Your first trip abroad might feel a little daunting, and a first solo trip might be even moreso. How can I get around if I’ve never seen the city before? How do I communicate without a grasp of the language? What if I don’t make friends? often cross a traveler’s mind before she reaches her destination.
Well, don’t fret. Here are three European countries that can help ease you into the solo traveling world, one awesome hostel at a time.
Greece: It might not be your first guess for traveling newbies, but Greece was actually the first place I ventured all by myself when I quit my job in 2012 for a gap year of travel. Guess what? I totally fell in love with the country. Here’s why:
- Although I couldn’t get past a basic “please” or “thank you” in the local language at the time, I found people there to be incredibly helpful. It turned out, way more Greeks spoke English than in many other European countries to which I had traveled!
- There was SO much to see and do! Beautiful islands and world-famous ruins are just the beginning.
- Greece has some great lodging options! One of my favorite hostels on my whole trip was Athens Backpackers–the location was great and it was so easy to meet people there! I ended up staying twice. There are a lot of great, affordable budget hotel options in Greece, too.
- It’s quite easy to get around the country–the KTEL bus system is comfortable and widespread so you can make it pretty much anywhere you need to go.
Ireland: If the thought of traveling for the first time in a non-English speaking country is too nerve-wracking, Ireland is the place to start. Here’s why:
- It totally meets any and all sight-seeing requirements: you’ll find insanely gorgeous landscapes all over the country, not to mention tons of history and music and art for those culture vultures out there.
- Again, it’s easy to get around: every town or city I visited was walkable and overall very safe; most towns have easy access to cabs, too. Getting between cities and towns by bus was a snap.
- It’s easy to find day trips to book: because the country is so small, you can do a day-long expedition and end up seeing a ton of the country; if you’re flying solo a day trip with a tour company is an easy way to sight-see with others. I did a really fun day trip from Cork with Paddywagon Tours. I had never done anything with a tour company before, and I had a really good time.
- Perhaps most important for a solo traveler just starting out is how friendly and welcoming the locals are! I met so many people just listening to music in a pub, I even ended up Couchsurfing with some of them! Everyone I met was truly interested in showing me the best parts of Ireland–and one of those is certainly the lovely people!
Germany: There are lots of reasons why Germany is so often found on the European backpacking trail, and most of those are pertinent to first-time solo travelers. I totally dug traveling solo in Germany, here’s why:
- Much like Greece and Ireland, Germany makes it easy for travelers to get from town to city to town again: the trains are well organized, and once based somewhere, it’s simple to walk or use public transportation almost everywhere in the country.
- The hostelling and couchsurfing networks are strong, especially for places like Berlin. That there are so many college towns throughout the country also mean a lot of students end up offering couches or spare rooms.
- Although there is a noticeable difference in English between East and West Germany, I still had no trouble communicating without much German (although, of course it’s always better to have a little!)
- What is perhaps most exciting about Germany for a first-time solo traveler is its diverse offerings: the feel of a big, artsy city like Berlin is so unique and different from ones like Cologne or Stuttgart. Both show so much of Germany’s history & culture, and provide new and interesting opportunities and experiences for travelers.
Where did you first travel solo? Would you recommend it for other newbie solo flyers? Share in the comments below!