Everyone knows about London, Paris, and Rome, but when the crowds become to much and peace and quiet are craved above all us, someplace small and sedate seems downright idyllic. These 14 locales may not be easy to reach, and some might seem downright isolated, but there is a certain charm to each one of these cities – one that has to be seen to be believed. Pack your bags, hire your Sherpa, and do some significant stretching – you’re in for quite a journey.
Only slightly bigger than it’s mouthful of a name, the tiny city of Ittoqqortoormiit, Greenland has only 500 inhabitants. There are no nearby villages; in fact, the only way to commercially travel to Ittoqqortoormiit is through Reykjavik, and there are only two flights per week in the summer, a flight pattern that is cut in half in the winter. The water in the fjord around Ittoqqortoormiit is frozen nine months out of the year, but once the ice thaws, cruise ships glide through the majestic waves, treating passengers to a view of the snowcapped mountains, and stopping off in the little village to absorb a little history and culture. Snowmobiles and dogsleds are the most popular modes of transportation here, so keep that in mind when you book your trip to see the Northern lights; Ittoqqortoormiit is a great spot for viewing this natural phenomenon, but you’re going to have to work to get there.
While Longyearbyen, Svlabard may have been founded by an American (John Longyear of the Artic Coal Company founded the site as a base for his local mining operation), the panorama dotted with little colorful houses under the looming mass of a breathtaking mountain is quintessentially Nordic. The permanent layer of ice and snow that covers the actual soil hides the stilts that keep the native’s abodes elevated, but it makes getting around via snow scooters and skis remarkably easy. Due to the abundant birdlife in Longyearbyen, it’s illegal to own a cat, but never fear – reindeer regularly wander through town, acting as a collective pet population for the village’s denizens. Fly in through Oslo and spend some time exploring the local Tundra, or come in the winter to experience the chunk of months when the sun fails to rise beyond the horizon, leaving the whole area bathed in an eerie sense of quiet.