The best places for solo travel


By Alice Tate and Elle Blakeman

Photography by Getty

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May 17

Whether it’s a solo adventure before taking the plunge into the workplace, or having a long-overdue escape from the confines of the office, we’ve asked our experts for their top tips and suggestions for where to go it alone.

Shanghai

Says Doina Ciobanu, blogger at The Golden Diamonds

Why? In many parts of China you can feel very much like a foreigner. However, in Shanghai, the impact of the old colonial area – with its mix of well-travelled locals – makes the city feel much more accessible. When I was there, people were very warm and welcoming, and I made so many friends in just in a few days. The city is so huge and there’s so much to explore, you’ll never be bored.

Where to eat: Discover the local street food, especially in the old quarter. If you’re looking for something fancier, try Kathleen’s 5. It has a ridiculously gorgeous view of the Bund.

Where to stay: The Mandarin Oriental Pudong Shanghai has some of the best staff I’ve ever experienced – they’ll do everything to make you feel comfortable during your stay. The hotel also has the most sublime view of the new part of the city.

What to do: This might be a bit bizarre, but make sure you use the underground! Like so many other Chinese cities, Shanghai’s train system is very efficient and worth seeing first-hand. It’s also a great way to see very different people and feel like you’re a part of that community.

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  • Making Modernism at the Heide Museum of Modern Art © Jeremy Weihrauch.

    Modern twist

    Just 20 minutes from Melbourne’s CBD is the Heide Museum of Modern Art – a cultural hub showcasing sculpture, painting, history, set in a contemporary angular building amid a stunning landscape.

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  • La Fiorentina, Seville © Claire Wilson.

    Try it for yourself…

    Orange Blossom ice cream is on the menu at La Fiorentina – it’s one of the many flavours that you can find only in Seville – check out the sweet torrijas and pestiños flavour too, made from sweets found during Semana Santa at Easter. Fly from London to Seville from:

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  • The Siam hotel, Bangkok.

    Check in

    The Siam hotel in Bangkok is ideally situated on the banks on the Chao Phraya river to take a trip along Bankgok’s waterways studded with bobbing floating markets.

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Thailand

Says Ben Groundwater, travel columnist and expert backpacker

Why? Travelling solo teaches you that you're far more resourceful and resilient than you may have once thought. Situations that seem intimidating to begin with - say, haggling with a tuk-tuk driver in Bangkok, or finding a place to stay in Phuket - become easily negotiable after a few weeks of travelling on your own.

The quintessential backpacking destination, it’s completely normal – and often preferable - to be travelling solo in Thailand. There’s also a lot of options available to you – go trekking in the jungle, soak up the bustling city of Bangkok or simply lounge around on some of the world’s most glorious beaches in the south. The country is full of charming locals and other free-spirited solo travellers so you won’t ever get the chance to feel lonely here. It is also very affordable so you won’t feel the sting of not sharing a room cost with anyone.

What to eat: It would be criminal not enjoy the renowned street food – order Pad Thai from one of the carts dotted around every market and lane.

Where to stay: Whether you go north or south you’re likely to fly from Bangkok so treat yourself to a night at the 140-year-old Mandarin Oriental on the banks of the Chao Phraya River.

What to do: Head up to the north to Chiang Mai and join a jungle trek – it’s a great way to see some of the local culture and you’ll get to meet some interesting people along the way.

Solo traveller tip: Take an overnight train if travelling long distances – e.g Bangkok to Koh Samui, they are cheap, come with a fully flat bed and will save you the cost of a hotel stay.

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  • Marvel at the astounding engineering of the Øresund Bridge. © Getty.

    Bridging the gap

    The Øresund Bridge is the main road and rail link between Copenhagen (Denmark) and Malmö (Sweden). It’s made up of three parts: a bridge, an artificial island and a tunnel, and covers nearly 10 miles.

    Escape to Copenhagen

Melbourne

Says Tona Stell, Fashion Director at Suitcase Magazine

Why? You’d expect such a big metropolitan city to be overwhelming, but Australian people are so welcoming and approachable. I found myself talking to every shop assistant, bartender and waiter, and they all gave me recommendations for what to see and do during my trip.

Where to eat: I probably had my favourite meal at Tipo 00. It's a very intimate Italian restaurant. There’s a high table running along the front window so it's the perfect spot to eat solo, as you can watch the bustling Little Bourke Street outside. The food is incredibly fresh and the menu changes regularly, I’d recommend getting a few small dishes to try as much as possible.

Where to stay: Hotel Lindrum. It’s in a great location in the centre of the city and is perfect for solo travellers because the bed is far too comfortable to share!

What to do: You get a sense of Melbourne as a creative hub when you walk around the suburbs of Fitzroy and Carlton. Drop into a concept store like No Order Market and Somewhere Store – even if it's just to window shop. If you have time, take a trip out of the city to see the latest exhibitions at the Heide Museum of Modern Art. And I’d definitely recommend a visit to Philip Island Nature Park to see the penguins.

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Copenhagen

Says Ross Clarke, BA Where in the World? editor

Why? Hygge, constant candlelight and an endless supply of hot chocolate… it’s easy to understand why the Danes are among the world’s happiest people. Copenhagen is packed with great architecture, design, food markets and historical monuments. You can head ‘Around the Sound’ too. Buy the two-day ticket from the Tourist Information Centre in Copenhagen, it allows you to travel into southern Sweden by train around the coast and back into Denmark via the ferry.

Where to eat: The new outpost of Hija de Sánchez – a fantastic Mexican restaurant set up by the ex-pastry chef of Noma in the trendy Meatpacking district. Don’t miss the delicious condensed milk-laced paletas.

Where to stay: Andersen Boutique Hotel – a super stylish boutique hotel. The hotel has a daily Wine Hour allowing you to meet other guests and enjoy a free vino.

What to do: Head to Hillerød – which is around 20 minutes by train – to see the beautiful Frederiksborg Castle. A 16 Century palatial complex surrounded by water and perfectly manicured grounds its like something out of a fairytale.

Solo traveller tip: Sign up for ‘Meet the Danes’, a service that arranges home dinners with local Danes (meetthedanes.dk).

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