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Jinny
Los Angeles

General Travel

What are some underrated cities you've visited?

There are a handful of places I've been that I did not think I would enjoy like Seoul, Korea or Chicago, Illinois. However, when I visited these places, I found myself visiting more than once because they were simply amazing and totally underrated. 

What are some places you've been that you thought weren't going to be that great, but ended up being totally amazing?

Jinny
www.travelholicsdiary.com


20 Answers

top answer by
Lindsey from Texas

So this isn't "international," if you're an American, but I have to throw in that if anyone comes to Texas, they absolutely should not miss the Texas hill country. Southwest of Austin, northwest of San Antonio lies rolling hills, limestone and granite outcroppings, emerald-green and totally clear streams lined by towering cypress trees, and German/TexMex-inspired foods (think jalapeno bratwurst) and original German architecture. There are TONS of vineyards, wineries, distilleries and breweries, plus some killer biking routes (even though I'm not into biking) and tons of scenic drives, and the small towns have a lot of Texas character and friendliness.

My recommendations (as a native):

Mountain Home for scenic drives. There is NOTHING out here, but the silence and the scenery are beautiful.

Hunt and/or Ingram for swimming. They're less well-known, so you're not always having to fight off other tourists in the high season. But maybe campers from the nearby summer camps, so plan accordingly.

Comfort to get that small-town feel, while also exploring the shops and unique businesses (and to get a taste for the one or two local wineries nearby). There's also some cool architecture, but don't plan on spending an entire day here.

Blanco for the Real Ale Brewing Company, which is one of, in my opinion, the best breweries in Texas. Plus, there's a park in the town with what looks to be a great swimming spot, although I've never been...

While kind of considered the fringes of the hill country, I also love little Utopia. Stop by and get a slice of the Lost Maples Cafe's famous pie (their buttermilk pie is AMAZING, but so are all the other flavors), then continue on to camp at Garner State Park, where you can swim in the rock-bottomed, crystal-clear, spring-fed (enough adjectives?) Frio River and hike its amazing trails. Maybe even try Texas two-stepping on the outdoor dance floor, every night during the summer :). I've got lots of great memories at Garner!

Speaking of camping at state parks, Lost Maples State Natural Area and Pedernales Falls State Park are also amazing, just FYI :).

And of course, I'd be remiss not to include Fredericksburg (Texas), as any guidebook of the Texas hill country would say that you need to visit it. Enchanted Rock is absolutely worth seeing (IF you get there early enough, before the crowds set in), all of the surrounding vineyards and wineries are great, and Main Street is adorable and full of character. But my two recommendations for visiting Fredericksburg are to go to Hondo's On Main for a VERY alcoholic jalapeno margarita, and Hilltop Café for a non-touristy, very excellent (albeit somewhat pricey) meal.

Other honorable mentions to this list would be MasonLlano and Marble Falls.

Probably way more info than anyone asked for, but the hill country really is pretty awesome--although I might be biased! ;D


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Mountain Home (city)
  2. Hunt (city)
  3. Ingram (city)
  4. Comfort (city)
  5. Blanco (city)
  6. Real Ale Brewing Company (attraction)
  7. Utopia (city)
  8. Lost Maples Cafe (restaurant)
  9. Garner State Park (attraction)
  10. Lost Maples State Natural Area (attraction)
  11. Pedernales Falls State Park (attraction)
  12. Fredericksburg (Texas) (city)
  13. Enchanted Rock (attraction)
  14. Hondo's On Main (restaurant)
  15. Hilltop Café (restaurant)
  16. Mason (city)
  17. Llano (city)
  18. Marble Falls (city)
5 thankscomments (3)


answered by
Michelle from Melbourne

Budapest was extraordinary - great food and wine, amazing sights, hospitable locals, easy to get around and, compared to the rest of Europe, so cheap! Chicago also should be on every food traveller's list, not to mention the architectural brilliance. Both of these places are great walking cities, but also excellent transport options. It's been a long time since I was there but I also thoroughly enjoyed Buenos Aires - the Paris of the south.


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Budapest (city)
  2. Chicago (city)
  3. Buenos Aires (city)
5 thankscomments (3)


answered by
Zane

Wellington, New Zealamd


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Wellington (city)
3 thanks


answered by
Joshua from Cape Town, South Africa

I really enjoyed Belgrade. It's great to explore because many things are sort of hidden, leading to lots of opportunities to stumble upon not-so-obvious cafes and street art on random street corners. There's also hearty, but cheap food and many hospitable people.


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Belgrade (city)
3 thankscomments (1)


answered by
Lekshmi

I have to mention Quito as it was a pleasant surprise on my stopover to Galapagos. I ended up going back to spend more time in and around Quito. Very picturesque, set in a valley at around 10000 ft elevation, and surrounded by snow capped volcanoes. 


