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Is traveling alone all over Europe, riding trains, eating delicious food, and discovering historical wonders, a dream of yours? Do you find yourself researching pubs in London and mountain hostels in Switzerland? And watching endless Instagram stories about pasta and pizza and wine in Italy?
You’re not alone. Solo travel in Europe is amazing — even if solo travel anxiety is real, haha.
However, even though you might daydream a lot about booking that plane ticket, you’re still not sure how to plan a solo trip to Europe. Don’t worry. You’ve come to the right place for a healthy dose of inspiration topped off with some practical advice to make those dreams into realities.
First I want to acknowledge your fears. I get that solo travel to Europe might sound “intimidating” on paper. Sure, traveling solo might be more “mainstream” now than when I started traveling alone about ten years ago (yikes, has it really been that long?).
Regardless of that, the idea of stepping on a plane or bus without a friend or family member is still, understandably, scary for some people. Not everyone has the same confidence in the beginning and that’s perfectly fine.
Furthermore, the planning process is quite involved, especially if you’re coming to Europe from overseas and don’t want to join an organized guided tour. Don’t give up, though. I’m here to help!
How to Plan a Solo Trip to Europe
In the first part of this post, I want to teach you how to plan a solo trip to Europe without too much hassle.
Usually, the main person stopping you from planning a solo trip to Europe is you. Of course, money is required (I wish that wasn’t the case), but aside from financial restraints, anxiety is usually the main hurdle preventing people from living out their solo travel fantasies in Prague or Vienna or London.
So, to help build your confidence, here are a few of my top tips for how to plan a solo trip to Europe.
Good luck! I know you can do this!
Create a Reasonable Itinerary
First and foremost, I completely understand the urge to “see everything” on your trip to Europe. I still have a hard time eliminating cities and towns, and fretting over whether my itinerary is the “best use” of my limited time. There’s always more to see and do.
It sucks. I get it. We all wish we had unlimited PTO and money to explore Europe at length. Alas, we need to make hard choices. Don’t try to see everything.
I also want to emphasize that time is money. You don’t want to waste a ton of time sitting on planes, trains, and buses.
So, my personal advice is to spend at least two nights in any given city or town. That way you can at least get a taste of the city, and decide if you want to spend more time there on a future trip. At the same time, two nights is short enough not to feel bad if you end up disliking a place.
Last but not least you’ll also appreciate not having to switch hotels every single morning. Trust me.
Know Your Comfort Zone
As a solo traveler, you’re in charge of your trip and that includes activities. So, if you’re not a mountain climber or don’t feel comfortable hiking from morning until night, then don’t feel pressured to do so just to impress others on social media or at home.
Of course, feel free to try new activities if you feel compelled to do so. For example, I decided to go paragliding in Slovenia in order to combat my fear of flying, and felt very comfortable running off the side of a mountain cliff. Well. As comfortable as you can be, haha.
As always, though, read reviews of any adventure company and stick with your gut. Instincts are powerful. If you truly feel deep discomfort at the thought of a particular activity, then don’t do it.
Purchase Travel Insurance
Travel insurance is mandatory for solo travel in Europe. I’m not even kidding. You don’t want to risk paying a enormous hospital bill because you didn’t want to pay for travel insurance.
Furthermore, travel insurance is especially important if you plan on venturing to remote areas of Iceland and Switzerland. You don’t even want to know how much it costs to fly you to a hospital after an accident.
As for me, I personally recommend World Nomads Travel Insurance and have used their policies to cover all my solo trips to Europe. If you plan to travel internationally more than three times a year, then you might want to check out an annual policy, but for most travelers, World Nomads works great.
Research Out in Online Communities
Solo travel in Europe is great for all sorts of people. However, traveling alone is probably easier for people who thrive on solitude and don’t necessarily need to make friends in hostels or group tours.
On the flip side, extroverts might feel concerned about making new connections on a brand new continent. Fortunately, with the wonderful internet, it’s super easy to connect with other travelers, especially in big and popular cities.
For example, Facebook has many wonderful travel groups, such as Women Who Travel and Girls LOVE Travel, where you’re able to link up with other travelers, as well as locals. Of course, always use your best judgment when linking up with strangers from social media.
Furthermore, you can reach out to members of your social circle, such as family and friends, to see if they know anyone who lives in the places that you’re visiting.
Share Your Itinerary
I know, I know, I know. You’re an amazing independent traveler who’s confident in their skills to navigate all over Europe. That’s great and I obviously believe in you.
However, it’s a smart idea to share your plans with someone at home. I’ve traveled alone to Europe countless times, and I still leave my itinerary with family members in case, god forbid, an emergency happens.
I, personally, feel a lot safer when someone knows where I’m staying and can connect me even if my phone goes missing. Sharing an itinerary is a wonderful practice that will help build your confidence, because you know someone at home has your back.
You might also want to register with the State Department (this tip is specifically for US-based travelers). Using STEP lets you register for free with the local embassy, which can keep you up to date about important news in your area. Having that added reassurance goes a long way.
Thoroughly Read Reviews
Don’t skimp reviews, especially accommodation reviews, when you’re planning your visit to Europe. I’m not a diva with hotels. I don’t need to spend thousands of dollars on my credit card to have a memorable solo trip. Affordable doesn’t mean letting go of your standards, though.
So, with that said, I have zero tolerance for accommodation that is dirty or unsafe. Zero.
