1. You always return home with lots of new friends
Ever noticed that you’re more likely to ask one person for directions than you are to ask a group of people? Solos are more approachable, plain and simple. Lone travellers learn that the benefits of this are twofold: not only will other travellers feel far more comfortable introducing themselves to you, but it’s actually easier for you to strike up conversation with others as well.
2. You can engage with locals on a level that only solo travellers can
You know that local folks are more open, and definitely more curious, when it’s only you walking into that hole-in-the-wall café, or sampling the pungent flavours of that roadside food stall. From a heartfelt conversation on a rickety train, to suddenly having a network of genial families happy to host you for a night, you know none of these incredible experiences would have been possible if you’d been travelling with others.
3. You’re free to adventure as you please, and it feels awesome
There is no need to compromise when travelling alone. No need to appease
1. Skip the train
Rail passes can be pricey and often completely unnecessary given the cheap deals offered by airlines, ferries, and buses. Low-cost carriers like or can whisk you to another major city for as little as ¥3000 one way.
Overnight ferries – such as the Sunflower, which runs from Osaka to Beppu – give travellers tatami mat sleeping space and the chance to party with locals on deck (just be sure to bring an eye-mask and earplugs if you actually want to sleep). Similarly, overnight buses crisscross the country at highly discounted rates.
2. Or buy discounted train tickets
If riding the shinkansen is a non-negotiable part of your Japan experience, opt for deals like the . This one-way ticket saves you ¥4000 off the regular bullet train fare between Tokyo and Osaka. Or take advantage of the seasonal ; five days of unlimited local train travel.
3. Come prepared with socks
It’s customary to remove your shoes
1. Eat where the locals eat
Restaurant meals are often dampened down for tourists. If you want an authentic curry, follow the locals and find the busy places; empty restaurants are often quiet for a reason.
2. Swot up on trainspotting
Using the extensive Indian train network is an excellent way to get around this huge country. Trains book up fast and the booking system – as with many processes in India – can be highly convoluted. The train information website The Man in Seat 61 has a comprehensive breakdown of the complex process. If you’re getting a sleeper train, try to book the upper or side-upper berths, for more privacy and security, and give sleeper class a go at least once.
While a/c is more comfortable, the tinted windows mean you won’t see nearly as much scenery, nor will you have such an interesting and diverse mix of fellow passengers.
3. Agree a price before you do anything
When taking a rickshaw or taxi (if it has no meter), hiring a guide, staying in a hotel or going on a tour, always check
Though perhaps less well-known than the Oslo-Bergen train ride, the Nordlandsbanen, which stretches northwards for 729km between regal Trondheim and spirited Bodø, could certainly lay claim to being the more unique route. As well as being Norway’s longest train line, it also crosses the Arctic Circle, the only railway in the world to do so.
An efficient service and spacious, comfortable trains make it a delightfully sedate way to make the ten-hour journey, but it’s the huge diversity of scenery that’s most appealing. Gently rolling, emerald-green fields rest under huge skies, and Norwegian flags whip proudly over the pillar-box red hytter (cabins) dotted haphazardly over the hillsides. Moments later, the train will track its way through dense woodland, a wall of pine trees on either side of the train breaking just long enough to snatch a two-second-long postcard of mist haunting the treetops in a shadowy forest beyond.
Then, coasting out of a tunnel, the ground will fall away to one side, and suddenly a 100m-high waterfall appears. Plummeting into a churning white froth below, the roaring deluge plays out silently on the other side of the train window. Such spellbinding scenes speed past repeatedly, and then evaporate into the distance, only
The best downhill skiing in the Canadian Rockies
Many Canadians start skiing as soon as they can walk. As a result, the Rocky Mountain area has plenty of facilities for children on its slopes. For a full-on downhill experience, the local national parks (Banff and Jasper) are particularly well-endowed offering four major ski resorts with several others perched temptingly on the periphery.
