This Valentine’s Day, we’re championing solo travel.
As special as it is to share travel experiences with loved ones, there’s something truly unique about exploring the world on your own terms. Travelling alone offers an unparalleled sense of freedom and independence, providing space to think and reflect, a new perspective on the world, and pushing you outside your comfort zone.
Whether you’re a seasoned solo traveller, or are considering your first solo trip, we’ve compiled a list of some of the best destinations for going it alone.
South Island, New Zealand
If you’re looking to find yourself, the panoramic landscapes of New Zealand’s South Island are an excellent place to start.
Ranked the world’s second safest country in the latest Global Peace Index, New Zealand is an ideal destination for first-time solo travellers. New Zealanders are notoriously laid back and outgoing, their overt friendliness referred to in local slang as ‘tu meke’ (too good). It’s a country particularly accessible to backpackers, with its many hostels and backpacker facebook groups making it easy to meet fellow travellers, and regular Intercity buses an easy and inexpensive way to get around.
Set against stunning fjords, glaciers and waterfalls, the South Island offers a wealth of activities for the solo adventurer, from hiking to bungee jumping to skydiving. Milford Sound with its cliffs and waterfalls is particularly popular among self-guided hikers, while the snowy mountains of Queenstown are ideal for extreme sports.
Where better to embrace independence than the city that never sleeps? The hustle and bustle of a city that doesn’t care who you are or why you’re eating alone provides a unique sense of anonymity and freedom.
With so much to see and do, New York leaves little time for loneliness. Wile away an afternoon exploring the Met, the Frick collection or the MoMa, or sit and people watch in Central Park or an edgy Brooklyn café.
New York’s bartop dining culture takes the self-consciousness out of eating alone, while its lively nightlife offers something for everyone, and makes solo-socialising easy.
Public displays of affection are frowned upon in Nepal, so if you’re looking to escape the Valentine’s Day hysteria, this could be the solo travel destination for you.
The people of Nepal are said to be the friendliest in the world. With Hindiusm and Buddhism dominant religions, the Napalese culture is deeply spiritual, embracing tolerance and gratitude. With a wide variety of spiritual tours and yoga retreats on offer, and a wealth of beautiful temples to explore, Nepal is a great option for those seeking some mindful reflection.
The Himalayan mountains offer not only stunning panoramic views, but excellent terrain for activities, providing rich opportunities for trekking, rock climbing and white-water rafting. Trekking alone is less safe in Nepal than New Zealand, but organised group trips are a great way to meet people, while still retaining some independence. For thrill-seekers, Nepal is home to the second-highest bungee jump in the world, taking place over the formidable Bhote Koshi River.
Rumour has it that you’re more likely to get into the infamous Berghain nightclub if you go alone.
This is just one of many ways in which Berlin champions individuality, making it highly accessible to solo travellers. Despite the exclusivity of some of its nightclubs, Berliners are incredibly friendly, and English is widely spoken.
With so much turbulence in its recent history, Berlin is a fascinating city to explore. The Berlin Wall, which has now become an art installation in its own right, is a good place to start, but the remnants of its division can be felt throughout the entire city, with East and West Berlin still distinguished by radically contrasting architecture and cultural influences.
Other must-see landmarks include the Holocaust Memorial, the Brandenburg Gate, the Reichstag and Museum Island: an impressive complex of five museums that has been awarded UNESCO World Heritage Status. A good way to fit it all in (and to meet likeminded travellers) is by booking yourself a place on a city bike tour, which tend to be fun and inexpensive. It’s worth noting that beer bike tours are also very much a thing in Berlin.
If eating out alone feels daunting, Berlin has a great array of informal dining options, like the communal tables at the Mogg and Melzer deli, the Kadawe Food Hall, or one of Berlin’s many traditional farmers’ markets.
Situated between Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines and Malaysia, Singapore is a great first stop on an Asia trip. Safe, clean, and easy to get around, it’s a good option for first-time solo travellers, with a very low crime rate, excellent public transport, and city-wide Wi-Fi access. Despite its South Asian, East Asian and Malay influences, English is its prevailing language.
A cultural melting pot, Singapore offers an insight into a variety of diverse influences. Ancient temples are set against modern skyscrapers, while pockets like Little India and Chinatown offer miniature windows into other worlds.
Singapore is famed for its gardens, with highlights including the Mac Ritchie Reservoir Park, and the Botanic Gardens, Singapore’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site. A must-see is Cloud Forest, a 35-metre-tall mountain covered in vegetation, concealing the world’s largest indoor waterfall.
Singapore’s popular food court culture, with communal seating, lends itself to solo dining. The oldest of these is Maxwell Food Centre, which can be found in Chinatown. For dynamic nightlife, head to the vibrant Clarke Quay or Riverside area.
With its dynamic cultural life and sociable hostel scene, Amsterdam is another great option for those traveling alone. The Dutch are warm and welcoming, and speak good English. Pedestrianised streets make the city walkable, but the best way to get around is to do as the locals do, and rent a bike.
Like Berlin, the city is full of historical and cultural attractions, like the Anne Frank House and the Van Goph Museum. To avoid the crowds, head to the Plantage neighbourhood, where you’ll find the Hortus Botanical Gardens, the Artis Zoo and the Jewish Historical Museum. To explore alternative Amsterdam, get a ferry to the Noord, with its modern architecture and edgy waterside cafes and bars.