Many people are a bit hesitant when it comes to traveling alone and although it does come with a few more challenges than traveling with a partner, friends, or family, the perks of heading out on your own are immeasurable. When you travel by yourself, you get the opportunity to do exactly what YOU want to do. Rather than being scared of it, open up your arms and embrace it in a big bear hug! And these solo travel destinations are just the places to get your feet wet … or sandy … or firmly planted atop a mountain summit.
Do you want to spend an entire day staring at the Birth of Venus in Florence’s Uffizi Museum like someone we know? (OK, it was me!) Do you want to have that extra glass of wine while pondering over the roller coaster of life? Do you want to lie around on the beach all day? You do you! Seriously, if this is one of the only times in your life that you can do what you want, isn’t it the perfect time to just go for it, for once?
When you finally have the chance to do what you want versus what other people around you or society expects you to do, you open yourself up for a world of opportunities to learn about … well, yourself … and the world around you. There is a high chance that this will begin to shape and reshape you over and over again along the way and that is perfectly ok. Life is all about growing, changing, and adapting so isn’t this just good practice for life in general?
While this may sound a bit philosophical, trust me on this one. I have traveled through 125 countries—most of them as a solo female traveler—and I would never change this experience for all the money in the world. Were there times when I was lonely? Sure. Scared? Yep. Sick and desperately wishing there was someone to take care of me? Absolutely. But in the end, those moments are nothing compared to everything that I got out of the experiences that I had.
Embark On a Solo Scavenger Hunt
Scavenger hunts provide a unique opportunity to see incredible sights and learn a bit more about landmarks. Our options are crafted by explorers who know exactly how to make each experience memorable, and tickets can be redeemed in any one of our 400 cities worldwide. Try one on your next trip!
The Best Solo Travel Destinations
I hope that I have convinced you by now how amazing and life-changing solo travel can be. So without further ado, below you will find a list of some of my favorite destinations for solo travelers along with a few handy travel tips thrown in. Whether you are embarking on your solo trip as a backpacker or as a luxury seeker, the below destinations are sure to thrill, teach, relax, or develop you.
To make them easier to digest, I have divided them into “categories” but keep in mind that a place is what you make of it and very few places in the world can really be put into just one bucket.
Disclaimer: Every place on this list is safe for solo female travelers and I have traveled through all of them. You need to keep an eye on your surroundings the same way that you would at home and don’t take unnecessary risks and you should have no issues. Don’t go to nightclubs alone, never walk through dark alleyways or parks late at night, always watch your drink, etc.
One more thing, there is no “right” or “wrong” way to travel alone. During your trip, you will probably run into people who think their way is the only way to travel and be a bit condescending about what you are doing. I once met a Spanish guy in the mountains of northern Pakistan who was very judgemental that I was with a guide and then proceeded to claim that he rode a bike alone through Afghanistan (*eye roll*). The important thing with solo travel is that you do what is right for you. Go to the places that feel right, skip the ones that don’t. This is your journey and when you start changing it based on what people think you should be doing, you begin to lose part of the magic of it.
Destinations for Culture Vultures
Traveling is an incredible way to learn about cultures around the world. From the different foods that people eat to the way that they live, travel is a great way to open your eyes to the fact that although there are different ways of doing things, at the end of the day, we pretty much are all the same with the same goals, dreams, and aspirations.
Below is a list of some of the best destinations for people who love to immerse themselves in other cultures. Whether you consider yourself a foodie who loves to check out new restaurants, cafes, and street food stalls, a creative soul who can spend hours in art museums and art galleries, or a shop ’til you drop type of traveler who adores checking out local boutiques and markets, you are sure to find something to suit your fancy in these fantastic destinations.
New York City
As one of the cultural hubs of the USA, New York City needs little introduction. NYC has everything that a 21st-century culture vulture could ask for. Broadway shows featuring A-list actors, world-class art museums, some of the world’s most iconic buildings, and a vibrant culinary scene blend together to create a cornucopia of attractions including everything from walking tours of the New York Public Library to interesting exhibitions featuring avant-garde artists. Let’s Roam also offers a number of great scavenger hunts in the city which will help you learn a lot more about the area and have a great time doing it! New York City is the perfect place for a long weekend getaway and you can do a surprising amount there within a short time period.
