From Great Britain to Northern Ireland, the United Kingdom is a mix of the old and the new. Its rich history combined with its beautiful landscape make it one of the most attractive destinations in Europe. The UK should be at the top of the list for anyone considering a solo trip. Friendly locals, easy public transit, and access to cheap hostels make the United Kingdom the ideal place for traveling alone. In this article, I’ll share my take on what some of the top solo travel destinations are in the United Kingdom.
1. London, England
If you’re planning a solo trip to the United Kingdom, London should be on the top of your list. The nation’s capitol is one of the most diverse cities in the world, and is home to plenty of attractions that you will keep you busy. In my opinion, the best site to see in London is Tower Bridge (pictured above). Built in 1886, Tower Bridge has a long and fascinating history, but has still retained it’s beauty today.
There are plenty of other attractions to visit in this sprawling city. The Tower of London, Westminster Abbey, and Piccadilly Circus are some of the most beautiful destinations in Europe.
Not only is London a beautiful city, but it’s a solo traveler’s dream. There are plenty of cheap hostels located in the city center that will allow you to meet solo travelers from all around the world. If you want to make new friends and stay out late, I recommend you check out St. Christopher’s Inn, located just a short walk away from Tower Bridge. This neat hostel claims to be the best party hostel in Europe, and even features a popular American style bar right in their lobby. For a more laid back vibe, take a look at St. Christopher’s Inn: Oasis. This is a great alternative to a party hostel if you want a quieter and more relaxing environment.
Another great way to interact with other solo travelers is to join one of London’s many pub crawls. London is filled with pub crawls that will take you to some of the best bars and clubs in the city. You will join a group of other people and stay out until the late hours having drinks and getting to know each other.
But if that’s not your scene, there are plenty of other ways to meet new friends. Go shopping in London Borough Market and talk to some of the vendors. The market is beautiful and it’s located in one of the nicest areas of London. Chances are you will spark up a friendly conversation with a local, if you’re feeling up to it.
2. Oxford, England
The historic beauty of Oxford makes it an ideal city to take a stroll through. Its close proximity to London means it’s perfect for a day trip, but it’s feasible to spend a few nights here without getting bored. If you love history and quaint villages, Oxford is a perfect place to spend some time in.
The best thing to do in Oxford is to take a walk around Oxford University. Though there is a lot more to the city than its university, the school is certainly Oxford’s most prominent attraction. Oxford University is a historic institution that can trace it’s roots back to the year 1096. Consistently ranking as one of the best schools in the world, Oxford University’s legacy and splendor make it the best attraction in the city. And if you’re a fan of Harry Potter, you may notice some of the filming spots from the movie’s most iconic scenes.
Outside of the university, there is still plenty to do. Oxford’s Gothic architecture makes it the perfect city for history buffs. There are plenty of coffee shops and pubs for you to relax in. But best of all, Oxford boasts a sprawling canal system that rivals cities like Amsterdam and Venice.
If you’re looking to stay over, I recommend you look into some floating AirBnBs. When I was in Oxford, I spent two nights in a boat that was anchored in the water of the canal system. It came complete with its own kitchen, shower, and Queen-sized bed, and was one of the most luxurious places I stayed in when I was in England.
Whether you’re a history buff, Harry Potter fan, or just want a break from the bright lights of London, Oxford is a great place to visit.
3. Edinburgh, Scotland
Located in Northern Scotland, Edinburgh is an old yet vibrant city. Nestled between dormant volcanoes and lush green highlands, Edinburgh is in the center of plenty of natural beauty. Many tourists are drawn to Edinburgh’s medieval architecture, which give the city an astonishingly rugged yet charming appearance.
The city has been around since the 12th century, but it’s as relevant on the global stage as it ever has been. Not only is Edinburgh an up and coming tourism hot spot, but it’s home to an all star cast of world famous stars: J.K. Rowling, Sean Connery (James Bond) and Sir William Wallace (Braveheart) all call Edinburgh home. If you’re looking to visit a massively underappreciated yet historically rich city during your solo trip, then work Edinburgh into your Itinerary.
When you’re in Edinburgh, check out Edinburgh Castle and take a stroll through the old town. You’ll understand how deep Scotland’s history runs through Edinburgh, the nation’s capitol.
But make sure you spend at least a couple of hours outside of Edinburgh to experience the lush Scottish countryside. Check out Arthur’s seat, a popular hiking spot and ancient volcano with excellent views of Edinburgh.
If you’re a solo traveler, there’s plenty of places to meet other travelers or locals. Check out Castle Rock Hostel, located in a 19th century building just a 3 minute walk from Edinburgh Castle. If you’re in the mood for a beer, head over to Ghillie Dhu, a former Victorian-era church that has been converted into one of the coolest pubs in Edinburgh.
