If you think India is the ultimate yoga travel destination, think again! These 7 places (plus 7 great alternatives) are our picks for the very best yoga adventures in 2018!
A couple of years ago, we made our first trip to India. Having heard from all our yogi friends what a mind-blowing spiritual experience it is to travel to the birthplace of yoga, I was expecting…
A deep spiritual awakening? An epiphany or two? Would a cleansed chakra have been too much to ask for?
I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised when India turned out to be just what India is — a big, noisy, modern country, undergoing rapid-fire development.
India was eye-opening and challenging for sure, but despite the incredible temples and profoundly spiritual culture, it didn’t feel like the right place to deepen my yoga practice and make a stronger connection to my inner self.
What makes a destination great for yoga travel?
For me, a terrific yoga travel destination has to deliver:
- Great yoga in a beautiful setting
- Amazing cultural experiences
- Incredible outdoor adventures
- Delicious food with lots of healthy, vegan options
With those requirements in mind, Stephen and I sat down to create a list of the ultimate yoga travel destinations… most we have been to and a few are still on our bucket list.
(Don’t miss: Our recommendations for the best travel yoga mats for your adventures) →
So if you’re planning some amazing yoga travel in 2018, here are…
7 of the Best Yoga Travel Destinations for Your 2018 Adventures
Best Exotic Yoga Travel Destinations
If you want heat, beaches, and the chance to surf on turquoise oceans, book yourself into a yoga retreat in one of these exotic locations.
There is something truly magical about Croatia. We don’t know if it’s the miles of pristine coastline, the incredibly friendly people or the spectacular wine, but every time we set foot in Croatia we never want to leave.
Combine these delights with the plethora of yoga retreats and you’ve got yourself a perfect yoga travel destination.
Cultural & spiritual experiences in Croatia
Do Game of Thrones tours count as spiritual and cultural experiences? No? How about incredibly beautiful walled cities? Dubrovnik is just one of the many remarkable cities in Croatia. If you’re into living history, Croatia is hard to beat.
(Don’t miss: Our guide to indulging yourself at the best green retreats in the world) →
Outdoor adventures in Croatia
Hiking, biking, sailing, SUP, windsurfing, kayaking, caving… Croatia has it all and it all happens under a perfect blue sky.
Vegan food in Croatia
There’s a Croatian saying that goes something like “A meal without meat is nothing.” Traditional Croatian meals tend to involve some sort of animal roasted on a spit and / or barbecued fish. While Croatian food isn’t the best for vegans, self-catering accommodation is common and tasty fresh veggies are readily available at the market.
Best places for a Croatian yoga retreat
There are a cluster of yoga retreat centres on the Dalmatian Islands, a gorgeous island group just off the coast of Split. You can also find some excellent retreats in the north of the country, near Rovijn. For a nearby alternative yoga destination, we recommend Tuscany, Italy.
2. Costa Rica
Pick any random stranger in Costa Rica and you have a 50/50 chance of meeting a yoga instructor. OK, that’s not quite accurate but Costa Rica has done an amazing job of becoming THE yoga and wellness destination in the Americas. With pristine beaches, dense jungle, amazing surf spots, and a countrywide focus on environmentalism, it’s no wonder Costa Rica is a favourite yoga travel destination.
Cultural & spiritual experiences in Costa Rica
With such a focus on nature and the outdoors, there aren’t a lot of options for cultural activities in Costa Rica. But we highly recommend getting involved in a dance lesson or cooking class as both dance and food are central to Costa Rican culture.
Outdoor adventures in Costa Rica
If you’re looking for a surf and yoga retreat, Costa Rica is your ideal yoga travel destination. The west coast is a surfer’s paradise. Away from the coast, lush rainforest climbs spectacular mountains, playing host to some of the world’s most biodiverse terrain. There is plenty of opportunity to spot wildlife, go trekking, and climb volcanoes.
Vegan food in Costa Rica
Though traditional Costa Rican food is meat-centric, you won’t have trouble finding vegan or vegetarian alternatives. Beans and rice are served at almost every meal, along with lots of fruits and veggies. Plus, with the number of yoga retreats in the country, people are used to accommodating special diets, especially in tourist areas.
