There are many travelers who claim that traveling alone is the best way to see the world. You deliberately travel solo, they say, because you want to experience the world without the influence of a friend or partner’s tastes, prejudices, or preferences. When you’re with a companion, it’s easy to focus on that person and forget about meeting other travelers. Traveling alone, you’re more likely to be on a voyage of self-discovery.
Solo travel can be delightfully self-indulgent. You can spend a day doing nothing but café hopping or lingering in a single museum. You can loll on a beach on the South China Sea or hire a guide to visit remote ruins. Indulge your classical music passion in one of Europe’s great concert halls or join a group of like-minded strangers for a Himalayan trek.
It’s your call. Solo travel is the ideal opportunity to try something new, like a surf camp in Central America, a bike trip in Southeast Asia, or a visit to a classic European spa town. Despite the dreaded (and often costly) single supplement, bona fide single accommodations are both affordable and available in many parts of the world.
Still, there are two concerns for many solo travelers. The first is safety: the simple fact is that there are countries that are statistically safer than others for travelers.
The second concern is a bit less tangible but just as critical: is the country you’ve chosen a happy place? Is it a country where you’ll be made to feel welcome, a nation where you can easily interact with the locals, where conversation flows easily even if you’re struggling with a new language? For truly rewarding solo travel, it’s crucial that you can connect with the culture and not feel like an outsider.
To find the answer to these two questions, we crunched the numbers from the Global Peace Index, which ranks 162 nations for their peacefulness, and the Happy Planet Index, which looks at environmental impact and human well-being in 151 countries to measure where people live long and happy lives.
The resulting 20 best destinations for solo travelers present an amazing mash-up of geography along with radically different cultures, languages, and customs. (Canada represents North America here, as the U.S. didn’t rank highly enough to make the cut.) Safety and happiness prevail in all of them, making any of them ideal for your next solo adventure.