Where should you go when you have a broken heart? It’s not a topic that most of us want to think about, much less experience firsthand, but unless you’re living happily ever after with your first love, most of us have or will experience heartbreak at some point in life.
Traveling can be a wonderful way to come back to yourself again. Spending time on your own, seeing beautiful things and reminding yourself how resilient you are can be wonderfully healing. Best of all, you can make all the choices without having to consider anyone else – one of the joys of being single!
However making the wrong choice when it comes to your chosen destination can throw a wrench into things. Nobody wants to be nursing a broken heart around a bunch of honeymooners, right? So which places are the best for the newly single?
To answer this question, I surveyed the ladies in the BMTM Solo Female Traveler Connect Facebook group and these were their favorite places to travel to with a broken heart:
1. Anywhere in Iceland
Traveling in Iceland comes with plenty of perks. It’s regularly ranked as the safest country in the world, it’s popular with other travelers, it’s pretty easy to travel around, and you won’t have language barrier issues. Most Icelandic locals speak nearly flawless English.
I find that Iceland offers you the best of both worlds – if you are in need of company, go hang out with the locals or fellow travelers in Reykjavik, or if you need solitude or a big space to cry your eyeballs out, you can find plenty of wild, natural places all over Iceland. My personal favorite is camping all along the Ring Road.
Okay to be honest I was surprised that Bali made the list, but upon thinking about it and recalling my time in Bali, I totally understood why. It’s huge, it’s a great place to join a retreat and have a spiritual travel experience, and it’s beautiful.
While the last thing you want to see is lovey-dovey couples hanging out at the beach bars (and well, there will be a lot of them. It’s Bali after all!), there are tons of places in Bali that are perfect for solitude and peace of mind.
You can join yoga retreats in Ubud, surf or take or cooking classes, many of which are conducted by locals. You can see the beautiful local temples, watch the locals’ morning prayer rituals, or even lock yourself up in a gorgeous villa and read all day. The Nusa islands off of Bali are fantastic as well for swimming with Manta rays, finding cliffs with temples hidden in them, and getting beaches all to yourself.
Whoever said Bali’s for couples only has never been to Bali solo. I’d say it’s a lovely place to heal a broken heart.
3. Thailand’s Less Touristy Islands
I love me some Thailand. Over the past 6 years, I’ve spent about six months in Thailand now and all of it has been solo, and some of it has been while nursing a broken heart. I would avoid the overly established islands like Koh Samui and Phuket, which are likely to be populated with couples, and choose ones that are more geared toward a sport or shared interest.
I personally loved Koh Chang, as it was the friendliest and cheapest island in Thailand I’ve visited. It’s full of young people with the same laid back and hippie vibe like Pai and Tonsai. I saw way less love birds on Koh Chang than any other Thai islands, too. The best part? It’s close to Bangkok so travel time is shorter compared to other islands.
Though if you have the time, I’d also recommend checking out Koh Phangan’s quieter side, Koh Tao for scuba diving, and both Koh Yao Noi and Koh Yao Yai, two neighboring islands that are quiet and peaceful and famous with rock climbers and yogis. They have calm water to swim in, gorgeous beaches to lay your head down on, and endless coconuts – the perfect heartbreak remedy.
4. Niijima Island, Japan
You are probably wondering, Niiji- what? And that’s the whole point. Niijima island is a little-known island a 30-minute flight away from the bustling Tokyo. Most locals speak almost no English but they are so friendly and welcoming. The beaches are beautiful and you probably won’t be sharing it with more than 5 people at a time. There’s a free, 24/7 outdoor onsen that faces the ocean (as shown in the photo above), which was my favorite part.
The island is tiny enough that you could just rent a bicycle and explore freely. It’s one of those places where people don’t bother locking their front doors because it’s that safe. If you want to get away from it all, this is the place to be. Then, take yourself to Tokyo’s Harajuku for some retail therapy and teamLab Borderless to be wowed by art and music.
5. New Orleans
I did not see this one coming, but I absolutely loved New Orleans solo and I wouldn’t hesitate for a second to go there with a broken heart. The atmosphere in New Orleans is different from other places in the USA. It feels friendly and curious, while also providing a nearly endless list of things to do.
The Uber drivers, wait staff and the locals at the restaurants were always talkative with me, and pretty much everyone I met had a suggestion for me on where to go, so I was never bored. There are so many cute shops with vintage finds to shop in, you can get your tarot cards read, or again, check yourself into a nice hotel and order in so you can spend all day watching movies in bed if you need a little R&R. I won’t tell.
The mountains have healing power. As a member of the FB group, Marlee, put it,”Nothing feels better than a solid climb and a sense of accomplishment. And it gives you time to be alone with yourself to think and grieve and move forward”, which I cannot agree with more.
If you’re feeling adventurous, I did an 8-day trek in the Alaskan wilderness and it honestly changed my life. I was able (read: forced) to disassociate from the world of news, the internet, and whatever drama played out, and be in a place so remote that you can’t hope to drive there, can’t get a GPS signal, and have no choice but to completely let go of typical human life amenities.
If you are a seasoned hiker, I highly recommend hiking through Wrangell St. Elias National Park. You will have to fly in, and the hike is tough, but trust me, it will be worth it. The only thing is that this is not a hike that you can do alone, so find a buddy and go on an epic adventure together, or join a group tour.
