Traveling alone? These 10 countries right now are best for solo travel
Solo travelers can enjoy great adventures in many countries — Photo courtesy of South_agency / Getty Images
Although it’s not new, solo travel is growing in popularity. In fact, the American Express Travel 2023 Global Travel Trends Report found that 49 percent of respondents were more open than ever to the idea of traveling alone. Meanwhile, Kayak’s latest data shows that single-traveler flight searches are up 36 percent, and a recent Skyscanner survey revealed that over 50 percent of travelers are considering traveling alone in the next year.
With so many people planning to travel solo in 2023, we created a list of the best countries for solo travelers. These are destinations where you don’t necessarily need a “plus one” to make experiencing new places exciting, affordable, safe and fun.
These are the 10 best countries to travel solo:
Explore Australia’s Tropical North Queensland
Travelers can dive and snorkel at the Great Barrier Reef — Photo courtesy of Tourism Tropical North Queensland
Aussies like to say that a stranger is “just a mate you haven’t met yet.” Locals in Tropical North Queensland are especially warm and welcoming, and they have a wicked sense of humor, too. This northern region of Australia is incredibly stunning, as it’s home to the Daintree Rainforest, considered the oldest in the world. It’s also the gateway to the planet’s largest coral reef system, The Great Barrier Reef.
Solo travelers find it easy to make friends while staying in the city of Cairns, a backpacker hotspot with many hotels and hostels at great price points. Solo travelers can also join tours for day trips to explore the area with a group.
Enjoy private island adventures in the Maldives
Coco Collection’s properties in the Maldives cater to solo travelers who care about sustainability — Photo courtesy of Coco Collection
There’s a common misconception that the Maldives is just for couples on their honeymoons. But you don’t need a spouse to thoroughly enjoy this country that boasts incredible snorkeling, diving, surfing and many other ocean-related activities. Additionally, visitors here will find the most luxurious (and “Insta-worthy”) hotels in the world.
Most resorts here, like the upscale yet eco-friendly Coco Bodu Hithi and Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu, are located on their own private islands, so solo travelers can enjoy blissful privacy (and you don’t need to ask anyone to watch your stuff on the beach while you go for a swim).
See iconic American treasures in the United States
Montana’s Big Sky Resort offers tons of activities year round — Photo courtesy of Tom Cohen @tomcophoto for Big Sky Resort
If you prefer not to go abroad alone, no worries! The United States offers a wide array of memorable travel experiences across the entire country. You can ski Big Sky in Montana, go island hopping in Hawaii, visit the Grand Canyon in Arizona and tour the studios of Hollywood, California (just to name a few options)!
It’s no secret that food lovers can enjoy dining at a number of Michelin star-rated restaurants in world-class cities, like Chicago, San Francisco and New York.
Since all the states share the same language, it’s easy to strike up conversations and make friends with locals — especially if you’re road tripping through the Carolinas or Georgia, where a little southern hospitality goes a long way.
Admire exquisite natural attractions in Iceland
Iceland is home to many stunning natural sights — Photo courtesy of PLAY Airline
According to the Global Peace Index, Iceland is the world’s safest country. It also happens to be home to many jaw-dropping natural sights, such as the northern lights, black sand beaches, incredible rock formations and the world-famous blue lagoon.
A big plus for solo travelers is that many hotels in Reykjavik, such as Center Hotels Plaza and 101 Guesthouse have rooms with single beds. Keep in mind that Iceland is expensive, so you don’t want to pay for more than what you need while visiting. If you’re planning a vacation here, the new budget airline, PLAY, offers flights from several east coast U.S. cities at budget-friendly prices.
Backpack around Thailand on a budget
Thailand is famous for beautiful beaches and friendly residents — Photo courtesy of Katie Jackson
The country of Thailand, known as “The Land of Smiles,” welcomed 40 million annual visitors pre-pandemic, many of whom were solo travelers. As tourism ramps up once again, solo travelers are returning. This country offers affordable prices for visitors, so it’s easy to find three-star hotels for about $30 per night, dinners for $3 a plate and scooter rentals for $6 a day.
