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12 Underrated Countries for Solo Travelers to Explore

Spots so magical you’ll be glad to explore without distractions.

Once accompanied with pitiful looks, expensive single-person supplements, and a glance of concern, the art of exploring without company now comes with a growing fan base of avid solo travelers. Plenty of the most memorable trips happen when you’re free to venture between places at the drop of a hat, without worrying about sticking to schedules or making sure everyone involved is satisfied.

It’s time to join the world’s coolest travel club: one that throws open the blinds to an entire spectrum of opportunities, from days spent sampling street food and wandering the streets of a new city, through to mountain hikes, rainbow-hued national parks, and endless tribes of soon-to-be-new-friends in pockets all over the globe. Wave goodbye to waiting around for travel companions and say hello to passport stamps, tongue-twister foreign phrases, and the knowledge that everywhere is awaiting your arrival. Read on for 12 of the world’s most underrated spots for solo travelers.

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Montenegro’s crystal clear lakes and endless colorful landscapes make it easy to see why this country is known as the pearl of the Mediterranean. Pine-scented mountains and the beautiful Adriatic Sea coast provide the perfect backdrop for intrepid solo explorers. Velika plaža is a top spot that bridges the gap between peaceful and sociable, with beach bars and restaurants serving fresh seafood that’s best enjoyed while admiring the views. Venetian-era port towns like Budva and Kotor are home to Romanesque churches and a growing hostel scene, while Jaz, Bečići, and Kamenovo are regarded as some of the best places for a lazy beach day. Budva is also a great place for live music and nightclubs, merging the historic surroundings with late-night parties and international DJs. Before you leave, head up to the old fortress, Saint Giovanni, for stunning views of the country.

INSIDER TIPThe pijaca (pronounced “piazza”) of each town is where you’ll find the best authentic food and local specialties.

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Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka is a jewel-shaped country in the Indian Ocean and is home to postcard-perfect backdrops with idyllic beaches, enchanting train tracks, and huge, ancient rock formations. Considered by many to be India’s younger, more laid-back sister, Sri Lanka’s unbeatable hospitality makes it a brilliant choice for solo travelers finding their feet in Asia for the first time. The obvious first stop here is Colombo, the country’s capital city and home to striking colonial architecture and a vibrant, bustling personality. The country as a whole is a brilliant example of what local street food should be like and the ever-friendly Sri Lankans will always go out of their way to offer recommendations. Outside of Colombo, check out the coastal tourist towns of Mirissa, Unawatuna, and Wellingama, and spend some time hopping from one spot to another on the famous cross-country trains.

INSIDER TIPSri Lankans are always open for a chat, so if a local stops you in the street, it’s a brilliant opportunity to ask for some off-the-beaten-track recommendations.

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South Korea

South Korea is modern, fast-paced, and incredibly organized. Throughout this sprawling country are endless neighborhoods with their own charm and personality, from the clean and colorful capital of Seoul to Chinatown in Incheon, the seafood haven of Wolmido Island, and the laid-back clifftops of Busan. Public transport across South Korea is widely accessible and makes venturing across a breeze. This world-class metropolis comes alive during the evenings when the cityscapes light up as the sun sets behind the mountains. It’s a country of contrasts in the best way possible. A fusion of skyscrapers and cherry blossoms, high fashion and cartoonish cultural villages offers an entire spectrum of experiences that never seem to end. It doesn’t matter how much time you spend in South Korea—it’ll never be enough. The best way to explore here is with an open mind, by utilizing public transport and just seeing where you end up.

INSIDER TIPDownload the “Subway Korea” app to map out your journeys across the country with ease.

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Widely regarded as an up-and-coming destination for all types of travelers, Georgia is filled with unexplored territories and is still blessed with especially tourist-friendly prices. A thriving music scene, luxury spas in mountainous settings, and unique architecture mean there’s nowhere on earth quite like Georgia. This Eastern European hotspot is one you’ll quickly fall in love with, almost as much as its proud residents have. Tbilisi is the most touristic area with fortresses, cathedrals, and monasteries punctuating every street. Visit during the summer months to stroll from historic sights to mountain top museums for endless culture. Come to Georgia during the winter and visit Gudauri for an unforgettable ski season. Wine lovers tend to visit during autumn when the Kakheti region comes alive with the harvest season and delicious wine tours. The easy climate here means trekking throughout the country is doable year-round, and no trip to Georgia would be complete without exploring its dazzling nature.

