(Photo: Bluewater Sweden on Unsplash)
In a world where technology and constant connectivity often dominate our lives, there is a growing need to disconnect - at least for a few days.
In this article, we dive into five extraordinary destinations where travelers can truly escape civilization and go off the grid, including places like the otherworldly landscapes of Iceland to the secluded shores of Vanuatu, traditional Japanese inns (don't forget your regional pass!), the untamed beauty of Mongolia, and the remote allure of the Faroe Islands.
Discover the magic of each destination and disconnect in perfect solitude.
Iceland is one of the first places that travelers typically choose when they wish to enjoy a secluded holiday. This charming island is the perfect choice for those who want to escape the hustle of city life and relax amongst pristine nature and silence. With a population of less than 400,000 locals, Iceland is also one of the most sparsely populated countries in the world - and travelers can go days without seeing another person, especially in far-flung areas of the island.
Iceland's main draw is its unique nature, with formations and natural wonders that can't be found anywhere else in the world. The island is full of beautiful geological and natural landmarks like waterfalls, ice caves, glaciers, black sand beaches, volcanoes, and more.
Of course, we can't forget about Iceland's most famous natural phenomenon: the northern lights. This stunning blue and green light show is seen between October and March, and the best viewing spots include Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon, Vatnajökull National Park, and the Snæfellsnes peninsula.
After immersing yourself in nature, be sure to stay a day or two in the capital of the country, Reykjavík, to try Icelandic cuisine and visit intriguing local museums.
Travelers who prefer relaxing somewhere a little warmer (but still isolated) should look to Vanuatu instead. Situated in the South Pacific and nearly 2,000 kilometers away from the closest continent (Australia), Vanuatu is the perfect retreat in tropical nature.
The lush forests of this archipelago are a haven for hikers: visit the cascading Mele Falls hidden in the jungle, where travelers can swim in cold pools surrounded by dense vegetation, swim with the local population of dugongs (a type of manatee), or climb to the top of the active volcano of Mount Yasur.
For those who want to venture below the surface, Vanuatu offers a fantastic variety of underwater sports, diving, and trips to colorful coral reefs. Of special interest is taking a dive to the SS President Coolidge shipwreck, which is often listed as one of the best dive sites in the world.
Aoni Onsen (Japan)
Those who want to truly disconnect from civilization and immerse themselves in serene isolation will discover their haven at the Aoni Onsen. This traditional Japanese inn is located deep in the forests of Aomori Prefecture and offers the perfect off-the-grid escape - as one writer put it, "[This onsen] is not just off the beaten path. It is barely on a path."
A special feature of the resort is that there is absolutely no electricity, television, power outlets, or internet, which makes this accommodation an excellent option for those looking for an opportunity to disconnect from the rest of the world. The lack of electricity adds a special atmosphere to this place, and instead of traditional lights, there are dozens of oil lamps used instead. This creates a magical atmosphere once the sun sets, and is sure to leave a lasting impression for visitors.
Guests can soak in the rejuvenating mineral hot springs and explore the serene surroundings like walking trails, forests, and rivers. Don't miss the inn's delicious homemade cooking with dishes like katsu, bento boxes, and fish caught from the nearby river. Once your off-the-grid adventure is over, be sure to see Japan's technology in action with a trip on the Hayabusa high-speed train from Shin-Aomori back to Tokyo.
Mongolia is a country in Central Asia that is famous for its nature, nomadic culture, and the legacy of the country's founder, Genghis Khan.
One of the most significant attractions of Mongolia is, of course, its vast steppes and open nature. There are 24 national parks to explore, with stunning natural formations like endless taigas to sand dunes, rugged mountains, glacial lakes, and beautiful fields of flowers that taper off into the horizon.
Interestingly, more than 30% of locals still lead a nomadic lifestyle - and you can join them. There are companies that specialize in 'nomadic tours,' giving travelers the chance to live like a local nomad, travel on horseback, and live in yurts far away from civilization.
Last but certainly not least, we have the captivating Faroe Islands.
Nestled between Iceland and Norway, these islands are renowned for their rugged terrains, idyllic fjords, and abundance of sheep. In fact, you'll encounter sheep on your trip more frequently than fellow travelers. It's no wonder that this country earned the title "sheep islands," as there are over 70,000 wooly residents compared to only 50,000 humans.
The Faroe Islands are primarily a natural oasis where you can enjoy views of the Steep Cliffs, high mountains leaning over the endless Atlantic Ocean, and grass-roofed villages.
Thanks to their relatively undiscovered status among tourists, remote location, and infrequent air travel options, you'll have the Faroe Islands virtually to yourself, free from the usual tourist crowds and long queues. Traveling will feel like you're on another planet.
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