Exploring the World’s Best Kept Secret ‘Destination Dupes’
Travel4 Minutes Read

Exploring the World’s Best Kept Secret ‘Destination Dupes’

January 11, 2024 Share

Destination dupes: Think of them as the indie bands of the travel world.

In the landscape of travel, the emergence of “destination dupes” is like a breath of fresh air for the wanderlust-stricken. These are not your run-of-the-mill knock-offs, but rather, savvy, under-the-radar alternatives to those over-instagrammed and often wallet-busting destinations. Think of them as the indie bands of the travel world – less mainstream, equally enthralling, and (often) way easier on your bank account.

Why Destination Dupes?

Let’s face it, the world’s most iconic cities are drowning in tourists. They’re expensive, they’re crowded, and frankly, they can sometimes be a bit overhyped. That’s where destination dupes come in – they offer a similar vibe, culture, and aesthetic as their A-list counterparts, but without the chaos and the hefty price tag. It’s about ditching the cliché for something more authentic, without losing the essence of what made you want to visit the original in the first place.

Pattaya. Image courtesy of Ryutaro Uozumi

Pattaya, Thailand: The Laid-back Sibling of Bangkok

Bangkok, with its neon-lit skyline and pulsating streets, is a juggernaut in the travel world. But, let’s swerve a bit off the beaten path to Pattaya. Just a couple of hours from the Thai capital, Pattaya is a cocktail of sun-kissed beaches, buzzing nightlife, and a cultural scene that can give Bangkok a run for its money​​.

Valparaíso, Chile: The Bohemian Cousin of Barcelona

Barcelona? Been there, done that.

Enter Valparaíso. This Chilean port city is like Barcelona’s artsy cousin who chose paintbrushes over dollar bills. Think vibrant street art, hillside houses in a kaleidoscope of colors, and a cultural vibe that’s as authentic as it gets. The city has its own version of La Rambla, minus the crowds and inflated price tags​ (and, if we are being frank, the pickpocketters)​.

Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina: The Istanbul of the Balkans

Istanbul’s charm is undisputed, but Sarajevo is the underdog that’s slowly taking the spotlight. It’s where East meets West in a blend of Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian influences. The city’s history is as deep as the Bosphorus itself, but without the chaos of Istanbul’s tourist-packed streets​​.

Porto. Image courtesy of Alex Vasey

Porto, Portugal: Venice, But With More Port Wine

Venice’s canals are iconic, but let’s talk about Porto. This Portuguese gem is laced with riverfront charm, seafood that’ll make you weep, and, of course, port wine. It’s Venice without the gondola traffic jam​​, and classy alcohol.

Krakow, Poland: Prague Without the Crowds

Prague is a fairy tale, but Krakow is its lesser-known, equally enchanting sibling. With one of Europe’s largest medieval squares and a history that’s both inspiring and heartbreaking, Krakow invites you into its embrace without the shoulder-rubbing crowds of Prague​​.

Guanajuato, Mexico: Florence’s Twin from Another Continent

Florence in Italy is a Renaissance poster child. But have you heard about Guanajuato? This Mexican city is an explosion of color, with winding alleys and a history rich in silver mining. It’s Florence with a twist of Mexican spice​​.

Crete, Greece: The Santorini Experience Without The Price Tag

Santorini’s beauty is the stuff of legend, but let’s drift to Crete. Larger, less crowded, and more affordable, Crete is a cocktail of Minoan ruins, rugged mountains, and beaches that rival any Greek postcard. And the best part? You won’t have to sell your kidney to afford it​​​​.

Taipei. Image courtesy of Lisanto 李奕良

Taipei, Taiwan: Seoul’s Tech-Savvy Competitor

Seoul is a powerhouse of K-pop and kimchi, but Taipei is the city that’s slowly stealing the limelight. It’s a tech lover’s paradise, a foodie’s haven, and a culture buff’s dream, all rolled into one. Plus, the night markets are an experience you can’t miss​​.

Memphis, USA: Nashville’s Bluesy Brother

If Nashville is the heart of country music, Memphis is the soul of blues and rock ‘n’ roll. From the legendary Sun Studio to the vibrant Beale Street, Memphis offers a musical journey that’s as authentic as it gets, and you don’t need to break the bank to feel the rhythm​​.

Paros, Greece: The Unspoiled Rival of Santorini

Again with Santorini? Let’s switch gears to Paros. This island is what Santorini was before it became a tourist magnet. It’s got all the Greek island charm – whitewashed buildings, azure seas, and tavernas serving up mouth-watering Greek cuisine. The best part? You’re not elbowing your way through crowds to get that perfect Instagram shot​​.

Liverpool, UK: The Rock ‘n’ Roll Counterpart of London

London’s cool, but Liverpool? That’s where the real magic happens. It’s the birthplace of The Beatles, for starters. With its vibrant music scene, maritime heritage, and a cultural tapestry that rivals London, Liverpool is a city that dances to its own beat – and it’s way easier on your wallet​​.

Palermo, Italy: Lisbon’s Mediterranean Echo

Lisbon’s allure is well-documented, but let’s shift our gaze to Palermo. This Sicilian marvel boasts Moorish castles, jaw-dropping views, and a culinary scene that’ll have you licking your fingers. It’s like Lisbon, but with a distinct Italian twist and an urgency that whispers, “Discover me before everyone else does”​​.

Pattaya, Thailand: Bangkok’s Entertainment Twin

Sure, Bangkok has the fame, but Pattaya? It’s like Bangkok’s cooler, more relaxed sibling. From bustling night markets to rooftop nightclubs, Pattaya offers a unique blend of excitement and relaxation, all with a dramatic increase in popularity​​.

Curaçao: The Caribbean’s Answer to St. Martin

St. Martin’s charm is undeniable, but let’s talk about Curaçao. This island is a vibrant mix of Dutch architecture, stunning beaches, and a diving scene that can give any Caribbean island a run for its money. It’s St. Martin without the crowd​​.

Belize. Image courtesy of Meritt Thomas

Belize: The Maldives of the West

The Maldives are dreamy, but let’s turn our attention to Belize. Known for its breathtaking coral reefs and pristine beaches, Belize offers a tropical paradise experience that’s every bit as mesmerizing as the Maldives, but way more accessible​​.

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Author: Laura Scalco
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