Collected by Kristin Zibell, AFAR Local Expert
It may be something that only the locals know, or an undercurrent of art, or a place that a wrong turn reveals, or the best view. A place's "Secret Spots" are hard to find and show its tender belly. It's also a place that a visitor wants to hold on to, but it's so ideal, that it's very hard to, indeed.
Raja Katra, Jorasanko, Kolkata, West Bengal 700007, India
While traveling around India I learned to expect the unexpected. Every turn delivered a surprise. When I was in Calcutta, a traffic jam forced my guide and I to abandon our tax ride to the Marble Palace. As we stumbled out the cab door we found...
Tomtom Mahallesi, Tosbağa Sk., 34433 Beyoğlu/İstanbul, Turkey
Ara Kafe offers delicious food, and it's filled with oversized prints by the master, plus a case full of his books. One of the inexplicable joys and surprises of a recent trip to Istanbul was the privilege of touring Ara Güler's private gallery. I...
Rue Ravenstein 23, 1000 Bruxelles, Belgium
My sister and I ducked into Brussels' Bozar museum to seek refuge from the rain and noticed that the lobby was littered with scattered pieces of hanging blue film. We were intrigued as to the meaning of the unlikely art installation and were...
222 Main Rd, Claremont, 7708, South Africa
Via Privata Adelchi, 5, 20131 Milano MI, Italy
Birrificio Lambrate is a well-kept secret in Milan, a city that generally prefers bitter cocktails to beer. The microbrewery opened its second gastropub just outside the city center last year. It’s already much loved for its free happy-hour...
Rue Yves St Laurent By A-Maps، Marrakech 40000, Morocco
In 1923, the artist Jacques Majorelle acquired a four-acre plot of land just outside the center of Marrakech. Inspired by numerous travels around the country to paint scenes of village life, and funded by painting more illustrious portraits such...
17680 Tenedos/Çanakkale, Turkey
In the Aegean Sea, not far off the west coast of Turkey is the little-known island of Bozcaada. Here, time stands still in the most nostalgic of ways. Old men gather in town square to play backgammon over tulip glasses of Turkish tea, shops open...
Costa Rica 5852, C1414BTJ CABA, Argentina
Behind a great and creative wall, a collaboration of street artists known in Buenos Aires, one can find one of the great (and secret) restaurants in Palermo Soho, Tegui. If you don't know the exact location of the restaurant, you might miss it...
San Nicolás, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Young Argentine chefs trained in Europe’s top kitchens are returning home to reinvent their national cuisine. Dante Liporace, the el Bulli– trained chef of Tarquino is one of the leaders of the movement, known as La Nueva Cocina Argentina. His...
Pátio de Dom Fradique 14, 1100-624 Lisboa, Portugal
Palacio Belmonte is a masterpiece—the type of architectural stunner that is said to be ‘mumbling beauty’ in every one of its corners. Every piece of material used to restore it, as well as every piece of furniture inside of it (like these blue...
Malapascua Island, Daanbantayan, Philippines
Malapascua, a tiny island in the Visayan Sea north of Cebu, is well-known for its thresher-shark cleaning station, where divers gather daily to see these beautiful creatures ascend from below to be cleaned by fish before returning to deeper...
St Dunstan's Hill, London EC3R 5DD, UK
In the midst of bustling London a friend of mine surprised me with a gem of a place surrounding the picturesque ruins (walls, no roof) of a church. An intimate, romantic garden with–in case you didn't guess the picture–an INSECT hotel! Its...
Oosterdokskade 143, 1011 DL Amsterdam, Netherlands
This is not a secret to locals, but off-the-beaten path (but still not too out of the way) is a place with a surprisingly tasty dinner for under ten euros. It's the library cafeteria. But seriously: That bowl of Thai noodle soup with...
Balcarce 946, C1064AAT CABA, Argentina
The Parrilla Tour is a fun way to be introduced to secret neighborhood parrillas in Buenos Aires. On the food tour you go to 4 different authentic restaurants, sample foods at each, and learn about the cuisine and culture of Argentina. There are...
Souk Ahl Fes, Marrakesh 40000, Morocco
If vintage photography is your thing, you can't miss Marrakech's Maison de la Photographie. And if a collection of 3500 photographs about Morocco between 1870 and 1950 doesn't make you swoon, you should still go. Because the Maison has a secret...
Lavender St, Lavender Bay NSW 2060, Australia
Over the past 15 years, Wendy Whiteley (known as the "goddess muse" and wife of one of Australia's most famous artists, Brett Whiteley) has lovingly restored a once derelict piece of land, owned by the NSW Rail Corporation. It's a magical place to...
835 W Harbor Dr, San Diego, CA 92101, USA
My favorite independent bookstore, located in Seaport Village, is Upstart Crow—a mix of eclectic nostalgia items amongst coffee drinks and stacks of books. Here is where you find peace amid the tourist busy bodies.
El Nido, Palawan, Philippines
El Nido, Palawan, Philippines: A close friend of mine, a surfer dude, once told me, "You can always tell where you are in the world by the color of the ocean." In the Philippines, the waters are a deep, aquamarine. So clear, you can see all the...
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