Peace and quiet, for many of us, is a commodity that we just can’t get enough of. Whether it’s limiting time on your smartphone, or taking a wander round the block in the evening sunshine, we’re all seeking a little slice of tranquility to call our own.
In this respect, travelling is no different. Following the well worn path, visiting iconic sites plagued by tourist crowds can be as demanding as your daily commute! With this in mind, rural areas are becoming more and more precious; havens of silence in a brash and busy world. When the hustle and bustle of modern life feels simply overwhelming, our selection of the top 5 rural retreats around the world could be just what you need.
Ancient and secluded, the village of Abyaneh is set among some of the most pristine and picturesque landscapes in Iran. Its labyrinthine streets and ramshackle red clay houses are home to just 350 people, many of whom still speak Middle Persian; an early form of modern Farsi. Abyaneh is overlooked by two hilltop fortresses, both dating to the 13th century, which offer panoramic views over the village and its surrounding mountains. While there are no formal walking trails, there are multiple shepherds’ paths leading up into the hills which can be easily explored with a local guide. For those with more time, full day hikes are a great option; allowing you to explore Abyaneh’s surrounding villages and its alpine landscape.
Cao Bang, Vietnam
Best explored across multiple days, Cao Bang is undoubtedly one of the most picturesque regions in Vietnam. Home to towering waterfalls, shimmering lakes and lush, verdant rice fields; it’s the ideal gateway to Southeast Asian countryside. Although you can explore the area independently, enlisting the services of a local guide can help you to get the best out of your countryside experience. Dau Dang waterfall and Ba Be lake are stunning; perfect for wild swimmers and lovers of the great outdoors. For those wanting to explore hillside villages and their surroundings, the 15km trek between Ta Lung and La villages is ideal - defined by sprawling rice fields and ramshackle mountain settlements.
Surrounded by the Babash-Ata Mountains, the sprawling village of Arslanbob is an oasis of greenery among rugged terrain. Home to towering peaks and alpine lakes beneath a wide open sky, a few days in Arslanbob is sure to make you feel a million miles from the rat race. In terms of activities, within walking distance of the village is the world’s largest walnut forest where, between August and October, nomadic communities take part in the harvest. More broadly, the region is perfect for horse riding, waterfall hikes and fishing trips, all set against the backdrop of a pristine alpine landscape.
With its white painted houses and winding, cobbled streets, Guane’s sleepy charms have helped establish it as one of Colombia’s most picturesque villages. Although the little town does have some sites to offer, including a fascinating ethnography museum and an 18th century church, the main attraction here is not the destination but the journey. Guane can be reached on foot from the larger town of Barichara, where an easy 9km trail leads down through one of the country’s prettiest valleys. Lush and verdant, the only people you’re likely to encounter along the way are local farmers, tending to their livestock on the sprawling hillsides.
Just four hours from Marrakech, nestled among apple orchards and the peaks of the Atlas Mountains, is the charming village of Imelghas. Home to a traditional Berber community, many of whom are involved in a local water conservation project, the town and its surroundings offer a real insight into rural Moroccan life. With its raw and beautiful landscape, the village is an ideal starting point for walking trails. Whether you want to climb the mountain pass of Tizi n’Ait Imi or meander through the apple orchards to see fossilised dinosaur footprints at Agouti, there’s no shortage of wonderful experiences on offer.
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