Although visiting New York City can be pricey due to the high cost of accommodation, it is possible to save money thanks to the robust public transportation system that allows you to get anywhere in the city 24/7 for less than the price of a Starbucks coffee and the city’s never-ending supply of 99 cent pizza shops. There are hostels scattered throughout Manhattan and, although they can’t really be considered “cheap,” they do provide an alternative to the hundreds-of-dollars-a-night hotels.
While many people think of Mexico as primarily a “beach” destination, it is actually a magical place for culture vultures. With cosmopolitan cities full of fantastic restaurants and enthralling museums like Mexico City and Guadalajara, hundreds of charming small towns, and an incredible diversity of food that is sure to make you loosen your belt at least a few times when you are there, you can spend weeks traveling around the country and always find something new.
Mexico has a lot to offer visitors but sadly, many people choose to skip it because of a perceived safety issue. While there are parts of Mexico where you definitely do not want to go, most of these places are around the US-Mexico border and are not places that a tourist would accidentally end up. As there have been a few spats of violence along the Riviera Maya, Mexico has picked up security measures immensely to help protect visitors. It has also become a popular destination for digital nomads and you will find plenty of other foreigners in places like Mexico City, Guadalajara, Playa del Carmen, Merida, and Guanajuato.
Personally, I traveled alone through Mexico for close to a year visiting most parts of the country, and never had any issues. However, it is a good idea to brush up on your high school Spanish skills before you start heading off the beaten track!
As far as European destinations go, Italy is one of the best places to immerse yourself in the culture. With some of the world’s most famous museums, mouth-watering food and wine, ancient ruins, and a dreamlike landscape, Italy offers an incredible array of experiences that seem like they are something that happens in a movie rather than in real life.
With a wide range of accommodation options including everything from hostels to opulent mansions as well as a highly developed train system, and high-quality groceries at a reasonable price, Italy can be done as luxuriously or inexpensively as you want. Thanks to the plethora of international trains and the open borders of the Schengen zone, it is also easy to combine a trip to Italy with another country in Europe such as Switzerland, Austria, Germany, or France. Just try to avoid traveling there in August as many Italians head out on vacation then and you will find the beaches overflowing with people and many of the cities seemingly deserted with lots of the “local” businesses (i.e. ones that are not targeting tourists) closed. It is also an incredibly popular time for American tourists to visit so the places that are open will be thronged with people.
Rolling green hills, cozy pubs, Celtics ruins, romantic castles, and welcoming towns—the Emerald Isle is hard not to fall in love with. Ireland has a lot to offer solo travelers and it couldn’t be easier thanks to the highly developed tourism infrastructure. From the picturesque and vibrant city of Dublin, the capital city of the Republic of Ireland, you can get to the enchanting medieval town of Kilkenny, the waterside cities of Cork and Galway, or head up to Northern Ireland to see the magnificent octagonal landscape of the Giant’s Causeway.
You can get around most areas using the public transportation system or you can always rent a car and drive if you feel comfortable driving on the left-hand side of the road (it isn’t that difficult to switch from the right to the left, I promise!). This is a great way to travel through the country as you get a chance to stop in all the old towns and charming villages that you want!
Like Mexico, Thailand is often considered a “beach” destination thanks to its long coastline of white-sand beaches and numerous islands that feel a little bit like being in paradise. However, this Southeast Asian gem is quite a heavy hitter when it comes to cultural attractions with thousands of magnificent temples, and palaces that are just waiting to be explored. Most travelers enter the country via Bangkok, the cosmopolitan capital city home to the sparkling Royal Palace and the shiny Reclining Buddha. Just over an hours’ bus ride away, you can visit the ruins of Ayutthaya, the former capital of the Kingdom of Siam. Chiang Mai beckons from northern Thailand with its rolling green hills and 117 Buddhist temples.
