The world is getting smaller every day, but there are still countless places to be discovered for your next solo trip. Solo travel can help you grow as a person and introduce you to new experiences. However, traveling to touristy destinations can take away from the self-discovery that comes with solo travel. To help you avoid overcrowded travel destinations, we have put together this guide of the 6 best solo travel destinations off the beaten path!
Zagreb has a reputation of an uninspiring large city in central Croatia, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Many tourists stick to the coast in Split, Dubrovnik, and Sibenik, but to get away from the crowds (and exorbitant prices), plan a visit to Zagreb.
There is a burgeoning art scene in Zagreb, with small street art hidden throughout the city. Base yourself near the pedestrian friendly central Ban Josip Jelacic Square. You can walk any direction from the square and find all sorts of open air cafes and beautiful colored streets that feel just more expensive cities Copenhagen or Amsterdam. The charming city tram network will take you all around the city for under $1 per ride.
Zagreb is home to some very impressive architecture as well, including St. Mark’s Church and the Cathedral of Zagreb. Don’t worry about having to wait in line or Photoshop lots of tourists of of your photos- most of these spots are empty aside from the occasional walking tour group. I recommend booking one of the guesthouses or hostels near Tkalčićeva Street, the best pedestrian walking area in the city.
Medellin is one of the most cosmopolitan and enjoyable cities in South America. When many people think of Medellin they imagine Pablo Escobar, but the city has a ton to offer outside of its “Narcos” related history.
Stay near Parque Lleras, the food and nightlife center of Medellin. There you can enjoy some great restaurants overlooking the park that feel more similar to Western Europe than South America, with great wine and cheese.
For day trips, take the cable car up to the Parque Arvi for a spectacular view over the city. You can also visit one of the many museums, including the famous Botero Museum and Square, home to all things overweight. You can also make friends while traveling solo by doing one of the free walking tours of Medellin.
For the ultimate Medellin day trip, head about 2 hours outside of the city to Guatape to see the amazing colored lakes. There you can hike around the nature, including a challenging climb to the top of El Penol rock, and reward yourself with a cheap empanada from a street vendor afterwards.
Montanita is a sleepy surf town on the coast in Ecuador, about a 3 hour drive from Guayaquil. Perfect for solo travelers, you are bound to make a group of new friends simply walking around the budget friendly town.
If you are a scuba diver or want to get your PADI certification before heading to the Galapagos, Montanita is the perfect place to do it with many certified dive shops and cheap lessons. Learn to surf with one of the many chill instructors offering lessons for reasonable prices. Or simply kick back with a local beer and a good book, and enjoy the ever entertaining people watching.
For food, make sure to stop by the local favorite Rastapan. Rastapan is like a combination of the best pizza and calzone you’ve ever had at a budget price. Just a warning- once you’ve had Rastapan, you’ll find yourself craving it long after you’ve left Montanita! Other fun restaurants and bars include Poco Loco, Tiburon, and Alcatraz.
Skip the tourist crowds and prices of Bali and instead head to the neighboring island of Lombok. Lombok is described of how Bali was 30 years ago before it became overdeveloped, and this is a perfect description of the island.
Lombok is very quiet and filled with lush green forests, mostly empty roads, and the typical Indonesian friendliness, making it a perfect destination for solo travelers. And yes, Lombok is very safe to visit despite the media coverage of the earthquakes in 2018. The southern part of the island was mostly unaffected and is a wonderful place to visit.
We recommend basing your Lombok adventures in the Kuta Beach area. Don’t be put off by the Kuta name! This Kuta breach is completely different than its Balinese counterpart and is incredibly charming, and not overrun with tourists who have had one too many Bintangs. Grab a coconut at one of the little cafes along the main intersection (it’s hard to miss) and enjoy some great local food.
For booking your stay, be sure to check out Rascals, a new boutique hotel an easy walk from the center of town and has a great social vibe for solo travelers. If you are looking for more budget options, there are plenty of hostels all around the main Kuta area. There are many good restaurants all along the main road as well, including El Bazaar, Milk Espresso, and Kenza Café.
For day trips, you can grab a cheap daily scooter rental and head off to some nearby secret beaches, including Mawun Beach, Pantai Tanjung Aan, and Pantai Lancing. Unlike most of Bali, these beaches are beautiful white sand, clear blue water, and almost completely empty. For a bigger excursion, head north toward Mount Rinjani, a serious 3 day trek that will reward you with some amazing views of the crater lake inside the volcano.
When most Western travelers go to the Adriatic Sea for their summer vacations, they stick to the Croatian or Italian coasts. While undeniably beautiful, these destinations can be completely overrun with tourists, especially in the peak summer travel months of July and August. Instead, we recommend checking out Kotor (and its neighboring cities) in Montenegro.
Kotor can get crowded in its own right, but most of the crowds come from the large cruise ships that dock in the port. Time your visit to Kotor when there are smaller or no cruise ships on that day. You can check the cruise ship port schedule using websites such as Cruise to Ports.
Kotor is a fairytale old town, complete with a must-do hike to the top of the old city walls. Unlike Dubrovnik, which charges close to $30 USD per person, in Kotor you can do the walk for closer to $5 (or for free if you get to the walls before 8 am). You can also eat relatively cheaply in the town- be sure to try Pizzeria Pronto for a quick but large $2 slice. The locals are incredibly friendly and the city feels very safe for a solo traveler.
Kotor is also a great place to base yourself for day trips. For nature lovers, be sure to take a tour a couple hours north to the beautiful UNESCO Durmitor National Park and Tatar Bridge. You can also visit the nearby towns like Tivat, Budva, or Perast. Finally, be sure to take a cruise around the Kotor Bay one afternoon for a relaxing day at sea.
Famous for its street art, Penang is a great Southeast Asia solo destination. Spend a day or two walking the city and discovering the amazing street art hidden on its walls. You can either go with a walking tour or simply grab a free map. While traveling solo you’re sure to make friends along the way, as many other people will be at the best photo stops and will be happy to chat with you about which pieces of art you’ve discovered in the city.
Another must see Instagram stop is the beautiful Blue Mansion in the Georgetown neighborhood. While staying at the Blue Mansion might be outside of your budget, you can do a tour of this beautiful building. Learn about the history, including why it is blue (hint: blue and indigo were the most expensive colors when the mansion was built).
You also will not go hungry while exploring Penang. Take advantage of one of the many hawker markets around the city to sample some excellent local food at budget prices. The hawker markets also become a nightlife hub, with groups of people gathered around the tables sharing beers and stories of their daily adventures. Penang is also home to some excellent rooftop bars like Three Sixty Revolving Restaurant & Sky Bar, and it’s worth splurging on a drink or two to take in the view during sunset.
UNDERRATED SOLO DESTINATIONS RECAP
All of the places mentioned in this article are great for solo travelers. You can find quality budget accommodation, eat at good restaurants, and visit places that aren’t seen by as many travelers. If you are looking to travel solo but in the comfort of a group, be sure to check out some of the great group trips offered on Unbound. This will allow you to travel by yourself to a new country in an organized way with other like-minded travelers. Stay up to date and keep exploring!