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Much of the time, my ideal escape from everyday life is a busy, adventurous trip. It could be hiking to beautiful spots in the great outdoors, exploring new cities or remote villages, or simply having a ton of fun in a big city like Las Vegas. But more and more frequently, I find myself searching for relaxing places where I can simply sit back, indulge, and not do much at all, returning to the real world feeling refreshed.
There are all kinds of relaxing destinations around the world where busy people can enjoy some self-care. From empty mountaintops and pristine beaches to quiet wildernesses and small cities, there’s really a relaxing vacation spot for every type of traveler – except those looking to party or be busy!
I’ve been lucky enough to visit some of the best relaxing vacation spots in the world, plus stumble upon some lesser-known places that may even be better than the iconic ones. Peaceful spas, rejuvenating wellness retreats, and awe-inspiring natural beauty are some of their allures. Read on to see where you need to go next to get away from it all.
- The World’s Most Relaxing Vacation Spots
- 1. The Greek Islands
- 2. Prince Edward Island, Canada
- 3. Hawaii
- 4. Bora Bora, French Polynesia
- 5. Lake Louise & Banff National Park, Canada
- 6. Charleston, South Carolina
- 7. The French Riviera
- 8. The Maldives
- 9. Koh Samui, Thailand
- 10. Tuscany, Italy
- 11. Bali, Indonesia
- 12. Alaska
The World’s Most Relaxing Vacation Spots
1. The Greek Islands
Starting out with the Greek Islands seems appropriate since there are several hundred of them to choose from, and they represent one of the most iconic Europe trips one can take. Of course, if you head for a party island like Mykonos or Paros, or even one of the Instagram-famous ones like Santorini, your stay will not be very relaxing.
It’s the others, including dozens of hidden gems, that will be peaceful and perfect. Look to Folegandros or Kimolos in the Cyclades for those beautiful whitewashed buildings and blue-domed churches with a fraction of the crowds. Ionian islands like Kefalonia and most of Corfu also have some amazing scenery to admire from the comfort of your pool or beach, as well as spas to relax at.
All of these will reveal secluded beaches, delicious food, fantastic places to stay, and fun things to do. My favorite place to decompress in the Greek Islands is the adults-only Domes Miramare, a beautiful resort on Corfu on centuries-old olive groves and a private beach. There’s an amazing spa, multiple pools, and a water toy rental place down the beach for some relaxing paddle boarding across the calm morning sea.
See Related: Best Greek Party Islands to Visit
2. Prince Edward Island, Canada
If you can’t go across the pond but still want to get out of the country, one of the best relaxing destinations in North America is this island province on the east coast of Canada. It may be Canada’s smallest, but its seclusion and unspoiled nature make it the perfect summer getaway for anyone who loves awesome seafood, leisurely coastal walks, and small-town charm.
There are miles of sandy shoreline, including many red-sand beaches, that make for great photography. Visitors can enjoy them on some of the easy coastal paths.
Horseback riding, fly fishing, and other outdoor fun are excellent choices here if you don’t mind some activity. There are also wineries and apiaries to visit to try some of the local products from the land, as well as plenty of lobster and oysters from the sea.
You can stay in one of many quaint inns and B&Bs on Prince Edward Island, but our recommendation is to go with a river or beachfront home rental in a place like this. It’s an especially great idea for families, thanks to the extra space. You’ll also get the pleasure of sitting on the couch with a cup of coffee on rainy mornings and perhaps enjoying a bonfire under the stars on clear summer nights.
Beach lovers will probably vote the islands of Hawaii as the most relaxing place in the United States, and I’d have to agree. For U.S. citizens, Hawaii is the perfect place to escape to white sand and azure waters without needing a passport; plus offers lush jungle and gorgeous mountains.
Oahu, the main island, probably isn’t ideal for someone looking for the most relaxing vacation possible. Even Maui may be a little bit too built up for your liking.
Kauai and the Big Island of Hawaii should be excellent choices, thanks to some unbelievable resorts and plenty of relaxing island activities. I could lie around the pools and beaches of these places all day, but more adventurous things like ziplining and coastal snorkeling tours are also available.
