Best for: Natural wonders
Hewn from millennia of volcanic eruptions, Iceland’s landscape truly is one-of-a-kind. Here you can walk inside ancient glaciers, watch the Northern Lights from a hot tub, and even venture inside the crater of a volcano – long extinct, of course.
Icelandic hospitality is warm and all-encompassing – and solo travellers are welcomed with open arms. There are plenty of day trips to explore the geysirs and waterfalls of the ‘Golden Circle’ and beyond, and car hire is easy to arrange if you fancy exploring alone.
Safety concerns? Iceland has one of the world’s lowest crime rates. Its main roads are well-maintained, though dangerous extreme weather. Locals are generally very friendly, and happy to help solo travellers.
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2. Dubai, UAE
Best for: A taste of the Middle East
While Dubai is famed for its shopping malls and beaches (both of which you should definitely explore), it also offers a safe, bite-sized introduction to the Middle East – perfect if you’re looking for something a little more exotic from your holidays.
Jumeirah mosque, Dubai (Alamy)
Head to Bur Dubai to ride a traditional abra boat across the Creek to the gold and spice souks – where you can haggle for jewellery while the scent of frankincense dances on the breeze. Sand dune safaris, desert barbecues and henna painting are also easy to book through your hotel or tour operator.
Safety concerns? Dubai is very safe for solo females, though you should take the usual city precautions. Note that when visiting religious sites, you should cover your head, legs and shoulders, though normal clothing is fine elsewhere.
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3. Granada, Spain
Best for: Culture and architecture
With its voluptuous archways and exquisite mosaics, the Alhambra Palace looks like it’s been lifted from the pages of Arabian Nights – and you simply must explore it if you’re visiting Granada. The fortress was built in the 13th century, by Moorish conquerors from North Africa, and remains one of the country’s most spectacular buildings.
Alhambra Palace, Granada (Alamy)
It’s easy to get around Granada, and there’s more than enough sightseeing to fill an action-packed few days. Try a flamenco dance class, shop for Moroccan treasures in Alcaiceria, and feast on unforgettable tapas in the centre of town. If you love culture and food, this is one of Spain’s best places to travel alone.
Safety concerns? Exercise the usual caution that you would in cities, especially at night, and be wary of pick-pockets.
4. New York City, USA
Best for: A bucket list city break
The Big Apple is surprisingly solo-friendly. If you’ve always wanted to visit, now’s the time: thanks to the likes of Norwegian Air and Wow Airlines, it’s never been cheaper to fly from the UK. Attractions and restaurants are geared up for single guests – and with no +1 it’s much easier to bag a seat at that sell-out Broadway show.
Manhattan skyline (Alamy)
NYC is easy to navigate on foot, and the Subway system is generally very safe. As with any city, locals can seem a little standoffish, but with such a huge range of tourists from all over the world it’s easy to strike up conversations with other holidaymakers.
Safety concerns? NYC is a big city, with a few no-go areas after dark. Keep your wits about you, and exercise usual precautions.
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Best for: Whale watching and hiking
Thanks to its far-flung location, this Portuguese archipelago (which is actually a long way from the mainland, in the North Atlantic Ocean) is easy to overlook – but has lots of adventures up its sleeve. It’s one of the best places in the world for spotting whales and dolphins, which swim through the waters year-round, migrating and feeding on the fish-rich waters.
The island of Sao Miguel, Azores (Alamy)
The volcanic landscape is lush and mountainous, with lots of hiking and biking trails for all abilities. The local welcome is warm, and the islands are virtually crime-free – perfect for solo travellers.
Safety concerns? Falling in love with the islands and never wanting to come home…
6. Rajasthan, India
Best for: Colour and chaos
You might think that India is too daunting to visit alone, but that doesn’t have to be the case. It’s a very popular destination for escorted group tours which are perfect for solo travellers – we’re even running our own exclusive Marigold Hotel-themed trip! – so you can explore the country’s best bits in the company of a great guide, as well as a whole new group of friends.
Palace of the Winds, Jaipur (Alamy)
Rajasthan is the country’s most colourful state – bedecked with ornate temples, royal palaces converted into lavish hotels, and of course the Taj Mahal itself.
