Busy Barcelona is one 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.
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 a while 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, Rock of Cashel and Croagh Patrick.
Although earthquakes have recently rocked Nepal, many of the regions famous for hiking are largely unaffected – and the country is in desperate need of your tourist dollar. If you’re an experienced altitude trekker, the Annapurna circuit 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.
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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.
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 its capital city hosted the 1972 Winter Olympic Games and brews the famous Sapporo beer, Hokkaidō is best known for the great outdoors. Hiking, skiing and birdwatching are top activities if you want to embrace the elements in a remote and unspoiled landscape.
Get prepared with this guide to the things every gaijin (foreigner) will learn in Japan.
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.
Dead Sea © Photographer Lili/Shutterstock
Thailand’s beaches and islands are on the traditional backpacking route and 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.
For more detailed advice, check out our tips for travelling solo in Thailand.
Sri Lanka is predominantly a Buddhist country, and its residents are friendly and welcoming to all. In the interior of this island nation, 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.
This laidback capital city 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.
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.
Start planning with our author’s tips for travelling in Greece and his five favourite islands.
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.
An 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.
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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 make 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.
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 – which is 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.
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).