Life is what you make it, right? So if you find yourself traveling solo and the listlessness starts to creep in as you settle down for yet another lonely meal, you should flip your perspective and still have an excellent time. You’re not eating alone; you’re treating yourself to a solo date. And with no one but yourself to direct the course of your romantic encounter with life, the world is truly your oyster. Plus, you can be selfish and eat a dozen Wellfleets to yourself if that’s what makes you happy.
Culturally, we’re in better shape than ever before to treat quality alone time as a preferred choice (and not the sad result of lacking better options). In the era of self-partnering, a table for one is a symbol of someone who’s comfortable with themselves and knows what they want. As more people discover the freedom of solo travel, the solo date is trending in tandem.
If you’re keen on showing yourself a good time but aren’t sure where to start, here are some practical tips and solo date ideas tailored to seven major cities around the world. And even if you’re not at one of those destinations, you can get some inspiration here.
Solo Date Strategies
- If you’re eating out, choose a restaurant that can accommodate your seating preferences according to how social you’re feeling. If you’re open to making new friends, sitting at a bar or communal table can help grease those wheels. If you’d rather not be bothered, asking for your own table is a good way to protect your peace.
- Worried about getting bored or lonely while you’re eating? See if you can get some food to go and bring it with you to a place where there’s good entertainment or people watching available. Or, alternatively, opt for dinner theater.
- Because you’re alone, the temptation to be on your phone will be strong. You’ll have to deliberately seek ways to keep your attention occupied that doesn’t involve mindlessly scrolling through social media (unless that’s what you genuinely feel like doing — no judgment!). If you’re not going to a museum, play or movie, bring a book or journal to keep you occupied during idle moments. And if you like taking pictures, going on a photography adventure can be a fun way to engage with your environment.
- Though basic safety precautions are always relevant, they become even more important when you’re traveling alone. Make sure to research safe transportation options before you head out so you don’t wind up flagging a taxi or bus the locals might have told you to avoid. If you’re not super familiar with your surroundings, it’s often best to stick to well-populated areas during local business hours.
- Find ways to spoil yourself according to your budget. Depending on what kind of experience you’re after, you might opt to indulge completely and take yourself to the spa. But even if you’re trying to keep your date educational, make sure you leave time for gelato after the museum. Remember: you’re trying to romance yourself!
How To Pull Off A Solo Date In…
One way to experience Mexico City is by exploring the traces left behind by one of its most iconic artists, Frida Kahlo. In fact, you can visit both of her former homes in one afternoon if you’re feeling ambitious. Start at La Casa Azul, Frida’s former childhood home, where she first learned to paint and later sheltered Leon Trotsky. If you don’t feel like stopping to eat a sit-down meal, walk over to the Mercado de Coyoacán, a two-story marketplace brimming with food stalls and other artisanal items. From there, you can take a quick cab ride (or find public transport) to the iconic joint home Frida shared with Diego Rivera, which is actually two houses connected by a bridge. There are a number of high-end restaurants nearby, should you wish to end your day with a classy dinner.
Berlin is famed for its club scene, so why miss out? A party of one is still a party. There can even be some advantages to going out alone (especially if it’s a place that’s difficult to get into), but here’s another hack: if you don’t feel like sallying out at 2 a.m., you can go clubbing during the day in Berlin. The daylight might feel less intimidating, and it’ll be less crowded too. Sunday afternoon is an ideal time to go to Berghain, Berlin’s most famous club. Whether you party by day or night, make sure to grab a beer from a Späti (Berlin’s version of a bodega) and wander the streets for a bit, perhaps pausing to enjoy a döner kebab at a park. And you can drink in public here. Take advantage.
Paris is a walking city. So when in doubt, you can’t go wrong with simply starting your day somewhere in the city center and meandering lazily along the Seine or the streets. Bring a camera and voila, you’re on a photography walk. If you’d rather bike, Paris has a bike-share system called Vélib’ that’ll serve as your temporary steed. Bike to a boulangerie and grab a baguette you can stick conspicuously in your tote bag, which’ll pair nicely with some ham and emmental cheese in the park. Yes, it’s basic, and you also know you secretly pictured this as soon as you thought “solo date in Paris.” If you’re feeling adventurous, there’s a floating cinema on the Canal de l’Ourcq on the outskirts of Paris, which would make a nice (and cultured) final stop for your river-bound adventures.
Unlike most major tourist destinations around the world, Tokyo’s seating arrangements already sort of revolve around the solo diner, so you’ll be in good company here. You can sit at a sushi bar and chat with the chef directly as they prepare fresh, delicious cuts of fish for you from the morning’s catch. There are also restaurants and karaoke bars that specifically cater to solo diners who aren’t looking for social interaction. Start at Hitori Yakiniku, a singles BBQ joint where you can have your own private booth. Then, take yourself out to 1kara, where you can enjoy your own private karaoke space with no inhibitions.
New Yorkers are really into their brunch culture. You’ll probably have a hard time finding a regular lunch menu anytime before the hour of 4 p.m. on a weekend. You might have to brave long waits and big crowds for some of the more popular brunch spots, but the upshot of being solo is that you might get seated quicker at the bar. Not only are there more top-tier restaurants from every world cuisine imaginable crammed into the average city block than you can shake a finger at, but you can also opt for live music or entertainment with your meal. New York does love a good jazz brunch, and you could easily find a drag or comedy show to go with your eggs benny (so long as you don’t mind being an easy target if you’re conspicuously sitting alone).
Sydney is home to over 100 beaches, which means it’ll be easy for you to squeeze in a beach trip without having to sacrifice an entire day to the ocean gods. You can merely bring a book and read for an hour or two with a picnic spread in front of you. Or, if you’re feeling adventurous, you can sign up for surfing classes. Later at night, you can take yourself stargazing at the Sydney Observatory near the Sydney Harbour Bridge, which is conveniently located for taking a luminous night ferry trip around the harbor.
Seoul might be the world’s ultimate spa-day city. The best part? You don’t have to break the bank if you don’t want to. A typical jjimjilbang is easy on your budget and will still let you indulge in a variety of sauna and bath rooms. For the more deluxe experience, you can opt to add massages, facials, aromatherapy, herbal foot baths and more. Afterwards? Check out Seoul’s burgeoning solo dining scene. Though Seoul was not always a place where you could eat alone without feeling self-conscious, it’s getting easier by the day.