The Best Destinations For Solo Travel in the UK
You’ll never have to argue over dinner plans again
Let’s be honest – sometimes even the most congenial of travelling companions can be a drag. There’s nothing relaxing about rehashing age-old battles between planners and by-the-seat-of-their-pantsers, or people who get up crack of dawn to explore and those who think all good holidays involve a long lie in. (We’re firmly in the latter category, by the way –and if we can swing breakfast in bed, all the better). So this time, cut out all the debates over the day’s activities or arguing over the map and go for the best type of holiday there is: a solo trip. Here are our very favourite places to solo travel in the UK, whether you’re searching for sandy beaches or bustling city streets. And of course, our Plum Guide home critics have scouted out some gorgeous little getaway homes for you to enjoy your solitude in once you arrive. So, without further ado, here are the 9 best destinations for solo travel in the UK.
- Lake District
- The Cotswolds
We won’t lie to you, if you’re looking for the kind of beach holiday where you can luxuriate in warm waters and show off your tan lines, Cornwall may not be the one for you. Even on England’s southern coast, you’re more at risk of getting caught in a drizzle than getting heat stroke – but that’s just all part of the charm. Cornwall’s beaches are a far cry from those on the French Riviera but they’re the perfect sites for blustery walks, bracing paddles, and tucking into a good portion of fish and chips as the sun goes down. With plenty of quaint fishing towns like Padstow, ancient ruined sites like Tintagel, and artsy hubs like St Ives, there’s plenty to occupy solo travellers looking for a jaunt around the coast. Our advice? Bring a selfie stick or a tripod for those perfect holiday photos – no, you don’t have to pose like an Instagram influencer, but you’ll regret not getting some snaps of yourself with the gorgeous scenery.
No guide to solo travel in the UK would be complete without mentioning Edinburgh. Culture kids will love the interesting art galleries like the quirky Modern One, hikers will enjoy climbing the ancient volcano in the heart of the city, and everyone with tastebuds will enjoy a tour of Leith’s up-and-coming restaurants. And if you’re feeling a wee bit lonely, traditional Scottish hospitality means you’re never more than a drink away from making some new friends in the pub. The lively capital is the perfect place to explore on your own any time of year, but we’d particularly recommend going during the summer Fringe Festival. Every August, hundreds of thousands of visitors flock here to see the best new comedy acts, plays and performances, and if you go alone there’s no negotiating with your travel partner over what you’re going to see. Yes, that’s right – you’ll never have to sit through an experimental one-man-show about bread again. Unless you really, really want to.
London’s not just the capital, it’s also the prime destination for solo travel in the UK. We’d guess that almost everyone on earth could spend a perfect day in this city, whether it’s mooching around one of the many museums, shopping til you drop in Shoreditch’s coolest boutiques, or even seeking out some of the city’s most beautiful green spaces along the Serpentine in Hyde Park. The city’s dining scene is also made for solo travellers – there’ll be no pitying looks as you ask for a table for one in London. Instead, you’ll skip to the front of the queue at the most in-demand dining establishments while larger groups look enviously on. Enjoy the cheesiest fresh pasta you’ll ever eat at Padella in Borough Market, slurp up ramen at the always-packed Kanada-Ya, and order one of everything while watching the world go by from the counter seating at Bao.
4. Lake District
Solo travel often conjures up images of jam-packed schedules and hectic city breaks, but sometimes the main aim of your holiday is simply rest and relaxation with no itinerary and no obligations. If that sounds as blissful to you as it does to us, the Lake District is ready to welcome you. This charming corner of England is one of the most popular places for solo travel in the UK, offering a distinguished literary and artistic heritage as well as some of the country’s best hiking routes. Stay on picturesque Lake Windermere to tap into your poetic side, making like Wordsworth and wandering lonely as a cloud through the hills and wetlands of this little slice of heaven. Visit Beatrix Potter’s house, discover the Swinside stone circle, and finish off a day of rambling with a hearty Sunday roast in a historic pub (or Michelin-starred cuisine in upscale restaurants The Old Stamp House and L'Enclume). Just don’t blame us if you don’t want to go home again.
