Whether you’ve been dreaming about a friends’ getaway, planning a sabbatical, or simply want to go somewhere new, stepping off the well-trodden path to discover lesser-known destinations that offer extraordinary experiences is always a good idea. These more unconventional locales provide a collection of attractions and encounters that you won’t find elsewhere—and a chance to showcase imaginative travel choices and share stories no one else has.
To make getting there as smooth as possible, the United Club℠ Infinite Card comes to the rescue with exceptional benefits. As a Cardmember, you receive a United Club℠ membership which means access for you and your eligible travel companions to more than 45 United Club℠ locations and Star Alliance™–affiliated lounges worldwide, where you can seek refuge from the hustle and bustle of the rest of the airport, all while enjoying complimentary snacks, beverages, and high-speed Wi-Fi before the flight.
And with the United Club℠ Infinite Card, you’ll enjoy exclusive benefits that make your travel experience even more dreamy. You can skip making difficult decisions about what to pack, thanks to the convenience of free first and second-checked bags for you and a companion (terms apply). And you’ll earn 4x miles on United purchases, plus 2x miles on all other travel and dining, making a vacation in these under-the-radar places rewarding in more ways than one.
So what are you waiting for? Prepare to embark on a trip to one (or all) of these more unknown yet vibrant cities—check out their dining scenes, learn about their fascinating histories, and explore their natural wonders.
Cape Town, South Africa
Tucked between the majestic Table Mountain and the shimmering Atlantic Ocean, this South African city, with its unique mix of cultures, cuisines, and landscapes, is truly unlike any other. History buffs will want to visit Cape Town’s cultural neighborhoods like Bo-Kaap, famous for its colorful houses and Malay heritage, or take the boat ride to Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned during the apartheid era.
Then head east to the Winelands to sample some exceptional wines and enjoy breathtaking views of the verdant rolling hills. Nature lovers can also explore the spectacular Cape Peninsula coastline, hike to panoramic views of the city below, or search for the “Big Five” wildlife species during a safari on a nearby reserve.
While Sydney and Melbourne often steal the spotlight, this underestimated city beckons with a wealth of attractions. The capital of Queensland has become a cultural and artistic hub thanks to its thriving restaurant, bar, and art gallery scenes. Go to the lively South Bank Parklands, where you can stroll along the scenic Brisbane River, ride the Wheel of Brisbane, and explore the Nepalese Peace Pagoda.
Seeing the incredible wildlife is a must on any visit to Australia, so head to the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, the first and largest organization of its kind, and take photos with the adorable creatures. Or escape to the nearby Moreton Bay islands for world-class beaches and top-notch whale watching. Brisbane also makes an excellent launching pad for world-class snorkeling and scuba diving opportunities at the Great Barrier Reef. When it’s time to head home, you can ease your reentry as a United Club℠ Infinite Cardmember, thanks to a $100 statement credit for the Global Entry, TSA PreCheck, or NEXUS fee every four years (in participating countries).
Travel just two hours east of Dubrovnik, Croatia, along winding coastal roads, and you reach the fortified city of Kotor. Enclosed by stone walls that trace the rocky slopes, this medieval town is a maze of museums, churches, and town squares. After exploring the narrow streets inside the fortifications, hike to the fortress high above the city, and you’ll be rewarded with panoramic views of the mountains and water below.
Outdoor enthusiasts can also go kayaking, sailing, and swimming in the azure waters of the Bay of Kotor and explore the shoreline and its many islands and hidden coves on a motorboat. Then, as night falls and those cozy cafes transform into buzzing bars, Kotor’s walls light up the dark sky.
Panama City, Panama
The glittering skyline of Panama City effortlessly combines all the amenities of a major metropolis with easy access to incredible tropical escapes. Visit the historic district of Casco Viejo, known for its colonial architecture, charming plazas, and a wide range of restaurants and bars serving local dishes like sancocho, a hearty stew of chicken, yuca, potatoes, plantains; and fresh ceviche made with local fish plucked from nearby waters.
Take a tour of the Panama Canal and its impressive locks, and then visit the striking Biomuseo—the Frank Gehry-designed museum dedicated to Central America’s biodiversity and natural history. Then witness it for yourself on a trip to nearby rainforests or the white sand beaches of the San Blas Islands, where incredible snorkeling and scuba diving opportunities abound.
You’ll immediately notice the neon-lit streets of edgy Osaka exude a fun-loving energy. Japan’s third-largest city is famous for its culinary delights like okonomiyaki, a savory pancake of pork, seafood, or cheese; and takoyaki, fritters dotted with diced octopus and green onions. Or enter one of the city’s mysterious darkened doorways to savor a multi-course kaiseki meal at a Michelin-starred restaurant before diving headfirst into the city’s pulsating nightlife. And while it may lack in historic buildings (besides the architectural marvel of Osaka Castle) and picturesque shrines, there are plenty to be found in nearby Kyoto, the former imperial capital of Japan, which is just a short train ride away.
Remember, as a United Club℠ Infinite Cardmember, you can get even closer to your next vacation by earning 4x miles on United purchases. So if you yearn to see the far corners of the world beyond the most popular places, start with the United Club℠ Infinite Card and venture on a journey to one of these hidden treasures.