When I was a teenager, my family went on one of those bus tours of Europe, where we saw everything—we took 15-minute photo stops in front of landmarks from the Leaning Tower of Pisa to the Amsterdam Central Train Station. But now looking back, I realize we really saw nothing.
While monuments should dictate your itinerary in Europe, it’s really how you take in the sights that will make your trip. And with the sheer amount of things to see and do, traveling in Europe, especially with a big group, can get overwhelming. That’s why it’s one of the best continents to visit alone, where you can really see everything at your own pace.
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I’ve spent alone time in big metropolises like London and Paris; good-sized cities like Stockholm, Copenhagen, Berlin, Dusseldorf, and Vienna; and as smaller towns like Bergen. In each case, letting myself wander and getting lost led to some of the most memorable moments on the trip, like when I swapped cameras with other single travelers on the towering outdoor spire of Copenhagen’s Vor Frelsers Kirke, or when I relaxed in the pools of Stockholm’s historic Centralbadet bath house alongside locals of all ages. For more tips on how to meet people while traveling, click here.
When choosing your ideal destination, think about whether you’d prefer a large city with a simple public transportation system to help you cover more ground, or a smaller town that’s easy to explore on foot. Also consider whether you’re looking for an activity-filled city or one where you can kick back and relax. Watching your own back is always necessary, even in the most crime-free locations, but many European cities have safe reputations, so that you can focus more on where you go than how you go.
Taking in all those considerations, here’s a list of cities that are most welcoming to solo travelers—and where you can build your own ultimate Eurotrip.