Are you itching to pack your bags and explore the wonders of Europe but don’t have a travel buddy to join you? Fear not, solo travel is on the rise, and Europe is one of the best destinations. From Ljubljana’s picturesque streets to Lisbon’s vibrant nightlife, there’s a city for every solo traveler.
Traveling alone allows you to explore on your terms, meet new people, and step out of your comfort zone. It’s a chance to challenge yourself and discover more about the world and yourself. Plus, there’s no better time to embrace solo travel than now, with the convenience of modern technology making it easier to stay connected with loved ones back home and navigate unfamiliar places.
Ljubljana may not be the first city that comes to mind when planning a European trip, but this charming Slovenian capital has plenty to offer solo travelers. Its compact size, pedestrian-friendly streets, abundant green spaces, and outdoor cafés give it a relaxed, welcoming vibe. In the “Best European Cities for Solo Travel” ranking, Ljubljana has been listed as the number one city for solo travel in Europe.
In terms of safety, Ljubljana is one of the safest cities in Europe, with low levels of crime and friendly locals who are always happy to help. Getting around Ljubljana is a breeze, with a well-connected public transport system that includes buses, trams, and bikes. Or, if you prefer to explore on foot, the city is small enough to walk from one end to the other in under an hour.
For solo travel-friendly activities, start your day with a stroll along the Ljubljanica River and explore the famous Triple Bridge. This unique architectural masterpiece connects the city’s old town with the modern part of town. If you’re a fan of art, the National Gallery of Slovenia and the Museum of Modern Art are worth a visit. Getting hungry? Head to the Central Market and sample traditional Slovenian dishes like štruklji (rolled dumplings) and potica (sweet bread with various fillings).
Prague, Czech Republic
Prague is a must-visit destination for solo travelers. Known for its stunning architecture, vibrant nightlife, and rich history, Prague offers endless opportunities for adventure and exploration. Regarding safety, Prague is generally a safe city for solo travelers. However, it’s essential to be aware of pickpockets in tourist areas and to avoid walking alone at night in specific neighborhoods.
One of the best ways to experience Prague is by walking around the city’s many neighborhoods, such as the Old Town, Lesser Town, and Jewish Quarter. These tours will take you through cobblestone streets, historic landmarks, and hidden gems you might otherwise miss.
To taste Czech culture, head to one of Prague’s many beer gardens or traditional restaurants, where you can sample local cuisine and chat with friendly locals. And if you’re looking for some nightlife, Prague has plenty of options, from trendy rooftop bars to underground clubs.
Warsaw and Cracow, Poland
Poland’s two most famous cities, Warsaw and Krakow, offer solo travelers a unique blend of history, culture, and nightlife.
Starting with Warsaw, the capital city, offers a glimpse into Poland’s turbulent past, including the destruction caused by World War II and the subsequent Communist rule. Despite these challenges, Warsaw has rebuilt itself into a modern, thriving city with plenty to see and do. Stroll through the charming Old Town, beautifully restored to its pre-war glory, or visit the Warsaw Rising Museum to learn about the city’s brave resistance fighters during World War II.
On the other hand, Krakow is a medieval gem often referred to as Poland’s cultural capital. From the stunning Wawel Castle to the lively Market Square, Krakow is full of sights and sounds that enchant you. For a more somber experience, visit the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum, which offers a poignant reminder of the atrocities committed during the Holocaust.
Both Warsaw and Krakow offer vibrant nightlife, with everything from trendy rooftop bars to underground clubs. In Warsaw, head to the famous Nowy Swiat Street for various bars and restaurants, or check out the bohemian Praga district for a more alternative scene. In Krakow, the lively Kazimierz neighborhood (former Jewish Quarter) is a must-visit for its bustling bars and restaurants.
Traveling between Krakow and Warsaw is easy and convenient. The fastest way is by taking a flight. Several airlines operate between the two cities, and the flight time is usually around 1 hour. If you book in advance, you can get great deals on airfares. If you prefer a more budget-friendly option, take a train. Poland has an extensive rail network, and the train ride from Krakow to Warsaw takes around 2.5 to 3 hours. The trains are comfortable, and you can enjoy the scenic views of the Polish countryside along the way.
Lisbon is a gem perfect for solo travelers seeking a mix of history, culture, and relaxation. One of the best ways to experience Lisbon is simply by wandering through its charming neighborhoods. From the narrow alleys of Alfama to the bohemian streets of Bairro Alto, Lisbon is full of picturesque scenes and hidden corners waiting to be discovered. Take advantage of the iconic yellow trams that weave through the city’s hills, providing stunning cityscape views.
