18 May Best Cities for Solo Travel
According to Thomas Jefferson, “One travels more usefully when being alone, because he reflects more”. In this day and age, more people are going solo when it comes to overseas voyages, and here is a compilation of the best places to visit if you also want to experience solo travel.
1. Taipei, Taiwan
Situated at the northern tip of Taiwan, Taipei is a vibrant city with beautiful scenery to be seen on day hikes. The locals are also extremely friendly and helpful to tourists. Safety-wise, the crime rate in Taipei has been on a steady decline, so solo travelers have nothing to worry about. However, do watch out for petty thieves.
What to Do
From Taipei, it is possible to make day trips out to places like Jiufen Old Street, from which Hayao Miyazaki drew inspiration for the streets in the animated feature film Spirited Away. Try the taro balls after the long climb up the steep steps.
Getting There: From Taipei, take the train north to Ruifang Station. After exiting the station, cross the street to the bus stop next to the Wellcome Supermarket and board the Keelung Transit bus towards Jiufen. The bus trip takes roughly 15 minutes, and the fare is NT$21 during the weekdays, NT$15 during weekends/holiday.
Day hikes are also possible for travelers who want to escape the city buzz, such as around the Four Beasts (the Leopard, Lion, Elephant, and Tiger Peaks). Located in the Xinyi district of Taiwan, the paths are very well signposted and give you an amazing view of the Taipei city skyline at the top. The route is also brightly-lit at night for nocturnal souls wanting to take a midnight stroll. The nearest metro station to the Four Beasts is City Hall Station.
What to Eat
Be sure to check out the night markets. Hundreds of food carts and pop-up stalls leave you spoilt for choice at relatively affordable prices. Taiwanese dishes not to be missed include: cheesy potato, oyster vermicelli, and crispy XXL chicken cutlets.
- Shilin Night Market
Address: No. 101, Jihe Road, Shilin District, Taipei City
Opening hours: Daily 5pm to 1am
- Raohe Street Night Market
Address: Raohe Street and Sec. 4, Bade Road and Fuyuan Street, Taipei City
Opening Hours: Daily – 5pm to 12am
- Huaxi Street Night Market
Address: Intersection of Guangzhou Street and Huaxi Street, Wanhua District, Taipei City
Opening Hours: Daily – 4pm to 12am
Aside from night markets, there are also two other places we recommend:
- Addictions Aquatic Development
Address: No. 18, Alley 2, Lane 410, Minzu E Rd, Zhongshan District, Taipei City, Taiwan 104
Phone: +886 2 2508 1268
Opening Hours: Daily – 6AM–12AM
Enjoy fresh seafood here without breaking the bank. Sashimi and sushi galore. For those who do not eat raw fish, the charcoal-grilled skewers are also a delectable option. Wash your meal down with frozen Kirin beer.
Located in: Taipei 101 Mall
Address: 110, Taiwan, Taipei City, Xinyi District, Section 5, Xinyi Rd, 7號35樓
Phone: +886 2 8101 0701
Opening Hours: Monday to Friday – 7:30AM–6:30PM | Saturday to Sunday – 9AM–6PM
Have a tea break in the highest Starbucks in the world.
Where to Stay
- Taipei M Hotel – Main Station ($$$)
Address: No. 64, Section 1, Hankou Street, Zhongzheng District, 100 Taipei, Taiwan
- Design Ximen Hotel ($$$)
Address: 7F, No. 72, Section 2, Wuchang Street, Wanhua District, 108 Taipei, Taiwan
2. Portland, USA
Portland, Oregon, can be found on the West Coast of America, near where the Willamette and Columbia Rivers meet. Its residents have a deep love for nature and bike commutes. On the whole, it is regarded as a safe city, save for a few neighborhoods that might be worth avoiding: Hazelwood, Old Town, Lents, and West Burnside Street. Cyclist should also be cautious when crossing Sellwood Bridge, as there is little shoulder space.
What to Do
Forest Park is the largest wooded urban park in the entire United States, encompassing more than 70 miles of trails for the adventurer to explore. Visit the park’s official website for maps to navigate around this colossal area, which has many entry points.
You can also take a bicycle tour around the various bridges in Portland, such as the Steel Bridge, a two-story vertical lift bridge that is unique, and the Hawthorne Bridge, the oldest operating lift bridge in America. Travel agencies as listed below will bring you on a guided tour, but you could also just rent a bike and make your own way around.
