Have You Ever Been to 1 of the World’s Least Visited Countries?
Your passport grants you access to numerous countries around the world. However, most Americans choose to visit the same locations on everybody else’s bucket list. That means that they end up dealing with hordes of other tourists as they attempt to sightsee, learn about the local culture, or kick back in nature. But what if you could visit a location where you’re unlikely to run into many, or any, tourists at all? You can if you choose to vacation in one of the world’s least visited countries.
Read on to check out the countries that see the fewest tourists each year, according to the United Nations’ World Tourism Organization (PDF). Book a trip to one of these destinations and you may not see any other vacationers!
18. New Caledonia
- Tourists in 2016: 105,000
Most Americans have never visited New Caledonia, but you might want to add this French territory in the South Pacific to your bucket list. Lonely Planet notes that New Caledonia is famous for the beautiful lagoon on the mainland’s west coast, but there’s plenty more to explore. You can check out the capital of Nouméa, visit the lush east coast, explore the rainforest in the “great south,” or go island-hopping through Ouvéa, the Isle of Pines, Lifou, Tiga, and Maré.
- How to get there: Because New Caledonia is so remote, it’ll take you a long journey to get there. You’ll fly in to Nouméa from Brisbane, Melbourne, Sydney, Auckland, Tokyo, or Osaka.
- Tourists in 2016: 95,000
Vanuatu was one of the least visited countries in 2016, but not because of any shortage of beautiful sights or things to do. According to Lonely Planet, this South Pacific Ocean nation, comprised of about 80 islands, offers world-class diving. “Where else can you hike up a crater to stare down into a magma-filled active volcano then ashboard back down, snorkel in a blue hole and drink kava with the local village chief – all in the same day?” the publication asks.
- How to get there: Vanuatu is located west of Fiji, and is about four hours by plane from the east coast of Australia. You can catch a direct flight to Port Vila from Brisbane, Sydney, or Melbourne. You can catch a connecting flight from most Australian capital cities.
- Tourists in 2016: 79,000
Anguilla, a British territory in the eastern Caribbean, was one of the least visited countries in 2016. However, the island nation offers the perfect escape if you want to vacation at the beach. Lonely Planet reports that Anguilla’s “crystal-clear waters and vibrant reefs offer spectacular snorkeling, glass-bottomed kayaking, and sailing to tiny islets and atolls scattered offshore.” The island’s flat terrain makes it easy to get around by car, bicycle, or quad bike and explore the rich cultural heritage and history, ranging from ancient Amerindian settlements to European colonization and beyond.
- How to get there: You can get to Anguilla either by flying to St. Maarten and taking a ferry, or flying into Anguilla directly.
Next: St. Vincent and the Grenadines
15. St. Vincent and the Grenadines
- Tourists in 2016: 79,000
The southern Caribbean nation of St. Vincent and the Grenadines consists of a main island, St. Vincent, and a chain of smaller islands. In fact, the nation has a total of 32 islands for tourists to explore. You can explore lush rainforests, enjoy beautiful beaches, glimpse awe-inspiring coral reefs and lagoons, or even go yachting. As the Travel Channel notes, you can also see historic ruins and stay at luxurious resorts for the perfect getaway.
- How to get there: If you’re flying from North America or Europe, the major gateways to St. Vincent and the Grenadines include Barbados, Grenada, Trinidad, St. Lucia, Martinique, and Puerto Rico. From one of those locations, you can catch a connecting flight to Bequia, Canouan, Mustique, or Union Island.
- Tourists in 2016: 78,000
Dominica, a mountainous Caribbean nation, isn’t the most popular destination in the region. But you should definitely consider it for your next vacation. As Lonely Planet explains, Dominica “defies the Caribbean cliché on many levels. No mass tourism, no white powdery beaches, no rum-fueled pool parties.” On the so-called “nature island,” you can explore Boiling Lake, Champagne Reef, a rainforest-surrounded volcano, sulfurous hot springs, and beautiful diving locations. Dominica is also the only place in the eastern Caribbean that still has a sizable population of indigenous people. The Kalinago have lived on the islands since the 13th century.
- How to get there: Flights from the U.S. and Europe connect to one of the two airports on the island through Antigua, Barbados, St. Maarten, Puerto Rico, Guadeloupe, and Martinique.
- Tourists in 2016: 72,000
Timor-Leste, also called East Timor, is a southeast Asian nation comprised of several islands. Lonely Planet reports that the nation, which numbers among the world’s newest countries, makes a perfect destination for travelers in search of “mountains to climb, untouched reefs to dive, and ancient traditions that have survived the ravages of war.” You can learn about Timor-Leste’s “dark history” at museums in Dili, and then leave the capital to experience jungle caves, mountain villages, rugged cliffs, and beautiful beaches. You can even go snorkeling or diving to see coral reefs and other sights.
