Solo travel is almost a different kind of travel. Especially when you actively seek out experiences that work for you, whether that be with new people you meet or a complete free bird. And some cities are perfect for both types of solo travelers
1. Budapest, Hungary (Bu-da-peSHT)
The history of the area that Budapest sits upon goes back to before 1AD, when it was a Celtic settlement. In the last 2000 years, it has been ruled and conquered by Romans, Bulgarians, Magyar tribes, Hungarians, Ottomans, and Hapsburgs before gaining its independence and eventually becoming part of Austria. This was followed by the dissolution of Austria-Hungary following WWI, which resulted in the Republic of Hungary being created, with Budapest as its capital.
On the outside, Budapest looks a little bit rusty, though it is home to numerous Art Nouveau. Being located in Central/Eastern Europe, it’s slightly off the typical “Euro Trip” route that typically runs through an itinerary consisting of London, Paris, Amsterdam, Dublin, Barcelona, and Rome. It is, however, on the route of most backpackers, gap year-ers, river cruisers, and history buffs. The city is full of life and light, with dozens of amazing hostel, hotel, and AirBnB options, boat cruises to see the city from the Danube, and free walking tours to introduce you to the city. Most hostels run or recommend certain boat tours and walking tours, so I always recommend joining both to see the city and meet other solo travelers! If you’re also a party animal, there are pub crawls galore to sign up for, most of which take you around to a number of ruin bars around the city.
2. Krakow, Poland (Kra-koof)
Krakow’s history dates back to the Stone Age, when a settlement existed upon Wawel Hill. For the first 400 years of it’s first written records, it was under Polish control (bar the 2 successful Mongol attacks), but when the Polish throne passed to Henry III of France, the city rapidly declined before the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth was partitioned by Russia, the Hapsburgs, and Prussia, with Austria eventually annexing the city. Krakow returned to Polish rule in 1918 and resumed its roll as major academic and cultural centre.
Krakow’s popularity has grown at an incredible rate over the last few years. Many are starting to realize that it’s one of the most beautifully preserved cities in all of Europe, as it surprisingly escaped destruction during WWII. The history of both the city and the surround region are incredible, and there are endless options for free walking tours and paid tours to take you to a number of different sites, including the Wieliczcka Salt Mine and Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum, both of which are highly recommended to visit.
3. Belgrade, Serbia (Bey-o-grad)
Belgrade has been inhabited for over 15,000 years by a number of different nomadic and Paleo-Balkan tribes, has been part of the Roman and Byzantine, Ottoman, and Hapsburg Empires, existed as a key city throughout Serbian history, and was apart of Yugoslavia until the 1990’s, when Serbia again gained independence.
Belgrade is quite literally a diamond in the rough. It’s extremely uncommon for most tourists to go there, so the type and quality of people you meet is much higher, I found, than most other cities in Europe. Visitors in Belgrade are typically more adventurous and enjoy a different type of travel, which leads to incredibly interesting and just plain cool conversations and relationships.
4. Lisbon, Portugal (Lis-bo-a)
Like most of the cities on this list, Lisbon has been inhabited for over 10,000 years by a number a different groups, including Indo-European Celts, Romans, barbarian tribes, Berbers, Arabs, Moors, and Spanish Hapsburgs before Portugal gained its independence with Lisbon as its capital.
Lisbon is an absolutely stunning city, nestled on and between 7 hills. Still somewhat undiscovered and with wonderful weather for most of the year, Lisbon is a great city to explore on your own. There are numerous free walking tours, including many that will pick you up directly from your hostel. Lisbon, being the capital of Portugal, is a hub from which you can do endless day trips, with Sintra being the most popular.
5. Dublin, Ireland
With evidence of inhabitants living in the Dublin area since prehistoric times, Dublin is one of the oldest cities on this list. Ruled by Vikings, Normans, and English for most of its history, Dublin was a major trading post and seat of power walled within a small city. Ireland, with Dublin as its capital, gained its independence from the Crown in the 1920’s.
With its close proximity and ease of travel from cities like London and Paris, Dublin is a hotspot for travelers and students. Filled to the brim with hostels, pubs, tours, and museums, Dublin is a great place for solo travelers to come and enjoy themselves. It’s a major hub for travel, so day trips are incredibly easy to book onto, whether its to Belfast, Galway, or any other destination you wish.
6. Amsterdam, Netherlands
Spoiler alert: Amsterdam is completely built on reclaimed land, meaning that where the city sits today was once marshland and ocean that, over time, was drained and developed upon. This began as early as the 10th century, though the city was truly a city ruled by the Dutch beginning in the 1300’s.
Did you know that Amsterdam is one of the safest cities in the world? Most would assume that the mecca for legal drugs and prostitution would be the exact opposite! Amsterdam as a city is an experience. It is impossible to truly describe Amsterdam. Home to some of Europe’s best museums, it’s a place for art and history buffs, and the “darker side” of Amsterdam draws in plenty of party, if that’s your sort of thing too.