Off The Grid: Travel In Peace in these Conflict-Free CountriesPhoto by Joe Raedle/Getty Travel Features
What do Iceland, Denmark, Austria, New Zealand and Portugal have in common? They’re the most tranquil nations on the planet, according to the latest Global Peace Index. That’s pretty darn newsworthy amid the recent (if not forever) unrest around the world.
Obviously, pockets of peace thankfully exist in all corners of the globe and serene societies can change on any given year. But when it comes to visiting countrywide intolerance to fighting, political stability and lack of terrorism this year, few countries are better than these.
Despite its name and latitude, Iceland has surprisingly mild winters (thanks to the Gulf Stream) and refreshingly temperate summers (in the 60s). In fact, this mountainous island nation is only 10% ice and a lot more green than neighboring Greenland. As pictured above, it’s also stunning. For less wind and more daylight when the sun is still up at 11 p.m., summer is definitely the best time to go.
Frequently topping most-livable and happiest-nations-on-earth lists, Denmark is as small as West Virginia but has more fun than nations five times its size. Beer, Legos, Vikings and many of the fairy tales you heard as a child all emerged from here. In addition to its high standard of Scandinavian living, yellow-flowered grasslands, windmills and an absence of corruption abound.
For many, Austria is the best European country to visit. This is because it resembles one big national park. There’s more scenery per square mile here than many countries have between entire borders. Highlights include the surrounding Alps, historic Vienna, Salzburg’s Old Town, Grossglockner Alpine Road and picturesque Hallstatt.
New Zealand is one of the most photographed and filmed countries in the world. This is understandably due to its diverse, natural beauty, which includes jagged mountains, rolling pastures, steep fjords, raging rivers, scenic beaches and active volcanoes. Basically Middle Earth with nicer amenities. Although sparsely populated, both the North and South Islands offer easily accessible adventure.
Although not as popular as neighboring Spain, Portugal is widely regarded as the “best value” destination in Europe. While traveling up the Iberian coast in a single day, you can see limestone buildings perched atop Atlantic shoreline, adorable alleyways, tempting beaches, barren deserts and vine-covered mountains. Along the way, the people and food are equally enchanting.