The Bosnia and Herzegovina town of Mostar: A turkish inspired European village on either side of a river with a curved bride in the middle

Slow Travel Ideas To Get Lost in 2022

Looking for a place to take your time and get lost this year?

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 places to disappear to in 2021.

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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!

A colourful photo of a town in Bosnia and Herzegovina. A colourful turkish inspired village beside a blue-green river with green shrubs and trees on either side.
Bosnia and Herzegovina

Sarajevo

The city of Sarajevo on a winter's morning. The sun is low in the sky behind a haze of frost and smoke. The rive shines in the middle of the city which is built up around it. A light blanket of snow rests on the city
Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina

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.

Red resin fills the pitted concrete from a shell hitting the street in Sarajevo
One of the “Sarajevo Roses”

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.

A Turkish market in Sarajevo. Turkish lanterns hang around a wooden market stall containing ornate rugs and clothing
A market stall in Sarajevo

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.

Mostar

The Bosnia and Herzegovina town of Mostar: A turkish inspired European village on either side of a river with a curved bride in the middle
Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina

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.

The Bosnia and Herzegovina town of Mostar: A turkish inspired European village on either side of a river with a curved bride in the middle
Stari Most – the famous bridge in Mostar

Mostar itself is a charming medieval city, and a fabulous place to wander!

Dervish House

Quite close to Mostar is the village of Blagaj, which is gaining fame thanks to this little monastery beneath a cliff.

A monastery built against a rock face beside a calm pool of turquoise water
Dervish House in Blagaj, Bosnia and Herzegovina

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!

West Virginia

A tall wooden trestle rail bridge in West Virgiia crosses a gorge with the sun setting behind it
New River Gorge, West Virginia

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

Bare rocky ground at the top of a high ridge above evergreens and trees with fall colours in Dolly Sods wilderness
Dolly Sods Wilderness, West Virginia

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.

A stream trickles through a forest in West Virginia
Dolly Sods Wilderness, West Virginia

Known primarily for its wilds, this Eastern state also has a number of small historical towns to stroll through.

Shepherdstown

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

Harper’s Ferry is another photogenic little town in West Virginia. Hike Maryland Heights to get a great viewpoint from across the river.

A historical town in West Virginia sits across the river from the camera, two bridges stretch towards the town which sits in the shadow of a green rolling hill. The sun shines on the river.
Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia

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!

The sun sets orange and pink above the black and dark blue silhouettes of the forested mountains of West Virginia.
Lindy Point, WV

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!)

Croatia

The turquoise waters of Croatia host two white fishing boats in front of white stone cliffs. The sky is blue with streaks of clouds.
The Adriatic Sea, Croatia

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!

Dubrovnik

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.

The walled city of Dubrovnik with its red roofs, juts into the brightly coloured sea
Dubrovnik, Croatia

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.

Split

Another popular but beautiful spot, Split, is also on the Adriatic Sea and has many important cultural sights.

A quiet blue bay in the Adriatic with a red-roofed city built around it.
Split, Croatia

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!

A boardwalk winds through a blue green natural pool with groves of trees and waterfalls flowing through them
Plitvice Lakes National Park

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.

Seaside Villages

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 ancient fishing village of Novigrad. Little stone houses line the waterfront of a small bay.
Novigrad, Dalmatia Region, Croatia

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.)

A rail bridge converted into a walking bridge in the treed mountains
A trestle bridge in Myra Canyon, BC

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.

A wide gravel path leads up a hill with a sparkling lake in the distance to the left and a forest to the right.

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.

A wooden hiking bridge stretches across towards a marshy area with two large trees directly ahead.

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!

A large vineyard in BC's okanagan with the lake in the background and mountains on the far shore.
BC’s wine country

Bulgaria

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.

A partially ruined church stands at the top of a mountain in Bulgaria. Mist hangs low in the sky.
Asen Fortress, Bulgaria

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.

Varied Landscapes

Tall spiky rock formations above green tress at Belogradchik Rocks
Belogradchik Rocks

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:

A quiet inlet on the black sea with the historic house of Nessebar lining the rocky shoreline at dusk
Nessebar, Bulgaria

Then there are mountain ranges with ski resorts and summer hiking:

An aerial view of a snowy mountainside in Bansko Bulgaria. Frosty evergreens form the background
Bansko, Bulgaria

Bulgaria also has a bit of wine country, and plenty of rolling foothills.

See what I mean? Everything!

A misty forest in Bulgaria. Orange leaves are thick on the ground between the dark trees.
A forest near Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria

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!

Rich History

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.

ancient marble columns rise into the sky above a wooden stage
The remains of the ancient theatre of Philippopolis in Plovdiv Bulgaria

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.

Modern History

The modern Soviet history of Bulgaria has less universal appeal than ancient history does, but I still find it very interesting.

A statue in a park - a large concrete block structure with a man carved on the front carrying a gun and a flag. The ripples from the flag combine with his cloak to look like he is wearing a huge cape.
Not all heroes wear capes, but Bulgaria says “Yes, they do.”

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!

A concrete soviet style apartment block with a series of run down white and mustard balconies. a large number 29 is stamped on the side.
An apartment block in Burgas, Bulgaria

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.

Buzludzha Monument in winter at sunset. The circular spaceship-like building is silhouetted against the orange and blue sky
Buzludzha Monument

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.

Affordability

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.

Two espresso cups and saucers on paper placemats with cyrillic writing on them, sugar packets sit on the table to the left, and a retro napkin holder rests on the right.

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.

a white washed village sits atop a cliff above the turquoise waters of the ocean in Carvoeira Portugal. A sandy beach stretches between the foreground and the village
The town of Carvoeira in Portugal’s Algarve

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.

A mustard coloured stucco building in closeup of the arch over the doorway. A blue and white tile sign reads "Restaurante"

Language

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.

Convenience

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.

A little girl studies an informational brochure while sitting on the bench seat in the back car of a little blue tourist train.
Taking the tourist train in Albufeira, Portugal

Accesssibility

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

Lagos is our favourite off-season spot to spend some time in the Algarve just relaxing.

Rocky cliffs hide a sandy beach in between them in a beautiful aquamarine cove near Lagos Portugal
Lagos, Portugal

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.

Adorable buildings in the centre of Lagos Portugal on one side of a square, the foreground is a white stucco two storey house with juliette balconies on the second floor and shops on the first. A man walks past a parked bicycle. A green tile 3 storey building sits across the street. Two trees sit centre square and the cobbles have a black and white circular pattern.
The Old Town of Lagos, Portugal

Portimao

Portimao is very near Lagos and is more of a modern resort town with lots of tall condo buildings not far from the beach.

the harbour at Portimao Portugal. White washed modern buildings and palm trees line the bay. A yellow and white cruises by in the foreground. The sunset is bright yellow in the sky and reflecting off the water.
Portimao, Portugal

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.

Silves

Away from the seaside but still in the Algarve is the charming town of Silves.

A small girl looks out over a railing onto a treed square. A pink tile building pokes through the trees on the far side.
Silves, Portugal

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.)

A view through a brick window in the ruins of a dark red castle in Silves. The white village sits below with red clay roofs.
From the castle in Silves, Portugal

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.

The sun sets over a blue and white hillside village in greece. The ocean is faded into the background.

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!

Want more to explore?

Pinterest Pin reads "Amazing Places to discover in Bulgaria." on a background of various sights from around Bulgaria
Pinterest Pin image - small town of Silves in Portugal. Cafe seats on a cobbled lane. Text reads "Portugal Itinerary"
Text reads "Slow Travel Planning" over a faded background of a narrow street of row houses in Porto Portugal

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