It’s one of the last great travel adventures: not travelling anywhere in particular but travelling everywhere – by yourself.
When travelling solo, your reward is complete freedom. You, and you alone, decide where to go and exactly what you’ll do when you get there. Going solo also promises another, highly rewarding journey: a voyage within, the chance to find out who you are.
These six places, as the booking stats bear out, especially suit lone travellers because there’s plenty of stuff to do there while blending in with the crowd or conversely – if you want to – making friends.
We’ve also highlighted budgeting opportunities in each destination to weigh against single supplements and other penalties that solo travellers sometimes have to bear.
Cosmopolitan, cultured and decidedly pretty: it’s hard to think of a better city than Amsterdam to explore on your own. ebookers data reveals the Dutch capital to have been the most popular destination for solo travellers last year.
This canal-lined, cobbled metropolis is perfect for days of solo wandering from museum to gallery. The Anne Frank Museum is moving and unmissable; the Rijksmuseum is stuffed to the rafters with Rembrandts and Vermeers. Finish the day with a stop at a cheery ‘brown cafe’ traditional pub.
Go Dutch, if the weather’s fine, and rent a bike. It’ll only enhance that delicious solo travelling perk – a sense of utter freedom.
Find good, cheap street food at Albert Cuyp Market. And, if you’re hankering for company, Volkshotel – as its name suggests – encourages guess to meet other… folk at its onsite nightclub and bar.
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With more hours of sunshine than any other European city, beaches nearby, dinky funicular railways and some of the most sinfully delicious pastries on the planet, Lisbon offers sensory pleasures for solo travellers to savour to the max.
Stay in the ancient Alfama quarter of this city older than London, Paris and Rome, with locals’ washing strung across its ant’s nest of streets. Chiado is another, buzzing place to stay; Pena, still convenient, is more tranquil.
An elegant 19th-century funicular elevator ride is an essential experience in this hilly city; so is a trip to gargoyle-crawling Jerónimos Monastery, whose sumptuous botanical stone carvings evoke Portugal’s New World ‘discoveries’ of 500 years ago.
In the same neighbourhood, the legendary custard tarts of the Pastéis de Belém bakery – their gooiness and chewiness irresistibly intermingled – must have sorely tempted a monk or two. Find more substantial, and cheap, traditional grub around Rua das Gáveas.
Work it all off on a hired-bike ride to sunny (and sometimes windy) beaches a half an hour or so from central Lisbon.
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Throbbing: with heat in the summer, with the fervour of legendary festivals in spring, with bass beats all year at clubs that don’t finish until 7am. That’s Seville: a sensual city where the solo traveller can observe from the sidelines or throw themselves in.
Visit around Easter, for the stirring processions of Holy Week – Semana Santa – or the Feria de Abril. At the former, see ancient wooden sculptures of the crucifixion and a grieving Virgin Mary on parade; at the latter, women in colourful flamenco-style dresses and men in traditional cropped jackets fill the streets.
Other sights in this city ruled by Muslims for 500 years include the fascinating fusion that is La Giralda: the city cathedral’s bell tower, originally a minaret.
Get a Seville card or use the Sevici public cycling system for cheap travel, fill up at lunch with a menu del dia (price-conscious dish of the day) and, to stay in, choose an atmospheric old pensione in the Jewish Quarter.
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Get ahead of the travelling pack, and discover one of the genuinely friendliest cities in Europe: the capital of Georgia, Tbilisi.
With new direct flights from the UK, Tbilisi’s coming into its own. Do the intrepid solo travel thing and explore this rambunctious, book, wine and food-loving city before it risks being overwhelmed.
There’s plenty to explore here: streets of elegantly crumbling old balcony houses, a Zoroastrian fire temple, burgeoning ‘art cafes’ where the cool crowd gathers to sip buckthorn juice cocktails and admire challenging art (and each other).
As for that hospitality, prepare to be welcomed, lone stranger, into other strangers’ houses after a minute’s conversation. Who cares that such bonhomie is often fuelled by a shot glass or three of the cheerfully named local firewater, chacha?
Oh, and did we mention that it’s cheap? Try bus rides for 20p and £2 taxi fares; a decent hotel room should set you back only around £40.
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Thirteen million people sounds like a population to get lost among – and many a solo traveller likes a little anonymity – but in Buenos Aires that equates to almost as many people dying to engage you in a heart-to-heart.
Like Tbilisi, the Argentinian capital actually bears out that hoary travel cliche about “friendly locals”. Here, though, psychotherapy – rather than home-brewed spirits – might sometimes be responsible. Buenos Aires’ inhabitants are reputedly among the most therapy-prone on Earth, and it seems to show in a welcome proclivity for joining complete strangers in conversation.
When you’re not chatting, the city’s attractions include the house of fantastical national tail-spinner Jorge Luis Borges and the dramatic Cementerio de la Recoleta, where Eva Perón lies among the film-set crypts and tombs.
Peerlessly flavourome and juicy steak – try bife de chorizo – with equally irresistible wine makes an implausibly cheap repast on virtually every Buenos Aires street corner.
Palermo and Recoleta are characterful neighbourhoods to stay in, San Telmo and Palermo Soho the locus of non-touristy nightlife.
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If the lone traveller – the lone backpacker, in particular – is going to pick up travelling companions anywhere, it’s got to be in Bangkok. All roads, at least all Southeast Asian roads, end up here – in particular, it often seems, at the non-stop party and naff t-shirt vending joint of Khao San Road.
But the Thai capital has so much more to offer if sharing tales with variously addled westerners isn’t your thing. For one thing, this is a culinary cornucopia: zinging-fresh local dishes are cheap, varied and ubiquitous at the city’s street and floating markets.
There’s ample soul food, too, on offer at Bangkok’s 500 Buddhist temples, such as the magnificent Wat Arun. Or goggle at the Grand Palace’s Emerald Buddha, carved from a single block of the precious stone.
Moreover, one Bangkok attraction possibly beats any other worldwide when it comes to that quintessential solo travel activity, market-browsing. With more than 8,000 stalls, Chatuchak weekend market will answer your shopping needs whether you’re after vintage Levis, an ‘antique chest’ or just a live python to keep you company on the trail.
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