In other words, it’s the kind of place where you don’t need to split costs with someone to make it affordable. And since it’s on the backpacker circuit, it’s easy to make friends everywhere — whether you’re staying in Chiang Mai or on the islands.
Learn to tango and sip wine in Argentina
A solo traveler in Argentina’s scenic Tafi del Valle — Photo courtesy of Visit Argentina
Argentina is a wonderful destination for solo visitors, as it’s also relatively easy to navigate. Public transportation is reliable, and there’s a robust network of hostels catering to solo travelers — whether they’re looking to learn to tango in Buenos Aires (partners can be provided), climb a mountain in Patagonia or sip a glass of wine at a vineyard in Mendoza.
At the moment, the country’s currency favors travelers who are on a budget, because the exchange rate is low.
See a sanctuary or sign up for a safari in South Africa
South Africa offers incredible trails and guided hikes — Photo courtesy of Future Found Sanctuary by Time + Tide
While South Africa has 11 official languages, almost everyone knows English — making it the best gateway country to the African continent. Of course, it’s the ideal place to begin travel if you’re planning to embark on a safari. If your goal is to photograph animals in the wild at Greater Kruger National Park, just know that some safari lodges will waive the single supplement if you ask politely.
Nearby, gated properties like Future Found Sanctuary in the Western Cape make for a great (and safe) home base for exploring Cape Town, enjoying guided hikes, visiting white sand beaches and experiencing the neighboring wine country.
Dine with new friends in Copenhagen, Denmark
Copenhagen, the capital of Denmark, is a great city for solo travelers — Photo courtesy of Daniel Rasmussen and Danish Media Center
Don’t like to eat out alone? In Denmark, you’ll find that communal dining is often celebrated. In fact, one of Copenhagen’s coolest restaurants and social spaces is Folkehuset Absalon. It hosts many events throughout the year, including weekly meals for international solo travelers.
It’s also the birthplace of “hygge,” which is the cozy contentment that’s a big part of Danish culture. Not surprisingly, Danes are known to be very down-to-earth and welcoming to travelers. (They are also required to learn English at school, so communicating is easy for U.S. travelers too.)
Enjoy Canada’s cosmopolitan cities and vast wilderness
The Mountain Trek Health Reset Retreat reports over 80% of last season’s visitors were solo travelers — Photo courtesy of Mountain Trek Health Reset Retreat
As the second largest country in the world, Canada’s size can feel quite intimidating. However, Canadians have a reputation for being some of the nicest and most welcoming people in the world. As long as you don’t attempt to tackle all 10 provinces in the same trip, it’s definitely doable.
The biggest challenge is deciding where to visit.
Canada truly offers something for everyone, so if mountains and wilderness are your thing, start with beautiful Manitoba or British Columbia. If you want European vibes, head to Montreal. If you prefer a big, East Coast city, go to Toronto. World-famous Niagara Falls is always a popular destination for travelers all year long.
Immerse yourself in Portugal’s unique culture
Porto, Portugal’s second city, is a great place for solo travelers. — Photo courtesy of Katie Jackson
With United Airlines and TAP Air offering daily nonstop flights to Portugal from several U.S. cities, it’s never been easier to discover the country that truly discovered the world. Portugal offers an abundance of activities for visitors of all ages, and it’s an ideal destination for solo travelers.
With over 1,000 miles of scenic coastline, Portugal’s picturesque beaches are popular in summer, while the wine country of Alentejo is a must-visit during the spring and fall. The capital, Lisbon, is an exceptionally friendly city for tourists, with plenty of historical sights, fabulous restaurants, fun attractions and great nightlife. It’s a fantastic destination that will keep solo travelers busy any time of day — or evening.
It’s one of Western Europe’s least expensive countries to visit, so it can be relatively affordable to visit on your own, especially if you stay in Porto. Single rooms in Portugal’s second city, which is stunningly beautiful, are usually 20 percent lower than their counterparts in the more cosmopolitan Lisbon.