Solo travel is one of life’s best adventures. You can go wherever you want in the world and at your own pace, without having to answer to anyone else. You will see things you’ll never forget and enjoy valuable time to yourself.
As amazing as solo travel is, it can be daunting to step out into the world on your own for the first time. If you’re nervous of taking the plunge, start off with an escorted tour. Not only will all your travel arrangements be sorted out for you, you’ll also be travelling with like-minded people, so you don’t have to be completely alone. We’ve teamed up with Newmarket Holidays to shine a light on nine of their escorted trips, made especially for solo travellers…
1. Colours of Sri Lanka
Colombo offers a riot of colour from the moment you step off the plane, from golden temples to glittering skyscrapers. But head out of the capital and things only become brighter on this exclusive solo trip around Sri Lanka…
You’ll start by seeing some of the country’s most impressive temples. Dambulla’s Rock Cave temple hides golden buddhas while the copper-coloured walls of the ancient city of Polonnaruwa protects shrines that have been standing stoically for over 800 years. Nearby, Sigiriya rock, with its lion feet and mossy top, is enough to dazzle even the most seasoned traveller – and that’s before you climb to the top to see the spinach-green jungle sprawling below.
The next stop is Kerala where you can walk the bustling streets and soak up the traditional culture before boarding a train to flit past tea plantations, glassy lakes and waterfalls. Disembarking to pick leaves with locals at a tea plantation is a must.
You’ll then swap the serene tea plantations for a safari adventure, as you rumble in a jeep into Yala National Park on the look-out for bears, crocodiles, endemic leopards, and herds of elephants. These gentle giants can also be admired in Udawalawe, in a sanctuary that prepares orphans for release back into the wild, before heading onwards to the charming colonial town of Galle. Here, you can admire the Dutch-influenced buildings before relaxing on the golden sands of Beruwela. Bliss.
Related Slideshow: How to travel alone – 10 tips for solo travellers (Provided by Photo Services)
See the world solo
Worry 1: I don’t know where to start
Worry 2: What if no-one else likes me?
Worry 3: Travelling solo costs a fortune
Worry 4: It will be no fun on my own
Worry 5: I hate eating alone
Worry 6: I’m too shy to meet others
Worry 7: There’s too much to plan
Worry 8: It’s not safe
Worry 9: It’ll be like two weeks of speed dating
Worry 10: I’m going to be stuck with loved-up couples
2. Best of Scottish Highlands
If you want to escape the stresses of everyday life, switch off your phone and have some all-important ‘me time’, then this ‘Best of Scottish Highlands’ for Solo Travellers tour is for you…
Crisp air, crumbling castles and romantic green and blue scenery await in the Highlands. Start with a walk around Brodie Castle – reminiscent of something from a fairy-tale. Walk the gardens in spring, when the floor erupts into a carpet of daffodils. More antiquated culture can be soaked up at the nearby town of Elgin on the Moray Coast which is sprinkled with maze-like alleyways and towering cathedral ruins.
Next, it’s onto Inverness where visits to art galleries, museums and markets take centre stage, along with walks along the riverside. Additional watery views can be enjoyed at the nearby Black Isle, where you can hop in a boat and watch bottlenose dolphins leap from the sea. Then, swap dolphin spotting for a search for the Loch Ness monster. Even if you don’t catch sight of the famous mythical creature, Loch Ness is a great place for birdwatching, with cormorants and ospreys gliding by.
You’ll spend the next day at Cairngorm National Park, where a steam train will puff you past five of Scotland’s mightiest mountains and through the rolling greenery of the Spey Valley. The views don’t end there: spend your last day lapping up as much of Scotland’s scenery as possible on the road from Fort William to the quaint fishing town Malaig (expect white sand beaches, purple heather moors, majestic woodland, and much more).
3. India – Tigers and Taj Mahal
Vast, busy and an assault on the senses; but, as amazing as India is, it can also prove a little daunting, particularly for solo travellers. However this tour through northern India offers the perfect introduction…
You’ll start in Dehli where ancient mosques, a vibrant old city and rickshaw rides await. You’ll also have the chance to visit Ghandi’s crematorium site and admire the grandiosity of New Dehli, with its boulevard footed by the towering India Gate war memorial.
