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Published: May 26, 2023 18 min read

Traveling exposes us to new places, cultures and people. For many, it’s one of the great joys of life. If you're an independent spirit looking for safe places to travel by yourself, our guide can be an excellent place to start your research.

Keep reading to learn about our top picks for the best places to travel alone and how to make the most of your trip.

Our Top Picks for Best Places to Travel Solo

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Best Places to Travel Solo Reviews

Best for first-time solo travelers: Barcelona, Spain

  • Offers many travel experiences in a single city
  • Easy to get around town without a car
  • Year-round good weather means you can visit in any season
  • More expensive than other options on our list
  • Can get very busy during popular travel times

Why we chose it: Barcelona is a beautiful and historic European city with something for everyone to enjoy. It boasts stunning gothic architecture, sandy beaches, a bustling nightlife and prices that will help you stretch your budget.

Spain is considerably affordable compared to other European countries, and Barcelona is its crown jewel. The city has roots tracing back to the end of the 1st century BCE and beautiful architecture throughout its winding streets, such as Gaudí's Casa Batlló and his world-famous unfinished church, La Sagrada Familia.

If you tire of exploring Barcelona’s impressive history, gorgeous Barceloneta Beach is just a few minutes away from the city center. And at night, you’ll find plenty of entertainment options, from rooftop bars and clubs to concert venues and flamenco shows.

Barcelona is excellent for first-time solo travelers because its compact layout, wide sidewalks and excellent public transportation makes getting around town without a car a breeze. U.S. travelers can also visit for up to 90 days without a visa. However, Barcelona is more expensive than other options on our list and can be very busy during popular travel times.

Best for solo backpacking: Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

  • Very affordable accommodations, food and attractions
  • Is easy to navigate, with a developed transportation system
  • Has a vibrant expat community
  • U.S. citizens need a tourist visa to visit Vietnam

Why we chose it: Ho Chi Minh City is a bustling and affordable city that offers a wide range of attractions for solo travelers, from inexpensive food and accommodations to an abundance of cultural and historical sites.

Visiting Ho Chi Minh City has become something of a bucket-list item for many backpackers. Its vibrant culture, friendly people and amazing food attract millions of tourists annually. And it's also one of Vietnam’s safest cities.

Try some of the mouth-watering street food available in pretty much every corner of the city (especially Districts 1, 3 and 5), do some shopping at the Ben Thanh Market, visit the Notre Dame Cathedral or book a tour of the Mekong Delta to learn more about the local flora and fauna.

Getting around is also pretty easy, with many transportation options, from the new metro to buses, taxis and motorbikes. However, one thing to keep in mind is that U.S. citizens need to apply for a Visa before they can be granted entry into Vietnam.

Best for solo female travelers: Montreal, Canada

  • Very safe and walkable city
  • Visitors can stay for up to six months without a Visa
  • Toronto is only five hours away by direct train
  • Not a great option for budget travelers
  • The winter weather can be harsh

Why we chose it: Montreal is one of the safest cities in Canada, and it is only a short flight away for travelers from the U.S. The city has a vibrant art scene, a diverse population and plenty of old-world charm with its mix of classic and modern architecture.

Traveling solo as a woman might cause your loved ones some anxiety. But Montreal is a great place for women to travel alone. The city is safe and offers much to do, from beautiful architecture, such as Notre-Dame Basilica, to artisanal shopping in Old Montreal. And while the population is predominantly French-speaking, many residents also speak English, so you should have no problem communicating.

Visitors from the United States can stay in Montreal for up to six months without a visa. It’s also a good point of departure for exploring the rest of Canada. Trains depart for Toronto several times a day, and the trip is about five hours.

Accommodations in Montreal can be more expensive than in other international destinations, but enrolling in the best hotel rewards programs may help.

Best for going on solo travel tours: Chicago, Illinois

  • You can find many different types of guided tours
  • Has an excellent public transportation system
  • One of the best culinary destinations in the U.S.
  • Weather can be unpleasant if you visit at the wrong time

Why we chose it: Chicago is home to some of the best travel tours in the country. From river cruises to walking food and drink excursions, you’ll have no problem filling your time in the Windy City.

Chicago is one of the best places to travel in the U.S. It’s home to a wide variety of guided tours, covering everything from the city’s mob history to its architecture and natural landmarks. And if you love Chicago dogs or deep-dish pizza, you can take a walking food tour to enjoy some of the city's best restaurants in a single day.

Chicago is also home to inspiring architecture, such as Willis Tower and Cloud Gate in Millennium Park. The city is a more affordable place to visit than other U.S. cities of its size, including San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York. And if you visit in summer, you’ll have perfect weather for relaxing on the beaches of Lake Michigan, located in the heart of the city.

Depending on what you're looking for, visiting the city between May and October could be your best bet, as winters can be very cold, with average temperatures ranging between 22 F and 37 F.