INSIDER TIPGeorgia offers a free one-year visa to 94 countries, which can be renewed as many times as you like. So if you fall in love with the country, there’s nothing stopping you from staying for longer (or forever).

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“Perpetual Christmastime” is the best way to sum up Finland, with its blanket of snow and cozy atmosphere. This northern European archipelago is incredibly welcoming for solo travelers and has a huge array of wintery activities accessible throughout the year. Wild reindeer, the Northern Lights, and picture-perfect wooden buildings will have you dreaming of December even in the warmer months, while the fashionable Design District and Helsinki’s cocktail scene bring all adventures forward to the 21st century. Of course, a trip to Finland is best explored outdoors, and any number of national parks, verdant islands, and dramatic gorges will add a burst of vibrant greens and blues to your camera reel. A trip to the north of the country highlights some of Finland’s most gorgeous elements, with nature running free and plenty of room for solo exploration without interruptions.

INSIDER TIPFinland’s winters can last for 200 days. Visit in April or May for lighter days and the possibility of sunshine!

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Laos is breathtaking: mythical and green; charming and ancient; unspoiled and all-around spectacular. French colonial architecture reigns supreme here, especially in Luang Prabang and Vientiane. Laos may be a landlocked country but what it lacks in beaches it more than makes up for with nature. As one of Southeast Asia’s most underappreciated spots, it’s a brilliant opportunity to explore a more forgotten part of the world without the same number of tourists as in neighboring Thailand and Vietnam. Laos is particularly known for its waterfalls and the Mekong River, where swimming, tubing, zip-lining, and trekking are all easily available. Temple hopping and night markets tick off more cultural elements and viewing platforms dotted across the country offer unparalleled views. Vang Vieng is another unmissable spot in Laos, with caves to explore, rice terraces to wander through and the famed Blue Lagoons to relax back in.

INSIDER TIPLaos is very much a cash-first country, so try to always have small change on you instead of relying on cards or ATMs.

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Albania is a stone’s throw from Greece, which means it comes with the golden, sandy beaches, mountainous landscapes, and Balkan temperatures without the hordes of tourists and queues in every direction. Small but mighty, there’s always something going on in Albania, particularly if you find yourself in the country’s capital city, Tirana. Here, spontaneity is key, with street performers, art exhibitions, and miniature festivals popping up in every direction. The Albanian Riviera is another beautiful spot, with olive groves and crystal waters once again reminiscent of Greek islands. Visit the picturesque village of Berat for endless white ottoman homes dotted throughout the mountainsides or spend some time exploring the magnificent Albanian Alps and prepare to fall in love with the views. Gjirokaster will take you back in time with traditional markets, quaint architecture, and chilled-out vibes. Albania promises a wealth of experiences for every kind of solo traveler.

INSIDER TIPHead to Drymades on the Riviera for the perfect beach day with live music, clear water, and beach bars.

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The Galápagos, the jungles, the coast, and the snow-capped mountain peaks: Ecuador is a place for solo travelers to explore existing passions and discover new ones. It’s a country where getting bored is a foreign concept: even lazy days spent strolling through the streets come with impressive statues, educational walking tours, and sizzling street food stalls. Quito is a popular choice in Ecuador and for many reasons: take the highest cable car in South America up to the top of Cruz Loma, stand on the official Equator line and explore the colonial neighborhoods. Visit the famed Galápagos Islands for views straight out of Jurassic Park and world-class SCUBA diving or take a day trip to the rainbow-colored indigenous town of Otavalo to haggle for bargains at the market, admire the waterfall views, or bring out your creative side with traditional workshops.

INSIDER TIPTake a gondola up to the top of Vulcan Pinchincha to cuddle llamas and see incredible panoramic views.

