According to the Masses is back! This week we’re diving into the best spots for solo travelers around the world, according to … wait for it … the masses. With solo travel burning up the internet and travel scene right now, this felt like the perfect place to dive back into this series.
Over 29,000 people voted over at Ranker and the following ten countries made the top ten. The voice of the people is sure to stir up some controversy. For one, there’s only one country in the top ten not in Europe. Any traveler knows that’s pretty easy to call BS on. In fact, the first Asian country to make the list is Japan at 19th. For shame.
Spoiler: No, the US does not make the top ten. We’re ranked 46th. Ouch.
Ah, Spain. From the rocky cliffs of Asturias up north to the sandy beaches along the Med to the pastoral hills of the Pyrenees to the plains of La Mancha, Spain really has a lot to give the solo traveler. Plus, they have high-speed trains connecting it all.
The country has one of the world’s best food scenes (don’t sleep on San Sebastian), a chilled out atmosphere where the wine flows freely, and enough sun to make you want to come back again-and-again to dig deeper into all things España.
Ireland is quaint, quintessential, and a great place to get your quaff on. Irish whiskey is making a roaring come back. Plus, Guinness was born there. The island has some of the best seafood to offer in all of Europe. There are picture perfect pubs to while away the rainy days, a solid transportation network of trains and buses, and one of the most welcoming local populations of any country.
You can’t help but make new friends in Ireland — perfect for the solo traveler.
Belgium is a tiny country if you’re coming from a place as gargantuan as the US. Seriously, you can get all the way across the country in a car in two hours flat. Hell, it only takes 100 minutes to get to Amsterdam from Brussels on a high-speed train.
That doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot to offer. The Pajottenland is where some of the best beer in the world comes from. Brussels is a great city for foodies and backpackers, with relatively low prices for a western European capital. There are the fairytale towns like Bruges. And, there are deep and dark forests like the Ardennes where you can get your camp on in the wilds of Europe.
Slovakia is a largely rural country with breathtaking mountains to the north (the Tatras), a very agrarian population in verdant lowlands, and classic neo-baroque capital city (Bratislava) that’s about 45 minutes from Vienna. The clutch element of Slovakia is that there are far, far fewer tourists galavanting around compared to Austria, Czech Republic, or even Slovenia.
There are old Soviet-era trams that’ll get you around Bratislava and Soviet-era trains to get you out into the country. Otherwise, you’ll have to rely on old buses, cars, or bikes to get around. It’s small, very cheap, and deeply rewarding — especially if you love untouched nature.
Scotland outranked England by six spots on the list, which will likely put a smile on everyone’s face in Glasgow. Scotland, like Ireland, is a decidedly convivial place with rustic old towns, craggy castles, misty lochs, and plenty of whisky. Scotland is one of the most starkly beautiful corners of the world and fairly easy to get around. There are trains between the major cities, buses in between, but a car may be the play the further north you go.
Make sure to dress warm, it gets cold up there.
Amazingly, Australia is the only non-European country to make the top ten. Surprisingly, it’s not even in the top three.
Australia has the advantage of being an English-speaking country that’s got an amazing food scene, great vineyards, and some of the best the natural world has to offer. From the Top End to the east coast to the WA (Western Austalia), you’ll be hard-pressed to find more beautiful beaches, dangerous wilds, and great expanses of open territory than you’ll find in Australia.
Plus, it’s really cheap to snag a flight down under right now.
It’s pretty hard to find a fault with traveling in Austria. The country is pretty much the just Alps from Switzerland to Slovenia and from Germany to Italy. The food is the height of comfort food that’s centered around bread, cheese, and cured meats. The beer and wine are on point. And, yeah, the hiking and skiing are some of the best the world has to offer.
Plus, the whole country is well-connected with modern trains and buses to every corner that you’ll want to explore. All of that’s before you even get to the baroque wonders of cities like Salzburg, Vienna, Graz, and Innsbruck.
Germany has tons to offer the solo traveler. One, it’s super well-connected with high-speed trains, modern buses, and even comfy regional trains that are also cheap. Two, the country is varied with sandy beaches along the Baltic, lush forests in the interior, and the Alps in the south. It’s a nature lover’s paradise. Then there are the beer gardens, hipper-than-thou cities, and essential history.
You can spend years exploring Germany and always find a new corner that’ll surprise you.
Finland is an interesting choice for the top two. Did they really get out the local vote to swing this thing?
It’s an icy country that reaches far into the Arctic circle. Helsinki in the south is a vibrant destination worth deep exploration — though probably in the summer when you won’t need a backpack full of layers of clothes to stay warm. Further north, you’ll enter Sami country where the indigenous population still herds reindeer and lives close to nature.
It’s a country of great variety, northern lights, and icy cold. It’s also one of the most put together and safest countries in the world.
It’s easy to understand why the Netherlands pops at number one. It’s an easy country to get around (it’s about the same size as Belgium). It’s not overly expensive like France or the UK. And it has Amsterdam, which is one of the most fun and postcard-perfect cities in the world.
As a solo traveler, you could easily spend a month just exploring everything Amsterdam has to offer — from the coffee shops to the museums to the great food halls. Then there’s Rotterdam, the North Sea coast and islands, and the national parks in the interior and along the German border.
Like the rest of western Europe, the Netherlands is very well-connected with modern, high-speed trains, public transport everywhere, and relative safety on the streets (even in the big cities).