The idea of traveling solo can be a daunting one for a first-timer. It raises a number of questions: will I be safe? What route should I follow? Who will take photos of me staring off into the distance atop scenic vantage points?
A major factor in mastering the art of solo travel is selecting the right destination. Whether it be a multicountry trip or a city break, some regions are more suitable for a solo travel experience than others. Here are 10 sure-fire destinations for lone travelers, organized by interest. Whether you’re into raves, reiki, cycling or sightseeing, these spots are certain to ensure your solo travel adventure starts off on the right foot.
South America: best for adventure
With mountains to climb, rivers to raft, ancient ruins to uncover and jungles to explore, South America is the ultimate adventure destination. Don’t let its size daunt you – South America is more conducive to solo travel than you may think. The well-worn Gringo Trail, which encompasses the continent’s most popular destinations along a vertical path, promotes recurring rendezvous with fellow adventurers and, for those inclined, provides ample opportunities to buddy up with travelers heading in the same direction. This, paired with the general warmth of local people and the continent’s premium hostel network, makes travel relatively simple.
Epic solo travel experience: Mountain biking down Bolivia’s infamous Death Road and debriefing with your fellow riders over a few beers afterwards.
Ubud, Indonesia: best for self-reflection
Whether you loved or loathed Elizabeth Gilbert’s seminal solo travel memoir Eat, Pray, Love, there’s no denying it: Bali’s artistic and spiritual center – where the author found love (and presumably ate and prayed) – remains a wonderful place for solo travelers to relax, reflect and recharge. Nestled among emerald rice fields ringed by mist-wrapped mountains, Ubud is a magical place. Solo travel is extremely common here, meaning no more probing glances upon arrival at a morning yoga class or when dining at one of the town’s salubrious vegetarian cafes. To really harness the healing power of Ubud (and for some serious solitude), check yourself into one of the many health retreats that dot the verdant hills surrounding the town.
Epic solo travel experience: Indulging in one of the area’s holistic classes, from yoga to reiki. Classes are offered at several establishments, including Taksu Healing Haven.
Berlin, Germany: best for nightlife
Some say you are more likely to get into Berghain, Berlin’s most famous nightclub, if you arrive alone. Whether or not that’s the case, the rumor typifies the German capital’s penchant for solo travelers, who are drawn by its deserved reputation as one of the friendliest, most inclusive cities in Europe. Berlin is one of the best places on the continent to party, offering a collection of colossal clubs and graffiti-spattered beer gardens, but the city’s attractions aren’t reserved for the hedonistic holidaymaker. The sense of history surrounds you, from the Brandenburg Gate to the Holocaust Memorial, while quirky cafes, cool boutiques, weekend flea markets and a growing food-truck scene offer more leisurely delights. Visit alone or as part of a walking tour.
Epic solo travel experience: Heading out to a bar or nightclub and seeing where the night takes you.
East Africa: best for a group tour
Have you always dreamed of viewing gorillas in the jungles of Rwanda, meeting a Maasai chief in Kenya or spotting the “Big Five” in Tanzania but lack the confidence to tackle East Africa independently? A group tour can simplify the experience of visiting this stunning region of the world. While East Africa’s tourism infrastructure is well developed and traveling solo in most countries here is perfectly achievable, opting for a group tour means you can bundle in a number of big animal-viewing experiences together in multiple countries, without getting hit by lone traveler supplements – not to mention having the transport between them organized for you. Encompassing a number of bucket-list destinations, the tours attract a diverse group of travelers, meaning you’re unlikely to be the only solo traveler sandwiched between canoodling couples.
Epic solo travel experience: Cruising past hippos, elephants and crocodiles along the Kazinga Channel in Uganda’s Queen Elizabeth National Park.
Singapore: best for a solo stopover
With a plethora of cultural attractions to explore, a growing offering of hostels and one of the world’s best public transport systems (including excellent airport links), there are few more stress-free solo travel experiences than finding yourself in Singapore on a sunny afternoon. Whether you choose to amble with an audio guide through the Chinatown Heritage Centre, gawp at the otherworldly Gardens by the Bay or plunge into a lavish rooftop pool, the city feels well-suited to solo travel. And then there’s the food; the city is famed for its hawker stalls, where visitors and locals nudge elbows around rickety tables, bonding over bowls of steaming laksa (spicy noodle soup).