5. The Cotswolds (AONB)
The fact that this is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty says it all. The Cotswolds is the ultimate location for those of you looking to escape the urban repetitiveness and lose yourself in the serenity of the English countryside. There are more walks and gardens on offer to you here than you can shake a stick at, with hikes such as Cotswold Way and the Rollright Stones Walk just two of the unforgettable trails in this area. However, there's so much more to the Cotswolds than just its views (although they are incredible), with historical buildings and captivating museums popping up around every corner. Visit Gloucester Cathedral and Tewkesbury Abbey, or discover an array of vintage cars at the Cotswold Motoring Museum. Alternatively, head down to Cotswold Wildlife Park & Gardens, where you can walk alongside lemurs or watch a rhino graze - we’ll be impressed if you’ve done both of those on the same day before.
This is arguably one of the top holiday destinations in England, with an incredible beach and endless things to do. If you manage to time your trip to catch the sun, then there’s no doubt you'll have a memorable time wandering around the south coast. Stop in at any of the remarkable bars and restaurants, before heading out for a well-deserved lie down on the beach. Spot the desolate remains of the old West Pier, closed off to the public in 1975 and subsequently burnt down in 2003, that stand out in the sea. Or grab a ride on the i360, a tall lift-like structure that provides views across the seaside resort. You can’t possibly get bored here, with mini golf, theatres, arcades, and so much more to get your teeth into, including a bustling night-life - if that takes your fancy. There are also plenty of walks nearby, such as Devil's Dyke and the Undercliff Walk, so you don’t have to worry about feeling lazy on the beach (there’s nothing wrong with that, though). Or simply stroll around the town, perusing the shops and buying more than your suitcase can carry - we’ve all been there.
Home to a number of great cities, including Norwich, Great Yarmouth, and Cromer, Norfolk has got to be high on your list of potential solo travel destinations in the UK. Spend time admiring the impressive Norwich Cathedra to experience the history and aura of the site, or visit East Ruston Old Vicarage Garden where you’ll encounter a huge array of different, colourful plants. One of Norfolk’s strongest pulls is its coastal location, with various beaches to choose from for your day by the sea. Cromer Beach, Holkham Beach, and Brancaster Beach are just some of the impressive sandy stretches available for a visit, so pack your flip flops and head down for a day of utter tranquillity. Solo travel is perfect for those looking for some peace and quiet, so what better way to experience that than by falling asleep in the sun with waves lapping nearby? Don’t worry, we can’t think of an answer either.
Snowdonia National Park is one of, if not the most desirable hiking destinations in the UK, with a plethora of trails and views to discover. Climb Mount Snowdon to truly clear your head, or take a ride on the Snowdon Mountain Railway for a simpler route to the top - the views will be just as spectacular at the peak. Stop by Hafod Eryri, Britain’s highest visitor centre, to enjoy the sights with a hot brew. The unforgettable views aren’t the only appeal of these parts either, with historic buildings and myriad activities to explore and enjoy. Head down to Harlech Castle or Conwy Castle for a trip back in time, or wander round one of the many National Trust trails on offer - just don’t forget your camera.
Rounding off this expert guide, let us take you to Devon, another fantastic holiday destination in the UK - especially for solo travellers. Now, Devon is quite large, so you can take your pick from a selection of picturesque locations including Plymouth, Torquay, and Exeter, among many others. Feel on top of the world at the Babbacombe Model Village, or treat yourself to a tour at the Plymouth Gin Distillery (you see, there’s a vast range of things to do here). Beaches, zoos, museums, you name it. Devon rally does have it all. And to top it all off, there are some great hikes and walking trails to lose yourself on (not literally), such as the Tarka trail, the South West Coast Path, and the Salcombe to Bolt Head Walk. Be careful though - too many walks, and you’ll start to find yourself wanting to stay forever. You can’t say we didn’t warn you.