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A vacation is supposed to be a break from the stress of your everyday obligations and routines. Sometimes, that means taking a beach vacation with drinks with paper umbrellas floating in them and dance parties until the wee hours of the morning.
Alternatively, sometimes you just want some peace and solitude to recharge those batteries and cleanse the soul.
The following eight places are both peaceful and breathtakingly beautiful, for those times when you just need a break from everyone and everything else, to enjoy your solitude, and to reconnect with nature:
Asbyrgi Canyon, IcelandIceland is full of wide-open spaces, almost all of which are beautiful and unique. In a country where the landscape seems to change every five minutes and waterfalls cascade down from what appears to be every single peak and mountain, it’s easy to feel like a mere mortal in the land of fire and ice.
In particular, Asbyrgi, Iceland’s ‘Grand Canyon,’ doesn’t get as many tourists coming through as some of the other main attractions. It’s possible to hike all day without seeing anyone else, and the views are stunning.
Ylläs, FinlandThe Arctic winter in Finnish Lapland offers a peace and quiet that is hard to find elsewhere. The frigid temperatures, often plunging to -40 degrees, make for a clear sky with brilliant sunrises and sunsets on trees caked with snow and ice. If you’re lucky, you might even see the northern lights.
Even during high season when the cabins are full, there’s so much space and so many trees, it doesn’t feel crowded at all. For the ultimate winter sanctuary away from busy Alpine ski resorts, this is the perfect place.
Ella, Sri LankaElla is a jungly, misty little town in the middle of Sri Lanka. There are only a few guesthouses around and it has yet to really explode from a tourism perspective. The locals are friendly, and best of all, taking the train in either direction from Ella is an experience in itself through cascading rice paddies and rolling green hills.
Yubeng, ChinaYubeng borders Tibet in Yunnan province and is known as a sacred place. It’s only accessible by foot and mule from the nearest town, Deqen. A local once told me, “In the sky is heaven, and on earth is Yubeng,” to describe the holiness of this little mountain village with stoupas and yaks all around.
It’s the kind of place where the horses, pigs, and chickens run freely, the locals are enthusiastic about visitors, and the feeling of spirituality can be felt everywhere.
Ahrntal, ItalyThough a bustling place when it’s ski season, Ahrntal in South Tyrol, Italy, is incredible to visit in the summer, especially for those who love hiking.
Nestled in the Alps, it’s possible to go all day along the hiking trails and only come across one or two other groups of people. Couple that with all of the blooming wild flowers and the delicious local cuisine, a mix of Italian and Austrian influences, and you’re in for a lovely summer getaway.
Graaff Reinet, South AfricaGraaff Reinet is located in the Karoo—South Africa’s bushlands. The Valley of Desolation, pictured above, is famous for its orange canyons and ample game sightings, such as kudu, ostriches, zebras, and all kinds of bock and birds.
The town itself is small and typically just a stopover for those traveling from Johannesburg to Cape Town by car, or vice versa. However, what few people realize is that the Karoo is a destination in itself. In few places can you find as much solitude.
Dune 45, NamibiaEven though watching the sunrise over Dune 45 in Namibia is a popular tourist attraction, stick around for a bit after the crowds thin, and walk along the dune, and you can get the view to yourself.
There’s just something about a desert that is so tranquil. It’s a reminder that even in a place that seems desolate, there’s life all around. Plus, the sky just seems bigger in the desert, and the sunrises more magnificent.
Phong Nha Ke Bang, VietnamThis little national park in the middle of Vietnam is full of rice paddies framed by sharp and sloping mountains. The locals are friendly, often flashing peace signs or running out of their houses to say hello as visitors motorbike on by.
There is just one main street in town with a couple of guesthouses, and in a country that otherwise receives a ton of visitors, Phong Nha has managed to slip under the tourist radar, and that has made all the difference.
If you love peaceful places too, let us know your favorites in the comments!
Kristin Addis is the solo female traveler behind BeMyTravelMuse.com, a website for off the beaten path adventures! She is also the author of solo female traveler guidebook, Conquering Mountains and How to Solo Travel the World Fearlessly.
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