Notre Dame cathedral

For architecture fans, nothing is more exciting than turning a corner and finding a masterpiece tucked unexpectedly in a neighbourhood. Whether you favour modern, Deco or Beaux Art, there are examples to be discovered all over the world. Here are our top 7 favourite hidden gems (and some in plain sight) in places you may not have considered.

Exotic home in Hawaii

Behind an unassuming front door in a quiet neighbourhood near Diamond Head on Oahu, Hawaii, are treasures gathered by Duke Tobacco heiress Doris Duke on her world travels. Duke preserved two Syrian rooms from the Ottoman Empire and had them transported and reinstalled in her home. In the living room, you’ll see a wall of glass that can completely drop into the floor, opening the room to the garden and the Pacific Ocean views.

Known as Shangri La, Duke’s home is available for tours Wednesday—Saturday through the Honolulu Museum of Art. All tours begin and end at the museum and are NZ$37

Rural church in France

If you walk through the rural village of Ronchamp, France then follow a path up the hill, you will be rewarded with your first view of Notre Dame du Haut. Designed by Le Corbusier and completed in 1954, this concrete church stuns visitors with its simple soaring lines and deep-set stained glass. The church is built on the site of a shrine dedicated to the Virgin Mary that was destroyed in World War II. Notre Dame du Haut is popular with both religious and architecture pilgrims.

The chapel is open to the public daily. Major pilgrim services are on 15 August and 8 September, so expect larger crowds on those days.

Surprise in upstate New York

While Buffalo, New York USA might not be tops on your destination bucket list, architecture fans will want to include a stop as it is full of surprises. You’ll find examples of public buildings and residences from Frank Lloyd Wright, Louis Sullivan, Frederick Law Olmsted and Henry Hobson Richardson.

You can find walking tours and guided architecture tours starting at NZ$14. Buffalo is a great side-trip from Toronto, Canada.

Sunshine Coast in Australia

From recycled shipping containers to award-winning modern designs, you’ll find a surprising array of architecture and designs on Australia’s Sunshine Coast. The Australian Architecture Association offers full day tours as well as opportunities to visit a home with the architect and owner. Tours start at NZ$35 and can be booked online.

In transit

Sometimes you can find great architecture in the stations and airports as you are travelling. It’s always worth taking a few minutes to look around at the space. A few of our favourites include:

Dulles International Airport in Washington, DC—Designed by Eero Saarinen, the form of the terminal echoes the swoop of an aeroplane wing. The original terminal in Taiwan was based on the same design.

Gard du Nord train station in Paris—a Beaux Art building and one of the oldest train stations in the world. While you’re rushing for your next train, take a moment to appreciate the cast iron and glass roof that lets in so much natural light.

Kuala Lumpur Railway Station—This neo-Moorish building was actually designed by a British government architect.

No matter what station or airport you’re travelling through, be sure to get a quote for travel insurance before your trip.