I am a fierce advocate of solo travel. I used to think it weird or lonely to travel alone and now I can hardly even remember feeling that way. I’ve traveled to over a dozen countries and almost every trip has been a solo adventure. Traveling with people is great, but traveling alone allows you to really find yourself, do exactly what you want, and be a little bit selfish.
I was so scared before I took my first solo adventure. I was worried about safety, boredom, and loneliness. I didn’t know anyone who had traveled alone, so I also felt a little bit out of place.
The truth is solo travel is empowering. I reached out to fellow solo travel experts and polled them to find out where their favorite solo travel destination is. If you need a little inspiration, check out this list of the 20 best places to visit in 2020 as a solo traveler!
Amsterdam is filled to the brim with young travelers, which makes it a perfect destination for the first-time solo traveler. In Amsterdam, you’ll meet every kind of person. Stag & hen parties, history buffs, museum connoisseurs, chilled-out stoners, and partiers all merge effortlessly in Amsterdam. I felt completely safe walking around the ‘Dam at night. English is used all-over, so you’ll have no issue if you don’t happen to speak any Dutch.
The Netherlands isn’t known as a food destination which is a shame because Dutch food is delicious. Visit Winkel 43 and try their apple pie. Definitely get the whipped cream – you won’t regret it! I recommend going during odd hours because this place gets packed!
Submitted by Pam of The Directionally Challenged Traveler.
Ireland is a perfect destination for a solo traveler – with its friendly locals, delicious food and drinks, and rich history – what’s not to love? The capital city of Dublin is an eclectic mixture of everything Ireland has to offer and should be on every traveler’s bucket list. The city is mostly flat and walkable so you can ease into a calm atmosphere. Learn to pour the perfect pint at the Guinness Storehouse, or take in the sites like St. Patrick’s Cathedral! It’s perfect for solo travelers because there is a pub on every corner, usually stocked with locals who are proud of where they are from. The locals can provide recommendations for things to do and see, tell you a story from their past, or dance with you to the live music typically permeating from any pub.
One of my favorite stops as a solo traveler was the Church – a church renovated into a bar and café. Most nights they feature live music and traditional Irish dancing!
Submitted by Supal Desai at Chevrons and Eclairs.
Hamburg is one of those cities that is big enough to offer so much variety in food and culture, but also small enough to explore easily by foot! I think Hamburg is a great place for solo travelers because it’s a city that has such a community focus. They make their own sodas and drinks, try to limit exports, and really embrace their city. I think that’s why the Hamburg people are so warm and open, making it a great place to meet new people all whilst seeing a new city. For me, aspects that make a city great for solo travel are: the easy of getting around on your own, how safe the city is, whether the city is known for friendly locals who don’t mind giving a bit of help, and the number of sights to see and experiences to have. Hamburg is not limited on any of these and it makes it a great time for anyone!
It’s not advertised, but I definitely recommend going to St. Petri’s Church and climbing the 544 step tower to see a 360 view of the city from above!
Submitted by Imani of Imani Escapes.
Gdańsk is a beautiful port city in Northern Poland with a rich history and culture. Gdańsk is home to stunning old town architecture reminiscent of Amsterdam, plenty of good food, an abundance of amber and museums about the city’s World War II and Solidarity history. Gdańsk is great for solo travelers because it is safe, very affordable, the locals are very friendly and it’s easy to get around. It’s location in Poland combined with Poland’s great train system makes it a perfect stop on a larger Europe Inter-railing trip.
Take a half-day trip to Zaspa, a built-up residential area with an outdoor gallery of 60 colorful murals from street artists all over the world.
Budapest surprised me. I ended up getting stranded for 4 extra days due to a monumental Lufthansa strike and I was worried that I would end up bored, but thankfully that never happened. Hungarians were, in my experience, so friendly and the city felt so safe. Plus there’s so much to do! Check out the thermal spas, tour the Parliament building, check out the caves where Dracula was held prisoner, and enjoy Hungary’s annual birthday cake. You could easily spend 5 days in Budapest and not see everything the city has to offer!
Go check out the Hospital in the Rock museum up on Buda Hill. I am NOT a museum person at all and I absolutely loved this museum. It’s more of an interactive tour, so check the website and check to see when tours are done in your language before going!
Submitted by Emma at Shy Girl Adventures.
Paris may not be a location that would jump out at anyone as an obvious solo travel destination, but don’t count it out. Paris is a fantastic city to visit and the perfect chance to romance yourself – no need for anyone else!
