10 Most Underrated Cities in the World
Some cities in the world may not be instantly recognized on a map, but they should not be disregarded.
These are the cities that are frequently undervalued and neglected, despite their abundance of culture, history, and charm. Some of these hidden treasures feature old monuments, while others have thriving nightlife or an intriguing culinary scene.
When it comes to traveling and experiencing the world, nothing beats finding an entire city full of unique activities and magnificent sights.
Each of these places, from South American metropolises to European cultural centers to Asian hotspots, has something unique to offer every sort of tourist. There are hidden treasures like secret beaches and underground jazz bars, as well as typical attractions like museums and historical buildings.
Lyon, France is a historic city and is the third largest in France, and is known for its rich architectural heritage, with some districts earning a UNESCO World Heritage Site designation. As if that weren’t enough, Lyon has also earned a reputation as being the gastronomic heart of France.
From the cobbled streets of Vieux Lyon to the hilltop basilicas and art galleries in St-Just, there is plenty to explore. Foodies will love wandering through Les Halles de Lyon Paul Bocuse, one of Europe’s oldest covered markets and home to many incredible restaurants. Those who are more artistically minded can take their pick from one of several dozen art galleries – many of which host weekly exhibitions that feature works from local artists.
Nestled in the south of Brazil, Curitiba is a charming city with a population of two million. This underrated spot has become increasingly popular in recent years due to its exuberant nature and attractions.
The Botanical Garden of Curitiba is the city’s most popular attraction, a wonderful French-inspired nature hideaway with lush gardens, meandering walks, and sculpture-lined roads. The garden contains around 6,000 plant and tree species.
Furthermore, Curitiba is known for being one of the world’s most environmentally friendly cities. This city has taken initiatives to lessen its environmental impact, including the installation of bike lanes and the implementation of an efficient waste management system. It has also committed to obtaining 10% of its energy from renewable sources by 2020.
Zaragoza is Spain’s fifth largest city, yet it is frequently overshadowed by Madrid, Barcelona, and Seville. Nonetheless, Zaragoza has many stunning views and attractions that make it a great vacation destination.
Zaragoza, located at the foot of the Moncayo Mountains and on the banks of the Ebro River, is a bustling city rich in culture and history. La Seo Cathedral is one of the city’s several Romanesque and Gothic churches. The Reino de Aragon museum displays works by prominent Spanish artists such as El Greco and Diego Velazquez.
Foodies will want to try authentic Spanish cuisine, such as:
- Traditional paellas
- Cured meats
- like Jamon Iberico de Bellota, which are best paired with a glass of wine from neighboring wineries.
Hiking and mountain biking are popular outdoor activities in the surrounding areas for individuals who like the great outdoors.
Zaragoza also has spectacular architecture, such as the Palacio de la Aljaferia, an 11th-century Moorish fort that once functioned as a royal residence, with well-preserved courtyards and gardens. Shoppers will also enjoy browsing Zaragoza’s vibrant markets, which sell distinctive handcrafted things including Spanish pottery.
Chengdu, in China’s Sichuan Province, is home to the Research Base of Giant Pandas, a must-see tourist attraction. Aside from this prominent species, Chengdu has a lot more to offer.
The city has its own distinct lifestyle, complete with tea shops and delectable Sichuan cuisine. It’s a slower-paced city than its neighbors, such as Beijing or Shanghai, making it suitable for individuals who prefer to take things slowly.
Chengdu is ideal for hotpot enthusiasts as well as those interested in crowded night markets and vivid street entertainment, such as the famous face-changing acts of Sichuan opera. Moreover, with its moderate climate all year, it’s no surprise that Chengdu has become one of the world’s most undervalued cities worth visiting.
Located in the Province of Alberta, Edmonton is a hidden gem that often gets overlooked.
The city boasts a vibrant culture, boasting an impressive selection of:
- Theaters, and
- Thriving music scene.
Edmonton plays host to a range of festivals throughout the year, including:
- Fringe Festival,
- Folk Music Festival, and
- Street Performers Festival.
The city’s vibrant art scene also includes numerous street murals and sculptures.
Edmonton’s outdoor activities are similarly amazing, with several parks and open spaces to explore. It’s simple to discover the city’s natural beauty no matter the season – try hiking Elk Island National Park in the summer or skiing at Sunridge Ski Resort in the winter.
What makes Edmonton even more appealing is its low cost of living? It has almost half the cost of living for renters as other Canadian cities such as Vancouver or Toronto. Edmonton also offers several fantastic cultural attractions, such as the Telus World of Science and the Art Museum of Alberta.
Nantes, located in western France, is sometimes disregarded by tourists in favor of larger cities. Yet, this coastal city, known as the “Venice of the West,” has a lot to offer anyone searching for a calm and culturally stimulating trip.
Nantes has a wide range of attractions, including art galleries and museums, as well as spectacular architecture and ancient buildings. Visit the Gothic-style Saint Pierre Cathedral, for example, or the Château des Ducs de Bretagne, which offers a museum tour showcasing various times in the city’s history.