Best budget solo travel destination: Ljubljana, Slovenia

  • A highly affordable travel destination
  • Easy entrance requirements for U.S. citizens
  • Classic European architecture and dining options
  • Plenty of green spaces to lounge and relax
  • Doesn't have a strong nightlife culture
  • Crowds can be overwhelming during peak travel seasons

Why we chose it: Slovenia is one of the most affordable European countries, and Ljubljana is one of the country’s most beautiful destinations. It’s home to classic European cobblestone streets and its stunning architecture and exhibits can keep you busy for weeks without breaking your budget.

Ljubljana is an affordable European destination with beautiful green spaces and incredible architecture, including the Ljubljana Castle and the Robba Fountain. It's also highly walkable and pedestrian-friendly, as car traffic is banned in the city center.

Hotels are cheaper here than in more popular destinations such as France or Italy, which is a big reason why Ljubljana is one of the best international places to travel. There are also many great affordable restaurants and open-air cafes.

U.S. citizens can remain in Slovenia for up to 90 days without a visa, making it easy to extend their stay with the money they save.

However, Ljubljana is not known for its nightlife, as many bars close earlier than elsewhere in Europe. Plus, it has become more popular in recent years, and crowds are abundant during peak seasons, especially the summer.

Other places to travel solo we considered

We compiled our list of the best places to travel alone by evaluating global destinations based on safety, affordability, cultural and historical sites and convenience, among other factors.

Although the following destinations didn’t make it into our top list, they’re still worth considering as you plan your travels.

Reykjavik, Iceland

  • Close to beautiful natural landmarks
  • It's possible to see the Northern Lights when conditions allow
  • Home to many museums and several Michelin-starred restaurants
  • More expensive than other popular travel destinations
  • The region's weather can be bleak
  • Long periods of darkness and sunlight can interfere with your sleep schedule

Reykjavik is one of the most beautiful cities in the world, with stunning mountains and beaches everywhere you look. However, it’s an expensive destination and experiences prolonged periods of darkness and sunlight that may be difficult to adjust to.

Lima, Peru

  • Some of the best food in South America
  • Miles of beautiful coastline to explore
  • Friendly locals – many of whom speak at least some English
  • Travelers can suffer from altitude sickness in some popular attractions
  • The city is sprawling, which can increase travel times and make traffic worse

Lima is a beautiful South American destination with picturesque beaches and affordable accommodations. It’s also a foodie’s dream, with a wide variety of tasty local and international restaurants available at budget-friendly prices.

Just remember that traffic congestions are common and can make it hard to get around. Additionally, some travelers may experience altitude sickness in high-altitude locations like Cusco and Machu Picchu.

Knoxville, Tennessee

  • Has beautiful outdoor settings
  • Minimal traffic
  • Moderate prices for accommodations
  • There isn't as much to do in Knoxville as in other travel destinations
  • Public transportation options are limited

Knoxville is the third-largest city in Tennessee, but it maintains a small-town feel. It’s home to beautiful attractions, such as the Great Smoky Mountains and the World’s Fair Park, and has enough cultural exhibits and museums to keep you busy.

Nevertheless, there isn’t quite as much to do here as in other cities, and public transportation is comparatively limited.

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Places to Travel Solo Guide

Traveling alone can be intimidating, but a little preparation can go a long way. This guide covers some of the best travel tips to help you plan your next solo trip.

Why travel solo?

As with everything, there are pros and cons to traveling alone.

Some of the benefits of solo travel include:

  • The ability to plan trips according to your schedule
  • Paying less for dining and experiences
  • Stepping out of your comfort zone and getting to know yourself better
  • Having more time to reflect and relax in peace

Of course, to enjoy your solo vacation to the fullest, practice general safety precautions. Be aware of your surroundings at all times, do some proper research before visiting new places and consider hiring a guide if you're doing outdoor activities in remote locations.

How to travel alone

Traveling alone can be a wonderful experience. But it often requires more planning and initiative than group trips. The following tips for traveling alone should help you make the most of your next solo trip.

Research your travel destination extensively

The more research you do before visiting a destination, the more prepared you will be to enjoy it. Pay close attention to the following:

  • Climate: Be aware of the weather conditions at your destination to avoid potential hazards, pack the right gear and plan appropriate activities.
  • Top attractions: Plan your itinerary by mapping out the attractions you want to visit and checking their distance from your accommodations. This will help you create a realistic schedule and determine if you need to book transportation for any day trips.
  • Cost: Consider the average cost of accommodations, meals and attractions to create a realistic budget.
  • Public transportation: This is an important consideration, as visiting a destination with insufficient or unreliable public transportation translates into additional expenses.
  • Language barrier: Consider downloading translation apps or learning basic phrases in your destination's native language if English isn't widely spoken there.
  • Food: If you have any dietary restrictions, check the availability of suitable food options at your destination and plan your meals.

Stay connected with your friends and family

When traveling alone, keep your loved ones informed of where you'll be and what you'll be doing. That way, your family can call for help if they don't hear back from you in a reasonable timeframe.

Depending on your destination, you may consider purchasing an international SIM card or an international phone plan with your existing carrier to text and call your people back home.

