We’ve all seen the Eiffel Tower, New York City, the Great Wall, and the Amazon Rainforest, even if we’ve never been there. Thanks to the all-seeing Google and the all-sharing Instagram, we can piece together an online collage of beautiful travel experiences that spans the entire globe.
However, a few gaps still remain, specifically around lesser-traveled destinations that are smothered by the competition of tourist-hogging hotspots.
If locations like the Great Wall and New York City are considered diamonds in the tourism world, then these 35 least-photographed places are the forgotten rubies, sapphires, and emeralds just waiting to be rediscovered.
So break out your passports and get your cameras ready. You’ll want to visit at least one of these places before traveling to another tourist hotspot.
35) Guyana (207,000 tourist arrivals in 2015)
Guyana in South America is the least least-photographed country on our list due to moderate tourist popularity and a geographical reference in Disney’s Pixar film, Up. You won’t be able to find Paradise Falls like the movie suggests. Nevertheless, a tropical paradise is what you’ll get!
Dense rainforests, skyscraping plateaus, and beautiful beaches along the Atlantic make Guyana a photo-op haven for tourists and professional photographers alike. Its capital, Georgetown, is full of rich history, Caribbean culture, and landmarks worth experiencing. Make sure you snap some pics of the 120-year-old St. George Cathedral. It’s a real beaut!
34) French Guiana (199,000 tourist arrivals in 2015)
Two countries to the east of Guyana we have the next destination on our list, French Guiana. Aside from its thriving, diverse wildlife, space center, and historical towns, you’ll want to spend some extra time along its Atlantic coast.
Just 10 miles off the coast is Devil’s Island, named after its history of containing criminals (until 1953) as well as leprosy victims prior to the 1900’s. But be warned: even to this day, its rocky shore and shark-infested waters are not so fond of swimmers, prison-escapees, or tourists.
As a precaution, use your camera’s zoom feature to get up close and personal with the wildlife here. You never know what could be poisonous, threatening, or hungry for a snack.
33) French Polynesia (184,000 tourist arrivals in 2015)
Speaking of the French, if you travel to the South Pacific, make sure you check out the islands of French Polynesia. Crystal clear water, vibrant coral reefs, bungalow hotels, and peaceful beaches will have you saying wee wee for more of its tropical delights.
French Polynesia is 33rd on our list due to its popular luxury destinations like Tahiti and Bora Bora. However, with over 100 comprised islands to choose from, there are plenty of picturesque opportunities waiting to be captured and shared with the world!
32) Palau (162,000 tourist arrivals in 2015)
If you’re into kayaking through a labyrinth of rocky islands, swimming with jellyfish, or walking through abandoned World War 2 Japanese headquarters, Palau is the perfect place for you. Made up of 500 islands in the Micronesian region in the Pacific Ocean, you won’t have a problem finding something to add to your travel portfolio here.
(Note: Palau is not part of the Federated States of Micronesia).
31) Gambia (156,000 tourist arrivals in 2014)
Back on the west coast of Africa, the little country of Gambia is packed full of picture-worthy attractions like the Arch 22, Fort Bullen, and the Senegambian Stone Circles. There are several nature reserves and national parks that harbor a number of distinct ecosystems, and the Kachikaly Museum and Crocodile Pool is a popular facility where visitors can actually touch wild crocs!
However, don’t get too comfortable around these animals, no matter how photogenic their crocodile smiles are.
30) Bhutan (155,000 tourist arrivals in 2015)
Nestled at the southern base of the mighty Himalayan mountain range is the small country of Bhutan. Its authentic food, culture, and centuries-old architecture are driving forces for tourists to visit every year.
While you’re here in the Land of the Thunder Dragon, you’ll want to check out several of the Buddhist Monasteries scattered throughout the country side. If you’re looking to see some truly breathtaking sights, you can plan a week-long tour up Jomolhari Mountain in Jigme Dorji National Park.
29) Grenada (141,000 tourist arrivals in 2015)
Grenada, also known as the Spice of the Caribbean, is a little island located north of South America. It’s packed with pure white beaches, vivacious coral reefs, and adventurous hiking trails that are sure to zest up your trip.
One thing to consider if you’ll be participating in physically demanding activities is using a water-proof camera or implanting a Go-Pro-style recording device. It’ll save you the worry of breaking an expensive camera while capturing unique snapshots.
28) Samoa (134,000 tourist arrivals in 2015)
Samoa is a collection of islands in the South Pacific surrounded by reefs and filled with rocky, rainforest interiors. Many of the islands have small villages or may be uninhabited altogether— perfect for those looking to find some pristine scenery. After you check out the lava fields of Mt. Matavanu, cool off by catching a few waves down at the beach.
