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The Most Unique Getaways Around The World

For most travellers, the feeling of discovering the beauty and wonders of a new place is unmatched. Getting tired of planning your trip and want to avoid the same bustling and crowded cities? We’ve put together a list of the best unusual holiday destinations in the world for unique getaways.

We have ranked cities in the most populated countries around the world based on the number of unique, hidden and interesting things to do as listed on AtlasObscura, per 100,000 of the population to reveal the world’s best locations for a secret escape.

The world is full of unique destinations to visit / GETTY IMAGES

The most unique getaways around the world

So you’re an adventurous traveller and you’re looking for an unusual holiday destination?

Not many tourists are brave enough to go ‘off the beaten track’, but for those who are, the experience is priceless. In a time where travel has been restricted for so long, there is never a better time to break away from the crowd than now. Don’t forget to sort you international health insurance though to have peace of mind when you travel.

Uniqiue getaways and unusual holiday destinations in the world

The best unique getaway cities in the world can be found in the US; with both Washington D.C and San Francisco ranking in the overall top five.

By analysing each city based on the number of unique and interesting things to do, we discovered the world’s best cities for a unique getaway. AtlasObscura lists unusual activities from niche museums to flower gardens.

The best cities in the world for a unique getaway

The White House in twilight, Washington D.C. / GETTY IMAGES

1/ Washington, D.C., United States

Although Washington, D.C. is most known for being home to the US Capitol and the White House, there are plenty of unique and interesting things to do in the city.

Travellers visiting Washington, D.C. can explore the Dupont Underground, an abandoned tunnel turned art space, or see the Exorcist steps used in the classic horror movie.

In Washington, D.C., there are 33.49 hidden and unusual things to do per 100,000 of the population.

View of Edinburgh Castle from Calton Hill / GETTY IMAGES

2/ Edinburgh, United Kingdom

Famous for its rich history and culture preserved in castles, Edinburgh in Scotland is one of the world’s best cities for a unique travel vacation.

Edinburgh’s interesting sights and attractions include the Holyrood Abbey Ruins and the Witches’ Well.

Edinburgh has 30.29 hidden and unique things to do per 100,000 residents.

A cable car on California Street, San Francisco / GETTY IMAGES

3/ San Francisco, United States

San Francisco is known for being a haven for creatives and tech fanatics, with an innovative and defining culture.

There are 21.49 cool and hidden things to do per 100,000 in the city of San Francisco, including Magowan’s Infinite Mirror Maze, a rainbow-lit mirror maze to get lost in.

View of Grand Place Square at dusk, Brussels / GETTY IMAGES

4/ Brussels, Belgium

Brussels is famous for its rich political history and hosting one of the most famous electronic music festivals in the world. However, Belgium’s capital city has many more unique and unusual sights to offer, as one of the world’s top unique travel destinations.

Travellers visiting Brussels can tour the Comic Strip Route, a large collection of over 50 comic book-themed murals, or visit the Atomium, a structure of stainless steel spheres offering panoramic views of the city.

Brussels has 16.06 hidden and unique things to do per 100,000 of the population.

The bustling, compact island of Gamla Stan, Stockholm / GETTY IMAGES

5/ Stockholm, Sweden

Stockholm is home to a distinctive and innovative culture, from historic picturesque streets to more open green spaces than most other capital cities. Often regarded as one of the most beautiful cities the world has to offer, Stockholm is one of the best hidden gems to travel to.

Some of Stockholm’s most interesting attractions and things to do include the world’s largest model of the solar system and the Colour by Numbers tower, which lets anyone control the tower lights using just a smartphone.

There are 11.89 unique and unusual things to do per 100,000 in Stockholm, so it’s a definite bucket list addition for adventurous travellers.

