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Europe is one of the best places to take a trip alone. Though solo travel may sometimes feel like a disadvantage, it can be very fulfilling. With 44 countries, various cultures, and everything from bustling cities to gorgeous landscapes, there is something for everyone! Whether interested in food, music, hiking, partying, or museums, you can curate your trip and find the perfect destinations! After taking a solo trip to Europe that lasted for three months, I’ve compiled my favorite destinations and top tips below!
Is Europe Safe for Solo Female Travelers?
With so many countries and cities, it is difficult to classify Europe as safe or unsafe. I generally stayed in Western Europe during my solo trip and found it quite safe. The only cities where I felt slightly unsafe were Paris (I got followed by a man asking for money) and Barcelona (I saw some women getting harassed). Even then, I would go back to these cities. If you use common sense and stay alert, Europe is generally safe. Check out these apps for solo travelers, which include helpful safety apps such as Geosure!
However, if you are nervous about traveling alone, I highly recommend the following (especially if it is your first time traveling solo):
- The Netherlands
- The Greek Islands
Top 5 Tips Before You Plan Your Solo Trip to Europe
1) Only use the Eurail Pass if you have a Set Itinerary
The Eurail train pass is considered “the train pass” for foreigners to get around Europe, especially when planning a more extended trip. Since I was traveling without a set route, I thought the Eurail Pass would save me money on train tickets since I could choose my travel days on the go. However, it ended up costing me more than it was worth!
It was not worth the expense due to multiple reasons. The trains would often have no reservations left by the time I figured out where I wanted to go. Other times, the platform would glitch and not let me make a reservation even when showing the train was available. Customer service was impossible to contact, and they would respond to emails after a few days.
Overall, I only recommend this pass if you plan your route before you go and can make your reservations weeks in advance. Also, keep in mind that sometimes flights and buses are cheaper!
2) Try to Book Single Gender Hostel Rooms
As a solo traveler, hostels are the way to go! You can meet hundreds of people worldwide traveling just like you are. However, sometimes they are not what you expect, and it can feel uncomfortable being the only woman in a dorm with five men (which is something that happened to me).
I recommend booking female-only hostel rooms for solo female travelers. I also recommend looking for hostels specifically for younger backpackers! You are more likely to find travelers who want to socialize and are interested in exploring the same things that you are.
3) Bring a Rolling Backpack
A rolling backpack is a lifesaver in Europe, especially if traveling to many different types of towns and cities. I used this backpack to carry all my luggage for my three-month Europe solo trip. It was genius because I could roll the backpack in most places, taking the weight off my shoulders (literally). However, I could also carry the bag when visiting cities with those pesky cobblestone streets or landscapes with rough terrains. This rolling backpack was better than just a backpack or a suitcase; it fit as much luggage as a carry-on suitcase!
4) Find a Way to Stash Money
Fortunately, pickpocketing is most likely the worst crime you will face in most European cities. Unfortunately, it can completely ruin your trip. It is essential to plan for this and find a way to stash money discreetly on your person in addition to carrying an anti-theft purse.
Some people may opt for putting money in their shoes, but I highly recommend buying this scrunchie, one of my favorite travel essentials. It has a secret pocket that can deceptively fit a lot. I always carry emergency money in it when I travel, and it doubles as a hair tie!
5) Take Advantage of Free Walking Tours/Hostel Events
I learned this a little late into my trip, but free walking tours will help you become familiar with the history and layout of the city. You can learn interesting information, and it is beneficial for solo travelers to meet new people and feel more comfortable in a new town.
Check your hostel for tours first, but you can also find great tours on Guruwalk. Also, check whether your hostel is hosting events! Some hostels I traveled to hosted parties for the guests to mingle or had themed events like a roller skating night.
Top Places to Visit on a Solo Trip to Europe
Best Hiking and Nature: Appenzell, Switzerland
Appenzell is a hidden gem in Switzerland that is starting to become popular. It has everything for nature lovers, including gorgeous hiking trails, a beautiful rolling landscape, a stunning alpine lake, and some of the happiest cows on the planet.
The hiking trails can take visitors through the Swiss mountainside up to ridges, lakes, and the Ascher restaurant, famously carved into the mountainside. For nonhikers, there are cable cars to take you up to the famous spots!
