We are all eager to get away from the hustling and bustling of our daily life every now and then. What better way to do it than to escape to some vacation spots with no roads and no cars? No honking, no traffic – just you, your feet (or a horse or bicycle) and unpolluted charm. There are many towns and destinations around the world that have retained this peaceful serenity, but these are our top ten favorites. Check ’em out, then when you’re feeling inspired, find a great place to stay in one of them:
1. Cinque Terre, Italy
This historic and famous 5-village region on the Italian coast is known for its multicolored rooftops, stunning azure waters, fresh seafood – and no cars. While you can drive through the central parts of the towns Corniglia and Monterosso, you’ll have to park at the entrance to the rest of the villages and walk from there. Likewise, there’s a trail that runs through all five towns that you can hike (return) in a day.
2. Little Corn Island, Nicaragua
Little Corn Island, about an hour’s sail from Big Corn Island, is the epitome of Caribbean paradise. Once the stomping grounds of pirates, it’s now a decidedly charming workaday fisherman’s village, replete in white sand beach splendor and the freshest seafood you might ever eat (since the fishermen catch and cook it right in front of you!
3. Hydra Town, Greece
A tiny harbor ringed with cafes, restaurants and gold shops is surrounded by a village of stone houses and villas that rise up the hills like an amphitheater. And with no cars allowed, everything – from groceries to building supplies to people and their luggage – is moved by donkey on the cobbled streets.
4. Skellig Michael/Little Skellig
This ancient monk settlement is about as rugged and rural as you can get – considering the island is not only roadless and car-less, it’s treacherous just walking up the slippery, ocean wave-slapped stone steps. The steep peak that juts into the wild Atlantic skies once, strangely, sheltered monks seeking total exclusion from society. Today, you can tour the island via advance reservation and at the total mercy of Mother Nature – the boat that theoretically heads out 7 days a week in the summer usually only makes it out about four. (Oh, and have you seen the latest Star Wars movie? You might recognize Skellig Michael’s cameo at the verrry end of the movie – but we won’t say any more in case you haven’t seen it yet.
5. Gimmelwald, Switzerland
No, we don’t mean Grindelwald, the more famous resort-y town above Interlaken. We’re talking about the tiny town 5,000 feet up in the Swiss Alps that is only accessible via cable car, home to about 100 people, and sits precariously on the edge of an alpine ledge with jaw-dropping panoramic views of the peaks across the valley.
6. Giethoorn, Netherlands
About 55 miles northeast of Amsterdam, Giethoorn is referred to as the “Dutch Venice.” With 180 bridges that arch over the town’s canals, you can only access the town by boat – and can only explore on foot.
7. Sark, UK
Sark is the smallest of the four main Channel Islands, off the coast of Normandy. The tiny island is chockablock with gorgeous landscapes and hiking and biking trails: the only vehicles allowed on the island are tractors, and means of transport include horse-drawn carriages and bicycles.
8. Fire Island, NY
Just two hours outside Manhattan, this 32-mile long island is entirely car-free and filled with charming communities and ancient forests. Visitors can take a ferry from Long Island (which depart regularly) and come for some good old-fashioned fun in the sun or nature exploring.
9. Yelapa, Mexico
Only accessible by boat, this charming Mexican village is the perfect place to lay around in a hammock and sip a cocktail. There is also a number of waterfall hikes, accessible via foot, or if you’re feeling the effects of the cocktail, on horseback.
10. Mackinac Island, Michigan
This Lake Huron island has been motor vehicle-free since 1898. The popular summer resort feels truly Americana with its bicycles and horse-drawn carriages, which are not only fun tourist attractions, but functioning means of transport on the island.