My favourite moments were strolling down the Seine and wandering the picturesque arrondissements of Le Marais and Montmartre. Paris is perfectly suited to the two best solo travel activities: wandering and people-watching. They even have a special title for those who wander: the Flaneur! The infinite variety of life in Paris means you can never be bored.
Forget about achieving the perfect Eiffel Tower pic (I was way too intimidated by the professional photographers to attempt any dodgy selfies) and focus on soaking up the chic Parisienne vibes.
Paris might be for romantics but it’s also for lovers of beauty, culture, art and architecture. The hardest part is choosing what to leave out the itinerary!
Don’t cram too much in! With a city like Paris it’s tempting to see EVERYTHING but you will end up with very tired feet! Skim out certain things for the next trip – Paris will still be there waiting for you to return.
And a note on safety – I felt very safe and comfortable in Paris. One of the main things to look out for is the scammers waving clipboards at you in tourist areas (usually around the Eiffel Tower). They may ask if you speak English – the easiest thing is to say non merci and keep walking.
Submitted by Riana at Teaspoon of Adventure.
I visited Stockholm this summer on a solo trip and I think it’s the perfect place for solo travel, especially in the summer. Stockholm is a very safe city and English is widely spoken, so you won’t have any trouble getting around. It’s also beautiful and there’s so much to do! When I’m travelling alone, I prefer to fill my days with lots of activities and Stockholm is the perfect place for that. You can stroll the old town, explore the beautiful palace, take a cruise, check out some of the fun museums and markets, and sit down for fika – the Swedish tradition of taking time out of your day to relax and treat yourself to a pastry and coffee.
I’m usually not a big museum person but Stockholm has some of the coolest and most interesting museums ever! You definitely don’t want to miss Fotografiska, an incredible photography museum with a cafe that offers some of the best views in Stockholm. There’s also Vasa, where you can see a ginormous and fully intact viking ship, or the ABBA Museum, recognizing Sweden’s favourite singing group. And one more tip: make sure to grab a meal at Meatballs for the People!
Submitted by Jacoba at Travel with Co.
Peru is the perfect place to travel to as a starting solo traveler. It’s very easy to travel around by public transport and there are tons of hostels where you’ll meet plenty of other solo travelers. My favorite city in Peru was Cusco. It has a gorgeous historic city center which is perfect for wandering around and getting lost. And if you like hiking, there are many places in the area to explore.
One of my favorite day hikes was the one to Sacsayhuamán, the ruins of an ancient fort on top of the hills right outside Cusco. It’s quite a climb (especially when you’re not used to the altitude yet, Cusco is located at 3400 meters), but the view from the top is spectacular. The fort itself is a beautiful sight as well.
Submitted by Katie of What’s Katie Doing?
Athens is a great city to visit solo. The actual city is easy to walk around and navigate whilst exploring, with some hidden places to discover. Athens is set up for tourists, but you can still find authentic restaurants and also cool spots to hang with the locals, which is easy to do solo. You may even end up making new friends. As in all big cities, some caution is required when walking around after dark and at late night. I loved spotting all the street art among the more traditional architecture and historic buildings.
My top tip is to do a food tour with a local guide. This will show you some unique spots that you can then check out later and introduce you to the city and culture via the food. Meals and eating are very important to the Greeks! It’s also a good way to make like-minded friends if you want to find people to hang out with.
Iceland is the first place I visited as a solo traveler and it was an easy, magical experience. Iceland felt almost like a snowglobe – beautiful & safe from the bad things in the outside world. I spent 5 days in Reykjavik and only barely scratched the surface of all the country offers. During my time in Iceland, I hiked a volcanic glacier, hot tubbed in the middle of a snowstorm, touched tectonic plates, and even ate rotted shark. I credit my great experience in Iceland with giving me the confidence to travel elsewhere solo.
Check out the Grillmarkaðurinn for a really awesome dining experience. It’s the first restaurant I splurged at and it taught me that fish prepared well can be delicious. The ambiance was great and the food was even better. I recommend it to my friends whenever they travel to Iceland!
George Town, Penang
Submitted by Razena Schroeder of Tantalise My Tastebuds.
George Town, the capital city of the Malaysian state of Penang, is a mix of colonial, pre-and post-war and modern architectural influences. The oldest part of the historic center is a charming UNESCO World Heritage site that is small enough to be walkable.
There is a laid back coffee culture vibe in old George Town, where chic and trendy boutique hotels have transformed run down shophouses into valuable real estate. I have spent many pleasurable hours strolling around George Town photographing murals and street art, beautiful colonial buildings and dilapidated shophouses and marveled at the colors of a George Town sunset, wondering whether my eyes were deceiving me.
