Travel

9 great solo holiday destinations

Travelling on your own can bring rich rewards. Citro writer Carolyn Tate has uncovered 9 great destinations that cater for the solo tourist.

Discover the joy of traveling solo as Citro guides you through enchanting destinations that beckon the independent traveller. From cultural discoveries to tranquil landscapes, these places have it all.

Written by Carolyn Tate

Travelling alone can be a wonderful adventure, but it’s also important to be safe and aware of the potential dangers of your destination, so you can make informed choices and be able to relax. Whether you choose to join a tour group or truly go it alone, one of the benefits of travelling when you’re older is that you will usually have a bit more money to spend so you can finally hit those holiday destinations that have been on your bucket list.

Here are great holiday destinations known to be accommodating for solo adventurers. Oh, and read Citro's article on how to holiday solo and enjoy every minute of it.

1. The Red Centre, Australia

With its rich Indigenous history and unique natural landscapes, the Red Centre in the Northern Territory is a popular choice for mature solo travellers. If you’ve always wanted to see the sun set over Uluru, learn more about Aboriginal culture, or see Australian flora and fauna thriving in some of the harshest conditions imaginable, this is where you want to be.Travelling solo means you can mix up tours to Uluru and Kata Tjuta (Katherine Gorge) with plenty of time to yourself. It gets hot in the middle of the day so that can be a great time to do some quiet reading by a resort pool, get a massage or take  nap. 

Suggestion: For a truly Australian experience, take the Ghan railway from Adelaide up to Alice Springs, visit the West MacDonnell Ranges, then see the wonders of Uluru, staying at the local Yulara Resort, including the incredible Sounds of Silence dinner, then board the train again, ending your trip in Darwin.

More info: Reef N Outback Rail Tours.

Australia's Red Centre features great sightseeing, like the Katherine Gorge pictured above.

2. Tasmania, Australia

Anyone who has been to Tassie will tell you there’s nowhere else quite like it. Combining rugged terrain, rich history, and outstanding wine, spirits and produce, Tasmania runs at a slower pace than other parts of Australia. Tasmania is one of Australia’s safest areas to visit, with the maind anger to look out for being nocturnal animals crossing roads after dark. Start your visit in Hobart and hire a car or join a tour to explore the Coal Valley wine region, visit Bruny Island for cheese and seafood, hike Cradle Mountain, or explore the picturesque Bay of Fires or Wineglass Bay (you can even take a dip if you’re brave!).

Suggestion: For a Tasmania taster, join the 10-day Tasmanian Wonders tour, which visits the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area, Port Arthur penal colony, Cradle Mountain, Freycinet on the coast, and many other towns and heritage-listed attractions in between.

Read about Tasmania's stunning beaches and how to do a quick trip from Hobart.

More info: AATKings.

Wine Glass bay beach in Tasmania is one of the many stunning beaches on the island.

3. Queensland’s Sunshine Coast, Australia

If you love the sun, sand and surf, you can’t go past Queensland’s beaches. And while many of the island resorts along Queensland’s coastline are aimed at families or couples, you can really do you on theSunshine Coast – it’s safe, easy-going, and offers a range of different ways to holiday, so you’re sure to find something you love. Just remember to swim at patrolled beaches because rips can hide beneath those inviting waves. Whether you’re out for adventure and pushing your body to its limits, or you want to indulge your sense and truly relax, you’ll find what you want on the Sunshine Coast.

Sunshine Coast: Fly into Brisbane and hire a car to take a self-driving holiday along the coast. The southern end of the Sunshine Coast is only a 90-minute drive from Brisbane, and you’ll be transported to a land of infinite opportunities in no time. Climb the Glasshouse Mountains (with a mountain for every fitness level – from the easy stroll of Mt Tibrogargan to the serious challenge of Mt Beerwah), learn to surf at Caloundra’s Happy Valley, go kayaking along the Noosa Everglades, shop up a storm (and indulge in exquisite fine dining afterwards) on Noosa’s exclusive Hastings Street or, if markets are more your thing, visit the epic Eumundi Markets on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Don’t forget to leave plenty of time for lying around on the beach or by the pool, and bring a good book for ultimate relaxation. 

More info: Queensland tourism website.

Sunshine Beach at Noosa has lush rainforest vegetation and bushland close to the surf.

4. Greece

For a truly cultural experience, where better than the birthplace of western civilisation and democracy? Known for its hospitality, wonderful food, breath-taking history, and beautiful beaches, Greece is wonderful for solo travellers – and did you know that Greece has an ageing population, with one in 5 people being over 65? Greece has given the world so many gifts – great poetry, myths and legends, philosophy, politics, mathematics and science – not to mention delicious treats like souvlaki, baklava, feta cheese, and ouzo!

Suggestion: The best way to experience Greece is to base yourself in Athens – with its great restaurants and ancient sites – and then to visit archeological sites and museums, which you’ll find scattered around the country, visit Crete for hiking and fields of spring flowers, and join a sailboat tour of the spectacular Greek Islands. Read about the beautiful island of Hydra.

More information: Intrepid Travel.

Greece is full of ancient wonders, like the Acropolis.

