When you get ready to go on vacation, you probably have a destination in mind. Whether you score cheap tickets to Orlando, plan the weekend of a lifetime in New York or opt for a trip to Las Vegas (and let what happens there stay there), it isn’t unusual to have one place in mind. Occasionally, however, you’ll wind up with an opportunity to tack a side trip onto your vacation. Side trips give you the chance to visit corners of the world that you might never see otherwise. Plan ahead and you’ll be able to get even more out of your vacation than you would have otherwise.

Some side trips are downright crazy. They are cold and remote, home to the strange or just downright weird. When you have the chance to take them, jump at it. Here are 9 cool side trips around the world that are seriously worth taking!

The DMZ, South Korea

cool side trips in south korea

It all starts with cheap airline tickets to Seoul, South Korea. Around an hour to the north, you’ll be on the border of a foreign country – and one that is notoriously difficult to enter. Book a tour of the DMZ at Panmunjom, and you’ll come face to face with North Korean soldiers as they peer through the glass in the very building where negotiations are held. Make sure you take a look at the wires for the microphones: they trace the border between the halves of the DMZ controlled by North and South Korea.

Nuuk, Greenland

cool side trips in greenland

If you’re already thinking about going to Reykjavik, Iceland, you have a unique opportunity to visit one of the least-visited spots in the world: Greenland. From an airport right in Reykjavik, a short cab ride, or a long walk from most hotels in the city, you can catch a flight to Nuuk, Greenland (or, for another side trip, to the Faroe Islands). Bring some warm clothing – you’ll be inside the Arctic Circle!

Tallinn, Estonia

cool side trips in tallinn

Would it ever occur to you to visit Estonia? You can get cheap tickets to Tallinn directly from the United States, and it’s definitely worth spending a day or two in this quaint medieval town. But, you might have trouble filling the long vacation required for an Eastern European vacation with a layover along the way (that’s a lot of time on a plane). Instead, take a day trip to Tallinn from Helsinki. It’s only a few hours on the ferry, which drops you off a short walk from the old walls of the city. Before you board the ferry, make sure you stop at Café Snellman along the way for the best doughnut in Finland!

Related: Want to Go Beyond the City of Lights? These 8 Day Trips from Paris are Tres Magnifique

Cayman Islands

The delightful Cayman Islands remain the most fabulous Caribbean getaway for relaxation and adventure-seeking tourists. Shipwrecks and coral reefs beckon the divers as the rum beckons the bums. Honeymooners trek through the 200-year-old Mastic Trail while parents take their kids for an interactive swim. Whatever way you decide to chill, the Cayman Islands will oblige.

The Cayman Islands are an archipelago of three islands sitting 150 miles south of Cuba. The largest is laced with big hotels with all-inclusive choices, suitable for those who desire pre-arranged programs and are not bothered with sharing the sights with cruise crowds. On the other hand, the other two islands boast some of the best Caribbean diving.

Sao Miguel, Portugal

cool side trips like sao miguel

Sao Miguel is the largest among the nine islands, which constitute the Azores, and it’s a naturalist’s dreamscape blends intense, fog-laced lakes and soothing hot springs along with narrow cascades. Every corner of Sao Miguel begs to be published on Instagram. An excursion around Sao Miguel could have you exploring mind-blowing views of the Sete Cidades volcano, hiking through the oldest parts of the island, and swimming below hidden waterfalls. For lunch, you can try out tapas and an alcoholic drink while gazing at the jaw-dropping ocean.

In all honesty, the island is one of the most beautiful places on Earth, and you’ll honestly get blown away by the scenic views Sao Miguel has to give.

Cartagena, Colombia

Cartagena is a gem, awash with white beaches dampening the blue waters and all the cocktails and ceviche you could think of. Yet it still retains its mysterious and fictional appeal, riddling the old town. If you feel hungry, the city is laced with tropical food spots and many chances of imbibing rum and dancing with your hips in the watering holes. It’s where love oozes through the town’s historical bulwarks, radiating warmth and tropical magnificence in all corners. If Cartagena isn’t sufficient, there are water vessels nearby ready to take you to any spot within the nearby Islas Del Rosario – also known as heaven on Earth.

San Juan, Puerto Rico

cool side trips in san juan

San Juan is defined by its rich history and culture, fantastic cuisine, relaxation, quest – all packed in this Caribbean paradise. The town people are happy and welcoming, making San Juan a perfect makeshift home for you and your family. Around every corner, you’ll notice a celebration of life, fascinating rhythm, and sweet Caribbean food.

San Juan is the capital city of Puerto Rico, and it’s ranked among the top tourism destinations in the Caribbean. It’s three hours away from U.S. significant cities, and with no passport needed, you get to experience one of the most culturally rich cities on the globe laced with the extra appeals of a tropical Island. If you and your loved ones need a vacation, visit San Juan and get some sunshine to brighten up your world.

Washington, D.C.

cool side trips in washington dc

D.C. is an amazing destination, from the National memorials and monuments to lively neighborhoods jam-packed with magic. It’s a fascinating family trip and full of free things to do. In D.C., you’ll get to experience great performing arts at globally-renowned theaters, shop in historic Georgetown, listen to great croons at legendary venues, revel in sporting entertainment, and dine at any of the city’s several Michelin-starred hotels. The U.S. capital is one of the most beautiful, well-preserved cities globally and is highly popular for a reason.

Have you ever taken any of these cool side trips? Tell us about your experience in the comments section below!

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