- Pedal Bike Tours
Address: 133 SW 2nd Ave., Portland, OR 97204
Phone Number: 503-243-2453
- Portland Bicycle Tours
Address: 345 NW Everett St., Portland, OR 97209
Phone Number: 503-360-6815
What to eat
- BridgePort Brewpub
Address: 1313 NW Marshall St., Portland, OR 97209
Phone Number: +1 503-241-3612
Hours: Sunday to Monday – 11:30AM–10PM | Tuesday to Thursday – 11:30AM–11PM |
Friday to Saturday – 11:30AM–12AM
Portland is also known to Americans as Beervana. What better way to experience the local beer scene than to dine in a pub?
- Food Cart Tour
Hop around the various food carts that have sprung up in Portland since a few years back and fill your belly to bursting.
– Nong’s Khao Man Gai
Address: SW Alder St. & SW 10th Ave., Portland, OR 97205
Nong’s only sells one dish, khao man gai, which is a chicken dish originating from Thailand. Poached chicken accompanies rice cooked in chicken stock and fat bundled up in butcher paper.
Address: SW 5th Ave. & SW Oak St., Portland, OR 97204
Czech street food reigns here, with this food cart being the favorites for goulashes, spaetzles and the Schnitzelwich.
– Potato Champion
Address: 1207 SE Hawthorne Blvd., Portland, OR 97214
One word: poutine. The Canadian version of chilli cheese fries is such a treat for your tastebuds, you’ll forget all about the calories.
Where to stay
- Hotel Vintage ($$$)
Address: 422 Southwest Broadway, Portland, OR 97205, USA
- Kimpton Riverplace Hotel ($$$$)
Address: 1510 South West Harbor Way, Riverplace, Portland, OR 97201, USA
3. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
A cheerful city with fascinating history, it is most well-known for its giant statue of Christ the Redeemer, but also has magnificent mountains, immaculate beaches, and rainforests near the deep blue sea to offer. Crime rates are higher than in the other cities, so it would be best to look for other backpackers to travel together.
What to Do
Go hiking on Sugarloaf Mountain, a 396m tall peak at the mouth of Guanabara Bay that has a marvelous view of the Atlantic Ocean.
For the lost souls who prefer to have a guide, free walking tours are available every day at 10:30 am. They cover landmarks in Rio such as: Carioca Square, Colombo Bakery, Travessa do Comércio, XV Square, Imperial Palace, Tiradentes Palace, Cinelândia, Municipal Theater, National Library, City Council, and the Fine Arts Museum. The meeting point is at Carioca Square in front of the large clock.
How to get there: Take the metro and stop in Carioca Station (orange and green line). Choose the exit letter “C” to “Convento de Santo Antônio”. You’ll get at Carioca Square and see the Rio Free Walker Tour guides in red T-shirts.
What to eat
- Churrascaria Palace
Address: R. Rodolfo Dantas, 16 – Copacabana, Rio de Janeiro – RJ, 22020-040, Brazil
Phone Number: +55 21 2541-5898
Opening Hours: Daily – 12PM–12AM
The locals (Carioca) love their food. No visit to Rio is complete without the churrascaria experience, where you can stuff yourself with barbecued meats and side dishes. Churrascaria Palace is a local favorite, 63-year-old family restaurant where you can immerse yourself in the dining experience.
- Casa da Feijoada
Address: R. Prudente de Morais, 10B – Ipanema, Rio de Janeiro – RJ, 22420-040, Brazil
Phone Number: +55 21 2247-2776
Opening Hours: Daily – 12–11:30PM
Feijoada is a local food staple, and Casa da Feijoada is conveniently located to fulfill your feijoada cravings. Waiters dressed in waistcoats serve this dish of stewed beans in pork or beef gravy in a traditional mini pot.
Where to stay
- Belmond Copacabana Palace ($$$$)
Address: Avenida Atlantica 1702, Rio de Janeiro, 22021-001
- Hotel Fasano Rio de Janeiro ($$$$$)
Address: Avenida Vieira Souto, 80, Rio de Janeiro, 22420-000
4. Dublin, Ireland
Dublin has been dubbed Disneyland for beer lovers, with its wide selection of delectable brews. It is easy to travel around by coastal train (DART) or public bus and is as safe as most other European cities, although solo travelers do still need to take into account the necessary precautions.
