When I’ve picked destinations for traveling solo, a few things come to mind. I want to go somewhere safe and manageable, and not too complicated, if I’ll be traveling on my own.

I also want to travel alone in a place where it’s easy to meet people, where I can find a place to stay that’s social and a place where I can hop into day trips and excursions with groups. Of course, everyone has a different solo travel style!

In this list, I’ve put together the places where I’ve traveled solo, along with the places where my friends have traveled solo. Read on for some sweet stories, memorable moments and above all, reasons for why these destinations are the best for traveling alone this year.

Interested in taking a trip alone? Don’t forget to read my guide for how to travel solo that I wrote from my experiences.

Guatemala & Nicaragua

My amazing friend and world traveler (he has visited every country in the world!) Daniel Herszberg recommends Guatemala and Nicaragua on the “Central America backpacker circuit” as fantastic destinations for solo travel.

As he said, “The highlights of these countries are frequently done as group activities, so if you hike Acatenango in Guatemala, or if in Nicaragua, if you do the volcano boarding, those are great things for solo travelers because ultimately you’re going to join a group from a hostel.

That night, you’ll go out with your new friends and you may travel together to the next country.”

“Things in Central America are designed for increased social experiences. With my friends I met boarding down the volcano in Nicaragua, we ended up traveling for six weeks together after that!” Daniel says.

Check out Daniel’s new Travel Insighter travel blog, and then head to our Antigua, Guatemala, travel guide to explore more.

NYC

I’ll tell you why NYC is an amazing place for solo travelers. As someone who spent a lot of my life in New York City, I love even the thrill of being a local and having my own adventure somewhere. Just walking the streets in NYC and grabbing a bite is a journey in and of itself.

For travelers, the awe is real. And for solo travelers in NYC, you’ll never be alone, because of the sheer number of things to do where you can surround yourself with other people, the tours you can take and the great hostels to stay in like HI NYC. Plus, there are tons of free things to do in NYC on your own.

A fun fact about me is that I used to (in my mid-20s) be a host at HI NYC’s Thursday night bar crawl, and there would be so many solo travelers at the event. I feel like there were even more solo travelers than travelers in couples or groups! Everyone had a chance to make a friend and spend the night together at a few pubs playing games.

Also, Belu, who we “met” on Instagram, owns the company Vamos a NYC, a travel planning agency that helps South American travelers confidently adventure to New York City. She says, “NYC is a different city for everyone and it is so wonderful to discover it alone.”

If you’re wondering if NYC is safe, head to my safety tips for NYC to see that NYC may not be as bad as you thought!

Mexico City

Mexico City has a place in my heart as one of our favorite places to travel, and then travel in again. Our good friend Melissa chose to travel there alone, and then she stayed a while! The whole time she was there, I secretly wanted to go back on my own and spend time in all my favorite neighborhoods and parks.

“You will never run out of places to explore, food to eat or people to meet. Mexico City is an easy city to navigate, no matter how much (or little) Spanish you speak. It’s very easy to make new friends — there are lots of meet-ups for all types of expats and interests, and people are generally very friendly. It’s hard to sit in a cafe for more than a few hours without making a friend,” Melissa says.

See more friendly cafes in Mexico City to visit as a solo traveler there.

Hong Kong

Hong Kong is one of my favorite places to travel alone, and that’s because you will always be surrounded by thousands, if not millions, of people.

While it’s not the cheapest place to travel by any means, being a solo traveler in Hong Kong means always having a new adventure amid the skyscrapers, parks, islands, cool neighborhoods, shopping malls and the neat-as-a-pin metro system.

I first spent time in Hong Kong as a 20-year-old university student, and I rarely was alone because I joined a study abroad program that arranged heaps of group activities and excursions outside of class. Toward the end of my semester, I chose to travel by myself to a place I had put in my “Hong Kong wish list,” and it was Chi Lin Nunnery.

I headed out solo to this serene and picturesque location within the city, and it sparked my ability to travel independently on my own.

