24 February, 2019

Got a hankering for a city break? Need a holiday? Solo travellers, this is your time to shine

I’m not sure where you’re reading this. Maybe you’re sat in a stuffy office somewhere using your best I’m-pretending-to-work-face, perhaps you’re on your lunch break eating an overrated avocado salad, or possibly you’re on the train with three sweaty commuters reading over your shoulder. Well, unless they’re single 30-to-40-somethings, then I’m afraid this isn’t for them. This is for you solo adventure seekers who don’t need a constant travel companion to have a good time. Put simply, you need a city break.

Here are seven under-the-radar destinations that will optimise your limited holiday time and give you a whole new lease of life when you return to reality: the best European city breaks for YOU. Plus, as we’ve included tips on where to mingle with the locals, who said anything about being alone?

Visit Helsinki for reindeer burgers and toilets with a view

helsinki skyline

Length of flight: 2h 50m

Distance from airport: 30 minutes approx

What to do: So we all know us Flashpackers are highly intrepid adventurers, but sometimes it can be just as fun to explore a smallish city with plenty of English speaking locals. Helsinki sure fits the bill for this, along with one feast of a food culture scene; the reindeer burgers here are worth the flight alone.

Read more: The beginner’s guide to travelling alone

For year-round good food and drinks (with toilets boasting the best views of Helsinki you can find), try Ateljee Bar for one picturesque panorama. And when you solo adventurers aren’t wine tasting or enjoying some crayfish (we hear that’s in season), why not join the Happy Helsinki Walking Tour, unwind on Pihlajasaari Island or go for an evening run with the Relaxed Running Meetup to burn off that last slice of cloudberry pie.

Where to stay: It’s boutique hotels galore in Helsinki so say hello (or hei) to quirky courtyards, pretty balconies and elegant terraces. Hotel Kämp provides century-old glamour; Hotel Lilla Roberts channels Nordic chic and for an award-winning vodka bar, try Klaus K Hotel.

Visit Palma for superb cocktails, dazzling lights and parties you’ll never forget

palma seafront

Length of flight: 2h 20m

Distance from airport: 20 minutes approx.

What to do: The capital of Mallorca, this Spanish island is the solo travel place to go for sunset cocktails, great gin bars and awesome architecture. Palma is also home to Tardeo, the rising party phenomenon that is sweeping across 30-50 somethings who want the party to start early and end early. With the most popular venue being a sizzling Saturday evening between 5-9pm at Kaelum Club, Tardeo is now hugely catching on across Santa Catalina and shaking the status quo of late-night, siesta taking Spaniards.

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Whilst being in bed by midnight may be a far cry from the stay-till-sunrise days of your youth, who wants to sleep all day and party all night when the sights of Palma await you? The obvious hotspots include La Seu and Almudaina Palace, and for solo travellers seeking to meet new people there’s a Hiking and Outdoor Group to join, a Beach Volleyball Meetup and Girl Gone International have regular social events with friendly local expats (rumour has it a spa day is coming soon…)

Where to stay: Surrounded by trendy shops and bars, HM Jaime III is equally sophisticated inside. Boutique Hotel Can Cera can be found within a 17th-century palace and the stunning view from Hotel Tres’ roof terrace can be enjoyed from its stylishly designed rooftop pool.

Visit Krakow for so-hip-it-hurts bars, coffee shops and stunning history

krakow city square

Length of flight: 2h 20m

Distance from airport: 25 minutes approx.

What to do: As Poland’s cultural capital, Krakow is home to enough trendy bars and interesting coffee shops to spend your entire time with your brimming mug or glass glued to your lips. Whether it’s a dark and atmospheric hangout like Antycafe, or Café Fińska where it’s so hipster you pay with creative contribution rather than cash, Krakow is a totally cool and underrated place for anyone travelling alone to bond with others over a frothy coffee and shared confusion of what exactly ‘creative contribution’ means.

Read more: 7 myths about travelling alone in your 30s and 40s

It’s also a grand old city positively creaking with history: Wawel Castle, Rynek Główny (Europe’s largest market square) and St. Mary’s Basilica are all must-sees for solo travellers wanting extra material for their dinner party chat.

Where to stay: Formerly a cathedral chapel, Hotel Copernicus can be found on Krakow’s oldest street (though the swimming pool in its medieval cellar is definitely a new touch). Staying close to the Old Town is recommended as this is where all the fun stuff happens, so try Hotel Wentzl for an award-winning place to rest your head, or Hotel Grodek for some aristocratic ambience.

Visit Tallinn for fairytale enchantment and hidden delights

tallin rooftops

Length of flight: 2h 50m

Distance from airport: 15 minutes approx.

