I don't know about you, but when I go travelling I invariably end up on the move for most of my holiday. While this is good in the sense that you get to see as much as possible, it can feel like your holiday is not that relaxing. With that in mind, it's nice to schedule in at least one stop along the way where you can unwind and relax in a peaceful location.
I've been thinking about where I would consider the most peaceful places I've ever been, and have come up with the below list. I hope it inspires you to take a couple of days out of your next holiday to enjoy some peace and quiet!
5. Port Fairy, Australia
I know I may be biased as I grew up here, but Port Fairy is such a gorgeous little coastal town that is just far enough away from Melbourne to maintain its peaceful nature (well, for most of the year anyway). Located right at the bottom of Victoria, it has a number of gorgeous beaches, quiet walking tracks, and an incredible variety of Australian wildlife: throughout my time in Port Fairy, I've seen whales, dolphins, echidnas, wallabies, kangaroos, octopus, emus, and a huge variety of fish.
The weather can be a bit cooler than most Australian beach towns, but I think this adds to a bit of the peaceful nature of the place. I love taking walks along the beach when it's cool outside, the ocean raging beside me as my dogs chase the seagulls.
4. Miyajima, Japan
Miyajima is a small island about half an hour from Hiroshima, and is one of the most beautiful places I have ever been. While it can get quite busy during the day, by the time the sun has set the island feel completely deserted - other than the friendly deer that roam freely around the town. I spent three nights here in a traditional ryokan (kind of like a Japanese B&B), which was located on the edge of town near a gorgeous park that overlooked the beach. It was an incredibly peaceful and beautiful place, and the sun set each evening was the most beautiful display of pink and orange.
3. Koh Chang, Thailand
Thailand itself is often associated with relaxation, however after a couple of different holidays I can say that I find the island of Koh Chang the most peaceful of all the locations I've visited. Despite the fact that it's only a one hour flight from Bangkok, and is nearly on the border of Cambodia, it still feels like it's undiscovered compared to islands like Koh Samui, Koh Tao and Koh Pha Ngan.
There's a number of beautiful, secluded beaches around the entire island with the most incredible blue-green water that is so lovely and warm. And if you're staying on the northern part of the island, you'll be treated to a beautiful view of the Cambodian mountain from across the sea.
2. Blue Lagoon, Iceland
A bit of a change to a traditional answer here, but I found Iceland's famous Blue Lagoon one of the most unique and peaceful places that I've ever visited. For those who are unfamiliar with this location, it's a geothermal spa located in lava field. Sounds a little intimidating, but the bright blue water is incredibly rich in minerals like silica and sulfur, which can be quite good for your skin (particularly if you suffer from skin diseases). The water temperature averages around 37–39 °C (99–102 °F), which is fantastic due to the nearly year-round low temperatures in Iceland. I visited in June, where the temperature averaged around 9°C so the water was absolutely lovely.
It started to lightly rain while I was in the lagoon, which made for an incredibly peaceful experience. I sat back against the rocks and let the rain fall lightly on my face as I closed my eyes and enjoyed the water.
1. Mt. Koya, Japan
Yes, Japan features twice on this list, but I just couldn't avoid it. Mt. Koya (or Koyasan) is such a beautiful and quite location that I would highly recommend everyone visit at least once in their lives.
A train from Osaka will take you up through into the mountains, and as the train gets closer to the mountain the view is stunning - creeks, waterfalls, and valleys are all on display. The final ascent is on a cable car that seems to defy gravity, but will safely delivery you to the summit.
One of the main attractions of staying overnight here is the temple lodgings, where you can get a taste of a monk's lifestyle, eating vegetarian monk's cuisine and attending the morning prayers. Although I'm not religious, I was very interested in seeing first hand what it would be like to stay in a temple. In my mind I was picturing rickety floorboards, cold rooms, and a couple of piece of limp tofu for dinner, however I was completely wrong. The temple was absolutely stunning (and even had wifi!), the rooms comfortable and the food - oh, the food. Despite being entirely vegetarian it was absolutely delicious and very filling. There was even and indoor and outdoor onsen to soak in which was an absolute highlight.
While on the mountain it's well worth checking out Okunoin, the site of the mausoleum of Kobo Daishi, the founder of Shingon Buddhism and one of the most revered persons in the religious history of Japan. Okunoin is one of the most sacred places in Japan and a popular pilgrimage spot. It also features the largest cemetrery in Japan, with over 200,000 tombstones lining the almost two kilometer long approach to Kobo Daishi's mausoleum. Wishing to be close to Kobo Daishi in death to receive salvation, many people, including prominent monks and feudal lords, have had their tombstones erected here over the centuries. A pest control company even has a memorial to all the termites that their products have been exterminating! It's an extremely peaceful and beautiful place, no matter what your religious affiliation is.
Where is the most peaceful place you have ever been?