Later, head to the historic district of Belem, where you can see the impressive Belem Tower and the Jeronimos Monastery, both of which are UNESCO World Heritage sites. Don’t miss onPastéis de Belém, delicious custard tarts! I also recommend visiting the bustling Mercado da Ribeira, where you can sample delicious Portuguese food and wine.
When it comes to relaxation, Lisbon has plenty to offer as well. Head to one of the city’s many beaches, such as the popular Cascais or the quieter Praia da Adraga, for sun and surf. Or, stroll through the Jardim da Estrela, a beautiful park in the city’s heart that’s perfect for a picnic or a lazy afternoon.
Lisbon’s nightlife is also to be noticed, with various options for all tastes. In the trendy district of Cais do Sodre, you’ll find a mix of traditional bars and trendy nightclubs, while Bairro Alto is known for its lively bar scene and international street parties.
Lyon, the third-largest city in France, is a picturesque and dynamic destination perfect for solo travelers seeking a mix of history, culture, and gastronomy. One of the highlights of Lyon is its well-preserved Old Town, known as Vieux Lyon, with its narrow cobblestone streets and Renaissance architecture. The district is also home to numerous traboules, a network of secret passageways that silk weavers once used to transport their goods. Exploring these hidden passageways is a must-do for any visitor to Lyon.
Lyon is also known for its gastronomy, rich culinary heritage and numerous Michelin-starred restaurants. The city is famous for its bouchons, traditional Lyonnais bistros that serve hearty, home-style cuisine. Don’t miss trying the local specialties such as quenelles (dumplings), coq au vin (chicken in wine sauce), andouillette (sausage made from pork tripe), and of course, the famous Lyonnais cheese, fromage de chèvre.
For a taste of Lyon’s culture, head to the Basilique Notre-Dame de Fourvière, a stunning basilica with sweeping city views. The Musée des Beaux-Arts, one of France’s largest fine arts museums, is also a must-visit, with a collection that spans from ancient times to contemporary art.
Lyon also offers plenty of opportunities for outdoor activities, including biking along the Rhône river or hiking in the nearby Beaujolais region, famous for its wine. For a more leisurely option, take a stroll through the Parc de la Tête d’Or, one of the largest urban parks in France, with a beautiful lake and a botanical garden.
Or, if you prefer an even more relaxed vibe, you can check this France Surf, Yoga & Culinary Delight that takes place in the cozy and picturesque village of Bidart, overlooking the Pyrenees. You will meet new friends there and won’t have to worry about a company or itinerary!
Tips for Staying Safe
While traveling alone can be an empowering and exciting experience, it’s important to take precautions to ensure your safety. Here are some tips to keep in mind when traveling solo:
- Research your destination: Before you arrive at your destination, research the local customs, laws, and cultural norms. Knowing the basics of the language can also be helpful.
- Dress appropriately: Dressing appropriately can help you blend in with the locals and avoid unwanted attention. In some countries, it’s essential to cover up in public places, while in others, it’s more relaxed.
- Stay alert: Be aware of your surroundings and keep an eye on your belongings at all times. Avoid using your phone or other electronics in crowded areas, as they can make you an easy target for theft.
- Trust your instincts: If something feels off or uncomfortable, trust your instincts and remove yourself from the situation.
- Use common sense: Stick to well-lit and busy areas at night, and avoid walking alone in unfamiliar neighborhoods. Don’t accept drinks from strangers, always tell someone where you are going and when you expect to return.
- Use reliable transportation: Make sure to use licensed taxis or ride-sharing services, and avoid getting into cars with strangers.
- Stay in safe accommodations: Choose a reputable hotel or hostel that has good reviews and is located in a safe neighborhood.
Embracing the Adventure
Europe is an incredible continent with vast destinations perfect for solo travel. Whether you’re looking for history, culture, gastronomy, or outdoor activities, Europe has something to offer every type of traveler.
However, it’s important to remember that solo travel can come with challenges like loneliness, safety concerns, and navigating unfamiliar territory. That being said, solo travel can also be an incredibly rewarding experience, allowing you to explore at your own pace, meet new people, and gain a deeper understanding of the places you visit. Plus, solo travel can also be an excellent opportunity for self-discovery and personal growth.
Whether you’re a seasoned solo traveler or planning your first solo adventure, we hope that this article has given you some inspiration for your next European journey. Bon voyage!
About the Author
Aleksandra Staromiejska is a travel, food, and wellness passionate who has visited 50+ countries on four continents. She is a Travel Leader for the adventurous travel company Solisci Adventure Club and the Digital PR Specialist at PhotoAiD. After spending a couple of months in Thailand and climbing Mt Kilimanjaro, she is getting ready for another adventure – spending four months in Argentina and Chile.