Fringe Frontiers

Whether you practice painting, writing, photography, music or mindfulness, these destinations offer not just stunning landscapes, but also a deep well of creative discovery and cultural richness that inspired famous musicians, painters and authors. Keep reading to discover the less-Googled locales and wild, uncaptioned wonders where inspiration hides.

Rishikesh, India
Seeking spiritual enlightenment on a magical mystery tour

Pinned between the River Ganges and the foothills of the Himalayas, the holy city of Rishikesh holds deep cultural significance for Hindus. Although smaller and less crowded than Mumbai or Delhi, Rishikesh is hardly quiet — it buzzes with intangible divine energy. Dubbed the “Yoga Capital of the World,” Rishikesh attracts spiritual seekers of all kinds to the temples, ashrams and meditation centers of its eastern bank.

It’s in this traffic-free, alcohol-free and meat-free enclave that the Beatles visited for transcendental meditation in 1968 — and where they would stay for over a month to write dozens of songs. Many others would follow, claiming they too could feel the power of this place. From the silent meditations à la Elizabeth Gilbert’s “Eat Pray Love” to the world’s largest yoga festival, Rishikesh is a magnet for those looking to calm their minds and reconnect with their bodies.

It isn’t all quiet contemplation, either — in addition to finding inner peace through yoga or meditation, there are just as many opportunities
to stave off depression and anxiety with adrenaline. As the gateway to the world’s highest mountain range, the city is a hub for high-energy adventure sports, from hiking, rock climbing and mountaineering to whitewater rafting, paragliding and bungee jumping.

Ghent, Belgium
Unexplored byways and b-sides in Belgium’s music mecca

If you’re a lover of music, there are plenty of popular destinations you might visit, depending on your preferred genre. You could hear classical in Vienna, jazz in New Orleans, samba in Rio de Janeiro, electronic music in Berlin … and the list continues. But if you’re looking for a little of everything and a lot fewer crowds, head to Ghent, Belgium’s unsung capital of cool. This UNESCO-designated Creative City of Music is a hub for acts of all kinds, from jazz to classical, baroque to big band, modern rock, Latin, house music and more. It’s even home to Belgium’s first silent disco.

But music isn’t the only draw. From the city’s charming canals to its well-preserved Medieval architecture and several museums, Ghent offers many of the beloved elements of more well-known European destinations, all accompanied by a healthy dose of hipster charm.

Think retro record stores and weekly vintage markets, alternative studios and vibrant street art, avant-garde theatre, an extensive network of bike lanes and bike-sharing programs, and a thriving plant-based food scene. In 2009, Ghent was the first city in the world to adopt a weekly meat-free day and has since gained a reputation as one of Europe’s most vegan-friendly cities. If you want to dissent — artistically, gastronomically and musically — head to Ghent.

Gimmelwald, Switzerland
Trading traffic for tranquility in the heart of the Swiss Alps

Scribbled on the wall of the village’s youth hostel is a love note left by a backpacker in the 1970s. It reads, “If Heaven isn’t what it’s cracked up to be, send me back to Gimmelwald.” The backpacker was Rick Steves — yes, that Rick Steves — one of the many people inspired by this fairytale alpine village overlooking Switzerland’s stunning Lauterbrunnen Valley.

Self-discovery seldom happens among a sea of selfies. As one of the country’s last remaining traffic-free villages, Gimmelwald is incredibly quiet, contrasting the volume of the scenery that surrounds it. The valley echoes with the faint clicking of trekking poles on gravel pathways, the occasional cowbell and the soft whirr of the cable car — the only transportation to and from the village. It’s the perfect place to visit if your flavor of creativity tastes like writing a novel on the terrace of a Swiss chalet, photographing mountain landscapes that hardly fit within your camera frame and trading tall tales with locals who may or may not moonlight as wizards.

Collioure, France
Capturing the play of light on the Mediterranean Sea and sky

Tucked away on the rocky coast of the French Mediterranean, Collioure looks suspiciously similar to a painting — and there’s an explanation for that. This enchanting seaside town is famous for having captivated masters Henri Matisse and André Derain with its vibrant colors and dynamic light.

The summer of 1905 was its turning point. In less than three months, Matisse created more than 55 paintings and a hundred drawings, while Derain produced 30 canvases and around 70 drawings. This prolific period led to the birth of Fauvism, establishing Collioure as a hub for creative expression in the visual arts scene.

Today, the town’s unique blend of natural beauty, artistic heritage and historical charm continues to draw creatives from around the globe.

 Its colorful palette — pink, orange and yellow buildings with contrasting cool-toned shutters, green hillsides, earthen cobblestone streets and bright white sailboats framed by the azure sea — provide plenty of scenes to capture, whether through the lens of a camera or the strokes of a paintbrush.

Contact our agency today to start planning your dream vacation.