By Roberto Cruz
With tourism infrastructure booming in many foreign countries today, traveling to a native land on your own is safer and more convenient than ever before.
Here are 10 of the best places to find yourself—having an amazing solo vacation experience.
Spain is consistently ranked one of the world’s most tourist-friendly countries and the capital of its Catalonia region is one of the best cities for solo travelers. With a metro, train and tram, as well 1,000 buses and 11,000 taxis, it’s a breeze to get from one edge of the city to the other as you marvel at the world-renowned Gaudi architecture on your way to the Las Ramblas shopping district, the lively Boqueria Market or its numerous tapas bars and pastry shops.
Just a few hours north, a trip to this Canadian city feels like a European getaway. While driving in this predominantly French-speaking city can be difficult, it’s quite walkable and has a convenient metro. While you’re there, snap a photo of the famed Notre-Dame Basilica before grabbing a coffee and touring the scenic Old Port and Montreal Botanical Gardens.
This beautiful Central American rainforest nation is known for its spectacular natural attractions like cloud forests, volcanoes, and beaches. Its capital city of San Jose is a great jumping off point, but you’re going to want to bus out to the forests and coastal cities that have earned this nation its reputation as one of the most gorgeous places in the world (driving is not recommended). Outdoor activities include zip lining, horseback riding and surfing—as well as traveling to the massive Arenal volcano and taking a dip in the hot springs near its base.
California’s wine country is known as a premier couple’s retreat, but it can be special for singles too! Beyond the 400 wineries in the area (600+ if we count Sonoma), there is a variety of outdoor activities including hot springs and mud baths in Calistoga, kayaking along the Napa River and hot air balloon rides. Dining will be a splendid experience with more than 150 restaurants in the area, including the AAA Three Diamond-rated Angele for fine dining in downtown Napa.
This North Atlantic island nation is called the land of fire and ice because of its preponderance of glaciers and volcanoes. Its Golden Circle tourist route is full of these truly spectacular natural wonders and its capital city of Reykjavik is among the safest for solo travelers. Visit Iceland’s national sanctuary, Hallgrímskirkja, before touring the city’s numerous shops, museums and art galleries. If you can, embark on a tour away from the city to see the Northern lights natural light display.
This Pacific Coast city is great for solo travel because of its convenient travel options like MAX Light Rail and booming craft beverage scene (because what brings people together more than craft beer?). With more than 70 breweries, including the popular Wayfinder and the new video game-themed Level Beer, you’re sure to find some of the best suds in the nation in this hip city. Definitely visit the 5.5-acre Portland Japanese Garden and stop by Voodoo Donut, known for tasty pastries in pink boxes.
Often named among the safest countries for travelers, this Pacific Island nation is known for its gorgeous landscapes and adventure activities like skydiving, zip lining and whitewater rafting. If you fly into the city of Auckland, stop by its world-famous Auckland Art Gallery, which features more than 15,000 works of art, on your way to the 185-acre Auckland Domain Park. In Rotorua, stand in awe before the colorful hot springs at Wai-O-Tapu and go zorbing, an activity where a rider rolls downhill in an orb.
The fourth-most populous city in Europe is one of the most visited places in the world, with attractions like St. Peter’s Basilica and the Colosseum drawing millions every year. Hop on a group tour and lunch at one of the city’s many eateries to find new friends (or at least someone to take your photo!). As you roam the city, get in the must-sees like Trevi Fountain, the Pantheon Roman temple and the Vatican Museums. For more modern treats, visit the Eternal City’s Trident high-end shopping district.
While you can certainly indulge in Ireland’s legendary pub scene, it’s far from the only thing to do in Ireland’s most famous city, which lies on both sides of the famed River Liffey and boasts Georgian architecture left behind from its nation’s time as a British colony. See St. Patrick’s Cathedral, the 390-foot-tall Spire of Dublin monument and the 800-year-old Dublin Castle.
Lastly, with more than 250 live music venues, the Texas capital is a world-class music destination, but it also has some of the best barbecue in the country and 20 vineyards nearby that make for a welcome recess during a long stay. Swing by Franklin Barbecue or LeRoy & Lewis for some of the aforementioned barbecue deliciousness and stop for a photo op in front of any of the cities famous murals. Before you hit the town at night, make time for the Texas State Capitol and the 350-acre Zilker Metropolitan Park for a remarkable view of the Austin city skyline.
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