Solo Travel Europe: Top Destinations and Tips
The age of solo travel is on the rise! Travel junkies unite! …for a solo trip. Whether it’s your first or tenth solo trip, we’re all for it.
Explorers of all ages, races, and backgrounds looking to shake the mundane dust from their daily lives and see more of the world are taking the leap to travel alone. For some, it’s simply because they have no one to go with. For others, their original partner travel plans fall through, and they have to choose to forgo the trip or go it alone. And for others, they just like going it solo — peaceful alone time and you get to call all the shots? Heck yeah!
Since 2016, Google searches have seen a 131% increase to do with the term ‘solo travel’. And what better place than Europe? So much history, fun people, good food, and whimsical adventures await! A solo trip throughout Europe allows travelers to go at their own pace, meet new people, and take in all that Europe has to offer.
SO, if you’re thinking “solo travel Europe? Sign me up!” then you’re in the right place (and we’re right there with you). In this post, we’ll cover five of the best places to travel alone in Europe and offer tips for safety, public transportation, and planning.
Is Europe Good for Solo Travelers?
Europe makes a fantastic starting point for people looking to kick off their first solo trip. The idea of being alone in Europe, let alone any country, can be extremely daunting. However, for those seeking the thrill and independence of solo travel for the first time, it’s hard to find a better place to start.
Many European countries are recognized for their safety, especially for solo travelers, as well as their attractions, breathtaking views, food, and friendly locals. Who wouldn’t want to get in on that action?
Plus, many big cities throughout Europe offer free walking tours for those wanting to explore the city and save money. These can be a great way to explore, meet people, and gather your bearings.
To get you started, we’re covering 5 of the best solo travel destinations in Europe for the solo adventure traveler.
Want to practice your solo travel right here in the USA instead? Check out our top 11 spots for solo travelers in the USA.
5 Best Places for Solo Travel Adventures in Europe
Iceland: Best for Safety
Frequently topping many lists as the safest country in the world, Iceland marks our first great European destination. The most northerly capital in the world, Reykjavik (the capital of Iceland) boasts views of the northern lights, colorful buildings, stunning architecture, and amazing street food (hot dogs – yes, hot dogs).
Reykjavik is considered one of the safest cities to visit in Europe. Plus, it’s fairly easy to walk the entire city on foot — walking around the center is only a few miles. Many solo travelers use this city as a base for day trips to sites throughout the rest of the country. If you have more time and want to get out of the city, you can also drive to the Golden Circle. A popular driving route for tourists, the Golden Circle is home to the UNESCO world heritage site, Vatnajokull Glacier National Park and has tons of gorgeous sights.
The advantage of Iceland’s location is that it marks the perfect stop between Europe and North America. Icelandair offers cheap flights with multi-day stopover options for those travelers coming and going from other European countries, at no additional airfare cost.
So what’s the catch about Iceland? It’s notoriously more expensive than other European destinations, primarily in dining out and shopping. (Just about everything needs to be imported.) It can also be difficult to travel solo without a car, as many of the main bus routes don’t extend beyond Reykjavik.
If you want to travel in style and see all the Icelandic sights, we have the perfect trip for you! Back by popular demand, our Iceland Glaciers and Hot Springs Winter Adventure package is the ultimate female traveler adventure.
“Hostels were clean and comfortable, and the bus we got around on was big enough for comfort and small enough for speed.”— Explorer Chick Meg
Learn more about Iceland:
- 9 Unique Icelandic Traditions You Need to Experience
- Best solo trips for women who love adventure
- Iceland Insights: Where To See Puffins
- Best Bucket List Adventures Around The World For Women
- How to Enjoy Iceland Hot Springs, According to Explorer Chicks
- These Foods You HAVE To Try In Iceland
- Best Time to Visit Iceland for Outdoor Adventure
- Solo Travel Europe: Top Destinations and Tips
- 8 Best Photo Spots in Iceland for Instagram Greatness
Scotland: Best for English-Speaking
Next on our list as a solo travel destination, Scotland is home to the highlands, bagpipes, and haggis, a local food consisting of sheep liver, oats, onions, and spices (don’t knock it till you try it!).
Unlike most European cities on our list, Scotland has the benefit of English speakers. OK, you maybe struggle at first with some accents but it IS English!
The activity-filled city of Edinburgh (pronounced Ed-in-bruh, Ed-in-buh-ruh, or Em-bra) is a perfect destination for first-time solo travelers. Visitors can explore fascinating museums like Camera Obscura, tour Edinburgh castle, wander the narrow streets of the Royal Mile, meet many fellow travelers, and take in the sights and sounds of street performers.
