Revealed: the solo travel hotspots of the UK
Interest in solo travel has never been higher, with “tips for solo travel” seeing an 85% increase in searches over the last 12 months. With that in mind, we decided to take a look at the solo travel hotspots of the UK, perfect if you want to take yourself away for a few days.
To create our ranking, we looked at a range of factors, from the cost of accommodation and meals, through to the number of attractions, and hotels or hostels available.
With its stunning scenery and breath-taking beaches, it’s no wonder Cornwall’s come out at the top of our list as the UK’s solo holiday hotspot. Holidaymakers clearly agree, with searches for “solo travel Cornwall” up by 100% over the last 12 months.
It has five Areas of National Beauty (AONB) and National Scenic Areas (NSA) for you to discover – the most on our list – including West Penwith, with its peninsula surrounded by dramatic high cliffs; and the sprawling Bodmin Moor, with its bogs, waterfalls, and woodland.
But that’s not the only thing that makes Cornwall great for solo travellers: it boasts the second highest numbers of food and drink options per 1,000 people (0.589), as well as the second highest number of hotels and hostels (0.794), meaning you’ll have plenty of options to choose from.
In second place is the classic British seaside resort of Blackpool. They always say things are cheaper up north, and in this case it’s true: you can get the cheapest meal here (expect to pay around £18 for a three-course meal); and accommodation costs are the second cheapest on our list, at £81.
You can’t come to Blackpool and not wander along its iconic pier, stopping off at the Pleasure Beach, and Blackpool Tower; but if you want to get some peace and quiet, head to Stanley Park.
3. Windsor and Maidenhead
If you love nothing more than scenic walks and uninterrupted views, then Windsor and Maidenhead is the ideal solo hotspot holiday for you.
Explore Windsor Great Park, where you’ll discover lakes, grasslands and forest, or head to the National Trust Cliveden, which is situated on the banks of the River Thames.
Stratford-upon-Avon boasts the greatest number of hotels and hostels, at one per 1,000 people, meaning you won’t be short on places to stay as you embark on your solo holiday.
Known as the home of Shakespeare, it has a lot of entertainment options too, so you’ll never be bored. Once you’ve visited Shakespeare’s birthplace and Anne Hathaway’s home, embark on a ghost walk in the evening, or catch a show at the Swan Theatre.
Scarborough offers the most food and drink options, at one for every 1,000 people, and you’ll want to make sure you spend at least one evening enjoying some fish and chips on the beach.
Another iconic seaside location, if you want to spend your solo holiday swimming in the sea, and walking along the sands, then Scarborough is a great option. If you’ve tired of the coast, you can head on over to Scarborough Castle, or spend the afternoon at Peasholm Park, with its beautiful oriental gardens.
In sixth place is Carlisle, with the average cost of a three-course meal totalling £20, and an overnight stay setting you back by around £98. The city is home to a castle and cathedral, but it’s also known as the gateway to the Lake District, so if you have a car, you’ll be able to drive around and see some of the best scenery the UK has to offer.
Alternatively, if you’re into walking, then pay a visit to Hadrian’s Wall – whilst you probably won’t be up for the full 73 miles, it does cut through Carlisle, so it’s definitely worth a visit.
7. Brighton and Hove
Another solo hotspot to try is the southern seaside resort of Brighton; boasting the most number of entertainment options, at one for every 1,000 people, as well as the third highest food and drink options (0.568).
A trip to Brighton isn’t complete without a walk along the promenade, stopping off for some ice cream, and some rides at the funfair at Brighton Palace Pier. However, you also need to make time for a visit to the Royal Pavilion, and shopping in The Lanes.
Bristol is another great option for a solo holiday, with its city centre perfect for shopping, and its harbourside a great place to wander around, and relax with some food and drinks.
Searches for “Is Bristol worth visiting” are up 85% over the last year, and the city scores so highly on our list because it has four AONBs and NSAs, including Mendip Hills, where you’ll get to discover breath-taking gorges, and steep slopes that make way for views of the lakes in Chew Valley. However, you don’t need to head out of the city to be at one with nature – Brandon Hill and Page Park should both be at the top of your list for a solo adventure.
Home to the iconic Warwick Castle, there’s plenty to explore here on a solo holiday. Spend an afternoon wandering down the Saltisford Canal Arm, or head to the market stalls surrounding Jury Street and Old Square, for some bargain finds.
Warwick is pretty reasonable to eat in too – with a three-course meal costing around £20 (the joint third cheapest on our list), you’ll be able to eat like a king, and sample all the delicacies this town has to offer.
