Throughout my decades of travel experience, only one thing has stayed the same: traveling to rural areas and small towns. For me, traveling along the unbeaten path provides a sense of authenticity as it opens doors for immense opportunities to meet new people, learn about other cultures, and take in the area’s unique local history. If you’re thinking about traveling to a small town, the following areas around the world are great places to visit.
This picturesque Italian town is a Unesco World Heritage site due to unique houses called trulli, which are small dwellings made of white limestone with conical roofs. You’ll also get the chance to soak up the beautiful scenery and gorgeous Italian weather.
This quaint Irish town combines old-world charm with astonishing natural beauty. Here, the Cullenagh River tumbles over rocky cascades and the town is bustling with shops, restaurants, and bars. Visit on a Sunday for the weekly Food and Craft Fair, where you can buy locally-produced goods.
This town was an important trading port from the 15th to the 19th century, and today it shows Chinese and Japanese influences. Plenty of interesting sites and good food are all within walking distance.
Chivay is located on the site of the Colca Canyon, one of the deepest canyons in the world (and more than twice as deep as the Grand Canyon). Although Colca embraced tourism, it hasn’t lost its disheveled high-country charm. Visit the market area and main square to get a glimpse Colca women in their decorative traditional garb, or hike the beautiful rocky landscape that surrounds the town.
If you love admiring large city walls and ancient medieval runes, Fethard is a great place to visit. You can see the ancient Holy Trinity Church, the Sheela-na-gig (believed to be a Celtic symbol of fertility and/or protection), and the Undertaker, one of Ireland’s “oldest unchanged pubs.”
Sedona has made a name for itself from the beautiful red rock formations that fill and surround it. Go on a hike or explore the art galleries and spas in the town.
Skip Venice and visit this enchanting Chinese water town, where pavilions, towers, and temples line the canals. See architecture from the Ming and Qing dynasties or simply have a cup of tea in one of this town’s beautiful gardens.
As the oldest walled city in Germany, this town seems like something out straight out of a fairytale. Visit in the late summer to see open-air concerts and plays as the whole town turns into a theater. Or, come in December for what is considered to be the most beautiful Christmas market in Germany.
Boat or fly to Iquitos, but don’t try to drive — it’s largest city in the world that cannot be reached by road! Located in the Amazon Jungle, modernized restaurants and jungle wilderness coexist in this unique Peruvian town. Take a boat trip down the Amazon, try local food, and explore the market located in the floating shantytown of Belén.
Robert “Bob” Heidersbach is the author of Metallurgy and Corrosion Control in Oil and Gas Production. The book is based on Robert’s experience teaching new engineers that need to understand metallurgy and corrosion control in the oil industry. He is currently in the process of rewriting and updating the publication, and welcomes any suggestions about how to improve the book. In his spare time, Bob enjoys kayaking, biking and traveling.