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What Does Hidden Gem Mean? What Makes One, and How to Find Them

I love a good hidden gem, and I am forever looking for my own! In this article I’m going to talk about what makes one, and how to find them for yourself.

Hidden Gem Meaning

Definition: A “Hidden Gem” is something that isn’t well known or popular, but has something special or unique about it that inspires positive feelings. The term is often used for travel destinations and restaurants, but people also use it to describe books, movies, games, podcasts, and more.

Another way to describe it, is: “something that has no hype about it, but should.”

Hidden Gem Synonym

Other words that people use to describe hidden gems in travel are:

“Off the beaten path” or almost the same, “off the beaten track.”

You could also say:

  • Secret spot
  • Secret corner
  • Hole in the wall (sometimes written: hole-in-the-wall)
  • Local haunt
  • Local hangout

Here are some synonyms and similar words for “Hidden Gem” that could also be used for favorite items, not just travel:

  • Underrated
  • Classic
  • Priceless
  • Nostalgic
  • Easter Egg (usually reserved for little details in movies)

Opposite of Hidden Gem

  • Overrated
  • Well-known
  • Popular
  • Touristy
  • Cult Classic

What Makes a Place a Hidden Gem

From here on, I’m talking about hidden gems when it comes to travel. That means restaurants, destinations, architecture, sights, and things to do.

Seeing as we are into Slow Travel and soaking up an atmosphere, I get a real rush from being somewhere that feels authentic and out of the way.

So what makes something a hidden gem anyway?

Hidden gems aren’t in guidebooks. They aren’t top tanking on Trip Advisor. They aren’t popular on Pinterest.

Of course that makes hidden gems hard to find, because what else do you do if not Google it?

How to Find Your Own Hidden Gems

These are my three favorite and most successful ways to find hidden gems when travelling!


You may think because something is on Reddit, and technically that’s a social media platform, that it can’t truly be hidden.

While yes, clearly someone knows about it, Reddit itself has many little corners where information hides.

Search in destination specific subreddits (e.g. r/France) or in the larger group r/Travel.

You can also search in r/Expats or r/DigitalNomads.

When in the destination subreddits, use all the search terms above, like “hole in the wall” and “underrated,” as well as “hidden gem” to find recommendations.

Atlas Obscura

Atlas Obscura is a super fun way to find unique things to see and do, all over the globe. It describes itself as “The definitive guide to the world’s hidden wonders.”

Type in your destination and see what comes up.

As the name suggests, this website is all about the obscure. It’s user generated content, so you will get interesting ideas from all different points of view.

Google Earth

Never underestimate the power of a bit of luck and legwork. Get on the good old Google maps and switch to satellite view around your destination.

Using this you can find impressive secret beaches, little known ruins, interesting lakes, or amazing drives with a view.

I also use this to hover over villages and check out any old churches or monuments that pop up.

Once you think you’ve found something that could be nice, switch to street view for a closer look.

Trial and Error

When at your destination, find hidden gems through trial and error.

Walk until you don’t see tourists anymore.

Try the quieter restaurants.

Get off the metro at a random station.

See where the world takes you!

Go Forth and Explore

I hope this gave you some ideas and inspiration for finding hidden gems!

It’s hard for me to pick a favourite tactic, because I love all four!

If I had to choose, I would probably pick Google Earth. It’s just so satisfying to discover something all on your own!

Have you tried any of these in your travels?

Want More?

Pinterest Pin reads "where to travel in 2022" over a background photo of a ruined church on top of a mountain in Bulgaria
Pin reads "bucket list food experiences around the world" beside a little graphic of a globe, over top a picture of a steaming hot spring.
Pinterest Pin - man and daughter in front of Emerald Lake reads "Travel doesnt end when you have kids."


A pink stone pond covered in moss in the woods of Sintra Portugal