Safety concerns? ‘Delhi belly’ and crime are the main concerns, but travelling with an expert guide – and staying in high-quality hotels – will lessen the risk. Take heed of your tour operator’s advice.
7. Stockholm, Sweden
Best for: Culture and island hopping
For the solo traveller who wants to fill their days with museums and galleries, Stockholm has an embarrassment of riches. You can browse contemporary photography in Fotografiska, modern art in Moderna Museet, regal relics at the Royal Palace… and ABBA memorabilia at the Swedish Music Hall of Fame. It’s one of Europe’s best places to travel alone.
Stockholm old town (Alamy)
Just 20 minutes outside the city, the Stockholm Archipelago awaits: over 30,000 wild and wonderful islands, ripe for exploring on easy day trips or island hopping tours. The islands are dotted with small, friendly villages, where the welcome is always warm.
Safety concerns? Follow common sense in the city, and use a guide if you want more far-flung adventures in the archipelago.
Best for: Easy beach hopping
Sure, you could fly and flop on a gorgeous Maltese beach, but which one to choose? Malta and Gozo are blessed with countless pristine sandy coves, each more idyllic than the last – so you should do some exploring while you’re here. The islands are small in size, and have a good network of buses, so even for the solo traveller it’s a cinch to find that perfect bay.
Lower Barrakka Gardens, Valletta, Malta (Alamy)
So where to start? Make a beeline for Golden Bay (which lives up to its name), Mellieha (Malta’s longest sandy beach), and Paradise Bay in the north. Grab a map and start exploring – and if you ask nicely enough, locals might even let you in on their favourites…
Safety concerns? Crime rates are low (even for petty theft), and most Maltese beaches have lifeguards.
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9. Guernsey, Channel Islands
Best for: A foodie weekend
This little island is big on food – in fact, it prides itself on being virtually self-sufficient. With its sunny microclimate and rich soils (from all that fresh sea air), Guernsey’s chefs have some of the British Isles’ finest ingredients at their fingertips – and the locally-caught fish and lobster are superb.
Petit Port Bay, Guernsey (Alamy)
Eat your way around the island on a foodie weekend, or coincide your visit with the top-notch Guernsey Food Festival. You’ll find everything from foraging workshops to surf lessons and sea kayaking, too – and solo travellers are welcomed and well catered for.
Safety concerns? The Channel Islands are super-safe, though laden with delicious cheeses and Guernsey cream. You have been warned.
10. Helsinki, Finland
Best for: Off the beaten track
The friendly, walkable Finnish capital is perfect for solo city breakers who want to venture beyond Europe’s main hotspots. You might not know much about Helsinki, but that’s all part of its charm: it’s free of tourist crowds, and its main sights (Lutheran Cathedral, Olympic Tower observation deck and Sibelius Monument) can easily fill a day.
Helsinki Cathedral (Alamy)
Don’t leave without experiencing a genuine wood-heated Finnish sauna (Kotiharjun Sauna is the city’s most authentic), or taking a quick trip out to Suomenlinna Island (20 minutes by ferry). Suomenlinna is home to a huge Unesco-listed fortress which dates back to the 1700s, and has magnificent views of Helsinki.
Safety concerns? Helsinki is mostly very safe, though be cautious around Central train station after dark.
Best for: Easy, exotic city break
Singapore is one of Asia’s best places to travel alone: you can explore its sights and streets without fear of catcalls or bag snatching, thanks to its tough stance on crime. Hit the shops on Orchard Road (Asia’s most famous shopping drag), sip a Singapore Sling in the Raffles Hotel (where the cocktail was first conceived), and take a lofty walk among the ‘supertrees’ of the Gardens By The Bay – the city’s futuristic green space.
Gardens by the Bay, Singapore (Alamy)
Thanks to Singapore’s thriving expat population, you can experience multiple cultures in just one day. Explore Chinatown’s markets, discover street food and spice shops in Little India, and tour Asia on a plate in one of the city’s famous international food halls – where you can feast on authentic dishes for just a few dollars.
Safety concerns? Singapore has one of the world’s lowest crime rates. It is very safe for solo women, even at night.
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