Solo travelers will take solace in knowing that Edinburgh is home to some of the friendliest locals in the United Kingdom. During my stay in Edinburgh, the locals were always willing to lay a helping hand, which makes it an excellent destination for someone traveling alone.
4. Bath, England
Located 100 miles west of London, Bath is one of the oldest cities in Britain and was formerly the center of England’s cultural identity. Bath used to be a part of the Roman empire, and was a heavily visited spa town during the 16th century. Nowadays, there is so much to see and do that it’s no wonder tourists flock to this ancient city.
Bath’s 1.3 million yearly visitors can enjoy ancient Roman architecture, a spectacular culinary scene, and the dozens of thermal baths that give the city its name.
Bath’s density means it’s a great spot for solo travelers. Within just 11 square miles, there’s a litany of historic attractions to visit.
Take a dip in the relaxing Roman Baths that were discovered in 1868, and are still standing today. If public bath houses aren’t your scene, walk over to Royal Crescent, one of the greatest pieces of Georgian architecture ever developed.
The city also boasts a thriving nightlife, with plenty of pubs, clubs and restaurants to visit during your solo trip.
5. Cardiff, Wales
Though smaller than England and Scotland, Wales’ opulent culture makes it worth visiting on a solo trip to the UK. Most visits to Cardiff start out at Cardiff castle, a Victorian Gothic revival mansion located right in the center of the city. The castle is one of Wales’ top tourist attractions, and is home to over 2,000 years of historical significance.
If you’re in the mood for some modern entertainment, catch a Rugby game at Principality Stadium, home to the Welsh national rugby team. Cardiff is also home to Cardiff City F.C. who currently compete in The Championship, the second tier of the English professional soccer league system.
It’s also worth checking out Cardiff Bay, which just underwent a 30 year long redevelopment project. Besides its beautiful views, the bay is home to plenty of shopping opportunities, several art galleries, and quite a few restaurants and pubs.
If you’re traveling alone, check out Mrs. Potts Hostel, a quirky and quaint hostel that puts an emphasis on solo travelers. If you’d like more contemporary lodging, take a look at The River House Cardiff. The River House is a beautiful hostel with lots of outdoor space, private rooms, and a newly renovated kitchen. Wherever you decide to stay, you will surely be pleased by what the city of Cardiff has to offer.
6. Lake District, England
If you want to get away from the buzz of cities, take a trip up to England’s lake district. Located in the beautiful northwest, The Lake District was voted as the nation’s top national park in 2018.
It’s no surprise that the English people are so fond of this place. With over 16 lakes, there is an abundance of water-related activities you can take part in during your solo trip.
Swimming, kayaking and boat rides are all common activities that tourists can indulge in while enjoying England’s natural beauty.
The best thing to do in the Lake District is take a trip to Lake Windermere. Located on the souther tip of the national park, Lake Windermere is England’s largest lake. This glacial lake is over 11 miles long and is home to 18 islands that are ready to be explored.
After Windermere, take a trip north to Penrith, a quaint 14th century town that is home to Ullswater, a glacial ribbon lake considered by many to be the most beautiful body of water in England. If you’re a history buff, then check out Penrith Castle, the former home of King Richard III.
Traveling through big cities on your own can become exhausting and cumbersome. The Lake District is a perfect place to take a break from city life and see some of England’s natural beauty first hand.
7. Glasgow, Scotland
Scotland’s largest city is a constantly evolving, down to earth metropolis whose roots are as Scottish as it gets. Glasgow is a sophisticated city but it’s anything but pretentious. It’s Victorian architecture and and picturesque mansions give the city a posh upper class look that is very misleading.
In reality, Glasgow is a rugged working class city that paved its way through manufacturing and trade. The people of Glasgow are very friendly, and will surely be receptive to a solo traveler touring through their city.
The best part of Glasgow is its hauntingly expansive history. Take, for instance, the Glasgow Cathedral. This beautiful 12th century church is also the burial site of St. Mungo, the founder and patron saint of Glasgow. Mungo has been buried in the cathedrals crypt since 650 AD, which goes to show how far this city’s history dates back to. Neighboring the cathedral is the Necropolis, a burial site for over 50,000 people.
You should also spend an afternoon touring the Kelvin Grove Art Gallery. Kelvin Grove is home to some of Britain’s finest pieces of artwork, from Van Gogh to Salvador Dali.
Glasgow is a vibrant, up and coming city that’s worth visiting on any solo trip to the United Kingdom.