Traveling alone is no longer taboo. In fact, it's now trendy to go on trips alone, as more and more people are discovering the freedom of exploring a new place on their own terms. At the same time, community groups, meet-ups, and a vast wealth of online and digital resources have made it easier than ever to hit the road solo. From the stunning landscapes of Iceland to the sultry beaches of Belize, many destinations are friendly to independent travelers. Still undecided? Here are some tips on destinations known to be safe and where to look in each. Happy solo travels!
by Anisha Shah
Outdoor activities are king in Iceland. Base yourself in the capital for easy day trips to virtually any corner of the country, beauty spot, or adventurous activity. Iceland frequently tops solo travelers' lists of most user-friendly destinations. In Reykjavik, hang out at The Laundromat Café, a social meeting hub where travelers and locals casually dine, wash laundry, drink coffee, read books, and share travel tips.
Insider Tip: If you’re daunted by the thought of eating alone, The Laundromat Café also makes for an ideal dining spot. Head there for a late lunch and chances are you’ll meet others and end up staying until dinner, or perhaps even traveling together afterwards.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Reykjavik Guide
With an extraordinary array of bistros and cafés, Paris is a city where you can while away hours poring over a café au lait, chocolate chaud, and sumptuous patisseries while observing French culture through the fenêtres (windows) on the Champs-Élysées. Solo travelers gravitate towards Café de Flore and Deux Magots, which serve as meeting places for solo travelers to join up to explore the city. Also of note: Paris is a relatively safe European city for women traveling alone.
Insider Tip: Check out the hugely popular Franglish, a speed-dating-type event minus the dating, where you rotate tables with French-speakers to improve your language skills and make friends.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Paris Guide
Yoga, spirituality, spas, massages, beaches, organic eateries and markets— are you sold, yet? With such diversity, Bali is a staple for solo travelers from across the globe. People drift into its ease of life and wealth of fellow traveler-settlers. It helps that food is delicious and cheap, as is the cost of living in general.
Insider Tip: Begin a trip at Family Guesthouse in Ubud, which provides budget-friendly accommodation in a central location. Attracting repeat visitors, this is a popular base for meeting and mingling with other travelers over sumptuous communal breakfasts in a lush tropical property.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Bali Guide
Solo travel and Bangkok have a long and convoluted history. It’s often said that you’d be lucky to meet a Thai in some parts of Bangkok. Luckily, other parts retain deep-rooted authenticity, which still attracts even the worldliest travelers. Temples, floating markets, cheap shopping, and nightlife galore keep the most active visitors busy traversing the city thanks to its excellent infrastructure.
Insider Tip: If you’re happy to meet backpackers by the dozen, head to Khao San Road: a hub of hostels, bars and youngsters living it up. Otherwise, any spot of particular personal interest to you is a likely way to meet others with similar interests. Bangkok is notorious for creating easy friendships.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Bangkok Guide
The capital of Andalusia reflects all the romantic notions of Spain, as it plays home to Moorish architecture, bullfighting, and flamenco. Easily navigable on foot, Seville offers colorful ceramics, cobbled alleyways and mouth-watering markets. The city is a photographer’s dream with inexhaustible charm, luring enthusiasts to stay a while.
Insider Tip: Seville blissfully blends the best of food and socializing. Drenched in warm climes, locals congregate outside tapas bars, which are the foundation of community spirit. One favorite is Casa Morales, where the reputation for authenticity precedes itself. Chat with friendly locals over shrimp and chunks of garlic cooked in terra-cotta dishes.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Seville Guide
With an infrastructure geared for tourists, solo travel is straightforward in “The Pearl of the Adriatic,” as christened by Lord Byron. Shoulder season is warm and not yet overcrowded. Take day trips to Montenegro or Bosnia and Herzegovina. If adventure gets you going, take a hiking or rock climbing tour with Croatia Traveller, where you’ll meet others with the same interest or relax on an island cruise with others while sipping sundowners along the dramatic Dalmatian coastline.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Dubrovnik Guide
Anyone anywhere could make friends over a pint of Guinness, and Irish hospitality is world-famed for warmth and friendliness, especially in Dublin. Head to a traditional Irish pub, havens of chatter, to converse with locals who are completely used to tourists, even in the most remote countryside spots. Join walking tours exploring the literary greats, from Oscar Wilde to George Bernard Shaw, earning Dublin its UNESCO City of Literature status.