The city is also well-known for its entertainment venues, such as Le Lieu Unique, a former biscuit factory that has been converted into a 300-seat theater, concert hall, and nightclub all in one.
Nantes offers a wide range of culinary pleasures, including typical French seafood meals such as ‘moules frites’ (mussels with fries) and sweet treats such as caramelized pears with cinnamon ice cream.
Malaga is frequently forgotten, overshadowed by its far more popular neighbor, Barcelona. Malaga, on the other hand, is as active and diversified as any European city, with something for everyone.
Malaga has a lot to offer, from the historic old town to the magnificent coastline and neighboring mountains. You can walk through the old town’s cobblestone streets, visit the Picasso Museum, or explore La Alameda Principal, a lovely public garden full of exotic plants and flowers. The city also features a diverse range of restaurants and pubs serving traditional Spanish cuisine and area wines.
Malaga’s beaches are also popular with vacationers, as they are typically uncrowded and free, with excellent locations for sunbathing. Hiking routes in the neighboring mountains provide beautiful views of both the sea and the landscape for adventurous guests. With its stunning environment, rich culture, and a plethora of outdoor activities, it’s no surprise that Malaga is one of Europe’s most underrated cities—definitely worth a visit.
Just a stone’s throw from Amsterdam, Rotterdam is one of the most underrated cities in the world. If you’re looking for an exciting and vibrant city with a bit of edge and an eclectic mix of:
- Street art
Rotterdam is the perfect place to visit.
The Erasmus Bridge, the Old Harbor, and City Hall are among renowned sights in this port city. Furthermore, Rotterdam is notable for its modern architecture, including the Cube Houses and Markthal Rotterdam, the world’s first indoor food market.
Rotterdam has a lot to offer in terms of nightlife. The city boasts a thriving club culture that appeals to all interests, from techno fanatics to jazz music lovers. This busy port city also has many bars where you can enjoy craft beer or cocktails with friends.
Festivals are very popular in Rotterdam. This dynamic Dutch city has something for everyone, whether you like music, food, or art. In the summer, don’t miss a visit to Ahoy Rotterdam, one of Europe’s largest music venues.
Rotterdam also has many hidden jewels for those looking for something off the main path, such as cycling trips along De Maas or exploring historic locations like Delfshaven, where pilgrims used to set sail on their voyage to America in 1620.
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
It’s easy to see why it’s often overlooked—the phrases “Vietnam” and “war” are frequently used interchangeably. Yet, Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) is more than just war; it is a lively metropolis full of culture, entertainment, and a unique juxtaposition of modern skyscrapers and delicately built traditional Vietnamese architecture.
HCMC may not be the finest city for peace and serenity—it is one of Asia’s busiest cities—but if you’re searching for a destination where diversity reigns, HCMC should be near the top of your list.
Visitors are spoiled for choice when it comes to street food; from Vietnamese burgers (banh mi) to noodle soups, there’s something for everyone. Shopping centers are plentiful and luxurious, perfect for taking home memorable souvenirs or curiosities. Of course, no trip to this underrated Asian city would be complete without enjoying the range of activities on offer:
- Bungee jumping off of buildings.
- Exploring the many different neighborhoods.
- Soaking up their unique culture.
Denver, United States
Denver, Colorado, is known as the Mile High City because of its elevation of more than one mile (5,280 feet) above sea level. Denver, located in the Rocky Mountains’ foothills and adjacent to other tourist destinations such as Aspen, Boulder, and Colorado Springs, is a hidden jewel that gives travelers a variety of unique experiences.
Denver has something for everyone, from its thriving music scene to its outstanding cuisine – from world-famous microbreweries to fascinating cultural attractions. The city also holds a number of annual festivals that draw visitors from all over the world.
Denver Union Station, one of America’s most iconic train stations, is right in the middle of it all. It’s a magnificent architectural masterpiece that serves as a starting point for visitors looking to discover everything this underappreciated city has to offer. From here, you may take use of the city’s light rail system or go outside and explore its numerous picturesque parks and trails.
The modern era appears to be a golden age of travel, with nearly infinite opportunities to explore countries of spectacular beauty, distinct cultures, and wonderful cuisines. While the usual suspects receive a lot of attention, there are numerous hidden gems all across the world that go unrecognized. From India’s Pink City of Jaipur to Singapore’s underappreciated city-state and back to Italy’s underappreciated city of Naples, these ten destinations offer travelers great experiences away from the masses.
Whether you’re looking for breathtaking coastal views in Malta’s St. Julian’s or a vibrant street life in Colombia’s Medellin, these underrated cities have something for everyone—from adventurous travelers looking for thrills and excitement to those looking for a laid-back atmosphere with incredible scenery. These ten most underrated cities in the world will provide a fascinating adventure as well as a welcome respite from the rush and bustle of more popular destinations for anyone looking to experience something different than classic tourist destinations such as Rome or Paris.