Best places for a Costa Rica yoga retreat
Yoga retreats, most with surfing, can be found along the entire west coast of Costa Rica. For a nearby alternative yoga destination, we recommend Tulum, Mexico.
For most yogis, Bali is right up there with India as the perfect yoga travel spot. Admittedly, we didn’t really enjoy our first visit to Bali, finding Ubud to be overrun with tourists (and also quite smelly). When we took a yoga class with one of the most popular teachers in town, it was dangerously full and so poorly taught that we were surprised no one got injured.
However, if you pick the right time and carefully select your yoga, Bali can be an amazing place for a yoga holiday.
Cultural & spiritual experiences in Bali
The entire culture is steeped in Balinese Hinduism — almost every family creates handmade offerings daily that are placed around their homes and temples. Speaking of temples, Balinese temples are exceptionally gorgeous and visitors are welcome to visit, meditate, or pray.
Outdoor adventures in Bali
Though Bali’s streets tend to be manically busy, it doesn’t take much effort to find blissfully empty rice fields to walk or cycle in. There are also volcanoes to be climbed, surf to be surfed, and beautiful beaches to be beached.
Vegan food in Bali
In most cities in Bali, but especially Ubud, there is a ridiculously delicious selection of vegan food. You can also find gluten-free and organic food everywhere. Traditional Indonesia food also offers several delicious vegan and veggie options. Plus, fresh juice is everywhere and relatively inexpensive!
Best places for Bali yoga retreats
While Ubud is the yoga centre of Bali, you can also find endless retreat opportunities near the beaches north of Kuta. For a less touristy experience, try to find a Bali retreat in the north or east sections of the island. For an alternative exotic yoga destination nearby we recommend Gili Islands, Lombok.
(Don’t miss: Our complete Mindful Travel Guide to the Gili Islands in Indonesia) →
Best Budget Yoga Travel Destinations
If you’re looking for budget yoga retreats, you’ll find one in these countries which are both fantastic destinations and easy on the wallet.
4. Sri Lanka
While India’s many charms are spread over a vast country, Sri Lanka offers a huge array of diverse experiences all on one tiny island. This means you get access to jungle, mountains, beach, and wild savannah all within a short drive or train ride.
Cultural & spiritual experiences in Sri Lanka
Filled with ancient and modern Buddhist and Hindu temples, Sri Lanka offers plenty of sights for travellers interested in history and spirituality. You can even visit the cave where Hanuman was said to rescue Sita from the evil clutches of Ravana!
Outdoor adventures in Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka has tremendous beaches, stunning geologic formations like Sigiriya, wonderful mountain hikes, and plenty of places to see protected animals in the wild.
(Don’t miss: Our guide to 19 reasons to visit Sri Lanka) →
Vegan food in Sri Lanka
Fresh and delicious vegan curries are available almost everywhere in Sri Lanka. So damn good! After visiting more than 50 countries, we still think Sri Lanka is the most vegan-friendly country in the world.
Best places for a Sri Lanka yoga retreat
We loved our stay at Ulpotha yoga retreat, in the heart of the Sri Lankan jungle. If you want a retreat by the beach, head to the south coast near Galle. We stayed at Back of Beyond, an eco retreat in Kahandamodara, and we’d love to return there for a retreat. For the best budget yoga retreats nearby, check Rishikesh, India.
If you are looking for a budget friendly yoga retreat, without sacrificing sun, sea, or Instagram photo shoots on the beach, Portugal might be just the place. With a coastline that is practically all sand, from charming Porto to the touristy Algarve, Portugal offers plenty of space for kicking back and enjoying the sun. It’s also ideal if you’re looking for a cheap surf and yoga retreat.
(Related: Check out this guide to the 3 Most Beautiful Algarve Beaches) →
Cultural & spiritual experiences in Portugal
If you can’t get enough of medieval walled cities, romantic architecture, or finding secrets hidden down narrow alleyways and winding streets, Portugal will satisfy your cravings.
Primarily, Portugal’s outdoor activities centre around the beach and water sports. Portugal has unsurpassed surfing, amazing kayaking, and sensational sailing, too.
