap to visit."
20. The Azores. These Portuguese islands in the Atlantic Ocean are incredible. I spent three weeks there island-hopping (I saw four of the nine), and I especially loved the city of Furnas on São Miguel. It was magical."
21. "Fukuoka, Japan. Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka may be the main Japanese cities that tourists visit, but the south of Japan was a different experience. The people seem more relaxed, and the city is more laid-back. Fukuoka feels so refreshing. There are very few tourists, and people are so friendly to foreigners. Not to mention, during the summer, the weather is amazing in the south."
22. "Geneva. While it was a pretty city, the soul-crushing cost of everything definitely weighed down my experience there. I never expected to pay 24 francs for a hamburger in my life."
23. "Kazakhstan. It's an amazing country, and it's very modern. It's worth visiting for the delicious mix of Middle Eastern and Asian cuisine alone. On top of that, it has an awesome history and beautiful scenery. Don’t sleep on this place."
24. "The Faroe Islands. This archipelago between Iceland and Norway was amazing. I was blown away by the picturesque villages, impressive nature, and accessibility of the area. My girlfriend and I didn’t encounter anyone else on our hikes, which was the icing on the cake. We focused our time on the beautiful and unspoiled nature of northern Vagar, the capital Tórshavn, and the area surrounding Tjørnuvik and Saksun. I would already like to go back to see some of the more northern islands, such as Kalsoy and Fugloy."
25. Madeira, Portugal. I'd always assumed this was a destination for old folks, and I only went a few years ago because there were ridiculously cheap flights from Scotland. I had the best 10 days ever. I loved walking around the huge variety of stunning landscapes: along the coast, hillsides, and deep valleys, and paths that seemed to go in and above the clouds. What a stunning island."
What's a travel destination that either totally defied or sadly fell short of your expectations? Tell us in the comments!
Note: Some responses have been edited for length and/or clarity.