27) Cook Islands (125,000 tourist arrivals in 2015)
Halfway between Hawaii and New Zealand are the Cook Islands, a tropical utopia in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. There’s a little bit of everything here; from jungle trekking and snorkeling to bar-hopping and waterfront nightclubs, you’ll have plenty to experience during your stay.
Make sure you bring a few extra memory cards or rolls of film. Everything, even the food, is a work of art worth capturing here!
26) St. Kitts and Nevis (118,000 tourist arrivals in 2015)
St. Kitts and Nevis is a two-island country in the Caribbean ranked by U.S. News and World Report as the 7th Best Island in the World. It offers a mixture of luxurious accommodations and resorts for leisure travelers as well as safaris and excursions for adventurers. The island of Nevis is virtually unspoiled thanks to its implementation of ecotourism practices, which have preserved its ancient rainforests, beaches, and marine ecosystems.
25) New Caledonia (114,000 tourist arrivals in 2015)
While several Pacific Islands are known for their biological diversity, none can compare to New Caledonia. In fact, it has the richest diversity of the world per square kilometer. Over 3,000 native species call Caledonia home, including the New Caledonian Crow, a highly intelligent bird known for its tool-making abilities.
As if there wasn’t enough packed into this island getaway, you can explore multiple types of terrain—marine, savannah, tropical rainforest, and mountain. There are also plenty of cultural festivals and fairs throughout the year that you won’t want to miss.
24) Republic of Moldova (94,000 tourist arrivals in 2015)
What Moldova lacks in touristy cities and sandy beaches it makes up for in rural culture and rolling hills laced with vineyards and wineries. This landlocked country between Romania and Ukraine will take you back centuries with historical architecture, like the Soroca Fortress, originally built in the 1500’s.
Moldova is one of the few countries left where the local culture has remained relatively unchanged, despite modern advancements elsewhere in the world. You’ll definitely want to bring your camera to this time capsule of a country.
23) Vanuatu (90,000 tourist arrivals in 2015)
Vanuatu is a stretch of 80 tropical islands in the South Pacific Ocean with history dating all the way back to 500 BCE. Its Melanesian roots are prevalent in every aspect of the islands—food, traditions, and activities like land diving.
There are also a number of modern, luxury resorts for travelers looking for an especially relaxing vacation. And bungalows are available for backpackers/adventure travelers looking for a more rugged, tropical experience.
22) St. Vincent and the Grenadines (75,000 tourist arrivals in 2015)
The 32 islands of St. Vincent and the Grenadines blend British, French, and Caribbean culture into one luxurious country. Surrounded by crystal clear water and unblemished white sand, this place is packed with plenty of space to soak up the sun.
Several luxurious hotels are sprinkled across the island nation, with prices ranging anywhere from $120—$1000+ per night. There are also cheaper lodging options and excursions for budget-tight travelers.
No matter how you plan to travel, you will want to go see La Soufriere, St. Vincent’s active volcano.
21) Dominica (74,000 tourist arrivals in 2015)
Dominica, the Nature Island of the Caribbean, provides a mix of European, African, and Creole cultural experiences. Adventurous travelers will love the island’s wildlife in Morne Trois Pitons National Park and Champagne Reef.
For the less-adventurous leisure travelers, you’ll want to check out the local food and shops in the capital, Roseau. Be warned: the locals tend to drive more aggressively than what foreigners are used to, so renting a car might create problems. Avoid any possible potholes (figuratively and literally—the roads are terrible here) by hailing a taxi in case you need to travel long distances.
20) Anguilla (73,000 tourist arrivals in 2015)
One of the most laidback countries in all the Caribbean is Anguilla. With luxurious hotels, restaurants, and over 30 beaches, Anguilla is literally the place to relax and do nothing all day. At night, however, you’ll want visit the local bars and clubs scattered about the island.
One event you’ll want to experience is Anguilla’s Carnival. People from all over the Caribbean dock their boats in the harbor and celebrate with BBQs, soca music, and a unique “round-the-island boat race.” Anguilla is essentially the “chill and hang-out” spot of the Caribbean.
19) Djibouti (63,000 tourist arrivals in 2013)
Djibouti acts as the gateway to the Suez Canal, one of the world’s busiest and most heavily-guarded shipping routes, hosting thousands of trained army officials and security guards to enforce strict commerce policies. Crime within its borders is relatively low. However, many unstable countries are near and push refugees into Djibouti every year.
