The Ultimate Guide to Solo Travel in Europe

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Solo travel in Europe is a fulfilling way to see the continent’s most beautiful destinations — here’s all you need to know before you go.

I’ve always been a strong supporter of solo travel. It’s an enriching experience that allows you to plan your dream trip without having to consider the preferences of others. Being open to traveling alone comes in handy when you’re yearning for an adventure but can’t convince your friends or family to join you.

Europe is home to approximately 45 countries, each with its distinct culture and language, which means there are countless ways to explore Europe (and a million things to learn). However, one thing is certain – Europe is a safe place for solo travel, even for female travelers.

How do I know? Well, I have spent a total of more than three years living in Europe and have often embarked on solo journeys.

So, if you’re planning to travel alone in Europe, this guide will provide you with the best solo travel destinations in Europe, general tips, and more.

General Europe Visa Tips

U.S. citizens can travel to 26 E.U. member/Schengen Area countries for up to 90 days without a visa. However, upon arrival, immigration officials may request an exit plane ticket, proof of accommodation, and sometimes evidence of sufficient funds for your stay.

It’s important to note that not every European country is part of the E.U. or Schengen area, including the U.K. post-Brexit.

Starting from November 2023, U.S. citizens will be required to apply for an ETIAS (Electronic Travel Information and Authorization System), which is an electronic visa waiver that grants entry to the European Union.

How to Get Around Europe

Unlike the United States, getting around Europe is relatively easy thanks to its well-connected network of trains, buses, and budget airlines like RyanAir and EasyJet.

Europe by Train

Traveling by train is a classic and convenient way to explore Europe. If you’re planning to travel extensively, consider getting a Eurail pass, which allows you to travel by train across 33 covered countries in Europe.

When purchasing a Eurail pass, you select a specific period of time and the number of countries you want to visit. The Eurail pass is worth the investment if you plan to do a lot of train travel. However, if you only have a few specific journeys in mind, it’s advisable to compare the pass price with the cost of individual tickets.

Check out the different Eurail pass options here.

Alternatively, you can book individual train tickets from local train companies. It’s important to note that not every national or international train is covered by the Eurail pass, and each country has its own train company (e.g., Deutsche Bahn in Germany, SNCF in France, Renfe in Spain, etc.).

Europe by Bus

Europe is well-connected by buses, and in some countries, traveling by bus is more convenient and reliable than other modes of transportation. Bus travel also tends to be more budget-friendly.

Here are some resources for finding bus travel information across Europe:

  • FlixBus: An international bus company that offers affordable and extensive bus routes connecting major cities in Europe.
  • Eurolines: Another major bus company in Europe, similar to FlixBus.
  • Omio: A helpful resource that allows you to search for train and bus availability between destinations. You can also book tickets through Omio, but it’s recommended to use the site for information and book directly with the train or bus company.
  • Getbybus.com: Another bus booking website.

Europe by Car

Exploring Europe by car can be quite expensive, especially for solo travelers. However, if you have the budget, it offers the ultimate freedom to go wherever you want, whenever you want.

If you decide to rent a car, here are some quick tips for driving in Europe:

  • Non-E.U. citizens may need an International Driving Permit (IDP) from AAA and should confirm the legal driving requirements in their intended destination.
  • Some countries have toll roads and require vignette stickers and emission (clean air) enrollment.
  • The U.K., Ireland, Malta, and Cyprus are the only European countries that drive on the left side of the road.
  • Gasoline is expensive and sold by the liter. Be careful not to put diesel in your car.
  • Automatic cars are less common in Europe and often more expensive. If you can’t drive a manual car, make sure to book an automatic in advance.
  • Stay updated on traffic restrictions by checking the Urban Access Regulations in Europe.

Europe by Organized Tour

Organized tours are another option for exploring Europe. While they may be slightly more expensive, they offer various perks, such as private transfers, guided tours, and the opportunity to meet fellow travelers.

There are organized tour packages catering to the needs of every solo traveler, from female backpackers to LGBTQ+ travel groups. Some popular tour companies in Europe include Intrepid Tours, Contiki, Detours Gay Adventure Travel, and G Adventures.

Best Time to Visit Europe

Summer is undeniably the best time to visit Europe, thanks to warm weather and the availability of seasonal attractions, especially in coastal destinations. However, summer in Europe also means larger crowds and higher prices for accommodations and flights.

For a balance of decent weather, fewer crowds, and lower prices, consider traveling to Europe during the shoulder seasons, such as early spring or late fall. Winter in Europe also has its charm, with charming Christmas markets and snowy ski slopes.