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Quito (city)
2 thanks


answered by
Steve

Zamosc, Poland. It is a smaller town with a lot of history & character. Worth a stop. Also a lot of things in Poland are less expensive than in other parts of Europe. So You get more bang for Your buck.  

 

Kiev, Ukraine. I really liked this town. Again a lot of history with museums that are dirt cheap. People are generally genuinely warm & friendly. There is a wonderful outdoor museum, WW2/Great Patriotic War museum under the steel staue of the lady with the sword & shield. The churches are, to me. Some of the most amazing and beautiful in Europe. With all their ornate decorations and gold. There are also many interesting buildings and cultural type places. Again most things here can be half the price of other parts of Europe.


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Zamosc (city)
  2. Kiev (city)
2 thankscomments (1)


answered by
Sam from Auckland, New Zealand

TbilisiEasily one of the most underrated cities! It's so historical (first Christian churches are in Georgia!) and beautiful. Not to mention inexpensive and the food is to die for. It's a perfect blend of western and eastern cultures.

Another is Edinburgh - I lived her for a year, and man is this small city active! Pubs, clubs, and the best hiking on Arthur's Seat right in the city. Truly one of the most beautiful cities with its looming Gothic architecture and friendly people. If you like coffee, Edinburgh is the place for you - try Kilimanjaro Coffee


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Tbilisi (city)
  2. Edinburgh (city)
  3. Arthur's Seat (attraction)
  4. Kilimanjaro Coffee (restaurant)
2 thankscomments (1)


answered by
Ian from United Kingdom

Bali!
I wasn't going to go there as I'd had an impression that it was basically party-central and not at all 'Indonesian', but I ended up having to pass through.  Was only planning to stay for a couple of hours, ended up in Padangbai for four days.  It's a prime example for me of never pre-judging a place.  Sure the island was a bit 'touristy' but it was mellow, relaxing, stress-free, interesting, very beautiful, and not at all how I expected it to be,

Adelaide.
It's not a city on many people's Australian itinerary, and having spent a couple of miserable days in Fremantle and then 41 hours on a train, I wasn't really in the perkiest of moods.  But after walking around for a couple of hours I found a friendly, chilled city, easy-going, easy-to-manage. That I turned up during the Adelaide fringe-like festival helped as it meant there were things going on in the evenings.

Sheffield.
Not my home city, but close to where I now live; it's not a place on many tourist radars (if people dare visit The North they'll tend to Liverpool / York / Lake District / Durham), but every time I go there there always seems to be something going on.  Close to the picturesque Peak District, great beer, and every year the city's given over to a huge music festival (Tramlines), with mainly good local bands.


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Bali (island)
  2. Padangbai (attraction)
  3. Adelaide (city)
  4. Fremantle (attraction)
  5. Sheffield (city)
2 thanks


answered by
Travis from Kamloops

For me a couple of places immediately came to mind. I totally agree with Budapest, even though it's fairly well known, I don't think that it get even close to the amount of love it deserves. I really loved Sarajevo - the mixing of cultures and religions makes for a fascinating stay. I think that Wroclaw is going to a big destination in the coming years - a great city with amazing architecture, lots of green space, and a great atmosphere. Finally, I think Brasov is a totally underrated - so many different options for things to do from hiking to culture to eating. 


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Budapest (city)
  2. Sarajevo (city)
  3. Wroclaw (city)
  4. Brasov (city)
2 thanks


answered by
Janelle from Charleston

1. Hilo.  It's green, lush and beautiful, and the temperature is always 5-10 degrees cooler than the western and southern parts of the Big Island.  Few tourists pass through here, so it's one of the best places to experience Hawaii as the locals do.  It's a small city, but it's got a great food and art scene and a few interesting museums as well, and the Hamakua coast, just 30-60 minutes drive away, is breathtaking.

2. Mostar.  Secular, non-fundamentalist Bosnia is pretty much the only Muslim country I feel comfortable travelling to, and Mostar is the best city in that country.  The war seems a thing of the past, and the locals are fun, peaceful and easy to relate to.  It's also a very affordable place to visit.  Watching the locals jump off the bridge into the shallow icy river never gets old.

3. Charleston.  It's very well known as a travel hotspot and therefore some people may not think of it as "underrated," and I do live here, but it's a great city.  It's got a well preserved historic district that feels legit and not like some open-air theme park.  The food scene is the best in the South, and the beaches aren't bad either.

4. San Sebastian.  The best foodie town in all of Europe.  And although it gets plenty of visitors, there are no real "tourist hotspots" - most popular attractions/restaurants/tapas bars in town will have as many locals as tourists.  The beaches are great for sunbathing, although the water is too cold to swim in without a wetsuit.  It's also worthwhile to explore some of the smaller towns/villages in Basque country.