Its tourist office is also located on the high street, making it easily accessible for travelers looking to learn more about available attractions and historic sites. Edinburgh’s train station also serves as a central connecting hub to other destinations throughout the United Kingdom.
Sandemans New Europe offers a free walking tour of Edinburgh for solo travelers. The tour’s gratuity-based system means attendees pay what they want depending on their experience.
For the solo traveler interested in getting away from the capital’s hustle and bustle, plan a hike up Arthur’s Seat. What was once a volcano, now serves as a hill overlooking the whole city of Edinburgh. The viewpoint’s hike turns steep at certain points, so this is a good place for your hiking boots!
Looking to take in the natural beauty of the countryside? Consider a day trip to Cairngorms National Park or the enchanting Isle of Skye. Or if an organized tour is more your style, Explorer Chick’s Unspoiled Hiking in Scotland tour invites travelers for 8 days of trekking through the Scottish highlands. (There will be boob sweat, rugged landscapes, and probably rain.)
Learn more about Scotland:
Norway: Best for Landscape
Known for its majestic fjords, rolling mountainscapes, and innovative capital city, Norway takes the third spot on our list.
First and foremost, Norway is a nature lovers’ paradise. Travelers looking to get lost in nature are able to catch iconic sites like Pulpit Rock, and Norway’s longest fjord, Sognefjord. For jaw-dropping landscapes, the Lofoten Islands are a must for your bucket list.
A series of five main islands accessible by car and ferry boat, this archipelago has quaint fishing villages and some of Norway’s most spectacular fjords. During the summer months, tourists also experience the midnight sun, offering more time for sightseeing and exploration.
Explorer Chick’s Norway Hiking Tour in the Lofoten Islands offers female travelers 8 days of hiking, fishing, and kayaking in this beautiful landscape. Plus, we stay in restored fishermen’s cabins known as rorbu.
For history buffs, the Viking Ship Museum in Oslo houses the world’s best-preserved Viking ships. However, the museum will be closing on October 1 for five years to undergo renovations. Oslo is home to the Norwegian Royal Palace (Slottet) and is open during the summer months for public guided tours. The capital city also houses the Norwegian Nobel Institute, responsible for awarding the Nobel Peace Prize.
Czech Republic: Best for Christmas Markets
Unlike the other European countries on our list, Czech Republic is the only land-locked country. BUT! Don’t disregard it just yet. Bordering Eastern Europe, the capital city of Prague evokes a feeling of traveling back in time with its charming cobblestone streets, Astronomical Clock, Old Town Square, and town hall.
In the Czech Republic, Prague, most attractions are within walking distance of the city center. This includes Prague Castle, Lennon Wall (old city walls are now covered with stunning street art which makes an epic free attraction), and the Prague beer museum. From a “practical” standpoint, solo travelers looking to save a bit of money might be glad to hear that beer is often cheaper than water in this safe city. So get your brew on, ladies!
Like most European cities, Christmas markets spring up in Prague during the fall and winter months. These festive events are a popular attraction for tourists and locals alike. Merchant stands lining the perimeter of Old Town Square sell their wares of homemade gifts and trinkets, and serve up generous portions of hearty goulash and mulled wine. Overall, Prague is a great starting point for tourists ready to explore one of the most beautiful cities in Europe.
Italy: Best for Slower Pace of Life
Carve out time in your itinerary for a Roman holiday, with a trip to Italy! Whether it’s strolling along the Arno River in Florence, exploring the mighty era of gladiators and the history of the Colosseum, traversing Murano by water taxi from the small city of Venice, eating life-changing pizza in Naples, or wandering through the historic buildings and ruins of Pompeii – each city brings its own unique charms, attractions, and pace of life.
The country’s extensive train system makes it easy to visit multiple cities during your trip. Plus, if you’re visiting multiple countries on your trip, definitely take the scenic train route from Munich to Venice.
And adventure seekers can have their fair share of the outdoors, like hiking the Three Peaks of Lavaredo in the Dolomites or the seaside trail of Cinque Terre.
Also, foodies, Italy might be your paradise. With tons of pizza, pasta dishes, and delicious treats like gelato and cannolis, get ready to have happy taste buds. However, restaurants surrounding the Colosseum, Florence Cathedral, and the Bridge of Sighs notoriously inflate prices for unsuspecting tourists looking to grab a bite to eat. Instead, consider veering off the main drags for authentic eats at reasonable prices. Ciao Bella!
Tips for Traveling Solo in Europe
There are so many wonderful and affordable places to see in Europe! Regardless of where you travel, keep in mind that you’re still in a foreign destination; Customs and practices may be different from what you’re used to back home. Hey, that’s part of the fun!
However, to help ensure it’s fun and mostly comfortable, these are a few things to keep in mind when traveling solo in Europe.