12 Best Solo Travel Destinations in Europe

In all honesty, every part of Europe can be solo travel-friendly if you’re up for it and feel comfortable. However, considering that solo travelers often have a smaller budget, I’ve compiled a list of the best places to travel solo in Europe.

These destinations offer a vibrant social scene, excellent hostels, and easy accessibility via public transportation.

1. Prague, Czech Republic

Prague has long been a popular destination for backpackers and solo travelers. It’s known for its large expat community, affordable prices, and stunning Bohemian culture. Prague is also one of the best-preserved cities in Europe, having survived mass bombings during World War II.

Must-visit attractions in Prague include the 600-year-old Astronomical Clock Tower, a visit to a beer spa, capturing a photo in front of the Lennon Wall, and experiencing the vibrant nightlife, which is among the best in Europe.

Best Prague hostel for solo travelers: Prague Dream Hostel

2. Budapest, Hungary

Nestled in central Europe, Budapest is often referred to as the “Spa Capital of the World.” This city was historically divided by the Danube River into two parts, Buda and Pest, before merging into the vibrant capital city it is today. Budapest’s central location makes it an excellent base for exploring both Western and Eastern Europe.

Top experiences in Budapest include visiting the famous ruin bars, indulging in the therapeutic waters of the Gellért Baths, and marveling at the grandeur of the Parliament building.

Best Budapest hostel for solo travelers: Wombats City Hostel Budapest

3. Amsterdam, Netherlands

Amsterdam is a popular choice for solo travelers, particularly those who enjoy a lively party scene. While it may not be the most affordable European capital, Amsterdam offers a range of attractions that make it a favorite among young people and solo travelers.

Aside from its famous canal system, Amsterdam is known for historic sites such as the Anne Frank House, scenic cruises along the canals, and the Heineken Experience for beer enthusiasts. Spending a few days in Amsterdam is usually the sweet spot for solo travelers.

Best Amsterdam hostels for solo travelers: The Flying Pig Downtown (located in the city center) or ClinkNOORD Hostel (stylish and popular outside the city center)

4. Anywhere in Italy

As one of the most visited countries in Europe, Italy’s tourist infrastructure is well-established, making it relatively easy for backpackers to travel between popular destinations by bus, train, or organized tours. Italy also offers affordability compared to some northern European countries. And let’s not forget about the delicious food!

Classic Italian cities like Rome, Venice, and Florence are exceptional places to experience the essence of Italy. However, if you have more time, smaller destinations like Cinque Terre, the Amalfi Coast, and the Dolomites are also worth exploring.

Best hostels in Italy for solo travelers:

  • Best Rome hostel: YellowSquare Rome
  • Best Venice hostel: Anda Venice
  • Best Florence hostel: YellowSquare Florence

5. Berlin + Munich, Germany

Germany’s largest city, Berlin, offers a gritty and alternative vibe, attracting history enthusiasts, foodies, and nightlife lovers. While it may not be the most visually appealing city in Europe, Berlin has a unique charm and a thriving expat community.

In contrast, Munich, Bavaria’s largest city, is known for its picturesque beauty and serves as a gateway to the German Alps. The city comes alive during the famous Oktoberfest and offers a fantastic blend of history, culture, and natural beauty.

Other German cities, such as Frankfurt, Cologne, and Düsseldorf, are also easily accessible for solo travelers.

Best hostels in Germany for solo travelers:

  • Best Berlin hostel: Circus Hostel
  • Best Munich hostel: Wombat’s City Hostel Munich

6. Anywhere in Spain

Spain offers a wealth of opportunities for solo travelers. The cost of living in Spain is lower compared to some other European countries, and the country is well-connected by affordable public transportation. Major cities like Madrid and Barcelona are easily accessible and offer a vibrant mix of culture, art, and nightlife.

Other regions worth exploring in Spain include Andalucia, known for its stunning cities such as Seville and Granada, and the beautiful island of Mallorca.

Best hostels in Spain for solo travelers:

  • Best Madrid hostel: The Hat Madrid
  • Best Barcelona hostel: St. Christopher’s Barcelona
  • Best Seville hostel: Oasis Backpackers’ Palace Sevilla

7. Paris, France

Paris, the capital of France, may not be the most affordable destination, but it’s worth every penny if you have the budget. The city offers endless opportunities for solo travelers to immerse themselves in its rich history, artistic heritage, and world-famous landmarks.

