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: Great for adventurous travellers
Andean peaks, Amazonian rainforest, Patagonian glaciers, Incan ruins, white-sand beaches and vertiginous nightlife: the wonders of South America set the stage for incredible adventures.
|Photo: Wellington Goulart|
You can hike past ancient temples first laid down by the Incas, contemplate the awe-inspiring power of Iguazú Falls, or spend the day watching wildlife from a dugout canoe on one of the Amazon’s countless igarapés (narrow waterways). You can barrel down Andean roads by mountain bike, go white-water rafting on Class V rivers and surf amazing breaks off both coasts. And once you think you’ve experienced it all, head to the dramatic landscapes in Tierra del Fuego, go eye-to-eye with extraordinary creatures in the Galápagos, and scramble up tableland mountains in the Gran Sabana for a panorama that seems straight out of the Mesozoic era.
South America’s diversity doesn’t end with landscapes. You’ll find former colonial towns where cobblestone streets lead past churches and plazas little changed since the 18th century. You can haggle over colorful textiles at indigenous markets, share meals with traditional dwellers of the rainforest and follow the pounding rhythms of Afro-Brazilian drum corps. South America is home to an astounding variety of living and ancient cultures, and experiencing it first-hand is as easy as showing up.
Ubud, Indonesia: best for self-reflection
Ubud is one of those places where a holiday of a few days can easily turn into a stay of weeks, months or even years. The size of the town’s expat community attests to this, and so do the many novels and films that have been set here, creative responses to the seductive nature of this most cultured of all Balinese towns. This is a place where traditional Balinese culture imbues every waking moment, where colourful offerings adorn the streets and where the hypnotic strains of gamelan are an ever-present soundtrack to everyday life. It’s also somewhere that is relentlessly on trend – a showcase of sustainable design, mindfulness, culinary inventiveness and the very best that global tourism has to offer. Come here for relaxation, for rejuvenation and to have what may well be the most magical holiday of your life.
|Image by Allen SW Huang / 500px Images|
Steeped in culture and enhanced by magnificent vistas, Ubud offers a respite from the humdrum of your busy life. In the past, Ubud was just a small village, but now it has grown into a thriving yet laid-back cosmopolitan community.
Ubud pampers visitors in body and soul. Fine dining restaurants and spas here will delight and relax the senses. A walk through the lush paddy fields, watching colorful processions of women gracefully balancing piles of fruit offerings on their way to the temple, are lasting impressions and simply breathtaking.
Berlin, Germany: best for nightlife
Berlin’s combo of glamour and grit is bound to mesmerise all those keen to explore its vibrant culture, cutting-edge architecture, fabulous food, intense parties and tangible history.
|Image by Ingo Jezierski / Getty Images|
Bismarck and Marx, Einstein and Hitler, JFK and Bowie, they’ve all shaped – and been shaped by – Berlin, whose richly textured history confronts you at every turn. This is a city that staged a revolution, was headquartered by Nazis, bombed to bits, divided in two and finally reunited – and that was just in the 20th century! Walk along remnants of the Berlin Wall, marvel at the splendour of a Prussian palace, visit Checkpoint Charlie or stand in the very room where the Holocaust was planned. Berlin is like an endlessly fascinating 3D textbook where the past is very much present wherever you go.
Berlin is a big multicultural metropolis but deep down it maintains the unpretentious charm of an international village. Locals and expats follow the credo ‘live and let live’ and put greater emphasis on personal freedom and a creative lifestyle than on material wealth and status symbols. Cafes are jammed at all hours, drinking is a religious rite and clubs keep going through the weekend into Monday. Size-wise, Berlin is pretty big but its key areas are wonderfully compact and easily navigated on foot, by bike or with public transport.
East Africa: best for a group tour
East Africa is a wild realm of extraordinary landscapes, peoples and wildlife in one of our planet’s most beautiful corners.
|Photo: Trailer Daily News|
Welcome to the true home of the African safari. This is untamed Africa, where wildebeest, shadowed by zebras, stampede in their millions across the earth; where lions, leopards and cheetahs, hyenas and wild dogs roam free in search of their next meal. Such stirring scenes of life and death, such overwhelming scenes of abundance coexist with scenes of surprising fragility, among them chimpanzees and powerful yet gentle silverback male gorillas forced with their families into remote islands of montane forest. To draw near to such wildness is to experience something so profound as to live forever in the memory.
