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The 12 best places to travel solo right now

Written by Jonathan Thompson

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Award-winning travel writer Jonathan Thompson presents the best destinations to go it alone in 2018  

travel solo

Travelling alone can be daunting – particularly for those who don’t like their own company.

Read more: Solo travel fuels this major happiness habit

But for the rest of us, it’s an incredible opportunity to embrace freedom from the daily grind, see the world at our own pace, and make plenty of new friends along the way.

Here’s our list of 12 sure-fire destinations for solo travellers to explore now, and why.

Stockholm, Sweden

travel solo

Sweden’s alluring capital is spread over 14 islands, packed with bars, restaurants and an army of friendly locals. Safe and easy to navigate, fluent English is spoken almost universally, and the nightlife, like the daylight, goes on and on in the summer months.

Read more: All hail Sweden, the world’s single living capital

Don’t miss 

Rooftop hiking – a unique combination of climbing and sightseeing from Stockholm’s rooves (think crampons, ropes and incredible sunsets).

Insider tip

Try some freshly caught fish at Nystekt Strömmingvagnen – a herring wagon on Södermalm Square that’s been a Stockholm institution for more than 20 years.

For more

visitstockholm.com

San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

travel solo

Voted the best city in the world by Travel and Leisure magazine, San Miguel is also one of the most welcoming in the Americas for the solo traveller. Nicknamed “the Florence of Mexico”, its pretty cobblestone centre is safe and walkable, coming alive with music and laughter after dark, as locals spill from cafes and bars to mingle with revellers at the nightly fiestas. Packed with more than 130 art galleries and museums, there’s plenty to explore between parties too.

Read more: A foodie awakening in Mexico

Don’t miss

 The Mercado de Artesanias, a buzzing artisan market where you can bargain for everything from clothes and jewellery to souvenirs and soft furnishings.

Insider tip

The recently renovated Casa de Sierra Nevada is a spectacular boutique hotel, split between five 17th Century mansions near the town’s heart – with the addition of a jaw-dropping pool.

For more

visitasanmiguel.com

Austin, Texas

travel solo

The “Live Music Capital of the World”, Austin is one of the most welcoming cities in the US when travelling as a solo artist. Sixth Street (or “Dirty Sixth”) is one long drag of colourful bars and lively venues where if your name’s not down, you *are* coming in – and you’ll be very welcome. There’s a strong yin to the party yang here too: the city is obsessed with fitness and there are multiple quirky group classes to join (before taking a dip in beautiful Barton Springs to cool down afterwards).

Read more: Taste life on a Texan cattle ranch

Don’t miss

Rainey Street – a row of quaint wooden ranch-style houses converted into epic bars, all creaking floorboards, swinging lamps and moonshine cocktails.

Insider tip

It’s a long way to fly, so fit Austin into a grander southern tour. The Texan capital is within driving distance of a number of other brilliant cities including Dallas and New Orleans.

For more 

austintexas.org

Amsterdam, Netherlands

travel solo

The Dutch city is so welcoming of solo travellers that it made global headlines with the launch of Eenmaal – a restaurant exclusively for single diners. Explore like a local by hiring a bike (everyone’s a solo traveller here!) before heading to one of countless buzzing canalside bars. Wherever you go, you’ll make friends with locals and fellow travellers along the way – and visiting just got a lot easier with Eurostar’s new service from London.

Read more: 12 countries, 12 months – the challenge everyone needs

Don’t miss

The beach. Amsterdam isn’t on the coast, so the city created Blijburg – an incredible beach on the artificial islands of IJburg, with swimming, sunbathing and beach parties galore.

Insider tip

The Lloyd Hotel is the first hotel in the world where you can choose exactly how many “stars” you want. So, those on a tight budget can opt for a one-star experience (twin bed, shared bathroom), while those with more cash can book up to five-star accommodation.

For more

iamsterdam.com

San José, Costa Rica

travel solo

American solo travellers have been heading to Costa Rica – aka the world’s happiest country – for years, and finally the European market is catching on. Locals live by the “pura vida” mentality here, and they’re more than happy to share that “pure life” with visitors. At 3,690ft above sea level, San José enjoys fantastic year-round temperatures and its location in Costa Rica’s Central Valley makes it both breathtaking and the perfect base for exploration.

Read more: Wildlife and waterfalls in Costa Rica

Don’t miss

A hike into Costa Rica’s spectacular interior, particularly the magnificent Parque Nacional Volcán Arenal, where you can wallow in rare hot spring waterfalls.

Insider tip

Book a trip into Manuel Antonio National Park, one of the world’s last remaining “natural zoos”.

For more

visitcostarica.com

Ubud, Bali

travel solo

Bali is known as The Island of The Gods for good reason, and Ubud is its artistic and spiritual heart. Whether you loved or loathed Elizabeth Gilbert’s seminal solo travel memoir Eat, Pray, Love, it’s here she finally found love. It’s easy to see why – there’s an aura of magic about this little town, nestled among emerald rice fields and ringed by mist-wrapped mountains. Solo travel is incredibly common here – thanks in no small part to Gilbert’s book – and everything is perfectly set up to accommodate those travelling alone, from welcoming cafes to drop-in yoga classes.