Finally, you can register your trip with the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) through the U.S. State Department. STEP is a free service that allows you to receive automatic safety and travel updates from the U.S. embassy in the country you’re visiting. It also makes it easier for friends and family to reach you in an emergency.

Consider travel insurance

If you've spent quite a bit of money on non-refundable travel expenses and it hasn't been that long since you made your initial trip deposit, consider travel insurance to safeguard your investment. A travel insurance policy can help you recoup a portion of pre-paid travel expenses if you cancel or interrupt your trip for a covered reason.

Travel medical insurance could also be worthwhile if you're going on an extended trip, as it would cover some of your medical expenses in an emergency, including medical evacuation and repatriation. And some plans even include additional services like language support, which could be helpful if English isn't widely spoken where you're visiting.

If this sounds like something you're interested in, check out our guide to the best travel insurance companies.

Try new things

Now that we’ve covered some of the most important things to do before leaving for a solo trip, let's explore how to get as much enjoyment out of your travels as possible while you’re there. The best advice we can give you is to get out of your comfort zone and try new things.

If you genuinely want to experience everything other cultures have to offer, you can’t spend your days doing the same things you do at home. So take a chance and live as the locals do. You’ll be happy you did.

Interact with the locals

The best way to forget you’re traveling alone is to befriend the locals. Your new friends can keep you company, guide you to the best places in town (the ones that aren’t in any tourist guides) and help to make your trip more enjoyable overall.

Meeting locals is much easier to do now than before the Internet. A wide variety of online resources can connect you to local events and groups where you can meet people. Some of the best options for this include:

  • Meetup.com
  • Bumble BFF
  • Facebook expat groups for the destination you’re visiting
  • The subreddit for your destination (such as r/Paris and r/Chicago)

Some professional and religious groups may have international meetups as well. This can be a fantastic way to meet locals with whom you already have something in common.

Take plenty of pictures (with you in them)

Last but not least, make sure you take plenty of pictures to share with your people back home. Landmarks can be great, but you should also be in some of the photos. Most people will happily snap pictures of you if you ask nicely.

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What to do when traveling alone

Traveling alone can be one of the best experiences of your life or a challenge that quickly loses its appeal. To give yourself the best chance of having an ideal trip, remember the following strategies during your travels:

  • Be flexible: Flexibility is a must for solo travelers. You’ll have more fun if you take advantage of chance encounters and throw away your schedule when necessary.
  • Take group tours and classes: Just because you arrive at your destination alone doesn’t mean you must spend every minute there alone. Group tours and classes will help you meet people and give you a chance to socialize when you’re feeling lonely.
  • Stay in places that encourage talking: If you’re concerned about feeling lonely, consider staying at a hostel or bed and breakfast. Shared accommodations like these are more affordable than the best hotels and can be a great way to meet people.
  • Gather first-hand advice: You can use Reddit and other resources to read about the experiences other solo travelers have had at your destination. These firsthand accounts can alert you to problems you may not have considered otherwise and new opportunities for fun.
  • Sign up for free rewards programs: Airlines, hotel chains and third-party booking sites often have reward programs that help you save money if you’re a frequent traveler. You may also want to look into the best airline credit cards and best travel credit cards if you plan on traveling alone regularly.
  • Prioritize your safety: Traveling alone can make you a target, so prioritizing safety is important. Be proactive about telling others where you’ll be and take yourself out of situations you feel unsure about to enjoy your trip without incident.

Staying safe is a critical consideration for solo travelers. One way to do that is by avoiding reckless behavior, such as drinking excessively and venturing alone into places locals deem unsafe.

Take the time to thoroughly research your destination, share your travel plans with friends and family and prepare an emergency plan.

Finally, consider travel insurance. If something does happen while you're traveling alone, it will provide financial support so you can go to the hospital without worrying about breaking your budget.

You could save up enough money to make the cost of travel insurance negligible by signing up for one of the best airline rewards programs.

Places to Travel Solo FAQ

What are the safest places to travel alone?

Some of the safest countries for traveling solo are Canada, Iceland, New Zealand and Ireland. Because of this, major cities in these countries tend to be popular choices for solo travelers.

Is solo female travel safe?

Traveling alone can be safe, regardless of gender, if you take the proper precautions. Those include researching your destination, being aware of your surroundings and avoiding high-risk activities like drinking too much or going to places generally deemed unsafe, especially alone and at night.

How old do you have to be to travel alone?

The age at which you can travel alone depends on your destination and airline. In the United States, children as young as five can travel unaccompanied by an adult. Still, depending on the airline, they may have to follow unaccompanied minor procedures until age 12 or 15.

How We Chose the Best Places to Travel Solo

We evaluated the best places to travel solo based on the following criteria:

  • Cost of accommodations, experiences and meals
  • Crime rates
  • Reviews and guides from experienced solo travelers
  • Natural and cultural attractions
  • Strictness of entry criteria

Summary of Money’s Best Places to Travel Solo