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Where to spend a slow summer off the beaten track

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If you’re lucky enough to have a summer to travel, you might be overwhelmed with the potential of different places – where could you make the most of the season? At TravelLocal, we’re huge advocates for slow travel, and taking the time to really absorb the intricate fabric of a destination. Below, we’ve listed some off-the-beaten-track, quiet destinations across the world to enjoy a slow summer trip, where the days are long and light, the culture is vibrant, and the grand outdoors awaits.

The Yukon, Canada

Often described as ‘livable’, many dream of escaping to Canada’s easy breezy way of life, so what better place to spend a slow summer? In the northwest lies the Yukon territory bordered by Alaska, a wonderful wilderness bursting with mountains, lakes and four-legged creatures such as moose, caribou and bears. People come to the Yukon for its sense of spaciousness, visions of nature on a grand scale, and its captivating sites of Aboriginal heritage, so if you’re looking to explore the quiet destinations of the world, the Yukon is a must-visit.

One can easily spend a summer here living out the ultimate Canadian fantasy – canoeing its crystalline lakes and waterways (there’s the Yukon River, Teslin River, and Pelly River to choose from); exploring the gorgeously scenic Kluane National Park and Reserve (including its highest peak, Mount Logan); or taking on countless walking trails through boreal forests, majestic mountain ranges, or even along the wide open vistas of the Arctic tundra in the north. Not to forget, this is a great place to spot the Aurora Borealis, and staying here a while means more chances to catch sight of the magic.

Emerald Lake in the Yukon, Canada, a truly quiet destination

Isle of Skye, Scotland

The atmospheric, fresh-aired Isle of Skye is primed and ready for slow and steady travel. This, the second-largest of Scotland’s off-shore islands, is crammed full of countryside ruggedness, camera-ready natural panoramas and an ancient, wild spirit.

You could spend all your days on Skye ambling through historic fishing villages such as Portree or Elgol, with their local cafes, quaint seafood restaurants, and bustling harborfronts; but adventure lies further afield if you’re into road trips. Head to Quiraing in the north for views of undulating hills and jutting headland reaching into the vast sea; or traverse the sometimes bizarre terrain of the Trotternish Peninsula.

There’s also heaps of Gaelic heritage to uncover. Dance your way into local ceilidhs, witness the Highland Games, or follow myths and fairytales to Dunvegan Castle or the Old Man of Storr. Come nightfall, you could take in the sheer clarity of the starry skies out here on this remote island, which quite simply never gets boring.

Brown highland cows on the Isle of Skye, Scotland

Lithuania, the ‘Land of Lakes’

Have a fairytale summer in Lithuania, the underrated gem of the Baltics. With miles of ethereal forestland, the breezy highlands near the Belarus border, and the undulating dunes and glorious beaches of the Curonian Spit, the topographic diversity here will satisfy every urge for both adventure and stillness.

It’s known as the ‘Land of Lakes’, so those who thrive by a scenic body of water won’t be disappointed. There are 2,800 lakes throughout the country, from popular Lake Galvė, with its crystal waters centered by Trakai Island Castle; to Lake Babrukas, surrounded by marshland and excellent for birdwatching; to Lake Dusia in Aukštaitija National Park, flanked by beaches to sunbathe and swim in.

These lands aren’t only for active travelers: capital Vilnius is a treasure chest of medieval history and culture. Stroll through the UNESCO-protected cobblestone Old Town, enjoy a pint of craft beer, then make the most of the galleries, theaters and live music at your disposal. Don’t forget the ‘white nights’ that occur in the peak of midsummer – the sun lingers long into the evening, giving any trip to Lithuania a sense of irresistible longevity.

Trakai Castle sat in the middle of Galve Lake, Lithuania

Montenegro, from mountains to coast

Teeny Montenegro is so often overlooked, but with its idyllic mix of dramatic peaks, pristine Adriatic coastline and boatloads of historic charm, it invites travelers to slow down and absorb your surroundings. 

Outdoor-lovers will never run out of reasons to be thrilled on a summer trip here. Explore the lush forests and glacial lakes of Durmitor National Park, the ancient monasteries and fortresses of Kotor’s Old Town, and the jaw-dropping ravines of Europe’s deepest canyon, the Tara River Canyon. Then there’s the ocean. Quiet spots like the coastal village of Petrovac (where the ancient Romans built their summer villas) or Przno are the perfect spots to lounge before the glittering Adriatic Sea and catch some rays, the sight of craggy, picturesque cliffs reaching above.

