I was bitten by the wanderlust ever since I can remember so it is no surprise that I love to travel. I have traveled with my parents as a kid, with my friends and other family members and then with my son too. But something I have always wanted to try is to travel solo. I have heard from friends who have traveled solo about how fascinating the experience can be and how much more you to get to see and understand the cultures of the place when you travel solo.
Traveling solo has always been on my mind but I have not yet had the opportunity to execute that plan. Being the planner that I am I have already made a list of places that I would go to whenever the opportunity arises. There are many aspects I took into consideration when coming up with this list. The history and cultural significance of the destination did play a huge role in the selection as did the safety of women at the location.
- New Zealand:
New Zealand has always been on top of my list! This beautiful island marked by volcanoes and glaciation is a treat to the eye. Some of the most recommended places and activities in New Zealand includes Bay of Islands, Milford Sound which is called the “eighth wonder of the world”, Auckland for the Auckland Art Gallery, Auckland Bridge Climb and Waiheke Island for the many vineyards.
You just can’t go all the way to NZ and not visit the White Island which houses the most active volcano! And of course Queenstown to visit the Shotover Canyon Swing, where you can hurl yourself off a cliff in a number of different ways—including backward or tied to a chair and Waitomo Glowworm Caves which is naturally illuminated by thousands of glowworms!
You can also hike an actual glacier in New Zealand. The Franz Josef Glacier plays host to both guided walks and jaw-dropping helicopter tours. Won’t you be freezing on top of a giant glacier? Nope! The Franz Josef Glacier receives a lot of sunlight, and temperatures on the ice are usually only a few degrees colder than in the nearby town. Cap off a day touring the Franz Josef Glacier with a soak in the Glacier Hot Pools. The pools are fed by the waters from the Franz Josef Glacier, and you can use one of the three warm pools or get a private pool.
- Helsinki, Finland
Finland is one of the places on my bucket list. If you are interested in visiting places for its culture, heritage, history etc, you will love Finland. Main attractions include The Market Square (Kauppatori) which is the main planned and paved square in central Helsinki. North of the Hietaniemi area along Fredrikinkatu is Helsinki’s Rock Church, designed by Timo and Tuomo Suomalainen in the late 1960s.
The fortified islands of Suomenlinna (Swedish: Sveaborg) are a part of Helsinki. The fortress of Sveaborg (Swedish Castle) dominates the island. It was built in the mid 18th century to bar Russian access to the Baltic and is now included in UNESCO’s list of world heritage monuments and is a museum, a park, and an arts venue. The Gallen-Kallela house was built in 1911-13. Better known as Tarvaspää, the house was opened to the public as the Gallen-Kallela Museum in 1961. You can also book day trips from Helsinki to Hvittrask, Ainola, Järvenpää, Hameenlinna, Tapiola and Hanko.
- Seville, Spain
Seville, Spain – who wouldn’t love to visit! This is one of the top recommended locations for solo travel, and also one of those destinations that can also be fun with family or friends! Major attractions include the Alcázar palace that has been the seat of royalty since it was built for Moorish rulers and their harems. The Giralda tower is attached to Seville’s cathedral is today the most famous symbol of Seville, the Casa de Pilatos museum located along the northern edge of the Barrio Santa Cruz.
Spain is especially famous for bullfighting, and the Maestranza bullring is the most famous ring in the world. It holds more than 13,000 people and is mentioned in countless novels, films and even the opera “Carmen.” The Museo del Baile Flamenco is a wonderful introduction to the traditional Spanish dance. It covers the history of flamenco and features biographies of famous dancers.
- Paris, France
Paris – needs no introduction at all. One of the top most destinations for solo travel and definitely on my bucket list too. Any place in France is definitely worth the money. But there is something really special about Paris especially when you are traveling solo!
I cannot even imagine visiting Paris without going to the Eiffel Tower because the Eiffel Tower is a place you just can’t miss. From its looming construction to its stunning views of the city and just the general energy and buzz of the place, it really does live up to the billing.
While most people come to this city for romance, there’s a darker side to be found in the Catacombs of Paris. This underground burial complex houses six million skeletons dating to the 18th century. Stacked in endless corridors, it’s a fascinating and haunting place. If you have the courage, it’s one of the most interesting places in Paris to see.
