14 Best European Cities for Solo Travelers
Europe is one of the best places to go for a solo trip—the flight isn’t too long, there’s great tourist infrastructure, and the people are friendly. Here, Travel + Leisure shares 14 cities that are easily navigated alone.
When I was a teenager, my family went on one of those bus tours of Europe, where we saw everything—we took 15-minute photo stops in front of landmarks from the Leaning Tower of Pisa to the Amsterdam Central Train Station. But now looking back, I realize we really saw nothing.
While monuments should dictate your itinerary in Europe, it’s really how you take in the sights that will make your trip. And with the sheer amount of things to see and do, traveling in Europe, especially with a big group, can get overwhelming. That’s why it’s one of the best continents to visit alone, where you can really see everything at your own pace.
Related: Hacks for Mastering Solo Travel
I’ve spent alone time in big metropolises like London and Paris; good-sized cities like Stockholm, Copenhagen, Berlin, Dusseldorf, and Vienna; and as smaller towns like Bergen. In each case, letting myself wander and getting lost led to some of the most memorable moments on the trip, like when I swapped cameras with other single travelers on the towering outdoor spire of Copenhagen’s Vor Frelsers Kirke, or when I relaxed in the pools of Stockholm’s historic Centralbadet bath house alongside locals of all ages. For more tips on how to meet people while traveling, click here.
When choosing your ideal destination, think about whether you’d prefer a large city with a simple public transportation system to help you cover more ground, or a smaller town that’s easy to explore on foot. Also consider whether you’re looking for an activity-filled city or one where you can kick back and relax. Watching your own back is always necessary, even in the most crime-free locations, but many European cities have safe reputations, so that you can focus more on where you go than how you go.
Taking in all those considerations, here’s a list of cities that are most welcoming to solo travelers – and where you can build your own ultimate Eurotrip.
The friendly waterfront Norwegian town is an idyllic spot for traveling alone. It's a cinch to locate the UNESCO Heritage wooden houses of Bryggen, the outdoor fish market, and Fløibanen funicular, but just challenging enough to get to surrounding sights like the Mount Ulriken Cable Car and Troldhaugen, home of composer Edvard Grieg. If you start feeling like you're lost, like I did during the 20-minute walk through a suburban neighborhood with little signage, just wait until you run into a local – they'll kindly point you in the right direction.
Copenhagen’s two-line metro system may look sparse, but it gets you exactly where you need to go (including from the airport to town) and makes it incredibly easy to jet around the Danish city. For the spots in between, grab a City Bike (some now equipped with built-in GPS) and pedal right into the 242 miles of designated lanes. No wonder Copenhagen's been named the best bike city in the world. For where to stay, eat, and drink, check out our guide to the city and our list of the best cocktail bars around.
The jolly Irish spirit isn't just the stuff of legends – the welcoming nature of the Dubliners will immediately make you feel like the city is your home, too. Leave your stress behind as you explore the centuries-old Dublin Castle and St. Patrick's Cathedral, in the capital ranked one of the safest cities last year by a Post Office Travel Insurance Study. Pick up a three-day Leap Card at the airport for less than 20 Euros (which includes your bus ride from the airport) and you'll be zipping through town in no time.
The Swedish capital truly has it all: a cobblestoned old town with pedestrian-only roads, 57 bridges that stretch over its 14 islands, an amusement park dating back to 1880s, a bath house from 1904, and the most artistic subway stations, each decorated with its own theme. So it was no surprise that the free walking tours in town were dominated by solo travelers finding their own piece of the low-crime city.
I loved the freedom of being alone in the City of Music, where I sipped coffee and indulged in a sacher torte in a traditional café, got lost on the grounds of Schönbrunn Palace, and took in a show at an opera house. With plenty of visitors and a burgeoning design scene, Austria's capital is bursting with charm. So it's no wonder it ranked in the top five for personal safety rankings in a Mercer study for expats this year.
Forget the romance: the City of Lights is just as magical for a party of one. First, check off the necessary Parisian requirements: strolling down the Champs-Élysées, wandering the winding paths of Montmartre, and exploring the halls of the Louvre. My favorite discovery was the Sainte Chapelle--its stained glass was so dramatic that I was grateful for the opportunity to take it in at my own pace. And for a quirky and free place to stay, become a Tumbleweed at the English bookshop Shakespeare and Company, where you pay for your night's stay by volunteering at the store for a few hours, reading a book a day, and writing a one-page autobiography.
One of the best ways to meet people while traveling alone is to head to a festival, where like-minded travelers and locals bond over common interests. And no European city does festivals quite like the Scottish capital. From the more traditional International Film Festival and Jazz and Blues Festival to the spectacles of the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo and the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, the celebrations only add to the long list of to-dos in the hilly coastal city.
Read the rest of Best European Cities for Solo Travelers on Travel + Leisure
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