Abroad En Solo: Four of the Best Cities to Travel to Alone

Brooklyn based Nigerian-American writer, historian and avid traveler, Camille Okhio, shares insight from her solo travels.

Palace of Versailles gardens
Palace of Versailles gardens

By Camille Okhio on 06.30.21

Every year I take a little solo trip —  call it a balm for the brain. Generally these trips are to a place with historical or social significance to me; somewhere I want to explore, investigate, or simply experience. Prior to the trip there’s always a bit of research done — usually some reading paired with insistent questions posed to any friend that’s visited the locale before.

My favorite solo trips have been to Paris, Vienna and London, but I’ve also spent some time in Berlin, Mexico City and Rome. Going it alone is the ideal — that’s the only way to see everything on your agenda. Plus it’s a wonderful exercise — especially for women who aren’t often encourage to travel alone — to figure things out independently and only have yourself to rely on. Only having to answer to your own whims for a week or two is pure bliss! Below, my four favorite solo city trips.

Paris

Visiting Paris had been a burning desire of mine ever since high school. I think it was Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette (and the Antonia Fraser biography that inspired the film) that planted the seed. First on my agenda was a trip to the 17th century palace of Versailles — a much easier traipse than I anticipated. There’s a train that leaves from the center of Paris that gets you to the town in roughly an hour. I would definitely leave as early in the morning as possible so you can spend the whole day there — there are three residences (the main palace, the Petit Trianon and the Grand Trianon) on the grounds, and all of them are spectacular in their own ways.

When back in the Paris, dip into the swanky Hotel Costes for a drink (I highly recommend the Negroni!) and spend some time decompressing from palace overload. A drink alone is the perfect opportunity for contemplation.

Palace of Versailles
Palace of Versailles

Vienna

The Viennese alternative to Hotel Costes is Hotel Sacher – easily walking distance from wherever you stay (actually the whole city is walkable at only 160 square miles). Vienna is a quieter town than Paris, both aesthetically and socially. The decor in Sacher is a bit more involved — they have themed hideaways at every corner. The Blaue Bar at Sacher is my personal favorite for a strudel and the strong coffee every Austrian seems to be drinking wherever you look.

Hotel Sacher
Hotel Sacher
Blaue Bar at Hotel Sacher
Blaue Bar at Hotel Sacher

London

When in London, I can’t stress enough the importance of visiting Sir John Soane’s Museum. It’s a must see for any architecture or art-history buff. And London in general is perfect for a solo traveler — the bounty in museums, contemporary art galleries and institutions, and experimental restaurants could easily fill a two week itinerary. Also high on the list while there, if you’re up for an hour train ride out of central London, is Strawberry Hill House, with its pristinely preserved 18th century interiors.

Strawberry Hill House
Strawberry Hill House
Garden at Strawberry Hill House
Garden at Strawberry Hill House

Berlin

On the other end of the spectrum is a visit to Berlin’s iconic Berghain club, something any dance or techno fiend should have on their bucket list. It’s easier to get in alone, and a more transportive experience without the safety blanket of friends. The club opens Friday evenings and closes Monday mornings. Sundays are the preferred day for the locals, so try to sidle through then. Clothes are optional, so only go if you’re prepared not to gawk!

For all of these places, make sure to bring an open mind and the deepest well of curiosity you can muster.

 

For more from Camille, check out her hotel reviews here.

Berghain
Berghain
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