Solo Travel: Europe

Advisor - Christian Caudill
Curated By

Christian Caudill

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  • Arts & Culture

  • Food & Wine

  • Paris

  • Amsterdam

  • Munich

  • Portugal

  • Belgium

  • Switzerland

  • Multi-Country

  • History

  • Local Culture

Solo Travel: Europe
Curator’s statement

Europe is a perfect destination for solo travelers. With direct overnight flights from many major cities in the United States, you can hit the ground running to discover a new destination or dig deeper into somewhere you’ve already been. Regardless of where you go, the best part of solo travel is that it is 100% tailored to what you want to do – no compromising on budgets, or wake up times, where to eat or what to do. Read on for my top picks and tips for Solo Travel: Europe.

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Where to stay

Hôtel Fabric

Unwind in a boutique retreat where contemporary design and historical charm blend seamlessly, creating an inviting haven in the heart of the city.

Fora Perks
  • Welcome treat in room on arrival.

  • Upgrade & guaranteed late check-out.

Pulitzer Amsterdam

Overlooking the Prinsengracht and spanning 25 17th-century homes, this is a hotel lover’s hotel.

Fora Perks
  • $100 food / beverage credit.

  • Breakfast daily.

  • Upgrade & extended check-in/out whenever possible.

25hours Hotel München The Royal Bavarian

Chic property in a converted post office with retro, relaxed rooms and suites.

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Solo Travel Europe: City Breaks

European cities are great solo travel destinations, and even better for a second or third visit where you can dig deeper into the local culture rather than checking off tourist sites.

Paris: Having studied abroad and lived in France, I’ve visited Paris several times with different iterations of travel companions, but by far my most memorable visit was a spontaneous solo trip I took a few years ago thanks to cheap off-season flights and a couple use-it-or-lose-it vacation days. Stay in the residential 11th arrondissement, visit the smaller niche museums, take a cooking or patisserie class. Partake in the Parisian art of flânerie, or strolling for the sake of strolling, or immerse yourself in classic café culture with a book and an espresso. If you want to visit the major sites, traveling solo makes it easier to navigate the crowds and you can spend as much time as you want taking in the view from the Eiffel Tower or pondering a masterpiece in the Louvre.

Amsterdam: If you are looking for interesting architecture, waterfront living, history, cozy café culture, art or even vibrant nightlife, then Amsterdam is the spot for you. Take a canal boat tour to learn about Amsterdam’s history and unique architecture, then hop on a bike to continue cruising the canals like a local. For a taste of local culture and cuisine, head to Albert Cuyp Markt and be sure to grab a fresh, warm stroopwafel. The Anne Frank Huis is a sobering and thought-provoking must visit for everyone, and art lovers will want to leave plenty of time to stroll through the Van Gogh museum and Rijksmuseum. From markets to museums, there is plenty to do within the city to fill a few days, and even more to do just a short train or bus ride away. Just 10 minutes by train, the town of Haarlem offers the same charm as Amsterdam but without the tourists and high prices – if you really want to live like a local during your trip, consider basing yourself in Haarlem. During tulip season, head to Keukenhof Garden to see incredible tulip art and take in the vibrant surrounding fields and dip your toes in the North Sea with a quick trip to Zandvoort.

Munich: Immerse yourself in Bavarian culture with a trip to Munich. Best known for Oktoberfest, this city is a great choice for solo travelers anytime of year whether you’re a beer drinker or not. Explore the historic old town with its gothic churches, town squares, palaces and museums, or spend the day relaxing in one of Munich’s urban parks along the Isar river. At the foot of the Alps, it’s a quick train ride to picturesque villages and Innsbruck or Salzburg, Austria for a day trip or onward journey, or join a tour group to Neuschwanstein Castle.

Solo Travel Europe: Multi-Destination

If you have more time or want to explore a destination beyond its cities, pick a country or route that’s well connected by train. Some of my favorites include:

Portugal (Porto and Lisbon): This was my first solo trip in Europe and I’ve returned several times since. From the warm and welcoming people to the beautiful architecture and landscapes, I highly recommend Portugal for solo travel in Europe. Porto and Lisbon are only a three-hour train ride apart with the option to stop along the way in the charming seaside town of Aveiro or historic Combria. I recommend at least two days in Porto learning about the history and production of Port wine and soaking in the city’s charm, and three in Lisbon wandering the Alfama, marveling at the incredible views from the miradouros, and taking a day trip to Sintra. For a longer stay, add on a Douro valley wine tour, head inland to Evora, or south to the Algarve.

Belgium: Beer and chocolate lovers should make a beeline for Belgium. This small country home to the political capital of the European Union is easy to reach via train from London, Paris, or Amsterdam. Spend a day in Brussels old town taking in the architectural beauty of La Grande Place and exploring the bars, restaurants, and shops in the surrounding medieval streets. Be sure to enjoy a waffle or some delicious frites, then head to the fairytale town of Bruges to get a feel for local Belgian culture and history. People-watch from a terrace, take in the sights from a canal boat, or visit one of the town’s many well-preserved churches and museums. Round out your tour of Belgium with a visit to Antwerp for a more cosmopolitan vibe. This edgy city with a rich history as the center of European trade is a lesser known tourist destination making it the perfect spot to blend in and live like the locals.

Switzerland: For solo travelers looking for adventure or to reconnect with nature, head to Switzerland. Its vast train system and compact geography allows you to easily explore two or three spots in one long weekend. For a quick visit, start in Geneva or Zurich and head to Lauterbrunnen for hiking or skiing and breathtaking views. On your way there or back, stop in Bern to admire the fairy-tale-like architecture. If you have more time, try to visit a city or town in each of Switzerland’s three linguistic regions to experience the vast cultural diversity this small country offers.

Solo Travel Europe: Tips

Stay in smaller boutique hotels or BnBs – Smaller hotels often have living-room type common areas or lounges for guests to read a book, get some work done, or strike up a conversation with fellow travelers. In small towns and rural areas, traditional bed-and-breakfasts offer a true sense of home, traditional meals, and a chance to really get to know a local.

Take a walking tour – tour companies like Sandemans

New Europe Tours offer free (tips-based) walking tours in nearly every major city in Europe. These tours are a great way to orient yourself to a new place and offer a chance to talk with fellow travelers in a small setting. They also offer activities like pub crawls, food tours, and history/culture tours for you and any of your new friends to join.

Pack light! The lighter you pack, the easier it is to be spontaneous and hop off the train in a small town to see what you can find.

Organized group travel – If you’re traveling solo but don’t want to travel alone, join an organized small group tour through Intrepid or G Adventure. These companies offer a wide range of trip destinations, styles, activities, and age groups with a focus on cultural immersion and responsible travel.

Need to Know

Nearly anywhere in Europe is a great choice for solo travel. Whatever type of solo travel Europe trip you are looking for, you can work with me to find the perfect destination and activities for a trip that is 100% tailored to you.

This trip report is part of our ongoing series on solo travel. In need of further inspiration? Check out Ana Santos’s trip report, Solo Adventure: The 10 Best Places to Solo Travel.

Advisor - Christian Caudill

Travel Advisor

Christian Caudill

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