Europe’s Top 10 Digital Detox Hotspots | Looking4
There’s no better feeling than setting your out of office just before you head off on holiday. After spending months enduring the daily grind, a trip away isn’t just a great excuse to explore another country – it can help you to destress, unwind, and spend quality time with loved ones, too.
However, 60% of Brits admit to checking their work emails while they’re on holiday; and even if you fall into the 40% that don’t, constantly refreshing your social media apps means that you’re not getting a break from screens.
If you want to cut ties with the internet for a while, then you’re in luck! We’ve analysed the best countries in Europe for a digital detox, taking a range of things into consideration, including 4G availability, the number of free WiFi spots, national parks coverage and more. So, read on for some serious jet setting inspiration!
From beautiful beaches to imposing castles, and the highest percentage of national park coverage than any other country on the list, it makes perfect sense that France tops the list as the ultimate country for a digital detox!
However you like to relax and unwind, rest assured you’ll find the perfect place for you. Love nothing more than visiting art galleries, spending your afternoons shopping, and snacking on macarons? Head to Paris.
Alternatively, for chic marinas, glorious sunshine, and beautiful sandy beaches, take a trip to the South of France. Or, for dramatic scenery and history in abundance, there’s no better place than the likes of Normandy or Brittany.
Regardless of where you choose to holiday in France, you know you’ll have a great time – so much fun in fact, that you’ll forget all about checking your emails.
In second place is Italy, offering the joint lowest levels of internet access rates, at just 70%. Like with France, Italy has SO much to offer, that there truly is something for everyone. Discover the bustling cities of Rome, Milan and Florence, or cruise down Venice’s canals in a gondola.
Alternatively, if it’s beautiful coastlines and a slower pace of life you want to experience, then head to the Amalfi Coast, Sicily or Sardinia.
Wherever you choose to holiday in Italy, the one thing you’ll be able to do is sample the delicious food – from pasta to pizza, gelato to cannoli, make sure you get your fill of some of the best food in the world!
Also referred to affectionately as E-stonia, this Baltic country draws in digital nomads worldwide, so it makes sense that a country that’s full of technology knows how to switch off, too!
Quirky, cute, and charming, Estonia is a great option for a much-needed break. Second only behind Finland in terms of air quality, and with 5.2% of the country covered in national parks, there’s a lot to explore here. For winding forests, discover Lahemaa; or if birdwatching is more your thing, then head to Matsalu – wherever you pick, you’ll be so busy, you’ll never once reach for your phone.
Alternatively, if you’re staying in Tallinn over the summer months, once you’ve sampled the cafes and bars the Old Town has to offer, and visited the secret KGB floor in Hotel Viru (which is a must-see!), take the tram 20 minutes out to Pirita. Once you’ve walked through the forest, you’ll find a lovely, long stretch of sandy beach, which offers great views of Tallinn’s Old Town, and has several beach bars and playgrounds.
4. Czech Republic
A great option for a cheap getaway, the Czech Republic comes in fourth place as an ideal destination for a digital detox. 4G availability is the second lowest, at 74.17%, and internet download speeds are on the slow side too, so there’s no better excuse to ditch the screens!
For many, Prague is the ideal choice for a break in the Czech Republic, and you’ll have so much to see, you’ll forget all about checking your phone. From the Astronomical Clock, through to Prague Castle, and Charles Bridge, where local artists sell their prints, you definitely won’t be bored.
And, there’s plenty to do outside the capital too. Šumava National Park, located on the border of Austria and Germany, offers forests, mountains, valleys, and glacial lakes in abundance; whereas for local wildlife, there’s no better place than Podyjí National Park. Home to 77 species of plants, 65 species of mammals, and a huge 152 species of birds, take your binoculars and see what you can spot.
With the fifth lowest amount of rainfall on our list, at 608mm a year, Bulgaria is a great place to head to if you’re in need of a digital detox, with lots of opportunities to get outside.
Heading to Sofia? With so much history to discover here, alongside cute café-lined streets, you’ll have no need to be checking your phone. But if you want to get into nature, then head to nearby Mount Vitosha. Looming over the capital, in the winter months, it operates as a ski resort, and in the summer, it offers lots of hiking opportunities.