18) East-Timor (60,000 tourist arrivals in 2014)
Timor-Leste, or East Timor, gained its independence from Indonesia in 2002 after a long history of foreign occupation from several different countries. Luckily, this hasn’t hindered its reputation for being one of the most beautiful places in Maritime Southeast Asia. Be sure to bring your waterproof cameras to capture the exotic marine wildlife near the capital city, Dili.
What makes this place even better, besides its coral reefs, diverse landscape, and unique culture, is the cheap cost for staying here. You can find quality hostels and hotels for as little as $25 a night, making it the perfect destination for someone traveling on a budget.
17) Liechtenstein (57,000 tourist arrivals in 2015)
Halfway through our least-photographed places in the world list is the landlocked principality of Liechtenstein. It may be the sixth smallest country in the world, but it’s bursting with ski-worthy slopes, luxury lodges, and historical towns.
The Liechtenstein family has governed this country for hundreds of years, living in a castle seated within the mountains overlooking the Vaduz area. Unlike the low costs of the East-Timor, touring Liechtenstein is a bit more expensive.
16) San Marino (54,000 tourist arrivals in 2015)
Speaking of tiny countries, San Marino is Europe’s smallest nation and the world’s 3rd smallest country. This spec of 23 square miles was carved out from the Roman Empire around 301 B.C., making it one of the oldest surviving republics left on Earth.
Its steep slopes, cliffs, castles, and ancient history draw in a decent crowd of tourists. Due to its relatively open borders with Italy, the actual number of reported tourists is skewed and could be anywhere between 54,000 and 3 million visitors every year.
15) Tonga (54,000 tourist arrivals in 2015)
The Kingdom of Tonga is a South Pacific nation made up of 170 islands—only 40 of which are inhabited. In other words, there are 130 islands just waiting to be explored.
Its surrounding coral reefs and lagoons teem with vibrant marine species, and its rainforests host several indigenous animals and foliage that can’t be found anywhere else on earth. If adventure isn’t on the itinerary, Tonga also has plenty of luxurious resorts you can check out.
14) Faroe Islands (N/A)
Part of the Kingdom of Denmark, the Faroe Islands are a self-governing archipelago known for its mountainous terrain and steep coastal cliffs. Visitor data is skewed, with Denmark's total number of visitors ranging anywhere between 50,000 and 250,000 per year. If you visit anytime between the autumn and spring equinox, you’ll have a great chance to witness the Aurora lights. This isn’t your typical tropical getaway, however, so be sure to bring warm clothes.
Due to negative press surrounding its annual whale hunting event, the Grindadrap, there has been much controversy about the island’s culture, which has deterred many potential tourists. Before you make any assumptions, check out Mapping Megan’s article that clearly explains the cultural significance as well as the environmental impacts surrounding the Grindadrap.
13) Micronesia (35,000 tourist arrivals in 2014)
The Federated States of Micronesia is a group of over 600 tiny islands spread out in an area about five times the size of France. Like many other Pacific Island nations, Micronesia offers a variety of geographic features ranging from vibrant atolls and coral reefs to mountains and waterfalls. Its four islands states—Yap, Chuuk, Pohnpei, and Kosrae—host several different cultural groups you’ll want to engage with during your stay.
12) American Samoa (22,000 tourist arrivals in 2014)
American Samoa is a collection of seven islands sitting next to its more popular tourist neighbor, Samoa. The National Park of American Samoa and Lata Mountain provide endless opportunities to experience the biodiversity of the country. There are also plenty of economical hotels and luxury resorts available for every kind of traveler.
11) Solomon Islands (22,000 tourist arrivals in 2015)
Surfing, scuba diving, hiking, and beach lounging are just some of the things you can do at the Solomon Islands. Over 900 islands make up this nation, many of which were used as battlegrounds between the Japanese and U.S. during War World 2. In fact, several tanks, boats, and artifacts remain rusting across the islands after being abandoned over 70 years ago.
Different types of hotels and resorts are available on the main islands, ranging in price from $60 to over $300 a night.
10) Comoros (less than 15,000 tourist arrivals in 2010)
Starting off the top ten least-photographed places in the world is Comoros, the volcanic archipelago nation between the east African coast and Madagascar. After a turbulent history of political instability and attempted coups, Comoros is increasing efforts to implement tourism into its economic structure in hopes to alleviate its high poverty rate.
Mount Karthala, one of the world’s largest active volcanos, will help shape the island’s tourist effort, similarly to how it’s shaped the landscape into bizarre and completely unique formations.
