How to find the best Slow Travel Destinations
Slow travel is a fairly new approach to traveling – that focuses on taking your time on your trips, getting to know the culture and the local people of a place. Slow travel prioritizes getting to know a certain place in more depth over seeing lots of different places. Finding the best Slow Travel Destinations can be far from easy.
Since I have already covered the basics of what Slow Travel means in a former post, I want to focus more on finding the best Slow Travel destinations for your next trip. I will mainly focus on great Slow Travel destinations in Europe, but I also wanna offer up some insight on great slow travel destinations overseas. Lastly, I will also point out the worst Slow Travel Destinations in Europe so you know what to avoid.
Finding Slow Travel Destinations
Let’s first dive into finding the best Slow Travel destinations in Europe and all over the world. There are a few criteria on how to find a great Slow Travel destination for yourself. You will mainly be looking out for places with less density. Crowded places are not ideal for the ultimate Slow Travel Experience. Choose villages over cities!
The mindset of the locals in your dream destination are another thing to think about before choosing. Especially countries with a warm climate and by the ocean tend to have people with a more relaxed attitude toward life. These countries make for great Slow Travel Destinations.
Countries with an extremely high work ethic and very strict social standards are a less ideal place. With less ideal I do not mean that you cannot make it work, but the trick is in finding a destination that is not gonna make you work for it in the first place.
Look for countries open and welcoming to visitors, but not overly touristic places. It is much easier getting to know the locals if they have a very open and inviting attitude towards visitors. In some countries, especially really touristic ones, the locals can seem fed up with visitors and will not welcome you with open arms.
Try finding safe places for your Slow Travel experience. Your mind will be much more at ease if you do not pick super dangerous countries for your Slow Travel experience. While there is a certain appeal to exploring unstable countries as well, this is more suitable for adventure travelers.
If you keep all these tips in mind, you will certainly have no problem finding great Slow Travel destinations for your upcoming trips. If you are in need of some more inspo, keep on reading to learn about my favorite Slow Travel destinations – and my least favorite ones!
France – best Slow Travel Destination overall
France is by far my favorite Slow Travel destination in Europe. The French culture prides itself on enjoying life’s pleasures to the fullest – which makes it very easy to participate. Even in the bigger cities, like Paris or Nice, people live with a Slow Living mindset.
Frenchmen enjoy their meals, their wine and their coffee. They take their time while eating, savor every bite and have engaging conversations. This makes France an ideal Slow Travel Destination. Good, authentic French food is being sold at every corner, and can even be enjoyed on a budget.
The French have a very relaxed attitude towards work and stress. They refuse to stick to deadlines and stay calm and relaxed even in the office. Sadly, French people are not always very keen on tourists and their English is not always great, so getting to know them can be hard at times.
A great way to explore the Slow Travel destination France is by doing tastings and tours. They offer plenty of small group experiences that gives you plenty of time to talk to your local guide, ask questions and try local products. See my favorite tours here.
There are many beautiful French provinces that are especially great for Slow Travel. I can recommend the Dordogne region, Provence as well as the Loire Valley and the Bordeaux region as amazing destinations for Slow Travel in France. Especially smaller villages in these areas are beautiful and easy to explore without stress.
Another great European Slow Travel destination is Italy. Italy is extremely Slow Travel friendly, because Italians are just as relaxed about life, but a tad more welcoming than Frenchmen. Italians love having you in their restaurants, chatting with you in a cafe and offering tips and insights into their culture.
The Italian cuisine is famous and you will find many authentic dishes wherever you go. Try exploring the smaller Trattorias over bigger, touristic places and you will have a great authentic food experience.
Life in Italy is, just like in France, more about enjoyment than work and the hustle. Immersing yourself fully into the Italian culture will teach you the values of family, enjoyment and pleasure over money and goals.
Italy is also a great Slow Travel destination because it is relatively cheap and pretty safe. You can rent great houses in the countryside and explore off the beaten path without trouble. An amazing place to explore in Italy for your Slow Travel dreams is Tuscany or the Piemonte. Avoid Rome for your Slow Travel vacation – or try going in the off-season. It can get too crowded and rushed in summer there.
Greece is a lovely European Slow Travel destinations for many reasons. The beautiful landscape is extremely enticing and will make you feel like sitting down and staring at the ocean all day.
Another beautiful thing about Greece is the happy attitude of the locals. They are extremely friendly and inviting, even in the most touristic places. They tend to not take life too seriously and are always a good time.
Authentic Greek food is served everywhere – look out for traditional Taverns to get a great Greek food experience. They serve many products from local production, such as olives or tomatoes.
Spain is another fabulous Slow Travel destination in Europe. The mentality of the people is very similar to the aforementioned countries, so you can really come to rest in a low-key, stress-less environment. The Spanish are also known for resting throughout the day (holding Siesta) and celebrating life in the evenings.
The landscape and the culture of Spain is definitely worth checking out. Relax on the beach or visit one of the many impressive historical sites. Above all, Spanish food is to die for. I can wholeheartedly recommend Slow Traveling to Spain!
The United States – surprisingly great Slow Travel destination
This might come as a surprise to many of you, but the US is pretty suitable for a great Slow Travel adventure. They have lots of space (so no huge density, outside the cities) for you to explore and find yourself in. There are many amazing natural and historical sites worth visiting. Especially the diversity in landscape of the country makes it a great choice for your next Slow Travel adventure.
Americans are in general very open and relaxed – they will chat with you and let you be a part of their culture. Plus, they are super proud of their heritage and celebrate it many times throughout the year. Apart from the cities, the country is also relatively safe. So, make sure to check out America for your next Slow Travel adventure.
The Dutch Antilles – Bonaire, Aruba and Curacao
I have been to the Dutch Caribbean many times in the last years and I have always loved it as a Slow Travel Destination. The people there are very relaxed and inviting and proud to show you their heritage. Most things there move very slowly, in a relaxed manner – perfect for a time out of the stressy Western mentality.
The most interesting thing about the Dutch Caribbean is their colorful history, which brings great diversity to the population, the buildings and the food. You will encounter a happy mix of Spanish, Dutch and Latin American influences.
Apart from Curacao, the islands are pretty safe and you can explore without problems. Even Curacao is relatively safe, just try not to move outside of touristic areas at night and alone.
Australia is another great Slow Travel Destination. The density in people there is extremely low, so you will not be rushed or pushed around. People are super friendly and the country is beautiful. There are many natural sights you can visit and learn from. Australia is very safe and you can happily explore the country by car.
Worst Slow Travel Destinations in the World
Number one in my ranking on the worst Slow Travel destinations in the world is awarded to my current home country, the Netherlands. The country is extremely overpopulated and it is so hard to move around here freely. Everything gets crowded super quickly, and people tend to be very loud. Relaxation is hardly possible here. While there are many beautiful spots in the Netherlands to see, it is hard to enjoy them in a calm manner.
Austria & Germany
Second on the list of worst Slow Travel Destinations is Germany, followed by Austria. The mentality in these countries is very much productivity oriented. Many people value work over free time and get are constantly stressed. Outside the cities, things are a bit more relaxed, but I would still not recommend these as perfect Slow Travel Destinations.
The last one of my least favorite Slow Travel destinations is Bali. While we are all constantly spammed on Instagram about how beautiful the country is (which it is), the picture can be quite deceiving. The traffic is terrible and moving around is super stressful. Many people get sick there easily and the living standards are not that great. Many beautiful spots are completely covered in tourists and hard to enjoy because of the masses.