I get it. You've been to London, Paris, and Tokyo. You've toured the red-light district of Amsterdam and partied in Berlin.
You are looking for places to visit that others haven't gone to, and that are undeniably interesting and exciting. Places that mark you as an inspired traveler.
Here are ten out of the way spots from my own list.
1) The Peloponnese, Greece
You may have been to Athens and walked the Acropolis, and flicked the sand off your toes in Santorini or Mykonos. But have you tried the Peloponnese? It's very rustic, unlike the more posh of the islands, and it doesn't have Athens' urban vitality, but the Peloponnese has charms of its own. It's beaches have the same gorgeous blue waters as the islands but without the hordes of tourists. And it has more historical marvels to see, from the ancient stronghold of Mycenae where Agamemnon launched the Trojan War to the stadium of Olympia, than any other part of Greece.
2) Visby, Sweden
Stockholm gets all the press and it is undeniably a beautiful city. But for my money, Visby has far more charm and just feels unique. Jutting out from its island with a majestic, stark power, within its formidable city walls, the city is pleasantly warm in summer and has great water activities, along with some the best medieval architecture in Europe. If you ever wanted to feel what it would have been like to live in a walled medieval trading port, this is as close as you will get.
3) Havana, Cuba
Cuba has been getting so much attention over the past couple years that it almost shouldn't make this list. However, it still doesn't get nearly the visits from Americans that other Caribbean islands do, and that should change. Cuba has far more culture than most beach spots and few places rival the beauty of the old port region of Havana and its long water-front walkway.
4) The Coast of Lebanon
Lebanon has had its fair share of bad press over the years; a 15-year Civil War and subsequent decades of government dysfunction will do that for you. But on my recent trip there, I never felt the least bit unsafe. And the country's coast really does have everything in a pint-size package you can drive up and down in a few hours: fabulous beaches, the ancient ruins of Tyre and Byblos, the Crusader ruins of Sidon and Tripoli, and Beirut's exciting restaurant and bar scene.
Malta is my favorite place in Europe. You just can't leave it off the list - give me three days and I can't imagine a better place to spend it. History from different eras, unrivalled architecture, a great and unique cuisine that crosses Arabic, Italian, and French influences - what's missing?
6) North Coast, Maine
It may be a couple hours drive up from Portland, but real Maine enthusiasts know the beautiful coastal towns of the North are stunning to visit in summer and lack the hordes of uppity Bostonites and New Yorkers (including myself, sometimes!).
7) Budapest, Hungary
Budapest is rapidly becoming known to Europeans as the "it" city of the moment but Americans have not really caught on to its charm yet. We are still hung up on Berlin but its rapid gentrification and re-newed embrace of its status as a business and political center have taken some of the shine off Berlin's other charms. Enter Budapest, which is said to be the closest thing to Berlin in the late-1990s that the world has today.
8) Belgrade, Serbia
And, when you've gone and done Budapest and/or it becomes the "it" spot for college-aged Americans in a couple years, go do Belgrade. Just now emerging, it is rapidly becoming Europe's grunge capital but also has an exciting emerging food scene.
9) Troy, Turkey
Troy is a pain to get to but for history buffs, it's worth it. It's fallen off the "basic" map for enthusiasts somewhat in recent years, as tourists flood Ephesus, but it's quite an amazing spot. For myself, I really could imagine, as I stood there among its ruins, taking part in an ancient Homeric epic (of course I recognize only some of you have those types of grand delusions!)
10) Oaxaca, Mexico
For my money, there is no better meal on this earth than a mixture of homemade tortillas in Oaxaca. That alone makes it worth the journey for foodies, and the amazing landscapes and historical sites are just a wonderful bonus.