The Best Cities To Visit Solo
If you're an intrepid explorer backpacking your way around the globe or you feel like treating yourself to a last minute city break, here's our pick of the best cities to travel to solo! You can enjoy calling all the shots, eating exactly what you want and giving yourself your full attention. There's no company like me, myself and I, so make 2018 your solo travel year!
London’s diversity is what makes it so special, and for the solo traveller exploring its different neighbourhoods, enjoying cuisine from all over the world and meeting people whose background might be the complete opposite to your own can feel like you’re getting a few trips in one! Skip eating at restaurants where you’ll be seated opposite an empty chair and eat your way around London’s incredible street food market scene.
Even in the most unexpected (or clichéd, depending on how you look at it) places (abandoned car park, anyone?), you’ll find street food markets, food courts that come alive at night and even whole ‘villages’ dedicated to the pursuit of food heaven (Brixton Village Market, we’re looking at you). Night-time bazaars like Dinerama and Hawker House make for perfect solo foodie jaunts; once you’ve ordered a mini-feast of dishes from the various gourmet street food vendors and a drink from the bar, grab a seat at the communal tables and you’ll be chatting away with your neighbour in no time.
And when it comes to getting cultured on your solo adventure, London is the perfect destination since the majority of its museums and galleries are free - spend a day exploring Bloomsbury and its quirky museums like the Wellcome Collection and the Grant Museum of Zoology as well as institutions like the British Museum, and you’ll be so engrossed in the exhibits you won’t even notice you’re alone.
New York might seem like an intimidating city to approach as a solo traveller, but this concrete jungle can be more welcoming, and even more peaceful, than it first seems! If you want to get lost in the crowds and find some solitude this is the perfect place, and there’s plenty you can do to make the most of some time alone. Skip Central Park hotspots and find solace in oasis like the Shakespeare Garden or the Elizabeth Street Garden, or if you’re feeling a social you can try your hand at a free class in Bryant Park like juggling, yoga or even a drop in language class in the warmer months!
Being alone in NY is all relative though, as you’ll rarely find yourself actually alone! It’s certainly not out of the ordinary to take yourself out for dinner; many restaurants like Mu Ramen will let you skip the queue as a solo diner, most New Yorker’s wouldn't think twice about sitting alone at the bar in their favourite restaurant and enjoying a meal as they chat to the bar tender or get lost in their own thoughts, and there are even joints like Syndicated where you can watch a movie as you eat, so you won’t notice the lack of company! And there’s nowhere better than NY to get cultured solo; lose track of time in an independent bookshop like Bluestockings and Community Bookstore (they have a cat, too), head to the Met during its Friday late hours to wander through the museum without hoards of tourists or enjoy some peace and quiet at the New York Public Library.
Madrid is another great destination if you like to eat your way around a new city, but aren’t quite sure how on board you are with dining out alone yet. For breakfast or your morning caffeine fix, visit your neighbourhood coffee shop, or wander through the trendy Malasaña district and take your pick from the many outdoor cafes where residents stop by, often solo, for a quick bite - you won’t be the only one enjoying breakfast alone! There’s food markets galore too; head to spots like Mercado de la Paz and Mercado San Antón, where you can wander among stalls selling fresh produce and local specialities, snagging samples here and there, as well as tapas spots where you can buy cooked dishes and enjoy them at one of the standing tables as you people watch.
As well as being blessed with weather that makes wandering through the city on foot a breeze, there’s plenty of world class art museums that are worth checking out like the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía and the Museo del Prado. And once you’ve seen the stunning Palacio Real and strolled through the Plaza Mayor, get lost in a local barrio like La Latina where you can rifle through vintage stores, check out what’s on in Plaza de la Cebada (it could be community gardening, a basketball game or a concert) and browse the neighbouring Mercado de la Cebada.
Bangkok is one of the world’s most exciting travel destinations that draws solo travellers from all over the world and it helps that Thailand is also known as the Land of the Smiles, so whether you meet friendly locals or fellow solo artists, you probably won’t be alone for long! Home to over 9 million people, its no surprise that the city is an explosion of sights, smells and tastes, and it might seem tricky to find a moment’s peace from the chaotic traffic, crowded streets and seemingly endless markets. But there are pockets of tranquility where you can enjoy being alone; head to Wat Phu Khao Thong, the Golden Mountain, where you can climb the steps through an oasis of frangipani flowers, waterfalls and jungle vines to the Wat Saket Temple which is perched at the top.
Swap the crowds at the Grand Palace for the peaceful Loha Prasat Temple where most visitors don’t venture, and instead of the floating markets that are full of tourists, head to the Lat Mayom floating market which is an authentic, mostly locals only affair. This being said, if you do want to buddy up and venture across the city with a fellow explorer, there’s nowhere better to start than the (in)famous Khao San Road where you’ll meet a like-minded traveler or laid-back local to explore and do some serious street food feasting with!