Hidden Gems in Major Cities: Off-the-Beaten-Path Discoveries

When globetrotting, we often stick to the usual tourist spots in major cities. But why not spice it up with something offbeat? Join us as we uncover thrilling hidden gems in major cities worldwide. This list might just change your travel plans!

From a Dubai oasis to a London serial killer museum, cities hold more surprises than we realize. Keep your eyes open and embrace the secret charms waiting to be discovered!

Even if it’s your first time visiting one of these cities, these off the beaten path spots are well worth a visit.

Paris, France

Sunset Eiffel tower and Paris city view form Montparnasse
Image Credit: Shutterstock / Kotkoa

Paris is the capital of art and fashion. It is also home to fine-dining French cuisine, romantic stories, and the one and only Eiffel Tower. This beautiful city also has plenty of wonderful places unknown to the average visitor.

If you’re a fan of scenic views, visit the Montparnasse Viewing Deck and see the city open up in front of you. You can also stroll down the Canal St Martin, a less-packed alternative to the Seine. Last, but not least, visit Château de Fontainebleau if the Palace of Versailles is too busy for your taste!

Rome, Italy

The ancient Appian Way in Rome
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The Colosseum. Pantheon. Trevi Fountain. Everybody knows these wonderful places to visit. But what if we told you Rome has so much more to offer? On top of the well-preserved tourist attractions from the past, this ancient city also has a fair share of hidden gems, such as the Largo di Torre Argentina cat sanctuary, the Aventine Hill, and its iconic Knights of Malta Keyhole.

If you want to walk down one of the world’s oldest and most strategically important roads, you should also explore the Appian Way, the oldest road in Rome, built for easier transportation in 312 B.C.

Tokyo, Japan

Tokyo skyline and Mountain fuji in Japan
Image Credit: Shutterstock / f11photo

Tokyo welcomes millions of tourists each year. This high-tech capital is famous for its authentic spirit and attractions such as Senso-ji Temple and the Meiji Jingu Shrine.

However, it is also home to countless off-the-beaten-path destinations like the serene Happo-en Garden off the busy streets and the entertaining Samurai Armor Photo Studio. Ever heard of maneki-neko, also known as the beckoning cat? You’ll find no shortage of these good luck charms if you visit the city’s remote Gotoku-ji Temple in the Setagaya district. After you’re done saying your prayers, you might want to enjoy the city view by ascending the Shibuya Sky Observatory for a small fee.

Bangkok, Thailand

Lumpini Park and Bangkok city
Image Credit: Shutterstock / chatnara

What happens in Bangkok stays in Bangkok—but not this time! We’re about to reveal some worthy yet sparsely visited attractions in this Thai city.

Let’s start with Lumphini Park, a gorgeous, peaceful retreat in the heart of the capital. It is ideal for strolling, unwinding, or going on a boat ride on a lake. Next, you might visit Erawan Shrine, a hub of worship and spirituality where visitors make offerings and pay their respects to the Hindu god Brahma. Suppose you’re in for some fun and music. In that case, you can also visit the Rot Fai night market, which is teeming with vendors selling antiques, vintage clothing, and retro items.

London, UK

Kyoto Garden in Holland Park, London, UK
Image Credit: Shutterstock / BBA Photography

Big Ben and Buckingham Palace are okay, but we’re not going to stop there. Explore London like a pro by strolling through Little Venice or following the 40-mile Thames Path, which leads to the locals’ favorite pubs and attractions, like the Rotherhithe village.

When in London, you might also want to visit Holland Park, a relaxing place. If you do, make sure to check out the Japanese-inspired Kyoto Garden. Looking for some thrill? Don’t skip the Jack the Ripper Museum, which tells the story of the notorious serial killer.

Dubai, UAE

An oasis of love in the middle of the desert
Image Credit: Shutterstock / Andrey Smolin

This Middle Eastern capital is best known for Burj Khalifa – the tallest building in the world. But did you know it is also home to the Dubai Coffee Museum, a true hidden gem that any coffee lover will appreciate?

To retreat from city life, visit the Dubai Miracle Garden, a sanctuary of over fifty million flowers. While the Alserkal Avenue art gallery is popular among art enthusiasts, those after a stroll in nature can visit the Al Qudra Oasis, a tranquil oasis on the outskirts of the city that features two artificial lakes in the shape of hearts.