What to Do
Dublin Castle is a colorful building that now hosts grand diplomatic or state functions, with the occasional performance or concert recital. Visitors must pay to enter the interior.
Address: Dame St, Dublin 2, Ireland
The area near Temple Bar has transformed from an unsavory district into one of the city’s most charming quarters. Blend in with the locals by visiting cultural attractions such as Dublin’s only art-house cinema at the Irish Film Institute, the Gallery of Photography and the Project Arts Centre.
Lastly, those who love to party should head for the pub crawl for €12. Starting at 7:30 pm from The Workmans Club in Wellington Quay, seasoned experts will bring you on a tour of Dublin’s nightlife. Just make sure you remember your way back to your hotel after.
What to eat
Address: 16-18 Parliament St, Dublin 2, Ireland
Phone Number: +353 1 679 8847
Opening Hours: Monday to Wednesday – 11:30AM–12AM | Thursday – 11:30AM–1AM | Friday to Saturday – 11:30AM–2AM | Sunday – 12PM–12AM
Warm your belly with Irish pub grub and beer. This pub sells its own label of beer, which tastes better than the mass-produced ones. The Oyster Stout, made with real oysters, is delicious.
- Peploe’s Wine Bistro
Address: 16 St Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2, Ireland
Phone Number: +353 1 676 3144
Opening Hours: Monday to Saturday 12–11PM | Sunday – 12–10PM
Treat yourself to a nice meal at Peploe’s, where the European menu and extensive wine list is sure to impress. Seated under Impressionistic murals, you are practically guaranteed a wonderful dining experience.
Where to stay
- The Westbury Hotel ($$$$$)
Address: Grafton Street, D2 Dublin, Ireland
- The Marker Hotel ($$$$)
Grand Canal Square, D2 Dublin, Ireland
5. San José City, Costa Rica
San José enjoys wonderful temperatures all year round due to its high altitude, while its location in the Central Valley makes it both breathtaking and convenient as a base to travel to other cities.
What to Do
See some of the best natural sights in the world at the Volcan Poas. From there, you can view the cloud forest, and gushing geysers.
Getting there by car: From San José take the Pan American Highway west to Alajuela, across the highway from the airport. You will come into town on Calle 2. Follow this all the way through town and it becomes route 130 to Itiquis and Fraijanes and is signed for the National Park. If you are uncertain, ask before you leave Alajuela, once you are on the right road out of town it takes you directly to the park.
Alternatively, from San José take highway 3 or 5 to Heredia, then 126 north through Barva, and Roble to Varablanca where you turn left towards Poasito and follow the signs 10 km to the park.
Getting there by bus: Bus 1241 to Volcan Poas has daily departures from Avenida 2, Calles 12/14 in San José at 8:30 a.m. There is only one return bus at 2:30 p.m.
Museo de Formas Espacios y Sonidos is a cultural point of interest that used to be a Atlantic railway station at Calle 21/23. The building is more than 100 years old!
Address: Avenida 3, San José, Costa Rica
What to eat
- Machu Picchu
Address: Av 1, San José, Costa Rica
Phone Number: +506 2222 7384
Opening Hours: Sunday – 12–5PM | Monday to Friday – 12–3PM, 6–10PM | Saturday – 12–4PM, 6–10:30PM
Machu Picchu serves a generous seafood platter for two to share, consisting of shrimp, squid and conch cooked in multiple fashions.
In addition, the bar serves beer, wine, and pisco sour, a Peruvian cocktail crafted from grape liquor. Machu Picchu has been said to boast the best Peruvian flavors in San José, Costa Rica.
Address: Calle 9, San José, Costa Rica
Phone Number: +506 2221 1369
More than a hundred years old, Chelles is a traditional Costa Rican diner, serving typical local fare such as casados, bocas, and arroz con pollo. It is open 24/7, making it even more appealing for night owls craving a supper fix.
Where to stay
- Aloft San Jose ($$$)
Address: Parque empresarial Forum II Radial Belen-Santa Ana, San Jose, 10101 San José, Costa Rica
- Grano de Oro Hotel ($$$$$)
Address: 30 Steet, 2 and 4 Avenue, 11856 San José, Costa Rica
Now that you have a short guide to these 5 cities which are good for solo travel, go forth and conquer them! As Robert Louis Stevenson put it best, “The great affair is to move.”