The best 20 cities for a unique getaway

Rank City, country Hidden & unusual things to do Hidden & unusual things to do per 100k people
1 Washington, D.C. United States 232 33.49
2 Edinburgh, United Kingdom 146 30.29
3 San Francisco, United States 188 21.49
4 Brussels, Belgium 28 16.06
5 Stockholm, Sweden 116 11.89
6 Glasgow, United Kingdom 60 10.02
7 Dublin, Ireland 42 7.72
8 Amsterdam, Netherlands 58 7.06
9 Manchester, United Kingdom 29 5.24
10 Copenhagen, Denmark 28 4.65
11 Lisbon, Portugal 23 4.56
12 London, United Kingdom 405 3.96
13 New York, United States 699 3.39
14 Rome, Italy 129 3.30
15 Vienna, Austria 58 3.03
16 Oslo, Norway 18 2.84
17 Helsinki, Finland 17 2.69
18 Budapest, Hungary 47 2.68
19 Berlin, Germany 108 2.65
20 Nicosia, Cyprus 3 2.58
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Woman trying a small octopus snack at street food market in Kyoto, Japan / GETTY IMAGES

The best cities for unique food and drinks

One of the best parts of a holiday is the food and drink. So without a doubt, a unique getaway has to feature some pretty impressive and unusual gastronomic delights. In addition to Washington, D.C. being the best city for a unique getaway, it also tops the list when it comes to places to eat and drink.

List of Top 5 unique getaway locations for food and drink

1/ Washington, D.C., United States

Washington, D.C. has more unique and interesting places for food and drink than any other city per 100,000 people. Washington, D.C. offers 1.44 hidden and unique food and drink establishments for every 100,000 of the population.

2/ Brussels, Belgium

Brussels is one of the best hidden gems to travel to for those seeking a unique dining experience. With 1.15 hidden and unusual places for food and drink per 100,000 people, Brussels is a must-visit destination for foodies.

3/ Edinburgh, United Kingdom

Edinburgh is one of the best cities in the world for a growing unique food scene. Home to 1.04 hidden and unique places for food and drink per 100,000 people, Edinburgh is an essential travel destination for food lovers.

Top 20 holiday destinations for unique food and drink

Rank City, country Interesting places to eat & drink Interesting places to eat & drink per 100k people
1 Washington, D.C. United States 10 1.44
2 Brussels, Belgium 2 1.15
3 Edinburgh, United Kingdom 5 1.04
4 San Francisco, United States 7 0.80
5 Amsterdam, Netherlands 6 0.73
6 Glasgow, United Kingdom 4 0.67
7 Stockholm, Sweden 5 0.51
8 New York, United States 82 0.40
8 Lisbon, Portugal 2 0.40
10 Dublin, Ireland 2 0.37
11 Manchester, United Kingdom 2 0.36
12 Miami, United States 15 0.26
13 Vienna, Austria 4 0.21
13 London, United Kingdom 21 0.21
15 Kyoto, Japan 3 0.20
15 Berlin, Germany 8 0.20
17 Montreal, Canada 3 0.18
18 Budapest, Hungary 3 0.17
18 Copenhagen, Denmark 1 0.17
20 Chicago, United States 10 0.11
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Mont des Arts in Brussels in the evening / GETTY IMAGES

Unique Art Destination Vacations

From paintings and drawings to statues and sculptures; from the bizarre to the beautiful. Art is unique to everyone. But where are the top destinations to visit if you’re looking for something different on your travels?

List of the top 5 best cities in the world for unique art

1/ Edinburgh, United Kingdom

Edinburgh is a city with a deep connection to the arts. Home to the Scottish National Gallery, it’s a bucket-list unique travel destination for creative travellers. Edinburgh has 4.56 hidden and unusual things to do related to art, per 100,000 people.

2/ Brussels, Belgium

Brussels is the birthplace of hundreds of artists, from musicians to painters and the city has plenty to offer for artistic travellers. There are 1.15 cool and unusual things to do related to art for every 100,000 people in Brussels.

3/ San Francisco, United States

San Francisco is known for being a cultural melting pot and creative hub. It’s no surprise there are more cool and hidden artistic things to do in San Francisco than in most other cities in the world.

