If you’re seeking inspiration for your next vacation, or are just feeling out of balance and need to recharge, consider these blissful destinations for the trip of a lifetime.
Webster’s defines bliss as “complete happiness” or, alternatively, “paradise or heaven”. And, lucky for us, that feeling may be just a plane ride away: The five destinations here certainly are otherworldly in their beauty, serenity, and splendor.
A culture rooted in Gross National Happiness, rather than gross national product: Bhutan makes contentment a priority, both for its residents and tourists. Situated in the Himalayas, Bhutan welcomes tourists with rugged mountain landscapes; Buddhist art, architecture, and ceremonies; and cuisine that’s full of spice. Travelers seeking adventure, culture, spirituality, and food will find all here in abundance. And don’t let the government-imposed per-diem tourism tariff dissuade you – it covers accommodations, a guide, meals, and transportation, so you’ll know most of your budget before you even depart.
Denmark consistently ranks tops among the happiest countries in the world, and tourists can easily tour this Scandinavian country to snag a little bliss for themselves. Stunning natural beauty, reliable infrastructure (set your watches by public transportation in Copenhagen), and a culture that’s dedicated to active and artistic pursuits creates an overall environment of contentment. “See more, stress less” is Copenhagen’s current tourism tagline, and that pretty much sums up the vibe of a Denmark vacation, regardless of which region you visit.
3. Oregon’s Hood River Valley
The snow-capped peak of Mt. Hood dominates the landscape of Oregon‘s Hood River Valley, and the region features an embarrassment of riches. Relaxation and joy can be found in all crannies of the valley, from enjoying a perfectly blended fresh pumpkin milkshake at a local cafe to taking a leisurely drive through bucolic country roads past vineyards and farms. And adventure travelers will also find plenty of fill their days, from hiking the foothills of Mt. Hood (and having the scenic trail all to yourself) to wind surfing the Hood River, chasing its waterfalls on a separate outing, or going for a heart-pumping ride along a scenic bikeway. During a vacation here a few years back, I seriously contemplated relocating, so taken was I with the region’s laid-back vibe, gorgeous scenery at every turn, and delicious variety of pursuits.
Nestled in the Indian Ocean off the coast of Kenya and Tanzania, the Seychelles are a cluster of 115 islands with natural wonders galore: Vegetation so unique it was once believed to be part of the Garden of Eden (on the island of Praslin). Rare birds, such as the Seychelles Black Parrot and the Seychelles magpie robin, and ancient species, such as giant Aldabra tortoises. Home to two UNESCO World Heritage sites—the Aldabra Atoll and Vallee de Mai Nature Reserve—the archipelago may come closest to the “paradise” definition of bliss. Unspoiled by tourism, the Seychelles has ancient forests, spectacular beaches, and abundant wildlife both on land and under the sea. It also has an island—La Digue—where most only use bicycles and ox-carts to get around. And because it’s outside the hurricane belt, the Seychelles enjoys a paradise-like climate all year round.
A short flight from the major cities of Australia and New Zealand, the 83 islands of Vanuatu make for a blissful getaway in the South Pacific. Here, you can visit Mount Yasur, an active volcano on Tanna island; ride and swim with horses on Efate island; or kayak, snorkel, bike, or hike on any island (or, if you simply need to recharge, you can simply do nothing at all). With such abundance of natural beauty, a deep cultural respect for the land and overall environment, and a widespread attitude that’s laid-back and joyful, Vanuatu regularly shows up on the Happy Planet Index as one of the happiest places on earth – a perfect spot to re-capture some happiness for yourself.
Do you have a recommendation for a blissful place for an upcoming vacation? Share your favorite “trip of a lifetime” vacation destination by leaving a comment below!
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Photo courtesy Otabi Kitahachi via Flickr Creative Commons