Epic solo travel experience: Checking out the cozy cafes and quirky boutiques in the gentrified 1930s housing estate of Tiong Bahru.
Rome, Italy: best for culture
From ancient icons like the Colosseum and the Roman Forum to the towering masterpiece of Renaissance architecture that is St. Peter’s Basilica, Rome’s cityscape is a kaleidoscopic canvas of artistic flair, architectural wonderment and historical marvels. Whether you’re visiting for two days or two months, there’s so much to see that there’s little risk of becoming bored, and, though English is not by any means ubiquitous, it’s hard to feel lonely among the 14 million-odd other tourists that visit this cultural hub each year. But don’t spread your itinerary too finely, as Rome rewards relaxation. Mingling with strangers over a glass of vino is an essential pastime in The Eternal City.
Epic solo travel experience: Visiting St. Peter’s Basilica and walking the 7km (4.3 miles) of halls that comprise the Vatican Museums.
Portland, Oregon: best city break
One of the USA’s coolest cities, Portland has all the cultural advantages of a major metropolis, but the intimacy of a small town. This sense of affability reverberates from the town’s urban wineries, microbreweries and coffee roasters, where conversation flows quicker than the drinks are poured. But there’s plenty more to this bastion of counterculture than its love of a good chinwag, with a host of whimsical attractions highlighting its quirky streak, from a museum dedicated to vacuum cleaners to an urban herd of goats. It’s also a cinch to navigate, with good public transport and a bike-share initiative. While the city is famous for its artisan restaurants, a more social – and undeniably more fun – way to dine is at some of the city’s 500 street food carts.
Epic solo travel experience: Exploring the Alberta Arts District. Time your visit to coincide with the Last Thursday art walk.
Vietnam: best for food
Don’t tell Thailand, but if only one Southeast Asian nation can be crowned the crème de la crème for its food, it’s Vietnam. Subtle in its flavors and outstanding in its diversity, Vietnamese cooking is a huge draw for travelers, who’re lured into lingering at cramped tables swapping travel tales over a fifth plate of bánh cuốn (rice batter filled with ground pork, mushroom and shallots).
All over the country, you can mingle with villagers, sample local dishes and sip rice wine in Vietnam’s many regional markets, while a myriad of street food tours and cooking schools foster social environments in major cities. Those seeking respite from the crowds should make for the hill treks around Sapa (fear not, voracious voyagers – a bowl of pho is never far away).
Caye Caulker, Belize: best for an island escape
Enchanting atolls aren’t reserved for honeymooners. Pastel-hued, car-free Caye Caulker has always been a great place for solo travelers thanks to its compact size and easy-going, backpacker-friendly vibe, which draws a relaxed, international crowd in search of a slice of paradise. It’s easy to lose days lounging at The Split, the island’s premier beach, but there are plenty of other activities on offer, from snorkeling and diving over variegated reefs to kayaking to lesser-visited parts of the island while keeping a beady eye out for crocodiles. Join other travelers at local reggae bars during the afternoon happy hour before sampling Creole-style street food come nightfall. What’s arguably the greatest blessing of solo travel? You don’t have to share your shrimp.
East Coast Australia: best for road-tripping
It’s difficult to explore the East Coast of Australia alone. So many travelers plough the snaking stretch of road that runs from Sydney to Cairns – seduced, in part, by stories of late-night revelry – that solitude is often harder to find than companionship. But it’s not just the good-time vibe that makes this stretch of coastline so spectacular. The classic road trip route is studded with bucket-list attractions, whether that be lolling on Sydney’s iconic Bondi Beach, rambling through the ancient Daintree Rainforest or bobbing in the Great Barrier Reef. The most memorable moments will likely come from interactions with locals in coastal towns and windswept villages, or simply the cathartic sight of the single road stretching out ahead of you.
Epic solo travel experience: Exploring the quaint villages and stunning waterfalls that dot the far north coast hinterland of New South Wales by car.