Looking for a place to take your time and get lost this year?
Slow travel sounds pretty good after a long time stuck at home.
Whether you’re looking for a new remote work location, or you just want to spend an unplanned week somewhere, here is a list of ideas for places to disappear to in 2022.
Slow Travel is our passion! Not sure if it’s for you? Read about it here!
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Like most of the Balkans, Bosnia and Herzegovina is beautiful, affordable, and not as crowded as other parts of Europe.
What it lacks in Adriatic Sea (very little coastline compared to it’s neighbours) it makes up for in cultural diversity!
The capital city of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Sarajevo, has a reputation for being at the centre of conflict.
This is the city where World War I started, and if you stop to take in the memorial plaque, there’s plenty more where that came from.
You can tour the tunnel that was constructed during a three year siege of the city during the Bosnian war, or you can observe the Sarajevo roses, where shells pitted the face of the city and they were creatively filled with red resin.
For something a little more uplifting, the city of Sarajevo is said to be about 600 years old, and as such has a rich cultural identity.
Like the statement often made about Istanbul, Sarajevo has a strong “East meets West” energy.
Thankfully one of the Turkish contributions is the coffee culture! Cafes abound, as do various types of cuisine.
It’s hard to imagine that Millennials born in this vibrant city, once lived in a war zone.
If you’ve ever seen a picture of Bosnia or Herzegovina, or read about visiting, you definitely saw or read about the famous Stari Most bridge in Mostar.
This idyllic little bridge unites the two sides of Mostar, like a petite version of Buda and Pest.
While technically this landmark is ancient, it was actually rebuilt in the early 2000’s, but at least you need not be worried about collapse.
Mostar itself is a charming medieval city, and a fabulous place to wander!
Quite close to Mostar is the village of Blagaj, which is gaining fame thanks to this little monastery beneath a cliff.
You may have seen photos of this spot circulating on Pinterest, and it is breathtaking!
Unfortunately that probably means this little village will be overrun with tourists soon, but hopefully not too soon!
Bosnia and Herzegovina is full of other charming villages and beautiful natural areas waiting to be explored.
Anyone could get lost in this beautiful country for a while, and not have to pay a small fortune to do so!
Switching gears a little to something closer to home, West Virginia is a nature lover’s paradise, and an excellent place to spend some quality time while you slow travel.
Dolly Sods Wilderness
Dolly Sods is a nature preserve that contains many miles of hiking trails through a variety of terrains. You will pass through bog, rock formations, forests, and areas that resemble tundra.
This is a beautiful place to do some camping and take multi-day hikes on your next slow adventure.
Known primarily for its wilds, this Eastern state also has a number of small historical towns to stroll through.
Established in the 1730, Shepherdstown is the oldest town in West Virginia, and although small, it is a college town and has a young and vibrant atmosphere.
Take a stroll down German street and have lunch in a truly historic setting.
Harper’s Ferry is another photogenic little town in West Virginia. Hike Maryland Heights to get a great viewpoint from across the river.
If you want to do some camping, hiking, or try out the van life, then West Virginia is for you!
Need more convincing?
If you’re looking for a new place to be a digital nomad (or even just to relocate to) West Virginia and the Ascend WV program will pay you to spend a year or more there!
Eligible US citizens and permanent residents can apply to receive $10,000 to relocate to West Virginia for a year. You can then collect an additional $2000 if you decide to stay for a second year!
The program sweetens the deal by adding a year of FREE equipment rentals and outdoor experiences, as well as free access to a coworking space.
(I am not in any way affiliated with the program, I just thought it sounded pretty good!)
While this country is a neighbour of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia is surprisingly different. It is one of the more touristy spots on this list, but it doesn’t have to be if you explore a little further afield!
I know, I know, Dubrovnik is popular and can be quite crowded, but everybody should go there at least once! It is such a beautiful city and an amazing atmosphere to get lost in.
You may not want to spend weeks in Dubrovnik, but if we’re talking slow trips, it is one of many amazing things to see in Croatia.
Another popular but beautiful spot, Split, is also on the Adriatic Sea and has many important cultural sights.
Diocletian’s Palace in Split, is one of the most well preserved examples of Roman architecture in the world. It is both amazing above ground and a vast labyrinth below ground.
Still one of our favourite spots in Croatia!
Plitvice Lakes National Park
If nature is more your thing, Croatia will not disappoint, even away from the seaside!
Plitvice Lakes National Park is a UNESCO site that looks almost too amazing to be true. Waterfalls cascade from lush forest into beautiful aquamarine pools.
An extensive boardwalk leads you through the spectacular area.
Probably the thing that makes Croatia an ideal location to do some slow travelling, is that this country is dotted with idyllic villages, especially by the seaside.
Hop on the bus and see where you land!
The good thing about travelling slow, is that you have time to explore beyond the big famous attractions that most tourists won’t make it past.
The food in Croatia is also dynamite, so combined with the sunshine, beaches, and rich history, it’s a fantastic choice to explore without a plan.
Croatia is also one of the first countries to offer a digital nomad visa, so if you are slow travelling while you work online, you can stay longer here legally.
Kettle Valley Rail Trail – British Columbia
Back to North America for this next pick, with the Kettle Valley Rail Trail in Southern BC (Canada.)
What was once a rail line has been converted into 480km of hiking and biking paths through some breathtaking scenery.
You could take an afternoon to explore Myra Canyon, a 12km stretch of the trail that goes through tunnels and over trestle bridges near Kelowna, BC.
You can also do a day’s bike ride and travel from Myra Canyon to Penticton.
