The idea of traveling alone can be daunting if you've never taken a solo trip before. Checking in for your outbound flight is easy – it's only when you arrive alone in an unfamiliar destination that it all becomes real. But any initial doubts are fleeting. By the time you've checked into your hotel and hit the streets looking for your first meal, nerves will already be giving way to the thrill of being somewhere new.
A major factor in mastering the art of solo travel is selecting the right destination. Whether you're embarking on an epic multicountry trip or taking an impulsive city break, some places are more suitable for a solo travel experience than others. There are destinations that are naturally suited to solitude, and destinations where travelers are naturally thrown together, making it easy to meet new people.
Best of all, there are solo travel destinations in every corner of the globe, so you can take a solo trip in the depths of winter as easily as you can at the height of summer. Here are 10 sure-fire destinations for lone travelers, organized by interest. Whether you’re into raves, relaxation, hiking or sightseeing, these spots are certain to get your solo travel adventure off on the right foot.
South America: best for solo adventures
With mountains to climb, rivers to raft, ancient ruins to uncover and jungles to explore, South America is the ultimate adventure destination. And the northern hemisphere's winter is South America's summer – the prime time to visit Patagonia and the Andes. From well-trodden paths in Argentina, Chile and Brazil to virgin jungle trails in Ecuador and Colombia, the continent has something for every kind of adventurer. You'll certainly never struggle for company on the trek to Machu Picchu!
Don’t let the continent's size daunt you – with easy border crossings and well-established traveler hubs, South America is ideal for solo overlanding. The well-worn Gringo Trail, which takes in the continent’s most popular destinations, ensures recurring rendezvous with fellow adventurers and 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 solo travel simple.
Epic solo travel experience: Mountain biking down Bolivia’s infamous Death Road (the name is an exaggeration, in case you were worried) and debriefing with your fellow riders over a few beers afterward.
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 that Bali has a special magic. The island's artistic and spiritual center, Ubud, is where the author found love (and presumably ate and prayed) and it remains a wonderfully laid-back place for solo travelers to relax, reflect and recharge. And Bali is a year-round destination – summer is peak season, but the island has a quieter and calmer charm in winter.
Nestled among emerald rice fields ringed by mist-wrapped mountains, Ubud attracts throngs of solo travelers, meaning no probing glances if you arrive alone at a morning yoga class or ask for a table for one in 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 around town.
Epic solo travel experience: Getting up super early before the heat climbs to join a holistic class – you find lessons in everything from yoga and meditation, and you can follow up with a massage at a tried and tested spa such as Taksu Spa.
Berlin, Germany: best for nightlife
Some say you are more likely to get into Berghain, the most famous nightclub in Berlin, if you arrive alone. Whether or not that’s the case, the rumor demonstrates the German capital’s natural affinity for solo travelers. Legions of solo citybreakers are drawn by Berlin's deserved reputation as one of the friendliest, most inclusive cities in Europe, and by its famous nightlife.
Berlin is one of the best places in Europe to party, offering a collection of colossal clubs and graffiti-spattered beer gardens, but going clubbing is just one of many things to do in Berlin. Thought-provoking history surrounds you from the moment you arrive, from the Brandenburg Gate to the Holocaust Memorial, while quirky cafes, cool boutiques, weekend flea markets and a growing food-truck scene provide more leisurely delights. Berlin is an easy place to wander alone, or join a walking tour for some company.
Epic solo travel experience: Heading out to a bar or nightclub and seeing where the night takes you. For some guided imbibing, join a beer tour with Brewer's Berlin Tours or Berlin Craft Beer Experience.
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 were daunted by the logistics of tackling East Africa independently? A group tour can simplify the experience of visiting this stunning region of the world, and provide a buffer for the sometimes challenging experiences Africa can throw at first-timers.
East Africa’s tourism infrastructure is well developed and traveling solo in most countries here is quite achievable (particularly in Kenya and Tanzania), but joining a group tour means you can bundle together a string of big game-viewing safaris in multiple countries, without getting hit by additional lone traveler charges or facing the daunting prospect of arranging multiple tours and transport.