George Town residents have resisted the South East Asian move towards corralling all street vendors into sterile air-conditioned hawker centers and retains an authentic street food ambiance. Whatever your craving you are sure to find it from the carts and cafes of Little India to the busy eateries in Chinatown. If street food doesn’t appeal then the Kabaya Dining Room in Stewart Lane offers modern interpretations of beloved local dishes.
A must-do on any Penang itinerary is enjoying the street food. Penang is home to Chinese, Peranakan (Chinese / Malay), Indian and ethnic Malay communities who have flourished here for generations and still retain the customs, traditions and food culture of their forbears. In the past decade, it has become the foremost foodie capital in the country and a place renowned for its cosmopolitan culture and multi-ethnic cuisine.
Submitted by Merryl Fernandes of Merryl’s Travel and Tricks.
Porto is a beautiful city and definitely perfect for solo travelers for many reasons, but the fact that it is absolutely safe and people are extremely helpful and kind might have to be the top two reasons why the city and the country see so many solo travelers. During my visit to the city earlier this year, I actually ended up making a lot of new friends, fellow solo travelers from various parts of the world and we ended up having the best time celebrating the festival of São João in the city. I highly recommend visiting the city during that time as you really get a feel of the local culture and traditions. I even had the opportunity to meet some locals and their passion for the city was highly infectious which made me fall all the more in love with this colorful city. Other than that, Portugal is one of the more affordable European countries and definitely suited for budget travelers and backpackers.
Afurada is a fishing village about a 15 minute drive from Porto with some of the freshest and tastiest seafood around. Armazem dio Peixe is the restaurant I visited here which came highly recommended by a local guide, and believe me it was some of the best seafood I ate in the city.
Submitted by Stacia of Stumble Safari.
Lisbon is an incredible place to visit solo for a number of reasons. The city is incredibly friendly, so I never felt lonely or out of place on my own. I easily made friends at the hostel I stayed at. It’s a perfect city to just walk around and enjoy the sights, food, and history at your own pace. Lisbon is super easy to navigate as well, and I never felt unsafe, even at night. Lisbon is well known for food such as tinned seafood, warm custard tarts, and sour cherry liquor served in dark chocolate shot glasses. All three foods are absolute musts, as well as visiting the stunning castles nearby and the creepy Prazeres Cemetery. The city of Sintra is just a quick train ride away, and is chock full of castles, huge estates, and stunning views as well!
You must try a custard tart. It was difficult to pick just one local food to try, but a fresh custard tart is to die for in Lisbon. You can find them in bakeries all over the city for as little as €1! Lisbon is famous for them, and for good reason.
I was really nervous about visiting Prague. I had struggled a bit in western Europe and was really worried that there would be an even more dramatic language barrier in central Europe. I quickly discovered, however, that Prague is warm, welcoming, and super easy to visit as a solo traveler! There are so many different things to do, from exploring Old Town Square to talking awesome walking tours around the Castle to eating the tasty food (I LIVE for trdelnik!). I easily spent 5 days here and can’t wait to go back.
Check out the Choco Cafe for the BEST hot chocolate I’ve had EVER. There are two locations and they are located near each other. If one is crowded, just meander over to the other location. Get the milk chocolate hot chocolate with a splash of brandy – delish!
Submitted by Katie of The Katie Show Blog.
The Kingdom of Tonga is the perfect destination for solo travelers who want a beach vacation away from the crowds. There are a number of islands to choose from, but my tip is to visit the small island of ‘Eua. To get there you can take one of the world’s shortest commercial flights at only 7 minutes. Once there, you can experience an untouched paradise. You can explore the hikes and caves, wander around taking photos of the pigs that roam the streets, or simply relax on the beach.
The biggest highlight is the opportunity to snorkel alongside Humpback whales with one of the only local tour operators in the country – the whale whisperer, Kiko. Whales are important in Tongan culture and when you see the respect and connection he has with them, it adds a meaningful layer to what is already an incredible experience.
Submitted by Daniela of Daniela Travels.
Riga is one of my favorite cities to travel to in Europe. This 818 year-old city in Latvia is an under-the-radar travel destination without many tourists. My favorite activity was to take a walking tour guided by a local to the well-known Art Nouveau neighborhood. Each one of these stunning buildings has a story to tell, giving Riga the nickname of the “Metropolis of Art Nouveau.” There are hundreds buildings to admire! Riga is an excellent destination for any season of the year; it’s currency exchange will also allow your budget to go further.