However, the prize for the most family-friendly ski resort in the Rockies has to go to Lake Louise. Named for the robin-egg blue lake that enamours hikers and honeymooners in the summer, Lake Louise is the second-largest ski area in Canada (after Whistler) and offers an impressive web of 145 varied runs including lots of beginner terrain. Adding to its kudos are a tube park, bags of ski schools, guided wildlife tours (on snowshoes), and the finest snow-encrusted mountain views you could ever wish to see. In the unlikely event that your kids get bored or knackered, stick them on the Lake Louise gondola, a spectacular 14-minute cable-car ride worthy of a National Geographicdocumentary. If they’re really young, there’s a reputable childcare facility at the mountain base that offers kinderski classes for three-
Fresh blooms decorate almost every surface of the aptly named Nice, where the aesthetics are almost as delicious as the food. Once your eyes have stopped feasting on the eclectic furniture and crockery, the breakfast baskets or crumpets with bacon will satisfy your more physical hunger. A visit to Nice is not complete without trying the heavenly macarons or flourless chocolate cake. Afterwards you’re perfectly situated for a wander down Parkhurst’s buzzing high street, which is filled with stores showcasing local design.
Croft & Co
At Croft & Co, a sidewalk breakfast spot on the high street of suburban Parkview, early morning exercise enthusiasts and post-party brunchers dine side by side. This comfy cafe serves up huge portions of eggs with locally produced organic sausages and bacon, and the knowledgeable baristas will brew your flat white or cortado up to perfection. Don’t be put off by how packed this place always looks. Somehow a table of just the right size will magically become available when you arrive.
Bread & Roses
The colourful, breezy interior of Bread & Roses, adorned with African prints and mismatched mirrors, naturally lends itself to
Vesterbro: the happening hotspot
Once the most destitute area of the city, Vesterbro is still Copenhagen’s red-light district, though it’s not quite as seedy as similar areas in Amsterdam or Berlin. The neighbourhood’s vintage shops and summertime street markets give it a local and independent vibe, while the street art here is perhaps the best in the city.
Vesterbro is a neighbourhood in transition, with an emerging reputation for good food and family living. Amid the sex shops and erotic dance clubs sit fashionable cafes like Mad & Kaffe, craft breweries including the acclaimed Mikkeller, and family-friendly parks such as the unique Skyebanehave. Kødbyen – The Meatpacking District – is chock full of fantastic restaurants featuring everything from innovative seafood at Kødbyens Fiskebar to down-home barbecue and beers at WarPigs (warpigs.dk).
Nørrebro: the melting pot
Vibrant Nørrebro sits just across Queen Louise’s bridge from Indre By, but has a completely different feel. Arguably the most diverse area of Copenhagen, the streets of Nørrebro are a mishmash of international grocery and clothing shops, lined up alongside secondhand stores and independent coffee shops.
Restaurants here run the gamut from Michelin-starred Relæ and Kiin Kiin (kiin.dk), to
Schedule in some downtime
You’ve just thrown the biggest party of your life. You’ve people-managed warring family members, negotiated hard with scores of suppliers, and spent entire evenings hunched over a table plan. You’re pretty much a multi-tasking superhero. But even superheroes need to recharge their batteries now and again.
So even if you’re both full-on adventure junkies, don’t plan to rush headlong into a jam-packed schedule of activities, especially if you’re in a new city where you haven’t found your feet. Trust us: leave the first couple of days fairly free. Acclimatise, get to know one another again in a pressure-free zone and bask in all those wedding memories. Your brain will thank you for letting it catch up. Then chuck yourself into the fun feet first.
Resist the ‘should’ brigade
A two-week beach break doesn’t quite float your boat? Don’t feel you have to cave to others’ expectations of what a honeymoon ‘should’ be. Make no mistake: the wedding business is a booming industry, and there are plenty of people chomping at the bit to profit from your love for one another. If what you both truly desire is an
Radost Fina Kuhinjica
Radost Fina Kuhinjica is usually the first choice for vegetarians, due to its attractive location beneath the Kalemegdan Fortress, cozy setting in a ground-floor apartment and the original menu that will make even your die-hard meat-eating friends think twice. At Radost they always try new recipes as a daily menu, but the evergreen dishes to definitely taste are the starter platter with baba ganoush, hummus and freshly baked pita bread, vegan burgers in either beetroot or shiitake variation, as well as Radost ramen soup. Don’t be in a hurry, because the cakes are more than worth waiting for.
