Solo travel can be one of the most rewarding ways to explore the world. Whether you’d rather spend it on a desert island or in a frenetic new city, here’s our pick of some of the best places to travel alone. For our list of the best places to visit in 2020 click here!
1. Lombok and the Gili Islands, Indonesia
Not as busy as its more famous neighbour Bali, Lombok is gaining a sterling reputation with independent travellers who want to learn to surf, snorkel or dive. Inland, lush green paddy fields stretch away to the massive Gunung Rinjani volcano with its waterfalls and hot springs. The three tiny but increasingly popular Gili Islands off Lombok’s northwest coast are also easy to access – Trawangan is where the party’s at.
Plan and book your next trip to Indonesia with Rough Guides Tailor-Made Trips.
Air Terjun Tiu Kelep waterfall near Rinjani, Senaru, Lombok, Indonesia © Michail_Vorobyev/Shutterstock
The Cuban capital of Havana conjures images of crumbling colonial architecture, 1950s Chevys, salsa and cigars. However, with the political scene inside Cuba shifting, private enterprise is being encouraged and small businesses across the country are opening and expanding. Now is a great time to visit those tiny back street restaurants and artisan shops. Homestays have always been a characteristic of travel in Cuba, and this, along with low crime rates, means going it alone is safe and rewarding.
Havana Capitol, Cuba © Bildagentur Zoonar GmbH/Shutterstock
If you’re looking for the best places to travel alone in Central and South America, don’t overlook Guatemala and its ancient Mayan ruins. It’s an inexpensive place to travel, which means you can stay for a while – to learn Spanish or even volunteer. Many come here for adventure activities like hiking, kayaking and whitewater rafting. Exploring the jungle is another great way to see the country. You can also get up close and personal with Central America’s most active volcano – the volcán de Fuego. Haggling for fresh produce in one of the country’s colourful markets is an adventure in itself.
To plan your own trip to Guatemala, get in touch! We can connect you with a local expert to plan and book a fully customised experience.
Haggling for fresh produce at the market in Guatemala © Tim Draper/Rough Guides
With its incredibly diverse ecosystem and reputation for the “Big Five” (elephant, black rhino, buffalo, lion and leopard), Kenya is the place for a safari. You can easily join a big group or arrange for a guide to take you out into the wilderness alone. The country has a good infrastructure and it’s easy to get around and find accommodation. Take care of your belongings, particularly in Nairobi; but don’t hide away in your hotel when it gets dark. Venture out to discover the city’s burgeoning nightlife scene (though taxis between venues are recommended).
A lion chases a herd of zebra in the Masai Mara National Reserve © GUDKOV ANDREY/Shutterstock
5. South Island, New Zealand
The list of solo activities you can do on New Zealand’s beautiful South Island is endless: horse riding, skiing, hiking, kayaking, bungy jumping, skydiving, jet boating, whitewater rafting… With jaw-dropping scenery around every corner, the small country is one big outdoor playground. Mountains, glaciers, lakes and craggy coastline form the backdrop for a place that is regularly voted one of the most beautiful in the world.
For personalised trips to New Zealand, try Rough Guides Tailor-Made Trips.
Lake Wanaka from Roy’s Peak © Shaun Jeffers/Shutterstock
6. Barcelona, Spain
Busy Barcelona is one of the best places to travel alone. Its café-lined boulevards are perfect for people watching, or you can escape the hustle and bustle by heading out to one of the city beaches on the super easy to use public transport. In the evening you can avoid eating alone in a stuffy restaurant by doing as the Spanish do: grazing on tapas in one of the city’s cool bars.
Plan your dream trip to Spain with the help of our local travel experts.
The Barri Gòtic (Old Town) of Barcelona © Francis XT/Shutterstock
Ireland is famous for the welcome it extends to strangers; pull up a stool in a traditional Irish pub, offer to buy your neighbour a pint and you’ll have a friend for life – or at least the evening. Stay awhile and you might get lucky and catch a traditional Celtic music session. If you don’t have your own transport, then it can be tricky to get out to the remote west coast, though some people still hitchhike (of course not without its dangers). Here you’ll find some of the country’s most sacred sites including Skellig Michael and Croagh Patrick.