Honestly, the most relaxing vacation spots in Hawaii are on the lesser-known island of Lanai, which is home to just two resorts: the Four Seasons Lanai at Manele Bay and its sister property, Sensei Lanai, a Four Seasons Resort. They are extremely expensive but some of the most peaceful paradises in the islands. The former is a beautiful beach resort, while the latter is an alpine-style wellness concept on the interior peaks of the island.
See Related: Where To Stay In Hawaii: Best Areas & Neighborhoods
4. Bora Bora, French Polynesia
Hawaii’s South Pacific counterpart has to be Bora Bora, the iconic island of French Polynesia known as one of the most relaxing destinations in the world, especially for honeymooners and couples on romantic trips. The luxury resorts on white-sand beaches here are like no other. This is literally where the overwater bungalow was invented!
My trip to Bora Bora was pure relaxation – how can you leave your bungalow when it has a giant deck with unreal views, direct lagoon access, and perhaps even a private pool? Let alone leave the resort and its luxurious spa, pools, and restaurants! But there are definitely opportunities to get out and explore if you want to, including lagoon cruises that visit sharks and stingrays and jet ski safaris.
You can’t really go wrong with any of the resorts here, but there’s no way that the Four Seasons Bora Bora isn’t number one. It’s an all-overwater-bungalow property besides the few ultra-luxe beach residences, and I can confirm that there is no better place to relax than your deck over the lagoon. Well, perhaps the spa there comes in at a close second.
See Related: Best Overwater Bungalows in the Caribbean
5. Lake Louise & Banff National Park, Canada
Not everyone’s a beach person, and some might prefer mountain escapes for relaxing. Located in the Canadian Rockies, just north of the border, Banff National Park has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its stunning, soaring mountains and electric-blue Lake Louise.
Adventurers come here for some of the best rock climbing, mountain biking, and hiking trails in Canada. Relaxers come to disconnect from all that beautiful alpine scenery – there’s not much cell service anyway. This is another place to go with a mountain chalet-style condo rental with amenities like hot tubs overlooking the wilderness.
Try to take a break from relaxing in front of your view to see an equally great one at the famous Lake Louise. You can also do relaxing activities like gondola rides up to the peaks and horseback rides along the peaceful river.
6. Charleston, South Carolina
There are also small cities that are quiet and suitable for a relaxing vacation, including Charleston, South Carolina. This can be the ideal destination for even a quick weekend R&R escape, as it won’t require any international travel or long flights for many travelers.
Downtown Charleston is small and walkable and great for history, southern culture, and nice architecture. A horse-drawn carriage tour is a relaxing way to experience it all. Locals are friendly, and there are plenty of spots to eat and drink at southern farm-to-table restaurants, plus relax in nice hotels at affordable prices.
On the other hand, the marshes and golden sands on the Low Country coastline are a different type of relaxing and just a quick hop from downtown. Take a private luxury sailing cruise in search of dolphins, or explore the backwaters on a kayak eco-tour. A perfect place for the best of both worlds is The Beach Club at Charleston Harbor Resort and Marina, which has a pool, hot tub, spa, and private beach for all your relaxation needs.
See Related: Best Hotels in Charleston, South Carolina
7. The French Riviera
Another place to relax in Europe is the south of France, known locally as the Côte d’Azur and internationally as the French Riviera. It’s known as a luxury destination where the rich and famous party, play, and relax – a great indication that it’s a great choice.
There are a range of locales around the Riviera to stay in, depending on your preferences. They include remote spots in rolling lavender fields, tiny villages with cobblestone streets, alpine resort areas with mountain views, and spots near idyllic beaches.
Don’t count out the Principality of Monaco either – while it’s definitely a city, I had one of my most relaxing stays ever at the famous Hôtel Hermitage Monte-Carlo, thanks to its amazing wellness area and swimming pool.
But to save on your budget and still escape from reality, I recommend looking to the hills and mountains behind the cosmopolitan coast. The scenery is unbeatable, the atmosphere is quiet and relaxing, and you can still enjoy simple activities like wine tasting and even perfume making.
See Related: Best Beaches in France
8. The Maldives
The Maldives is the most aspirational relaxing destination of all for many people. Like Bora Bora, this island country is known for its ultra-luxury resorts on tiny atolls with extravagant overwater villas. And while there are some watersports to enjoy, a key difference that contributes to the relaxation vibe is that you pretty much can’t leave your resort, as it’s likely on a private island.