5. Italy

Just like Greece, Italy has given the world so many gifts, and to visit Italy is to soak up a place that you almost feel you already know.It’s familiar and comforting, and so beautiful. Some of the world’s greatest art has come from Italy, and the country is also responsible for the gastronomic greats: pizza, pasta and gelato! Just like Greece, Italy has one of the oldest populations in the world, with 22% of their population being over 65. Although it’s reasonably safe for solo travellers, you do need to keep your wits about you (and your valuables close) in high-traffic tourist areas like the Trevi Fountain in Rome.  And it can be a little bit confusing to find your way around the big cities, but if you have a good map, or ask a local, you should be fine.  

Suggestion: Join a tour group that will cover the areas you want to go – there are so many to choose from! Visit the Vatican, the canals of Venice, the many historical sites of Rome, the art galleries of Florence, the vineyards of Tuscany, drive down the Amalfi Coast, hike the Cinque Terre, or discover the slower pace in the hillsides of Umbria. One thing is for sure, no matter where you go: you will not be short of something delicious to eat and drink, so pack your stretchy pants! Read also about beautiful Abruzzo.

More information: Girl About Globe.

Rome is not only beautiful, but one of the best cities to eat your way around.

6. Japan

For solo travellers, Japan is a great choice – it’s safe and easy to get around, with exceptional public transport. And being alone is something that is celebrated in Japan – you’ll see many people dining, drinking or exploring alone. The dichotomy of tradition and modernity is what makes Japan so unique – you’ll see thousand-year-old Zen temples and fields of green rice paddies juxtaposed against the world’s fastest trains, skyscrapers covered in neon signs, and space-aged facilities. It’s a confusing and wonderful cultural experience not to be missed!

Suggestion: Join a tour and travel all over the country onJapan’s famous bullet trains, treading in the footsteps of samurai along the old Tokaido Road, take in the chaos of neon-spangled Tokyo, and travel toKyoto, the home of Japanese culture and tradition, with its temples, shrines and gardens. Visit the hot springs of Hakone National Park at the foot of Mt Fuji, staying in a traditional Japanese inn, complete with tatami mat floors, futon beds, green tea and traditional Japanese dinners. Read columnist Mark Dapin's travel diary of Japan.

More information: Responsible Travel.

The hot springs of Japan are a feast for the eyes.

7. Laos

If you want to holiday off the beaten track, without the hordes of tourists, Laos could be a great option for you. Often underrated as a destination next to its busier neighbour Thailand, Laos offers wonderful hospitality and friendly people, it’s easy and cheap to get around, and it has a relaxed, laid back pace. Laos also offers some spectacular natural scenery, with wonderful waterfalls and lots of wildlife to see along the Mekong River.

Suggestion: Take a cruise down the Mekong River, sailing between Chiang Khong on the Thai-Laos border towards Vientiane, the old French capital, stopping at the UNESCO World Heritage city of Luang Prabang, with its wood-carved monasteries. Then head into the mountains to see stunning rapids and gorges in small Pandaw vessels. You can also meet friendly locals, and learn about the local elephants, which are Laos’ national animal.

More information: PeregrineTravel.

The Nam Song River in Laos is stunningly beautiful, with plenty of wildlife.

8. Scotland

Scotland is a land of rich history, castles, military fortresses, and ghost stories. And, of course, whisky! Travelling solo to Scotland is easy and safe, with low crime,friendly locals, and easy navigation. The cities are modern, but set againstcobblestone streets and centuries-old castles and buildings. Scotland is hometo rolling hills, jagged mountains, stunning coastline, and it has some of the best scenic drives you’ll take anywhere.

Suggestion: You can mix your solo travel with short tours in Scotland. Base yourself in Edinburgh, and walk the Royal Mile, visit Edinburgh Castle and the Edinburgh Dungeons, and climb Arthur’s Seat (an easily strollable mountain). Finish off with a visit to Johnnie Walker Princes Street, with its eight floors of dining, bars and whisky shopping. Then choose your own adventure, with a range of tours that can show you the rugged coastline along the Isle of Skye, the greenery and heather in the Highlands, the mystery of Loch Ness, the endless beaches of the Outer Hebrides, and the puffins of Orkney or Shetland.

More information: Highland Explorer Tours.

The Isle of Skye, pictured above, is one of many islands off the coast of Scotland that are worth a visit.

9. Antarctica

The ultimate adventure, Antarctica may not be the first place you think of for a holiday, but it’s arguably the most unique experience you can have without leaving the Earth’s orbit. And – bonus – Antarctica is known for being a great choice for solitary travellers. Many report that the peace you can experience in the icy landscape is somehow enhanced by being alone – although you’ll always be a part of a crowd. You can only visit Antartica as part of a tour group.

Suggestion: Take a cruise through the icy waters to Antarctica to experience something that most people never will. You can either fly to Argentina and cruise from there, which takes about a day and a half, or you can depart from Hobart or New Zealand, which can take longer to get to your destination (about a week), but if you enjoy a cruise, it’s all part of the fun. If you cruise from Australia or New Zealand, you’ll see some ruggedly beautiful landscapes, eventually arriving at East Antarctica, where you’ll see Mawson’s Huts, as well as plenty of wildlife, including emperor and king penguins.

More information: Chimu Adventures.

There are 8 species of penguin found around Antarctica, the Emperor, Adélie, Gentoo, Rockhopper, Macaroni, Magellanic, Chinstrap and King. Picture: Chimu Adventures.

 

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