Two years later, I was living in Shanghai (which you can read about at our story), and I returned so many times to Hong Kong alone that I stopped counting. I think I tapped out at 10 or 12. I’d land at the airport, head into the city to stay at a friend’s apartment and go out during the day to stop at places I’d never been to before, and markets I wanted to shop at.

Hong Kong, because of its safety, bilingual nature (everything “official” is in English) and ways to elevate one’s senses, is one of my favorite places to travel solo. You can see my Hong Kong travel guide for first-time solo visitors.

Barcelona, Spain

Not one, but two friends have recommended Barcelona as a top-rated destination for solo travel.

Karen, from the Aesthetics Traveler blog, says, “Barcelona was the first place I ever traveled solo, and a place I’ve traveled back to (and even moved to, solo!) again and again. This city offers a perfect mix of things to do, with ease of making friends due to a very international environment.”

She also noted that if you’re in your 20s, be sure to tap into the “Erasmus” groups/events, which are for European university students currently doing a semester abroad in Barcelona, but open to everyone!

My friend Rachel had planned to go to Barcelona with a friend, but when her travel partner got sick, Rachel wound up on a solo trip through Barcelona.

“It was amazing,” she says, of the experience. “There was so much English. So much to do: so many museums, parks and outdoor activities. I was never bored. It was easy to get around, and I did the Hop On Hop Off bus, Parque Guell and all of the Gaudi architectural sights. It was so beautiful and so easy to access. It was perfect.”

Use my Barcelona travel guide if you plan on taking a solo trip there.

US National Parks

My friend Gustavo is a US National Park hobbyist and expert, and told me that US national parks are a great place to travel solo. His reasons are the following:

  • There are tons of resources online to find ‘what to do.’
  • A lot of the US National Parks are located near cute little towns you can explore afterward.
  • There’s always enough people hanging around that if you every really needed some help, you’d find it.

Gus recommends solo traveling to Moab, Utah, where it just so happens that Dan traveled solo several years back. He says that Arches and Canyonlands National Park are right there, too. And Moab itself has great restaurants and resources for your stay! Make sure to visit Gus’s site all about US National Park Travel, called National Park Newbies.

Panama

I went to Panama with my friend Monique. After arriving in our first hostel in Boquete, we learned that Panama is a magnet for solo travelers, because that was mainly the types of backpackers we met. Maybe that’s because Panama is one of the most affordable travel destinations where your budget gets you far.

My friend Christine, whose first “fully solo” trip was to Panama, says Panama was great for “Selina hopping.” By this, she means using the Selina hostel network to stay at the Selinas around the country, like the Selina in Panama City.

“It was kind of fun meeting people in Panama City, and then running into them in Boquete and Bocas del Toro,” Christine says. I had a blast among Panama City, Boquete and Bocas. I also did a day trip to San Blas, and wish I did the camping because it also seemed like a real traveler bonding experience.”

Costa Rica

Costa Rica was my first solo trip after my solo travels in China! I took a deep dive right into Latin America, armed with my Spanish and a lot of courage. I’m not the only one who considers Costa Rica to be a good idea for a solo travel trip. My friend Jena has a perspective on it, too.

Jena says, ”Costa Rica is a fabulous place for solo travel, as it has a little bit of everything (rainforest/wildlife, volcanoes, hot springs and beaches) and is really a “make your own adventure” kind of place. You can easily join group tours for activities like zip-lining , hiking, whitewater rafting and snorkeling along the way.”

She also notes that the tourism infrastructure is great and it is very safe (for Latin America). The locals are so friendly and embrace the “Pura Vida” lifestyle. There are plenty of great spots for wellness and yoga, too, so you can have your moment of zen or meet other like-minded yogis along the way!

I was lucky to make other solo-traveling friends in hostels in Monteverde, Costa Rica, as well as in Quepos, a town I spent some time in. Check out the best hostels in Costa Rica for solo travelers.

