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Daily stress can take its toll on your mind and body, which is why sometimes you just need to get completely out of your element to really relax. A peaceful getaway can not only rejuvenate your body but also clear your mind so you’re totally refreshed when it’s finally time to get back to the real world. And isn’t that the point of taking a vacation in the first place?
The most relaxing place to go, however, depends on your personal preference. For some, a relaxing vacation might mean soaking up the sun on a tropical beach, while for others it might mean following a trail on a windy coastline with few other people in sight. No matter where you go, you’re bound to find a place that’s dedicated to your tranquility. We scoured our favorite places around the world and found the destinations where we hope you will find your next relaxing vacation.
There are many relaxing places in Hawaii, but Kauai is particularly special. Known as the Garden Island, here you can find empty beaches like Lumahai Beach, as well as breathtaking landscapes like the vast Waimea Canyon State Park. You can also book a sunset cruise of the Nāpali Coast with a tour company like Holo Holo Charters to appreciate the island’s unique geology from the water. To help you make your vacation the most relaxing possible, there are many wonderful resorts on the island like Koloa Landing, where you can enjoy sprawling grounds and spacious rooms and suites big enough for the whole family.
Cape Elizabeth, Maine
What could be more idyllic than strolling the cape and exploring lighthouses? This town is the home of the Cape Elizabeth Light (or Two Lights Lighthouse) which has been active since 1874. In addition to the interesting history and classic New England architecture, Cape Elizabeth is one of the best places to get juicy lobster. You will find plenty of tranquility here on the rocks, and also at accommodations like Inn by the Sea, one of Maine’s best luxury hotels with relaxing in-room amenities like cozy fireplaces and soaking tubs.
Banff National Park, Canada
Banff National Park is chock-full of amazing scenery and crystalline lakes, but Lake Louise might be the best (and most relaxing) of them all. Campers and hikers alike can settle by its perfectly blue waters and gaze at mountain views that seem almost too pristine to be real — luckily, it is. And it’s quite possibly the perfect relaxing vacation for lovers of the great outdoors, whether you want to hike or just set yourself up in a landmark hotel like Fairmont Banff Springs.
Tenorio Volcano National Park, Costa Rica
Located in northern Costa Rica, Tenorio Volcano National Park is one of the country’s most incredible natural wonderlands, without the crowds that tend to go to parks closer to the coast. Here, Rio Celeste is known for its vivid blue color, almost unlike any other waterfall in the world. The bright color is caused by a reaction of the volcanic chemicals in the water, but against the tropical backdrop and rushing waters, it looks magical. Nearby, you’ll also find one of the most beautiful jungle hotels in the world, the Rio Celeste Hideaway Hotel.
East Sussex, England
Lovers of pastoral landscapes and dramatic coastlines will find their paradise in the southern reaches of England. Rolling green hills and proximity to the English Channel make Seven Sisters the quintessential countryside you’ve read about in Victorian novels. You’ll also find the iconic white chalk cliffs if you decide to take a stroll there. For golfers who love nothing more than to unwind on the green, the nearby East Sussex National Resort boasts two championship courses.
Nordfjord is one of the top destinations in Norway thanks to its breathtaking views. Visitors can take a long, slow pleasure cruise along the fjord and see a wide array of sights including glaciers, mountains, and the open sea — all in just a two-hour trip. If you visit during the winter, you may be able to see the northern lights, which will no doubt add to the already awe-inspiring scenery of the fjords.
Blue Lagoon, Iceland
The Blue Lagoon is by far the most popular tourist destination that Iceland has to offer. This geothermal spa is located in a lava field and attached to a world-renowned resort, where you can soak in the warm waters even when the temperatures are freezing outside. Choose the Lagoon Suite for direct access to the waters from your room. After you’ve soaked your stress away, Iceland has many empty and scenic landscapes that you can explore during your relaxing vacation.
The Ionian Islands, Greece
Home to the Instagram-famous Navagio Beach, the Ionian Islands are some of the most popular for travelers in Greece. You’ll find the most peace and quiet on the under-the-radar island of Paxos where there are few resorts but many lovely vacation homes. On the island of Zakynthos, there are many other towns and beaches gorgeous enough to make anyone scrolling through your Instagram swoon with envy, including Navagio and the remains of the cargo ship MV Panagiotis that got stuck there in 1980 during a storm.
Lose yourself in the gorgeous vineyards and captivating views of the Alps while you’re in this famous French region — but know it’s not all wine here. Provence is celebrated for its biodiversity and famous for olive groves, pine forests, and lavender fields, as well as grapes. Nice, Marseille, the French Riviera, and Avignon are all popular places to visit while in the region. Settle in a lush countryside retreat for your relaxing vacation like the lavender-surrounded Coquillade Provence Resort & Spa, named the best resort in France by Travel + Leisure readers in 2022.
Whitsunday Islands National Park, Australia
Australia is a massive country with lots of wide-open spaces to plan a relaxing vacation, but if you go offshore to the Whitsunday Islands, located off the coast of Queensland near the Great Barrier Reef, you can visit one of the world’s most beautiful beaches. On Whitehaven Beach, the pure white silica sand and emerald waters create a gorgeous palette of colors that is a feast for the senses. If you go north to Hill Inlet, you’ll see a mesmerizing swirl of white and blue, created by shifting sands and water.
Maasai Mara National Reserve, Kenya
In Kenya, many travelers visit the Maasai Mara in hopes of seeing wild animals and to experience a stay in a luxury safari camp. Wild animals may not be everyone’s idea of relaxation, but adventurers in need of some repose can journey to the Saruni Samburu Safari Camp, which offers a Wellbeing Space with a pool, spa, and dining areas. After a morning game drive, you can let the adrenaline simmer down with a spa treatment or a few sips of wine with a view.
In Indonesia, the island of Bali has become synonymous these days with yoga retreats in the jungles of Ubud and the beaches of Canggu. You’ll find plenty of luxury resorts and hotels on the island, as well as beaches and historic temples. Beyond enjoying the relaxed, coastal living that travelers have come to expect from a trip to Bali, capturing the colorful sunset (or sunrise) along the shallow waters of Sanur Beach is a must-do.
Ise Shima National Park, Japan
Located on the coastline east of Osaka, Ise Shima is a national park that encompasses a thriving mainland forest and many islands waiting to be explored. Peace and quiet don’t begin to describe the beauty of Ise Jingu, a grand Shinto shrine located in the park and dedicated to the Japanese goddess Amaterasu. Even though it’s a widely known tourist attraction, the shrine complex maintains its tranquility. It is one of the holiest places in Japan, and people often go there to revere its architecture, natural scenery, and historical significance.
Halong Bay, Vietnam
If you’re looking for serene blue and green waters, look no further than Halong Bay. This beautiful body of water is most popular with boat lovers who want to spend some days on the water, or perhaps exploring the limestone islands and coastal forests. The area is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site since it’s home to dozens of species of plants and animals. You’ll find lots of places to stay around the bay, but the best way to experience this destination is by hopping aboard a cruise ship so you can catch every angle of this relaxing destination.