Alternatively, if it’s a beach break you’re after, Bulgaria has plenty to offer. Sunny Beach and Varna are the liveliest amongst tourists, with lots of hotels, restaurants, clubs, and water sports available.
However, if you want to switch off and go somewhere a bit quieter, then head to peaceful Irakli, or pretty Nessebar, with its charming cobblestone streets and pristine shores.
Albania might not be the first place you consider as a holiday destination, but there’s SO much to do here, and with 4G availability at some of the lowest levels in Europe, alongside the worst internet download speeds, you’ll basically be forced to stop checking your phone!
Tirana’s a great base to stay, and it’s definitely worth spending a day checking out the capital, learning more about the rocky history of the Balkans, and sampling the cheap beer.
From there, you can easily explore the rest of the country. Discover the Albanian Alps and spend the day hiking from Theth to Valbona, uncover the charming UNESCO old town of Gijrokaster, with its stone buildings, take a dip in the Benja thermal pools, or hire a car and head to the coast.
From Dhërmi’s lively coastline, to Himara’s olive tree-lined shores, and the untouched beaches near Vlora; Albania’s coastline rivals Greece, Italy and Croatia, but is significantly quieter… perfect if you want some peace!
The capital of Bratislava is slowly gaining in popularity for being a cheap city break destination in both the summer and winter months, with bars and restaurants lining the cobblestone streets of the Old Town. It’s also a great opportunity to visit Vienna, which is just an hour away by train.
However, what you might not know about Slovakia, is that it has the third highest percentage of national parks in Europe, at 7.5%, which means that if you want to switch off and unwind from the daily grind, it’s the perfect place to visit.
Head to the High Tatras in the Carpathian Mountains for breath-taking hikes, and see if you can spot the endangered Tatra chamois, which looks like a mountain goat.
Alternatively, if mountains aren’t your thing, then Slovak Paradise National Park could be your ideal destination. You can spend days there discovering the underground caves (of which there are rumoured to be 350!), impressive waterfalls, and open meadows; or head to Malá Fatra, with its picturesque streams, rivers, and gorges.
A short flight across the Irish Sea could be the perfect solution to you needing some downtime from your phone. Offering the lowest 4G availability, at 71.4%, and relatively few free WiFi spots, Ireland encourages you to enjoy the nature around you, without distractions.
Cruise down the River Shannon, where you can discover cute views from the water, admire the dramatic coastline of Moher Cliffs, which tower high at 200ft, trek through Killarney National Park, where you’ll get to see birds and red deer, or take a tour of some of Ireland’s most ancient castles.
Alternatively, if city life is more your thing, then spend a couple of days in Dublin, where you can bar hop in Temple Bar, tour the Guinness Storehouse, or wander the perfectly preserved Marsh’s Library, which is Ireland’s first public library.
The second Baltic country to make it to the list, the low number of WiFi spots should hopefully be enough to stop you reaching for your phone, but if not, a day strolling around Riga’s Old Town should do the trick!
=Discover hidden cobblestone streets that lead to the impressive House of the Blackheads, spot the stone cats balancing on the turrets of the Cat House, and climb to the top of St. Peter’s Church to see the pretty rooftops. Oh, and make sure you try Latvian garlic bread – it’s a delicacy you won’t want to miss.
If you want to get out of the city, then make your first stop Jūrmala, where you can relax on the sandy beach and visit one of the many spas for a luxurious massage. Alternatively, you can discover the bogs and swamps of Slītere National Park, or the lakes of Rāzna National Park, where you can swim and canoe.
Just sneaking into our top 10 digital detox hotspots is Portugal; and with its pristine beaches and charming cities, it sure won’t disappoint! And if that doesn’t convince you, then the fact that it has the fourth best air quality in Europe will hopefully get you out and about, exploring everything the country has to offer.
For a city break, head straight to either Lisbon, Porto, or Faro – all offering scenic surroundings with colourful cobblestone streets, culture in abundance, and delicious Pasteis de Nata, which you’ll definitely become addicted to!