Rounding off our list of solo hotspots is Hastings, where you’ll want to visit some of the best beaches in the area, including Hastings Beach and Camber Sands.
Hastings is home to the third largest amount of green space, so make the most of it and catch the East Hill Funicular up to Hastings Country Park, where, on a clear day, you can see all the way to the coast of France.
Our full list of 20 solo hotspots showcase a variety of destinations in the north, south and midlands to visit, with Oxford coming in 11th, Harrogate in 12th, and the Isle of Wight in 13th.
Top tips for solo travellers
We worked with solo travel bloggers to give provide tips on how to get the most out of a solo staycation.
1. Take some group tours
Group tours are a great way to meet other travellers and make friends. Lots of cities have walking tours you can join for free with an optional tip for the guide at the end. These can be great introduction to the destination and a chance to chat with other travellers.
2. Plan ahead but have flexibility in your itinerary
Before heading out on your solo trip you’ll need to research and plan some of your itinerary in advance, however, no matter how organised you are, there can be unexpected twists and turns. Whether its cancellations or sudden changes in weather, keeping an open-mind and being flexible will help you make the most of any situation.
3. Staying connected
Your phone is your best friend when you’re travelling solo, whether it’s navigating via Google Maps, searching for top reviewed food spots or accessing tickets on email – it’s your link to safety and connection. Prior to travelling be sure to download a location sharing app and connect with family or friends just in case of an emergency.
4. Throw yourself into the deep end
You’ll be capable of more than you can imagine if you really throw yourself in to the travel life and all the amazing opportunities that come with it. Sometimes you might need to force yourself to take part and make the effort, but it will be worth it. Be open to new things and have confidence in yourself and in the day, and you never know what will happen.
5. Consider travel insurance
You might not realise it, but even if you’re planning a trip in the UK, you can take out travel insurance for your staycation. Should you end up having your transport or accommodation cancelled, or your possessions damaged or stolen, your insurance could cover it.
This dataset ranks locations across the UK by 7 different factors. These factors were collected and normalised, to provide each with a score of between 0 and 1.
Where data was not possible to gather or could not be found it was given an automatic score of 0.
The normalised values were then summed, to give each location a total score out of 7 and then ranked.
ONS Business data
Countrywide data was taken and worked out as a percentage showing the split of relevant businesses within each category.
This was then multiplied by the grouped business data for each LAD, to provide an estimated breakdown.
For Cornwall, some values were gathered for Truro instead.
The factors used are as follows:
- Cost of a Meal - The average cost of a three-course meal, at a mid-range restaurant.
- Cost of an Overnight Stay - The average cost of an overnight stay for the Jun-Aug quarter, as listed on Tripadvisor.
- Entertainment and Recreation Services - The estimated number of entertainment and recreation businesses, per 1000 people.
- Food and Beverage Services - The estimated number of food and beverage businesses, per 1000 people.
- Number of Hostels and Hotels - The number of hostels and hotels that can accommodate 1 person for at least 1 night, as listed on booking.com, per 1000 people.
- Green Space - Average amount of green space within a 1km radius (m2).
- Number of AONBs/NSAs - Number of AONBs/NSAs within a 25km radius.
The factors were indexed as follows:
- Cost of a Meal - Low values get a high score. High values get a low score.
- Cost of an Overnight Stay - Low values get a high score. High values get a low score.
- Entertainment and Recreation Services - High values get a high score. Low values get a low score.
- Food and Beverage Services - High values get a high score. Low values get a low score.
- Number of Hostels and Hotels - High values get a high score. Low values get a low score.
- Green Space - High values get a high score. Low values get a low score.
- Number of AONBs/NSAs - High values get a high score. Low values get a low score.
Solo travel bloggers
All data is correct as of 19/04/2023
- https://www.numbeo.com/cost-of-living/ - Cost of a Meal
- https://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/ - Cost of an Overnight Stay
- https://www.ons.gov.uk/businessindustryandtrade/business/activitysizeandlocation/datasets/ukbusinessactivitysizeandlocation - Service Estimates
- https://www.booking.com/ - Number of Hostels and Hotels
- https://www.ons.gov.uk/economy/environmentalaccounts/datasets/accesstogardensandpublicgreenspaceingreatbritain - Green Space
- https://landscapesforlife.org.uk/about-aonbs/aonbs/overview - AONB List
- https://www.gov.scot/publications/national-scenic-areas-of-scotland-map/ - NSA List
Anna McEntee - Insurance comparison expert
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