Too many choices can be a good thing, and that’s what you’ll encounter in Germany, one of Europe’s friendliest countries. You can hang out in Berlin—the café, gallery, and nightclub-filled epicenter of hipster Europe—and never want for company. But sooner or later, you’ll be tempted to explore other parts of this underrated country, using Germany’s well-regarded rail network. Head to the art hub of Düsseldorf, the beer gardens of Munich, or the restored city of Dresden.
Café culture and a European vibe are reasons that solo travelers flock to Buenos Aires, where tango salons stay open late. But life outside of the city of Evita can be equally fascinating, whether you fancy the wine region of Mendoza, the starkly beautiful landscapes around Salta, or horse rides with gauchos.
As a solo traveler visiting the world’s second largest country, you should set your sights on its cities—like Vancouver, tucked between mountains and water, with fantastic Asian cuisine and the sublime green space of Stanley Park. Or Montreal, for its thriving café and bar scene and distinctly French flair. Smaller redoubts like Halifax, Nova Scotia’s capital can be especially welcoming; it’s a thrumming university town that also happens to be great for sea kayaking.
Plan your visit for the sunshine-filled long days of summer and get oriented in Helsinki, walkable, easygoing, and filled with design stores and museums. The Esplanade is an area filled with outdoor cafés and a market. Sociability begins here and continues in saunas, which are found all over the city and the country. Day trips by train are a breeze, whether you’re bound for the seaside towns of Hanko or Lohja, or the arts-filled town of Espoo.
Laos has something of a cult-like status among single travelers. Like Vietnam, Laos was a war-ravaged place that has emerged as a peaceful haven. Unlike Vietnam, it has managed to retain much of its original culture and to preserve its environment, among the most pristine in Southeast Asia. Highlights include a classic riverboat trip down the Mekong, a visit to the royal city of Luang Prabang, and hanging out with an international cadre of travelers in the capital of Vientiane.
Adventure travel is a prime reason for solo travelers to visit this Central American country, from whitewater rafting on the Chiriquí and Chiriquí Viejo rivers to zip lining through the tropical treetops. Then there’s the growing surfing culture, especially in Bocas del Toro, where the Caribbean vibe, intense nightlife, and beach culture are tempting for young singles. Be sure to catch the obligatory view of ships transiting the Panama Canal—and to explore Panama City’s atmospheric Casco Antiguo (Old Town)—before or after your time on the coast
Take liberal social policies, the original bike culture, and cities and towns crisscrossed with canals, and you’ve got the solo traveler’s Disneyland known as the Netherlands. The Dutch are among the most laid-back and accepting people in Europe. You can get wonderfully lost in the tiny streets of Amsterdam for a week, though you’d do well to venture out to see smaller cities like Utrecht or the art capital of Maastricht.
Blame it on the collapse of the Celtic Tiger, but the famous Irish devil-may-care friendliness is a lot more subdued these days. Statistics aside, whether you’re in a thatch-roofed pub in County Clare or walking down Grafton Street in Dublin on a literary walking tour in this UNESCO City of Literature, you will still feel welcome. With a vast network of bed & breakfasts, where to stay as a solo is easy.
The safest country on the list ranks 80th for happiness? Blame some of the highest taxes in the world and long winters. Even so, it’s an easy country for single travelers to feel comfortable in. The capital city of Reykjavik makes a fine base for excursions to swim outdoors at the Blue Lagoon or to ride Icelandic horses across some of the most rugged terrains on earth.
The land of Shakespeare has long been a welcoming place for single American travelers, especially those with an Anglophile bent. You can typically enjoy theater—and everything else—sans lost-in-translation issues. (If only Londoners would do something about those sky-high prices, from the cost of a Tube ticket to a hotel stay.) Historic cities like York and Cambridge, as well as the countryside destinations, are a haven for solo travelers.