Travel to These Five Capital Cities Before Tourism Ruins Them

BreakingModern — New laws, reduced violence and growing international reputations are making go-to travel destinations of formerly unsafe or unknown world capitals. Beat the crowds by visiting these five cities before they become overrun with tourism.

Valletta, Malta

It’s only a matter of time before world travelers discover Malta, an island nation located just south of Sicily. This tiny Mediterranean country has been conquered by everyone from the Phoenicians to the North African Arabs. Its capital Valletta was outfitted with a staggering series of ramparts and ditches to prevent further invasions.

Tucked between the towering walls and watchtowers is a charming city where sidewalk cafes serve delightfully affordable local wines and giant marble saints stand guard at intersections.

Malta travel

Bogota, Colombia

Colombia’s come a long way since the 1980s when kidnappings and bomb threats sent many residents hightailing it out of the country. This can be especially felt in the capital city, Bogota, where the easing of drug violence has brought home a surge of youthful entrepreneurs eager to open restaurants, shops and bars influenced by the countries where they took refuge.

You can drink some of the best beer in Latin America here and feast on highly affordable sushi, Thai fusion and barbecue, as well as modern takes on traditional Colombian cuisine. While travelers should remain vigilant and stay on the beaten path, the energy and excitement of a country on the rise is palpable on the well-patrolled streets of Bogota.

Mexico City, Mexico

Another capital outgrowing its bad reputation, Mexico City is most famous for its smog, traffic and crime. And while those remain ongoing factors, most visitors today will find Mexico City to be a friendly and affordable capital home to top-notch museums and some of the world’s tastiest cuisine. Shop with chefs and local foodies at Mercado San Juan, then visit the Zocalo for a limpia - spiritual cleansing — by an Aztec revivalist dressed in feathers and beads.

mexico city travel

Helsinki, Finland

Often overlooked in favor of its more famous neighbors of Stockholm and Oslo, Helsinki is a delightful mix of Russian, Nordic and modern influences. Contemporary art museums rub shoulders with Russian churches, and you’re never more than a short walk from a restaurant serving reindeer and homemade microbrews. English is widely spoken here and the public transportation is excellent, making Helsinki a very easy city to explore. Be sure to try the salmon soup and Sahti, Finland’s own juniper beer.

Havana, Cuba

New regulations are opening up the off-limits island of Cuba to more visitors, and hopefully it won’t be long until the island can officially welcome American travelers. A trip to Havana is a trip back in time to 1960s Miami. American cars, imported before Fidel Castro required government permission to buy a new foreign car in 1959, fill the notoriously clogged streets, and rooftop bars thump with the beats of Caribbean and African-inspired music. Visitors to Havana will find a refreshingly authentic city largely untouched by the trappings of tourism.

For now, at least.

Cuba travel

For BMod, I’m Helen Anne Travis.

Image of Malta: Valletta” by Derbeth via Flickr Creative Commons

Image of Mexico City:El Monstruo más bello” by Eneas De Troya via Flickr Creative Commons

Image of Cuba: Cuba’s Incredible Vintage Cars” by Christopher Michel via Flickr Creative Commons 

Helen Anne Travis

Author: Helen Anne Travis

Helen Anne Travis covers travel and lifestyle at BreakingModern. Follow her on Twitter @Helen_Anne.

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  1. Love this! Great post!

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