We are all familiar with how city life can get tiring at times. Traffic jams, horns honking, buses running late, commotion and the stir get the best of us more than we would want them to. Before we even know it, our minds drift away to some faraway lands where the only sounds are those of birds chirping and the wind slowly swaying the branches high in the pines.
If these images resonate with you, then you must have caught yourself browsing the lists of quiet holiday destinations in Europe, ideal to make a quick holiday escape. Luckily, the checklist of these peaceful destinations is endless and we will present you with a handful of those that deserve to be mentioned the most.
Top 12 Quietest Destinations in Europe
Giardini Naxos, Sicily
Have you ever wondered what a timeless place looks like? Well, the southernmost Italian island of Sicily is the one that would fit that image almost perfectly. Once you set your foot on its soil, you can’t help but feel the charm of its small villages and secluded beaches which seem to have been left untouched since the beginning of time. The perfect example of this ageless charm is Giardini Naxos, a small resort on the eastern coast of Sicily.
According to archeologists and historians, it was here that the first Greek colonies in Italy were formed and many excavating sites still bear witness to the times long gone. Just a little uphill, you will be amazed to discover a small town of Taormina, a place whose Ancient Theater and Villa Comunale will leave you breathless. Perched on a hill, this town offers a splendid view of Mount Etna, Italy’s biggest active volcano. It comes as no surprise that even the greatest of writers found peace here and made it immortal through their pen. It was DH Lawrence who perhaps gave the most accurate account of Taormina’s beauty by saying that “here the past is so much stronger than the present, that one seems remote like the immortals, looking back at the world from their otherworld.”
It is by all means impossible to come across a list of the best-hidden locations on Earth without the Greek islands being anywhere outside the top five. The island of Kefalonia might as well be number one on any list and there are several reasons why this is so. First of all, not only does this picturesque island offer extraordinary beaches but it is also abundant in historical monuments, from ancient fortresses all the way to underground catacombs and caves.
Still, you won’t be able to fully experience the magnificence of this island until you visit the majestic Myrtos beach. Since it is not fully accessible by car, this beach is seldom overcrowded which is a unique guarantee that you will have your own peace and quiet, especially if you go there in May throughout the middle of June. The turquoise color of the sea you often come across may seem like an overdone photoshop manipulation but it is actually as realistic as it gets.
Read more: Exploring Greece – How to See the Most of Samos in a Weekend
The first thing that comes to mind when you want to escape the crowds are secluded beaches and deep forests so there is a great chance that cities are a big no-no. Is this really so, though? It goes without saying that Switzerland is home to many rural destinations guaranteed to soothe your soul but one city, in particular, is an actual urban sanctuary of peace. It is Zurich.
Believe it or not, this city has been found to be one of the quietest cities in Europe and the one that is least affected by noise pollution – a problem recognized by the WHO as one that is just as health-threatening as exhaust fumes and air pollution. The river Limmat divides the city into two equally beautiful parts where it eventually streams into Zürichsee (Lake Zurich). Although the nightlife and shopping centers are bountiful, the city is far from being hectic. This is why Zurich is ideal for a weekend getaway – an urban jewel oozing with peacefulness.
Faroe Islands, Denmark
For those who prefer vast spaces without too much vegetation, Denmark is hiding 18 small islands whose grassy pastures are said to change color a dozen times during a single day. Mild climate and the islands’ unique geographical position are the reason why air is claimed to be the cleanest in the whole world. If these facts are not convincing enough, let us just add that the temperature on the Faroe Islands hardly ever drops below 0 in the winter and almost never goes beyond 25 in the summer.
Being isolated, these islands are home to just 50 000 residents dispersed around individual islands. It is only the island Lítla Dímun that is entirely uninhabited although it is possible to visit it. Still, the steep slopes of this little chunk of rock often topped with a cloudy cap make even the most audacious of explorers think twice before they are even given the chance to come near it. The weather conditions have to be perfect to make the climb possible since the only way to do it is by the ropes. Nonetheless, the other islands are equally sublime and peaceful, instilling an immediate otherworldly feeling.
Kõrvemaa Nature Reserve, Estonia
Just 50 km east of Estonia’s capital city Tallinn, Kõrvemaa Nature Reserve spreads over the area of 130 square kilometers. Its thick forests, swamps and lakes are home to some of the rarest bird species on Earth. Many local bogs have wooden trails and sandy roads that lead into an untouched wilderness that will irrefutably leave no person indifferent.
The hiking trail that goes through Kõrvemaa Nature Reserve is only a small portion of the Oandu-Aegviidu-Ikla hiking route – the one that meanders through the whole country. There are great chances you will come across the most famous bog in this part of the reserve, the Kakerdaja bog. This bog is beautiful regardless of the season and the versatile flora and fauna of the place paint a remarkable picture to keep in your memory forever.
Liège Province, Belgium
Belgium is perhaps the reason why people claim that petite countries often hide extraordinary places that should be on everyone’s bucket list. Don’t be fooled by its size because this small European country rightfully takes pride in magnificent scenery and breathtaking nature.