7. Annapurna Circuit, Nepal
Heart broken or not, the Annapurna Circuit is simply too beautiful to miss. Somewhere between the baby goats and cows who gingerly sniffed my hand before allowing me to pet them (like puppies do!), the little snorting yaks, village kids who put their hands together to say “namaste” (hello), and the amazingly beautiful mountains that framed every moment, it hit me: this is bliss.
This hike is no small feat, at an average of 14 days. However you’ll be spending it in the magical Himalayas, far away from any hurt or sadness that may have played out back home. It’s also a teahouse trek, so you won’t need to carry any food, tents, or other camping gear along with you, which certainly helps at altitude. If you’re ready to take it on, you can do this without a guide or a porter, here’s how.
8. Santa Cruz Trek, Peru
This is a 4-day backpacking trip at altitude in Peru, but it’s also one of the most beautiful I’ve done. So if solitude is what you are after, Santa Cruz is the answer. I picked this one over the Rainbow Mountain or the Inca Trail as my recommendation, because the latter two are insanely beautiful but also much more popular.
If I want to heal a heartbreak, I’d want some time and space all to myself, right? Don’t worry, it’s not any less stunning, in fact, I’d like to think that Santa Cruz is Peru’s version of Patagonia. Chances are good that your mind and sorrow will be blown away by the beautiful sights Santa Cruz has to offer. Though I did this hike unassisted, I’d only suggest that if you’re experienced. Otherwise you can join a guided hike in the town of Huaraz. Don’t worry, it’s pretty cheap.
9. Vava’u Tonga
When I went to Tonga in the South Pacific, I was fresh out of a relationship — it literally ended the day I arrived — but I decided that no matter what, it wasn’t going to ruin my solo trip to see the humpback whales.
I swear this is the easiest break up I’ve ever been through, because each day I was swimming with mothers and calfs, and singing males. I jumped right into heat waves which are pods of humpbacks all swimming together. It was so beautiful I cried the first time I jumped in. There is absolutely nothing on earth like this experience and if you happen to go through a break up around August through October, hightail it to Tonga!
10. Tian Shan Mountains, Kyrgyzstan
Believe me when I say that after a stunning hike through 130 km (81 miles) of green valley after green valley, with rivers, lakes, sometimes snow, and an ever-present blanket of wild flowers, you are guaranteed to leave behind your sorrows and return home as a brand new person.
Overall, this was one of the tougher treks I’ve done but also one of the most rewarding. The landscape was phenomenal, some trails had absolutely no one else on them at all, and I was constantly asking myself is this real life. I conclude that the raw beauty of Kyrgyzstan, a country many may not even have heard of, has a magical healing power.
11. Greek Islands
The Greek islands are famous for a reason. Picture whitewashed buildings with blue archways and rooftops, and the sparkling Mediterranean to match.
According to June, Santorini’s “Breathtaking views alone truly helped me get through a broken heart a few years back. There was nothing like it. Not to mention the gorgeous men that kept me distracted from moping around. I seriously have never seen so many friendly gorgeous locals in one tiny island.”
Be sure to consider the season before you go, however, as the islands are a summer destination and most become ghost towns by October.
12. Anywhere in Italy
Elizabeth Gilbert picked Italy for good reasons: food, language, and local culture. Pull an Eat Pray Love and feed yourself all the pasta and pizza you can find (and proceed to find yourself a larger pair of jeans), learn some Italian, and try things like Couchsurfing or Airbnb Experiences to hang out with the locals.
I find that the locals are particularly friendly in Italy, especially if you attempt to speak some Italian. My personal favorite areas are South Tyrol in the Alps and Bologna, which is a food mecca. Read more about traveling in Italy here.
13. Melbourne, Sydney, and the Great Ocean Road, Australia
Julie, a member of the Facebook group recommended Australia for its lovely weather, chirping birds, cold wine, great food, and awesome surf. Australians are known to be outgoing and friendly and it’s really easy to start a conversation with anyone at a cafe or restaurant or even on the beach.
Melbourne and Sydney are both dymanic cities with tons going on, you’ll never be bored. If you need to get out of the city and get into nature, explore the Great Ocean Road, Australia’s most famous road trip.
14. Siargao or Siquijor, Philippines
I have found the Philippines to be one of the friendliest places to travel to. It attracts lots of tourists from all around the world, but the locals in the Philippines are particularly welcoming as well.
Though pretty much anywhere you go in the Philippines has the potential to be amazing, I had a great time on the smaller islands of Siargao and Siquijor this past February. If you love beaches and water it’s perfect for swimming, if you love local interaction, plenty of Filipinos speak English, and if you love waterfalls, you can find those as well. It’s a natural playground.
15. South Africa
South Africa is my favorite country in the world. That’s saying a lot considering the fact that I’ve been to 60+! It’s easy to love, with locals who are open and inviting, landscape that changes constantly as one moves through the country, and many opportunities for rich cultural interaction.
Safety can sometimes be a concern but you just have to be sure that you never walk, especially alone, in big cities, don’t leave anything visible in your car, should you rent one, and carry a dummy wallet (a fake wallet with some petty cash and cards while the real stuff is hidden in your shoe or bra).
I hope these ideas from fellow solo female travelers help you find your road to recovery. Heartbreak can be hard, but it can also be an opportunity to start anew, and a motivation to go somewhere you haven’t been, and do the things you couldn’t do while in your relationship.
Enjoy your newfound freedom, and the adventures ahead.