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!
” I did a really fun day trip from Cork with Paddywagon Tours”
You’ve got to laugh at the name! But our Paddywagon tour was exceptional. We had an amazing guide who came out with some hilarious stories and interesting commentary on our way to the cliffs of Moher.