Go solo: the 20 best places to travel alone

written by Rachel Mills
updated 5/7/2021
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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 2021 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.

Where to stay

Best for partying: Gili Beach Bum Hotel

Best for beachfront in Lombok: Cafe Alberto B and B

What to do

Best to explore Lombok: North Lombok Waterfall and Village Tour

Best for snorkeling: Gili Kondo, Kapal and Lampu from Lombok

Air Terjun Tiu Kelep waterfall near Rinjani, Senaru, Lombok, Indonesia © Michail_Vorobyev/Shutterstock

2. Cuba

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.

Where to stay

Best to meet others in Havana: Paradise Hostel Backpacker

Best for stays in Trinidad: Hostal Twins

What to do

Best to learn about the culture: Afro-Cuban religions walking tour in Havana

Best for a night out with friends: Cabaret Tropicana

Havana Capitol, Cuba © Bildagentur Zoonar GmbH/Shutterstock

3. Guatemala

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.

Where to stay

Best for relaxed stays in Antigua: Barbara's Boutique Hostel (adults only)

Best to discover Semuc Champey: El Portal de Champey

What to do

Best for an active adventure: Pocaya Volcano Trek from Antigua

Best for spirituality: Mayan ceremony at Lake Atitlan

4. Kenya

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).

Where to stay

Best in the CBD: Hillpark Hotel

Best for beach views: Sebbuleni Homestay Nyali

What to do

Best for Maasai Mara: 3 day tour from Nairobi

Best for getting to know the city: Storytelling tour with former street kids

A lion chases a herd of zebra in the Masai Mara National Reserve © GUDKOV ANDREY/Shutterstock

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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.

Where to stay

Best to meet people: Nomads Queenstown Backpackers

Best for nature views: YHA Wanaka

What to do

Best for scenery: Glowworm Cave Tour in Te Anau

Best for adventure: Zipline Tour in Christchurch

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.

Where to stay

Best to find new friends: Hostel One Sants

Best for views and a pool: Hotel Jazz

What to do

Best to find new friends: Barcelona Pub Crawl

Best for highlights of the city: Bike Tour including Sagrada Familia (from outside)

The Barri Gòtic (Old Town) of Barcelona © Francis XT/Shutterstock

7. Ireland

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.

Where to stay

Best for pub crawling in Dublin: Cassidy's Hotel

Best to discover Galway: The Nest Boutique Hostel

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What to do

Best for views: Cliffs of Moher cruise

Best for connoisseurs: Jameson Whiskey Tour in Cork

8. Nepal

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.

Where to stay

Best for a cozy atmosphere: Thamel Hostel in Kathmandu

Best for a treat in Pokhara: Hotel Barahi

What to do

Best for foodies: Nepalese Cooking Class in Bhaktapur

Best for incredible views: Tandem Paragliding in Pokhara

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.

Where to stay

Best to stay close to Broadway: HI NYC Hostel

Best for a splurge: MOXY NYC Times Square

What to do

Best for foodies: Underground Donut Tour

Best for first timers: Sunset cruise to Statue of Liberty

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.

Where to stay

Best to make new friends: Grids Sapporo Hotel & Hostel

Best for the capsule hotel experience in a ski resort: The Lodge Moiwa 834

What to do

Get to know Japanese food on a private and personalised 'Eat like a local' tour.

Lavender Field at Tomita Farm, Furano, Hokkaido, Japan © Phubet Juntarungsee/Shutterstock

11. Jordan

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.

Where to stay

Best to splurge in Petra: Petra Bubble Luxotel

Best to get to know people: Hostel 1930 in Amman

What to do

Best for those with limited time in Jordan: Full day tour to Petra from Amman

Best for a private experience: Dead Sea Experience with Lunch from Amman

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.

Where to stay

Best for beach front in Koh Lanta: Peaceful Resort Koh Lanta

Best to make friends in Koh Samui: Timeless Hostel

What to do

Best for a fun day out: 4 WD Tour in Koh Samui

Best for water fans: Snorkeling Day from Koh Lanta by Catamaran

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.

Where to stay

Best beachfront in Galle: Ramya Ru Beach Home

Best for socializing in Kandy: Sizzlers Hub

What to do

Best for foodies: Eating with a local tour in Colombo

Best for seeing elephants: Day Safari from Ella to Yala National Park

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.

Where to stay

Best for making new friends: Danhostel Copenhagen City

Best for location: WakeUp Copenhagen - Borgergade

What to do

Best for first time visitors: Old Town Walking Tour

Best for a relaxing afternoon: 1-hour Canal Cruise

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.

Where to stay

Best to party in Mykonos: MyCocoon Hostel

Best to chill in Crete: Balos Beach

What to do

Best to stay active on Crete: Full Day Trek to Samaria Gorge

Best for beach lovers in Crete: Full Day Tour Gramvousa Island and Balos Bay

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.

Where to stay

Best for a homestay in nature: AURA in Riverhead

Best for views: Oceanside Cabins in Bonavista

What to do

Best for sea adventures: Puffin & Whale Watching Cruise

Best for the curious mind: Manuels River Interpretation Center

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.

Where to stay

Best for socializing: Hostel Angelina Old Town

Best to splurge: Hotel Lero

What to do

Best for Game of Thrones fans: Walking Tour with hidden walls

Best for an active day out: Sea Kayaking

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.

Where to stay

Best for the Grand Canyon: Grand Canyon Inn and Motel - South Rim Entrance

Best to stay close to Monument Valley: Desert Rose Resort & Cabins

What to do

Best way to spend an evening: Sunset Tour in Monument Valley

Best views of the Grand Canyon: Scenic flight over the Canyon

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.

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).

Where to stay

Best to make new friends: Zostel Jaipur

Best to splurge: Taj Lake Palace in Udaipur

What to do

For an unforgettable experience: Hot Air Balloon Ride in Jaipur

Best for foodies: Street Food Tour with a local guide

Mehrangarh Fort and Jaswant Thada Mausoleum in Jaipur © Marcel Toung/Shutterstock

Ready to go but prefer an organised tour?

Our tailor-made trips service is ready to take you to over 70 destinations worldwide, all with the help of carefully selected professional local experts. These experts are based in the destination(s) of your choice and organise full service trips: accommodation, transportation, and experiences. As the majority of these tours are privately guided, it is aimed at those with little time to plan but a thirst to really get to know a place. Those on a limited budget may be better off with our guidebooks for the selected destination.

For more on solo travel, check out our podcast: What does solo female travel look like today?

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written by Rachel Mills
updated 5/7/2021
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Rachel Mills is a freelance writer, editor and broadcaster based by the sea in Kent. She is a co-author for Rough Guides to New Zealand, India, Canada, Ireland and Great Britain a contributor to Telegraph Travel, the Independent, AFAR, DK Eyewitness and loveEXPLORING.com and an expert in sustainable, responsible tourism. Follow her @rachmillstravel on Twitter and Instagram and listen to her show Over Here on ramsgateradio.com.

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