22 Sep,2018 By Jagabond
I had just moved to Europe and was living alone, thinking of how to spend my time. My work colleagues lacked interest in travel, citing family commitments or job obsession. Making friends had become harder with age, so I decided to forego travel partners and go it alone.
My first solo trip in Europe was to Brussels. I found an incredible deal on a hotel…largely because the immediate area was crawling with prostitutes. I thus learned the importance of researching a destination. Solo travel provided me a spectrum of travel experiences. I dined in Michelin restaurants, learned more history than I ever did in school, and slept in hostels with roommates from across the globe.
My experience wasn’t all roses. I remember getting really sick while in Prague and curling up in my hostel bed for days. There were also times where I didn’t meet anyone during a trip – hard for an extrovert – or met the wrong people. Can a destination be better or worse for solo travel? I think so. It’s important to note this is personality specific. I’ve seen many lists highlighting the best places for solo travel, so I decided to go the other way.
George Clooney may disagree, but he has a house here so his opinion is biased. This is a couples place for sure, and not somewhere to be bumming around alone. I looked so out of place with my hoodie and backpack, and saw the stares to prove it. Outside of the lake tour, there aren’t many things to do. The ideal way to see Como is with your significant other as a day trip from Milan.
I absolutely love Iceland, but a solo trip isn’t enough. It’s impossible to fully highlight the beauty of Iceland in a series of pictures. You need to see how the country morphs as you drive. Having travel partners as witnesses helped me enjoy Iceland more. Another advantage is they can pitch in on the cost, as this is the most expensive place in Europe. Solo travel also prevents you from having a bro moment making ice shadows.
This for a similar reason as Lake Como, only times a thousand. Santorini is the place for happy honeymooners. There are so many lovers staring into each other’s eyes, it makes a solo traveler consider leaping into a live volcano. Joking aside, Santorini oozes romantic vibes. For solo travel the nearby island of Rhodes is the much better choice.
I’ll get the most heat from this one. However, take into account that I’m not a museum guy. I understand solo travel to Paris if you can spend hours observing the arts. If not, Paris is best experienced with others. The city itself is a work of art, with so many compelling aspects. Perspectives from different travelers can help you gain more from the trip.
First off, I do not think the Swedish people are rude. However, they are shy and thus appear less welcoming to outsiders (just my opinion). Stockholm itself is a uniquely beautiful city, but exploring it requires some digging. It doesn’t hit you over the head with attractions like Paris or London does. In cases like this I prefer to have a travel buddy for assistance.
I adore Ghent. However looking back, I realize my best times there have been with friends. The Flemish people in this region aren’t enamored with talking to strangers, so any solo trip is likely to remain that way for the duration. Also, this was the only place I’ve ever been refused a table at a restaurant due to only being one person…and it happened twice!
Similar to Paris, this entry doesn’t apply to museum lovers. When I think Florence, I think of statues, shopping, paintings, steak, bridges, lots of walking and gelato. The most interesting solo story I have from Florence is being there when I heard about the Malaysian plane that went missing. For me, a solo trip here is unexciting and too expensive to justify. However, I did enjoy showing my wife around.
This is the only city I tested scientifically, visiting both solo and with a friend at around the same time. Riga doesn’t have that ‘thing’. There are no all-star attractions I can think of, and the old town is overshadowed by neighboring Tallinn. I talked my friend’s ear off and the great conversation masked the lack of outer stimuli. When solo, I simply thought that Riga was boring.
I’m a serious fan of solo travel, and will miss certain aspects as I move towards a more structured future. It wasn’t easy coming up with this list, as a vast majority of European cities are ideal for solo trips. Whether or not you enjoy spending time alone in a city is mostly personality driven. I look forward to hearing from those who both agree and disagree with my opinions on this. Happy travels!