How to Slow Down in a Fast-Paced Location

Relaxing on a beach or enjoying a quiet getaway in a secluded cottage may seem like the only options for a slow holiday – but it’s possible to slow down your travels even if you are visiting a fast-paced location. Busy cities may not seem like the best choice for anyone looking for a tranquil getaway, but there are many ways that you can discover a different side to these hectic locations.

Train in Tokyo shot by  Cecy Young

Train in Tokyo shot by Cecy Young

It’s how you travel that makes the difference, not where. You can have a slow and relaxing holiday anywhere, if you have the right mind-set. You may associate a particular destination with a hectic pace, but there is always a way to escape the busy city streets. If you find it difficult to switch off and adapt a slower pace than those around you, try seeking out the calmest places in the city and avoiding major tourist sights.

It’s all too easy to get sucked into the mentality of rushing around and ticking off everything in the guidebook if you are surrounded by people doing just that. Instead, seek out parks, gardens, beaches or forests within the city limits. Once you are surrounded by nature, rather than concrete, you’ll find it easier to slow down. This is a great option for your first day in a city, if you’re looking to set the pace for the rest of your trip. Hire a bike and seek out a place that makes you feel calm, allowing yourself to feel content with the journey itself, or the time to relax when you arrive.

An important decision before you even leave home is to decide where to stay. To make it easier to take your trip at a slower pace, opt for self-catered accommodation and choose a location out of the city centre, in a residential neighbourhood. If you feel more at home and less on holiday, you’ll find it easier to adopt a slower pace to your travels. You can visit independent cafes, bars and restaurants where the locals hang out, perhaps even chatting to people to get to know the city from the point of view of someone who lives there.

Remember, ‘quality over quantity’ is the mantra of a slow traveller.

Andrea Swarz – Shot in Paris

Andrea Swarz – Shot in Paris


Whether you’re the type of person who likes to make an itinerary or someone who prefers to make it up as you go along, don’t try to cram too much into one day. Think about what it is about this particular city that you want to see on your trip, and make that your priority. Take your time and linger over each activity, paying attention to the little details. 

Stand in front of a work of art in a gallery and consider why you like it, rather than rushing past on a quest to see every single exhibit. Sit outside a café and watch the world go by, rather than gulping down your drink and immediately leaving. Take your camera to the local markets and spend several hours capturing everyday moments, rather than simply walking past. Linger, don’t rush.
It’s possible to adopt this attitude anywhere, from Tokyo to London, Berlin to Barcelona. Just remember to set your own pace, regardless of how fast other people are moving around you.