There's no denying that life in the 21st-century can get hectic. There's also no denying that after a while, all that rushing around can start taking its toll on our mental and physical well-being. If you're ready to hit pause on the 24/7 lifestyle, you'll find plenty of places in Europe that will restore some zen to your life. Prepare to de-stress, unwind and relax as we count down the 20 most peaceful places to live in Europe.
20. Lofoten Islands, Norway
Getting things off to a very hushed start is the Lofoten Islands of Norway. The archipelago is made up of seven main islands - Austvågøy, Flakstadøy, Gimsøy, Moskenesøya, Røst, Værøy and Vestvågøy - all of which, as Conde Nast Traveler notes, are reonwed for their serene, remote beauty. The picturesque little villages studded around the islands are blessed with a backdrop of fjords and peaks. Although the winters can be icy, the summers are gorgeously warm, giving you plenty of opportunities to enjoy the stunning landscape. Despite the beauty of the islands, few tourists ever make it this far north, affording the kind of peace and quiet most of us can only dream of.
19. Tossa de Mar, Spain
When you think of Spain, your mind usually turns to vibrant, busy cities like Barcelona and Madrid. But there's far, far more to the country than that. If you prefer solitude and serenity to nightclubs and bars, the tiny coastal city of Tossa de Mar is likely to tick all your boxes. Blessed on the one side by the pristine beaches of Costa Brava and on the other by dramatic mountain ranges, Tossa de Mar is a little slice of heaven for nature lovers. The town itself is an architectural gem, studded with historical homes and winding, cobbled lanes. The relaxed, easy-going lifestyle emphasizes the simple pleasures of life - if you like sun, siestas, and sunsets, you're going to love it.
18. Deia, Majorca
The small, coastal village of Deia lies on the island of Majorca. Although Majorca is a major tourist destination, Deia itself is blissfully untouched by the effects of mass tourism. Sleepy, surrounded by breathtaking scenery, and blessed with average temperatures of 63º F, the village's serene tranquility has attracted numerous celebrity residents over the years, including Mick Jagger and Mark Knopfler. Although it's not necessarily the cheapest place to live in the Balearic Islands (expect to pay around 350,000 euros for a property), it's most definitely one of the most peaceful.
17. Zurich, Switzerland
The Swiss are so concerned about respecting other people's peace, they even have an unwritten rule that forbids anyone from flushing the toilet after 10 pm. In the capital city of Zurich, calm abounds. As europeanbestdestinations.com notes, even though there's plenty of bars and nightclubs to enjoy, the city's inhabitants do their utmost to keep any noise nuisances to a minimum. So successful are they at keeping the peace, Zurich is widely regarded as one of the quietest cities in Europe. If that wasn't enough to tempt you to this little urban oasis, the clean air, relaxed lifestyle, and gorgeously peaceful parks just might.
16. Faroe Islands, Denmark
The Faroe Islands translates to 'Sheep Island.' As names go, it couldn't be more accurate. By the last count, the islands are home to around 70,000 sheep, far exceeding the human population of 49,008. As you'd expect of somewhere where watching sheep grazing is the number one pastime, this isn't the kind of place you go for the clubs and the nightlife. It is, however, exactly the kind of place you go to enjoy the kind of blissful serenity we could all do with a little more of in our life.
15. Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, France
Saint-Rémy-de-Provence may have been made famous by Vincent Van Gogh, but today, it attracts as many people looking for the simple life as it does people looking to walk in the footsteps of its most famous son. With its rolling vineyards, charming center, and glorious weather, it's the ideal place to escape the city and enjoy the quiet surrounds of one of Europe's most peaceful spots. Just be warned - housing here doesn't come cheap. Although you can escape some of the expense by settling for an older property in need of repair, a modernized, three-bedroom apartment will cost you around 450,000 euros.
14. Ljubljana, Slovenia
Of all the Balkan nations, Slovenia is often the most overlooked. While that might be a shame for its tourist board, it's a major advantage for anyone looking for a peaceful place to live. Its capital city of Ljubljana is an urban sanctuary of tranquility. Nicknamed 'little Paris' in recognition of its gorgeous architecture, the city has plenty of attractions, bars, shops, and restaurants to keep fun-seekers happy. Yet despite that, it still manages to retain a quiet, peaceful vibe that's perfect for anyone looking to introduce some zen into their life. The cost of living is relatively low - if you want to pick up a good-sized, two-bedroom apartment in the center, you shouldn't have to splurge much more than around 200 euros.
13. Hallstatt, Austria
Hallstatt is home to just 800 people. If you value peace and quiet, you'll know how fortunate those lucky few are. What the town lacks in coffee shops and chain stores, it makes up for in wildflower-strewn meadows and dramatic glaciers. Despite attracting a fair number of tourists to its door (in winter, the heavy snowfall makes it a hit with skiers and snowboarders, while the summer months draw plenty of people eager to visit its three-thousand-year-old, UNESCO accredited salt mine), it never feels overwhelmed or anything other than gorgeously serene little paradise it is.
12. Bled, Slovenia
If you're looking for a little oasis of calm, look no further than Bled. Its location at the foot of the Slovenia Alps couldn't be more idyllic if it tried. The Triglav National Park offers multiple opportunities for outdoor adventure, while the world-famous Lake Bled offers one of the most undeniably serene spots in the country. In the last couple of decades, it's begun to attract an ever-growing army of tourists. Despite the influx, it still retains its delightfully peaceful charm.