There’s a sleepy quality to Montenegro that lends itself to a longer trip. Spend days wandering the narrow streets of Montenegrin villages, lounging on a sandy shoreline, and dining out on the freshest seafood, accompanied with a shot of rajika – the local fruit brandy.

Lovcen National Park, Montenegro, a truly quiet destination

Unexplored villages of southern Italy

A summer in Italy doesn’t sound bad whatever way you look at it, but going the well-trodden route will have you accompanied by thousands of tourists. If you want to take your time and embrace the quiet life for a lingering Italian trip, the unexplored villages in the south of Italy won’t let you down.

Southern Italy has a totally different culture to the north, one that thrives on a laid-back, carefree lifestyle and a focus on small daily pleasures. For locals, this entails sitting on a streetside chair chatting to neighbors, hours-long family dinners, and the concept of dolce far niente – ‘the sweetness of doing nothing’.

Wander the whitewashed alleyways of Polignano a Mare in Puglia, joining the locals as they lounge and bathe in sun-splashed coves. Admire the shuttered windows, charming town squares and Byzantine architecture of villages like Lecce or Matera. Hike to the viewpoints of Tropea, an historic village perched on the cliff edges over the Ionian Sea. Sample Mediterranean flavors in local trattorias; the umami of prosciutto, ripe tomato bruschetta, spaghetti tossed with fresh clams. When it comes to slow summers, it doesn’t get better than this.

the white washed walls of the small village of Alberobello in Southern Italy

Oslo and Norway’s great outdoors

Experience summer the Scandi way with a slow season in Norway’s great outdoors. Though the climate is usually chilly this far north, the summers offer a milder climate and long evenings, ideal for days spent relishing the wonders of nature. 

This is an excellent time to witness the marvel of Norway’s fjords; the stunning, cavernous waterways that weave the Norwegian lands. Amazingly, there are over 1,000 of them, so you’ll have tons to choose from throughout an extended trip to Norway. They’re commonly experienced via cruise, with the most popular being Geirangerfjord, the Aurlandsfjord and the Nærøyfjord, and you can drive to them, too – but the more adventurous traveler can hike, bike or even climb around the fjords for a perspective with spectacular viewpoints.

Oslo, Norway’s capital is also backed by the picturesque Oslofjord, making it a city perfectly balanced with nature. Modern, clean and progressive, Oslo is a great place to base yourself in – full of cultural diversity, green spaces, and delicious farm-to-table restaurants where you can sample thoughtfully-sourced cuisine. 

A lighthouse on a small island in Tranoy, Norway

Tajikistan’s mountains and valleys

Embrace a summer with a difference in the mountains and valleys of majestic Tajikistan. Here you can feel truly at one with the clouds, as 90% of the land here is mountainous, making it one of the most scenic, high-altitude places in the world.

Tajikistan’s dominating peaks, the Pamir Mountains give the nation its nickname ‘the Roof of the World’. The network of trekking trails promise otherworldly views of glaciers, sublime lakes and steep ravines, making it a paradise for those who always travel with hiking boots. Take the remote and rugged route through the Wakhan Corridor, which extends through Afghanistan and China; tour the Bartang Valley, a challenging yet picturesque route which leads through sheep-filled meadows and mountain villages, and visit the Fann Mountains, characterized by turquoise pools and sharp granite cliffs.

To truly live off the land, you could try a homestay with nomadic herders, who have traveled with their live-in yurts across Central Asia for millennia. Use the time to get to know indigenous mountain communities, including the Pamiri people who practice their own language and customs, distinct from Tajiks.

The mountains of Tajikistan

Make it happen

If you’re planning a trip away this summer, let us do the hard work for you. Our local travel experts are based on the ground in the quiet destinations we’ve covered here, so they’re ready to help you plan the perfect custom trip that will take you off the beaten track.

  1. Canada
  2. Scotland
  3. Lithuania
  4. Montenegro
  5. Italy
  6. Norway
  7. Tajikistan

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