Best of all, tours in these bucket-list destinations attract a diverse group of travelers, meaning you’re much less likely to be the only solo traveler sandwiched between canoodling couples, or the only 20-something in a coach full of empty-nesters.
Singapore: best for a solo stopover
With all manner of cultural attractions to explore, a growing collection of hostels and guesthouses, loads of free things to do, and one of the world’s best public transport systems (including excellent airport links), there are few more stress-free solo travel experiences than landing at Singapore's award-winning Changi airport on a tropical afternoon.
Whether you choose to amble with an audio guide through the Chinatown Heritage Centre, gawp at the otherworldly Gardens by the Bay, plunge into a lavish rooftop pool, or join the hordes feasting in Singapore's hawker food courts, the city is perfectly suited to solo travel. An added bonus is the city's cosmopolitan attitude – locals don't bat an eyelid at the daily influx of international arrivals, and there are few hassles and scams to worry about.
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 such as 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.
Though English is not as widely spoken as in some European nations, it’s hard to feel lonely among the 14 million other tourists who visit this cultural hub each year. And solo dining means you only have to worry about keeping one palate happy in Rome's fabulous restaurants. But don’t pack too much into your itinerary, as Rome rewards relaxation; mingling with strangers over a glass of vino at sunset 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 artwork-filled halls that comprise the Vatican Museums.
Portland, Oregon: best city break
One of the USA's hippest hubs, Portland has all the cultural advantages of a major metropolis, but the down-home intimacy of a small town. This affable attitude reverberates in the town’s urban wineries, microbreweries and coffee shops, where conversation flows quicker than the drinks can be poured. And with its patchwork of small, friendly neighborhoods, it's easy to discover this easy-going city one district at a time.
There’s 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 popular bike-share scheme. And while Portland is famous for its artisan restaurants, a more sociable – and undeniably more fun – way to dine is at the city’s 500-or-so street food carts.
Epic solo travel experience: Exploring the Alberta Arts District; for the company of fellow art enthusiasts, time your visit to coincide with the Last Thursday art walk.
Chiang Mai, Thailand: best for food
It's a close-run thing, but for solo foodie travel, one destination stands above all others for travelers who view the world through the prism of a knife and fork. The capital of northern Thailand – and once the center of an independent kingdom – Chiang Mai offers the entire Thai package in one compact location: stellar food, rich culture, ancient ruins, responsible elephant encounters, relaxed nightlife and an easy-going traveler scene that's easy to plug into.
Every time of day is snack time in Chiang Mai. From the city's impressive northern Thai restaurants to its fun-filled and frenetic night markets and hole-in-the-wall restaurants serving the city's famous kow soi soup, the city always has a fork or spoon in hand. What makes Chiang Mai especially suited to solo travelers is its collection of cooking schools – ideal places to meet new people and learn how to cook up a perfect bowl of phat thai, green curry or hot and sour tom yam soup.
Epic solo travel experience: Learning to cook Thai food, of course! Most courses start with a market trip so you can learn to identify local ingredients before you start pounding herbs and spices to make your own curry paste (Small House Chiang Mai is one recommended school).
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 less commercialized 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 on teeming 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 and swordfish dinner!
Epic solo travel experience: Snorkeling or diving in the Caye Caulker Marine Reserve, which teems with turtles and small sharks.
East Coast Australia: best for road-tripping
It would actually be hard to explore the East Coast of Australia alone. So many travelers follow the snaking stretch of road that runs from Sydney to Cairns that solitude is often harder to find than companionship. For travelers in search of natural wonders, excellent infrastructure, abundant tours and group activities and raucous late-night revelry, there are few places to match it.
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, from lolling on Sydney’s iconic Bondi Beach to rambling through the ancient Daintree Rainforest or blowing bubbles on the Great Barrier Reef. Consider renting a car to explore – the most memorable moments will likely come from interactions with locals in coastal surf towns and one-pub villages in the Outback an hour or two inland from the coast.
Epic solo travel experience: Joining a tour with the East Coast's Indigenous people. Tours led by guides from Aboriginal communities will show you a less-seen side to this well-explored land.