Firmly seated among the most famous places to visit in Paris, you could spend your entire trip exploring the Louvre. It is vast and packed full of masterpieces at every turn. So do you zip through to see the highlights – the Mona Lisa, Venus de Milo et al – or do you take your time and risk joining the collection…! A monument to the decadence of royalty and a constant draw for vast numbers of visitors, Versailles is simply astonishing.
Standing at the very heart of the city, Notre Dame is an iconic cathedral and a staple entry on any list of what to see in Paris. One of the city’s best hidden gems is the Crypte Archeologique – an underground museum of Roman Paris. If there was ever an example of good things in small packages then Sainte Chapelle is it. A 13th century church, its beautiful upper chapel is formed of intricate stained-glass windows and a richly decorated ceiling. It’s easily one of the top ten Paris places to visit and really has to be seen to be appreciated.
- Dublin, Ireland
I wanted to visit Ireland, ever since I saw the movie Leap Year! Recently a friend of mine was there and the Instagram pictures she put up (#nofilter) were to die for. So I highly recommend Dublin, Ireland. This place is known for its scenic beauty, culture and history. If you are looking for something else, then keep scrolling. The recommendations include the Guinness Storehouse an impressive building is shaped like a giant pint glass, and consists of seven floors.
The Kilmainham Gaol tells part of the story of Irish history; this museum is a must for history buffs. The Phoenix Park is the largest urban enclosed park in Europe, and is more than twice the size of New York’s Central Park.
St. Patrick’s Cathedral – Ireland’s largest church, was founded in the 12th century. St. Patrick’s Cathedral also hosts choral concerts regularly, which are worth keeping an eye open for.
Dublin Castle was formerly the center of British rule in Ireland. The best thing to visit here is undoubtedly the Chester Beatty Library, which has some of the finest collections of Eastern art in the world.
- Amsterdam, Netherlands
Oh….Amsterdam, what can I say! I have been in love with the city for the longest time. Must visits includes the Amsterdam canal rings walk through these canal streets or better – take a trip with a boat by boarding one of the tourist cruises or by renting the boat yourself. The Rijksmuseum is the largest and the most attractive museum in the Netherlands, with more than one million visitors each year.
The Van Gogh Museum is a modern museum that houses some 200 paintings and 550 sketches showing Van Gogh in all his moods. Oude Kerk a huge old protestant church with little houses clinging to its sides remains a calm heaven at the heart of the frenetic Red Light District.
And Of course the Anne Frank House in the center of Amsterdam is the hiding place where Anne Frank wrote her famous diary during the World War II. Just a few empty rooms in the hidden annex to the house will make an unforgettable impression if you realize that two families lived in these small quarters for more than 2 years hiding from the Nazis. The original of the diary is on display, as a part of the Anne Frank House’s permanent exhibition.
- Fiji Islands
Fiji Islands – blue green water and white sandy beaches – need I say more? A beach holiday to last a lifetime. Fiji’s largest isle, Vitu Levu, is home to the official capital, Suva (on the east coast), as well as the tourism capital, Nadi. A must visit here is the Sabeto Range where late actor Raymond Burr (of Perry Mason fame) created the Garden of the Sleeping Giant, a botanic sanctuary of vanilla-scented orchids and Zen-like lily ponds. You can also explore the country’s Indian legacy at Sri Siva Subramaniya Swami Temple, an elaborately painted Hindu temple.
To get a different vantage of Fiji’s topography, take a helicopter tour from Nadi International Airport to the Mamanuca Islands, a string of islets that stretch for miles northwest of Vitu Levu. One of the highlights: Monuriki, the island Tom Hanks made famous in Castaway.
Located just off Vitu Levu’s southern coast is Beqa Island and the surrounding Beqa Lagoon, home to more than 100 dives sites, some just a five- to 20-minute boat ride from shore. See why Fiji is considered the soft coral capital of the world as you spy on blue ribbon eels, ghost pipefish, seahorses, pelagics and more — most at depths above 50 feet. But it’s not just about underwater sightseeing. Beqa Island is home to the Sawau tribe, who originated the traditional art of fire-walking.
