Going it alone or joining a group? These are the best places to travel solo
Travelling alone can offer up an incredible opportunity to embrace freedom, see the world at your own pace and make new friends along the way. Sure, it might make you feel a little uncomfortable at first. But that’s sort of the point. Pushing yourself beyond your comfort zone, stepping away from your everyday routine and taking on new challenges is exactly what solo travel is all about.
Still not ready to go it totally alone? You can always join other like-minded travellers on a group solo trip with Flash Pack, where you’ll arrive as one and leave as part of a connected community, having made a whole bunch of new friends. Here’s our list of the best places to travel solo, together…
Ever-welcoming, Iceland is often considered one of the best places for solo-travel in Europe. For one, it’s been voted among the friendliest places to visit, so you won’t need to worry about feeling alone as you explore the capital Reykjavík. Statistically, crime rates are low, too. Basing yourself in the compact capital also provides an easy jumping off point for the vast and glorious wild hinterland that makes up the rest of the island. Take time to warm up in the many geothermal hot springs and pools — from larger landmarks, such as the world-famous Blue Lagoon, to cool, lesser-known locals’ favourites, such as Vök Baths or GeoSea Sea Baths near Húsavík, with incredible views over Skjálfandi Bay.
The city of San Miguel de Allende is just one of the many delights for solo travellers in Mexico. It was voted the best city in the world by Travel + Leisure for being welcoming to those travelling alone. Its pretty cobblestone centre is easy to navigate, coming alive when the sun goes down, with music and locals spilling out from cafes and bars into nightly fiestas. Packed with more than 130 art galleries and museums, there’s plenty to explore between parties, such as the Mercado de Artesanias, a buzzing artisan market stocked with clothes, jewellery and souvenirs. You can also tick off a temazcal ceremony inside a traditional sweat lodge, tequila tastings, a Lucha Libre wrestling match, dine in foodie hotspot Oaxaca or hit the Pacific coast with bohemians and surfers.
Small in size but big on impact, Croatia is another great option for solo travel tours, especially in its twin cities of Split and Dubrovnik. Both are prime ports poised to take in Croatia’s confetti of 1,000 islands. From Split, choose the central Dalmatian islands of Hvar to hang out with the smart set, Vis for chilled-out coastal quiet, or Brac for the guidebook-gracing Zlatni Rat beach. Seafood lovers are spoilt for choice, too, with the likes of black cuttlefish risotto or fresh oysters appearing as staples on most menus.
US solo travellers have been heading to Costa Rica – AKA the world’s greenest, most biodiverse country – for years, and finally the European market is catching on, too. The country’s pura vida (pure life) ethos runs deep, especially when it comes to the solo travel offering and protecting its natural bounty. From capital San José, head off on adventure tours or eco-minded wildlife trips into the Central Valley, hike and bask in hot spring in the Parque Nacional Volcán Arenal, make your way over to Manuel Antonio National Park or take your pick from the culturally distinct Caribbean coast and surf-ready Pacific shoreline.
Bali is often nicknamed ‘The Island of The Gods’ – partly, we’ve decided, because it’s heaven-sent for solo travellers. The highland town of Ubud is its artistic and cultural heart, dotted with yoga studios, cookery workshops and co-working spaces, with close-by countryside that’s ripe for adventure. Whether you loved or loathed Elizabeth Gilbert’s seminal solo-travel memoir, Eat, Pray, Love, it’s here she found the latter: there’s definitely still an aura of magic about the town, ringed by mist-wrapped mountains and velvety-green rice paddies. Solo travel is incredibly common in Bali – thanks in no small part to Gilbert’s book – and everything is perfectly set up to accommodate those travelling alone or on a group tour, from surf shacks in Uluwatu to beach bars in Canggu. Don’t miss the chance to explore Bali’s rural heart, either, by climbing Mount Batur. Or, escape to the neighbouring powdery-white Gili Islands, near northwest Lombok.
Japan is a dream destination for solo travel tours, where language barriers and customs can make it tricky to navigate entirely on your own. The bright lights of the capital, Tokyo, can also be a little overwhelming. But fear not, as in amongst all the neon, there are quieter neighbourhoods to explore, including Kichijōji, Shimokitazawa or Nakameguro with its arty coffee shops. Next, hop on a bullet train to explore some of the country’s other highlights, including foodie Osaka, history-rich Hiroshima, cultural capital Kyoto and hush-hush Hakone, gateway to steamy onsen (hot springs) and pindrop-quiet mountain hikes. Along the way, you’ll be introduced to the hallmarks of Japanese culture – sumo experiences, sushi workshops and geisha-hosted tea ceremonies – bonding with other solo travellers as you immerse yourself and gain a deeper understanding of the Japanese culture.
Peru pushes solo travellers through powerful Andean peaks, dense Amazon jungle and along a wave-lapped, wildlife-roamed Pacific coast. Many gravitate towards the former Inca capital of Cusco, gateway to high-altitude hiking trails, grazed by llamas and circled by condors. The most famous of these is, of course, the Inca Trail that leads to Machu Picchu. However, if you’re looking to swerve the crowds, head instead to Rainbow Mountain for an under-the-radar alternative trekking option, with incredible technicolour views as far as the 5,200m summit.
Join Flash Pack on a group solo travel tour with other like-minded travellers in their 30s and 40s.
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Images: Flash Pack, Adobe Stock & Unsplash