Wherever you go, don’t miss the chance to get to know East Africa’s people. Whether you’re exploring Maasailand accompanied by red-shawled Maasai warriors, standing in solidarity with victims of genocide at the sobering Kigali Genocide Memorial, or hunting with the ancient Hadzabe people of Lake Eyasi, there are countless opportunities to immerse yourself in the everyday beauty, realities and vibrancy of East African life. It is, after all, East Africans themselves, with their warmth, hospitality and fascinating history, who will provide you with so many of your journey’s most memorable moments.
Singapore: best for a solo stopover
Celebrating its melting pot of cultures, Singapore has that spark, and it’s fast becoming one of Asia’s hit-list destinations.
Whizzing around Singapore can take a matter of minutes, thanks to one of the world’s most efficient and widespread public transport systems. Hankering for breakfast in Little India, but want to visit the temples in Chinatown before lunch? No problem, you’ll be there in a jiffy using the sparkling MRT system – and why not stop at Marina Bay for a spot of shopping on your way? Plus, with new metro lines opening practically every two years, this island just keeps on becoming easier to explore.
|Photo: Lonely Planet|
Food in Singapore is taken very seriously. From cheap hawker fare to Michelin-starred fine dining, food-enamored Singaporeans will line up for it, Instagram the hell out of it and passionately debate whether it is up to the hype. Don’t fret about finding a place to chow down, as each neighborhood is home to local hawker centers and coffeeshops dishing up some of the island’s best meals for just a couple of bucks. Simply follow your nose or join the longest queue – whatever morsels lie at the end, they are almost guaranteed to be scrumptious.
When the sweltering outdoor heat gets too much, Singaporeans love ducking inside for a spot of retail therapy and a good dose of air-conditioning. Orchard Rd is the queen of shopping malls: with all the high-street brands, plenty of high-fashion houses, and a few discount outlets thrown into the mix, everyone’s needs (and more often wants) are catered for here. If you prefer your shopping a little less mass-market, head out to local neighborhoods for independent designers, quirky art galleries, bustling markets, Chinese medicines, Persian carpets and a sari or two.
Rome, Italy: best for culture
A heady mix of haunting ruins, awe-inspiring art and vibrant street life, Italy’s hot-blooded capital is one of the world’s most romantic and charismatic cities.
|Photo: Getty Images|
The result of 3000 years of ad hoc urban development, Rome’s cityscape is an exhilarating sight. Ancient icons such as the Colosseum, Roman Forum and Pantheon recall the city’s golden age as caput mundi (capital of the world), while monumental basilicas tell of its history as seat of the Catholic Church. Lording it over the skyline, St Peter’s Basilica towers over the Vatican, testifying to the ambition of Rome’s Renaissance popes and the genius of its game-changing architects. Elsewhere, ornate piazzas and showy fountains add a baroque flourish to the city’s captivating streets.
Few cities can rival Rome’s astonishing artistic heritage. Throughout history, the city has starred in the great upheavals of Western art, drawing top artists and inspiring them to push the boundaries of creative achievement. The result is a city awash with priceless treasures. Ancient statues adorn world-class museums; Byzantine mosaics and Renaissance frescoes dazzle in art-rich churches; baroque facades flank medieval piazzas. Stroll through the centre and without even trying you’ll come across masterpieces by the titans of European art – sculptures by Michelangelo, paintings by Caravaggio, frescoes by Raphael and fountains by Bernini.
Eating out is one of Rome’s great pleasures and the combination of romantic alfresco settings and superlative food is a guarantee of good times. For contemporary fine dining and five-star wine there are any number of refined restaurants, but for a truly Roman meal head to a boisterous pizzeria or convivial neighbourhood trattoria. That’s where the locals go to indulge their passion for thin, crispy pizzas, humble pasta dishes, and cool white wines from the nearby Castelli Romani hills. To finish off, what can beat a gelato followed by a shot of world-beating coffee?
Portland, Oregon: best city break
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It’s hard to slap a single characterization onto Oregon’s geography and people. Its landscape ranges from rugged coastline and thick evergreen forests to barren, fossil-strewn deserts, volcanoes and glaciers. As for its denizens, you name it – Oregonians run the gamut from pro-logging conservatives to tree-hugging liberals. What they have in common is an independent spirit, a love of the outdoors and a fierce devotion to where they live.
It doesn’t usually take long for visitors to feel a similar devotion. Who wouldn’t fall in love with the spectacle of glittering Crater Lake, the breathtaking colors of the Painted Hills in John Day or the hiking trails through deep forests and over stunning mountain passes? And then there are the towns: you can eat like royalty in hip Portland, see top-notch dramatic productions in Ashland or sample an astounding number of brewpubs in Bend.