Why have we picked Belgium’s Liège Province in particular, you wonder? Truth be told, provinces like Flemish and Namur are equally astounding but Liege takes the win when it comes to serenity and stillness of the surroundings. Liege is home to countless castles and manors scattered around the countryside, one of them being Chateau de Modave which is located just above a stunning valley. Although it’s hard to go on a single hiking route to fully perceive just how beautiful Liege is, embarking on the one that would lead you from Esneux to La Roche aux Faucons is probably the one worth mentioning and experiencing. Once you get to La Roche, the panoramic view of the meandering Ourthe River is sure to instill a sense of awe and peace.
Read more: The 20 Best Places to Visit in Europe in March
Tossa de Mar, Spain
While Spain is widely known for the hustle and bustle of Madrid and Barcelona, this country hides a diversity of natural splendors which will remain deeply rooted in the memory of those who visit it. One of such memorable places is Tossa de Mar, a town on the sun-kissed coasts of Costa Brava.
What makes this little coastal jewel unique is its rich history, ancient villas and undoubtedly, the stunning beaches Platja Gran and Platja d’es Codolar. It is abundant in medieval architecture which still shows no signs of wear and tear, evoking the atmosphere of ancient times. Perhaps the most famous of all is Castillo de Tossa de Mar (Tossa de Mar Castle) whose impressive stone walls surround the old town. Finally, for those who want to get off the beaten track, Platja Vallpresona is an ideal secluded beach just 11 kilometers north of Tossa de Mar. This little hidden beach comprises larger rocks and sand as well as magnificent reefs that make snorkeling adventure a must.
There is a good reason why this island is usually called “the isle of beauty” and “the land of contrasts”. Although it owes its worldwide fame to France’s most prominent statesmen Napoleon Bonaparte who was born in Corsica’s capital Ajaccio, there is the vast specter of astounding sceneries and natural beauties to this island that are no less attention-worthy.
To begin with, what fascinates visitors the most is the utterly stunning Restonica valley. The chilly pools are well worth the dip and their immaculate transparency is almost dreamlike. The quietness of this valley is topped off by a perfect mixture of pines, rocks and exciting trails which will have you wandering around to your heart’s content. It goes without saying that the coastline of this island is exceptional and it stands in sharp contrast with the edgy mountains. A charming small town of Zonza is an exceptional base for walks around the surrounding areas which are sure to lead you towards the Bavella Needles, a lacework of formidable pointy rocks, pine trees and jagged peaks.
Lying at the foot of Slovenian Alps, Bled is said to be one of the world’s tiniest travel destinations you should visit before you die. Although it has gained a lot of popularity in the past decade, the surrounding landscape and the atmosphere of serenity have been untouched.
Apart from the iconic island located in the middle of Lake Bled, there are other unbelievably charming sites to visit. The first on your list should be the Royal Bled Golf terrains which are one of the most beautiful golf courses in Europe. Visiting Bled must include a trip to the Triglav National Park, located in the immediate vicinity. The Park’s major feature is Lake Bohinj – the largest glacial lake in Slovenia, as well as the ethereal Vintgar gorge. All in all, visiting Bled is a great way to stay active and relaxed, with countless opportunities to go hiking on long-distance paths or simply taking a stroll around the lake.
The Azores, Portugal
In case you were wondering what European Hawaii would look like, the Azores archipelago is as close to it as it gets. Located about 800 miles off the coast of Portugal, these nine volcanic islands are home to crater lakes, waterfalls, and fishing villages.
These islands are often referred to as Europe’s secret islands of adventure, too. Not only do they offer tremendously captivating hiking routes but they are also famous for whale and dolphin watching. Back on land, Gruta das Torres is one of the longest lava tubes which allows visitors to descend deep underground to inspect strangely-shaped stalagmites.
Sligo is a little seaport town in the northwest of Ireland, only three hours away from Dublin but still charming enough to steal the show.
This town has a special atmosphere to it, starting from the green pastures and dark seas to the mysticism of the places like Creevykeel and Carrowmore, all of which mix into a unique ambiance. Sligo is widely known for the number of Neolithic cemeteries found there and Ireland’s most distinctive mountain Benbulben which got its one-of-a-kind form when Ice Age glaciers sheared their way through the top thousands of years ago. It is these sites and many others that tell the story of magnificent Irish landscapes, making it an oasis of calmness and placidity.
Romania could easily be one of the most overlooked tourist destinations which makes it an absolutely ideal travel destination if you are looking for a place to enjoy the lovely scenery without swarms of people crowding the space.
One of those heavenly destinations in Romania is definitely Brasov, a charming gateway to Transylvania’s castle region and grandiose landscapes. The very town is abundant in churches and monasteries, some of them dating back to the 14th century. Piatra Craiului National Park and the Bears’ Sanctuary are an ideal opportunity for nature lovers to enjoy fresh air and the richness of flora and fauna. In order to get the full picture of this tranquil place, you could take a cable-car ride that leads to the top of the Tampa Hill, guaranteed to make you fall in love with this city’s quaint charm and timelessness.
So, snapping back to reality and all you hear is the fuss of the busy city life. It doesn’t have to stay that way if you set your mind to one of these destinations and start packing your suitcases. After all, Europe is just a ticket away and you can start making unforgettable memories this very second.