Insider Tip: For a reasonably priced and elegant stay, try Kilronan House. An 8-minute stroll from major attractions, owner Terry Masterton goes all out to help with itineraries, sightseeing, and introducing guests to others.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Dublin Guide
WHERE: New Zealand
The adventure capital of New Zealand’s South Island can leave you exasperated trying to fit it all in. From bungee jumping to zorbing to horseback riding, Queenstown is a mecca for adventure travellers. There's also superb gastronomy and nightlife, too. Travelers often end up staying longer than planned, so consider yourself warned. It’s easy to rent a car or join a group trip; the latter is a sure-fire way to meet others traveling through a country known for its safety.
Insider Tip: A great starting point is the BBH Budget Backpacker Hostels. Even non-backpackers will find connections and tips on the website alone. Time2Go provides invaluable meet-and-greet orientation tours, by locals, on arrival.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Queenstown Guide
Consistently raved about by travelers for its advanced transportation networks, excellent restaurants, and beautiful public spaces, Santiago is a sophisticated and accessible yet authentic South American city. Head straight for Bellavista, a trendy bohemian quarter with bars, quirky buildings, and artistic graffiti. Within easy reach from Santiago are colorfulValparaiso and glitzy Vina del Mar.
Insider Tip: Drink a michelada at Bar Don Rodrigo (Victoria Subercaseaux 355, Santiago), a time warp to the past. Perch on a bar stool and chat with friendly barman Don Santiago, who’ll look after you and even introduce you to the locals. It’s probable you’ll find yourself going native with invitations to family asdos (barbecues), as the locals are very inviting.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Santiago Guide
Nature has a way of bringing people together. In the Masai Mara’s vast Big 5 terrain, a safari plunges visitors deep into the grasslands. Independent travelers are joined up with others on Jeep safaris, providing an instant set of friends. June to October is best to witness the Great Migration, a movement of millions of wildebeests. But during low season, many lodges waive single supplements.
Insider Tip: Stay in a setting designed to meet others. Naibor Camp is intimate, with few eco-luxury tents where guests can interact over communal dining with the friendly and entertaining managing couple, Ken and Michelle. Dinner is preceded by drinks around the campfire under immense starlight.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Masai Mara Guide
Summer is kicking in the bohemian and laid-back city of Vancouver. Live music festivals, such as Osheaga, are a big draw here. Non-stop summer sunshine guarantees plenty of outdoor fun, allowing you to bask in the rays in the signature, relaxed ambiance for which Vancouver has become known.
Insider Tip: Over the summer, students rent out their rooms on the rental section of website Couchsurfing, which has a huge global following. Many travelers use the site to make local friends before even stepping foot in the city. It’s always fun to head to gigs and events with people.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Vancouver Guide
The coolest Central American destination right now has to be Belize. Ambergris Caye lives up to the hype, and there are bars, beaches, and natural beauty in huge quantities. Interspersed with Mayan ruins, a spectacular barrier reef, and rainforest, this English-speaking nation appeals to expats and solo travelers alike.
Insider Tip: Stay at Victoria House for an expansive private beach and friendly staff very willing to show you safely around town. The Phoenix is a sassy, stylish spot with fully loaded apartments, including a mobile phone and the best concierge in town for handy hangout tips.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Ambergris Caye Guide
You'll need 3–4 days in Tokyo at the very least. Indulge in the cuisine with sushi, ramen, and tempura that's better than you've ever tasted. If you’re keen to meet English speakers, head to Pink Cow bar in Roppongi, known for its expat following. The Hub is a chain of pubs, popular with younger crowds, where it’s easy to meet people organically.
Insider Tip: The buzzy name on the traveler scene is Asakusa Smile hostel, a popular spot for meeting fellow travellers. Traditional ryokan guesthouses also offer plenty local interaction. The Friends section of Japanguide.com is great for meeting locals online before heading out. The site has a good track record.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Tokyo Guide
WHERE: Southwest USA
This beautiful, vast Grand Circle spans five states loaded with national parks and monuments, interwoven by designated scenic byways. It’s an attractive route to Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon, Zion National Park, and more.
Insider Tip: Hire a tour guide, rent a car, and meet fellow solo travelers on the way. Grand Circle's website has tour guides and connects travelers online. Otherwise, meet people in lodges en route, like Far View Lodge. Guided tours and ferry trips, such as Burr Ferry, are always teeming with visitors from across the globe who are often happy to meet others on the journey.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Grand Circle’s Website
Whale watching, dog-sledding, horseback riding through the mountains, and eating fresh salmon are just a few of the highlights onboard an Alaska cruise.
Insider Tip: An Alaska cruise offers a happy medium for independent travelers, with an instant set of friends with whom to dine and enjoy activities. The safety net of tour guides appeals to solo travelers, who can take excursions together yet retain personal space back on the ship. For a small boutique service, try Un-Cruise Adventures, which offers exciting itineraries for those who aren’t typical cruise-goers.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Alaska Guide