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Slovenia is indescribably beautiful: a small country in Europe with a relaxed, blissful pace of life and a collection of miniature romantic cities and towns. Slovenia’s biggest highlight is arguably Lake Bled, a two-hour journey from Ljubljana, the capital, which offers endless exploring opportunities. Paddleboarding, mountaineering, and rowing are common activities here, along with hiking to the top of Bled Island and admiring the pastel blue and green shades in every direction. Elsewhere in Slovenia sits the Ljubljanica River, perfect for lazy cycle rides and incredibly fresh air. Natural thermal springs and healing waters make Slovenia a popular spot for the wellness crowd, while Ljubljana’s large hostelling community sets up camp in the capital for ice-cold beers and late-night parties. Slovenia’s history means it combines Germanic, Austrian, and Hungarian roots, promising a fusion of cultures and architecture that you’ll struggle to succinctly sum up.

INSIDER TIPStay in the lakeside huts around Lake Bled for a fairy-tale-esque start to your day.

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Malaysia is another brilliant starting point for those visiting Southeast Asia for the first time, with its large cities, backpacker-esque islands, and spectacular, cloud-tipped rainforests. If ever there was a country that beats the cliches to truly offer something for everyone, it would be Malaysia. The capital city, Kuala Lumpur, is a must-visit, with its mashup of modern Asian and western culture. Its brightly lit skyline is punctuated by the 451 meter-tall Petronas Twin Towers, followed closely by a number of stylish rooftop bars, shopping centers, and premium restaurants. Head up north to Penang, Malaysia’s food capital, for sandy beaches, British colonial buildings, energetic jungles, and dishes you’ll remember long after you’ve left the country. Malaysia is also home to endless lush tropical islands that bring postcard pictures to life. Langkawi is one of the most famous, with stunning sunsets and mountain backdrops.

INSIDER TIPTaxis are cheap and always available in Malaysia, so save the humid strolling and order a Grab for longer distances instead.

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Italian and Arabic culture fuse together as one in Malta, a beautiful sunny spot just south of Italy. Rugged and picturesque, with palm-tree fringed cities and astonishingly blue waters, a journey through this small-but-mighty country is akin to a trip through centuries. History buffs will adore Malta’s many UNESCO World Heritage Sites, like the uber peaceful City of Valletta and architecturally stunning Megalithic Temples. The laidback fishing village of Marsaxlokk paves the way towards the simultaneously angry and calming St. Peter’s Pool, or take a dip in the famed Blue Lagoon for a slightly calmer swimming adventure. A quick speedboat journey away from Malta is Gozo: a car-free paradise with winding roads, rural hiking paths, and a wealth of SCUBA diving sites. Although the Maltese language might seem puzzling, English is also spoken here as an official language, making navigating a piece of cake.

INSIDER TIPThe currents in Malta can be strong even if the sea looks peaceful on the surface. Stick to areas with lifeguards or flags in place.

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A west African gem glittering with busy coastal cities, diverse landscapes, and a never-faltering sense of curiosity, Ghana is an often under-appreciated solo travel hotspot where you’ll instantly feel at home. Ghana’s main cities, Accra, Kumasi, Takoradi, and Tamale are home to exciting surroundings that come in all shapes, colors, sizes, and smells. Capital city Accra is a small but wonderful haven for foodies, with scorching street food stalls and a huge variety of intricately flavored chocolates ready to sample. Outside of Accra, Kumasi in the Ashanti Region is a wonderful spot for wildlife and tribal history, or visit Takoradi to immerse yourself into West African shopping culture. Ghana’s tropical savannahs can’t be overlooked, either: rainforests like Bia National Park are home to a stunning variety of flora and fauna like something out of a fairytale.

INSIDER TIPKakum National Park is the place to escape for the weekend for locals and tourists alike.

Avatar for thursdaysd
thursdaysd May 23, 2021

Been to all of those except Ecuador and Ghana, and solo aside from Malta. Any other suggestions? Although I think the list of countries NOT suitable for solo travel would be shorter. Hard to think of any that aren't also off limits for all travelers, like Afghanistan.