Nearby is the city of Agra, home to the Taj Mahal. You’ll arrive just in time to see the sky above this iconic mausoleum turn watercolour-orange, and admire this monument to undying love it in all its glory. The next day, you’ll have a different perspective of this iconic building as you gaze on it at sunrise from across the river.
You’ll then swap architecture for wilderness as you enter Ranthambhore National Park on the hunt for the elusive tigers that prowl the scrubland. Even if you don’t spot these striped cats, you’re bound to spy other wildlife, including sloth bears, striped hyenas, sambar deers and even leopards. Don’t miss the opportunity to climb the fading steps of the Ancient Ranthambhore Fort to enjoy unrivalled views across this vast national park.
Spend some time marvelling the palace and ancient city at Jaipur, before heading into the jungle of the Aravali Hills to enjoy camel rides and culture with dinner in a local village.
4. Beautiful Fjords of Western Norway
Western Norway is a place where giant, green-cloaked fjords tear across a crisp sky, their snowy tops and the icy water that cover their bases glistening in the sun. It’s one of the most pristine places in the world. But to truly appreciate it’s beauty, you have to go for yourself…
You’ll start in Balestrand where whitewashed houses line the edge of the Sognefjord – one of the largest in the world. Visit in spring, summer or autumn to see the surrounding scenery erupt into colour or opt for a winter retreat to see Balestrand under a blanket of snow. More small-town charms await at Bergen, where bright biscuit tin houses fight for space on the fjord-side. Further in, you’ll find cobbled streets flanked by medieval villages, leading to a traditional fish market.
For the rest of the journey, you’ll continue to have your breath taken away, whether you’re craning your neck at mainland Europe’s largest glacier, descending 900m in a train down the side of a steep valley or cruising through the Aurlandsfjord and Nærøyfjord.
5. Follow the Mekong – Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam
Travelling through these South-East Asian countries on the river that runs through the heart of them all gives you the chance to slow down and digest the amazing sights to be found in each destination…
You’ll start by exploring the colourful floating markets of Bangkok before clicking your camera at the gilded splendour and giant buddhas of the Grand Palace, Wat Phra Kaew temple and Wat Pho temple.
From Bangkok, you’ll float through miles of unspoilt rural landscape into Battambang in Cambodia, whose French architecture is well-worth leaving the boat for. Once back on the water, you’ll travel past Khmer stilt-houses before reaching Siem Reap, home to Angkor Wat. Its namesake temple is the largest religious building in the world, but some of the less famous temples are also worth exploring, such as the intricately carved faces of Angkor Thom.
Next, swap the river for Tonle Sap, a great lake where villages stand on stilts and residents travel by boat to escape the swelling waters. Back on the main river, you’ll head to Phnom Penh, Cambodia’s golden capital city to soak up sites like the Royal Palace and Silver Pagoda. Lap up some Cambodian culture at the museums before crossing the water into Vietnam.
The first stop is the vast body of the Mekong Delta where you’ll see throngs of vendors in their floating market stalls. You’ll continue past bright bougainvillea bushes, vibrant rice paddies and local people going about their daily life on your way to Ho Chi Minh. This glittering, busy city contrasts greatly with Vietnam’s rural landscapes. A walk around the impressive, modern buildings will remind you just how positively Vietnam has bounced back from its turbulent past.
6. Puglia and the South – Undiscovered Italy
Puglia is home to pretty clusters of whitewashed buildings, the azure hues of the Adriatic Sea, medieval villages with imposing churches and a warren of fascinating caves. Experience it all on this trip around Italy’s South, exclusively for Solo Travellers…
You’ll start on the shores of the Adriatic, where you can dip in a toe or set off on two wheels to explore the nearby harbour of Torre Canne. From there, you’ll explore the old-town charms of Cisternino, Ostuni and Alberobello, where olive groves, vineyards and the famous stone-roofed houses await.
Next, you’ll explore the Baroque beauty of Lecce, home to a charming old town and well-preserved Roman ruins. After that, it’s time to explore the region’s many caves. Perched on a rocky clifftop, Matera’s base is carved with ancient cave-dwellings which hold a fascinating history. More caves can be entered over in Castellana where you’ll have to stoop to get under the low-hanging stalactites. Locorotondo offers a perfect ending, where you can reflect on your trip with a glass of local white wine in hand.