5. Saskatoon.  I spent 5 days here for a softball tournament when I was in high school and was very surprised.  It's sunny, warm (in August) and clean, and the people were very friendly and eager to mingle with tourists (probably because so few pass through here).  Wanuskewin Heritage Park is one of the best outdoor museums I've ever been to.  I'm just glad I got to see the best parts of Saskatoon before I got salmonella poisoning from a restaurant and ended up in hospital for 2 days...


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Hilo (city)
  2. Mostar (city)
  3. Charleston (city)
  4. San Sebastian (city)
  5. Saskatoon (city)
1 thanks


answered by
Dabs from Chicago

The 1st time I went to Turkey it was just an add on to the end of a Greek cruise, I thought I'd love Greece and Turkey would just be a place to spend a day, we've ended up going back twice.  I think Riga is underrated, it's quite beautiful with interesting architecture and great food.  I think Belgium is definitely underrated, I'd go there every year if I could, great food, great beer, beautifully preserved towns


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Turkey (country)
  2. Riga (city)
  3. Belgium (country)
1 thanks


answered by
Peter from Bloomington (Indiana)

I don't know whether Toledo is actually underrated, but before deciding to go there, I'd noticed that James Michener, in his book "Iberia," was down on it -- he described it as noisy and dirty and generally unpleasant. So much for Michener (generally a lousy, uninsightful writer in my opinion). Toledo is wonderful, with a truly medieval ambiance, magnificent views and what was, at least when I visited, a great parador (Parador de Toledo).


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Toledo (city)
  2. Parador de Toledo (hotel)
1 thankscomments (1)


answered by
Amanda from Canmore

Medellin in Colombia is definitely an underrated city. Actually, Colombia as a whole is underrated. This country rocks! Medellin is modern, and the El Poblado area is a great place for tourists and backpackers to stay. They have a plethora of hostels, coffee shops, and restaurants to choose from, as well as many bars. There are also multiple yoga studios there... awesome! In and around Medellin, there are lots of great hikes and areas to enjoy nature in. Medellin can offer something for everyone, and after spending a week there, I would most definitely go back for longer. 

Cheers,
Amanda
www.theworldwanderers.com
w
ww.amandakingsmith.com 


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Medellin (city)
1 thanks


answered by
Michael from New Jersey

Bath, England


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Bath (city)
1 thanks


answered by
Justin from Phoenix

I absolutely loved Brisbane. Sure, it's a bit muggy in the hot months ... but it's such a fitness-oriented, walkable city with something cool around every corner. I could spend days riding the CityCat up and down the river and just getting off at random stops.

And don't believe Kiwis who make Auckland sound like horror straight out of Blade Runner. It's scenic, easy to get around, friendly ... what's not to like?

If we're talking about Europe, it seems like every American yaps incessantly about Rome, Paris and London. Nobody here talks about HelsinkiReykjavik or Bergen. These are awesome cities full of independent businesses, museums, historical sites and cool architecture.

And to the original poster ... agree on Seoul. I also loved Busan. So much fun!

Just one more: Curitiba. Love that place!


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Brisbane (city)
  2. Auckland (city)
  3. Helsinki (city)
  4. Reykjavik (city)
  5. Bergen (city)
  6. Seoul (city)
  7. Busan (city)
  8. Curitiba (city)
1 thanks


answered first by
Ashley from Calgary

Seattle's a really neat place and doesn't get nearly as much attention as the New Yorks and Los Angeleses of the world.

Berlin is also awesome and it doesn't seem like people fully understand how awesome until after they've been there, in terms of European cities it definitely gets overshadowed by Paris, Rome, etc.


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Seattle (city)
  2. Berlin (city)
1 thankscomments (1)


answered by
Haitham from Riyadh

Cape Town is so amazing that i would go back with my family in the near future. 

Porto and Lisbon are one of the most underrated places i have ever been and to be frank portugal is hugely underrated.

those two cities (specially porto) may be the best i have ever been.


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Cape Town (city)
  2. Porto (city)
  3. Lisbon (city)


answered by
Joe from Houston

Not that I didn't think these would not be great:

LisbonKyotoMelbourneHobartLima (Peru)ProvidenceBarcelona

We would return to all of the above in a minute!


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Lisbon (city)
  2. Kyoto (city)
  3. Melbourne (city)
  4. Hobart (city)
  5. Lima (Peru) (city)
  6. Providence (city)
  7. Barcelona (city)


answered by
Ewa from Gdansk

BrugesLublin.. :)


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Bruges (city)
  2. Lublin (city)


answered by
claus

Mexico City Baltimore Tirana Kuala Lumpur Recife are all among my favorite cities on the planet.


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Mexico City (city)
  2. Baltimore (city)
  3. Tirana (city)
  4. Kuala Lumpur (city)
  5. Recife (city)




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