The Best International Destinations to Completely Unplug

The internet is pretty great. It’s revolutionized how we do business and stay in touch with friends and family, and it’s given unprecedented access to an incredible array of experiences that the world has to offer. While web-enabled globe-hopping fantasies can be a welcome relief from day-to-day work life, staying connected while actually on vacation can detract from experiencing new and exotic locales. If vacations are meant to be a change of pace, make them a change of pace! Whether relaxing on a beach, exploring natural beauty, or wandering through historic cities, these six far-flung destinations are great places to get away from screens and interface with reality.

1. Rarotonga, Cook Islands

The largest and most populous of the Cook Islands, this South Pacific gem is the quintessential tropical getaway: a volcanic island rimmed with warm turquoise water and white-gold sand. Rent one of the many affordably-priced beachfront bungalows available, and take a break from virtual vistas with an unforgettable ocean view. Experience to some of the best snorkeling in the world, in a crystal blue lagoon above teeming coral reefs, then hike inland to catch a glimpse of Wigmore Falls and Te Rua Manga (“The Needle”), a soaring pinnacle of volcanic rock popular with hikers and rock-climbers alike. And be sure to indulge in the local culture – nothing on a screen can compare with experiencing local sounds and flavors first-hand!

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2. Halifax, Nova Scotia

Dive into a totally different maritime culture in this Canadian cultural center. Halifax is a multi-faceted city with plenty to distract you from the internet, blending its military and maritime history with contemporary culture, surrounded by rugged North Atlantic beauty. Experience the rich history of the region at one of their numerous waterfront museums, including Fisherman’s Cove, a quaint, fully-restored 200 year-old fishing village. Taste fresh catch at the oldest continuously-operating market in North America – going strong since 1750! Tastebuds sated, treat your eyes to one of the many art galleries in the city, and keep an ear out for the vibrant local music scene, ranging from an active urban nightlife to the world-famous Cape Breton fiddlers. And let it all soak in while looking out over Peggy’s Cove, one of the most beautiful spots on the Atlantic coast.

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3. Hvar, Croatia

Croatia may not be the first Mediterranean destination that comes to mind for many, but Hvar has the potential to change that. With abundant sun and a fertile coastal plain, the area is rich with local agriculture, and the pervasive scents of olive, pine, and lavender offer levels of unplugged relaxation that the internet simply can’t compete with. Enjoy the fruits of local labor at one of the many excellent vineyards near Ivan Dolac, where pine-rimmed cliffs overlook the Agean Sea, or pay a visit toStari Grad, the oldest town in Croatia – founded by the Greeks in the same year that Aristotle was born: 384 BC! They got along just fine without the internet for nearly 2400 years, be sure to stop by and find out how. Or, for the internet-savvy insomniac, Hvar’s active nightlife offers a more energetic way to wile away the wee hours of the morning.

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4. Munich, Germany

With its gorgeous architecture and the Alps on the horizon, Munich is a great place to leave electronics behind. Take one of the many walking tours offered through the city’s Old Town, gaze at the medieval architecture, and enjoy a world-famousHofbrauhaus brew with some some pretzels or schweinekrustenbraten (roast pork shoulder with crackling) and a side of Oompah music at one of the city’s many outdoor beer gardens. Book a tour to nearby Neuschwanstein, the inspiration for the Walt Disney Castle, and enjoy the stunning Alps first-hand. For a more somber experience, pay your respects to the millions of Holocaust victims at nearby DachauConcentration Camp, and learn about Munich’s dark history as the birthplace of the Nazi Party. #NeverAgain

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5. Marrakech, Morocco

As one of the most vibrant destinations on the planet, if Marrakech can’t distract you from your iPhone, nothing will. Founded in 1070, the city’s Islamic history is built into the architecture, most notably the stunning Koutoubia Mosque, constructed in the late 1100s. Wander through the medina (old town)’s numerous souks (local markets), filled with exotic scents and sights, or sip coffee at an outdoor cafe and watch the buzz of local culture. Marrakech is best known, however, for its mid-20th century reputation as a haven for expats, with few laws and fewer taboos; where William S. Burroughs shot up and wrote Naked Lunch – likely in that order – and Bogey asked Sam to “play it again” in Casablanca. There’s too many excellent restaurants, bars, and cafes where expats gathered to list, so either research good spots beforehand, or simply follow your nose!

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6. Lille, France

Located near the Belgian border in northern France, Lille has all the attraction of a major French metropolis with little of the urban hustle, making it a great spot to ignore the wider world and indulge in the local one. Stroll the cobbled streets of the vieille ville (old town) and marvel at the gorgeous Flemish architecture, with examples stretching back to the 17th century – like the palatial Vieille Bourse, built in 1653. Flemish painting is on display in museums like the Palais des Beaux-Arts de Lille, home to the second-largest collection in France (after the Louvre). Lille is also an excellent place for gourmet dining and high-fashion shopping, offering both familiar labels and countless boutique options. And if a vibrant nightlife is what it takes to fill the void the internet has carved out in your soul, Lille’s got that, too.

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So put away that phone, close that laptop, and go experience the world first-hand!

This post was posted by TheHipmunk on Hipmunk’s Tailwind blog on 24/03/2016.