Located in one of the most beautiful and historical streets in Belgrade, Kosančićev venac, the restaurant’s name is a play on the Serbian word for ‘mother’. Mayka’s (facebook.com/maykabeograd) menu consists of vegetarian dishes from various national cuisines that are made at ordinary homes, evoking the smell and the warmth of mum’s kitchen. In a stylish interior you can order samosas, curry, meals made of seitan and dhal, pizzas, spicy lemonade or Indian sweets. However, the signature dish that sublimes the restaurant’s philosophy is Mayka goulash, an authentic version of stew made with seitan,
This chunk of France, afloat in the Mediterranean, deserves its monicker: L’île de Beauté. The rumpled, maquis-cloaked interior – where you can easily forget the world – tumbles to perfect golden crescents, some touristy, some seemingly unfound. There’s wildness if you want it (the hiking is some of Europe’s best), but also fine food and indulgent retreats, not least Domaine de Murtoli (murtoli.com) – possibly the continent’s most romantic hideaway.
Qurimbas Archipelago, Mozambique
Why pick one island when you can have 30? That’s about how many specks of wonderful white sand make up this Indian Ocean archipelago. Among them is Ibo, home to the 16th-century Portuguese trading settlement of Ilha de Moçambique – a must-see. After a dose of culture here, sail between the islands – remote Vamizi, luxe Quilalea – stopping off on nameless cayes for lobster barbecues en route.
Huahine, French Polynesia
Huahine, a 40-minute flight from Tahiti, is Polynesia at its most sublime (and that’s quite a feat). Slopes of tropical abundance sink into eye-searingly blue lagoons; there’s culture aplenty, including the highest density of marae (temples) in the territory; and opportunities abound for snorkelling,
Arabian exoticism, fragrant spices – and lovely low prices. Morocco’s hard to beat for bargain romance. Marrakesh, Fez and Essaouira offer time-warp medinas chock-full of character and cheap cafes. Eschew your sense of direction to get lost in the maze-like souqs – the shopping possibilities are plentiful, with everything from carpets to babouches to be snapped up. Converted riads (traditional courtyard houses) offer accommodation with oodles of atmosphere; some are pricey but many are astonishingly reasonable, enabling palace-like stays on a pauper’s budget.
Long-favoured by the impecunious, India has become more expensive – but, mostly, it’s still amazingly cheap. For instance, opulent Palace On Wheels trains might be dear, but even budget ’mooners can afford first-class on India Rail – a Delhi-Udaipur overnighter costs around US$20 second-class, and only US$10 more in first-class sleeper.
You could get by for less than US$10 a day in Vietnam and still eat like a king – it’s street-food heaven. Make sure to sample the city’s signature dishes: beef pho, bun cha (barbecued pork with rice noodles) and chow a bánh mì (baguette) as you wander. A mid-range trip won’t break
1. Museum of Icelandic Sorcery and Witchcraft, Hólmavík, Iceland
Set in a small town on the Westfjords peninsula, this tiny museum explores a chilling period in the 17th century when over 100 convicted witches – the vast majority men – were burned at the stake. The big draw is a pair of necropants – a replica of magic pants made of human skin – and artefacts include runes, spells and skulls. On a serious note, this museum has important things to say about the human inclination, as seen throughout history, to persecute those they see as ‘other’.
2. The Museum of Bad Art, Massachusetts, USA
Located in a ramshackle basement under a theatre, this glorious museum celebrates bad art – and the sincerity and enthusiasm of those who ‘persevered despite things going horribly wrong’. Starting with an artwork found in the trash, the museum has gained international renown to the point where there have been two thefts. The founders say that most applicants don’t get in because their work isn’t bad enough; a lack of skill isn’t enough – the work needs to be compelling too. Even if it’s for all the wrong reasons.
