For culture vultures who have conquered most of the world’s well-known cultural cities and landmarks, such as Rome, Machu Picchu and Angkor Wat, don’t stop there. Take on this list of the seven best places – recommended by travellers on Booking.com – that are far off the beaten track and great for those seeking a taste of the arts.
The town of Recanati is home to a surprisingly vast collection of Renaissance art, given its relatively humble bucket-list status. As the birthplace of 19th-century poet Giacomo Leopardi, it’s also been called the “city of poetry”. The Recanati Museum and Municipal Gallery houses a rich collection of paintings by Lorenzo Lotto. Other must-sees include Renanati Cathedral and the Diocesan Museum of Sacred Art.
The sight of the fort of Jaisalmer rising from the sand in the middle of the Rajasthan desert is one of baffling, otherworldly beauty. Sadly, it’s often sacrificed on India itineraries in favour of the better-known Taj Mahal in Agra. But if you’re into culture, Jaisalmer offers a great deal more. Known as the Golden City, its ancient streets and honey-coloured sandstone buildings have an incredible history and are a delight to wander around. Explore the magnificent havelis (mansions and palaces) in the Old City and learn about Jaisalmer’s religious and military history.
Viljandi is a peaceful, historical enclave in Estonia that boasts enchanting, crumbling ruins in a leafy green lakeside setting. It’s often called the cultural capital of the country on account of its culture academy. Visitors will find lots on offer here, including a big annual folk-music festival.
Ait Benhaddou, Morocco
Sitting along the old trade route between the Sahara and Marrakech, the ancient fortified settlement of Ait Benhaddou has served as the setting for films such as Gladiator and Babel. With the dramatic appearance of being carved into the desert, the earthen clay architecture glows orange in the African sun. And with only four families still living in the ancient city, treading its dusty, sun-baked streets feels like exploring an open-air museum.