15 best (and safest!) places to travel alone

Traveling alone lets you set your own pace, visit exactly where you want, explore off-the-beaten-paths, and meet locals along the way. These destinations are as safe as they are exciting and fun to visit.

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Top destinations to travel to solo
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Top destinations to travel to solo

ICELAND

According to the Global Peace Index, Iceland is the safest country in the world; the European nation ranks right at the top of the charts for "the calm state of its society," according to The Independent newspaper. Not only is Iceland peaceful, but it's easy to get to and navigate as well; the low-cost carrier Wow air flies to bustling, modern Rejkavik for as low as $99 each way, and then rent a car or book a tour to see stunning natural wonders such as Gullfoss waterfall, Strokkur geyser, which erupts with steams every few minutes, and the tectonic rift between North American and Eurasia at Thingvellir National Park; then take a dip with locals and fellow travelers at the geothermal baths of the Blue Lagoon. Be sure to check out these tips from seasoned travelers on how to stay safe on solo travels before you head off on your adventure.

KYOTO, JAPAN 

Kyoto is one of the safest cities in Japan, which is one of the safest countries in the world. Not only is traveling alone here common, but it's also a great opportunity to get in touch with locals: Japanese are keen to speak with foreign travelers and they're always willing to help. If you seem lost, most probably someone will approach you and help you, according to the Japanese Tourism Board.

Zen out at The "Golden Pavilion," Kinkaku-ji Temple, Kyoto's most popular tourist destination, which has served as a Buddhist temple since 1408 and whose top two floors are covered entirely in gold leaf. Another must-visit spot is Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine, dedicated to the god of rice and sake. Speaking of which, there are myriad solo-diner-friendly spots in Kyoto, including Ganko Sanjo Honten, a downtown sushi restaurant with reasonable prices where it feels comfortable to eat alone or even join other tourists.

Getting around in Japan is really easy and safe, too; the Japan Rail Pass (JR Pass) was created for foreign visitors to get around the country not only safely, but affordably (and all trains and subways in Japan have specially designated female-only cars).

MONTREAL, CANADA

Although pretty much everywhere in Canada is great for traveling alone—it's a safe country, easy to navigate, and shares a common language with the United States—Montreal is an especially great destination for solo travelers. It's close to the U.S. (less than an hour's flight from most of the northeast and accessible via direct flights from many American airports), but it also has an exotic flair, providing a kind of French immersion without having to cross the Atlantic. Though Montreal is officially a French city, almost everybody is fluently bilingual in both French and English. This means American visitors can find themselves in a fairly European-style destination, surrounded by the sites and sounds of French culture, but they can always communicate in English as needed. Montreal is a very walkable destination, but the public transportation is also easy to navigate, including buses, subways, and a public bike system, Bixi. The city offers the charm of Old Montreal, along with some of the best food in North America, great museums, incredible fashion, fantastic street art, and much more. There's lots to experience for free and overall it's a pretty affordable destination. A great city for the solo traveler!

IRELAND

One of the best aspects of solo travel is the opportunity to connect with locals and experience a perspective and sense of humor often different from your own. While language barriers can make that difficult, Ireland is a top choice for solo travelers, offering a completely unique European experience, but with a common language. Head to Inis Morm, the largest of the Aran islands off of the Western coast of Ireland, advise the travel experts at Audley Travel, and explore the region by horse and carriage. Be sure to befriend your driver, as he likely knows everyone in town. For a more urban experience, make your way to Galway's Quay Street or Dublin's O'Connell Street, to experience Ireland's legendary pub life and make new friends over shared pints. Cork is another great spot for travel on your own; stop in at the oldest pub in Cork—the Mutton Lane Inn and within minutes you'll have wonderful company (which is pretty true about every pub in Ireland). To keep the friendly feeling going, inquire at your favorite pub about lodging options; many have B&Bs upstairs that are usually inexpensive, include breakfast, and make it especially easy (and safe) to get back to your room after enjoying a night out. Don't miss these stunning photos of Irish islands that'll definitely have you planning a trip there.

MAUI, HAWAII, USA

No need to pack your passport for this incredible tropical island, even though you'll feel as though you've gone to the South Pacific. Although all of Hawaii is lovely, Maui offers activities for days, and plenty of spots to hang with other travelers without feeling like you're a third wheel on someone's honeymoon. Locals will show you Aloha spirit, and point you to their favorite beaches and where to grab the perfect wave. For adventure lovers, there's snorkeling in Molokini Crater, ziplining or mountain biking down Haleakala, zipping around the hairpin turns of the Road to Hana, and hitting the waves for epic surfing. Head up country away from the beaches to meet locals in the hippie-centric town of Paia, and check out farms that feature everything from goat cheese to lavender to wine tasting.

VERMONT, USA

Snow lovers always say "no friends on a powder day"; that's because skiing and boarding are just as fun (and sometimes a little faster) solo. And if you're on your own, it's also easier to meet a local on the chairlift and have them show you around for the day. Even off the slopes, a ski area is a great spot for a solo traveler. Skiers by nature are a very welcoming group and are quick to show off their home mountains. This mentality is very apparent in Mount Snow, Vermont where backwoods powder stashes abound as long as you know where to find them, and the locals are actually happy to show you around. Even rolling solo it's a really fun mountain to explore and one that is very welcoming to travelers of all abilities, with beginner and intermediate terrain, and even some double black diamond runs for those looking to test their skills. Solo travelers should plan a stay at The Wilmington Inn, a friendly Vermont inn that collaborates with Nomad Chefs to become a pop-up restaurant every other Wednesday that is packed with locals.

