4 European Cities For First Time Solo-Travelers
So you’ve decided to go on your first solo travel adventure! How exciting! The first time traveling alone can be daunting. You may be wondering where to begin or where to go. There’s so much information online about solo travel and potential destinations that it can be overwhelming to sort through it all. Language barriers, public transit that is easy to navigate, safety, and a large variety of things to do are all very important factors to consider when planning your first trip alone. Look no further for a solo-travel guide; here are 4 European cities that are perfect for solo-travel newbies.
Madrid is often overlooked by tourists in favor of Barcelona and Seville, but it deserves so much more attention than it gets. Madrid really has everything one could want from a European city vacation. Between the museums, castles, cathedrals, vibrant food scene, and nightlife that continues until 6 am, it’s impossible to get bored in Madrid!
Safety: Madrid is extremely safe for solo travelers. Crime is extremely low in Madrid, and female solo travelers can safely walk around any time of the day or night. This is a city that never sleeps, and there will be people of all ages in the plazas all night long.
Like most major cities, it’s important to be wary of pickpockets. Always be aware of your surroundings, never keep your phone in your back pocket, and consider getting a money belt or fanny pack for your valuables.
Transit: The public transit system in Madrid is one of the best in the world. The metro is affordable, always on time, and extremely well-connected. Nearly anywhere in the city can be reached in less than 20 minutes by metro.
Language: While it’s good to know at least a few basic Spanish phrases, English is widely spoken in Madrid. The language barrier is very small here.
Best time to visit: May - June, September - November
3 things to do/see here: See the Plaza Mayor, experience the nightlife, visit the Crystal Palace
A decade ago Lisbon was still considered a hidden gem, but in the last few years, Lisbon has blown up and become the place to be in Western Europe. It is easy to see why. Lisbon has close proximity to beaches, warm weather for 9 months of the year, delicious and fresh seafood, outdoor markets, a fascinating history, and is one of the most affordable capital cities in Europe. What more could anyone want?
Safety: Lisbon is also extremely safe. Portugal is widely considered to be one of the safest countries in Europe, and violent crime is nearly nonexistent. Solo travelers should be able to wander anywhere in the center without feeling uncomfortable. Like Madrid, the only reason to be wary in Lisbon is the pickpockets. As long as you keep an eye on your phone and your wallet, you will be fine.
Transit: The public transit system is excellent in Lisbon. The metro connects all of the main neighborhoods and tourist attractions, making navigating the city extremely easy. Or, for a more scenic route, visitors can ride the iconic 28 tram that passes through the historic neighborhoods in Lisbon.
Language: English is widely spoken in Lisbon, especially by those working in the tourism industry. Learning at least a few basic Portuguese phrases usually goes a long way and is appreciated, but tourists shouldn’t encounter a language barrier if they aren’t fluent.
Best time to visit: April - July, September - October
3 things to do/see here: Eat pastel de nata at the TimeOut Market, shop in the Fiera da Ladra flea market, visit Castelo Sao Jorge
Valletta isn’t as commonly visited as some of the other destinations on this list, but it’s been growing in popularity in recent years. This island arpeggio should be on every solo traveler’s bucket list. Malta is nearly synonymous with surf, sun, and beaches. After you’ve finished exploring the capital city of Valletta, explore off the beaten path to see all the natural beauty that rural Malta has to offer. There’s no shortage of crystal-clear beaches, stunning hikes, and ancient temples.
Safety: Valletta is an extremely safe city to visit. It’s quite common for people to be walking around until 3 am without a care in the world. Pickpocketing has become more common in recent years, but it is still significantly less common in Valletta than in other European cities.
Transit: There is a bus that takes you directly from the airport to the center of downtown Valletta. From there, the city is extremely easy to navigate on foot. As it’s one of the smallest capital cities in Europe, you could easily walk from one end of the city to the other in a few hours.
Language: English is the most commonly spoken language, so there’s no need to worry about a language barrier in Valletta.
Best time to visit: May - June, September - October
3 things to do/see here: Tour St. John’s Co-Cathedral, watch the canons fire from the Upper Barrakka Gardens, explore Fort St. Elmo
There is something magical about Venice. Between the beautiful views, thousands of years of history, and wonderful food, Venice is simply heaven. The best thing to do in Venice (besides eating as much pasta and gelato as your stomach can handle) is to get lost wandering along the smaller canals and side streets. There are over 150 canals in Venice, and the further away from the main tourist crowds you go, the more hidden gems you’re bound to find.
Safety: Venice is an extremely safe city to visit. Female solo travelers shouldn’t worry about any violent crime and can safely walk around at night. Beware of scams and pickpockets in the main tourist areas, but especially near the train station, the Rialto bridge, and San Marco plaza.
Transit: There are no cars, buses, or metro system in Venice, however, there are water taxis that can take you down the grand canal and to the smaller islands outside of Venice.
Language: English is spoken by most people in Venice, and tourists should not worry about language barriers. Signs and restaurant menus are usually printed in multiple languages. That said, it’s always a good idea to learn a few basic phrases before traveling somewhere.
Best time to visit: April - October
3 things to do/see here: take a gondola ride, tour St. Mark's Basilica, take the ferry to Burano island