Words by Mark Hodson

Solo travel is booming, and it’s not just backpackers and lonely hearts driving the trend. Many more luxury travellers are choosing to travel alone, whether they are single, separated or in a relationship, and UK tour operators are responding with a tempting array of options.

According to ABTA, the Association of British Travel Agents, in 2017 around 20% of UK travellers went on holiday alone. Post-pandemic, that number has now risen to 30%.

This is partly explained by demographics, with 8.4 million one-person households at the latest count, but also because of changing attitudes: there’s no longer a stigma attached to joining a singles holiday. Travelling solo today is about empowerment, freedom and self-realisation.

So, what are the trips you should add to your to-do list? Mark Hodson, of 101 Singles Holidays, selects the best.

Luxury tours

The best luxury solo travel ideas for 2023
Bucket list destinations such as Peru are best experienced on a luxury escorted tour

Abercrombie and Kent offers a choice of tailor-made individual itineraries and small-group tours designed for solo travellers. There’s a cycling tour of Vietnam, a whisky-and-golf holiday in Scotland and a two-week tour of Peru, Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands. Its team of expert advisors will piece together the trip that’s just right for you.

Cox and Kings has been organising luxury travel since 1758 but has only recently started to offer escorted tours exclusively for solos, with no single supplements. There are four trips: Exotic India, Treasures of Peru, Splendours of Sri Lanka and Panama and Costa Rica Experience. Smart choices – these are all bucket-list destinations, but not so easy to book independently if you want a seamless high-end experience. The company also offers solo places with no supplement on selected departures of its most popular group tours.

If you want to luxuriate in the glorious French countryside, you can join a luxury barge cruise operated by European Waterways. Its fleet of hotel barges accommodate a maximum 20 passengers and the ‘house party’ atmosphere works well for solos as well as couples. The price includes gourmet cuisine, fine wines, an open bar and daily excursions. Popular destinations include Burgundy, the Canal de Midi and the Loire Valley, and the company also offers Venice, Scotland, Germany and Holland.

Splendid isolation

maldives solo travel
The Maldives is a magical destination for solo travellers

The Maldives has a reputation as a couples destination, but there’s no reason why you can’t enjoy the dazzling sunsets, turquoise lagoons and luxury hotels in your own company. Barefoot Traveller offers solo holidays at Reethi Beach Resort, Bandos Island and Thulhagiri Resort and Spa. If you want to buddy up with other guests, a dive course is a great way to meet people.

In the Caribbean, Coral Reef Club is one of the most elegant places to stay on the Platinum Coast of Barbados. It has four rooms with queen beds reserved for single guests. Find out more from Inspiring Travel.

In the Mediterranean, singles specialist Friendship Travel recommends the Royal Mare Thalasso Resort on Crete. It co-ordinates a number of solo clients at the same hotel with a resident host, so you have the option of joining in with group activities or keeping to yourself.

In the UK, The Gilpin in the Lake District is a popular luxury retreat for solos, with its gorgeous grounds, world-class spa and Michelin-starred food.

Health and wellness

st lucia yoga solo travel
The BodyHoliday on St Lucia actively targets solo guests

The BodyHoliday on the Caribbean island of St Lucia combines gourmet dining and daily spa treatments with exercise classes and a lively sociable atmosphere. It actively targets solo guests with four-poster queen-size single rooms and no single supplement. Find out more from Tropical Sky.

The Healthy Holiday Company has arguably the best selection of spa and wellness holidays designed exclusively for solo travellers. Its most popular resorts include the SHA Wellness Clinic in Spain, Longevity Vilamoura on the Algarve and Chiva Som in Thailand. It’s also worth chatting with the specialist wellness consultant at Fleewinter which has resorts from Portugal to Hungary.

If you want a total mind and body rehaul, in:spa runs luxury health, fitness and detox retreats in France, Morocco and Italy.

Follow a passion

cookery solo travel
Follow your passion with a small group tour and expert tutors

One of the best ways to meet new people – and immerse yourself in a destination – is to follow one of your own personal passions. Flavours Holidays offers high-end activity holidays in Italy, Spain and Scotland with small groups and expert tutors. It specialises in cookery, painting, Pilates, photography and language learning, with no single supplement for solos. Although it’s not exclusively for single travellers, 70% of clients travel alone.

If you love walking in pristine scenery, but you also enjoy gourmet food and fine wines, Hedonistic Hiking might be for you. The small-group guided walks will take you deep into unspoiled countryside, but you’re never far from a charming little family-run restaurant serving classic local dishes. Its heartland is Italy – Abruzzo, the Dolomites, Sardinia, Northern Tuscany and the Lakes – but it also runs tours in Corsica, Slovenia and the French Alps. There’s a modest single supplement for solo guests.

lions solo travel
Animal lovers will enjoy small-group wildlife holidays

Simpson Travel has a range of specialist holidays on the Greek island of Crete focussed on walking, wine, painting, meditation and archaeology led by experts in their fields. Peter Sommer Travels runs small group cultural tours and gulet cruises in the Med, including gastronomy trips in Turkey, Italy, Croatia and Turkey. Both are popular with solos.

If you love rail travel, you could join one of the guided train tours in Scotland run by McKinlay Kidd. The West Highland Line and the Far North Line are amongst the most spectacular train journeys in Europe.

Further afield, Rainbow Tours operates small-group wildlife holidays around the globe with a high proportion of solo travellers on its trips to the sought-after destinations of Uganda, Madagascar and Botswana.

Art, music and culture

music festival solo travel
Music festivals can be enjoyed with a group of like-minded travellers

Kirker Holidays is known for organising luxury city breaks with exclusive concierge services, but it also offers music festivals and opera breaks, which provide a sociable group of like-minded travellers.

Martin Randall Travel operates around 300 small-group cultural tours in the UK, Europe and long-haul destinations such as Japan and Vietnam. Rather than trying to cover a whole country, it will focus on a specific area of fascination – such as Frank Lloyd Wright’s architecture in America or Opera in Vienna – with leading expert lecturers.

Single parents

solo travel sri lanka
An immersive family holiday in Sri Lanka

If you have teenagers in tow, Experience Travel Group has some inspired itineraries, including an immersive family holiday in Sri Lanka that will take you beyond the tourist trail to discover unique authentic sights and experiences.

If you want to relax at a luxury beachfront hotel, Classic Collection has plenty of options including the Colombia Beach Resort in Cyprus where it has a reduced single supplement for single parent families.

As you can see, there are plenty of options to choose from when you fancy a trip away by yourself. You often have the choice of buddying up with others, but that’s not necessary. The world really is your oyster, so what are you waiting for? It’s time to book that luxury solo trip you’ve always dreamed of.