Thailand, and the surrounding countries, have a great tourism infrastructure full of English-speaking employees and in some ways, it feels like one of the easiest places to travel through. It is a great place to visit if it is your first time going to Asia.
As one of the world’s oldest civilizations, India is a treasure trove of ancient ruins, unique religions, and food so amazing that you are almost guaranteed to gain 10 pounds while you travel there. Across the country, you will find stately mosques, colorful temples, and welcoming gurudwaras (Sikh temples) along with a handful of churches and synagogues. From Alexander the Great’s army all the way up to the Mughals, India has seen many conquerors come and go, leaving behind breathtaking monuments and structures. The British and Portuguese also left their mark through a legacy of gorgeous colonial architecture everywhere from Goa to Calcutta.
Most places are connected by trains which unfortunately can be a bit difficult to get tickets for if you don’t have an Indian credit card. However, once you arrive, most hotels (and most of the friendly locals that you meet) will be happy to help you book a ticket. You can also travel on one of the many long-distance buses which, although they can be slow, are generally pretty comfortable, relatively speaking.
I am not gonna lie, India can be very stressful to travel through. I spent two years living and working there traveling most weekends. However, the key to “succeeding” is to simply relax and let it go. All the frustrations are part of the experience and I promise that you will look back and laugh one day.
With its rich history, unique culture, scrumptious food, serene landscapes, and fascinating mix of architecture, Japan is another Asian country that is absolutely perfect for culture vultures. The futuristic capital of Tokyo has all the amenities that you could ever dream of (and many that you had no idea even existed!) while the historic city of Kyoto feels like a movie set with its stunning temples, narrow brick streets, and colorful flowers. And right when you think that Kyoto couldn’t get any more dreamlike, a group of giggling geishas walks by, glued to their cell phones. Talk about the past and the future colliding!
The Japanese public transport system is incredibly efficient but can also be very, very expensive. It is possible to get some train passes which can cut down on some of your transportation costs drastically. It is also possible to stay in traditional ryokans, Airbnbs, or capsule hotels as opposed to “normal” properties if you are looking to save a bit of money. Overall, a trip to Japan can be a costly experience so it is not a bad idea to make a few sacrifices along the way.
For Nature-Lovers and Thrill-Seekers
The world is a magical plan to explore with an endless list of natural attractions that are so breathtaking that you may need to pinch yourself to remind yourself that this is all real. These amazing places can be found all over the world and below is just a shortlist of the places that I loved.
If you are looking for a destination relatively close to home that boasts soaring volcanoes, untouched cloud forests, roaring waterfalls, and some pretty cool little critters, Costa Rica may just be perfect for you! The country has long been a popular spot for ecotourism thanks to its incredible biodiversity and it is heaven for outdoor activities. The nature reserves are crisscrossed by hiking trails making it easy to see as much as possible and are located within easy reach of lovely small towns where you can crash for the night and stock up on anything you need for your meeting with Mother Nature.
Since it has been a tourist destination for decades, you can easily find a wide range of accommodation and plenty of other solo travelers to hang out with (and potentially split costs with!). There are also plenty of digital nomads and ex-pats living there who can help you find an English-speaking doctor if needed or to find something that you desperately miss from home.
Iceland’s rugged and dramatic natural landscape has proven to be a fantastic filming location for a ton of movies and TV shows and the country’s popularity as a tourism destination has exploded over the past few decades. While most travelers explore the fabled 800-mile-long Ring Road that hits many of Iceland’s most spectacular sites including waterfalls, glaciers, crystal clear lakes, and mountains, there are plenty of other places to venture off to if you have the time.
Iceland is a wonderland for outdoor lovers and you can easily spend weeks hiking, kayaking, road-tripping, and even whale watching during your stay. Keep in mind that during the summer, Iceland is light virtually all the time (and we mean like all the time) and in the winter, the country is plunged into long, long hours of darkness.