Cartagena, Colombia

I’ve been to Cartagena on the Colombian north coast on several trips with a guy friend, a gal pal, then with Dan (my boyfriend at the time) and lastly, by myself. Staying at a hostel was key for meeting other travelers when I was solo, and I was even able to meet up with backpackers I met a few days before in Santa Marta.

My best advice to anyone who wants to dive into a Colombia trip as a solo traveler is to stay at any of the fun hostels in Cartagena’s Old City (Historic Center).

Make sure to meet other backpackers in the social areas of the hostel or guesthouse, and take group excursions to make friends. There’s lots to do at night, from hopping around the bars of Getsemani to taking a food tour.

I also list Cartagena as one of the safest cities for first-time travelers, and I detail that in my Cartagena travel guide.

Utila, Honduras

My Australian friend Jen, who has traveled extensively all over the world on her own, had a great time as a solo traveler in Utila, Honduras. About the experience, she says:

“If you’re an aspiring or experienced scuba diver, Utila is the place to go. The whole island is dedicated to diving, which gives everyone a common talking point and exciting experiences to bond with strangers over. You’ll spend your days in the water and your nights drinking with your new dive buddies.

Within an hour of arriving solo, I was on a sunset boat trip to celebrate the birthday of a fellow diver at Alton’s Dive Center, and I never looked back. Man, that island was a hard place to leave.”

If you’re the type who likes a hidden gem, you’ll be glad to know that Honduras is a cool idea for an off-the-beaten-path travel destination.

Cape Town, South Africa

Traveling solo in Cape Town, South Africa, was a time when I felt like being a solo backpacker was perfect (and it took some bravery and risk-taking, too).

I felt a bit shy at the hostel I picked to stay at, but by introducing myself to some travelers who had already found one another’s company, I wound up going out to a fun dinner with nine other new friends from around the world.

And a lot of us still keep in touch! One of the coolest people I met that night was Jason, a world traveler and Aboriginal native from Australia, who is constantly posting cool photos of his adventures still today, on social media. We still chat from time to time.

If you choose to head to other parts of South Africa, look for highly-rated hostels that are known for creating strong social environments and have recommended day trips and tours. As for a safari, this is traditionally done with a group, so as a solo traveler, you’ll be with the five or six other travelers in your jeep.

Bali

Bali is a traveler’s paradise, of course. While Bali is considered a romantic spot for couples, and good for groups, it’s solo travelers who are lucking out there.

My friend Arestia says, “I loved traveling to Bali solo, especially if you know how to ride a scooter to help you get around. There are lots of other solo travelers, friendly price points to make traveling alone cost-effective, and a ton of things like yoga studios and coworking spaces to help you meet people.”

San Juan, Puerto Rico

My friend and avid traveler Meriel took a solo trip to Puerto Rico, which is a great idea for American travelers who want to experience a new culture, yet remain not too far from home.

“Puerto Rico was easy, travel logistics-wise: no passport needed, quick flight, CHEAP, nicest people and I felt so safe in old San Juan,” she says.

When choosing where to stay in Old San Juan, check out the best-rated hostels so that you can feel comfortable and safe, and choose the location that works best for your preferences.

Geneva, Switzerland

My epic traveler friend Danielle traveled alone to Geneva, Switzerland, and has great things to say. Switzerland is known as being a safe and relaxing travel destination, whether you are going in winter for skiing or in summer for sightseeing and moderate weather.

“Switzerland is so safe, so easy to get around and everyone so friendly and helpful. It’s in the middle of Europe, so it’s perfect for backpacking and piggy-back traveling with others. Switzerland was so peaceful and scenic for some self-reflection,” Danielle told me.

Most travelers consider Switzerland as one of the more expensive places to travel, so you’ll probably want to consider checking out the hostels in Geneva.

Berlin, Germany

Our friend Brandon, an experienced solo traveler, says Berlin was the first place he traveled solo to, so it’s a city has a special place in his heart. He also has a sweet story about walking around alone in Berlin:

“When I went solo to Berlin wearing my 40L backpack on my back, I noticed that I kept getting approached by German women. But not just any German women… middle-aged German mothers. They kept asking me questions in German, to which I responded: ‘I’m so sorry, I’m American.’”

