Travelling alone need not be lonely. And there’s a unique freedom about jetting off somewhere on your own and then being open about whom you might meet along the way. Make your own decisions, set the timetable, linger at your leisure — even when opting for an escorted tour there’s the choice of being with others or keeping your own counsel.
A tour also allows all the organisation to be lifted from your shoulders. Thankfully, there are a growing number of companies specialising in solo travel — with no financial penalties. ‘The man who goes alone can start today; but he who travels with another must wait till that other is ready,’ said the American naturalist Henry David Thoreau. Here’s our guide to some of the best solo adventures…
Solos Holidays is offering a week aboard the sleek 18-cabin M/S Invictus taking in Brac Island (pictured), Korcula, the Mljet National Park and finishing in Dubrovnik
Croatia’s Adriatic coast has become popular for very good reason — brilliant blue waters, dramatic rocky landscapes, pristine marine national parks and reliable weather make this one of Europe’s premier destinations.
This solo holiday is a week aboard the sleek 18-cabin M/S Invictus taking in Brac Island, Korcula, the Mljet National Park and finishing in Dubrovnik.
Solos Holidays specialises in a variety of trips including long-haul, short-haul and cruises. There are also ClubSolos holidays with an emphasis on socialising with other travellers.
DON’T MISS: A stroll around historic Korcula town, the birthplace of Marco Polo.
DETAILS: Seven nights’ B&B from £1,169 pp including some other meals, excursions and flights. Book for May, July or September 2022 (solosholidays.co.uk).
SRI LANKA REVEALED
One Traveller’s 15-night tour of Sri Lanka stops off at the capital of Colombo. Pictured is the city’s vibrant Jami Ul-Alfar Mosque
Long-haul travel is back on the radar and Sri Lanka is just the ticket. This trip takes in plenty, including the capital Colombo, scenic train rides, the Royal Botanical Gardens, spice markets, colonial charm in hill country, game drives and Indian Ocean beaches.
The tour operator, One Traveller, is aimed at mature holidaymakers offering trips to destinations around the world.
DON’T MISS: The Elephant Transit Home; a sanctuary run by the Born Free Foundation.
DETAILS: A 15-night small group tour, full-board including excursions and flights, is from £4,550 pp. Book for February 25 or November 4 at onetraveller.co.uk.
Takes in Cyprus’ ancient sites, including the island of Salamis (pictured), on Jules Verne’s ‘cultural’ tour of the country
Cyprus has a fascinating history, ruled variously by the Romans, Persians, Crusaders and Venetians. This cultural tour takes in the ancient sites, including the port of Salamis, the Vouni Palace and the Abbey of Bellapais — all while based in the city of Kyrenia. It’s a full exploration from the island’s south to north and a great way to experience Cyprus.
DON’T MISS: Cypriot delicacies including Kofte, Kleftiko (a lamb dish) and Borek (a pastry).
DETAILS: Seven nights’ half-board from £1,195 pp including flights with departures on September 5 and November 7. Groups from six to 25 (vjv.com).
INTO THE VALLEY
Cruise along the Douro River (pictured) on Saga’s seven-night escorted tour of Portugal’s Douro Valley
The Saga itinerary features a guided tour of the baroque sanctuary Nossa Senhora dos Remedios, pictured, in Lamego
Aside from the wonderful scenery, Portugal’s Douro Valley is famed for its vineyard-covered hills and wine industry. This tour begins in the dramatic, bridge-filled city of Porto and includes both a rail journey through the Portuguese country as well as a cruise along the Douro River.
There is also a day in the highlands at Castro Daire, a trip to Lamego town and guided tour of the baroque sanctuary Nossa Senhora dos Remedios.
DON’T MISS: A day of wine tasting at Quinta da Padrela.
DETAILS: Seven-night escorted tours half-board from £929 pp including excursions and flights. Trips run from May to October (saga.co.uk).
Just You’s half-board tour of Jordan takes in attractions such as the valley of Wadi Rum (pictured) and the Citadel of Amman and Jerash
Historic: On a trip to Jordan, don’t miss the lost city of Petra (pictured) – it’s the country’s ‘most spectacular’ attraction
Tour operator Just You claims to be the UK’s best singles holiday firm (it was voted to be so by the British public) and has an airport private chauffeur service.
Jordan is filled with ancient and biblical history, including attractions such as Wadi Rum, Shobak Castle, the Roman amphitheatre and Citadel of Amman and Jerash, and this eight-day tour takes in many of them.
Also included are a traditional cooking class, a mosaic-making lesson, visit to a Bedouin village and a day bobbing around in the Dead Sea.
DON’T MISS: The lost city of Petra, Jordan’s most spectacular attraction.
DETAILS: Eight days’ half-board, including activities and flights, from £2,799 pp. Book for departures March-October 2022, maximum group size 30 (justyou.co.uk).
