Have you ever felt as though you needed a vacation, to recover from your vacation? Don’t worry, it’s understandable. With only so much time to try and fit in everything you had hoped there can be pressure to make every moment on holiday count, however, if you move too fast, you risk missing the moment altogether!
At Club Med, we encourage you to pause and take in all of the beauty of your surroundings, especially when on holiday. Therefore, we have curated a list of the ultimate destinations for a slow travel trip, so you can embrace not only the landmarks but lakes and mountains too. Are you ready for a slow-travel summer in 2024?

What is Slow Travel?

Slow travel is a rising trend that encourages you to step back from a rushed schedule of photo opportunities and tourist hotspots and to further immerse yourself within the true culture of your destination.
Paul Sullivan, slow travel expert and the founding editor of Slow Travel Berlin described the qualities of a slow traveller when speaking to Grantourismo, saying, “The ideal slow traveller is the person who gets their experiences from locals and local culture as opposed to guidebooks”.
When you practise slow travel, you are quite literally doing the opposite of mainstream tourism, by slowing things down and taking the time to get to know all of the little things which make each place its own. This could be anything from booking on to a nature and wildlife tour to learn more about the plants and animals living in the location or taking a bicycle to dinner rather than a taxi where you face the risk of missing the off-beat path. By making these ‘slow travel’ adjustments to your travel habits, you will find yourself more present in the moment and leaving with a far deeper understanding of the place you have visited.
Slow travel is proving to be increasingly popular and online searches have increased by a staggering 50% over the past year alone. This trend is growing on social media too, inspiring a new generation of travellers to implement mindful and immersive practices into their adventures. The #slowtravel on TikTok has 68M views, and there are over 1M different posts on Instagram using hashtags on the topic of slow travel.

The slow travel hotspots of Europe

Famous for delicious food, beautiful architecture and so much more, Europe is a treasure trove for tourism and a great place to embark on your slow travel journey. When looking into the best destinations for slow travel in Europe, Italy reigned supreme and was followed by Spain, Germany, Norway and France, all scoring highly to complete the top five.

Italy

Italy landed the top spot with an impressive score of 80 out of 100, the highest of all European countries analysed. Being a stand-out location, there is an average of 1,460 online searches each month for “Italy Slow Travel” related terms.
The numbers speak for themselves, as Italy dominates the rankings, being home to 1,000 hiking trails, this is the most out of all European countries analysed, making it the perfect place to explore the great outdoors.
Italy is known across the world for its many famous lakes, such as Lake Como and Lake Garda. Yet, you may be surprised to know that in Italy there are 1,500 lakes to discover. This includes the Lago di Scanno in Abruzzo, a breathtaking heart-shaped lake with sparkling turquoise waters - a true hidden gem which is a must-visit for slow travellers.
Italy also boasts 42,536 mountains, with 24 of them being over 1,500 metres, for those daring enough to enjoy the breathtaking views from the top and those who prefer to admire from a distance. Additionally, what could be more magical than exploring Italy by bike? Here you will find 145 cycling tours, where you can pedal your way down cobblestone alleys and across picturesque landscapes. Italy also offers an incredible variety of 575 different outdoor activities and 335 nature & wildlife tours to partake in, all vastly ranging depending on which part of the country you are in!

