10 Best Sober Vacations 2023

By Nadine Mulvina, The Sober Butterfly

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Welcome to The Sober Butterfly, where we believe in the transformative power of sober travel! In this 2023 era of travel, we have evolved: gone are the days of beach blackouts, cracked iPhone screens, crippling hangovers, lost wallets, bruised egos, over-limit CC statements, and fractured friend groups. Shall I proceed? A new wave of conscious travelers has emerged, craving authentic connections, proper hydration, and meaningful experiences. Sober travel in 2023 is all about embracing clarity, self-discovery, and exploring destinations that cater to a lifestyle focused on overall well-being.

Why are these the best sober vacations in 2023?

A quick intro: Hi, my name is Nadine Mulvina, and I’m the founder of this blog, The Sober Butterfly (TSB). My love of travel and writing led me to create TSB to document my sober adventures. I have been to over 30 countries, and I’m always known to have a trip up my sleeve.

This blog post will help you uncover the best destinations to elevate your sober travel adventures in 2023. Whether you’re flying solo or traveling with loved ones, we’re here to inspire, inform, and empower you on this journey. 

Here is a cumulative list of the best sober vacation destinations. I have traveled to each of these places sober. I have traveled solo, with friends, family, and loved ones. When deciding which places to feature as the best sober vacations, I looked at a few factors:

  • Access to non-alcoholic/alcohol-free beverages.
  • Variety of activities to do.
  • Drinking/party culture.
  • General cost/affordability.

Best Sober Vacations 2023

1. Thailand

Thailand is one of my favorite countries, especially for sober travel. Each city in Thailand has its own distinct culture and magnetic energy. The three cities I spent the most time in were Bangkok, Chiang Mai, and Phuket.

If you’re looking for more of a metropolitan vibe with gorgeous temples and night markets, check out Bangkok; If you want to see elephant sanctuaries, go hiking, and enjoy a more slow-paced lifestyle, then Chiang Mai is for you; If you crave beach, sun, sand, look no further than Phuket and their neighboring islands.

From a sober standpoint: Thailand is a beautiful country. While there is undoubtedly a vibrant nightlife: the red light district is to Bangkok what Patong and Full Moon Festivals are to Phuket, there are also many health and wellness places and activities to counter the party culture narrative. In 2022, the delisting of certain parts of the cannabis plant as a narcotic has led to a new crop of weed dispensaries and cannabis cafes opening all over Thailand. So if you’re Cali Sober, know you can enjoy your joint without ending up in Thai jail! If marijuana is triggering for you, then this may be something to consider if planning a trip to Thailand.

Check out my one week in Bangkok vlog to see this capital city for yourself.

2. Morocco

Morocco was one of the first countries I ever traveled to sober in the summer of 2021. I instantly loved the prosperous cities, bold colors, limitless markets, and cultural diversity. Over 12 days, my girlfriends and I trekked all over Morocco, visiting 12 cities. My favorites were Marrakesh, Fes, Chefchaouen, The Dades Valley, and A Night Under the Stars in the Sahara Desert.

From a sober standpoint: Morocco is an Islamic country. While not all Muslims abstain from alcohol, many do not drink, which makes your sober stay in Morocco even easier. I traveled with two girlfriends while on vacation in Morocco, and they had to go out of their way to find wine. I fell in love with refreshing fresh mint tea, commonly served during traditional meals.

3. Paris, France

Paris may come as a surprise to many as a recommendation for a sober vacation. That’s because the city of love + light is renowned for having some of the best wine in the world. As a former wino, I thought this would significantly trigger me. I was pleasantly surprised when I wasn’t preoccupied with drinking the devil’s blood (a slight exaggeration, but iykyk); I focused on inhaling croissants, crepes, cheese, and macaroons (C’est la vie).

From a sober perspective: There’s so much to see and do in Paris. Here’s an insider tip a Parisian shared with me: do nothing. The French are the best people watchers. Most Parisians will sit outside a cafe (no matter the season) and watch strangers passing by. I found this odd initially but grew to appreciate the simple leisure of nothing. But of course, I also did stuff. To see what sober fun I got into, check out my Paris Vlog from February 2023.