Australia and New Zealand
If you can handle the long flight, Australia and New Zealand are amazing places for first-time solo travelers. Both countries are full of breathtaking scenery, too-crazy-to-be-true adventure activities, untouched beaches, and fascinating animals. The curves of the Sydney Opera House shine against the glistening Sydney Harbour while across the country in Western Australia, the quokkas wait for visitors on Rottnest Island with big smiles on their faces. In between, you have miles and miles of land that you can explore featuring an impressive array of ecosystems.
Meanwhile, New Zealand’s FernGully-like forests cover huge swaths of the North and South Islands offering many of the world’s best multi-day hiking trails, plenty of opportunities for white water rafting, mountain biking, and camping. If you are really, really lucky, you may even be able to spot the elusive kiwi. The country’s beaches are also great places to try your luck at windsurfing, paddleboarding, snorkeling, or surfing. From the north to the south, you will also find great laid-back cities bursting with youthful energy where it is not uncommon to see people walking around in the grocery store without their shoes on!
New Zealand is significantly smaller than Australia and the distances are much more manageable which makes it perfect if you want to do a solo road trip. Meanwhile, Australia has a well-established backpacker route where you can meet plenty of new friends to team up with. If you want to try and go it alone, it is probably best to focus on one or two states (at the max) to explore fully before heading to the next one. While there have been a few instances where travelers have been the victims of crime, both are generally extremely safe to travel through as long as you follow the same precautions that you would at home.
While South Africa is one of the many, many wonderful destinations to visit in Africa, it tends to be one of the easiest for solo travelers to visit thanks to the decent infrastructure, English speaking population, and plenty of things to do and places to see. Cape Town is without a doubt one of the most beautiful cities in the world with its gorgeous coastline and the soaring Table Mountain that dominates the city skyline. It is also an easy place to get out of and you can head off to explore the famed Garden Route, which weaves its way along the Indian Ocean through mesmerizing scenery and past charming small towns where you can stay for the night.
South Africa is also home to Kruger, one of the world’s most famous national parks, where you can spot some of Africa’s most famous animals including the Big Five of lions, elephants, buffalos, leopards, and rhinos. It is possible to visit on a self-drive tour making it a great option for independent, adventurous travelers—just never, ever get out of the car!
For Beach Bums
With thousands of miles of beautiful beaches located across the planet, it is generally not too hard to find a great beach. Many Americans and Canadians flock to Florida, California, Mexico, or one of the Caribbean islands if they are in need of some Vitamin-Sea; however, if you have a bit more time, there are some really great options where you can let your inner beach bum run free!
Many people from Canada and America probably know roughly where the Philippines are since it was once home to a huge American military base and that is pretty much it. This is definitely one Southeast Asian country that is worth getting to know! Made up of more than 7,000 diverse islands, the Philippines is the perfect mix between a stunning “beach destination” where you can find a lively beach culture with welcoming locals, and an ecotourism delight thanks to its many national parks, coral reefs, underground rivers, and more.
Many visitors fly into Manila but head straight for Palawan or Boracay but history lovers should spend a day or two checking out the Spanish colonial town and the city’s World War II sites. From there, it is just a short flight to many other parts of the country where the beach lover’s paradise awaits. Many people in the Philippines speak English fluently which makes it very easy to get around as a solo traveler and as long as you stick to the main tourist destinations, you shouldn’t have any problems.
Located in the middle of the cerulean waters of the Indian Ocean, the Maldives has basically become a poster child for opulent beach vacations and it is easy to see why. Many islands boast their own high-end resorts (or should it be that many resorts are located on their own private islands?) where you can spend your days lazily admiring the crystal clear water from your own private bungalow. Unfortunately, these tend to cost hundreds if not thousands of dollars per night and require expensive transfers to reach and most people consider them a bit too out of reach for a solo adventure.
Luckily, there is another option! There are plenty of “public islands” that are home to colorful small towns where you can find budget accommodation in local guesthouses and visit the nearby “bikini beaches”. While this may not be exactly what you think of when you imagine the Maldives, it is a great way to experience the local culture while exploring the nearby atolls on day trips.
