You’re itching with travel curiosity, grab a coffee and hit the streets. The world is your oyster. But what’s that? An army of tourists immediately stops you in your tracks. Queues for attractions extend for miles. There’s nowhere to move. And the coffee isn’t the reason you’re sweating. Sound familiar? Travelling the world’s most popular spots can be stressful. So if you need to escape it all, make a note of the world’s most tranquil spaces guaranteed to clear your mind.
6 of the world’s most tranquil spaces everyone should visit
Famed for their blissful natural surroundings and low population densities (2022), beat burnout and get to know relaxation like never before in these six spots.
Iceland’s low population density (372,900 people across 103,000km²) and staggering natural wonders make it the perfect spot to leave everything behind.
Time is unhurried here. Locals are famously friendly, and there is almost no crime (some locals even leave their houses unlocked!) Unsurprisingly, you’ll feel part of the community quickly here, especially when you bubble away in a hot water spring like the Blue Lagoon (heated by the earth’s geothermal activity). Amazingly, they’re known to reduce stress, promote sleep, improve circulation and blood pressure, help congestion and smoothen your skin.
After you dry off, sail away from the coastline of Reykjavik in search of the northern lights to watch ripples of colour leap majestically across the night’s sky. Or head slightly east to Thingvellir National Park (used to film scenes in ‘Game of Thrones’) to walk between tectonic plates, gaze at colossal waterfalls and feel clean air open your lungs as you hike among lush hills.
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Proudly one of the world’s most tranquil spaces, visit Norway to switch screens off and re-centre yourself. We recommend time in blissful Bergen on Norway’s west coast – nicknamed the ‘the city between the seven mountains’ and ‘heart of the fjords’ because of its perfect position in the beating heart of Norwegian nature.
Here, you can scale Ulriken mountain (643 metres above sea level) – by cable car for incredible panoramic views of fishing boats dotted on blue ocean and wooden houses hanging off green hills. Back in the village, mingle among the colourful fishing houses at Bryggen harbour (a major trading point in 12th century Norway), and taste the deliciously fresh seafood that earned its label as a UNESCO City of Gastronomy.
Later, hop on a train to nearby Sognefjord (the ‘King of the Fjords’) or cruise along Næroy Fjord – gazing at towering waterfalls, snow-capped mountains and tiny villages as you go. In the summer, you can hike and kayak under beautifully long sunlight hours. Or go in search of northern lights in autumn or winter.
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Milford Sound (New Zealand)
It’s impossible to think of work emails in New Zealand. Engulfed in green landscapes, glistening lakes and misty mountains, its reputation as a tranquil paradise is well-founded.
Head to Milford Sound in UNESCO-listed Fiordland National Park to re-charge your batteries. The indigenous Māori people discovered this natural bliss over 1,000 years ago after the sea flooded a glacial valley and created an inlet in the Tasman sea. Today, seals, penguins and dolphins play in the waters; dense rainforests and waterfalls drop jaws to the floor, and enchanting, meandering walking and hiking routes tempt you to live in the mountains full-time.
Particularly magical in the rain, the 118km drive from Te Anau along Milford Road to Milford Sound is otherworldly. As is the sight of 5,560 foot-tall Mitre Peak that will make you fall further in love with this slice of paradise. Easily one of the world’s most tranquil spaces, Milford is calling your name.
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Stanley Park, Vancouver (Canada)
Nature and city life thrive side-by-side in Vancouver, Canada. This is largely thanks to its green lung – and Stanley Park – the largest urban park in Canada (approximately 1000 acres in area), which feels a million miles away from city life.
For ultimate calm, we recommend walking the stunning 10 kilometre seawall route here. This is your chance to absorb the stillness of snow-dusted mountains and wavering ocean, plus watch boats drift in and out of Vancouver harbour. Elsewhere within the park, you must visit the 9 totem poles displaying indigenous art, bird-watch at the Lost Lagoon, stroll through rhododendron gardens and get close to up to 70,000 remarkable creatures in the Vancouver aquarium.
Smell the pine and drink in the crisp air on your journey to headspace in one of the world’s tranquil spaces and liveable cities – Vancouver.
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Namib desert (Namibia)
A desert might not be the first thing that springs to mind when you imagine the world’s most tranquil spaces. But the 1,900 kilometre stretch of wild desert plains along Namibia’s Atlantic Coast offers a stillness like no other. Travel to Namibia in southwest Africa to take reset your mind in this landscape of wind-swept sand dunes, sand seas, gravel plains, mountainous regions and roaming wildlife. And meet the colossal 400 metre-high red dunes in Sossusvlei – a white salt and clay pan.
If you need to break out your daily routine, a visit to Namib desert (the world’s oldest desert: at least 55 million years own) could be your trip of a lifetime.
Whitsundays Islands (Australia)
Slide your feet into warm sand as waves gently massage the shores of the Whitsundays Islands (Australia). Dotted 55km off the Queensland coast and making up part of the Great Barrier Reef, this mesh of 74 islands is a glistening paradise of verdant rainforest, picturesque hiking trials, turquoise waters and spotless beaches.
You must make time for Whitehaven beach (on the largest island: Whitsunday) – named after its famously pure, white sands (made from 98% silica). Stroll this secluded 7km stretch at leisure, marvelling at the blue-green waters created by shifting sands, sail or snorkel over coral families and turtles.
You can also uncover the history of indigenous Ngaro people who called this heaven their home as you stumble across cave painting, stone quarries and rock shelters. The world really is your oyster in Whitehaven.
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Did you enjoy this list of the world’s most tranquil spaces? Tell us where you’d like to visit in the comments below.