- How to get there: The Guardian characterizes Timor-Leste as a “land without tourists,” and notes that it takes a long journey to get there. You can fly into Dili from Denpasar in Bali, Jakarta, Darwin, or Singapore.
- Tourists in 2016: 69,000
Liechtenstein is one of the smallest nations in the world, so it’s not a surprise that it’s one of the least visited countries, too. Located between Switzerland and Austria, Liechtenstein “is pure fairy-tale stuff,” according to Lonely Planet. Visit and you’ll encounter “a mountain principality governed by an iron-willed monarch, embedded deep in the Alps and crowned by turreted castles.” The country has about 37,000 people living in just 62 square miles. But there’s still plenty to see and do in the country, whether you want to explore the capital, visit museums, go hiking, or see castles.
- How to get there: Liechtenstein doesn’t have an international airport. You can access the country from Switzerland or Austria by bus.
- Tourists in 2016: 61,000
Tonga is a Polynesian state and archipelago consisting of 169 islands. Lonely Planet reports that Tonga makes the perfect vacation destination if you want to go somewhere “unpolished, gritty and unfailingly authentic.” Because it’s one of the least visited countries in the world, it’s also refreshingly without the “flashy resorts and packaged cruise-ship schtick” you’ll see at other island destinations. You’ll find beautiful beaches, laid back resorts, plus tons of opportunities to go snorkeling, diving, yachting, or kayaking. You can also go hiking to explore the coastline, and enjoy the rich cultural heritage of a kingdom that dates back 3,000 years.
- How to get there: To get to Tonga from the United States, you’ll need to fly from Los Angeles to Auckland, and then connect to Tonga.
Next: San Marino
10. San Marino
- Tourists in 2016: 60,000
San Marino is a European “microstate” that routinely lands on lists of the least visited countries. Lonely Planet notes that San Marino is actually the fifth-smallest country in the world at just 23.6 square miles. Situated inside north-central Italy, San Marino is also the sole survivor of Italy’s city-state network. That makes it the world’s oldest surviving sovereign state and its oldest republic. You can see castles, monuments, and museums in San Marino, and Travel + Leisure notes that it also offers spectacular mountain views and beautiful medieval villages and fortresses you can explore.
How to get there: San Marino has no airports or train stations, so you’ll need to drive or take a bus into San Marino. Buses run from Rimini, Italy, which is also the site of the nearest major airport.
Next: Sierra Leone
9. Sierra Leone
- Tourists in 2016: 54,000
The west African nation of Sierra Leone numbers among the world’s least visited countries. But as Lonely Planet reports, that just makes it even more appealing as the region’s “secret beach destination.” You can explore numerous beaches and camp in the rainforests. You can also see colorful stilted houses in Freetown, hike in the mountains, learn about the local culture and long history of the country, and kick back on beautiful beaches and islands.
- How to get there: Sierra Leone has an international airport at Lungi, and water taxis offer connections from the airport terminal. You can fly in to Lungi from London, Paris, Brussels, Nairobi, Casablanca, Accra, Lagos, Banjul, Conakry, Monrovia, or Bamako.
Next: The Federated States of Micronesia
8. Federated States of Micronesia
- Tourists in 2016: 24,000
The Federated States of Micronesia, one of the least visited countries in the world, welcomes relatively few tourists each year. However, this country, comprised of more than 600 islands spread out across the western Pacific, is well worth a visit. This remote destination doesn’t have a lot of land mass, but it comprises nearly a million square miles of ocean north of the equator. Four groups of island states — Yap, Chuuk, Pohnpei, and Kosrae — make up the country, and each offers a diverse array of local cultures to learn and appreciate.
- How to get there: This remote destination isn’t exactly quick to reach. Honolulu is the most direct gateway to the islands from North America. From there, you can take a 14-hour “island hopper” flight that goes from Honolulu to Majuro to Kwajalein to Kosrae to Pohnpei to Chuuk and then to Guam.
Next: The Solomon Islands
7. Solomon Islands
- Tourists in 2016: 22,000
One of the least visited countries in the world, the Solomon Islands offers the perfect getaway for anyone who wants an untouched South Pacific destination. Hundreds of islands comprise the nation that Lonely Planet characterizes as ” laid-back, welcoming, and often surprisingly untouched.” You can check out World War II relics and ruins, leaf-hut villages, volcanic islands, lush mangroves, lagoons, forests, and shipwrecks perfect for scuba diving. Just don’t expect to see white sand beaches or high-end resorts. You’ll see traditional guesthouses — and no crowds of tourists — instead.