Tip one: ditch the well-made plans
Wasn’t it Woody Allen who first said if you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans? Travelling solo is one of the few times in life when you can throw all your plans out the window if you want, or just not make any at all. Unlike going on holiday with friends or – worse still – the family, you don’t need to compromise. Forget lengthy discussions over financial planning, the challenges of badly rehashed route maps and squabbles over who gets the bottom bunk; travelling solo is all about you.
If you’re a people-pleaser to a fault or have a tendency towards OCD then this is the way to go, free from all the obligations and stresses an infuriatingly disorganised friend or selfie-stick addict brings.
Tip two: don’t ditch the friends
Travelling solo doesn’t mean going it wholly alone, though. While the appeal of disconnecting with everything and everyone back at home might be strong, try to keep in touch with family and friends as you go. Sharing over Skype and investing in international call-time credit can really help gain perspective on your adventures and
A small part of me longs to be in a hot yoga class right now, sweating it out at 43C. Scorching heat, any kind of heat in fact, feels appealing when you’re hanging upside down on a frozen ocean in Swedish Lapland.
Welcome to Ice Yoga, the polar opposite, promising a “more immersive experience in nature”, according to its creator Rebecca Björk, yogi and founder of Active North. And I couldn’t get more immersive than lying on reindeer skin in -17C with only a sliver of fur between me and the icy depths of the Baltic. We are a small semicircle of figures with arms raised, surrounded by tea lights as the sunset turns the ice from grey to lilac. “It’s all about what’s around you,” says Björk. “This is not just about the yoga.”
She has been practising yoga outdoors for years and now includes it in her new wellness programme, along with snow walking, ice sculpting and mindful meditation. I’m less convinced by the health benefits of ice yoga that Björk lists, from boosting blood circulation to making you more alert and energetic. What’s more therapeutic for me is simply lying here in the
The Way of St James, France
The Way of St James (or Camino de Santiago) is arguably one of the most famous pilgrimage routes in Europe, with over 200,000 people undertaking the journey to Santiago de Compostela, the resting place of St James, every year.
The most popular route is the so-called ‘French Way’. Beginning in the southern French town of Saint-Jean-Pied-De-Port, pilgrims cross the Pyrenees through Lower Navarre, and proceed through northern Spain to the iconic cathedral.
THe long stretch weaves its way between picturesque towns and vast cornfields. Accommodation takes the form of basic, family-run hostels dotted along the route. The journey takes around three weeks in total.
Mecca, Saudi Arabia
Regarded as the holiest place in Islam, it is a religious duty for all able-bodied Muslims to attempt the pilgrimage to Mecca (Hajj) at least once in their lifetime. The holy mission culminates in a visit to the Masjid al-Haram mosque, the largest mosque in the world, or more specifically the Kaaba, a cuboid building in the centre of the mosque, which all Muslims must face when performing salat (prayers).
Unfortunately it is strictly prohibited for non-Muslims to
The Hermitage museum
Founded in 1754 by Catherine the Great, the Hermitage is one of the world’s oldest museums and has the largest collection of paintings in the world, as well as classical antiquities and decorative art. It came screaming into the 21st century when the new contemporary art wing, in the beautifully arched General Staff Building, was completed in 2014. The big staircase, flooded with light from the glass ceiling, is an attraction in itself, and the exhibition programme, curated by Dmitry Ozerkov to showcase 21st-century art, has featured the likes of Antony Gormley, Chapman Brothers, Chuck Close and the most prominent contemporary artists from Britain, the US and France.
In one building is a bar complete with pool table, in another a boxing-themed bar complete with its own ring. The summer terrace is an attraction in itself, and the environment is welcoming to all. At Co-op Garage, a variety of pizzas with unusual combinations and a range of meat dishes are served on aluminium platters.