Familiarize yourself ahead of time with where embassies are located in the European city you plan to visit. Your government’s website should have information on safety and security, travel advisories, entry and exit requirements, and assistance for citizens in case of emergencies. (And for covid considerations, be sure to check out our post on where you can travel internationally from the US right now.)
Researching primary safety concerns in a given country can also help you prepare in advance. For example, pickpockets are rampant in Italy, especially on buses and trains. Purchasing a lock for your luggage is a good investment when using public transport in select countries.
Make copies of your passports, credit cards, and itinerary. Share one set with a loved one or family member back home, keep a second copy on your person, and store a third copy in your hotel or dorm room. Having multiple copies can be critical to saving your skin in case you lose identification while traveling abroad.
Purchasing travel insurance is also a HUGE must! You want to be covered in case you lose any belongings, have to cancel or change plans, or get injured. Seriously – we can’t tell you how many money-losing stories we’ve dealt with because someone didn’t have travel insurance! (OK, maybe we can tell you a little bit — read our post answering the classic question: Is travel insurance worth it?)
Let’s not forget the most important precaution before departure – home safety. You’ll want your belongings protected, especially if you’ll be away for a longer period.
Booking transportation tickets in advance for planes and trains means a secure spot when traveling from point A to point B. So whether you are traveling between Barcelona and Montserrat or Prague and Budapest, it really is important to book tickets as far in advance as possible. Fares generally increase as travel dates creep up, so booking in advance also allows travelers to save money.
When looking to visit attractions outside of the city, an organised tour is your safest bet if traveling alone. There are plenty of tours that go between countries too, so you can plan a trip for two weeks in Spain and Portugal. Most tours provide transportation to and from a few central points in the main city, allowing ample time to explore world-class museums and attractions and meet fellow travelers. For instance, if you’re visiting Cork City in Ireland, you can join an organized tour to visit Spike Island and other nearby destinations to enrich your visit. It’s safer, more comfortable, and you will have a schedule you can rely on.
While it can be fun and whimsical to spontaneously go on the adventure of a lifetime, in practice, it doesn’t always work out that way. Especially if this is your first time traveling solo, a solid itinerary can help you fully enjoy the trip. Our recommendation? Research accommodation, the area’s level of safety, transportation hubs, and tourist attractions ahead of time.
Whether you are planning a hiking trip in Spain or a solo trip to Paris, booking accommodation in advance ensures you get the kind or room situation you’re looking for whether that’s shared or private. It also delivers peace of mind that you have a designated spot to hit the hay after a long day of exploring.
If you’re hoping to see particular attractions while in a big city, research that spot in advance. The opening times, price of admission, reservation guidelines, etc. Many popular tourist destinations require reservations for a specific time (especially now, thank you Covid). Showing up and hoping to get in does not always guarantee admission.
And if you hate trip planning with a passion, you can also book a fully planned trip.
When packing for a trip, consider the time of year and the destination’s season. If you’re setting off on a months-long excursion across various seasons (like the Camino de Santiago in Spain 🤩), you’ll want clothes to cover all the seasons. Think some jackets, rain cover, and hats along with the shorts and sandals.
In many Italian cities, certain religious attractions require women to cover their legs and arms. In this case, packing a longer skirt and cardigan that you can quickly throw on when visiting these sites can help keep you looking stylish while also respecting local protocols.
If packing a carry-on, be sure to check the airline’s policy of liquids in carry-ons ahead of time. Avoid the awkward encounter of unpacking and repacking your luggage in front of airport security.
Hostels are gold. They ideal for cheap accommodation AND they’re great spots for meeting up with other solo travelers. Pub crawls and tours are also good settings for making new friends in a new city.
Meeting other travelers on your trip not only creates new experiences, it can also create pockets of safety on your trip. Traveling in pairs or groups to reach a collective destination can add a level of protection and safety not readily available when you travel alone, especially at night.
Now, we get it — meeting new people is intimidating and stressful. If you’re the wallflower type, check out our Instagram post with some winning conversation starters to meet new friends. Then join the conversation!
If you’re into solo travel, but not that much solo time, consider booking one of our European Explorer Chick tours.
Meet the Writer
Lindsay Stroud is a freelance content writer and ghostwriter from Vancouver, Canada. Her published works can be found on Jiyubox and Passion Passport, in addition to producing ghostwritten content for Owl Labs and Wonderment. Her favorite destinations include Berlin, Stockholm, and Florence. In her spare time, you’ll find her exploring local foodie joints throughout her neighborhood, or planning itineraries for future trips.
Favorite Outdoor Adventure: spending time by the ocean and exploring walking trails in her local neighborhood.
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