For the People Who Can’t Decide
Sometimes, it is really hard to figure out what type of vacation you actually want. Between social media blasting you with seductive (and way too photoshopped) images, TV, and an endless stream of advertising, sometimes we get paralyzed with too much choice. Do I want to relax on a beach? Go skiing? Explore a new city? Yikes! Don’t worry though—there are some amazing destinations that are great all-rounders.
If you can’t decide whether you want to go to Asia or Europe, you can make it easy on yourself and go to both! Istanbul is one of the world’s only cities that straddles two continents and it is pretty cool to say that you had lunch in Europe and then went to check out the nightlife scene in Asia until the wee hours of the morning! Joking aside, Istanbul is an amazing city with plenty of historic attractions and ruins, palaces, and museums spread across an array of bustling neighborhoods to keep you busy for months. The southwest coast of the country packs in even more ancient Greek and Roman ruins and in the east, you can explore the ancient cities of Mesopotamia or check out thousand-year-old Armenian monasteries. And, of course, let’s not forget the Instagrammable Cappadocia and Pamukkale.
With a great bus network and cheap internal flights, traveling through Turkey is a breeze and you can find great accommodation options ranging from hostels to high-end hotels throughout the country. Ladies, don’t forget to dress somewhat modestly and bring a sarong or scarf to cover your hair with, in case you decide to go to a mosque unexpectedly. I usually wore dresses while I was there but kept a pair of loose pants and a scarf in my bag that I could throw on if necessary.
Argentina and Chile
Located at the southern tip of South America, Argentina and Chile pack in some jaw-droppingly beautiful landscapes such as the soaring mountains and crackling glaciers of Patagonia, the windswept beaches of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, and the sweeping vineyards of Mendoza. They also have some incredibly enchanting cities such as Buenos Aires which feels like a mixture of New York, Paris, and Taipei, and Valparaiso with its vibrant murals, colorful houses, and hilly streets. It is easy to wind your way between the two countries visiting the many natural attractions and hitting the never-ending list of hiking trails.
Argentina used to be very, very expensive to travel through but after the sudden drop of the peso, it has become much, much cheaper to visit. Make sure to check on the most recent exchange rates before you go so that you can budget accordingly.
For many people, the word cruise probably brings up images of families, couples, and retirees. It isn’t common that you think about a cruise as being a great option for solo travelers. The extra person surcharge alone is enough to make it out of many travelers’ reach. However, times are changing and more and more cruise lines are adjusting their normal amenities to accommodate more young, single people including single cabins, and lounge areas specifically for solo travelers. Cruise lines are also coming up with exciting itineraries that go far beyond the Caribbean or the Mediterranean Sea.
Cruises can be a great way to explore destinations that could be a bit more challenging to reach (Antarctica, Caribbean Islands, Alaska, etc) and are perfect for people who prefer to spend their vacation relaxing rather than having to constantly figure out logistics. I actually did a cruise to Antarctica alone and was thrilled to find plenty of other travelers to hang out with throughout the two-week journey. If you have flexible travel plans, you can also find some great last-minute deals on cruises all around the world.
Ready to Roam?
We hope that this list of great solo travel destinations has inspired you to get out on the road (or at least helped you add a few more places to your bucket list) and we can’t wait to hear your feedback!
While preparing to set off on your solo expedition, be sure to purchase travel insurance. It can help save the day if you happen to get sick or be involved in an accident during your trip.
If you need even more inspiration, check out the rest of our blog’s travel section, which includes advice for all types of travelers and highlights more of the most fantastic destinations in the world.
Lastly, before you leave, don’t forget to grab your scavenger hunt tickets or your Explorer Pass! And contact us when you need a custom event designed for an adventurer you know. We offer custom birthday parties, team-building events, bachelorette parties, and more!
Frequently Asked Questions
If you are about to embark on your first adventure alone, Mexico, Thailand, and Ireland are all great locations to explore. To learn more, check out this list of the best solo travel destinations.
Around the world, you can find solo travel destinations that are welcoming and safe, and each provides a unique array of activities and attractions. They include Argentina, India, Ireland, and NYC!