Top 20 travel destinations for unique art

Rank City, country Hidden and unusual things to do Hidden and unusual things to do per 100k people
1 Edinburgh, United Kingdom 22 4.56
2 Brussels, Belgium 4 2.29
3 San Francisco, United States 15 1.71
4 Stockholm, Sweden 13 1.33
5 Glasgow, United Kingdom 7 1.17
6 Lisbon, Portugal 4 0.79
7 Oslo, Norway 4 0.63
8 Dublin, Ireland 3 0.55
9 Manchester, United Kingdom 3 0.54
10 Copenhagen, Denmark 3 0.50
11 Helsinki, Finland 3 0.47
12 London, United Kingdom 43 0.42
13 Warsaw, Poland 6 0.33
14 Miami, United States 19 0.33
15 Vienna, Austria 6 0.31
16 Montreal, Canada 5 0.29
17 New York, United States 59 0.29
18 Rome, Italy 9 0.23
19 Madrid, Spain 12 0.19
20 Paris, France 18 0.17
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Odeon of Herodes Atticus on Acropolis hill in Athens, Greece / GETTY IMAGES

The best cities for unique history and culture

Last but certainly not least, where in the world are the most unique travel destinations if you’re looking to immerse yourself in history and culture?

Washington, D.C. comes in first place again, with the highest number of unique cultural and historical things to do per 100,000 people.

List of the top 5 best cities to explore for unique history and culture

1/ Washington, D.C., United States

Rooted in history, when the Founding Fathers of the United States drew up the Constitution in 1787, they named Washington, D.C. to serve as the country’s capital city. AtlasObscura lists 12.42 hidden and interesting historical and cultural things to do in Washington, D.C. for every 100,000 people.

2/ Edinburgh, United Kingdom

The historical city of Edinburgh, famous for its castles and rich culture is one of the best unique vacation destinations for history. The city is home to two UNESCO World Heritage Sites and offers 5.19 hidden and interesting things to do relating to history and culture, per 100,000 residents.

3/ Glasgow, United Kingdom

The second Scottish city in the top-three, Glasgow is often overlooked in terms of culture due to the rich history of neighbouring city Edinburgh. However, Glasgow is home to 1.34 unique historical and cultural things to do per 100,000 people.

Top 20 unique travel destinations for history and culture

Rank City, country Hidden and unusual things to do Hidden and unusual things to do per 100k people
1 Washington, D.C. United States 86 12.42
2 Edinburgh, United Kingdom 25 5.19
3 Glasgow, United Kingdom 8 1.34
4 Dublin, Ireland 6 1.10
5 Stockholm, Sweden 10 1.03
6 Nicosia, Cyprus 1 0.86
7 Lisbon, Portugal 3 0.59
8 Rome, Italy 22 0.56
9 Berlin, Germany 20 0.49
10 London, United Kingdom 46 0.45
10 Warsaw, Poland 8 0.45
12 Miami, United States 23 0.40
13 Amsterdam, Netherlands 3 0.37
14 Athens, Greece 12 0.34
14 Munich, Germany 5 0.34
16 Budapest, Hungary 5 0.29
17 Zagreb, Croatia 2 0.25
18 New York, United States 46 0.22
19 Philadelphia, United States 11 0.20
20 Birmingham, United Kingdom 2 0.18

Looking to relocate in 2022?

With the end of the pandemic in sight, there has never been a better time to think about starting a new life. Wherever you decide to move, just make sure you have the confidence of international health insurance. At William Russell, we have been providing worldwide health cover for 30 years, helping expats like you and their families to settle into their new homes. Speak to us today to find out more about how international health insurance could support you.

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Methodology

Using a list of the world’s most populated cities, and AtlasObscura, the number of cool, hidden and unusual things to do in each city was sourced.

A ranking of the most unique getaways was made based on the number of cool, hidden and unusual attractions per 500,000 of the population.

A ranking of the best cities for unique places to eat, art and history was sourced from AtlasObscura’s categorisation of each attraction.