What? More burgers? Yes, but, honestly, this is a little different: the team at Pif Paf (also responsible for Stockholm-chic bar Sever)
Dance, perform, party in Hackney Wick
One of my favourite venues in London is The Yard Theatre. Taking up one corner of the courtyard that is also the home of Crate Brewery and the raw nightclubBloc, the Yard has managed to carve a niche as a lighthearted venue that programmes interesting contemporary dance and theatre, as well as some of the best underground nights in the city, from migrant solidarity techno night Free Movement of People to queer dance party Knickerbocker. The theatre space is intimate, while the dominating feature of the bar/club space is the bulging underside of the theatre’s seating. The Yard also has a sheltered outdoor space of its own, making it great for summer partying in London.
Support London’s DIY scene, Deptford
If there’s a single venue in the capital that demonstrates the power of collective creation then it has to be DIY Space for London. The arts and social space in Deptford opened in 2015 after three years of fundraising and it now runs a programme of gigs, screenings, talks and performances, as well as being home to Tome Records, which has a distractingly good selection of vinyl, as well
While not renowned as a culinary destination, the Northern Territory offers plenty of adventures for foodies willing to try bush-tucker delights or deep dive into the tropical fruits and flavours of the Top End. For lovers of seafood, locally caught wild barramundi is plentiful, and is often cooked in native lemon myrtle or with chilli and ginger – a nod to the rich Aboriginal and Asian heritage of the region.
Parap village market, Darwin
A friend of mine is faithful to the rice ball dessert at the Cambodian Delights stall at Saturday’s Parap village market, and when I finally had a taste, I understood why: the glutinous rice balls come swimming in a palm-sugar syrup spiced with ginger and are simply delectable.
In between caravans offering cheap eats, the market has stalls selling arts and crafts (including cane toad coin purses), fresh produce, plants, flowers, tarot readings and massage.
Of the market’s many laksa stalls, the most famous is Mary’s Laksa – just look for the one with the long line. Mary must run a tight ship as the queue for her noodle soup moves
1. Dive into Kuala Lumpur‘s music scene, Malaysia
Apart for the well-known Bukit Bintang, Bangsar and TREC entertainment districts, the Malaysian capital hides a polyhedric music scene. Around the Golden Triangle, you can start from ZOUK‘s trance and R&B-filled rooms to No Black Tie’s classy jazz ambience.
In the outskirts, Petaling Jaya’s Merdekarya hosts one-man-band blues wails, while Ampang’s Rumah Api and rehearsal space Live Fact are underground venues for alternative, metal and punk bands.
2. Sample Ho Chi Minh City‘s bars, Vietnam
When the sun goes down, the bustling energy of southern Vietnam’s megalopolis transfers to its many clubs and bars. Atmospheric rooftop lounges like Chill Sky Bar stay open until late, and besides drinking, there’s a small but exciting music scene to check out.
Acoustic Bar in District 3 has pop-rock cover bands, while Carmen in District 1 offers an odd selection of Spanish flamenco played by skilled Vietnamese musicians.
For a casual good time, the plastic tables along Bui Vien – also known as ‘Beer Street’ – in backpacker central Pham Ngu Lao are a must.
Bangkok never sleeps: the whole Sukhumvit strip, from Asoke to Thong Lor and
1. Leche de tigre (tiger’s milk), Peru
Your Peruvian hangover cure comes with a side of ceviche – leche de tigre is the marinade used to cure the fish. You might drink it from the bowl after you’ve finished eating or sip it from a glass on the side, but either way, the combination of lime, onion, chilli, garlic and fresh coriander will be sure to blow away those cobwebs.
2. Shakshuka, Tunisia
This delicious mixture of red peppers, harissa, tomatoes and eggs is thought to have originated in Tunisia, but is incredibly popular across North Africa and parts of the Middle East. Served with fresh, crusty bread, it’ll put your regular breakfast to shame.
3. Ostrich egg omelette, South Africa
Got a group of hungover friends? You’ll want to embrace a South African hangover cure and whip up an ostrich egg omlette. There’ll be plenty to go around as one ostrich egg contains the equivalent of two-dozen chicken eggs and weighs on average 1.4kg.
4. Lechona, Colombia
This much-celebrated Colombian dish is made from a whole pig stuffed with onions, peas, rice, and roasted for over 23 hours. As it’s