19 Great Places To Travel For Non-Drinkers
Travel often offers an opportunity to relax, explore a new place and have a good time.
For many, this entails winding down with some beachside cocktails, tasting a region’s wine or hitting up a local bar. But for people who don’t drink, it may sometimes feel like the “good time” options are more limited.
HuffPost reached out to a number of travel experts for recommendations of places that are ideal for visitors who don’t drink, from destinations with cultures that don’t emphasize drinking to those that offer a variety of nighttime activities.
Of course, you can go anywhere if you’re sober. As travel blogger Melissa Giroux said, someone who doesn’t drink doesn’t have to travel differently than people who do.
“I’ve been sober for six years, and I’m pretty convinced I can travel anywhere I want,” she said, adding that she enjoys going out dancing. “To be fair, it might not be the case for everyone, and it could even get harder if you recently quit drinking.”
Indeed, certain travel destinations can seem more sober-friendly than others. Keep scrolling for 19 options for people who want to avoid temptation or would prefer a place that isn’t centered around alcohol.
“I’ve felt much more confident as a sober traveler in parts of Asia and Africa, where a large percentage of the local people don’t drink alcohol for religious or cultural reasons. In predominantly Buddhist or Muslim cultures, sobriety is totally normal. Sri Lanka is my favorite country I’ve traveled through recently because it has endless options for outdoor activities and the local culture is intriguing and welcoming.” ― Carrie Hoffman, world traveler and co-founder of the alcohol-free Bigger Life Adventures yoga and adventure retreat
“I had the opportunity to travel to Kyoto, Kobe and Tokyo at five months pregnant, so no booze for me! I didn’t even miss it with all the delicious food, the sights and the views. It’s sensory overload ― you want to be sober to take it all in. Although beer and sake are common in restaurants, you don’t have waiters pushing for alcohol as you see in the States. You can easily pair your meals with tea or water.” ― Jessica van Dop, travel media specialist and blogger at The Dining Traveler
“There are so many fun things to do in Seoul that don’t involve alcohol. One thing that is a must is shopping at the night market. Yes, there are huge markets that only open at night, closing at 5 a.m. Almost everything you can imagine is sold, from clothes and stationery to kitchen supplies. Korea is known for its street food, and there’s so much to eat! Where there’s a night market, there’s street food. It’s not unusual to be walking around at 1 a.m. with spicy rice cakes in one hand and grilled squid on a stick in the other.
With restaurants, cafes, and spas that are open 24 hours, there’s so much to do that’s not centered around drinking. I don’t drink alcohol but I drink a lot of tea, so I’m always seeking out tea houses scattered around Seoul. There’s a wide range from modern to traditional tea houses, and it’s always fun for me to try them out. I usually end up learning a lot about the country’s culture through tea. In my travels, I always bring back tea as a souvenir.” ― Jee Choe, digital designer and blogger at Oh, How Civilized
“While I’m a little biased toward my own city, Los Angeles is a great option for sober travel. You can hike and surf in Malibu, find a day spa, play beach volleyball on the famous Manhattan Beach courts, take any number of Hollywood tours, and you’re always surrounded by healthy food. One of my favorite things to do with visitors is to find a vintage car rental for cruising the Pacific Coast Highway.” ― Rachel Medlock, blogger at Wayfaring Rachel
“Scandinavian countries such as Sweden are great for non-drinkers. Not only are drinks quite expensive at restaurants and bars, but also in Sweden, hard liquor is only sold through government-controlled stores called Systembolaget.” ― Lola Akinmade Åkerström, travel writer and National Geographic photographer
“Santorini isn’t a party island like Mykonos, so nightlife on this island isn’t all about drinking. The days are filled with beaches, hikes, gyros and frappes. At night is when the town comes to life ― all the shops and restaurants are brightly lit and open late. It’s the perfect time to go shopping. You can also watch a movie at the outdoor cinema, have a late dinner at 10 p.m., or sit in the cool breeze overlooking the ocean at a cafe. Santorini is great for people who don’t drink since there are other things to do other than go to bars.” ― Choe
“Consider going to certain Muslim-majority destinations. For example, alcohol is available in Morocco, but it’s not part of the culture. There might be alcohol served in certain hotel bars, or you could maybe purchase it from a single shop somewhere that doesn’t really advertise it, but broadly speaking alcohol is not a big thing. Morocco also happens to be an amazing destination with buzzing markets, ancient maze-like cities with windy streets and the Sahara Desert. It’s one of those countries where you can enjoy a coffee or a shisha but where alcohol is mostly out of sight and out of mind.”― Marek Bron, travel blogger at Indie Traveller
“Get away from the parties at the beach. Mexico City is full of history, culture, architecture, museums and great food. It is also one of the safest places in Mexico.” ―Shawn Coomer, founder and managing editor of Miles to Memories, and Mark Ostermann, senior editor at Miles to Memories
Whistler, British Columbia
“I love a spa vacation to indulge without imbibing. After tapping into a wellness-focused environment, passing on alcohol feels even easier. My favorite is the Scandinave Day Spa in Whistler for a tranquil spot tucked away in the mountains. You’ll walk around the indoor-outdoor spa in fluffy robes, jumping between heated environments (steam rooms, saunas, hot tubs), cold treatments (ice pools), and relaxation solariums or cozy fireplaces.” ― Medlock
“Alcohol is pretty widely available in Malaysia, but it’s taxed heavily and consumption is much more moderate than in some neighboring countries. Whereas in Thailand, alcohol gets sold to tourists in very large quantities (even in buckets in the most commercialized tourist areas!), Malaysia takes it very easy. That’s why I think Malaysia can be an amazing tropical destination for anyone wishing to avoid alcohol altogether.” ― Bron
“[There are] countries that have stricter alcohol regulations but are still dream vacation destinations, like Malaysia. These countries would be better suited for the solo traveler, the adventurer or self-planner. If you prefer the city, places like Kuala Lumpur and Georgetown should be high on your list. I fell in love with all of the street art in Georgetown and the melding of the three cultures; Malay, Chinese and Indian result in fantastic options for any foodie.” ― Annette Richmond, blogger and travel journalist.