Vegan food in Portugal
Traditional Portuguese food is based in the world of meat and fish. Outside of Lisbon, it can be hard to find much in the way of vegan food and vegetarians will end up eating a lot of omelettes with French fries. However, what Portugal lacks in vegan food they make up for in amazing affordable wine!
(Don’t miss: Our guide to the best vegan and vegetarian restaurants in Lisbon) →
Best places for a Portugal yoga retreat
Many of the yoga retreats in Portugal are clustered around the coastline near Lisbon and Sintra. There are also plenty of retreats on the southwest corner of the country. If you’re looking for something inland, there are several options in the countryside near Coimbra. For the best budget yoga destination nearby, we recommend Agadir, Morocco.
Best Wild Yoga Travel Destinations
For those who prefer immersing themselves in the extreme power of nature at it wildest, these yoga travel destinations are the perfect answer.
If you’re not a big fan of hot sun and sandy beaches, consider taking a yoga holiday in Iceland. The breathtaking wilderness can inspire soul-searching in the least self-aware people. Plus, there are amazing hot springs to soothe your yoga weary body at the end of the day!
Cultural & spiritual experiences in Iceland
If you’ve ever walked on a glacier or sunk into a natural hot spring after a long winter’s hike, you’ll know the depth of spiritual experience nature can provide. There’s not a lot in the way of temples and museums in Iceland but it’s more than made up for by the truly awesome landscape. And there are always Game of Thrones tours if you get restless!
Outdoor adventures in Iceland
Outdoor adventure is where Iceland excels. Northern lights, southern glaciers, dramatic waterfalls, spouting geysers, and expanses of wild and empty land are all there to challenge and amaze you.
(Don’t miss: Our picks of the best travel yoga mats for your adventures) →
Vegan food in Iceland
In a country where traditional cuisine includes whale, puffin, and horse, Iceland is by no means a vegan heaven. However, there are several vegan and vegetarian restaurants in Iceland and most restaurants can provide vegan options.
Best places for an Iceland yoga retreat
There are plenty of yoga studios in Reykjavik but if you want to get a little adventurous, look for a retreat in northern Iceland. If you’re looking for a wild yoga retreat nearby, we suggest West Cork, Ireland.
7. British Columbia, Canada
We’re only a little biased when it comes to British Columbia, since we still call it home (even though we don’t technically have a home and haven’t lived there for 20 years!). In BC, health and wellness are an integral part of the culture. You’ll be hard-pressed to meet someone who isn’t involved in some outdoor sport or wellness activity. Plus, the natural beauty of BC is unsurpassed in the world (totally objective fact).
Cultural & spiritual experiences in British Columbia
BC’s indigenous cultures have a deeply spiritual history, linked closely to the natural world. There are plenty of opportunities to learn more about First People’s history, religion, and way of life while in BC. Also, Canadians are some of the nicest people in the world, so you’re sure to meet as many locals as you want and be invited for a friendly beer or two.
Outdoor adventures in BC
The Coastal Mountains rise up out of the Pacific Ocean to mark BC’s western border. The Rocky Mountains lie to the east, and sandwiched in between is a spectacular band of wilderness. With landscape like this, BC offers practically every outdoor experience you can think of. It’s perfect for hiking, rock climbing, biking, sailing, and kayaking. There are even some world-class SCUBA and surf spots.
Vegan food in British Columbia
The province has more than its fair share of eco-conscious hippy types, which means vegan food (and vegetarian, gluten-free, raw and whatever else might float your particular boat) is readily available. It’s very unlikely you’ll get weird looks for any special request you might make.
Best places for a British Columbia yoga retreat
Whistler, the Gulf Islands, and southern Vancouver Island all provide ample opportunities for amazing yoga travel. If you want to head inland, look for retreats in the Okanagan or the Kootenays (yet another BC mountain range). For a great alternative yoga destination nearby, try Oregon, USA.
What yoga travels are you planning this year? Where would you go if time, distance, and budget were no problem? What yoga destinations do you recommend we check out? Answers in the comments please!
♥ Happy mindful adventures, Jane & Stephen
The links to yoga retreats in this post are our personal affiliate links. That means, if you book a yoga retreat using our links, we get a small fee, at no cost to you. We are not recommending any specific retreats on this page, so please choose carefully before booking!