After your walk around town, make sure to stop at the BakeBerry bakery and coffee shop, a paradise for any traveler with a sweet tooth.
Submitted by Julia Dent Bocchese of Through Julia’s Lens.
I absolutely LOVE Denmark as a solo female traveler. Not only is it a beautiful country, but I always feel completely safe when traveling all over the country. I think all of Denmark is great for solo travelers, and Copenhagen is especially fantastic. Copenhagen is always near the top of the list of safest cities in the world, which I would have to agree with. I lived in Copenhagen for a few months, and I love it so much I try to visit as often as I can! If you’re an English speaker, most Danes are fluent in English and able to help you if you need it (I have asked for directions many times), the transportation system is great and very clean and safe.
One of my favorite things to do in a city is get views from the top, and Copenhagen has some awesome towers you can climb. Many people know about the famous twisting spire at the Church of Our Saviour or the Round Tower in the heart of Copenhagen, but I think the best place for views that not as many people know about is the tower on Christiansborg Palace. Not only is it completely free AND it has an elevator so you don’t have to climb scary narrow steps, but the views are spectacular! I especially love that you get to see the top of the Stock Exchange building with the spire with three dragons. If you’re going to visit Copenhagen, you can’t miss that view!
Submitted by Brodie of Aussie in Wanderlust.
Tasmania has long been living in the shadows of other well known Australian tourist destinations such as Sydney, Melbourne, and the Great Barrier Reef but as of late this beautiful southern island is really growing in popularity both from Australian and international visitors alike.
It such an easy place to travel in as a solo traveler regardless of how you decide to see it. You can easily rent a car and drive around the island, stay in the capital city of Hobart for a weekend escape or organize a hiking trip to one of the amazing destinations it has on offer. This area really is just all about relaxing, no one is in a rush, the locals are friendly, and the food is made from local fresh produce including seafood, beef, and vegetables.
If you visit Tasmania then one place that is a must to visit is the area of Freycinet National Park, Coles Bay. It is home to an amazing beach with white sand and crystal blue water lapping up to it. There is a small hike to a lookout at the top that offers incredible views over the whole area, be sure to take your camera. If your really into your hiking then a multi-day trek around this area is also highly recommended.
Guanajuato City, Mexico
Submitted by Kay of the Awkward Traveler.
Guanajuato City, Mexico is a fantastic city for a solo traveler, especially for someone’s first time in Mexico. Guanajuato City is one of the most colorful cities in Mexico, and of the world, as each building boasts a new bright shade through its tight alleys and charming corridors. The city is a college town, so the squares are lively and upbeat, with mariachi bands battling away every night – after they serenade restaurant diners with beautiful love songs. Guanajuato is an extremely walkable city, but in case you get tired, ridesharing services (like Uber) are readily available. If you don’t have cell phone service, hailing a taxi is just as easy and the exact same price.
Since Guanajuato IS in Mexico, the official language is Spanish, but most service workers also know their way around English, so you can get by with just English fairly easily. Guanajuato is also a popular destination for Japanese tourists, so the city feels relatively diverse and no one will stare at you for not being Hispanic or Latino.
One MUST-DO activity in Guanajuato would definitely be spending the afternoon with the callejonada. Imagine an interactive musical mixed with a walking tour as they tell local legends and sing traditional songs.
Submitted by Mary Blatchford at The Travel Journal.
Dubrovnik was the first place I ever travelled to solo. Anything that you do for the first time is bound to be a little nerve-wracking, and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous before going on this trip. But as soon as I landed in Dubrovnik airport, took a bus to the Old Town and began exploring the streets of Dubrovnik I felt totally at ease. The people are lovely, the architecture is beautiful and the food is fabulous. I loved travelled solo to Dubrovnik. I had the time and freedom to look around at my own pace. I ate a meal at a restaurant by myself for the first time ever, and loved it.
Dubrovnik is great for solo travellers, especially anxious solo travellers because everyone is so friendly. With such a lot of other tourists milling around as well you feel that everyone is in the same boat, lapping up the sun and enjoying the experience.
If you’re visiting Dubrovnik you must take the opportunity of dining at Dubravka just outside the city walls. The food is amazing but reasonably priced and you can dine with one of the best views around.
If you’ve never traveled solo, 2020 is your year! Don’t let your fears get in your way. If you are comfortable traveling solo, the world is your oyster (and it makes you a bit of a badass!).
Regardless of if you’re a frequent solo traveler or still waiting to make the leap, this list should inspire you to visit one of these 20 places in 2020 as a solo traveler!
Have you traveled solo? Where would you recommend a first-timer go? Comment below!