Or for the seasoned camper and slow traveller, you can pack up your supplies and filter straws for a multi-day hiking or biking experience through the wilds of British Columbia.
Just prepare yourself to be animal safe if you choose to camp along the way! The area is home to both bears and cougars.
Of course there are many other things to see and do in BC, so if you want to visit pristine lakes, go on a wine tour, and do some mountain climbing, those can all be a part of your slow trip too!
We love Bulgaria! –Correction, I love Bulgaria, and our Bulgarian daughter loves Bulgaria. Jason could really take it or leave it.
While the smiles may be scarce in this underrated Balkan country, there are SO MANY surprising things to see and do here.
Did you know that Bulgaria is one of the oldest countries in Europe?
Before we visited we had no idea that Roman ruins are actually easy to find here! That’s cool thing #1 that will make Bulgaria a great place to discover at your own pace.
Rather than list specific places to go in Bulgaria, because I have already done that here: BEYOND Sofia – Things to do in Bulgaria, I thought I would tell you WHY it is perfect for slow travel.
I know every country likes to think they have a bit of everything in terms of geography and natural things to explore. In the US and Canada it makes sense that we have a buffet of landscapes, if only because of sheer size.
Bulgaria really does have a bit of everything!
Which for a small country, is quite impressive. There is the Black Sea in the east with sandy beaches and milder weather:
Then there are mountain ranges with ski resorts and summer hiking:
Bulgaria also has a bit of wine country, and plenty of rolling foothills.
See what I mean? Everything!
If you’re looking for a place to visit where you can try every kind of outdoor activity, you may have to stay through a change of seasons, but it’s totally possible here!
I mentioned Roman ruins already, but that really was a highlight for us!
There are ruins in Bulgaria that will make you shake your head. This country is a strange mix of rustic-simple and huge historical importance.
There are more than a couple Thracian tombs, several interesting monasteries, and ten world heritage sights.
The reason Bulgaria’s history is best explored on a slow trip, is because so much of it is completely low-key.
Take your time journeying the country and following little signs to points of interest.
I have no doubt you will find things that others still have no clue about.
The modern Soviet history of Bulgaria has less universal appeal than ancient history does, but I still find it very interesting.
In some ways the recency of the Communist era makes it seem so much more real than the artifacts and tombs.
Stark concrete apartment blocks with the number stamped on the side are the norm here, and you will have no problem finding one to stay in!
Proud monuments constructed during the Soviet rule are pretty commonplace, and as someone from North America, it is all so foreign and strange.
I personally like the Brutalist style of architecture that was favoured during Communism.
I find it so futuristic, and a little science-fiction-fantasy, which doesn’t exactly compute with what we know about the government.
It’s another head scratcher that makes Bulgaria so unique.
Bulgaria is probably the cheapest place on this list to visit. If you have the time, you can afford to stay here!
Even better their coffee and food is delicious, so you don’t have to sacrifice those comforts to save your dollars.
To sum it up, Bulgaria is a country of weird surprises, that refuses to give them up all at once. Therefore, the more time you have to explore here, the better!
The Algarve – Portugal
The Algarve in southern Portugal is hardly a secret vacation spot, but there’s a reason that many tourists flock there every year!
This region of coastline has the most beautiful beaches that you’ve ever seen, and historical villages that are waiting to be explored.
Fortunately the Algarve is VERY seasonal, so if you can make your plans during the shoulder season: March/April or October/November, there is still plenty of good weather to be had WITHOUT the crowds.
Pros for Vacation Hotspots
Touristy areas like the Algarve do provide some conveniences that lesser known areas do not.
So while we like to find our own hidden gems, there is something to be said for the discovered gems too.
If you want to travel somewhere without the language barrier, Portugal is a pretty good choice.
You can almost always get an English menu, and the friendly locals can provide you with directions.
The popular tourist spots in the Algarve all seem to have a “tourist train,” a kitschy little service that actually does run on the road, and couriers travellers between points of interest.
Last but not least, the more touristy an area, the more likely it is to be accessible or somewhat accessible.
Which is an important feature for people with accessibility needs, or even when travelling with a stroller.
The purist slow traveller who wants to immerse themselves in the local culture probably won’t appreciate these amenities, but for some of us, a guilty pleasure is enjoyed once in a while.
Lagos is our favourite off-season spot to spend some time in the Algarve just relaxing.
In the summer it’s known for being a bit of a party town, but in the fall it turns into a sleepy beach town with cozy cafes and cute, affordable apartments.
Portimao is very near Lagos and is more of a modern resort town with lots of tall condo buildings not far from the beach.
Portimao makes the list because it’s an affordable central spot in the Algarve to situate yourself for a slow vacation.
Plus, Portimao has some truly breathtaking cliffside beaches.
Away from the seaside but still in the Algarve is the charming town of Silves.
Silves is one of the most photogenic little towns that we visited! It’s tiny streets are full of colour and surprising architectural details.
Set in a valley, this quieter spot is built around a hill with a red brick castle in the middle (which is what drew us to stop.)
Silves would be a great place to wake up every morning and see where the day takes you.
Honourable Mention – Greece
Greece gets an honourable mention on the list, because this may be the quietest year to go!
Most of us would love to see Greece without the crowds, and this could be a great year to spend some time there before travel fully recovers.
2021 is a great year to get out there and do some slow travel.
(If we say it, that makes it true right?)
Don’t forget to check entry requirements before you go, and make sure that you will be allowed back home or to your next destination afterwards!
Stay safe and healthy!
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