Traveling is no longer reserved for families going to Disney, honeymooners and stereotypical college spring breakers: Solo travel, especially for millennials, is on the rise. And I wouldn’t say it’s because we’re anti-social, either.
According to a 2016 Visa Global Travel Intentions Study conducted across 25 countries by Millward Brown, solo travel is up almost 15 percent since 2013. One intriguing finding shows that solo travelers tend to hyper-focus on a specific area and destination, but are spontaneous about their exact itineraries once they get there. It’s safe to conclude that if you’re choosing to travel alone, you probably more than enjoy the unknown.
The best part about traveling—once all the complicated shit is planned out, like your Airbnb and airfare—is finding yourself on random adventures in a random place. To inspire you to do some solo soul searching in 2017, here are seven cities we encourage you to get a little lost in.
If you are a Game of Thrones fan who wants to get weird in some dance clubs and wouldn’t mind exploring 16th century churches, Dubrovnik should be a point of interest for 2017 (or really, always). There’s a handful of rad guided walking tours where you can make temporary friends, including a GoT one where you can nerd out. Make sure to go subterranean for a drink at Cave Bar. For dance music, check out Club Revelin, which always makes DJ Mag’s top 100 club’s list.
It’s easy to see why Reykjavik is having a moment. Round-trip flights from LAX, JFK and Atlanta are all well under a grand, and the money is well spent. Travel photographer Chris Burkard’s photos of the countryside will have you whipping out your credit card. City meets Instagram-able views of the sea and nearby hills, so if you want to be around people and also have some alone time in nature, this is your spot. Make it a point to visit the geothermal Blue Lagoon spa, and stop for some of the city’s best coffee at Reykjavik Roasters.
You’re never really alone in Austin, which is regarded as the live music capital of the world. It also should be listed as foodie capital of the world, considering eating within its city limits is almost a religious experience (go to Franklin BBQ, you’ll thank me.) Hit up Austin City Limits music festival in October, or pay up for a ticket to SXSW in mid-March for the most expansive film, interactive media and music festival in the world.
Just 25 miles north of Puerto Vallarta, Sayulita is quickly solidifying itself as a haven for surfers and taco enthusiasts looking for an authentic Mexico experience without the usual tourist BS. Its secret beaches, outstanding taco stands and small town charm will win you over. Plus, views.
Between the museums, the beer and the football matches, London is straight paradise. Absolutely drop some cash to see Harry Potter and the Cursed Child at The Palace Theatre, and then make sure to bum around the always trendy SoHo district in the West End of London. Who needs a travel buddy when you have endless record shops to peruse and bars that stay open until 4 a.m.?
Microbreweries, coffeehouses and national parks — what’s not to love about Portland? There’s a distinct reason the Pacific Northwest has inspired several epic IRL solo travel stories (Cheryl Strayed, for example). Even if you’re not looking to inspire the next auto-biographical hit about hiking the Pacific Northwest Trail, Portland’s blend of the outdoors, great coffee and music scene is ideal for someone traveling alone.
PLANTATION ISLAND, FIJI
It’s quite a flight to Fiji (you have to fly to Australia first) but it’s so worth it. And let’s be honest, there’s no better way to travel alone than to do it for a tropical music festival, especially an intimate one like the cultural and musical experience that is Your Paradise. Making friends is never an issue at a festival, especially where DJs like Skrillex are playing on sandbars and floating docks in the South Pacific.
Nicole Theodore is an Assistant Editor at Playboy. Follow her on Twitter.