BOTSWANA, AFRICA

Positive Peace Index ranked Botswana the best-governed country in Africa, and it's also won accolades as one of the most peaceful nations in Africa; it's never had a civil war, is independently wealthy from diamonds discovered just as colonial rule was ending, and has invested in protecting its incredible wildlife by reserving more than 30 percent of its land for national parks and tourism. All of this adds up to the ideal safe safari destination if you're traveling alone. With several eclectic camps across Botswana, Natural Selection offers many ways for guests to connect with nature beyond the usual game drive. In addition to the typical safari agenda, solo travelers can partake of activities such as walking with the Bushmen to learn firsthand about the native cultures in Botswana; interacting with the habituated meerkat colonies that live nearby; and witnessing wildlife up close from mokoro (dugout canoe) safaris, which gently glide through waterways and from hidden ground-level hides.

WALT DISNEY WORLD

The Happiest Place on Earth is an easy and super safe destination for solo travelers who will have plenty to do and instant camaraderie with the other park visitors who have all things Mickey in common. Consider staying at a Disney resort that gives you easy access to your favorite park, such as The Boardwalk Resort which is an easy 10-minute walk on a well-lit boardwalk to Epcot, a great option for drinking, dining, and entertainment. Don't miss these deliciously decadent treats you have to try at least once when you're at Disney.

QUEENSLAND, AUSTRALIA

Say g'day to this perfect corner of the land Down Under, one of the best places to travel alone in Australia. Upon arrival, solo travelers can arrange to meet up with Brisbane Greeters, a complimentary service that matches visitors with locals who live in Brisbane and will share their intimate knowledge of the destination and introduce newcomers to the city. Among their recommendations are sure to be some of Queensland's unique museums, such as the Queensland Art Gallery, QUT Art Museum, and GOMA Gallery of Modern Art.

Foodies should head to Bundaberg, where they can explore the tasty local scene on Bundy Food Tours or at the Bundaberg Rum Visitor Experience. And of course no visit to Queensland is complete without spending time at Port Douglas, the ideal location to snorkel or dive, and experience the gorgeous landscapes and beautiful beaches of the northeast coast of Australia.

OSLO, NORWAY

Easy to navigate, virtually crime-free, and with lots to do and see, Oslo is an ideal destination for solo travelers, especially during the summer when the midnight sun keeps the friendly streets bathed in daylight nearly round the clock. The Norwegian capital is renowned for its combination of exciting architecture, art, food, and nature experiences. 2018 is also an anniversary year for both the country's royal couple and the city's opera house, which only adds to the reasons for visiting charming Oslo in the near future.

VENICE, ITALY

A safe, car-free, walker's paradise of canals and waterways, this Italian city is perfect for exploring, and wandering, on your own—half the adventure here is simply getting lost on your own along the winding alleyways and discovering tucked-away neighborhoods. (Of course, you'll want to also leave time to see Piazza San Marco, Doge's Palace, and a few of the world-class museums). In the evening, join the convivial crowds along the Rialto for Apertivo hour, when locals sip goblets of "spritz" (Aperol and prosecco) or regional wines accompanied by small bites or "cicchetti" at a small bar (bàcari)—a perfect time for solo travelers to find a dining companion if they want. At night, retire across the canal to the small island of Giudecca where the views of San Marco are spectacular, and the Generator Hotel acts as a mix of a modern hostel, arts center, and meeting place.

BOULDER, COLORADO, USA

Rough Guide's number one pick this year for solo adventure travelers is also high on the list of 2018's safest cities in America, making it doubly appealing to solo travelers who want to explore the Rocky Mountains. Pearl Street is filled with great places to eat, quirky shops, coffee spots, and bars, all of which are easy spots to meet the locals who will happily share the best hiking, biking, boarding, and skiing trails in this nature lover's gateway city.

SLOVENIA

The small but enchanting country of Slovenia is the perfect destination for solo travel. Tucked between major European destination powerhouses like Italy, Hungary, Austria, and Croatia, the up-and-coming getaway offers fascinating culture, fabulous dining, and incredible outdoor activities, especially the capital Ljubljana, known in Slovenia as the "Capital of Adventures." In fact, we're so impressed with this safe European destination, we named it one of our top places to go in 2018. Without hordes of tourists, it's easier to navigate the historic streets of Ljubljana which welcome solo visitors with quaint outdoor cafes, bustling food markets, and lively festivals and street entertainment all of which offer a local European experience without the cliched tourist traps. With nature at the very heart of the city, travelers will be inspired to get outside. Guests can paddle board through the River Ljublijanica waterways for a different perspective or wander streets via bicycle for an active outdoor experience.

COSTA RICA

A nature lover's paradise, this Central American country is known for its verdant rainforests, incredible beaches, and abundant (and adorable) wildlife (come on, we know you want to meet a sloth!) The Latin American country where English is widely spoken, is also ranked the safest country in Central America by The Global Peace Index. Check out the Pacific Coast town of Santa Teresa, one of our most popular travel destinations in Central America for its unspoiled beaches, surf breaks, consistent 80-degree temps, and laid-back vibe. Beyond riding the waves and soaking up some sun, solo vacationers can destress with ocean-view yoga classes and holistic spa treatments. Here are 10 more great vacations to take by yourself.

NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE, USA

Music day and night on Broadway means solo travelers can always find live entertainment where there's plenty of other music lovers too. (Check out the classic Honkey Tonks that offer southern hospitality as well as great music and affordable eats, including Tootsie's Orchid Lounge and Robert's Western World). For alternative music and hipster crowd, check out East Nashville and 5 Points. Staying at a smaller hotel that recognizes you when you come and go is a great choice when you're traveling alone; at the art-filled Kimpton Aertson Hotel, which boasts a luxurious rooftop pool and great local restaurants right outside its doors, the helpful doormen can set you up with complimentary bikes to explore the safe Vanderbilt University neighborhood nearby.

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