12 Best Places You've Never Heard of
There are precious few spots that are both off the grid and out of this world. We asked a dozen professional globe-trotters to take us to their most secret hideaways.
Sucre has year-round high temperatures in the mid-70s and a collection of whitewashed buildings that have earned it the name La Ciudad Blanca. But it's the culture that Laura Aviva found most alluring on a recent trip. "Even functional items like potato sacks were woven with lovely striped patterns," Aviva says. After checking into the Parador Santa María La Real, "a little hidden gem of a place" with vaulted brick ceilings and interior courtyards, Aviva headed to nearby Potosí and Tarabuco: "The women emerged from their houses and started asking if I wanted to see their tejidos ['weavings']. It's a great cultural exchange-and an opportunity to pick up some amazing textiles." parador.com.bo, from $78.
RECOMMENDED BY Jonny Bealby, founder of Wild Frontiers adventure travel company. Explores Niger, Laos, Pakistan, and beyond for trips to the world's most remote locations.
You won't want to go to Tusheti if you're afraid of heights. Hidden deep in the Caucasus Mountains, the region's villages cling to dizzyingly steep slopes that are as picturesque as they are precarious. That's all part of the allure to Jonny Bealby, a Brit who has trekked across the Hindu Kush and journeyed on horseback along the Silk Road. Of Georgia's Tusheti region, the inveterate adventurer describes a land "with centuries-old defensive towers, mountaintop castles, and stone shrines," some of which, like Guest House Lamata, are being transformed into basic lodgings with simple wooden furniture. Newly open to visitors after the dissolution of the USSR and Georgia's Rose Revolution of 2003, Tusheti can now be explored on foot or from the saddle of a sure-footed horse. In fact, livestock is as common here as the fog. There are sheep grazing in almost every nook and cranny, from the rolling grasslands up near the ridged peaks down to the glacial lakes below them and all around the gorges coursing with white-water streams. You'll also pass through hamlets like Shenako, with a rough-hewn stone church and houses adorned with lacy wood balconies. At night, you'll be well entertained by the locals, whom Bealby describes as "the most hospitable and fun people in the world. There will be lots of toasting and playing of accordions. And you will find yourself drinking chacha, the local firewater, out of a ram's horn. You will just have to go with it." tourism-association.ge, doubles $15, doubles with three meals $30, horse rentals $21 a day, guides an additional $21 a day.
Eastern Antioquia, Colombia
RECOMMENDED BY Marta Calle, director of CB2. Commissions craftsmen and manufacturers across India, China, and Europe to create housewares for Crate & Barrel's lower-priced line.
Marta Calle is on the move so much that it's fitting her favorite place is a road-the Vuelta al Oriente, in Colombia. The looping, daylong drive starts in Medellín at the Vía Las Palmas and heads southeast into the surrounding Andean towns before circling back to the city. "I've never seen so many shades of green in my life," Calle says. "Everywhere you look, there are flowers-orchids literally growing on trees." In El Retiro, 21 miles from Medellín, a sweet little guesthouse called Hotel La Antigua sits amid historic districts flanked by plazas and caballeros on horseback (hotelantiguacasona.com, doubles from $65). Calle's favorite stop is Artesanías Caballo de Troya, a shop filled with watertight woven baskets, ponchos, and birdhouses (artesaniascaballodetroyamedellin.com, ponchos from $7). The rare restaurant with a name, Queareparaenamorarte, has the feel of a colonial house and is run by Julián Estrada, a self-proclaimed food anthropologist who sources traditional Colombian dishes (arepamor.com, lunch from $12). The arepas are served with butter, filled with cheese, or paired with chicharrón-crispy fried pork rinds. "Wherever you go, three old guys with guitars come up and they play," Calle says. "They all sound the same, they all look the same, and they all know the same songs. No matter how old you are, everyone starts singing."
RECOMMENDED BY Rob Kaufelt, owner of Murray's Cheese, a New York fixture for 70 years. Explores cheese-making regions—Ireland, France, England, Spain, Italy—for artisanal products.
One of the best dinners of Rob Kaufelt's life-and as a guy who essentially eats for a living, there have been plenty of great ones-was in the Piedmontese village of Verduno. "I was staying at the Castello di Verduno, and the restaurant there was just incredible," Kaufelt says. He describes plates full of white-truffled pasta dishes. Dinner was served in a red-walled dining room with soaring ceilings in a crumbling 18th-century castle. In good weather, you can decamp to the palm-dotted garden to sip Barolo made from local grapes and cellared in barrels beneath the hotel. The Castello makes an ideal base for a foodie pilgrimage through Piedmont. "The whole region is teeming with good food-I almost smashed up my car when a family of wild boars went running across the road in front of me once," Kaufelt says. castellodiverduno.com, sage-grilled trout, $24.