11. Liège Province, Belgium
Belgium often gets written off as boring. But don't be fooled. It might be small, but it's packed with treasures. If you prefer the quiet life over the hectic one, give Brussels a miss and head to the Liège Province, a charming region blessed with a still, serene atmosphere that's positively enhancing. Studded with hiking trails, lush pasture land, and tiny, sleepy villages, it's perfect for anyone in need of an escape to the country.
10. Giardini Naxos, Sicily
As trulytraveled.com notes, the southernmost Italian island of Sicily is about as timeless a place as its possible to get. Scattered with small villages, surrounded by stunning beaches, and blessed with year-round glorious weather, it's the perfect island escape. For those seeking solitude, the town of Giardini Naxos comes particularly highly recommended. Its hilltop location offers gorgeous views of Mount Etna, while its sleepy, peaceful charm has provided the inspiration for dozens of writers and artists over the years.
9. Sligo, Ireland
The small little town of Sligo may only be a 3-hour drive from the hustle and bustle of Dublin, but you'd never know it from the gorgeously relaxed and peaceful atmosphere. Surrounded by pasture land and with a gorgeous ocean setting, this town makes the ideal base for anyone looking to escape the rat race and enjoy a more relaxed pace of life. As added value, residents are blessed with a huge array of historic sites on their doorway, including numerous Neolithic cemeteries.
8. Kefalonia, Greece
Tourism might be Kefalonia's main industry, but so far, it's managed to cling on to its authentic, laid-back lifestyle and calm beauty magnificently. Blessed with all the sun, sea, and sand you could want, it's the ideal place to abandon your suits and your boots and embrace the barefoot lifestyle. The beaches, as you'd expect, are otherworldly in their beauty, while the rugged, mountainous interior carries its own set of charms. If spending your days swimming, sunbathing, and soaking up the serene atmosphere sounds like heaven, it's a no-brainer.
7. Copenhagen, Denmark
As we've already seen from some of our other entries, cities can be just as peaceful as rural villages. Nowhere is this more obvious than in Copenhagen. Denmark routinely ranks as one of the happiest countries in the world. If its capital city is anything to go by, it's easy to see why. Progressive, blessed with amazing architecture, a thriving cafe culture, clean air, and plenty of green areas, it's a relaxed, wonderfully calm city that's perfect for people who want to enjoy the peace of the pastoral without sacrificing the convenience of the urban.
6. Corsica, France
Known to some as “the isle of beauty” and to others as “the land of contrasts,” Corsica is heaven for anyone looking to relax and recharge. Sure, there's plenty of opportunities for fun and adventure if that's your thing, but what the island does best is unadulterated tranquility. The landscape has escaped the effects of tourism magnificently, with the result that its picturesque little villages and towns retain the same easy, relaxed lifestyle they've been enjoying for centuries.
5. Burford, England
England has its share of big, hectic cities, but it's also got a great selection of small, sleepy little towns and villages. According to Forbes, the tiny village of Burford in the Cotswolds is one of the most idyllic places in Europe. As you'd expect of a place that at various points has played home to celebrities like Kate Moss and Kate Winslet, property here doesn't come cheap. But if you're desperate to experience the peaceful serenity of one of the most beautiful areas in England, $829,987 for a home is a small price to pay.
4. Gaiole, Italy
If you're a fan of hiking, vineyards, wineries, good food, and beautiful landscapes, you're going to love Chianti. If you're a fan of peace and quiet, you're going to love the Chianti town of Gaiole even more. Sleepy, picturesque, and home to a little over 2000 people, the town is everything you'd expect of a tranquil, country retreat. The busiest Gaiole ever gets is during the annual wine festival in September. Outside of that, you can expect 11 months of interrupted sunshine and serenity.
3. Sibiu, Romania
According to the Lonely Planet, the Transylvanian town of Sibiu is 'awash in aristocratic elegance.' Back in the 19th century, it regularly enjoyed performances from some of the biggest composers of the day. Today, its cultural scene is still hopping, with various festivals of opera, theatre, and film held throughout the year. Yet despite the concerts, the jazz clubs, and the street performers, this pretty little town is still delightfully peacefully. Noise pollution is unheard of, and horse and carts are still one of the most popular ways of getting from A to B. If you fancy picking up a home in one of its pastel-colored buildings, expect to get change from 50,000 euros.
2. Reykjavik, Iceland
Iceland is a peaceful, well-educated society where crime rarely makes the headlines and where people would rather spend their days hiking volcanoes than making mischief. Despite its status as a capital city, Reykjavik is about as far from the likes of London and New York as it's possible to get. With its oceanside setting, its lake, and its parks, it's about as serene and peaceful as an urban center can get.
1. Svalbard, Norway
Ranked by Reader's Digest as one of the most peaceful places on Earth, Svalbard is a remote, isolated town of around 3000 people. Speaking to RD, Emma Gillies of Nordic Visitor describes it as "a remote land awash with glaciers, snow-draped mountains, and icy seas, and one of the last pristine wildernesses on our planet." If living in the kind of place where you're more likely to run into a polar bear than a nightclub sounds like bliss, you're going to love it.
Written by Liz Flynn
Read more posts by Liz Flynn