THE EMERALD ISLE
Abercrombie and Kent’s tour of the Emerald Isle kicks off at the Dromoland Castle, pictured, in County Clare
Pictured is the Brian Boru Suite at Dromoland Castle. For those hoping to visit the fortress, Abercrombie and Kent’s five-night tour of Ireland costs from £3,189pp
Too often UK holidaymakers ignore Ireland in favour of Mediterranean beaches or far-flung hotspots.
But the Emerald Isle has plenty to offer from rich, riveting history, great food, plush hotels and world-class golf courses (if that’s your thing).
And this trip — for those who want to splash out — combines all the best of these elements.
It can be tailored but begins at the Dromoland Castle in County Clare and finishes in Dublin on day five.
DON’T MISS: A tour of Kilbeggan Distillery, the world’s oldest licensed whiskey distillery.
DETAILS: Five nights from £3,189pp for dates year round. This solo trip can be altered as desired (abercrombiekent.co.uk).
SEA AND SAFARI
Pictured is Tsavo National Park, where visitors have a good chance of seeing lions, leopards, elephants, African buffalo and rhinos. The park features on Friendship Travel’s eight-night tour of Kenya
TEN COMMANDMENTS OF SOLO TRAVEL
- Take it easy on the first night. There’s plenty of time to get to know everyone.
- Don’t hold the group up by continually being late for excursions.
- Stay safe. Keep friends and family informed about where you’re going (an app such as Find My Friends offers extra reassurance).
- Open up. Smile and start a conversation.
- Ask how many single people and how many couples will be on the trip. Too many of either is not advised.
- Take pride in booking a solo holiday — many people wouldn’t have the courage.
- Swot up on where you’re going. It will boost confidence.
- Keep a diary and indulge in how you are really feeling about life.
- Offer to take photos of other guests with their phones (anything to avoid a selfie culture).
- Don’t be scared. Take advantage of every moment of freedom.
There is no more reliable safari destination than Kenya — it’s also one of the most straightforward African countries to reach.
An added bonus is that there are some spectacular beaches with the resorts to match.
Bounce between the Tsavo National Park, where visitors have a good chance of seeing the Big Five (lions, leopards, elephants, African buffalo and rhinos), and the Kenyan coastline.
Safari camps overlook the Sante River while the beach resort is surrounded by baobab trees filled with colobus monkeys. Friendship Travel has 20 years’ experience and offers reasonably priced trips for smaller groups.
DON’T MISS: Watching animals drink at the watering hole from your room at Ngutuni Lodge.
DETAILS: Eight nights with some meals, flights and most activities included from £1,825pp. Trips depart in February and April (friendshiptravel.com). Group sizes are smaller but depend on demand.
There’s no better way to experience the dramatic scenery of Tenerife than on a walking tour. Explore the leafy forests of Anaga amid the volcanic landscape of this island, which is also home to the Barranca Canyon and the petrified lava formations of Las Canadas del Teide.
There are also boat rides, wine tasting and time to enjoy the beaches.
DON’T MISS: Exploring the village of Masca in Tenerife’s Teno mountains.
DETAILS: Five nights’ B&B costs from £713 pp including some meals and all excursions, flights excluded. Book for departures from May, groups are small (gadventures.com).
See the ancient settlement of Chichen Itza, pictured, as you ‘explore the heart of Mexico’ with Intrepid
Adventure travel company Intrepid claims that more than 50 per cent of its customers are solo. So you will be with like minds on one of the company’s trips.
Explore the heart of Mexico’s Aztec, Maya and Spanish cultures on this holiday.
The tour covers the relaxed shores of the Yucatan Peninsula and seeing the ancient settlement of Chichen Itza while also allowing time for swimming, hiking and snorkelling.
DON’T MISS: Spending time with the local guide — present on all Intrepid trips.
DETAILS: 15 days from £1,140 pp, flights must be booked separately. BA (ba.com) London to Cancun from £632 return. Trips run throughout the year (maximum group size 16) at intrepidtravel.com.
HEART OF ITALY
Sample Puglia’s signature pasta – orecchiette (meaning little ears) – in Ostuni (pictured) with Riviera Travel
Puglia is perhaps slightly underappreciated — but this southern region, in the ‘heel’ of Italy’s ‘boot’, has plenty to offer.
The usual suspects are all there — great food, wine, fascinating ancient sites, spectacular baroque churches and a proud culture. Add to this Matera’s ancient caves, the Adriatic Coast and whitewashed towns such as Alberobello and you’ve got a great trip.
DON’T MISS: Sampling orecchiette (meaning little ears) — Puglia’s signature pasta — in Ostuni.
DETAILS: Eight days’ half-board, including flights, from £1,174 pp. Book from May, small groups (rivieratravel.co.uk).