You’re left to unspoiled beaches, blue waters, and wonderful spa treatments. People park themselves for days to weeks at a time at these places to feel millions of miles away from the real world. Not-so-active activities include snorkeling from remote sandbanks and dolphin cruises.
It’s not hard to find a great resort in the Maldives, like LUX South Ari Atoll. This is not a budget destination, though. Luckily, some resorts let you buy a day pass if you need more affordable accommodations.
See Related: Places Similar to the Maldives to Visit
9. Koh Samui, Thailand
Southeast Asia is the perfect destination for relaxing vacation spots at an exceptional value, as you can get high-quality resort experiences here for a fraction of the cost elsewhere. Koh Samui, also spelled Ko Samui, is one of Thailand’s premier luxury resorts, offering a pristine tropical island atmosphere.
Look at places like the Ritz-Carlton and the Conrad to see just how deluxe some of these accommodations are. Those two have tremendous spa experiences, capitalizing on Thai massage techniques and other wellness treatments.
Rooms and villas with private pools make it easy to relax without ever seeing another soul, but there probably won’t be many other guests on the white sands, either.
You can interrupt your wellness retreat briefly with unique activities like snorkeling, kayaking, and relaxing on an island home to pigs or going for an elephant sanctuary visit. There are many more pristine beaches around Thailand’s second-largest island if you’re willing to rent a scooter or car.
10. Tuscany, Italy
The rolling hills of Tuscany are another of Europe’s most famous tranquil destinations. Besides the breathtaking views and spectacular authentic Italian food, this is major Italian wine country, adding to the mood of your countryside R&R.
The city of Florence is the capital of Tuscany, and while it’s large and well-known by the tourist crowd, it’s actually a very relaxing city to visit, so don’t pass up a day here. Admire the masterpieces in art galleries like Accademia and Uffizi, tour the majestic Duomo, and wander around the River Arno and its iconic bridges.
Then, head to the peaceful hills just beyond the city. Many boutique hotels are located in or near vineyards to enjoy wine tasting and the views.
My spot of choice to relax is the Grotta Giusti Thermal Spa Resort, which sits on hot springs inside a cave. You can soak in the rejuvenating water in its pools, use the thermal cave as a natural steam room, and enjoy spa treatments unlike anywhere else, thanks to this natural wonder.
11. Bali, Indonesia
The Indonesian island of Bali has long been known as a relaxing place for soul-searching people, both young and old. The beautiful beaches, exotic jungles, peaceful Balinese villages, and unique culture lure visitors from across the globe in search of tranquility.
The busy streets of Kuta, Jimbaran, and Seminyak are far from relaxing – this is where people come to party. However, the rest of the island is a peaceful paradise, especially the southern Nusa Dua area, where there are many luxury wellness resorts.
Head to the northern half of the island if you want to get off the grid and onto the road less traveled. There are innumerable nature hikes through the lush jungle, including Mount Batur, a popular place for sunrise viewing and hot springs. The many Balinese temples are just as peaceful to explore.
See Related: Best Organic Restaurants in Bali
Last but certainly not least is perhaps America’s wildest state, Alaska. The Pacific Ocean, majestic mountains, unspoiled wilderness, and glacial landscapes, plus more, make this an undoubtedly relaxing destination with gorgeous views and pure peace.
There are countless places to plant yourself for a week, weekend, or much longer in a place where there may be more bears than other people. The southeastern panhandle and its many islands are a great choice.
Look around the small city of Juneau, where you can find quiet cabins in the woods to rent (like this handsome little number). Light a fire, cast a fishing pole, paddle a kayak around glaciers… if you love nature, this is one of the greatest places in the world to relax.
Northern Alaska is just about as far off-the-beaten-path you can get. There isn’t a ton of tourist infrastructure up there, so many visitors choose to make the semi-major city of Fairbanks their place of accommodation. From there, you can take 4×4 adventures north into the Arctic Circle and try Alaskan traditions like dog sledding.
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- About the Author
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Woodrow is a travel writer who wants to do and see just about everything. He’s been to 40+ countries, all 50 US states plus Puerto Rico and the USVI, and is currently living in France and exploring Europe. Woodrow is an expert in travel hacking, finding bargain flights, and coined the term “upgrade engineering” referring to his talent to upgrade simple hotel room bookings into suite stays. Woodrow loves SCUBA diving, fishing, and all things aviation.