- How to get there: You can fly into Honiara from Brisbane, Sydney, Nadi, Port Moresby, or Port Vila. For Americans, that means it’s a pretty long journey.
Next: American Samoa
6. American Samoa
- Tourists in 2016: 20,000
In addition to numbering among the least visited countries in the world, the American Samoa is a U.S. territory, and therefore one of the unique overseas destinations that Americans can visit without a passport. The territory consists of five islands and two coral atolls. Lonely Planet characterizes it as “one of the most breathtakingly beautiful pockets of Polynesia.” You can see mountains, beaches, harbors, and villages. You can also learn about the local culture and traditions and visit the beautiful national park.
- How to get there: The American Samoa is remote, and only one major carrier — Hawaiian Airlines — flies to the territory. Twice a week, you can catch a flight from Honolulu to Pago Pago International Airport on Tutuila Island. The international airport at Upolu in (Western) Samoa services flights from Australia, New Zealand, and Fiji, and you can connect to Tutuila from Upolu by small aircraft.
Next: The Marshall Islands
5. Marshall Islands
- Tourists in 2016: 10,000
The Marshall Islands, one of the least visited countries in the world, consists of volcanic islands and coral atolls in the Pacific Ocean between Hawaii and the Philippines. The islands, which are vulnerable as the ocean rises, may be disappearing. That’s all the more reason to visit soon.
Travel + Leisure reports that one of the most exciting things to see in the Marshall Islands is Bikini Atoll, which consists of 23 islands. That’s where the U.S. tested atomic bombs from 1946 to 1958. Divers can access almost 20 naval warships and submarines, including the world’s only scuba-accessible aircraft carrier.
- How to get there: You can take a flight from Honolulu to the Marshall Islands. Island hopper service between Guam and Honolulu also stops in Majuro and Kwajalein.
- Tourists in 2016: 9,000
Montserrat, a mountainous Caribbean island and British territory, also numbers among the least visited countries in the world. This “modern-day Pompeii,” as Lonely Planet describes it, is slowly recovering from an eruption of the Soufrière Hills Volcano in 1995.
Most of the travelers who make their way to the island do so to make volcano day trips, see the volcanic ash-buried town of Plymouth, enjoy hiking and bird watching, and learn about the local culture. You can also enjoy sailboat cruises and helicopter tours. As for accommodations on the island, you can stay in hotels, villas, or guesthouses.
- How to get there: Air and ferry services depart from Montserrat’s closest neighbor, Antigua. Some U.S.-based airlines offer flights from the continental United States to the VC Bird International Airport about five miles outside the Antiguan capital of St. John’s.
- Tourists in 2016: 8,000
Situated in the middle of the triangle formed by Samoa, Tonga, and the Cook Islands, Niue, an island nation in the South Pacific, lands in the top three least visited countries in the world. Lonely Planet characterizes Niue, the smallest independent nation, as a beautiful and rugged destination for bold travelers. When you visit, you can explore caves, go snorkeling, see cliff-encircled pools, watch humpback whales, go kayaking, or enjoy beautiful hiking.
- How to get there: To get to Niue, you’ll have to get on one of the weekly flights from Auckland. That means a pretty long trip for anyone living in the United States!
- Tourists in 2016: 5,000
Kiribati, an island in the equatorial Pacific, comes in the top two least visited countries in the world. Kiribati is another low-lying island nation that’s threatened by rising seas. Even so, Lonely Planet characterizes it as a “nature-lover’s paradise.” Kiribati is comprised of 33 islands that offer unparalleled opportunities for fishing, bird-watching, diving, and surfing. As Lonely Planet reports, “this remote destination is worth the trek while there are still people living here to welcome you.”
- How to get there: The largest individual atoll in the island group, Kiritmati, is the center of Kiribati’s tourism. You can access it via weekly flights from Honolulu, Hawaii, or Nadi, Fiji.
- Tourists in 2016: 2,000
Tuvalu, an island nation in the Pacific, is one of the smallest nations in the world and the very least visited country each year. According to Lonely Planet, “The landmass of Fongafale Islet … Tuvalu’s main island, is so startlingly narrow that as the plane nears the airstrip it seems as if it’s about to tip into the ocean. In fact, the airstrip is something of a social hub.” You can choose from a small assortment of accommodations on Fongafale, and explore the nation’s nine atolls where you’ll find ample opportunities for diving, snorkeling, yachting, and learning about local culture and traditions.
- How to get there: The only way to fly in to Tuvalu is to catch a flight from Suva, the capital of Fiji, into Funafuti.