Photography, like travel itself, is about discovery, bringing us closer in touch with faraway worlds we could not otherwise see. But while tourist attractions and famous landmarks continue to flood our photo streams, ever notice how it’s the lesser known, off-the-radar destinations make the hottest travel photos? 

So in this special 5 part-series, travel photographer Gariné Tcholakian shares some of her favorite hidden gem destinations, hand-selected (and often, surprisingly, not too far from those very same hot spots) just for you!  Discover a new destination each week, and start seeing world travel  – and your photos  – in a whole new light!

CIENFUEGOS, Cuba 

There’s so much more to Cuba than its Varadero resorts and Havana nightclubs. Far from the madding crowd, nestled in the southern underbelly of Cuba around the country’s most spectacular natural bay lies a haven for documentary travel photographers. 

Known to locals as Perla del Sur (the Pearl of the South), which singer Benny Moré famously said he loved best, Cienfuegos is another hidden gem, where time stands still, and life goes on. 

With a captivating mix of French colonial elegance and Caribbean spirit against a powerful backdrop of neoclassical-style buildings lining up as a rainbow of faded greens, pinks and blues, the city has been inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. 

But meander just a little further past its Urban Historic Centre walls, and you’ll find yourself along its once-burgeoning seaports where sobering scenes of urban poverty nestled within its decrepit building crevices fade into a scene of horse-drawn carriages rickshaws and two-person piled bicycles. 

If you’re looking to get real, skip the resort and head straight to Cienfuegos.

– the perfect canvas for those looking to capture street life glam and gloom in a single frame. 

Be sure to check for more AMAZING PLACES YOU’VE NEVER HEARD OF  THAT WILL ROCK YOUR PHOTO STREAM