4. Costa Rica

Nestled between the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean, Costa Rica offers a remarkable blend of biodiversity, awe-inspiring landscapes, and a culture deeply rooted in Pura Vida, meaning “pure life.”

Costa Rica has become a hub for wellness and mindfulness retreats, offering an ideal environment to nurture your mind, body, and spirit. I spent a few days in the capital, San José ( I recommend limiting time here or skipping altogether), and most of my time in Santa Teresa, a jungle beach haven on the Pacific side of the country.

From a sober standpoint: Costa Rica is renowned for its lush rainforests, breathtaking waterfalls, and pristine beaches. As a sober traveler, you’ll have the opportunity to experience these natural wonders with heightened clarity and appreciation. From tasting delicious fresh fruit juices to enjoying traditional dishes like gallo pinto, you’ll discover a new world of flavors that will delight your palate. Coffee and chocolate lovers will especially be happy with the coffee and cacao plantations throughout the country. Because there’s such an emphasis on wellness and Pura Vida, drinking seems incompatible with Costa Rica.

5. Portugal

Portugal boasts a rich cultural heritage that can be fully appreciated through sober travel. Explore the narrow cobblestone streets of Lisbon, Porto, and Sintra, and let the centuries-old architecture and charming neighborhoods enchant you. Enjoy local culture by attending traditional fado music performances or witnessing captivating folk dances. Engage with the friendly locals, visit local markets, and savor the delicious cuisine, including delectable pastries like pastel de nata.

From a sober standpoint: A highlight of my week in Portugal was touring a vineyard in Douro Valley; After learning how wine is made in this region, guests are provided with a tasting of various wines produced in this region; Since I told the venue I was sober, they surprised me with a delicious assortment of crackers, grapes, and water at the end of the tour.

6. Barcelona, Spain

Spain’s cultural heritage is an endless source of inspiration for travelers. From architectural marvels like the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona to learning flamenco in Andalusia, or participating in a traditional festival like La Tomatina in Buñol, there’s plenty to do without booze. I appreciate Spaniards approach to life: did someone say siesta? And don’t get us started about the food; I could seriously eat paella all day, everyday.

From a sober standpoint: I spent the most time in Barcelona. Barcelona has a bit of a party rep, and while I did venture out to some of the clubs there, I didn’t drink. There is a sober/sober-curious scene in Barcelona, so I didn’t find it hard to find non-alcoholic drinks. While technically illegal, marijuana is decriminalized in Barcelona. Something to be mindful of if this is a concern of yours. 

7. Rio de Janiero, Brazil

Rio is one of the most fun places I’ve ever been to. I’m so glad I waited to go sober. My ex lives in Rio, so I could explore more of this incredible city and see how locals live without feeling like I had to have my guard up the whole time.

I was also there for Rio’s Carnival, so the city was extra alive (it was their first Carnival post-pandemic.) You must check out Christ The Redeemer, a UNESCO world heritage site. The food was also out of this world; Try feijoada and thank me later.

From a sober standpoint: I want to keep it real: Rio can be dangerous. Having my 6’5, 300lb ex in tow helped me feel a little more secure, but I do not recommend getting drunk in this place. The most considerable risk would be your personal belongings going missing, especially technology like phones, cameras, etc. The only hiccup I had here was while on the beach in Ipanema; a drunk loser thought it would be appropriate to randomly walk up to me a grope my breasts while saying something in Portuguese. Watch my Rio Travel Vlog to see more of this city.

8. London, England

London has a reputation for being a bit boozy. My hometown is known for pubs, football, and excessive drinking culture. However, it’s also known as the birthplace of Dry January. It is a month-long challenge where people abstain from alcohol to improve their health and evaluate their relationship with alcohol. London is the epicenter of history and cosmopolitan vibes. London is a sight to behold if you enjoy music, parks, theater, shopping, world-class museums, and famous sites such as Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, and Tower Bridge.