Spain

Next in the ranking as the second-best slow travel hotspot of Europe, with an impressive overall slow travel score of 79.4 out of 100, is Spain. Each month, an average of 1,830 online searches are made by aspiring travellers looking for terms related to slow travelling in Spain, proving this destination is a popular one. In 2022, Spain's Tourism Board even launched a #SlowTravelSpain campaign encouraging the end of harmful impacts on communities and the environment from tourism.
Hiking and cycling are great ways to practise this and with 171 cycling tours in Spain and an incredible 866 hiking trails to explore, such as passing through famous windmills of Consuegr and even exploring the small towns and villages untouched by mass tourism. With 477 wildlife tours to choose from there is plenty to see and learn, you might even be lucky enough to see the breathtaking view of the “pink carpet” in Andalusia’s Doñana National Park, created by colonies of flamingos when they feed.
Spain also has 500 spectacular lakes, including Lago Azul in Burgos, which may appear small, but is attached to the biggest underwater cave in Spain given the nickname “Everest” as parts of the cave are still unmapped and even undiscovered.
Of the 83,377 mountains in Spain, only eight are higher than 1,500m. The Picos de Europa is a mountainous national park located in the north of Spain and is one of the least known and most underrated areas of the country. Culture Trip dubbed them a “natural sanctuary” and “the perfect place to get away from everything and relax”; very fitting for a slow travel trip. To top it all off, Spain has 684 outdoor activities on offer, leaving little room to get bored, and little reason to visit the common tourist spots!

Germany

Germany ranks as the third-best slow travel hotspot in Europe with an overall score of 69.1 out of 100. When it comes to slow travel in Europe, Germany is the country seemingly sparking the most interest of all, with a huge average of 11,160 online searches made each month regarding slow travel in Germany.
Hiking, or “wandern” as it is known by locals, is very popular in Germany, with 539 diverse and picturesque routes, from crossing by one of the 12,000 lakes (where you even have the opportunity to take a dip and refresh) to the grand architecture, such as the Neuschwanstein Castle, which is so beautiful that is was the inspiration behind Disney's Cinderella castle, there are miles of opportunity waiting to be explored.
If you would like to see the landscape of Germany, there are 38,564 mountains all offering incredible views, and only one that is higher than 1,500m, Zugspitze. For those who prefer travelling by bike, Germany has a selection of 86 different cycling tours which are just as exciting, and taking a break along the way to enjoy a refreshing Stein of beer is always a great option too!
You’ll also find 133 nature and wildlife tours and 239 outdoor activities here, where you can take things slow, embracing and experiencing the natural beauty and culture of Germany.

Norway

With an overall score of 62.7, Norway is the fourth-best slow-travel hotspot in Europe. The topic of slow travel in Norway receives an average of 4,380 monthly online searches, proving the high demand for a trendy trip in this location.
Norway has the most mountains of all European countries analysed, with an astounding 161,650 to admire. The second-largest city in Norway, Bergen has even been nicknamed ‘the city of seven mountains’ because of the seven mountains that surround it, making it a great place for any slow-travelling mountaineers to explore! Of the 161,650 mountains in Norway, only six are higher than 1,500m, perfect for any slow travellers in search of some adventure.
Norway also has 245 nature and wildlife tours, with Loften being especially notable for an abundance of fish in the sea, and incredible wildlife all around. Here you can find tours on electric-powered ships to reduce harmful impact and protect the nature you are admiring, which is precisely what slow travelling is all about. There are 20,000 lakes in Norway, perfect for an invigorating kayaking adventure in the summer months or a refreshing dip when the weather is cooler.
Norway is ideal for hikers too, having 329 different trails to choose from. Guided hikes are available in some locations for beginners, which is also a great way to interact with locals and learn even more about the path under your feet. Norway hosts big cycling events, such as the Arctic Race, however, if a more casual cycle is your style, there are 21 cycling tours available so be sure to rent a bike and experience the culture - it is the locals’ favourite way to get around! There is plenty of opportunity for outdoor activities too, and while you don't want to be rushed around on a schedule, it is great to book in and have a hands-on experience of how the locals enjoy their free time, there is an impressive 329 activities to choose from after all.

