Dokk1 library and cultural centre in Aarhus

‘Choose something you love, and go and do it’: readers on the joy of solo travel

I took to the waters of Ibiza

Feeling tired and bruised by the end of a long-term relationship, I was unsure of my new life as a thirtysomething single woman in the world. I sought solace in outdoor swimming, and a friend told me about a holiday she’d taken with Swimtrek. I went online and impulsively bought a week-long trip to Ibiza. My tip: choose something you love, and go and do it with experts leading you and a bunch of strangers. I made new friends, explored the beautiful Ibizan coastline, and my confidence soared.
Kathy Atkinson

Aarhus city break, Denmark

Dokk1 library and cultural centre in Aarhus. Photograph: Allard Schager/Alamy

Heavenly days spent on two wheels exploring the city standouts: ARoS art museum, Aarhus Cathedral and the Latin Quarter, which dates from the 14th century. Pick up the best sourdough cheese sandwich and coffee from La Cabra and sit outside to watch the unique, sophisticated, young and old population around you. Take your two wheels a bit further out on an extraordinarily beautiful cycle to Moesgård beach for an exhilarating dip in the sea. Most importantly, spend as much time as you can in Dokk1, Aarhus’s library, which is unlike any library I’ve experienced before. Find the comfy sofas upstairs which look over the harbour and lose yourself in your thoughts of how you want to move to Denmark.


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Away with the birds, Sweden

I love a mix of an organised group activity bookended by solo time to explore cities. In Sweden in the spring, I combined a few days of museums and kardemummabullar (cardamom buns) in Stockholm and Uppsala with overnight wildlife watching with Wild Sweden and Wild Nordic in Gästrikland. Sadly, it was too early in the season for bears, but being paired with another solo traveller for an overnight in a hide in the middle of the forest was an unforgettable experience – watching birds in their natural habitat and quietly chatting to someone with similar interests.

Making new friends hiking in Iceland

Climbing on the Falljökull glacier
Climbing on the Falljökull glacier. Photograph: Alexandra

I travelled solo then joined a group trip for five days of hiking in southern Iceland in June. This included hiking on the Falljökull glacier and on volcanoes and canyons with G Adventures. I was nervous at such strenuous hiking on harsh terrain and to be with a group of strangers. The tour leader was amazing and kept us going, as did the group of likeminded hikers, some of whom I remain friends with. Join a group tour so you are not alone. Go with a sense of adventure and a positive attitude. When the mountain seemed insurmountable we shouted “Þetta reddast”, which means “Everything will work out OK.”

Eccentric campsite, Isle of Wight

If you like quirky places to stay, head to Windmill Campersite, near Carisbrooke Castle on the Isle of Wight. While larger groups opt for the Galahad helicopter or HMS Bond submarine, solo travellers can spend the night in Percy – One Bike Night, a converted vehicle. Feeling sociable? Head over to the communal fire pit to chat to fellow glampers. Buy a pizza from the well-stocked honesty shop and cook it in the Big Bertha barbecue oven. Or grab a coffee and book and relax on the top floor of the bus. Either way, round off your day with a boogie in the showershack, a piping hot shower complete with disco lights and sound system.
Christine Reardon

I saw Berwick-upon-Tweed and decided to explore, Northumberland

The Old Bridge, Berwick-upon-Tweed
The Old Bridge, Berwick-upon-Tweed. Photograph: Efrain Padro/Alamy

One day, passing Berwick-upon-Tweed on the train, I looked down from the viaduct and thought “I must stop off there”. I love walking but I’m getting on and have dodgy hips. Long hikes are in the past. Berwick, however, offers magical walks around Elizabethan walls with places to rest and vast skies and moody seas to admire. The views of the tidal estuary are constantly changing. Receding waters are the perfect shoreline for oystercatchers, curlew and heron, and who knew so many swans gathered in one place? When the clouds turn grey head for a pint and welcoming locals in Barrels Ale House.
Keith Richards

I recently went to Lisbon and managed to play in a five-a-side football match with a local team (mostly of expats, to be fair). If you want to meet people outside of a hostel, who know more about the local area, messaging a local team on Instagram or other social media is a great way to start. Sometimes travelling alone can feel lonely … but if you have a sport that you like doing at home, maybe try it abroad too. Even if you don’t speak to anyone, just going to a local climbing centre, for example, could help make you feel more comfortable with a new place.

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I could eat when and what I wanted, Seville

La Tradicional tapas bar in Seville
La Tradicional tapas bar in Seville. Photograph: ruelleruelle/Alamy

I mostly travel solo because I don’t have a partner and I actually prefer it. There’s nobody to judge you for ducking out of the Louvre after only half an hour, no one cares if you set out to see a monument but get waylaid in a backstreet bar instead. Best of all, you can eat whatever and whenever you want: on my first night of a solo trip to Seville last year, I had grand plans of louchely exploring the tapas scene. When it came to it, I was knackered, I had a whole season of Grey’s Anatomy downloaded and there was a Burger King directly opposite my very lovely hotel. It wasn’t the cultural or culinary highlight of my trip, but no one was there to judge me and I loved it.

I walked the Camino de Santiago solo

A pilgrim passes the church of Nuestra Señora del Manzano in Castrojeriz, Spain
A pilgrim passes the church of Nuestra Señora del Manzano in Castrojeriz, Spain. Photograph: Lucas Vallecillos/VWPics/Alamy

Needing a change, I took the advice of a stranger in a cafe and spontaneously booked a flight to Biarritz to embark on a 500-mile walk alone – the Camino de Santiago. Starting at dawn in Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, a rustic French village, I trekked over the lush Pyrenees foothills, crossing the Spanish border, which was marked only by a man in a caravan with an official pilgrimage stamp and much-needed refreshments. Staying in hostel-style accommodation specifically for walkers, I soon made good friends along the way. It was ideal for a reset, reflection and recuperation.

Winning tip: Wallaby island, Loch Lomond

A red-necked wallaby on Inchconnachan, Loch Lomond
A red-necked wallaby on Inchconnachan, Loch Lomond. Photograph: James Berry/Alamy

Inchconnachan in Loch Lomond has all the ingredients for a solo trip on the wild side: an uninhabited island; deserted rhododendron-fringed beaches upon which to pitch your tent; and a colony of wallabies released by the rather eccentric Countess of Arran in the 1940s and still going strong! Kayak or paddleboard yourself over to try to spot these shy creatures among the dense vegetation. Even if you’re out of luck, you can feel like a bush master assessing whether the scat you see is deer or wallaby. Price? Free. Aside from £3.20 to park your car overnight on the mainland. Be sure to leave no trace so that the solo adventurers that follow in your footsteps can equally enjoy Scotland’s permissive approach to wild camping.
Catherine Sweeney

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