Sometimes, you just need to wander. You’ve caught the travel bug and the only remedy is to hit the road and explore a new destination. The trouble is that you don’t always have someone readily available to go with you.
Don’t worry, you do not need to put your travel ambitions on hold until friends, family or your partner can free up their schedule and enough funds to go with you. The world is full of great spots for having adventures, meeting new people and enjoying different cultures while travelling alone.
Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
Amsterdam is a great city for the solo traveller to explore. See the famous canals lined by colourful 16th Century houses, visit world-class art museums and meet people from around the word in the friendly coffee shops and bars. If you like to ride a bike, you can cheaply and easily rent one to navigate the city on two wheels.
This city is so welcoming to the solo traveler that it actually saw the opening of Eenmaal – named after the Dutch term for ‘one meal’ – a restaurant catering specifically to solo diners with tables designed for one person at a time.
The Museumplein is a great spot for experiencing some of the city’s iconic culture in a central location as it is home to the Rijksmuseum, Stedelijk and the Van Gogh Museum. For more diverse tastes, Amsterdam also boasts the Hash, Marihuana & Hemp Museum and the Museum of Sex.
You can even go to the beach. Just outside of town is the Blijburg, a manmade island that serves as a hotspot for swimming, sunbathing and socializing at the beachside bar.
Relatively inexpensive by European city standards, lined with historic canals, unique architecture and home to a rich culture, Amsterdam is an ideal spot for the solo traveller.
Solo travellers have been drawn to Thailand as a sort of pilgrimage of self-discovery since long before the Alex Garland novel The Beach (and the famous Leonardo DiCaprio movie based on it) came out. However, the popularity of these did bring the region to the attention of wider audiences.
Thailand is known for its friendly hospitality, beautiful beaches and islands and for the opportunities is offers for meeting like-minded travellers from around the world. Inexpensive hotels and backpacker hostels also make this an ideal choice for the young or travellers on a budget.
Ko Pha Ngan is famous for the Full Moon Party, a monthly festival that draws in thousands of people from around the globe to the beach for an all-night dance party. More secluded islands such as Ko Ngai, Ko Racha Noi or Ko Kradan offer a more tranquil getaway for chilling on the beach and soaking up the scenery.
A Spanish city with gorgeous Mediterranean beaches, historic architecture and sites, a thriving arts scene and outstanding dining and nightlife options, Barcelona also makes for a great solo getaway.
Spain’s second largest city is full of unique architecture and attractions. It is home to nine UNESCO World Heritage sites, seven of which were designed by the legendary Antoni Gaudí.
Food is an important part of Spanish culture and social life and Barcelona is home of some of Europe’s best seafood. Enjoy the unique Spanish cuisine, from world-class restaurants to street side cafés and tapas bars.
Barcelona is also a beach town located on the Mediterranean Sea and boasts over four kilometres of sandy coastline. You can enjoy swimming, sunbathing and a host of outdoor activities, from hiking and biking to kayaking and paddle boarding right at the edge of the city.
Barcelona is also very easy to navigate with a fast, efficient and inexpensive Metro system covering the city. English is widely spoken in the tourism areas, but where it is not, locals are friendly and happy to accommodate travellers.
The United Kingdom might just be one of the easiest places for many Canadians to enjoy while travelling alone. With its rich history and numerous attractions, you could easily spend at least a week exploring London alone, but the capital can get quite expensive. It can also serve as a jumping-off point for visiting the nearby English countryside as well as Scotland, Ireland and Wales.
London’s Underground is safe and with 270 stops, it efficiently covers wherever you need to go in the city. Whether you want to explore medieval castles, browse museums or go to the theatre, you’ll find it all in or around London. Plus, the amiable British pub culture makes it easy to grab a pint and strike up a conversation among locals or fellow travellers. If you want to get out of town, try riding the rails on the excellent train system to explore such varied scenery as the classic moors, rocky coastlines or Scottish Highlands.
The solo traveller will always find an abundance of things to see and do in London and beyond – all without the hassle of a language barrier.
It might seem like a bit of a cliché to mention travelling to Iceland right now – since this is where just about everyone and their sister seem to be going anyway, but it belongs on this list. Iceland is a great choice for people travelling alone not only for its dramatic landscapes and views of the Northern Lights, but also because it consistently ranks as one of the safest countries in the world. The capital city of Reykjavik is a popular draw for tourists from the world over for its culture, music scene and nightlife.
Tours of the volcanoes, fjords, hot springs and glaciers are readily available to explore this unique country. These allow you to take in the dramatic landscape, learn about the local environment and meet a diverse group of travellers all at the same time.
Still looking for more? Check out Part 2 in our series, Going Solo: Great Spots for Travelling Alone.
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