May is Mental Health Month and we’re sure it’s not just us that feels like the last pandemic-year put our mental (and physical!) health through the wringer. Even if you don’t typically struggle with mental health, or don’t have a diagnosed mental illness, the past year has been TOUGH. Now, with travel becoming easier and lower-risk (once you’re vaccinated, or with adequate testing and/or quarantines), it’s a great time to start thinking about some upcoming vacay plans! A change of scenery and a long vacay to one of these relaxing destinations (or even a quick weekend trip) can do wonders for your mental health.
Having a change of pace and scenery, a change to unplug and explore, and a break from normal life and responsibilities can be a great way to reset after a difficult month or year. Taking a break and exploring something new can give us the boost we need to keep going, or help us relax and refresh. Who hasn’t experienced coming back from a vacation totally refreshed and ready to tackle whatever life throws at us next?
With that said, we’re rounding up some of our favorite relaxing destinations to visit for when you just need a break, a chance to reset, or some time to do some serious self-care. Here’s our favorites.
Maybe the most well-known and the best relaxing destination in the world is Bali. This tranquil island in Indonesia is known for being totally peaceful, with a welcoming culture that will make you feel at home. It’s perfect for soul-searching, a yoga and meditation retreat or just a week of self-care. Whether you decide to try yoga, meditation, art, surfing or just want to spend some time in nature, Bali has plenty to offer you. The low-key and laid-back pace of life in Bali is the perfect way to unplug from your normal life and refresh your mind and body.
2. Prince Edward Island
Prince Edward Island—the quiet, Eastern Canadian island near Maine—is the perfect summer getaway for when you want some peace and quiet. Known for its windswept and red-sand beaches, lighthouses and delicious seafood, this peaceful island getaway is perfect for quiet walks along the beach or in the nature surrounds, rainy mornings in a cozy cabin or just some time to unplug from the chaos and frantic pace of normal life. Prince Edward Island and the nearby Nova Scotia are also great places for a summer road trip!
3. Vienna, Austria
If you need a trip that’ll help you recharge and reset, but don’t want to get totally off the grid, Vienna is a great place to go. This Austrian city holds plenty of European charm, art and culture, without the bustle of a big city like Paris or Rome. Come for the history, culture and food; stay for the cozy coffee shops, quiet museums and cobblestone streets where you can wander to your heart’s content. Break out of your everyday routines and unwind in one of Europe’s dreamiest (and most underrated) cities.
4. Takayama, Japan
This quiet village in Japan is the perfect place to unwind and connect with nature—and yourself. Commonly called Hida-Takayama, this well-preserved ancient village is a great place to experience some of Japan’s ancient culture, history and heritage, while also unwinding and connecting with nature. Located in a mountainous region, this rural village is home to both spring and autumn festivals, plenty of hiking trails, nearby natural hot springs and more. All of these are great ways to disconnect from hectic city life and connect with nature and yourself. Once you visit, it’ll be easy to see why Takayama is considered one of the best destinations to relax!
5. Montecatini Terme, Tuscany, Italy
This little-known town in Tuscany, Italy is a great place to unwind while enjoying some authentic Italian culture. In the region, it’s known as a “spa village,” so it’s easy to see why this is one of the most relaxing destinations in the world. The pools in the village are fed by naturally warm—some would say healing—spring water. The historic village basically sprang up (pun intended) around these natural springs. The town’s springs include historical pools to explore as well as more modern pools and springs for soaking. Whether you’re enjoying the mineral soaks or indulging in pastries in the small village center, you’re sure to feel refreshed after a stay in this Italian town.
Malta is often overlooked as an island destination in Europe while tourists flock to Croatia, Greece, Ibiza and Sicily. However, Malta offers warm summer weather (nearly year-round!), incredible scuba diving and beaches, ancient history, temples and UNESCO World Heritage sites and more. In short, there’s plenty to do! The stunning scenery and sunny climate make it the perfect place to unwind and experience European culture and history in a relaxing setting. If you feel like a big dose of Vitamin D and some delicious food will do you good—Malta’s a great place to go without having to fight with swarms of tourists.
7. Glacier National Park, Montana
Don’t think you have to travel halfway across the world to give yourself a chance to unwind and relax. One of the most relaxing destinations in the US is Glacier National Park. It’s home to over 1,500 square miles of wilderness and insanely beautiful views. The scenery here alone will be enough to refresh you! Besides that, though, the peace and quiet (especially if you visit during off-peak time, aka, avoid the summer months), miles of hiking and scenic driving routes, and numerous hot springs and wellness spas in the area will give you the perfect chance to unplug and unwind.
8. The Maldives
For a picture-perfect retreat where you can completely forget about the worries of your real life and just totally relax and unwind, there’s no better place than the Maldives. These white-sand islands are known for their tranquil beaches, overwater bungalows, and wellness resorts. If you want to unplug and pamper yourself, the Maldives are a great destination! Even if endless spa days aren’t really your thing, who wouldn’t feel better after a week of sunshine and relaxation on some of the most beautiful beaches in the world?
Nepal is well-known as being home to a spiritual culture. Here, you can study meditation from Buddhist monks or take yoga classes with views of the Himalayas. Though they’re still recovering in many ways from a disastrous earthquake that happened several years ago, Nepal is still one of the most tranquil and spiritual destinations in the world. The cities may be bustling, but you’ll have a chance to connect with an entirely new culture. If you need to get out of the city to unwind, there’s plenty of hiking and trekking opportunities in the Himalayas (even if you don’t want to climb Everest!). There’s also tons of ways to learn wellness and spiritual practices to help you unwind and find more peace.
10. Reykjavik, Iceland
If you want to unwind with a side of adventure, Reykjavik is one of the best relaxing destinations in the world. In Reykjavik, you’ll find plenty of opportunities for self-care and relaxation: geothermal pools, wellness centers with spas and saunas, public baths and hot tubs and of course, the famed Blue Lagoon. The geothermal seawater of the Blue Lagoon is naturally rich in silica, algae, and minerals, making the hot springs there healing and rejuvenating. Unplug and unwind in nature by exploring some of Iceland’s iconic waterfalls and hiking. After all that, you’ll want to end your day with some hot springs relaxation. How could you not feel refreshed after a week spent here?
11. Sedona, Arizona
Long known as a mecca for wellness, yoga and spirituality, Sedona is a great place to go to unwind and connect with yourself and nature—whether or not you stay at one of the many wellness retreats and resorts. The numerous spas around town give you plenty of options for relaxing. There’s also plenty of (free) options to relax outdoors in nature as well. With warm weather year-round, any time of year is perfect for a wellness retreat to Sedona. The amazing views and calm, down-to-earth vibes throughout Sedona will be just what you need to reset.
So where are you off to next? Snag a cheap flight to one of these relaxing destinations, or check out a full list of where Americans can travel and what the COVID requirements are to start planning your trip.