Located just off Vanua Levu’s east coast is Taveuni Island, known as Fiji’s Garden of Eden. More than 80 percent of it is protected within the Bouma National Heritage Park, and it teems with rare orchids, prehistoric tree ferns, tumbling waterfalls and natural water slides. Don’t miss the Tavoro waterfalls, a 60-foot horsetail of white water that cascades into an emerald pool and is easily accessible via a flat, grassy trail.
- Athens, Greece
Athens for its exotic locales and Mediterranean feel. It’s a beautiful country definitely worth the money. If nothing else, you may bump into some Greek Gods! Here are my recommendations for Athens! 😉
The Parthenon is located on the Acropolis on a hill that overlooks Athens. The temple was built to honor the goddess Athena Parthenos, the patron of Athens, to thank her for protecting the city during the Persian Wars. One of the most popular tourist attractions in Athens is the Plaka District, which resides under the Acropolis and spreads out to Syntagma. This village is almost like an island within the city, and it’s the perfect way to experience authentic Greek culture.
Located to the northwest of the Acropolis, the ancient Agora of Athens was once a marketplace and civic center. Overlooking the Ancient Agora from its elevated position on the hill of Agoraios Kolonos, the Temple of Hephaistos was built in the 5th century BC. The Erechtheus or Erechtheion is a temple made from Pentelic marble. It’s located on the Acropolis, and it’s one of the legendary pieces of Greek architecture. Its construction dates back to c. 421 and 405 when the earlier temple to Athena was destroyed by the Persian invasion.
The Temple of Olympian Zeus is known as the largest temple in Greece. The massive ancient complex took nearly seven centuries to complete.
- Taipei, Taiwan
Well, what list is complete if a destination from the Far East is not included? Taipei stands out for the fact that you get both history and culture as well as the modern lifestyle. Taipei comes with some high recommendations from some of the travel blogs I follow.
The National Palace Museum is, perhaps, the top tourist destination of Taipei. It houses many Chinese historical artifacts, most of which were brought here from Beijing by the Nationalist Government during the Sino-Japanese wars.
Taipei 101 was considered as the world’s tallest building from 2004 to 2010, Taipei 101 is definitely a must-see site in Taiwan. It is composed of 101 floors above ground and 5 floors underground. The building looks like a bamboo stalk, a symbol of traditional Chinese values.
Found in the Wenshan district of Taipei, Maokong highlands is the perfect place to be for tea enthusiasts. It’s the home of many tea shops and street stalls that offer traditional Chinese tea and food. Tired of walking around Taipei? Go to the hot springs in Beitou district to loosen up. Perhaps the most famous shopping area in the city, Shilin Night Market is a one-stop shop for tourists – from souvenir items, to clothes and shoes, to Taiwanese food.
New Taipei, as its name implies, is located in the outer region of and surrounding the Taipei city. It is the most populated suburb in the world. In addition to Taipei, New Taipei offers equally thrilling top spots for travelers visiting Taiwan for the first time.
Research any list for safe places to travel solo and you will definitely find Vietnam in it. According to statistics, Vietnam is the safest place to travel to especially for female solo travels and single parents traveling with children. So it is no wonder that Vietnam found itself in my list.
Top must visit places include the stunning Ha Long Bay, in northern Vietnam near the Chinese border is one of the world’s natural wonders. The Bay is dotted with 1,600 limestone islands and islets and the large central sector of the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long in Hanoi.
The ancient town Hoi An is more than just a charming seaside town; it was one of the most important trading ports connecting Asia and Europe during the 16th and 17th centuries. The Cu Chi Tunnels are basically a huge war museum offering visitors a sneak peek at the underground life of Viet Cong-era soldiers. Comprising more than 120km of tunnels, they were first started around 1948 when the Viet Cong were fighting the French. The work never stopped and resulted in a massive collection of tunnels.
Another must visit is the War Remnants Museum once known as the ‘Museum of American War Crimes’ first opened to the public in 1975. It’s a shocking reminder of the long and brutal Vietnam War with many graphic photographs and American military equipment on display. All these weapons were used by America against the Vietnamese.
I hope you enjoyed my list of must visit places. What are some of the destinations that you would love to visit solo or with your family/friends? Let me know, maybe I can add them to my ever growing list! 🙂