The growth of solo travel seems to be an unstoppable trend, with ever more surveys showing that increasing numbers of people are travelling alone. And with more travel companies and tour operators now catering to single travellers, exciting new destinations are emerging.
AirBNB’s latest booking data shows that a new set of cities are challenging New York, Paris and London, with up to 27% of bookings for the destinations made for one person, and with more than a 100% rise in numbers.
So if you’re looking inspiration, where better to start than with these five city breaks?
1. Auckland, New Zealand
If you can’t decide what you want from your solo city break, Auckland is a good place to start – from beaches to nearby vineyards, countryside hiking trails and adrenaline thrills, plus the galleries, museums and nightlife you’d expect from New Zealand’s biggest city, there’ll be something to appeal.
And it makes the perfect starting point to explore further afield as well – Explore has a great range of trips that are popular with single travellers including this 18-night adventure tour.
2. Johannesburg, South Africa
For years, Johannesburg has played second fiddle to the admittedly lovely Cape Town – but South Africa’s biggest city is definitely not second best. The former home of Nelson Mandela has seen solo bookings rise by 135% over the last year on AirBNB, with recent urban renewal projects playing a big part in its new popularity.
Maboneng has become one of the hippest areas to stay, while the restaurants and bars of Melville are tempting more than just the nearby student populations. From the Apartheid Museum and tours of townships including Soweto to the fascinating Origins Museum, tracing the beginnings of human life on earth and a growing street art culture, Jo’burg is buzzing again.
Most tours of the country start in the city, so it’s easy to add a few days exploring on to a longer trip. Solo Holidays has a week-long safari tour out of Johannesburg, while Cox and Kings has a 12-day itinerary for single travellers that follows parts of the Garden Route and the winelands around Cape Town.
3. Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
The mix of old and new is attracting more solo travellers to the city than ever, with single bookings up 146% this year. And its unique combination, from French colonial history to Vietnamese culture, sleek skyscrapers stretching above timelessly traditional temples, means there’s good reason.
For visitors hoping to understand more about the country’s recent past, the War Remnants Museum and Reunification Palace are a good starting point, along with the Cu Chi tunnels within a day trip visit. Or foodies will love the mix of flavours, from street food and bustling markets to the city’s unique take on coffee and a growing number of stylish restaurants and cocktail bars.
Country specialist Inside Vietnam has several small group tours, including some without single supplements. The Highlights of Vietnam itinerary includes the key stops, finishing in Ho Chi Minh City.
4. Cologne, Germany
Famous for its Christmas market and Carnival, as well as the city’s imposing Gothic cathedral, Cologne has centuries of history to discover, from its Roman origins to its medieval importance and today’s new postmodern quarter.
There is also plenty for sports fans, with a museum dedicated to German sport and Olympics, beer halls galore and a chocolate museum, along with galleries to explore and walks along the Rhine. Save your pennies with a stay at one of the city’s hostels, including private single rooms which are a long way from the old-fashioned backpacker dorms – Hostelbookers has a wide choice.
With three separate locations making AirBNB’s top 10 list, Mexico is definitely hot for single travellers. If you’re looking for urban exploring, Mexico City is hard to beat especially for those who love food, art and the area’s pre-Hispanic history.
But both Playa del Carmen and Cancun on the Yucatan Peninsula are proving even more popular, with solo bookings up 141% and 170% respectively. Whether you fancy snorkelling and diving off the Caribbean coast, or the ancient temples including Chichen Itza, not to mention the beaches, it’s a perfect relaxing getaway.
The adults-only Breathless Riviera Cancun Resort sits right between the two and is great for sociable solo travellers – book through Tropical Sky. Or specialist Journey Latin America has a two-week ‘Eagle’ tour travelling from Mexico City to Cancun that’s popular with singles.
For more inspiration and advice on solo travel, visit 101 Singles Holidays