There’s nothing more perfect than a holiday without cars. Think about it – no smog, clean air, unspoilt beauty – car-free destinations make for a perfect holiday for cycling, walking and getting away from it all.
Best Car-Free Destinations in the World
Hydra, shaped like an amphitheatre on a slope overlooking the Argosaronic gulf, can be reached be ferry departing daily from the Piraeus port of Athens. Instead of cars, donkeys are the primary mode of transportation here. With no street names and little infrastructure, this island, with its cobblestone streets and traditional stone mansions, is renowned for its laidback vibe. There is simply and blissfully nothing to do but sleep, lay on the beach, eat, and drink endlessly – the beaches to explore are Mandráki, Bísti, Spiliá, Limnióniza, Hydronéta and Ayios Nikolaos.
Ertholmene, also called Christians Island, in the Baltic sea, is Denmark’s easternmost point. this cluster of three separate islands has a bird reserve, a museum, an old navy base, and a historic locally made herring shop. There is also a small school and lots of community events and traditions for the 100 people who live on the islands full time. This beautifully preserved paradise can be reached by boat.
Giethoorn, The Netherlands
Full of canals, towpaths, and wooden bridges, Giethoorn is reminiscent of a hobbit village more than an island, and that is because it is not an island at all. The village, with only 2,620 residents, is known as ‘Little Venice’ because of its many waterways, boats, and greenery. The name is derived from the first inhabitants’ discovery of hundreds of goat horns (gietehorens) in the marshland, remnants of a 10th-century flood.
It borders with a national park so there is plenty of hiking and forest near by. But, if you are just looking for a boat ride on one of the 90km of water ways or a chance to visit one of Giethoorn’s three canal side museums, just hitch a ride by car from near by Amsterdam.
For the all winter junkies looking to get away from the heat, Wengen is a holiday resort at the foot of the mighty Eiger – Mönch – Jungfrau mountain range in the heart of the Bernese Oberland. At an altitude of 1274 m, it includes a secluded cabin experience, plenty of family-friendly skiing opportunities, and lots of hiking trails. In the fall they move the cows that graze on the hillside to the valley and if you are lucky you will see a rather spectacular cow migration.
You can reach Wengen from Lauterbrunnen via the Wengernalp railway.
Rock Island, Wisconsin
Rock Island, unlike many of the other car-free destinations here, does not allow bikes because it is entirely a state park. It takes two ferry rides to get to Rock Island and once you arrive, there is plenty of camping, hiking, and some pretty incredible views. Drinking water and firewood is available to be purchased on the island but there is no island camping store so make sure you bring all of your supplies with you. Campsites range from $3 to $150 per night. Hike the island’s perimeter on the 5.2-mile Thordarson Loop Trail and visit the Pottawatomie Light house.
No one can resist the friendly, dazzling charms of Croatia’s islands! Reachable by a 35 minute ferry from Dubrovnik, Kolocep is the closest to Dubrovnik of the three main Elafiti islands. The island’s two main villages are Gornje (Upper) Celo and Donje (Lower) Celo. The island’s magnificent Blue Cave can be explored by swimming to and in it.
It boasts a clear waters, gorgeous walking paths, and a cave that is only accessible by swimming. Accommodation is extremely limited on the island because it is so small. With only 300 residents the island is mostly filled with tall trees and sandy beaches. The island also boasts many churches that date back to the 11th and 12th centuries.
Little Corn Island, Nicaragua
Popular for its diving and water play, Little Corn Island hosts an lively coral reef system just offshore. Besides its island radio station and veterinary hospital, the island is also actively working toward creating a better life for animals throughout Nicaragua as it partners with Building New Hope. Getting to Little Corn is a different story. Big Corn Island can be reached by plane and a $1 taxi is needed to transport you to the docks on Big Corn. Then a ferry will take you over to Little Corn Island. But the trip is definitely worth it.
Isle Royale, Michigan
Another rugged island national park, Isle Royale is home for many kayakers, canoeists, scuba divers, hikers, backpackers, campers, and boaters. The island, located in the northwest corner of Lake Superior, has an artist in residence and is actively attempting to repopulate its dwindling wolf population. There are also some more comfortable ways to stay as the island includes a lodge and camper cabins. The island also has a rich history with lighthouses, old factories, and other historic sites. Tours and ranger hikes are available to learn about this beautiful and meaningful place.
La Cumbrecita, Cordoba, Argentina
Ziplines, hiking, horseback riding, waterfalls, a chapel, and a castle are all that you could possibly want from this Argentinian Hamlet. La Cumbrecita, 40 kms from Villa General Belgrano, sits high above sea level and boasts rivers, paths, and a birch grove that is truly magical. One of the most popular corners of the island is a section of the stream that runs through it that houses a pretty amazing waterfall. The secluded swimming area is surrounded by trees so you can take a private dip or splash in the clear water.
Mont Saint-Michel, France
This popular tourist spot set in the bay where Normandy and Brittany meet should not be left out of the island hopping! The gorgeous architecture and incredible history of Mont Saint-Michel is certainly worth the trip, with its gravity-defying medieval monastery. The castle/island is equipped with four museums and an incredible abbey. This island has parking off shore for tourists and there is a bus that takes visitors to a from the island.