For trips to Ireland planned by a local expert, get in touch!
Ireland’s countryside is filled with atmospheric ruins © Joe Cornish/Dorling Kindersley
If you’re an experienced altitude trekker, the Annapurna Circuit in Nepal can be tackled independently, but it’s wise to hire a porter or set out with an organised group. Hiking this Himalayan circuit typically takes three weeks and it’s a great way to get up close to traditional mountain people; you need very little gear as you stay in comfortable teahouses along the way and buy food as you go.
Visit Nepal with Rough Guides Trips and enjoy a fully personalised holiday.
Trekking in Nepal allows you to get a unique sense of the country © MOROZ NATALIYA/Shutterstock
9. New York City, USA
Explore the streets of Manhattan and the outer boroughs with no arguments over which world-famous museum, cutting edge art gallery or iconic landmark to visit. If you aren’t as brave as Carrie Bradshaw and don’t want to face a restaurant alone, then there are plenty of gourmet food markets to eat on the hop. You could also browse a Brooklyn flea market, people-watch in Times Square, go rollerblading in Central Park or take a sightseeing cruise on the Hudson.
Just remember to take The Pocket Rough Guide to New York City along to guide you to all the best spots.
For trips to the USA, get in touch. We can pair you with a local expert to plan and book a fully personalised trip.
The Manhattan skyline with its endless appeal © Songquan Deng/Shutterstock
10. Hokkaidō, Japan
Japan is a very friendly country and outsiders, especially those travelling alone, are made welcome as a matter of course. Hokkaidō is the most northern and least developed of the country’s four main islands and although it brews the famous Sapporo beer, Hokkaidō is best known for the great outdoors. The 1972 Winter Olympic Games were held here. Hiking, skiing and birdwatching are top activities if you want to embrace the elements in a remote and unspoiled landscape. The island even has lavender fields of the type you might expect to see in Provence.
Get in touch for tailor-made trips to Japan.
Lavender Field at Tomita Farm, Furano, Hokkaido, Japan © Phubet Juntarungsee/Shutterstock
Jordan is a gentle introduction to the Middle East, so follow in the footsteps of Lawrence of Arabia to explore evocative ruins and ancient cities, stargaze in the desert or float in the Dead Sea. On your travels, be ready to accept a few offers to drink tea or eat a meal in someone’s home. You’ll find it impossible to go anywhere in Jordan without experiencing some of its famous hospitality; it’s one of 21 highlights of visiting the country.
For trips to Jordan – get in touch with us!
The Dead Sea lies between Jordan and Israel © Photographer Lili/Shutterstock
12. Southern Thailand
Thailand’s beaches and islands are on the traditional backpacking route. Whether you choose the Gulf coast to the east or the Andaman coast to the west, you are bound to find people to chat with over a cold Chang beer if you’re travelling alone. The land of smiles is also fifteen degrees north of the equator, so there’s a tropical climate with plenty of sunshine almost year-round.
Thailand’s beautiful islands are perennially popular with solo travellers © Martin Richardson/Rough Guides
13. Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka is predominantly a Buddhist country, and its residents are friendly and welcoming to all. In the interior of this island nation, the undeveloped hill country is home to tea plantations, ancient cities, forest reserves and sacred mountains. On the coast, you’ll find beautiful sandy beaches, quiet resorts and labyrinthine lagoons. Support local communities and get to know your hosts by staying in an ecolodge or a homestay.
To plan a trip to Sri Lanka with the help of our experienced experts, get in touch with us at Rough Guides Tailor-Made Trips.