I recommend visiting in the Summer to participate in Alpstobete. Alpstobete is a traditional open-air festivity held on weekends over the Summer by Swiss Herdsman in the area. The activities include fold music, dancing, yodeling, and more!
One of the best-kept secrets of Appenzell is the Appenzeller Holiday Card, a promotion offered by the Appenzell tourism department through participating hotels and guesthouses. If you stay for more than three nights, you receive unique perks. These perks include free transportation to and from the airport, complimentary transportation around Appenzell, free tickets for cable cars, free entry into museums, small gifts, and more!
Best Fairytale Town: Heidelberg, Germany
Heidelberg is a city in South-West Germany and an easy day trip from Frankfurt. The Altstadt (Old Town) looks straight out of a storybook. There is a crystal-clear blue river with a gorgeous red sandstone castle overlooking the town.
On your trip, spend the day visiting Heidelberg Castle and exploring the ruins. The hiking trails will give you picturesque views of the town. Then, grab a bite in the old town and walk across the Old Bridge. Sit along the river to enjoy the view and even set up a picnic if you have time!
Best Medieval Buildings: Bruges, Belgium
For a different fairytale experience, check out Bruges, also known as the Venice of the North. It is located in the Flemish region of Belgium and has beautiful canals and cobblestone streets. The city has preserved buildings from as long ago as the 12th century!
Step back in time and explore historical sights such as the Basilica of the Holy Blood, the Belfry of Bruges, and Bruges City Hall. Walk along the bridges and canals to take in the sights. Remember to check out the Groeninge Museum, which covers Flemish and Belgian paintings spanning six centuries! The museum’s highlights include works by Jan van Eyck, Hans Memling, and Gerard David.
Don’t forget to try some Belgian chocolate and beer while exploring the cute shops in town!
Best Art and Wine: Florence, Italy
Florence is the capital of Italy’s Tuscan region and has a perfect mix of city and countryside. The area features some of the best food in Europe and countless wine-tasting experiences in the Tuscan countryside.
For a unique experience, try this truffle hunting tour from San Gimignano, where you spend time with truffle hunting dogs, learn about their process, hunt for truffles with them, and end the tour with a multiple-course meal featuring truffles and wine!
Florence is also home to many Renaissance art and architecture masterpieces. Walk around the Duomo, see Michelangelo’s “David” at the Galleria dell’Accademia, and explore other significant pieces in the Uffizi Gallery. Remember to check out the gorgeous sunset while enjoying a cup of gelato! This was one of my favorite cities during my Europe solo trip!
Best Mix of Partying, Art, and Food: Barcelona, Spain
Barcelona is a vibrant city that offers a unique mix of partying, art, and food, making it a perfect city for every type of solo traveler!
The nightlife is legendary, with bars, clubs, and music venues catering to every taste. It is common to see young people head out at night to enjoy the party scene. From upscale cocktail bars to beach clubs, there is something for everyone. Walk along Las Ramblas, enjoy the giant margarita cocktails, and find a place that calls out to you!
Note: I advise caution for solo female travelers looking to experience the nightlife. Please stay alert and go in a group with others from your hostel.
Barcelona is also a culinary paradise with many tapas bars that showcase the best of Catalan cuisine. No trip to Barcelona would be complete without trying the famous paella!
Finally, Barcelona features the best of Gaudi architecture. Visit the famous Park Guell and Sagrada Familia to see some of his fantastic work. Both places transport you into a new world and will leave you in awe!
Best Instagrammable Spots: Santorini, Greece and Cinque Terre, Italy
Choosing just one place for this category was difficult, so I had to write about Santorini and Cinque Terre!
Santorini is a Greek island in the Aegean Sea and has blown up on social media for its picturesque white buildings and staircases with fantastic caldera views. It is a honeymoon paradise, and visitors can enjoy many activities such as catamaran rides, swimming at the beaches, and watching one of the most beautiful sunsets in the world. It can get crowded, so I recommend visiting during the shoulder season!