“And every single time, it was the same reaction — ‘I’m so sorry. I’m shocked. You look so German. You reminded me so much of my son. I saw a nice German-looking boy alone and I wanted to see how I could help.’”

“At the end of one day, I had counted 12 German mothers who came up to me that day. It was wild. But it made my first solo trip experience that much more special. I didn’t feel so alone.”

Berlin is known as a top city for solo travel and has an excellent hostel and party scene. Check out the best hostels in Berlin to start your trip planning.

Slovenia

Kelly, my friend from Remote Year, is an expert at chilling out on her own. She chose Slovenia for some independent hang-out time and she thinks it’s a fantastic solo travel destination.

“My favorite solo trip was a week in Triglav National Park in Slovenia. I pretty much just spent a week hiking and running around the trails and reading in my B&B. I loved it! Slovenia is stunning.”

Slovenia is known as a manageable and safe Balkan country for solo travel. There are some well-known hostels that cater to solo travelers, so check out the options for hostels in Slovenia.

Iceland

When we were dating long-distance, Dan traveled alone to Iceland. Not only did he see the sights in Reykjavik, but he also rented a car and drove around Iceland for a week by himself.

As the story goes, he was traveling solo, but met another backpacker traveling solo, and they started traveling together! It’s heart-warming to think about. The only inconvenient thing was that they had both rented their own cars already, so they both still had to drive alone as they journeyed through the mountains, geysers and volcanoes.

Why is Iceland a great place to travel solo? As Dan will tell you, it’s unbelievably safe, and English is widely spoken. And, if you’re looking for somewhere to get lost in nature with your own thoughts, the population density (or lack thereof) in Iceland lends itself to doing that.

The only downside that solo travelers who go alone to Iceland will note is that it’s one of the most expensive places to travel (but worth it). To that end, Dan wrote this guide about how to travel in Iceland on a budget, based on his experience going solo.

Thailand

My solo travel in Thailand was fun because I spent it with other solo travelers. My days in the sun in the northern Thai village of Pai were idyllic, spent with new travel friends in our bungalows near rice fields, strumming on guitars and looking out at the vistas. When I got back to Bangkok before my departing flight, I met up again with the buddies I had made in Chiang Mai. Thailand is one of the best places for solo travel, in my experience.

And I have a smattering of friends who agree with that assertion. Our friend Ray says his best solo trip was probably Thailand. He thinks a lot of people head to the country on their own, so it puts a lot of travelers in the same boat, sometimes quite literally! Ray thinks that travelers there are really open to meeting new people and put in the effort to connect, while locals are exceptionally welcoming.

Fiona, my friend who lives in NYC, also chose Thailand as a solo travel destination and enjoyed spending time in the northern city of Chiang Mai. “I met a lot of young people and met more people and got to hang out with them,” she commented. “Thailand is such a great place to meet people and there are so many tourism activities. That being said, of course not everyone is comfortable meeting strangers, but you will feel safe there if you have your wits about you.”

See why Chiang Mai is on my list of the best cities for traveling and remote work for solo travelers.

China

I will be the first person to tell you what a blast I had traveling alone in China. The summer I was 24 years old, I spent four days in Chongqing and Chengdu with my friend Madeleine, and then we parted ways so that I could head onward to Jiuzhaigou National Park, Pingyao, Beijing (to see my friend Emily!) and Harbin.

I rode sleeper trains by myself, stayed in hostels and learned a lot about myself. I made friends in hostels, made friends with locals and saw parts of China that I never thought I’d see.

One thing I will say for sure is that traveling solo through China is not for the faint of heart, and it helped that I was very advanced in Chinese at the time. If you’ve been studying Chinese, traveling solo in China is a sure way to practice your skills, challenge yourself and have a lot of memories to look back on.

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