“As a solo female traveler in Latin America, I choose not to drink mostly for safety reasons, but partially because I just hate hangovers. When I first started traveling, I didn’t go out after dark. So I always chose places where there was a lot to do during the day. This way I didn’t feel like I was missing out. Then when I moved to Colombia, everything changed. I discovered salsa and bachata dancing. This enabled me to get up the confidence to go out after dark on my own and not feel pressured to drink. I also never felt like a loner, as I would spend the night dancing rather than sitting down. I recommend Medellin in Colombia or Antigua in Guatemala as two destinations I felt very safe traveling solo and have great salsa and bachata scenes. I could go out every night of the week in both of these places and dance the night away without needing a drop of alcohol. I did need a lot of water, though!” ― Claire Summers, travel blogger at Claire’s Itchy Feet
“Budapest is full of thermal baths and day spas, with plenty of cultural activities as well. Skip the party crowd at Széchenyi and opt for the quieter Gellért or Lukács baths. When you get tired of soaking, you can explore Buda Castle, hike Gellért Hill, or visit any number of monuments and museums.” ― Medlock
“Due to the altitude, one of the things that is recommended is not to consume alcohol your first week in Cuzco. If you’re in Peru for Machu Picchu or the nature of the Andes, you will probably have very early mornings that are motivation enough not to drink! Bonus: Peru had delicious nonalcoholic drinks, such as indigenous herbal teas and chichas made from corn and other fruit flavors.” ― van Dop
New York City
“Even though there is a big bar scene in New York, there are also tons of options outside of that ― Central Park, Statue of Liberty, museums, Staten Island Ferry, Chelsea Market, the High Line, etc. There are a lot of options for a weekend trip.” ― Ostermann and Coomer
“If you’re all about soaking in that ‘Vitamin Sea’ while on vacay, try the Maldives. This tropical country is comprised of over 1,000 coral islands. As a Muslim country, you’d be hard-pressed to find alcohol outside of the tourist islands. So live like a local and forgo some of the comforts of Western societies. Immerse yourself in the culture and stay in a more affordable location, as tourist traps are generally more expensive. However, you can still explore these places by ferry if you want to spend some time island hopping.” ― Richmond
“A golfer’s dream with some of the best public courses in the U.S. in the same area. There are also hiking trails and a beautiful coastline.” ― Ostermann and Coomer
“I’m biased toward India, my home country, especially if you get off the beaten track and explore the incredible beauty and culture of the countryside. I recommend sustainable travel options for a meaningful trip.” ― Shivya Nath, travel blogger at The Shooting Star
Triglav National Park, Slovenia
“This stunning park that sits on the Slovenian Alps is the perfect place to reconnect with nature. With the idyllic waterfalls, snowcapped mountains and turquoise streams, your mind is more focused on taking in the sights than getting your buzz on. Dealing with the altitude and hikes will detract you from late nights of drinking!” ― van Dop
“Though drinking is often legal for non-Muslims, drinking is usually done out of sight behind closed doors in Bangladesh. Rather than be pressured into pub crawls, wine tastings and drinks on the terrace everywhere you look, you can easily focus on historical sights, tropical landscapes and, best of all, sober exchanges with equally sober locals. The only caveat: You may be pressured to drink copious amounts of sugary ― but delicious ― tea.” ― Alex Reynolds, travel blogger at Lost With Purpose
Quotes have been edited and condensed for clarity.