France

Rounding off the top five best slow travel hotspots of Europe is France with an overall score of 56.3 out of 100. Topics related to slow travel in France receive an average of 900 online searches each month, proving the location to be very popular.
Home to the Tour de France and 116 cycling tours, France is a cycling paradise, with each region having its own unique options, from alpine passes to fields of lavender. For those who prefer travelling by foot, France has 730 trails spanning 180,000km to choose from all varying in landscape, duration and ability level, so there is always a view to be seen, no matter your preference.
France has 380 lakes, and Le Salin de l'île Saint-Martin de Gruissan, a pink salt lake situated in Gruissan, a location rich in history, is a true one to note. France is an ideal place to experience the great outdoors, with 121 outdoor activities to choose from and for those looking to get in touch with French nature, there are 199 nature and wildlife tours to choose from.
France is, of course, the home to many majestic mountains too, including Mont Blanc, the tallest mountain in Europe and 12 others in France higher than 1,500m. For those looking for a place with incredible views of the Alps, our Club Med Alpe d'Huez resort is a natural wonderland, where you can even fly down forested mountain sides at our Mountain Bike school.

The world's 10 best lakes to visit

Visiting a lake can be a very enriching experience, especially while practising slow travel methods. Slowing down and taking time to fully appreciate the lakes, whether it is the tranquillity of the flowing water, the picturesque views of shimmering lakes, the encounters with wildlife in and above the water, or going for a refreshing swim, there is always something to learn at the lake, slowing things down as you connect with the nature.
At Club Med, we have a variety of extraordinary resorts for those on lakes and mountain holidays, where you can maximise your experience, taking full advantage of our wide range of water sports on offer, such as canoeing and waterskiing!
We have found the top ten lakes in the world, as slow travel doesn't always have to mean staying away from popular locations. It is still great to include touristy places in your slow travel itinerary while taking a different approach. Such as visiting during off-peak hours, striking up conversations with locals and taking your time to observe and absorb.

Italy - Lake Como

Lake Como in Italy tops the ranking as the most popular lake in the world, with an overall score of 90 out of 100. Its fame extends far and wide, with a staggering 739,600,000 views on TikTok, making it the most-viewed lake in the world! Further proving the popularity of Lake Como, on TripAdvisor it has received 1,284 excellent reviews. You will find 632 restaurants within 3 miles of the lake, with a great variety of renowned eateries and lesser-known hidden gem spots offering delicious local cuisine. There are 299 attractions near the lake, such as renting a boat to explore and immerse yourself in all of its beauty.

Switzerland - Lake Geneva

The second-best lake in the world is Switzerlands’ Lake Geneva, with an overall score of 90 out of 100. On TikTok, this lake currently boasts 105,600,000 views proving its great popularity and with 5,130 excellent reviews on TripAdvisor, Lake Geneva is a firm favourite! There are 239 attractions to choose from as well, and Lake Geneva has 308 restaurants within a 3-mile radius, with some even on the lake, the perfect setting for a romantic getaway.

Slovenia - Lake Bled

Lake Bled in Slovenia is the third most popular lake in the world, given a brilliant score of 81 out of 100. In a three-mile radius of the lake, there are 95 restaurants to choose from, as well as 90 attractions to keep you entertained. Lake Bled has more excellent reviews than any other lake in the top ten, with 7,423 on TripAdvisor, proving that visitors are extremely satisfied with the lake. On TikTok, Lake Bled has 15,900,000 views, proving its popularity with the next generation of travellers too.

France - Lake Annecy

Coming in fourth place in the ranking is Lake Annecy in France, with an overall score of 81 out of 100. Lake Annecy is also known as the cleanest lake in Europe and with 2,500,000 TikTok views and 5,479 excellent TripAdvisor reviews, these efforts are not going unnoticed. You’ll find 561 restaurants within a three-mile radius of the lake and 89 attractions so your day will be filled with fun.

Switzerland - Lake Lucerne

Lake Lucerne in Switzerland is the fifth-best lake in the world, receiving a respectable overall score of 77 out of 100. Nearby to the lake, there are 126 attractions and 522 restaurants within three miles, keeping your day full of options. This lake has 3,960 excellent reviews on TripAdvisor and has racked up 29,800,000 views on TikTok, proving its beauty and popularity.