From a sober standpoint: Perhaps Dry January explains why London has such a progressive alcohol-free/mocktail scene. Many restaurants had impressive non-alcoholic drinks and extensive beer/lager selections.

9. Guatemala

Guatemala boasts breathtaking natural beauty, from majestic (active!) volcanoes to the ‘most beautiful lake in the world’ and lush rainforests. While I could not visit Tikal, the ancient Mayan ruins, many people regard it as one of Central America’s most impressive archeological sites.

I did visit Antigua, a UNESCO World Heritage site. I stayed in a treehouse room at The Earth Lodge, where I practiced daily yoga classes with the stunning Pacaya Volcano as my backdrop. And don’t get me started with Lake Atitlán: some of the most breathtaking views and a serene place to unwind. I painted, waterskied, shopped at different markets, and partied with mocktails in town.

From a sober standpoint: I’ve been to Guatemala twice. The first was in February 2021, before I got sober. Check out my first time in Guatemala in this vlog. While I had fun, it was a different experience than my second time in Guatemala in February 2022. I revisited the exact locations in Antigua and Lake Atitlan, but I saw these same places through very different eyes.

10. Toronto, Canada

I went to Toronto for a quick work trip co-hosting a sober party and recording podcast episodes of The Sober Butterfly. So as full disclosure, I was super dialed into sober spaces. I managed to get to know Drake’s hometown (to be honest, before Drake, Toronto wasn’t on our bucket lists.) I checked out all the main attractions like Royal Ontario Museum (ROM), Kensington Market, and the CN Tower. I went in late October, and the beautiful fall foliage allowed Canadas’s Maple trees to shine.

From a sober standpoint: Toronto is in their best sober era. Firstly, there are so many cool sober people in Toronto. I didn’t do much outside of attending sober events, but when I check in on my sober Toronto girlies, they are out living their best sober lives with aesthetically pleasing mocktails in hand.

Honorable Mention: New York City, USA

I’m biased (since I live in the New York City area), but closing this list without so much as an honorable mention of NYC seemed so wrong. While I love to travel and see the world, I always appreciate coming home to this city.

Yes, New York is the city that never sleeps, but that’s because we’re highly caffeinated and have places to be. And there are so many places to be; places to marvel in this city: shows on Broadway, strolls in Central Park, world-class museums and galleries, walks along The High Line, good eats in Chelsea Market, bustling crowds in Times Square. You can never do or see it all, even if you’re from this city. 

From a sober standpoint: Inclusivity is everything, and I find no issue finding alcohol-free beverages on menus of restaurants and bars. There are non-alcoholic wine and spirit shops like Boisson and zero-alcohol bars like Hekate and Absence of Proof. While the party scene is alive and well here, there are also many activities to entertain yourself.

Best *Solo* Sober Vacation in 2023: Panamá City, Panamá

Panamá City is the best solo sober travel destination for 2023. I love solo travel. I know that’s not the case for everyone, so Panamá City is a great place to start if you’re new to solo travel. Check out this vlog to see how I spent a long weekend in this charming gem of Central America.

Best *Romantic* Sober Vacation in 2023: Isla Holbox, Mexico

Isla Holbox is cute for a sober couple’s trip. Located in the Yucatan Peninsula, it’s less commercialized, touristy, and expensive than other notable places in the region: Cancun, Cozumel, Tulum, and Playa de Carmen. My boyfriend (who’s also sober) and I spent five days in Holbox and saw some of the most beautiful sunsets we’ve ever seen. SO romantic! Check out this vlog to see more of Holbox.

Best *Group* Sober Vacation in 2023: Las Vegas, USA

Las Vegas, ok, hear me out! Vegas is the perfect sober getaway for you and your crew. Seriously. Vegas has something for everyone. I recently took a girl’s trip with my cousin and her friends and had SO much fun. We saw Usher’s ‘My Way’ residency and the Big Apple Show. Both were phenomenal. We also did a day trip to The Grand Canyon, which made us feel small (in a good way).

Have you ever traveled sober to any of these destinations? Comment questions or thoughts below!

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