Travelling solo – whether you’re male or female – can be a pretty empowering thing. It’s also a great way to make sure you get visit all the cities you want to see and partake in all of the activities you want to experience without having to worry about anyone else’s opinion.
To get you started, we’ve put together an itinerary of the best places to travel solo in Europe by train. There are options for every kind of solo traveller, including cities with friendly and welcoming locals, quiet mountain retreats, cities known for safety, and more. Read on for the perfect solo traveller trip!
1. Meet the locals in Naples
If there’s one place known for its friendly, welcoming locals, it’s Italy. We like Naples because it’s more manageable than the larger Italian cities – it’s not quite a small town, but it’s not quite a large city either, so you really get the best of both worlds.
Naples is home to some of Italy’s most delicious pizza, and it’s one of the major stopping-off points for travellers headed towards the buried city of Pompeii. Its quaint, cobblestone neighbourhood streets are perfect for solo travellers looking to take a peaceful walk – and a dream for any budding photographers.
Naples is also a great place to be if you decide you do want to experience a bit of a busier Italian city – Rome, Florence, and the island of Capri are all easily accessible by high-speed train or, in the latter’s case, by boat.
Getting to Naples: Naples is connected to Rome, Florence, and other nearby cities with a quick train ride. Point to point tickets are sold separately, but these train rides are also covered by a Eurail pass including Italy (though reservations are necessary for high-speed trains).
2. Head to the hills near Salzburg
Austria is known for its rolling hills and beautiful countryside – one of the best places to travel solo in Europe when you just want to get away from everyone and escape into the mountains. While it’s lovely to visit new cities where locals welcome you with open arms, it’s also a relief to embrace being alone while you’re travelling on your own, and a day or two in the Austrian countryside seems quite refreshing to us.
And if you’d rather stay in the city, you can still enjoy a view of the mountains and the Danube River from your hostel window, as the city sits nestled amongst a beautiful landscape backdrop. Sit back, get a warm cup of coffee, and enjoy the view and your alone time while listening to some of the classical music the city so prides itself on (you might have heard of one of its most famous residents: Mozart). Salzburg is easily connected to many international cities by train and so it’s a good place to start and end your trip in Austria.
Naples to Salzburg by Train: You’ll get to enjoy the Italian countryside on this ride. The high-speed Italo train runs from Naples to Venice in just under five hours. From there, you will take a bus from Venice to Villach (this bus is similar to a coach used for private tours – so in other words, more comfortable than a regular city bus), and from Villach you will take a train to Salzburg. The Salzburg train station is located almost directly in the city center.
3. Ask for directions in Amsterdam
The train ride from Salzburg to Amsterdam is a longer one than some of the others on this list, which is perfect for the solo traveller who wants to relax with a peaceful train ride across the countryside. Make a playlist, grab a good book, or write a few postcards to family and friends back home while the scenery flies past.
Once in Amsterdam, the fun begins! It’s such a lively little city and the great thing is – locals in Amsterdam barely even bat an eye at visitors anymore. I can personally attest that it’s a great place to visit when you’re travelling alone – it’s the first European city I ever visited on my own, and I felt perfectly safe and welcome the entire time.
Everyone was so friendly whenever I asked for directions (which was often), and there was so much to do in that city that I never felt bored or lonely. There are always people wandering around, and the hostels are energetic and full of other travellers looking to make new friends.
Amsterdam is a city that seems to have been built around people enjoying themselves, and locals and travellers alike are more than willing to let you join in on the party.
Don’t miss: The museums! Amsterdam is known for more outrageous activities, but some of its tamer attractions – its art museums – are among the world’s best. The Rijksmuseum and the Van Gogh museum are extensive in their coverage of Dutch art (and in the former’s case, history as well), and are perfect for solo travellers looking to escape the often-rainy summer weather.
Salzburg to Amsterdam by train: This journey will require at least one change along the way – we’d recommend changing in either Munich or Mannheim. Salzburg to Munich to Amsterdam is about 12 hours total (with an overnight train in there), while Salzburg to Mannheim to Amsterdam is about 9.5 hours.
4. Enjoy the safety of Copenhagen
One main concern for solo travellers – particularly female solo travellers – is safety. Scandinavia in general is known for being one of the safest regions of the world, and Copenhagen in particular has a reputation for being extremely safe. The crime rate is one of the lowest in Europe, and pickpocketing isn’t as common here as it is in some of the other larger cities in Europe.
Solo-travelling book lovers, rejoice: this is a good city for you! Birthplace of Hans Christian Anderson, and famous for the little mermaid statue along the dock, Copenhagen will feel like home to bookworms. For those who prefer to socialise, or at least be around other people, try either the Tivoli Amusement Park (directly across from the train station) or Stroget, the world’s longest pedestrian street.
Also, a note: with all this talk of safety, it’s still extremely important to exercise caution no matter where you’re travelling on your own. Some cities are safer than others, yes, but whenever you’re in an unfamiliar place it’s always best to be more alert and aware than you would at home.
Amsterdam to Copenhagen by train: This trip can be done in two train rides: one from Amsterdam to Berlin, and one from Berlin to Copenhagen, but there are also options that involve more train changes along the way if you want to stop and explore more of Germany before you reach Copenhagen. That’s one of the great things about trains in Europe – you can hop off and explore pretty much any number of cities you want to see on your way to your next destination.
Jacqueline Des Forges is a European rail expert and community manager for Rail Europe, the place to plan and book your Euro rail trip if you’re from outside the EU.