1. Plovdiv, Bulgaria
The city that not even your trendy travel blogger friend has heard of! Plovdiv, the stylish older brother of Bulgaria's capital Sofia, proudly flaunts its eclectic history with a colorful patchwork of Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman architecture. Stroll the picturesque cobblestone streets, venture into the magnificent Old Town, and get lost in the hidden alleys that ooze with charm, whispering countless stories from the past. Don't miss out on the Roman amphitheater, one of the most well-preserved of its kind, with spectacular views over the city. Tired from all the walking? Take a breather at one of Plovdiv's many parks or chill out in the artsy Kapana district where graffiti-covered streets are bustling with vibrant cafes, bars, and galleries. Remember, it's not a rumor: The Bulgarian nightlife does go hard!
2. Tbilisi, Georgia
No, not the state in the US! We're talking about the land where wine and khachapuri (cheese-filled bread) flow like abundant rivers! Tbilisi, Georgia's capital, is the ultimate mix of historical preservation and swanky urban delights. Discover the spectacular 13th-century Narikala Fortress nestled upon a hill, accessible by cable car or a hike for the more athletically inclined. Wander the narrow streets and marvel at the beautifully tangled mix of European, Soviet, and traditional Georgian architecture. Satisfy your soul's cravings with a visit to the ancient sulfur baths, then reward your taste buds with some heavenly khinkali (Georgian dumplings). Tbilisi's booming restaurant scene has something for everyone, offering delicious local specialties as well as modern international cuisine. And let's not forget about the thriving nightlife, where friendly Georgian toasts and spontaneous traditional dances are guaranteed to make your heart - and your glass - overflow.
3. Valparaíso, Chile
Not to be overshadowed by its bigger, glitzier cousin Santiago, Valparaíso is an unpolished gem that will bedazzle and enchant you. A UNESCO World Heritage Site on the Chilean coast, Valparaíso is a labyrinth of hilly streets, jaw-dropping street art, and rickety funiculars that break every health and safety rule you can think of. Forget about the guidebook and simply lose yourself in the maze of colorful houses and whimsical murals. Need a breather? Settle down at one of the many bohemian cafes or restaurants that offer both sumptuous local flavors and marvelous views of the Pacific Ocean. And for a dose of culture, visit the nearby home-turned-museum of Chile's beloved poet, Pablo Neruda, known as La Sebastiana.