Apart from the must-visit attractions like the Louvre Museum and Notre-Dame Cathedral, be sure to explore lesser-known spots such as the Galeries Lafayette rooftop and the Montmartre vineyards. Dark tourism enthusiasts can also delve into the underground Catacombs, an eerie and fascinating experience.

Best Paris hostel for solo travelers: Les Piaules

8. Porto + Lisbon, Portugal

Portugal, with its sunny coastlines and warm hospitality, is a gem for solo travelers. The country offers a diverse range of experiences, from exploring historic cities like Lisbon and Porto to discovering the natural beauty of the Algarve region and the Azores Islands (often referred to as the “Hawaii of Europe”).

Portugal is known for its friendly locals, affordable prices, and a thriving expat community, making it an ideal destination for solo travelers.

Best hostels in Portugal for solo travelers:

  • Best Lisbon hostel: Yes! Lisbon Hostel (voted as the best hostel in the world)
  • Best Porto hostels: Selina Porto (downtown) and The House of Sandeman (popular but located across the river from Porto)

9. Dalmatia Coast, Croatia

Croatia is a stunning destination along the Adriatic Sea, offering a mix of beautiful weather, medieval towns, and stunning filming locations for Game of Thrones. While I haven’t personally visited Croatia solo, it’s evident that the country attracts many solo travelers based on my interactions during my own trips there.

The country offers a variety of experiences, from the charming city of Split to the historic Dubrovnik. Thanks to FlixBus and budget airlines like EasyJet and RyanAir, it’s easy to explore Croatia on a solo adventure.

10. Anywhere in Belgium

Belgium often gets overlooked as a travel destination, but it has a lot to offer solo travelers. The country is known for its unique cities, stunning architecture, and exceptional food and beer scene. Cities like Brussels (the capital), Ghent, and Antwerp are all worth visiting.

Belgium is easily accessible for solo travelers via train, and the locals are friendly and welcoming. With its smaller size, it’s possible to see multiple cities within a short period, making it a convenient option for solo exploration.

Best hostels in Belgium for solo travelers:

  • Best Brussels hostel: Sleep Well Youth Hostel
  • Best Antwerp hostel: YUST Hostel
  • Best Ghent hostel: Hostel Uppelink

11. Copenhagen, Denmark

Copenhagen, the capital of Denmark, offers a safe and welcoming environment for solo travelers. The city is known for its exceptional English proficiency, making it easy to communicate with locals and fellow travelers. Copenhagen’s compact size allows for easy exploration by foot or bike, and public transportation is reliable.

From exploring the colorful Nyhavn harbor to climbing the spire of The Church of Our Savior for panoramic views of the city, Copenhagen has plenty to offer solo adventurers.

Best Copenhagen hostel for solo travelers: Urban House Copenhagen by MEININGER

12. The United Kingdom + Ireland

For first-time solo travelers, the United Kingdom and Ireland are fantastic destinations, especially for English speakers. These countries offer a wide range of experiences, and the locals are known for their friendliness and hospitality.

London, Dublin, and Edinburgh are just a few of the many exciting cities to explore in this region. From witnessing the changing of the guards at Buckingham Palace to enjoying afternoon tea, there’s no shortage of iconic attractions.

Best London hostel for solo travelers: Wombats City Hostel London

11 Bucket List Things to Do in Europe When Traveling Solo

One of the best ways to experience Europe is by engaging in bucket-list-worthy activities that are unique to the region. Here are some of the top things to do in Europe for solo travelers.

1. See Europe’s most iconic landmarks

No trip to Europe is complete without crossing off some of the continent’s most iconic landmarks from your bucket list. From the Eiffel Tower in Paris to the Colosseum in Rome, these renowned attractions are worth the crowds and tourists.

2. Go on a pub crawl and make new friends

Europeans love their beer, and joining a pub crawl is an excellent way to discover local beer culture while meeting fellow travelers. Cities like London, Prague, and Brussels offer some of the best pub crawls in Europe.

3. Take a cooking class and savor local dishes

Eating unique local dishes is one of the best ways to experience a new place. Europe is renowned for its culinary scene, and taking a cooking class allows you to immerse yourself in the local culture, taste delicious food, and meet new people.

4. Treat yourself to a day at a traditional bathhouse

Many European countries have a rich bath culture, with historic spas, bathhouses, and hot springs dating back centuries. Visiting a traditional bathhouse offers a cultural experience, relaxation, and the chance to meet other travelers. Just remember that nudity is common in some indoor baths.