I spend plenty of time combing through reviews specifically left by solo travelers. You can easily sort reviews on bigger sites, such as Trip Advisor and Booking. If several solo travelers say they felt unsafe in certain hotel or even area surrounding the hotel, then consider it a red flag and move on.
Solo Trip to Europe Suggestions
When it comes to how to play a solo trip to Europe, location is (obviously) super important. I wanted to share a couple of destinations that really stood out to me as solo travel friendly,
Honestly, I think you could easily have fun in all these places even if it’s your very first time traveling throughout Europe by yourself.
I absolutely loved solo travel in Barcelona for many reasons. First of all, tapas culture made it super easy to “blend in” at restaurants and dine alone without judgement. Wandering from bar to bar was a great way to try a wide variety of local treats, while chatting with city residents and other travelers.
Furthermore, Barcelona’s awe-inspiring Gaudi architecture and many museums (guh, I loved the Piaccaso Museum) are best experienced alone, without any distractions from a travel buddy.
As a large city, Barcelona has plenty of connections so you’re able to enjoy solo travel in the rest of Spain and beyond if you wish to do so.
Granada is another city in Spain that’s wonderful for solo travel. Actually, traveling all of Andalusia alone means seeing lots of stunning intricate alcazars (which are palaces and fortresses) in the sun and eating free tapas until your stomach literally cannot take another bite.
Solo travel in Granada is especially fun since you will definitely see the Alhambra Palace. This intricate palace and fort complex is one of the most incredible manmade sites that I have ever seen on all my adventures, and makes Granada worth visiting as a solo traveler.
Furthermore, Granada is excellent for solo travelers who are visiting the city on a budget. I thought accommodation was cheaper here compared to nearby Seville.
In addition, Granada is still one of the best places to eat free tapas in Spain. You could technically go an entire trip without paying for food. That is, if you order a drink with your meal!
Edinburgh, Scotland (and Beyond!)
Scotland is my favorite country of all time, which is not a surprise to longterm readers of mine. Scotland is perfect in practically every way for solo travelers. Solo travel in Scotland makes you feel as if you’ve been transported into a mythical fairytale, particularly in the epic Highlands.
I always suggest starting off with solo travel in Edinburgh and then venturing into Scotland’s countryside and islands. Group tours, such as Haggis Adventures, are fantastic for travelers who want to see the rural wonders without the hassle of renting a car.
Lake Como, Italy
Gosh, I adore Lake Como. Seriously, I could spend two weeks or more relaxing on Lake Como’s elegant shores or hiking in the surrounding mountains. This stunning region in northern Italy reminds me so much of Lord of the Rings, haha.
I personally recommend spending at least 2 days in Lake Como and then doing a longer trip around northern Italy. Sure, it’s possible to do a day trip to Lake Como from Milan, but Lake Como is best enjoyed when you have more time. It’s also very safe and easy for solo travelers to navigate. I never once felt uncomfortable exploring Como.
Not to mention, I loved pretending I was in a James Bond movie. Don’t ask.
London is an excellent choice for your first solo trip to Europe. Firstly, London is safe for solo travel, especially for a city of its size. Everyone here speaks English and the tourism infrastructure is fantastic.
I especially recommend London to introverted solo travelers. By and large, Londoners mind their own business and won’t pry when they see someone participate in activities alone, even at night time (and yes, London has lots of great solo nighttime activities for you to enjoy).
Every type of traveler will discover something of interest in London. Do you like the theater? Go to the Globe! Are you a fan of jazz? Check out a show at Ronnie Scott’s. Do you adore books? Don’t miss the British Library’s gorgeous collection.
Iceland is one of the safest countries that I have ever visited, with Reykjavik ranking one of the safest capital cities that I’ve ever had the pleasure of exploring.
Ultimately, solo travel in Reykjavik is delightful. You’re able to explore this city day and night without stressing about your personal safety. Of course, common sense still applies, but it was so nice to relax and unwind.
As a solo traveler, you have options in Reykjavik. You can rent a car on your own and travel throughout the country, or organize guided day trips to Iceland’s spectacular natural beauty. And don’t miss the spas! Reykjavik is ideal for a wellness holiday!
Switzerland (All of It)
Still not sure how to plan a solo trip to Europe? Then just stay in Switzerland. It’s truly a masterpiece of a country. Solo travel in Switzerland is amazing, because each region feels like an entirely different country.
For example, solo travel in Zurich, the country’s biggest city, will be wildly different than solo travel in Lake Geneva where French is spoken and gorgeous vineyards and castles are everywhere to explore.
Switzerland is also remarkably safe and easy to navigate. The scenic trains connect not only Switzerland’s major cities, but smaller towns that look ripped from the pages of gorgeous fairy tales.
Last but not least, but solo travel in Venice also promises a very unique and beautiful experience, especially if you stay in the city of Venice. Which, do. Day tripping isn’t nearly as awesome as wandering a quieter Venice in the early hours of the morning and late evening.
Venice is a romantic destination, but don’t let that turn you off. A solo traveler is still able to have a lot of fun here. Venice has plenty of world class museums, such as Doge’s Palace and Peggy Guggenheim Collection, that are best experienced all alone. You can take as much as as you want to admire the splendid art.
Furthermore, Venice is perfect for solo diners with its extensive Cicchetti culture. Cicchetti or small snacks easily create a meal when you wander from bar to bar. And since Venice doesn’t allow cars, you don’t need to worry at all about driving either.
I hope reading this post about how to plan a solo trip to Europe gave you confidence and now you’re writing your itinerary! Have a great time!