Despite the explosion of solo travelers and the popular memes with affirmative messages like “catch flights, not feelings” or the choices, single, taken or traveling offered and the “traveling” option checked off, there are still places many deem too romantic to go alone.
I took an informal poll of friends and followers asking which cities in Europe they considered too romantic to travel to alone. I get that some places will always have a romantic ambiance, but that romantic ambiance doesn’t have to equate to kryptonite for solo travelers. My advice? Smile as you pass the couples holding hands while admiring the architecture, attaching their love locks to a bridge, or taking an “usie” while smooching in front of the city’s most iconic landmark, then continue to enjoy the city on your own.
Here are the findings of my poll and the European destinations some people wouldn’t dream of traveling to alone but that I say you can and totally should travel to solo.
Amsterdam – The Dutch capital is small and easy to navigate and full of friendly locals who speak English better than most native English speakers. In addition to the famous canals, which, I will admit are very romantic, especially when they’re lit up in the evening, there are a plethora of museums (more museums per capita than any city in Europe), there are loads of restaurants, cute cafes and more casual eats, like frites, stroopwafels, and herring (if you’re into that sort of thing). There’s also some great shopping, particularly around the funky 9 Straatjes (streets) and the more upscale PC Hooftstraat.
Oh, and the sidewalks in Amsterdam are really narrow, basically only wide enough for one person, so there’s that.
This one surprises me. Maybe because when I’ve visited Barcelona, more often than not I’ve gone alone. The city is lively and vibrant, I’d even add sensual in that way that I usually associate with southern European countries. But to me, it seems like more of a party town than romantic.
That being said, Barcelona is a great place to travel solo. The history and architecture are amazing, not to mention the food and wine, all of which I write about in much more detail here.
Opulent architecture, grand bridges, not to mention being named the Paris of the East certainly sounds like the recipe for a romantic locale. However, the residue of Budapest’s more recent communist past and its grit and resiliency evokes as much of a feeling of survival and as romance. And in fact, Budapest, experiencing independence and a sort of revival after years of being under an oppressive and destructive communist regime, might be the perfect destination not just for the solo traveler, but the brokenhearted solo traveler seeking their own revival.
On the practical side, there is a lot to keep you occupied, such as a visiting one of Budapest’s famous baths, visiting the numerous UNESCO World Heritage Sites as I wrote about here, and discovering the regional culinary delights.
Prague is the fairytale “City of 100 Spires”, cobbled streets, castles, and horse-drawn carriages. It is undeniably romantic. But Prague is always bustling, and will likely be crowded enough that you’ll never really feel alone, and there’s so much to see and do beyond the fairytale scene so exploring the city solo isn’t a problem.
While in Prague wander around Old Town, cross the Charles Bridge and meander around Malá Strana. Spend the day at Prague Castle, visit the Astronomical Clock on the hour to see the procession of the Twelve Apostles, and the Lennon Wall.
What could be more romantic or says baecation goals more than the Greek Islands, right? I’ve only been to Santorini, and while I have to admit I saw several weddings while I was there, I didn’t feel strange or uncomfortable not being part of a couple. In addition to the romance factor, Santorini is a hot spot for sunsets, black sand beaches, and elaborate photo shoots with girls in long, flowing dresses with the whitewashed churches with blue domes as a backdrop as evidenced by all the pictures on Instagram. Explore the nooks and crannies of the island and discover bookstores, boutiques, and cafes that the cruise ship daytrippers will likely miss. Enjoy the incredible Greek food, and yes, have a photo taken with the blue dome in the background.
It seems that many people see Italy as the destination for lovers as several cities in this Mediterranean country were named, but these were the most common:
It is absolutely possible to go to Rome solo and enjoy yourself. Immerse yourself in the history and art of the city and indulge in gelato and wine and cappuccino. Sit on the Spanish Steps and people watch. But the best thing to do in Rome is roam. Explore the Trastevere neighborhood. Go to the Vatican. Walk across the bridges. If you do it right, you’ll have a great romance with the city and it will be beyond anything you’ve ever imagined. And if after all of that you still feel the need to have your Roman Holiday moment, then take a guided Vespa tour. It’s a fun and unique way to see the city.
Florence is more demure than Rome, but you can avail yourself of many of the same pleasures: immerse yourself in the history and art of the city and indulge in gelato and wine and cappuccino. I loved traveling solo in Florence because it allowed for a lot of aimless strolling leading to pleasant surprises such as tiny piazzas, undiscovered churches, and shops with exquisite Italian products.
I wonder if Venice being ranked the most romantic city on earth by The Telegraph will deter solo travelers from going to this floating city. I hope not. Like the previous Italian cities, there’s the history and art and food and wine to enjoy. And as with the previous Italian cities, Venice has its own unique charms, like San Marco Piazza and the famous gondolas and the spectacular Teatro la Fenice.
During my solo trip to Venice, I took a tour of the iconic theater and also saw an opera, visited the Peggy Guggenheim Collection and went to the island of Murano famous for its glass-making tradition. And I even rode a gondola, well, sort of. I spent a few hours learning how to be a gondolier – or not. A lot of fun, and not exactly what you’d call romantic.
The place that most people considered too romantic to travel to alone, was Paris, of course. Surprise, surprise right? Somebody proposed to me on top of the Eiffel Tower once so I get it. But since then I’ve returned to the City of Lights too many times to count because as the saying goes Paris is always a good idea, even if you’re not romantically attached.
Visit the museums, walk down the grand boulevards and admire the opulence and elegance of the city. Go to a café and be attended to by the famously surly waiters and watch the stylish Parisians stroll by. Being in Paris alone is also a good time to try something a little different, like taking a cooking class at Le Cordon Bleu.
Have you ever been to any typically romantic places alone?
If not, what’s stopping you?
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