Let’s be frank, work is stressful. The need to de-stress can be strong.
When you’re really honest with yourself, don’t you find yourself spending the majority of your time in work dreaming of what you’ll do with your time off?
And what do you dream of? Relaxation? No stress? Anything but work?
Of course, it can be stressful merely thinking about going on holiday. Where do you go? Who do you go with? My head hurts just thinking about it, doesn’t yours?
Well, help is on hand – we’ve compiled 13 of our favourite places to escape to. These are places of serenity, places of wonder, places to melt stress away.
You might be expecting a list that goes something like: ‘St. Lucia, Barbados, Fiji’…but you’d be wrong. Let’s get into it.
What’s not to love about a country filled with people who believe in fairies and elves? This mystical land remains largely as it did when the first group of monks arrived from Ireland on their search for complete isolation. Nowadays, Iceland is far more metropolitan but still retains much of its desolate beauty.
The sheer magnificence of the landscape is only outdone by the warmth of the locals. Share stories over a cup of cocoa with a local or head out to the Blue Lagoon for a rejuvenating dip. Either way, working life is soon a distant memory and the wonders of Iceland will begin to work their de-stress magic.
Need a bit of that? Join our adventure into the unknown of Iceland
2. Krabi, Thailand
This seaside utopia is littered with limestone crags jutting from the turquoise waters, creating some of the most impressive views. The best place to relax and unwind is at one of the many spa resorts around Railay Beach where you can hide away from the hustle and bustle of Thailand in your own, personal slice of paradise. It’s a de-stress haven.
Head out from the mainland and explore some of the many surrounding islands and islets, watch the sunset from a kayak in Railay Bay or meet the creatures of the deep on a scuba diving mission. If that doesn’t float your boat then chilling on the beach with a book should be just the ticket.
Head off-radar in magical Myanmar (with Thailand as an extension)
3. Cappadocia, Turkey
The bustling touristic vibes of Istanbul dissolve as soon as you step foot onto this futuristic lunar landscape. Discover the uniqueness of Cappadocia as you unwind in a luxurious cave hotel overlooking the ‘fairy chimneys’ whilst savouring tantalising Turkish tea and delight.
De-stress above the world on a hot air balloon for a birds-eye view of the truly indescribable monolithic natural wonders followed by a champagne breakfast. Explore the sleepy town before cooling down amongst Ihlara Valley’s alluring flora. Enjoy a bottle of Cappadocia’s exceptional wine upon Sunset Rock and soak up the last of the days rays.
Run away from all responsibility to this Central American haven for a week of pure, unadulterated relaxation and exploration. Most well known for it’s underwater sink hole, commonly called the Great Blue Hole, there is so much more to discover in Belize.
Ancient Mayan ruins, thick, rich rain forests, pearlescent beaches and the world’s second largest barrier reef; these are only a handful of the wanders of Belize. This colourful, vibrant country is ripe for the picking and will offer you anything from peace and tranquility to high-throttle adventure. Above all, the means to de-stress.
Time to explore? Discover jungle and cayes in Guatemala & Belize on this epic 12-day adventure
5. Algarve, Portugal
The alluring Algarve has long been a popular holiday destination, pulling in throngs of beach goers from all four corners of the globe, but that’s not why it has made this list. There is a little known yoga revolution happening in the Algarve, and it’s one to rival any other.
Take some time to reconnect your mind, body and soul with the sun on your face and the salty taste of the ocean blowing through the breeze. De-stress while you bend and stretch your Karma – and your spine – back into place in a wholly new discovered Portugal.
6. Byron Bay, Australia
The East Coast of Australia is well-known for it’s surfer-cool vibes and chilled out attitude to life. No more apparent is that than in Byron Bay. You need only a few minutes in this small, coastal town to feel alive, relaxed and ready to de-stress.
Take a kayak out among the waves for an early morning paddle with the local pod of dolphins before kicking things up a notch with a surf lesson. Watch out though, the waves are pretty intense, perfect for cooling down after a day spent sunbathing on the sands. This is a true surfers paradise, no matter what the Queenslander’s say.
Let’s go? Unearth the Australian East Coast
7. Zanzibar, Tanzania
Not one, but 50 islands make up this East African archipelago, so you won’t be left wanting for places to explore as you relax and unwind in sizzling Zanzibar.
