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6 Underrated Vacation Destinations for Seniors

By Julia Hammond
Read time: 5 minutes

Whether you enjoy traipsing around European cities, sunning yourself on a Caribbean beach, or heading off the beaten track in the most remote corners of the planet, age shouldn’t be a barrier to going to places that make you happy. Some destinations, however, have particular appeal for seniors. Here are six unexpected senior vacation destinations that are underrated but well worth visiting.

Uruguay

Sandy beach and waterfront buildings in Montevideo, Uruguay
Credit: Leonid Andronov/ iStock via Getty Images 

While destinations such as Peru and Patagonia feature on many a bucket list, visitors from outside of South America often overlook Uruguay. Yet, this small coastal nation bordering Argentina and Brazil has much to offer senior travelers. 

The charming cobblestone streets of Colonia del Sacramento are a popular day trip from the Argentinian capital of Buenos Aires, while artsy Montevideo — the country’s relaxed capital — boasts a slew of belle époque, art deco, and modernist buildings to admire. Uruguay’s beaches, such as those at jet-set favorite Punta del Este, are among the most beautiful on the continent. Meanwhile, the country’s verdant interior promises family-run wineries and authentic ranch stays. Time your visit to catch the Fiesta de la Patria Gaucha, one of the region’s biggest heritage festivals, which takes place in Tacuarembó each March.  

Bulgaria

Buildings on steep cliffside in Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria
Credit: SilvanBachmann/ iStock via Getty Images

Not only is Bulgaria one of the best-value destinations in the EU, but the Balkan country also has a long tradition of hospitality, making it an enticing prospect for senior travelers. Though Europeans are most often drawn to its Black Sea beaches in summer and lively ski resorts in winter, there are many other opportunities to see more of this fascinating country. 

Bulgaria is rich in heritage and culture, as well as natural beauty. Historic towns and cities abound — don’t miss the Tsarevets Castle while in Veliko Tarnovo or the Roman amphitheater in Plovdiv. Also be sure to visit the 10th-century Rila Monastery, which is easy to reach from the capital, Sofia, yet situated in the heart of the Bulgarian countryside surrounded by forested hills. When you’re done, round off your trip by the coast or cross the border into equally underrated Romania or North Macedonia to continue your adventure.

Laos

Street lined with homes leading toward mountains in Laos
Credit: jon chica parada/ iStock via Getty Images 

It takes a little more effort to reach Laos than to reach neighboring countries such as Thailand and Vietnam, but senior travelers will appreciate its charms. Luang Prabang offers a delightful mix of ancient temples alongside French colonial architecture and a bustling night market. Laid-back Vang Vieng, meanwhile, is surrounded by picturesque karst scenery and offers fascinating insights into the Hmong culture. 

The Plain of Jars, located midway between Luang Prabang and Vientiane, the country’s capital, is one of the oldest and most intriguing archaeological sites in Southeast Asia. Elsewhere in Laos, nature is another big draw, with plenty of waterfalls, caves, and forested hills to explore. You’ll also want to take a leisurely cruise along the Mekong River, a major artery in this landlocked country. 

Finland

Northern lights seen over snowy landscape at night in Finland
Credit: Anna Mardo/ Moment via Getty Images 

Finland has lagged behind the other Nordic nations when it comes to the number of U.S. travelers, but not because it’s difficult to reach. Flag carrier Finnair offers direct flights to Helsinki from New York, Los Angeles, Dallas, Chicago, and Seattle. Interest and awareness are growing, with the tourist board noting an uptick in searches for Finnish attractions such as its famous saunas

Restorative nature-based tourism, centered on lakeshore cabins and rural retreats and coupled with the opportunity to see the spectacular northern lights, is also attracting more visitors. Overall, Finland is a great fit for senior travelers looking to relax, unwind, and enjoy their vacation at a slower pace. There’s a plethora of adventure opportunities on offer that are ideal for the over 55s, among them hiking, fishing, and kayaking.

Lesotho

Winding mountain road in Lesotho, seen from above
Credit: steve_is_on_holiday/ iStock via Getty Images 

Mountainous Lesotho styles itself as Africa’s breathtaking “Kingdom in the Sky,” yet tourism is in its infancy. However, thanks to a smattering of comfortable lodges throughout the country, word is starting to spread about this friendly and relatively safe country whose territory is completely encircled by South Africa. 

Travelers of any age, especially those looking for somewhere off the beaten track, will appreciate the country’s unspoiled highlands. Here, shepherds on horseback tend to flocks of sheep beside crystal-clear streams in remote pastures. It’s an easy country to love, with the spectacular scenery of places such as the Sani Pass and Maletsunyane Falls satisfying even the most intrepid travelers. Lesotho is culturally rich, too, and there’s much to learn about the significance of the many different traditional Basotho hats and blankets you’ll see during your stay. 

Belize

View of sunset over ocean between palm trees in Belize
Credit: Cindy Robinson/ Moment via Getty Images 

The tiny nation of Belize is the only English-speaking nation in Central America and boasts the second-largest coral reef in the world. Yet, according to recent data, the only other Central American country which attracts fewer international visitors is Nicaragua. Many of those who do come to Belize limit themselves to offshore islands such as Ambergris Caye and Caye Caulker. 

However, if you’re a senior traveler keen to venture beyond the beach, Belize has a wealth of interesting Maya archaeological sites on the mainland. These include sprawling Caracol, surrounded by rainforest; Lamanai, first settled in 900 BCE; and Altun Ha, where 13 Maya temples and other buildings have so far been excavated. In addition, naturalist-led tours unlock the country’s wildlife-rich interior, where you might see crocodiles, manatees, howler monkeys, hawksbill turtles, and toucans, among other fascinating wildlife.

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