Some roads are best walked alone. Whether desire or circumstance leads you on a solo adventure, this kind of travel presents an unrivaled opportunity to discover new parts of yourself in inspiring new places. Embarking on a solo trip? Consider heading to Europe, one of the most popular destinations amongst seasoned and first-time solo travelers alike.
Europe is reputed as a stable region where tourism is well-established. The continent is relatively safe and easy to navigate, especially for solo female travelers. With 45 countries to explore within a geographical area roughly the size of the United States, Europe offers diverse countries and cultures in close proximity. Developed roads, rail lines, and budget airlines enable travelers to plot adventures with ease. The common currency and visa requirements shared by European Union nations are also pretty handy if your plan involves hopping across multiple borders.
Logistics aside, Europe boasts a myriad of landscapes, a rich tapestry of languages and cultures, and a fascinating history. Whether medieval castles and prehistoric monuments, museums and basilicas, or wine tours and beach towns speak to you, Europe offers endless possibilities for solo travelers.
Practical Advice for Solo Travel in Europe
If you’re planning to explore Europe on your own, here are a few points to consider based on experience:
Choose destination(s) thoughtfully. Take into account that each country and city can be vastly different despite its proximity to others. Do your research and weigh in factors such as safety and travel advisories, affordability, language, transportation, and climate. When going solo, your travel style and comfort level is a crucial part of the equation.
Book accommodation based on your desired experience. You’ll need a place to rest your head but the impact that accommodation has on a trip can be magnified for solo travelers. Fortunately, Europe is full of backpacker hostels that cater to travelers of all experiences. Many offer private rooms and female-only dorms. Others offer amenities for meeting other travelers such as common areas and hostel bars or organized dinners and pub crawls. Hotels, apartments, and couch surfing provide different experiences too. Take the time to explore your options and choose the accommodation that best suits your needs.
Take safety precautions seriously without worrying yourself sick. Cover your bases by sharing your itinerary with someone you trust, securing proper travel and medical insurance before departing, and storing copies of your important documents. Unlock your phone and spend on a local phone data plan upon arrival (available at many airports). Use your best judgment as the trip unfolds. Offline maps (like maps.me) and translation apps are not simply convenience items; they can also help a lone traveler feel secure or make safer decisions in a foreign city.
Do a little more research than you normally would. You’ll be relying entirely on yourself so it doesn’t hurt to do extra research. It doesn’t mean you have to plan your trip to a tee; simply keeping restaurant or tour ideas in your back pocket can come in handy on a solo adventure.
Be open to meeting fellow travelers. Whether you turn to social apps like Backpackr and Tourlina or linger in the hostel common area, traveling solo is a great way to meet like-minded folks from around the world. Be open to meeting others but be sure to do the things you want to do. Remember that this is your adventure.
Pack a good book. Or an e-reader. Good reading material will come in handy for long transit days as well as downtime. There’s nothing wrong with taking a break from sightseeing to read in a park, on a beach, or at a cafe. Reading pairs nicely with people-watching too.
10 Destinations for Solo Travel in Europe
Many people travel solo to go where they want when they want. But which of Europe’s 45 countries are best suited for this kind of adventure? Here are 10 exceptional destinations for solo travelers—from bustling metropolises to fairytale towns and everything in between.
If art history is beckoning you to Europe, look no further than the Dutch capital. Looking beyond Amsterdam’s reputation for weed cafes and bachelor parties reveals a safe, progressive, and charming city brimming with art and history. The city’s network of canals and bike-friendly streets are best explored on two wheels. Art lovers will find everything from Rembrandts and Van Goghs to Pollocks in the museum district. Bustling cafes, trendy restaurants, and chic boutiques make for a fantastic cultural experience and city break.
Take the train to the Hague, Utrecht, or Gouda to get a wider taste of Dutch living.
London, United Kingdom
With dozens of iconic sights and landmarks at your fingertips courtesy of the tube, the Big Smoke makes a navigable and exciting destination for solo travelers. After all, they don’t say London is one of the world’s most culturally diverse cities for nothin’. Besides the big sites, there are plenty of museums, markets, and shopping districts to safely explore. Above all, English-speaking locals and friendly pub culture make it easy for visitors to socialize over a pint.