9) Turkmenistan (8,000 tourist arrivals in 2013)
Sitting above Iran and Afghanistan is the country of Turkmenistan. Its abundance of natural gas and petrol has kept its economy healthy and stable, enabling many elaborate construction projects to take place, like the Oguzkent Hotel. Another such project is Alem Entertainment Center in Ashgabat, which broke the Guinness world record for world’s largest enclosed Ferris wheel.
If the country’s marvelous structures and cities aren’t enough to draw a crowd, Turkmenistan’s extreme desert environment could ignite a tourist revolution—literally. The Darvaza gas crater, locally known as the “Door to Hell,” is the only thing left from a collapsed natural gas mine that was originally lit in the 1970’s to burn away excess methane. What scientists thought would be a simple 3-week burn turned into a nearly 50-year, desert blaze that continues to this day.
8) Sao Tome and Principle (8,000 tourist arrivals in 2010)
Sao Tome and Principle rests peacefully in the Gulf of Guinea. With very little tourism throughout the year, the surrounding beaches and island sites are usually open and uncrowded. If you find solace in rural, exotic environments, you’ll love Sao Tome and Principle.
One site you’ll want to see is somewhat of a cousin to Turkmenistan’s “Door to Hell.” Boca de Inferno, also known as “Hell’s mouth,” is a high-shooting, marine geyser caused by the Atlantic waves forcing water into narrow subterranean caves along the shore. Obo National Park is another natural wonder known for its exotic biodiversity and breathtaking rainforest views.
7) Niue (7,000 tourist arrivals in 2014)
Behold the coconut nation of the southern Pacific Ocean. Niue, an island paradise of many deep caverns and coral sea walls, attracts a niche group of diving and snorkeling enthusiasts. Despite its well-structured island tourism, Niue is one of the least-visited placed in the world, with the majority of its tourists originating from Australia and New Zealand.
6) Montserrat (6,000 tourist arrivals)
The “Pompeii of the Tropics,” Monteserrat has slowly recovered from a devastating volcanic eruption in 1995 that destroyed the capital and made a large portion of the island uninhabitable. However, Montserrat has plenty of trails to hike, beaches to lounge on, and diving sites to explore.
5) Kiribati (6,000 tourist arrivals in 2013)
Kiribati has an interesting history of other countries using its resources for gain. During World War 2, the Japanese invaded the British colony and assumed control over the phosphate mining operations, which damaged the environment and forced many inhabitants to leave. After the war, Britain used Kirimati Island, one of the 30 atolls that make up Kiribati, as a base for nuclear testing between the 1950’s and 60’s.
Kiribati eventually achieved independence in 1979 and has struggled to kick off its tourism industry, despite its rich history, prestigious beaches, and world-class surfing locations.
4) Marshall Islands (5,000 tourist arrivals in 2013)
The Marshall Islands were also subjected to the toll of World War 2. The United States began its round of nuclear tests on Bikini Atoll in 1946, which made many of the other surrounding islands uninhabitable for a time. However, the country has used this to their advantage, providing amazing diving tours of sunken U.S. and Japanese naval ships.
3) Tajikistan (4,000 tourist arrivals)
The landlocked country of Tajikistan has been recovering from a five-year civil war that escalated in 1992. It's the poorest country in Central Asia, and relies heavily on Russia for economic support and security. As both the third least-visited and least-photographed place in the world, Tajikistan has many hidden wonders waiting to be discovered.
It’s also been reported that the locals are very hospitable and warm to visitors. However, national security is still somewhat of an issue here, so check out these safety tips from Word Nomads before planning your trip.
2) Tuvalu (1,000 tourist arrivals 2014)
The second least-photographed country in the world is Tuvalu, a tiny South Pacific country virtually untouched by commercial tourism. Exploring unspoiled coral reefs, refreshing lagoons, and islands encompasses the majority of what you can do here. This is essentially a place to relax and appreciate its calm water and abundant marine wildlife. It’s a simple, modest tropical getaway.
1) Nauru (less than 1,000 tourist arrivals)
Finally, the least-photographed and least-visited country on Earth is also the world’s smallest republic, Nauru. This is essentially the “final frontier” in the tourist world. With few hotels and only one airport, getting to Nauru and finding a place to stay can be tricky. Aside from exploring beaches and its interesting history, there isn’t a whole lot to do here.
If you like marathons, you can totally run around the entire island (19.5 km). Other than that, you may want to plan a short trip, just so you can say that you’ve been to the least-photographed and least-visited place in the world.
See the World Without the Cost!
If you’re looking for ways to save money while traveling to some of these amazing destinations, check out the free Ultimate Guide to Budget Travel. It shares budgeting ins-and-outs from top travel experts as well as additional budget-friendly travel destinations you’ll want to explore!