7. Costa Rica – Nature’s Paradise
Birds flit in front of a green background, sloths shuffle slowly from tree to tree, caimans creep and monkeys chatter: Costa Rica has one of the liveliest and most diverse wildlife scenes on the planet, and you’re almost guaranteed many sightings on this exclusive solo travel tour…
You’ll travel through the pristine jungles, sight nesting turtles, manatees and even ‘Jesus Christ Lizards’ (named for their ability to walk on water). Turn your head skywards to brighten your view with butterflies, toucans and over 350 other types of birds.
Swap wilderness with luxury as you plunge into natural hot springs whilst gazing at the Arena volcano ( the source of these pools’ heated water) and then indulge a little more by learning about (and tasting) the chocolate production in Costa Rica.
Conclude your trip with some mesmerising treks with opportunities to walk round Lake Arenal and search through the misty Montverde cloud forest for jaguars and pumas. The long, narrow rope bridges that hang high in Selvatura Park will bring you eye-level with the creatures of the canopy (expect to see hummingbirds and butterflies) while the one km zipline offers a thrilling ride back to the ground. The adventure doesn’t end there: Costa Rica’s forests are best explored after dark, when creatures such as tarantulas and fireflies come out.
8. Lake Como and Alpine Railways
The glassy surface of the huge swell of Lake Como, casting rippling reflections of the pastel-hued houses along its edges makes for a magical winter escape. Add in a backdrop of snow-dusted mountains and a cosy train carriage with a window view and you’ve got the whole package…
Wrap up warm for a walk around the lake’s main town, Como. Getting lost here is a pleasure, and you’ll find yourself weaving down warrens of boutique shops, comfy cafes and past the dominating cathedral. Don’t miss a ride on the funicular for a birds-eye view of the town and the rising and falling horizon of the Alps. Buildings are dwarfed by the funiculars that travel up over Lugano. The old train to the south displays the azure lake in all its glory, while another takes you above the mountain-climbing chalets of Gandria village.
There’s time to soak up some culture in stylish Milan before hopping aboard the Bernina Express for the trip’s grand finale. The journey is truly thrilling as you’re cautiously wound round cliff edges, taken across dizzyingly-high viaducts and chuffed past panoramic country scenes. You’ll eventually disembark at St Moritz, whose golden-lit bars and restaurants offer a cosy ending to your trip.
9. Peru – Machu Picchu and Cuzco to Titicaca by Train for Solo Travellers
Visiting Machu Picchu is on many people’s wishlist – and with good reason. But there’s more to Peru than this ancient citadel, as you’ll soon find out on this solo tour…
You’ll start in the UNESCO-studded capital of Lima where colonial buildings, grand palaces and ocean views await. Next, it’s onto the mountain-flanked Sacred Valley to meet locals and see the Inca art of fabric-dyeing and weaving. Don’t miss the colourful market of Pisac or Ollantaytambo’s Inca fortress in all its faded glory.
A trip here just isn’t complete without a visit to Machu Picchu which is why you’ll spend the next day on a train climbing steep tracks through thick jungle, before transferring to a bus and being dropped off at the most iconic site in all of Peru. To make the most of this amazing site, you’ll be shown round by a guide who will teach you its fascinating history.
At Cuzco, the oldest continually inhabited city in South America, you’ll find more Inca temples alongside grand cathedrals and colourful markets. The next day will be spent on a 1920s train, which promises captivating views over the Andean Plains during the 10-and-a-half-hour journey until you reach Puno, home to the world’s highest lake.
The icy-blue Lake Titiccaca, with its small grassy islands and Andean views is a real Mecca for wildlife. Expect Andean foxes, giant frogs and wild guinea pigs, as well as a plethora of birds. Talking of birds, your next stop is the Colca Canyon where you’ll gaze out from a cliff edge to spot huge condors gliding in front of a blue sky, before descending into the valley for a tour of the Inca villages.
Before heading home, there’s still time to tick off the city of Arequipa. Surrounded by three volcanoes, this city offers wild adventure and colonial charms: Monasterio Santa Catalina entices visitors with its orange walls and the gold-encrusted Jesuit La Compañía church literally dazzles, reflecting light off all of its walls.