Read more: Escape to mind-blowing Bali

Don’t miss

No Más Bar: great drinks, fantastic architecture, live music – and one of the best places to mingle with fellow solo travellers.

Insider tip

Take a side trip off-grid to the powdery white beaches of Gili Air, a tiny coral island the locals adore.

For more

balitourismboard.org

Jordan

travel solo

Crammed with World Heritage sites, friendly towns and inspiring desert landscapes, Jordan is a brilliant introduction to the Middle East for solo travellers. Locals pride themselves on their famous hospitality (expect multiple offers of tea in peoples’ homes) and welcome Westerners with open arms. With plenty of amazing experiences on offer – from desert stargazing to floating in the Dead Sea – your main problem will be fitting everything in.

Read more: Stretch your limits in Jordan

Don’t miss

Petra – an entire city carved out of a rockface by the Nabateans more than 2,000 years ago, hidden until the 19th Century.

Insider tip

The hidden ravines, gorges and waterfalls of Wadi Mujib offer some of the best canyoning in the world.

For more

visitjordan.com

 Taipei, Taiwan

travel solo

One of the easiest Asian cities to visit alone, Taipei has a public transport system that is famously safe, clean and easy to use. (The MRT runs throughout the city, with stops and directions in English). Taipei is also a major street food destination, with incredibly cheap, delicious offerings on seemingly every street corner. Add an abundance of world-class museums – including the spectacular National Palace Museum and quirky Miniatures Museum – and you have all the ingredients for a fascinating, fun solo trip.

Read more: Extend your solo trip in neighbouring Japan

Don’t miss

A midnight snack at one of Taipei’s vibrant night markets.

Insider tip

If you’re looking to escape the city buzz, Taipei has several incredible day-hike options from the city.

For more

travel.taipei/en

Nepal

travel solo

Sandwiched between India and Tibet, Nepal is undeniably one of the most beautiful – and peaceful – places on the planet. Think epic landscapes, vibrant culture and ancient monasteries, all teetering on the roof of the world. If you like meditation, yoga and hiking, you’ve come to the right place. Feeling adventurous? The Everest Trail is there to be hiked too – with all its Instagram-owning views. Just don’t leave Kathmandu, the electrifying capital, too soon – it’s an incredible destination in its own right, and particularly welcoming of solo travellers. If you’re looking for trekking partners, or simply some drinking company, head straight to the much-loved roof at Alobar1000.

Don’t miss

Swapna Bagaicha, or “Garden of Dreams”: a serene oasis just two minutes’ walk, yet a million miles, from Kathmandu’s boisterous centre.

Insider tip

Brave travellers can experience the second-highest bungee jump in the world here, over the mighty Bhote Kosi River.

For more

welcomenepal.com

Cape Town, South Africa

travel solo

Great for thrill-seekers, wine lovers and art aficionados alike, it’s hard to go wrong in cosmopolitan Cape Town, blending chilled beach vibes with incredible restaurants and world-class shopping – all against the amazing backdrop of Table Mountain.

Don’t miss

The opportunity to join a group abseil down Table Mountain, one of the world’s highest commercial descents at 3,500ft; a bucket-list ticker (and social media post) par excellence.

Insider tip

Cape Town is home to one of the best curry houses in the world, Thali. An under-the-radar (and pleasingly affordable) gem raved about by locals.

For more

capetown.travel

South Island, New Zealand

travel solo

For the ultimate adventure travel trip for one, look no further than New Zealand. The list of adrenaline-fuelled solo activities to choose from on the beautiful South Island is ridiculous: zorbing, kayaking, parasailing, white water rafting, heli-biking and, of course, commercial bungee jumping – which was invented here. The island, essentially one big outdoor playground, sees a disproportionate number of solo travellers, with most ultimately headed for Queenstown: a welcoming, safe, walkable town that knows how to party.

Don’t miss

The Shotover Jet – an iconic high-speed jetboat ride through the narrow Shotover Canyons near Queenstown.

Insider tip

After a busy day of adventuring, wrap your white knuckles around a juicy Fergburger (the lamb burgers here are probably the finest on the planet), before heading to Rhino’s Ski Shack, where fellow travellers share stories and insider tips over frothing pitchers of beer.

For more

newzealand.com

Cusco, Peru

travel solo

Yes, it’s the gateway to one of the most iconic destinations in the world, Machu Pichu, but Cusco is worthy of some serious attention too – plus it’s a magnet for solo travellers thanks to its position at the head of the Inca Trail. Andean baroque sits side-by-side with Incan majesty on the city’s ancient stone streets, while it’s also home to some genuinely world-beating restaurants. October is festival month here, when travellers are welcomed even more warmly than usual.

Don’t miss

Yes Machu Picchu is a must, but Rainbow Mountain is also an incredible trekking option. Join a group hike up to its extraordinary 5,035 metre summit for once-in-a-lifetime views.

Insider tip

Named after the ancient corn beer of the Incas, Chicha is one of Cusco’s most vaunted restaurants, owned by Peru’s award-winning celebrity chef Gastón Acurio. Request a balcony table for awe-inspiring views over the town’s beguiling Plaza Regocijo while you tuck into traditional delicacies.

For more

visitperu.com

Images: Flash Pack and Shutterstock

 

 

 


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