The best countries in the world for slow travel

Across the world there are so many locations with tons of opportunities to learn and experience the local culture, discovering the hidden gems of the world for yourself. That's why we at Club Med have revealed the best countries in the world for slow travel, by looking at a number of factors, including a number of lakes and mountains, cycling tours and more. The USA came out on top, with Spain, Italy, Canada and Australia completing the top 5.

The USA is the best country in the world for slow travel

The USA tops the worldwide index with an incredible score of 80 out of 100, making it the best country in the world for slow travel! With ​​5,428 different trails waiting to be explored, the USA tops the rankings with the most hiking trails of all locations analysed.
As for lakes, there are 102,500 in the USA, including plenty of lesser-known, hidden gems for you to discover. Depending on the region, the USA has a plethora of different wildlife, from grizzly bears to alligators. Luckily, there are 987 different nature and wildlife tours where you can safely observe their variety of beautiful animals. There are 73,301 mountains across the country, making beautiful backdrops to admire, or a challenge to climb for those daring enough!

Spain and Italy completed the top 3 destinations for slow travel

Spain follows as the second-best country in the world for slow travelling, with a score of 72 out of 100 and an average of 1,830 monthly online searches made covering the topic of slow travel in Spain. With 171 cycling tours and an incredible 866 hiking trails to explore, Spain is perfect for active travellers looking to admire the breathtaking scenery. There are 684 different outdoor activities to take advantage of and 477 wildlife and nature tours, so no stone will be left unturned in Spain.
Italy is the world's third-best country for slow travelling, with an overall score of 71 out of 100. Italy's 145 cycling tours offer a fantastic way to leisurely explore its captivating countryside and the 1,000 hiking trails offer great alternative routes for adventurers who prefer to travel by foot. The country's 42,536 mountains provide breathtaking backdrops and with 24 higher than 1,500m, a great challenge awaits for the daring.

Canada and Australia rounded off the top 5 countries in the world for slow travel

Canada is the fourth-best country in the world for slow travel, with a remarkable overall score of 70.4 out of 100. Each month 1,710 online searches are made about slow travelling in Canada, and with 879,800 lakes, the most of all countries in the world analysed, the searches have the right idea! Canada is home to a diverse range of wildlife, making the 353 nature and wildlife tours there all the more spectacular.
Rounding off the top five countries in the world for slow travel is Australia, with a high overall score of 67 out of 100. Australia boasts a huge variety of 868 different activities to choose from. Australia also has 21,865 mountains with only three reaching over 1,500m, making the scenery even more breathtaking.

The Alps is a standout destination for slow travel this summer

If you're seeking an unforgettable slow travel experience, surrounded by breathtaking natural wonders, the Alps should be at the top of your list. Surrounded by majestic mountains, such as Mont Blanc and Matterhorn, you can leisurely explore all that they have to offer and admire their beauty. Nestled amidst the mountains, you will also find the Alpine lakes where you can immerse yourself in their tranquillity.
Club Med has great options for those looking to stay in the Alps this summer, with prices starting from £965 at the Peisey-Vallandry resort, each resort offers luxurious settings for a stay in the mountains to remember. Walks and outdoor activities to reconnect with nature, a timeless escape with strolls through village streets, a wellness retreat with a unique spa and yoga facilities, sharing fun times and enjoying delicious local cuisine.

Methodology

We used search volumes and TikTok data to see which destinations were the most popular in the world for slow travel. Additionally, we looked into Tripadvisor and Peakvis for the below 9 data points which were then ranked to see what the most popular destinations were for slow travel:
Slow travel searches (e.g. ‘slow travel Slovenia)
Number of Lakes
Number of mountains (peakvis.com)
Mountains higher than 1,500m (peakvis.com)
Number of outdoor activities
Number of cycling tours
Number of nature and wildlife tours
Number of hiking trails
Solo travel searches
For the lake specific research, we looked into the below data points, which were then ranked to see what the best lake in the world was:
TikTok Views
Lake specific google searches
Restaurants within 3 miles
Attractions within 6 miles
Excellent reviews