And the winner is … Malta! The small archipelago nation in the Mediterranean was recently named Lonely Planet Magazine’s top-secret destination, beating 24 other countries to the top podium.

Hardly a secret for most Europeans (especially the British), Malta has been cast into the travel spotlight recently with the US print magazine Lonely Planet (which has a readership of 1.35 million and is published every quarter) naming the island nation the top-secret destination in its latest issue.

Source: www. thegreatdominion.com

Pictured: Malta / source: www. thegreatdominion.com

The Maltese archipelago was praised for its new architecture, restaurants and new hotels opening up in the last few years, as Valletta – which the article describes as “among Europe’s most beautiful capitals” – prepares for its time as the European Capital of Culture in 2017.

Gozo, Malta’s sister island, was also praised for its excellent scuba diving sites. (Gozo can only be reached from Malta by ferry.)

Coming in second place on the list of secret destinations was hip and happening Seoul. According to Lonely Planet, the South Korean capital is the hippest place to be right now, with a buzzing nightlife and amazing food scene.

The city was also praised for its excellent public transport system.

Source: www.skyscrapercity.com

Pictured: Seoul / source: www.skyscrapercity.com

Whilst in third place, the Autonomous Province of Vojvodina in Serbia was chosen for its artistic merits and outdoor activities, including bird watching – now that’s a secret destination if I ever heard one!

Here’s the complete list of Lonely Planet’s travel secrets:

Source: http://www.dailymail.co.uk

Source: http://www.dailymail.co.uk

Coming in at seventh place was Bali’s sister island, Lombok, which, at least for the time being, offers a more subdued Indonesian island experience; that is, if you stay off Gili Trawangan! East of Bali, Lombok is known for its excellent beaches and surfing, particularly at Kuta and Banko Banko (in the south).

Lombok is just a short flight from Bali.(Currently there are no direct services between Australia and Lombok.)

Source: www.vill.zamami.okinawa.jp

Pictured: Kerama Islands / source: www.vill.zamami.okinawa.jp

Placing at number 23 was the Kerama Islands in Okinawa, Japan. This group of 20 islands, 35 kilometers west of Okinawa Main Island, are a popular (well, not THAT popular) resort destination and considered one of the world’s best diving spots.

The islands can be reached in just under 4 hours from Tokyo through a combination of flight and ferry.

Earlier this year, Lonely Planet named Hokkaido the top destination in Asia to visit in 2016, whilst also naming Japan as the second must-visit country to visit this year.

The 25 Travel Secrets feature can be found in the U.S. edition of Lonely Planet Magazine.

Were you surprised by any of these inclusions? Let us know in the comments below.