When travelling solo you want to visit a destination that offers up easy solutions to get around with a plethora of things to do close by as well as many areas where it’s safe ( especially for female travellers) to move around in public. While no big city is completely safe, caution should be exercised at all times to avoid pick pocketers in big crowds, steer clear of walking alone at night and always stay close within the well-known areas.
If in doubt of areas to avoid, always check with a local or host of your accommodation. Here are a few of our favourite cities throughout the globe that are also great to visit when travelling solo.
1. Cape Town
Being Capetonians, there’s no surprise that the ‘Mother City’ is our first choice. While our transport options are not nearly as well established as we like, the My Citibus and Uber will get you to most places you need to be. When travelling solo, areas like Seapoint and inner city Cape Town will be your best bet as you won’t run out of things to do and Uber can cost you around R30 to get from one side of town to the other. Staying active while sightseeing is so easy on the Seapoint promenade. You can rent bikes, run, walk along the promenade and use the outdoor gyms.
Cape Town is not only one of the world’s most beautiful cities but also also you to enjoy the great outdoors alongside the restaurants, museums, galleries and theatres of the city. Our top list of things to do as a solo traveller would include taking the cable car up Table Mountain or hiking in a group or with a guide, joining a peninsula tour on board the City sightseeing bus, experience a group tour with Bikes and Wines to enjoy the winelands from your bike and visit the Food Market at the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront. Don’t miss the antique markets and one-off boutique clothing stores of Kalk Bay and the fish and chips from Kalkies.
There is something totally alluring about the city of Istanbul, Turkey which brings Asia and Europe together in the best of ways. The only thing separating the two sides is the Bosphorous river which you will ferry across. Make sure you have enough time to dedicate to both sides and spend time on a boat sailing past the luxurious palaces riverside.
Don’t miss out on sharing Turkish apple tea on a rooftop or with a rug salesmen ( you’ll get many of these invitations), reserving a good chunk of time for the delights and spices of the Grand Bazaar, Galatta tower, The Blue Mosque, and Hagia Sophia.
Istanbul is one of those cities where you can still find some of the world’s oldest and finest architecture built, destroyed and restored by the strongest empires that ruled during various times. If you have extra time take a day trip to one of the King’s islands especially if you visit in summer. Discover some of the old buildings where Kings and royalty would once escape to and enjoying seaside dining.
One of the world’s most popular cities and a metropolis dying to be explored by solo and couple travellers like there are a few ways to get around London which can help you save some money. Whilst the tube and bus system are great for getting around everywhere, there are bike docking stations all around the city for you to use.
Rent a bike and explore at your own pace. Don’t visit London without an Oyster card and tube map for when the bike travel gets tiring. It will save you lots plus it can be used on the underground and bus. Find affordable accommodation options on Airbnb in areas slightly outside the inner city and save, or simply head over to The Piccadilly London West End Hotel.
Visit as many parks and museums as your schedule will allow as these are either free or ask for a small donation. Choose from Hyde Park, Kensington Gardens, the Museum of London and the National Gallery to mention a few. Take advantage of half-price theatre and musical tickets from the TKTS booth on Leichester square and definitely soak up the happening music scene of London at places like The Regal Room and The Monarch in Camden.
Having lived in Seoul, South Korea for two years, I know that it’s vibe, shopping culture and musical element will have you hooked in no time. Seoul is one of those rare cities that I found safe to walk around and use public transport at night whilst alone.
Plan to shop while where as the underground markets and every neighbourhood will bombard you with great deals and offers to shop. Go partying in the hip area of Hongdae, browse the high-end area of Gangnam, shop for absolutely everything in Dongdae-mun and soak in the old-world Seoul in Insadong. The bus and the subway will get you anywhere you need to go in the city.
You won’t have to move far to see a live K-Pop concert performed outside a mall or on the street. Aside from the Korean music scene, the film industry is also huge; so definitely try watch a local film or watch a concert.
Out of all the big Asian cities, Bangkok was never one of my favourites but that was only until the sky train came along and I discovered the right areas. The Sky train is safe, fast and efficient and gets you to most of the popular places. Lumpini Park is a green lung within the city and allows you to escape the madness, read on a bench, paddle on a swan boat around the lake or join the masses for aerobic exercise or jog along the trail.
While Khao San road calls to most solo travellers; if you want to avoid being ripped off, jaded by Thailand and not disappear into thousands of tourists in search of sex tourism, the ultimate Thai experiences and seedy party spots.
Take a boat cruise along the Khao Prah River stopping at Wat Arun temple, visit the floating market about an hour away from the city and enjoy the dining, nightlife and shopping experiences in the refined Sukhumvit area.