Singapore, Singapore

Trial at MacRitchie Reservoir Park in Singapore
Image Credit: Shutterstock / PhotopankPL

Singapore is packed with attractions like the Botanic Gardens and Cloud Forest that greet millions of tourists annually. While the city is relatively small, it is rich in off-the-beaten-path attractions like the Museum of Ice Cream and the Trick Eye Museum.

For nature lovers, a trip to Pearl’s Hill City Park is also a must. This tranquil place lies just off the busy Chinatown streets. If you’re willing to take a short ride to the city’s outskirts, don’t miss the MacRitchie Reservoir and its 7-mile hike on the MacRitchie Nature Trail.

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Aerial Photo - Sultan Salahuddin Abdul Aziz Shah Mosque, Malaysia
Image Credit: Shutterstock / Muhd Imran Ismail

The Malaysian capital’s Petronas Twin Towers, KLCC Park, and the Royal Selangor Visitor Centre alone make you want to travel to the Asian country. But if you’re going to make the most of your trip, consider the less-visited yet Instagrammable LINC KL mall or Plaza Arkadia, a pet-friendly shopping retreat with an open-air area and warm ambiance.

If you want to go for a walk and learn more about botany, visit the Orchid & Hibiscus Garden in Jalan Perdana. You can also schedule a tour of the Thean Hou Temple, one of the oldest temples in Southeast Asia, or visit the Sultan Salahuddin Abdul Aziz Mosque on the city’s outskirts.

New York City, USA

New York City
Image Credit: Shutterstock / agsaz

Are you done with Times Square and Central Park? Great, it’s time to move on! Let’s explore New York City’s hidden gems with a trip to Ground Zero Museum Workshop. This 9/11 museum workshop carries many painful memories of recent history.

From there, you could go to the north of Manhattan, where The Met Cloisters, a medieval-inspired museum, graces the top of a hill. If history’s not your favorite subject, you might be interested in something more thrilling—a ride on the Roosevelt Island Tramway with the most rewarding views. Once you reach Roosevelt Island, stroll along the riverfront promenade and take in the iconic New York City skyline views.

Istanbul, Turkey

Chora museum, Istanbul, Turkey
Image Credit: Shutterstock / Firdes Sayilan

This ancient Turkish city boasts a long and rich history spanning more than two thousand years since it was founded as Byzantium by Greek settlers in the 7th century B.C.

Nowadays, Istanbul offers many popular attractions and even more hidden gems to its many visitors. Among them is the Chora Church, the finest example of a Byzantine church and home to exquisite mosaics and frescoes. Another underrated spot is Zeyrek Camii or Pantokrator Monastery, a UNESCO World Heritage site that tourists often skip.

Are you looking for authentic Turkish coffee? Visit Pierre Loti Hill outside the city center and enjoy its scenic views while sipping warm beverages.

Barcelona, Spain

Mountain, road way,Carretera de les aigues, Collserola, next to Barcelona
Image Credit: Shutterstock / joan_bautista

Overlooking the Mediterranean Sea, the Spanish city of Barcelona offers its visitors a wide variety of leisure, architectural, and cultural options. If you’re looking to try something different and off the usual path, you might want to visit the city’s all-too-secret Horta Labyrinth and the magnificent garden that surrounds it. The centuries-old Teatre Grec and Church of Saint Philip Neri, which survived several bombings during the Spanish Civil War, are also sound options.

If you’re traveling with your family, we recommend CosmoCaixa, a highly interactive science museum suitable for adults and children alike. Have you had enough of city life for one day? Relax by strolling on the 12-mile ancient Carretera de les Aigues trail.

Seoul, South Korea

Downtown skyline of Seoul, South Korea with Seoul Tower
Image Credit: Shutterstock / ESB Professional

Hangug-eo haseyo? Perhaps not yet, but after you’ve visited Seoul’s hidden gems, you might just unlock this new skill. Gyeongbokgung Palace and the National Museum of Korea aside, what other places in this South Korean capital are worth visiting?

The Seoul Escape Room, for one. This No. 1 rated escape room in the country has attracted millions of local and foreign visitors. Another interesting choice is the OME Cooking Lab, where visitors can learn the basics of traditional Korean cooking. Cool, right? But we’re not done yet. For the best views of Seoul, visit the Jeongdong Observatory. And if you’re feeling adventurous, go to the Gwangjang Market or Bamdokkaebi Night Market, and don’t forget to get us a souvenir!

Author: Zan Kokalj


Zan Kokalj is a veteran content writer, copywriter, and author inspired by the impact of ink on paper.

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