5. Plan your visit around a unique European festival

Europe hosts a variety of exciting events throughout the year, and planning your trip during a festival can provide a truly memorable experience. Festivals like La Tomatina in Spain or Oktoberfest in Germany offer opportunities to immerse yourself in local traditions and meet fellow festival-goers.

6. Explore castles

Europe is famous for its stunning castles, and visiting one (or several) is a must for solo travelers. From the fairytale-like Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria, Germany, to the enchanting Mont Saint-Michel in France, these architectural wonders offer a glimpse into European history.

7. Learn about the history of beer on a brewery tour

Beer has a long history in Europe, and taking a brewery tour is a fun way to learn more about the brewing process and sample local beers. From Guinness in Dublin to Budweiser Budvar in the Czech Republic, there are countless breweries to explore.

8. Go wine tasting at a local vineyard

Europe is renowned for its wine regions, and solo travelers can embark on wine tasting adventures in picturesque vineyards. From Bordeaux in France to the Mosel Valley in Germany, there are plenty of opportunities to sample world-class wines and learn about winemaking traditions.

9. Visit Europe’s Christmas markets

Visiting Europe during the Christmas market season is a magical experience. The festive atmosphere, twinkling lights, and delicious treats make it a perfect time to explore cities like Cologne, Strasbourg, and Prague. Don’t forget to indulge in mulled wine and traditional holiday delicacies.

10. Explore the breathtaking scenery of Europe’s mountains

Whether it’s hiking in the Alps or skiing in the Scandinavian Mountains, Europe offers stunning mountain landscapes for outdoor enthusiasts. While costs may be higher for solo travelers, organized tours or day trips can provide access to remote and beautiful locations.

11. Discover the charm of Europe’s small towns

Europe’s small towns often offer a more authentic and peaceful experience compared to bustling cities. Places like Rothenburg ob der Tauber in Germany, Dinant in Belgium, and Cesky Krumlov in the Czech Republic provide a glimpse into traditional European life and architecture.

How to Meet People When Traveling Solo in Europe

Solo travel may seem daunting, but it offers many opportunities to meet like-minded people. Here are some tips for meeting people while traveling alone in Europe:

  • Stay in hostels: Hostels are hubs for solo travelers and provide opportunities to connect with fellow adventurers.
  • Join walking tours: Many cities offer free or affordable walking tours, providing a chance to meet other travelers while exploring the destination.
  • Consider organized tours: Joining organized tours or day trips can be a great way to meet fellow travelers who share similar interests.
  • Join Facebook groups: There are numerous Facebook groups dedicated to solo travel and specific destinations. They offer a platform to connect with other travelers and even arrange meetups.
  • Be open and approachable: Don’t be afraid to strike up conversations with people you meet along the way. Solo travel often makes you more approachable to others.
  • Use travel apps: Apps like Meetup or Couchsurfing offer opportunities to join local events and meet people with similar interests.
  • Trust your instincts: While it’s essential to be cautious, don’t let fear prevent you from connecting with others.

The Best Travel Apps for Europe

Travel apps can enhance your experience in Europe. Here are some recommended apps to download:

  • Hostelworld and Booking.com: These apps allow you to book and manage accommodations on the go.
  • GetYourGuide: For booking tours and activities throughout Europe.
  • Google Translate and Google Maps: Essential for translation and navigation.
  • FlixBus: An affordable bus travel app for exploring Europe.
  • Cabify/FreeNow: Ride-sharing apps available in many European cities.
  • Rick Steves Audio Europe: Offers free audio guides for various European destinations.
  • XE Currency Converter: Keeps you updated on currency exchange rates.

Is Solo Female Travel Safe in Europe? Safety Tips for Solo Female Travelers in Europe

Solo female travel in Europe is generally safe, but it’s essential to take precautions. Here are some tips to help you feel more secure:

  • Avoid leaving your drink unattended.
  • Make friends with fellow travelers at hostels, tours, and other social settings.
  • Trust your intuition and only engage in activities that make you feel comfortable.
  • Inform someone back home about your travel plans.
  • Consider getting a local SIM card for communication.
  • Be vigilant against pickpockets, especially in crowded tourist areas.
  • Research and familiarize yourself with the local culture and customs, especially if you’re part of a marginalized group.
  • Remember to have fun and enjoy your trip, as Europe generally has lower crime rates compared to other regions.

Remember, these tips are just guidelines, and it’s important to adapt them to your comfort level and personal circumstances. Solo travel in Europe can be a rewarding and enriching experience, allowing you to explore at your own pace and connect with people from all walks of life.

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Planning a solo trip to Europe or have you already experienced it? Share your questions or comments below!

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