Vietnam: best for food
A land of staggering natural beauty and cultural complexities, of dynamic megacities and hill-tribe villages, Vietnam is both exotic and compelling.
|Vietnam’s culinary pedigree is a major draw for foodie travelers © Alexander Frais / 500px|
Unforgettable experiences are everywhere in Vietnam. There’s the sublime: gazing over a surreal seascape of limestone islands from the deck of a traditional junk in Halong Bay. The ridiculous: taking 10 minutes just to cross the street through a tsunami of motorbikes in Hanoi. The inspirational: exploring the world’s most spectacular cave systems in Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park. The comical: watching a moped loaded with honking pigs weave a wobbly route along a country lane. And the contemplative: witnessing a solitary grave in a cemetery of thousands of war victims.
Thailand may contest the top spot, but in Southeast Asia nothing really comes close: Vietnamese food is that good. Incredibly subtle in its flavours and outstanding in its diversity, Vietnamese cooking is a fascinating draw for travelers – myriad street-food tours and cooking schools are testament to this. Geography plays a crucial role, with Chinese flavours influencing the soups of the north, spices sparking up southern cuisine, and herbs and complex techniques typifying the central coastline, rightly renowned as Vietnam’s epicurean hot spot. And up and down the country you can mingle with villagers, sample local dishes and sip rice wine in Vietnam’s many regional markets.
If you have the bills, Vietnam has the thrills and chills. Some require a little physical effort, such as motorbiking switchback after switchback up the jaw-dropping Hai Van Pass in central Vietnam. Others require even more sweat: kitesurfing the tropical oceanic waters off Mui Ne or hiking the evergreen hills around Bac Ha or Sapa. And when you’re done with all that adrenaline stuff, there’s plenty of horizontal ‘me’ time to relish. Vietnam has outstanding spas – from marble temples of treatments to simple family-run massage salons with backpacker-friendly rates.
Caye Caulker, Belize: best for an island escape
|Image by Simon Velazquez / 500px Images|
‘No Shirt, No Shoes…No Problem.’ You’ll see this sign everywhere in Belize, but no place is it more apt than Caye Caulker. On this tiny island, where cars, too, are blissfully absent, dogs nap in the middle of the dirt road and suntanned cyclists pedal around them. The only traffic sign on the island instructs golf carts and bicycles to ‘go slow,’ and that directive is taken seriously.
In place of hassles, Caulker offers balmy breezes, fresh seafood, azure waters and a fantastic barrier reef at its doorstep. The easygoing attitude is due in part to the strong Creole presence on the island, which pulses to a classic reggae beat and is home to a small community of Rastafarians. This has long been a budget traveler’s mecca, but in recent years tourists of all ages and incomes have begun to appreciate the island’s unique atmosphere.
East Coast Australia: best for road-tripping
Strung out for more than 18,000km end to end, Australia’s east coast is a rippling ribbon of beaches and rampant wildlife. Offshore, the astonishing Great Barrier Reef is a 2000km-long hypercoloured haven for tropical marine life. Also here are hundreds of islands, from craggy nature reserves to palm-studded paradises. Fringing the land are brilliant beaches, with Australia’s best surf breaks peeling into the shore. Inland are bewitching national parks with lush rainforests, jagged peaks and native critters that rate from cuddleworthy (koalas) to photogenic (Ulysses butterflies) and downright fearsome (saltwater crocs).
|Photo: Lonely Planet|
Traversing the east coast is an exercise in, well…exercise! The sun is shining and fit-looking locals are outdoors – jogging, swimming, surfing, cycling, kayaking, snorkelling, hiking… Why not join in? Get underwater on the Great Barrier Reef, the most photogenic submarine landscape on earth. Rampage down some white-water rapids, kayak across a lagoon, or set sail through a tropical archipelago. Move your shoes up a mountain, through a national park or alongside a rushing river. Or just head for the beach, where the locals let it all hang out.
Australia’s big east-coast cities lift the lid on a rich culinary experience, with fantastic cafes, sprawling food markets and world-class restaurants. After dark, moody wine bars, student-filled speakeasies and boisterous Aussie pubs provide plenty of excuses to bend an elbow, chew the fat and maybe watch a bit of football. Beyond the cities, foodie delights range from fish (straight off the fishing boats) with chips, to the wares of cheese producers and small-town bakeries, to degustation dinners, paired perfectly with luscious wines from the Mornington Peninsula or Hunter and Yarra Valleys. The hardest part is deciding what to try first.