Cinque Terre contrasts Santorini’s perfectly white-washed buildings and blue domes with its five colorful and picture-perfect villages. The narrow and winding streets lead visitors to many adventures in this birthplace of pesto! Swim at one of the beaches, enjoy a vineyard tour, or hike the trails to get the best views of all the villages. Don’t forget to check out the breathtaking sunset from Riomaggiore! Like Santorini, it can get hot and crowded in the Summer, so I recommend visiting in the Spring or Fall.
Best Vibes: Amsterdam, Netherlands
Amsterdam is the capital of the Netherlands and is known for its many canals and thriving cultural scene. Its extensive network of canals was built in the 17th century for trade and transportation. They are popular with tourists, and I highly recommend taking a canal boat tour!
Amsterdam has beautiful parks and green spaces, such as Vondelpark (Amsterdam’s largest park). Visitors can enjoy the greenery, and it is the perfect picnic spot! There are also numerous restaurants and cafes where you can grab a bite to eat.
The city is also known for its renowned museums. You can’t miss the Rijksmuseum, where you can marvel at masterpieces by famous Dutch artists such as Rembrandt and Vermeer. The Van Gogh Museum is also a favorite, holding the most extensive collection of works by the artist, including paintings, drawings, and letters.
One of the final draws of Amsterdam is its extensive nightlife and clubbing scene, where visitors can party until the sun goes down. I felt safe going solo in Amsterdam and made great friends from my hostel to enjoy the night with! On top of that, everyone I met in Amsterdam was so friendly, making this the city with the best vibes for a solo trip.
Best First-Time Solo Travel: Stockholm, Sweden
I would choose Stockholm for a first-time solo trip to Europe for several reasons. The city is easy to navigate, everyone speaks English, and it is incredibly safe to the point that I felt comfortable walking home alone at night (though I advise against this for any destination).
Tourists can walk through the picturesque Skansen open-air museum to glimpse Sweden’s history and traditions, check out the Vasa Museum to see a preserved from the 1620s, and explore the gorgeous art in the subway tunnels.
I also recommend exploring Gamla Stan (the old town), where visitors can go shopping and enjoy dinner at Aifur, a Viking-themed restaurant with impeccable food. End the day with a breathtaking sunset view from Skinnarviksberget. There is so much to see and do in this city! Plan your stay with this 2-day itinerary.
Best Art Museums: Paris, France
Paris is a polarizing city in that visitors love or hate it! I traveled to Paris solo and happened to love it. There is much to do, from enjoying a picnic at the Eiffel Tower to a cruise on the Seine. Shop to your heart’s content at the many boutiques and enjoy a bite at a Parisian café.
However, what makes Paris truly special is its many world-renowned museums, with my favorites listed below:
- Musée d’Orsay: This is my absolute favorite museum in Paris! It houses some of the world’s most famous impressionist and post-impressionist pieces. It includes primarily French paintings and sculptures from the 1840s – 1910s.
- Musée de l’Orangerie: This museum is the permanent home of 8 of Claude Monet’s famous Water Lilies. Visitors can lose themselves in the panoramas and the other impressionist works featured in Musée de l’Orangerie.
- Musée Picasso: This museum houses various Picasso pieces, from paintings, sculptures, notebooks, engravings, drawings, and more.
- The Louvre: No Paris museum list is complete without the Louvre. The Louvre is the largest museum in the world, holding a collection of over 380,000 objects, including the Mona Lisa and the Venus de Milo. It would take up to 65 days to see everything!
Best Ancient Ruins: Athens, Greece
Lastly, the city with some of the most amazing Ancient Ruins is Athens, Greece. The Parthenon at the Acropolis is the most famous and a sight to behold. However, the Temple of Hephaestus was my favorite since it was well-preserved.
Other highlights include the Theatre of Dionysus, the Ancient Agora, the Temple of Zeus, and more. Remember to check out the Acropolis Museum for more information and a look at over 4,000 artifacts found on the slopes of the Acropolis.
Other activities include exploring the shops and traditional Greek fare of Plaka, seeing the sunset over Athens from Lycabettus Hill, and taking a stroll through the Monastiraki Flea Market.
Overall, a solo trip to Europe will be an enriching experience. Use this guide to help you plan the type of adventure you want, from partying the night away to enjoying the natural landscapes. As a final tip, stay safe and make unforgettable memories!