Traditional stilt fishing near Galle in Sri Lanka © Jaromir Chalabala/Shutterstock
14. Copenhagen, Denmark
This laidback capital city Copenhagen makes a brilliant weekend destination for a solo traveller. It’s a compact city that’s easy to explore on foot or by bike – there are cycle paths everywhere – there’s a lovely Scandi café culture, great art museums and cool, low-key nightlife. In summer, you could hit the nearby beaches, one of the harbour baths or an outdoor city pool for a swim.
Copenhagen is the ideal size to explore on foot and by bike © William Perugini/Shutterstock
15. The Greek Islands
Yes, there are party islands and whole coastlines dedicated to package tourism, but it’s easy to escape the crowds and find a lonely and unspoilt beach or traditional Hellenic village, particularly if you travel off-season and aim to stay with locals. The ferry timetables easy to work out, so spend time hopping between islands or zone in on somewhere like Crete and explore every inch.
You can use Rough Guides Trips and have a local expert plan and book you a fantastic getaway to Greece.
The seafront in Mykonos, Greece © Ella Hanochi/Shutterstock
16. Newfoundland, Canada
Wild and craggy, Newfoundland is dotted with remote traditional fishing settlements that have been there for centuries. St John’s – a lively port city with plenty of nightlife – is a great place to start any solo trip. Get “screeched in” on George Street, a touristy but fun initiation for all newcomers (which basically involves kissing a cod and drinking rum). But the real reason to visit is to find peace in the remote wilderness of the interior or spend time on the coast viewing icebergs, whales and seabirds.
Coastal cliffs on Cape St Mary in Newfoundland © Wildnerdpix/Shutterstock
17. Dubrovnik, Croatia
A historic walled city jutting out into the deep blue waters of the Adriatic, Dubrovnik has plenty to offer the solo traveller. Try to avoid high summer when cruise ships dock and passengers spill out into the narrow streets; the best times to visit are April and September when the weather is warm and the cafés and restaurants are open for the season. Walk the city walls, visit the islands by ferry and go sea kayaking around the stunning bay.
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Dubrovnik never fails to capture the imagination – just try to avoid visiting in high season © Michal Rosak/Shutterstock
18. Southwest USA
The American Southwest is famed for its spectacular landscapes and although there are pine forests and snow-capped mountains, the region’s best-known vista is the deep red sandstone desert dotted with flat-topped buttes and towering pinnacles. A range of great tours makes this the perfect place to strike out solo. You can even star in your own Western in Monument Valley, joining a horseback tour along the valley’s many trails. Be sure to stop at the viewpoints and photograph lengthening shadows in the atmospheric early morning or late afternoon light.
The spectacular colours of Monument Valley at sunset © Bill45/Shutterstock
19. The East Coast, Australia
Australia‘s east coast is a popular route with backpackers who typically travel overland in either direction between Melbourne and Cairns. It’s the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef and the Daintree Rainforest. It’s easy to meet fellow travellers on this stretch as everyone is in holiday mode, taking time to hang out in hippie retreats, surf towns and national parks. A great way to meet people is to join a sailing trip to the pristine Whitsunday Islands off the Queensland coast.
Looking for more tips? Check out our complete guide to solo travel in Australia. And for help with planning and booking a trip to Australia, speak to a local expert through our tail0r-made trips service.
Port Macquarie, New South Wales, Australia © DAE Photo/Shutterstock
20. Rajasthan, India
Rajasthan is a wonderful introduction to India if you’re travelling alone. The Land of Kings is packed with forts and palaces, it’s easy to travel between the major sites of Udaipur, Jaipur, Jodhpur and Jaisalmer, and you’ll be spoilt for choice for atmospheric and inexpensive places to stay and eat. Spend time in the desert on the back of a camel and don’t miss the camel fair in Pushkar (held in October or November).
Contact Rough Guides Trips to have a local expert organise you a trip to India.
Mehrangarh Fort and Jaswant Thada Mausoleum in Jaipur © Marcel Toung/Shutterstock
For more on solo travel, check out our podcast: What does solo female travel look like today?