For this month's solo travel insight, I reflect on my favourite cities in Europe and recommend my favourite weekend breaks that are just perfect for solos.
With thousands of years of history behind all of its beautiful cities, some of the most glorious architecture in the world, and a whole lot of ice cream to be eaten while perched on the side of a stunning fountain, Europe is definitely the place to go for a long weekend or a week away. If you are planning a trip for next year and unsure which European city to visit, I've listed all my favourites in alphabetical order.
Types of Girl about the Globe – Arty & Museum GatG, Party GatG
No city break is complete without a mention of this beauty. While winter appears to be one of the most popular times of the year to visit Amsterdam, it is a city that can be visited at any time of year. Meander around some of the famous museums such as the Van Gogh Museum, Anne Frank House and the Rijksmuseum, take a tour inside the Heineken museum for the ultimate Heineken experience, stroll along the canal or join the locals on a bike ride through this Netherland's capital. Amsterdam is a beautiful place, with plenty of fun things to keep you busy as a solo.
Types of Girl about the Globe – Arty & Museum GatG, Beach GatG, Cultural GatG, History GatG
For those seeking a cultural weekend, Barcelona is the perfect city. Think of trendy bars, some of the world’s best shopping, an abundance of amazing history and architecture to see and beaches! Marvel at the world famous Gaudi architecture such as the Sagrada Familia, and Park Guell.
Venture into the castle on the top of Montjuic, get lost in the back streets of the Gothic Quarter before stumbling on Placa Reial, one of the beautiful squares in the city. See street performers at the Arc de Triomf, before enjoying a glass of cava in a cosy bar in El Born, then watch the sun set along the beach at Barceloneta and listen to the beats of the music coming from the bars by the W Hotel, one of the city famous landmarks.
There really is no better European city to visit if you want a little bit of everything. In fact, coming here for a long weekend just won’t be long enough!
Types of Girl about the Globe – History GatG, Wellness GatG
One of the most gorgeous cities in the world, Budapest is one to visit, particularly if you’re on a budget because prices tend to be a little lower than in other European cities. With World Heritage sites including the Danube river and Buda Castle, Budapest is the capital of Hungary and is an architectural paradise for anyone who's interested in the aesthetic beauty of what can be created with bricks and mortar.
It’s a foodie’s paradise with Hungarian gastronomic culture, and is also full of galleries, and museums with temporary exhibitions that pop up over the summer. Budapest is a city to relax in an outdoor thermal spa, enjoy a classical concert in the beautiful St Stephen’s Basilica, see the Parliament Building in all its stunning glory at night before experiencing one of the city’s arty ruin pubs.
Types of Girl about the Globe – Adventurous GatG, Sightseeing GatG
Copenhagen, the capital city of Denmark, isn’t actually on the European mainland. Instead, it’s on a Danish island, and is home to over two million people. It’s also home to some of Europe’s most beautiful architecture and best shopping. One of the highlights of the city is the goddess Gefjun fountain, which tells the story of how the city of Copenhagen was founded and how Denmark was created. See the fountain at night when it gives off a stunning blue glow.
During the day see the historic waterfront at Nyhavn, stroll along the Langelinie promenade and see the Little Mermaid statue, or just window shop at Strøget. If it's adventure that you're after, head to Tivoli Gardens, the world's oldest theme park where you can indulge in your inner child.
Types of Girl about the Globe – History GatG, Party GatG
For those wanting a weekend away without having to go too far, Dublin is only a short flight away and there’s so much to do, making it the perfect weekend location.
Take a trip into Irish history at Dublin Castle, then take a tour inside the Jameson Distillery and learn about the history of this old distillery whilst enjoying some whisky-tasting, before getting dizzy looking up at The Spire that stands 120 metres tall in the middle of O’Connell Street.
From a trip to the Guinness Store House to a night on the famous Temple Bar listening to live music it’s an amazing place to spend a solo break. The Irish are known for liking a tipple so you won't be short of company if you pop into a local Irish bar or two.
Types of Girl about the Globe – History GatG, Literature GatG, Movie GatG
Edinburgh is a City of Literature, as recognised by UNESCO, and has a proud literary tradition that you’ll notice as you explore the beautiful building-lined streets. There are some great literary nooks and crannies for you to get a real taste of Edinburgh’s literary life. The streets of Edinburgh are laden with history and fascinating stories so you’ll never find yourself at a loose end.
Scotland’s capital city is teaming with bars and nightlife as well as historic and cultural activities. Explore Edinburgh Castle and see the the oldest Crown jewels in Britain, as well as the Stone of Destiny. Visit Arthur's Seat, and Holyrood Palace then walk along the Royal Mile to Princes Street.
If you're a Harry Potter fan take the Harry Potter Magical Guided walking tour or admire artwork within the Neoclassical building of the Scottish National Gallery. Visit Edinburgh in August and you'll be spoilt for choice at the Edinburgh Festival, which fills this charming city with artists, actors, comedians, musicians and countless street performers.
Types of Girl about the Globe – Nature GatG
Geneva is home to The Palace of Nations, the United Nations headquarters, and is known for its landscapes and lake shores. This Lavaux landscape is a Unesco World Heritage site and is said to produce the finest wine in the region. The whole region is great for historic castles, and lake shores and offers spectacular views over the French Alps.
Head west and you’ll find plenty of hiking trails in the Jura Mountains or stay in the city for gardens, museums and theatres. You can see the city by bike or even paraglide for a birds-eye view. Being a Swiss city means that it does come with a price tag.