Wander over to the likes of Bath and Stratford Upon Avon to explore the different cultural elements within England or take a trip to Brighton if you’re looking for the beach.
The French capital is the perfect place to treat yourself to a holiday. Despite having some of the world’s most famous attractions, Paris is the place to indulge in life’s simple pleasures—like the perfect croissant and cup of cafè. Paris is the perfect place to wander off on their own and observe Parisian life unfolding. The French even have a word, flañeur, for people doing just that.
Embark on a side trip to Versailles or Normandy to round out your Paris experience.
Immerse yourself in European culture by heading to the City of Music. Between roaming the Albertina, exploring the vast grounds of the Schönbrunn, and chasing music performances ranging from opera to techno, there’s plenty to keep a lone traveler occupied. Vienna’s grandeur is sure to inspire conversation, which one can easily strike up at one of Vienna’s many cafès and bars.
Venture to Salzburg or the mountain town of Innsbruck to explore more of Austria.
For a unique mix of old and new, set your sights on Berlin. The city welcomes a high volume of tourists without compromising on local culture and authenticity. Visitors can brush up on history at famous landmarks and monuments by day and get a taste of modern culture through the city’s infamous nightlife.
Visit towns like Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Bamberg, and Bonn for a deeper German experience and check out our Instagrammer’s Guide to Berlin for some photo inspo.
Visiting the capital of the world’s most peaceful country is a safe bet if Iceland’s natural wonders are at the top of your bucket list. Although relatively pricey, Reykjavik is an excellent base for tours to explore otherworldly landscapes with waterfalls, geysers, black sand beaches, and active volcanoes. Depending on the season, it’s also one of the world’s top destinations for viewing the northern lights.
Drive Iceland’s Ring Road for the solo road trip of a lifetime and take some time to explore the more rural side with this Guide to Iceland’s Small Towns.
Don’t let the grandiose facades of Hungary’s capital fool you; Budapest is a multifaceted city with plenty for solo travelers to experience. When it comes to nightlife, the tastefully run-down ruin bars of the Jewish quarter are unique and approachable for lone travelers. Each ruin bar offers a unique flavor, from the menagerie of themed rooms at Szimpla Kert to Anker’t and its vegan Sunday market. Budapest’s vibrant bar culture pairs nicely with sampling the city’s historic bathhouses. Don’t miss Széchenyi’s heated outdoor pool or the Art Nouveau tiled rooms of Gellért.
Explore the enchanting lakeside town of Tihany for an escape from the city.
Pronounced Loo-bya-nah, Slovenia’s charming capital offers European charm with Balkan heart. The old cobblestone town is set beneath a magnificent hilltop castle and straddles the Ljubljanica river. Get lost in a maze of Baroque and Art Nouveau buildings, riverside cafes, and decorated squares that host outdoor markets, open kitchens, and myriad festivals on most weekends. This walkable and bike-friendly city was named Europe’s Greenest City in 2016. It’s jam-packed with things to do considering its size, making it the perfect place to spend a weekend in Slovenia alone.
Catch the bus to Lake Bled for a fairytale mountain getaway or explore Slovenia’s underrated wine region.
Whether King’s Landing means anything to you, the walled city of Dubrovnik will transport you to another world. This Unesco World Heritage site is a scenic, safe, and established tourist destination that offers an idyllic balance of sightseeing and luxuriating on the shores of the Adriatic Sea.
Head to the seaside towns of Hvar, Korcula, and Rovinj to discover hidden gems on the Adriatic coast.
Lisbon is a great destination for solo travelers searching for a laid-back yet vibrant city. The city has its fair share of tourist attractions including Belém Tower and the National Azulejo Museum of tiles. Yet indulging in simple pleasures—like riding Tram 28, snacking on pastel de nata at Pastéis de Belém, and enjoying a live fado performance—are just as enriching.
Travel to Porto, Sintra, or Sarges to delve into Portuguese towns with a unique character.