The Best Places to Go for First-Time Solo Travelers

By Rosunnara Roth
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Photo Courtesy: Darren Lawrence/Unsplash

Going on your first solo trip is scary, but the countries on this list make the experience easy and worthwhile. Many travelers prioritize safety, breezy navigation and friendly locals. If you’re one of those travelers, this list is perfect for you.

Here are the best places to go for first-time solo travelers. After visiting these countries, you’ll be thinking, "I should’ve done this a long time ago!"

Portugal

Famous for its good wine, sandy beaches and football, Portugal is a great place for first-time solo travel. It's hard to resist the historic cities, rich culture and beautiful, sunny weather.

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Photo Courtesy: robin inizan/Unsplash

Portugal is safe and comfortable for tourists to get lost in. The approachable locals are known to help or chat with tourists. Plus, the Portuguese love learning about other groups of people, which shows in the variety of their museums.

Voted one of the world’s friendliest places for visitors, Lisbon is where everyone goes. Wander the hills or cobblestone streets. Check out the dazzling architecture and growing arts scene. Some notable points of interest include the Baixa district, the medieval Belém Tower, Alfama's rooftops and St. George's Castle. The Lisbon experience would not be complete without riding on a tram or eating a freshly baked "pastel de nata" (custard tart).

Porto is another charming city with plenty to offer. Harry Potter fans flock here to visit the magical Livraria Lello bookstore that inspired the Hogwarts Library in J.K. Rowling's books. Tourists also go to admire the 12th-century Porto Cathedral, the 1800s São Bento railway station and the historic Bolsa Palace.

Thailand

Thailand is Southeast Asia's most popular destination with a long history of welcoming international tourists. Solo travelers will love that the country is budget-friendly and easy to navigate. Its street food scene is world-famous. Even better, the locals are warm and inviting.

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Photo Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons

Many travelers highly recommend stopping in Bangkok to fall in love with the city. Its main attractions include the Grand Palace, Temple of the Emerald Buddha and Wat Arun (the Temple of Dawn).

Want to get away from city life? Hop to one of Thailand's islands. Check out Koh Tao and lie back in a hotel room that costs $20 a night or less. With miles of clear waters and white sand, the island is a beach-lover's dream.

Japan

Many travelers can't stop talking about how safe, clean, organized and technologically advanced Japan is. Plus, the locals are very respectful and friendly. These aspects make the country an ideal destination for those flying alone for the first time, especially when you don't know the language or where you're going. Any time is the best time to visit, but many travelers strongly suggest going in the springtime, when it's blooming season for cherry blossoms.

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Photo Courtesy: Walter Mario Stein/Unsplash

The "golden triangle" is a popular journey for travelers that features three of Japan's major destinations. First stop? Tokyo, a big modern city with bright lights and towering skyscrapers. Must-see attractions in the city include Tokyo Tower, Tsukiji Market, the temple Sensō-ji and Shinjuku's entertainment district.

After exploring Tokyo, hop on Japan's impressive high-speed bullet train to Kyoto or Osaka. Full of peaceful temples, old neighborhoods and real geisha, Kyoto is much more traditional and relaxing than Tokyo. Popular attractions in Kyoto include Arashiyama (a bamboo forest), Fushimi Inari Taisha (a Shinto shrine with famed gates) and Kinkaku-ji (the iconic golden-colored temple).

Osaka, another big city, often gets compared to Tokyo. However, once visitors step into Osaka, they see that it has its own unique vibe. Check out Japan's Universal Studios and Dōtonbori, a.k.a. the bright heart of the city.

New Zealand

Widely known as the filming location of The Lord of the Rings, New Zealand is one of the top destinations for solo travelers. The country provides a welcoming and laid-back environment to keep residents and tourists happy.

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Photo Courtesy: Paula May/Unsplash

New Zealand is one of the safest countries in the world, giving solo travelers who prioritize safety peace of mind. The country is also great for outdoorsy travelers. Two islands make up New Zealand — North Island and South Island.

On North Island, go on a tour at the famous Waitomo Glowworm Caves. Check out the powerful Huka Falls. Of course, the Hobbiton Movie Set Tour is also a must-do.

Behold the natural beauty of Milford Sound on South Island. Many mountains, lakes and parks are waiting to be explored there, like Abel Tasman National Park and Mount Cook.

Hawaii

Hawaii isn’t just for lovers; Hawaii is actually an extraordinary destination for travelers flying solo for the first time. Cue the fireworks! Whether you're looking for relaxation, adventure or a lesson on history, there's plenty of fun things to do in Hawaii. The state has four major islands that travelers can visit — Kauai, Maui, the Big Island (also named Hawaii) and Oahu.

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Photo Courtesy: Darren Lawrence/Unsplash

Dubbed the "the Garden Isle," Kauai is best for travelers who want to get away from the crowds. Kauai is home to miles of lush foliage and dramatic cliffs. See the Na Pali Coast and Waimea Canyon, the "Grand Canyon of the Pacific."

Maui is a great destination for beach bums and adventure seekers. Catch the sunrise at 10,023 feet in Haleakala National Park. Take a long scenic ride on the Road to Hana, which is also famous for its twists and turns. Some travelers argue that Maui has some of the best beaches in the world.

Animal lovers and outdoorsy visitors will appreciate the Big Island the most. It has all sorts of landscapes and climates, from snow-capped mountains to humid rainforests. Some popular attractions include Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Waipi’o Valley and the Kohala Coast (to spot green sea turtles).

Oahu is best for foodies, shoppers and travelers who love city life. Although it seems as if the island is all about action, travelers can still find time to unwind. Check out the iconic Waikiki Beach or learn about history at Pearl Harbor museums and memorials.