While the aroma of spices wafts through the narrow streets of Stone Town, you’ll find yourself in conversation with the many friendly locals. Tanzania has a rich history, with Zanzibar playing a central role, despite the fact that it is often treated as a separate country altogether.
But, let’s be honest, the main attraction here are the powdery, white beaches. Pure, untampered de-stress paradise. Take a private dhow boat out to snorkel and spot bottle-nosed dolphins, relax on world-class beaches – the choice is yours. Whatever you do, in this environment, work stress is set to melt away.
Discover Zanzibar and go wild in Tanzania on our 9-day adventure
8. Malta and Gozo
If you like the sound of it being so hot your flip-flops melt into the ground or the water’s so warm you could mistake it for a bath (note: who doesn’t?), then Malta and Gozo are definitely for you.
While many may tell you to head to Malta’s capital, Valletta, we recommend heading straight for the beaches of Mellieha on the northern tip of this small-but-perfectly-formed island. Take a trip over to Gozo and spend the day on a catamaran, snorkelling with colourful fish in crystal clear, warm seas. Goodbye stress, hello tan!
9. Bruges, Belgium
Made famous by the hilarious In Bruges, Bruges is most definitely not the boring place our Colin thought it was. If you’re after a winter getaway, this city seriously deserves your attention.
Like something out of a fairytale, the gothic architecture of central Bruges dominates the city, creating a feeling that you may have accidentally hopped back in time. After a busy day spent shopping and exploring the labyrinth of cobbled streets, unwind and de-stress by the fire in one of the city’s cosy bars and restaurants.
10. Patagonia, Chile
If you’re looking to escape from work for a little more than stress relief, we recommend exploring the dense jungles of wild Patagonia and the world-famous Torres del Paine National Park. It’s stunning.
Stop off in Puerto Natales, a lively and colourful town on the shores of Seno de Ultima Esperanza before taking a scenic journey to Cueva de Milodon, a massive prehistoric cave. Around here, the sun only sets at about 11pm, so you’ll have plenty of time to appreciate the inspiring sight of the Patagonian steppe, complete with grazing guanacos and snow-capped mountain peak horizons.
You in? Come challenge yourself in Chile
11. Pokhara, Nepal
“Take a deep breath and enjoy the view.”
In this de-stress destination, you’ll be hearing lots of that. Burrowed into the foothills of the Himalayas, Pokhara is filled with fresh mountain air and picture-perfect views. Whether you spend a few days here or simply pass through on your way to the Annapurna trek, you’ll leave feeling recharged and ready for anything.
Stay in one of the luxury hotels atop a mountain and drink in the panoramic views of the Himalayan range. To completely switch off and reignite your inner peace, join a meditation class or simply head to the spa. Need a little more adventure? Join the Everest trail for 13-days and reach the rooftop of thew world, champagne breakfast in the shadow of Everest to boot.
Let’s do it, go hike the Everest trail
12. Macleod Island, Myanmar
This secluded island is the only one in the region with any sort of accommodation for travellers. The only other people around the region are sea gypsies and the odd sail boat – so you know what that means. Total and complete isolation from the world you know and, sort of, love. It’s the perfect recipe to help you de-stress.
What it lacks in 5* luxury, it makes up for in seclusion. The world could end and you would have no idea. So, if you’re really looking to escape from it all, Macleod Island is 100% you. Other than the seclusion, there are pristine seas, unspoilt beaches and some of the most fascinating diving and snorkelling spots in Myanmar. Trust us when we say you will NOT want to leave.
13. Hampi, India
While so much else in India is noise, shouting, traffic and weird smells, Hampi is a true vortex of calm; a diamond in the rough. Hampi is everything Goa used to be before it became “cool” and is the perfect hideaway after a stressful, yet invigorating, few days or weeks exploring the rest of the country. Don’t expect to escape the street cows though.
Scoot through emerald green rice paddies strewn with ancient ruins, boulders and palm groves, unearthing landscapes that will leave you in awe and in love with the beauty of the world. Unwind with a beer on the edge of a lake or by simply perusing the 3700 monuments Hampi has to offer.