Crowded tourist sites, shared dorm rooms, and big group tours are not the ideal situations for introverts when traveling. The good news is that there are plenty of options out there for those looking for peace, isolation, space, or to make deep personal connections, and many things in between. From staying in a monk’s cell in Italy to windswept walking in the Scottish Highlands, here are a range of vacations that might appeal to the introverted traveler.
1. Take a train ride through Switzerland.
Some people might see a train ride as just a way to get from A to B, but others love the idea of gazing out the window for hours on end, watching the landscape change. A long train journey is also the perfect excuse to spend hours getting caught up in a good book. One of the most scenic train journeys in the world is surely the Bernina Express in Switzerland. The four-hour journey takes you through tunnels and across bridges, past sheer waterfalls and alpine scenery, and over the 7,000-foot Bernina Pass. The giant panoramic windows make scenery gazing so attractive that you might not even get round to picking up your book.
2. Walk the Path of the Gods on the Amalfi Coast.
Summer on the Amalfi Coast means throngs of people filling the flower-adorned streets and sandy beaches of its coastal towns. But high above all the bustling confusion, a walking path runs along the cliff tops, affording magnificent vistas of shimmering azure seas far below. There’s no better feeling for an introvert than standing alone in the midst of nature, knowing that you’ve left the hubbub and crowds far behind. Small villages along the route are a far cry from the tourist traps down by the beach, so there’s no danger of being pestered by restaurant hawkers or souvenir sellers when you stop for a break.
3. Simply “be” in the Indian Himalayas.
If remoteness is what you’re looking for, then the Indian Himalayas will not disappoint. Shakti is a holiday company that takes guests to secluded areas of the Himalayas. Its experiences include trekking to the villages, where you can be sure no emails or calls from the outside world will reach you, and spending plenty of time to just soak up the mountainous surroundings. This is small groups only, so it’s also a less pressurized environment in which to make friends.
4. Attend a cooking course in the South of France.
Not all introverts want to spend a holiday alone, but trying to make friends in a big crowd of people can be challenging. Joining something like a cooking course means spending time with a small group of people with like-minded interests. Cooking lessons also provide a great springboard for conversation. The South of France is the ideal place to join a cooking course, with its rich soil and warm climate. The picturesque village of La Cadière-d’Azur is home to the Michelin starred-restaurant Hostellerie Bérard. Four-day residential courses include trips to local markets and vineyards in between cooking magnificent Mediterranean meals.
5. Feel small at the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans.
The Makgadikgadi Salt Pans in northeastern Botswana are some of the largest salt flats in the world. If you ever want to be reminded of how small you really are, standing with these glaring, white salt pans stretching infinitely out before you is a good lesson. This is the place to take time to connect with yourself and hear nothing but your own breath, a true paradise for an introvert that wants to find solitude.
6. Stroll the coastal walks in the Scottish Highlands.
Scotland’s beaches may rival the Caribbean for looks, but the chilly winds and icy water of beaches in the north of Scotland mean even in the summertime they are sparsely populated. Introverts can have a wonderful time taking a walk along the sand or along the cliff tops, wrapped up of course. Durness has a beautiful, unspoiled beach, and plenty of wild headland for isolated walks. For the brave, it also has a campsite just above the beach where you can stay the night, provided you know how to pitch a tent against strong winds.
7. Enjoy people watching in Paris.
Being an introvert doesn’t necessarily mean that you don’t like busy places, but maybe you prefer to be on the outside looking in rather than in the midst of it all. Streetside cafés in Montmartre provide the perfect location for those who love people watching, and the streets of Paris are littered with entertaining subjects who almost seem to be putting on a performance just for onlookers. Indeed, as the birthplace of the flâneur, Paris is just the place for a spot of street-side observation.
8. Road trip around Lake Michigan.
Open roads, not another car in sight, and miles and miles of ever-changing natural beauty are just the ticket for an introverted traveler. Lake Michigan’s lakeside provides an almost two-week-long road trip of around 1,000 miles. The route is relatively peaceful due to the fact that most visitors choosing a road trip in that area will opt for the famous Route 66, beginning in nearby Chicago. The circle route around Lake Michigan shows off all the area’s different personalities, from popular beaches in Ludington to a view of the dainty white houses on Mackinac Island, which is worth hopping out the car to visit.
9. Go snorkeling in Grenada.
The Caribbean is a no-brainer holiday destination for most, but no introvert wants to lie on a crowded beach and fight other tourists for the best umbrella. Grenada is one of the less-popular Caribbean islands, and it also offers the perfect activity for introverts. With absolutely no obligation (or possibility) to talk, snorkeling is a godsend for introverts. Here, you can dive down to Grenada’s Underwater Sculpture Park and see the mysterious corral encrusted figures on the sea bed.
10. Go temple hunting in Kamakura, Japan.
Introverts may balk at the idea of negotiating Tokyo’s people-saturated streets, but just an hour away by train is the temple town of Kamakura, where there are significantly fewer crowds. It’s home to several Buddhist and Shinto temples and shrines that lie amongst the bamboo groves, conveniently spread out thus reducing the crowds. Even when you’re confronted by a group of tourists, the meditative air of these religious buildings seems to encourage polite and respectful behavior, so an introvert can feel at ease.
11. Meditate like a monk in Italy.
For true solitude and isolation, what better role models to look to than monks. The Eremito “hotel” is described as “somewhere in Umbria,” and it’s located inside a 14th-century hermitage that has resisted modern interventions like TVs or phone signal. As such, it’s perfect for the solo traveler who wants to escape completely from modern distractions and connections. Instead, you can get involved in activities like singing Gregorian chants, icon painting, and helping in the vegetable garden.