When I was young, the sister of my Colombian nanny went missing as she tried to emigrate to the United States from Colombia. Kidnapping, drug-trafficking, and a number of other criminal activities were rampant in the country at the time, so we suspected grim news. Thankfully, she made it to her family in the U.S. safely, but the event was frightening to hear about at the time. The thought of visiting the country never crossed my mind. That is, until three years ago, when, inspired by a friend’s experiences there, I found myself in Cartagena and a number of other Colombian coastal cities. I spent nearly a month there and had the time of my life.
Colombia in general has greatly recovered from its sour reputation, and Americans have begun to flock south for vacations and extended stays. And it’s not alone. There are numerous cities and countries across the globe whose former P.R.-challenged images are on the mend, if not entirely rebounded. Better yet, many of them happen to be fantastic travel destinations thanks to scenic landscapes, inspiring architecture, incredible food, thriving culture, and lovely people.
Read on for eight formerly “dangerous” places you should plan a trip to now—before they become major tourist hotbeds.
Fredericks & Mae Travel Backgammon Set ($160)
“I've been eyeing this backgammon set by Fredericks & Mae to double as a centerpiece for my coffee table. The geometric patterns add a playful, nostalgic pop to my monochromatic living room. Plus, it's a great icebreaker for guests and gamers alike.” — Nairi Najarian, Senior Manager of Branded Content
Rifle Paper Co. Passport Pocket Notebook Set ($12 for two)
Steamline Luggage The Editor Carry-On Suitcase ($435)