Type of Girl about the Globe – Architecture GatG, Arty & Museum GatG
Helsinki is one of the largest cities in the Baltic region, and the largest city in Finland, home to more than 1.3 million people. The city is famous for its architecture, and back in 2012, it was chosen as the World Design Capital for 2012 by the International Council of Societies of Industrial Design.
Discover Finland's unique culture at the city's many art galleries and museums such as the National Museum of Finland, the Design Museum, and the Museum of Finnish Architecture. And there are, of course, plenty of shopping opportunities and dozens of outlets that sell gorgeous Nordic clothing.
Types of Girl about the Globe – Arty & Museum GatG, History GatG, Markets GatG, Sightseeing GatG
It’s hard to write a list about European cities without including London in it. With iconic double decker buses, black London cabs and red telephone boxes just for starters, London is definitely one of the cities for solos to explore.
You could spend a long weekend doing all the typical tourist attractions: seeing the city from above on the London Eye or at the top of the Shard, saying hello to the Queen at Buckingham Palace, listening to the chimes of Big Ben, and taking a walk along the River Thames. Then there’s browsing at Camden Market, watching street performers at Covent Garden, window shopping at Harrods, or having an afternoon tea at one of London’s most prestigious hotels.
There’s plenty to see here for free too. From the city’s parks to well-known museums such as the Tate Gallery, the National Gallery and even the British Museum. However you want to spend your time, London offers the perfect balance between city life and relaxation.
Types of Girl about the Globe – Island GatG, Nature GatG
So many of the safest cities in Europe are in the Nordic countries and Oslo is no exception. As the largest city in Norway, and the capital of the country, Oslo is not only safe but a lovely city to explore on foot. See the Vigeland Sculpture Park, a park that was originally created by its namesake, Gustav Vigeland, and has more than 200 pieces of bronze, iron and granite works of art. Another of the city's attractions is the Opera House, a futuristic-looking building on the dock with a sloped roof that you can climb for a view.
Watch the changing of the guards at the Royal Palace, relax in the Palace Park, then head to the National Gallery, the Norsk Folkemuseum and the famous Munch Museum for some arts and culture. Discover more about the days of the Vikings at the Viking Ship Museum, before having dinner at Aker Brygge, a trendy area by the waterfront.
If you’re only planning on visiting the capital during your trip, you can still experience a fjord cruise from Oslo, or buy a ferry ticket and go island hopping. Oslo also has some of the safest night clubs in Europe, but they are expensive.
Types of Girl about the Globe – Arty & Museum GatG, Shopping GatG, Sightseeing GatG
Paris is one of my absolute favourite cities. Don’t skip Paris just because you think it’s just for couples. It may be a city that exudes romance but there’s no reason that you can’t go alone. It's full of iconic museums, specifically the Louvre, and the Musee d'Orsay with some of the most famous works of arts.
If you love sculptures, head to the Rodin Museum for world-renowned works. For a great view of the city take the elevator to the top of the Eiffel Tower, and learn more about its history in its museum, or climb the hill to the Sacre Coeur, one of the city’s most iconic monuments. Take a walk along the Avenue Des Champs Elysees, and at night, see Paris’ famous show, the Moulin Rouge. There is so much to see here that you'll need a long, long, weekend.
Types of Girl about the Globe – Architecture GatG, History GatG, Party GatG
Prague is a fantastic choice for a budget solo, as it is cheaper compared to many other European cities. From cobbled streets to stunning architecture, Prague has a lot to offer. The Charles Bridge is a beautiful cobblestone bridge that is one of the must-sees in this Czech capital.
The Old Town is where all the action happens. This picturesque Old Town has many different architectural styles and a medieval Astronomical Clock on top of the Town Hall. Visit on the hour to see its musical performance. Explore the courtyards of Prague Castle and its many buildings, before partying at the many bars and clubs in Wenceslas Square where you’ll find plenty of other tourists to hang out with. If you love beer, you have another great reason to be in Prague.
Types of Girl about the Globe – Architecture GatG, History GatG
This Spanish gem has been under the radar for many years, but Seville is a fabulous city if you want to explore somewhere new. One of the attractions that you should not miss is Real Alcazar de Sevilla, which is considered as one of the oldest palaces in the continent, and is a World Heritage Site.
Spend some time at Plaza de Espana, one of the most stunning and magical places in the city with water fountains and beautiful architecture. See the lavish interior of the Cathedral de Sevilla, and the Giralda, the bell tower that is one of Seville’s most famous monuments.
Learn more about history at the Archaeological Museum of Sevilla, or visit a former HQ and prison of the Spanish Inquisition at the Castillo San Jorge. Seville is a fantastic choice for a Spanish break.
Types of Girl about the Globe – Cultural GatG, History GatG, Islands GatG
If you are thinking about an Italian escape, Venice is a stunning destination and it's not just for couples. This city of islands is the perfect city to explore by boat, through its many canals. See the famous Piazza San Marco, the Basilica San Marco and the free-standing bell tower, as well as the Doge’s Palace, a must-see attraction in Venice.
Take a canal cruise under the Rialto Bridge, the oldest of the bridges that cross the Grand Canal, before visiting Murano Island renowned for its glass-making traditions. Don’t forget to buy a small Venice mask too, or just visit in February to see these masks being worn at the Venice Carnival.
These are just a few of my favourites. Where's your favourite European city as a solo? I'd love to hear in the comments.
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