Perhaps the best way to switch off and unwind in Portugal, however, is to visit one of the beaches. The Algarve is well-known worldwide for its coastlines – so it’s down to you to decide whether you want to visit the lively resort of Albufeira, chic Vilamoura with its upmarket marina, or leafy Quinta do Lago, with its impressive golf courses, and holiday homes of the rich and famous.
Where else in Europe can you enjoy a digital detox?
Of course, there are so many more places in Europe where you can escape to, and take a break from the internet for a while.
After France, the UK has the highest amount of national park coverage, at 8.2%, so if you want to connect with nature, a staycation to the likes of the Lake District, Northumberland or Cornwall could be the answer.
Alternatively, if dreary rain puts you off, then Finland could be the solution – it has the smallest amount of annual rainfall, at 536, followed by Hungary and Poland.
Finland also boasts the least air pollution in Europe, and with over 188,000 lakes, for all-things water sports, consider this Nordic country (and don’t forget to partake in a sauna, too!).
If slow download speeds really frustrate you, then you might also want to consider Greece, Serbia, or Croatia. Speeds are slower here, so even if you want to check your emails and social media accounts, you might not be able to!
Ready to hop on a plane and jet off somewhere new? We don’t blame you! Whether you choose to pick one of our digital detox hotspots, or head to that one city you’ve been meaning to visit for ages, get those flights booked now.
Once that’s sorted, don’t forget to book your airport parking in advance. We compare parking at more than 200 airports, so if you’re looking for a deal, you’ve come to the right place.
Alternatively, if you need transport once you’ve reached your destination, take a look at our airport transfer options, available in 70 countries worldwide.
- Number of Free WiFi Spots - https://www.wifimap.io/countries
- Internet Download Speeds - https://fairinternetreport.com/research/internet-speed-by-country
- Internet Access Rate - https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/IT.NET.USER.ZS
- Annual Rainfall - https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/AG.LND.PRCP.MM
- Air Pollution - https://www.iqair.com/world-most-polluted-countries
- National Parks Coverage - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_national_parks
- 4G Availability - https://www.opensignal.com/
- Serbia Rainfall - https://www.hidmet.gov.rs/eng/meteorologija/klimatologija_padav_rezim.php
- Latvia Air Pollution - https://www.eea.europa.eu/themes/air/country-fact-sheets/2021-country-fact-sheets/latvia
This table ranks European countries based on the best place for a digital detox. To provide this ranking, 7 different factors were used. Once the data was collected, the factors were then indexed, to give them a value between 0 and 1. These values were then summed, to provide a total score for each country, out of a maximum of 7. This score was then used to rank the countries, with a higher value providing a better ranking.
All data collected was correct as of 08/09/2022, and showcases the most recent data available.
The factors are as follows:
- 4G Availability (%) - The mean average 4G availability % for the top 3 or 4 providers in each country. This shows the proportion of time people are expected to have access to 4G.
- Internet Download Speeds (Mbps) - The average internet download speed in each country.
- Internet Access Rate (%) - The percentage of the population in each country that has access to the internet.
- Number of Free WiFi Spots - The number of free WiFi spots in each country, as available on wifimap.
- National Parks Coverage (%) - The percentage of each country that is covered by national parks.
- Air Pollution (PM2.5 concentration) - The concentration of PM2.5 particles in the air in each country. This is measured in micrograms per cube metre.
- Annual Rainfall (mm) - The annual rainfall in mm experienced in each country.
The factors were indexed as follows:
- 4G Availability (%) - Lower values get a higher score. Higher values get a lower score.
- Internet Download Speeds (Mbps) - Lower values get a higher score. Higher values get a lower score.
- Internet Access Rate (%) - Lower values get a higher score. Higher values get a lower score.
- Number of Free WiFi Spots - Lower values get a higher score. Higher values get a lower score.
- National Parks Coverage (%) - Higher values get a higher score. Lower values get a lower score.
- Air Pollution (PM2.5 concentration) - Lower values get a higher score. Higher values get a lower score.
- Annual Rainfall (mm) - Lower values get a higher score. Higher values get a lower score.