What to do: Sitting pretty on the Baltic Sea, the turrets and spires of this Estonian capital create one enchanting picture. With fairytale-style architecture standing alongside glass museums, Tallinn is a striking blend of old and new that will have you solo jet-setters reaching for your camera (check out the Tallinn Photography Meetup if so). Whether you’re snapping a photo of Kadriorg Palace, getting all the historic scoop on a walking tour of the Tallinn Walls or just plain old chilling on the beach with your Vana Tallinn cocktail, there’s something for everyone I’m Tallinn you now.

Read more: Three great places for solo travel

Where to stay: For a room with a view, Hotel Telegraaf is located in the picturesque Old Town and offers 5 star luxury complete with roll top baths and its own sauna. Merchants’ House Hotel is home to many secret passageways and hidden staircases, or for cute courtyards and a quirky décor where no 2 rooms look the same, Hotel Schlossle is the perfect getaway.

Visit Antwerp for cycling, culture and chocolate

antwerp city square

Length of flight: 1h 5m

Distance from airport: 15 minutes approx.

What to do: The best view of this fashionable city can be seen when cruising around on the Marnix Bike Tour. Shown around by clued-up locals who know the best spots off the pedalled track, it gives you an authentic insight into Belgium’s second city. The shabby chic vibe of Otark Breakfast Club is a delicious place to fuel up before your 2 wheeled adventure, and it’s always worth stopping off at the Plantin-Moretus or in fact any other of the interesting museums in Antwerp. All this being cultural business can be hungry work, so you’d have to be on one heck of a diet to resist the many chocolatiers gracing the streets of Antwerp. Chocolatier Burie creates amazing chocolate sculptures that are (almost) too good to eat and the innovative flavours here will surprise you almost as much as this secret gem of a city.

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Where to stay: With such a rich history, Antwerp is bursting with renovated mansions, Art Deco buildings and centuries-old hotels. Hotel ‘t Sandt is a spacious and elegant place to unwind and it’s located right in the heart of the historic centre. With stylish black corridors and rainforest showers, Hotel Les Nuits is for those wanting modern glamour, or if bright and airy is more your thing then go for Abondance Logies.

Visit Oslo for the ultimate solo travel adventure

oslo city

Length of flight: 2h 5m

Distance from airport: 30 minutes approx.

What to do: As soon as your solo self arrives in Oslo, you’ll find yourself in a cosmopolitan hub of spacious parks, designer shops and harbour-side attractions. With an air of sophistication that you Flashpackers would clearly enjoy, Oslo is a little pricier than other cities so it may not be cheap but it’s certainly cheerful with its super friendly locals.

Read more: How holidays alone can massively improve your mindset

Solo travellers are therefore often drawn to Oslo due to its compact size, hospitable citizens and easily navigational transport. Major sites include the Oslo Opera House, the Holmenkollen Ski Jump and the Munch Museum (though you can’t really move for interesting museums here). Once you’ve soaked in the Oslo culture, you can enjoy the vibrant café and bar scene, or join the Climbing and Outdoor Adventure Group to explore the natural delights beyond the capital.

Where to stay: Known as being in the trendiest part of Oslo, Comfort Hotel Grand Central has its own 24-hour gym and is just 3 minutes from the airport train. Saga Hotel Oslo is a swish boutique hotel with its own sushi restaurant, and for an eco-friendly hotel complete with organic breakfast check out Oslo Guldsmeden.

Visit Dublin for friendly, unpretentious pubs, fun people, and great architecture

Length of flight: 1h 5m

Distance from airport: 30 minutes approx.

What to do: Well known as being one of the friendliest cities in the world, Dublin is an amazing place for anyone travelling alone. Whilst its cosy pubs, the madness of Temple Bar and abundance of Guinness certainly live up to the hype, Dublin is so much more than its clichés. Georgian townhouses, beautiful churches and world-renowned museums proudly exhibiting Irish history are all waiting to be explored, including the Chester Beatty Museum which is home to the oldest surviving copies of all 4 Gospels. For solo travellers, you can find out “what’s the craic?” with a Fill My Weekend Meetup and a Fun Events for Singles Over 40 Meetup.

Read more: Why spending time alone makes us happy

Obviously, the pubs are well worth a visit too, it would be rude not to! The Dawson Lounge is the smallest pub in Dublin whilst The Brazen Club is the oldest pub in Ireland; however, be it traditional or trendy, stylish or scruffy (or lets go with rustic charm), you wont need to wander the cobbled streets of this vibrant city for long before you find the perfect pub for you.

So, whether you’re more James Joyce or Jameson distillery (or a bit of both), there’s something for you.

Where to stay: For a super stylish place to stay, the marble bathrooms and boutique furnishings of Dylan Hotel are an obvious choice. Brooks Hotel has its own exclusive cinema and private whiskey tasting, and The Merrion Hotel is a luxurious and central place to walk home to after one too many.

By Flash Pack travel writer Flora Hackett

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