7 of the best destinations for solo travellers over 50

single older travellers

For many of us, the way we travel starts to change around the age of 50.

We enjoy spending longer in a place while discovering its history and culture. We put more emphasis on comfort, more emphasis on a temperate climate, good food, decent infrastructure, and a variety of activities where there is little risk of breaking a bone. Since we’re travelling alone, an affordable and safe destination is a must. And meeting people close to our age is a bonus.

With that in mind, and with over 25 years of experience adventuring solo, here are my top 7 destinations for solo travellers over 50. (It’s worth mentioning that there are so many great destinations out there, but these are my favourite ones!)

Read more: Why the best travels of my life started after 50

The busy Monastiraki Square in Athens, Greece

Bustling Monastiraki Square in Athens

As the birthplace of western civilisation and democracy, Greece ’s history goes back thousands of years and is best discovered through the archaeological sites and museums dotted around the country. The climate is warm and sunny from April to October, which lets you enjoy the beaches on dozens of islands. Crete is my favourite for hiking and spring flowers.

Despite the lure of the islands, be sure to dedicate a few days to Athens . While the city appeared busy and chaotic during my first visit in 1993, I quite enjoyed strolling around and, more recently, using the expanded metro. Healthy and delicious food, friendly locals, as well as an older population (one person in five is over 65) round off the highlights.

single older travellers

Read more: Why I’m so glad I chose a group tour of Greece

single older travellers

2. Portugal

A traveller standing on steps in a street in Lisbon, Portugal

Exploring the pedestrian village of Óbidos

Often-overlooked,  Portugal will delight you. Travelling around this compact country is quick and easy. For example, you can go between Lisbon and Porto by train in less than three hours. Besides cities, Portugal’s draw cards include charming villages (check out Óbidos), castles and cathedrals, nearly 1,800 kilometres of coastline, and the picturesque Douro valley, famous for its wine. Be sure to catch a fado performance (traditional folk music) at À Capella in Coimbra, my favourite Portuguese town.

Feeling inspired?

single older travellers

Large food portions at restaurants help make the country surprisingly affordable. Always ask for a ‘meia dose’ (half serving) unless you’re starving. Sample the best pastel de nata (egg tart) at Pastéis de Belém , in its namesake suburb of Lisbon. Portugal also has an older population, compounded by the expat retirees who winter in the Algarve where the average temperature is a mild 15°C . 

Read more: Why you should go to Portugal for the food

  • 15-day Explore Spain & Portugal
  • 8-day Portugal Real Food Adventure
  • 7-day Highlights of the Azores

A panoramic view of Italy gorgeous Amalfi Coast

Italy’s Amalfi Coast

Just like Greece, Italy is rich in history and culture, and features one of the best cuisines in the world. By all means, visit the astounding art treasures in Rome and Florence and the canals in Venice , but also visit less well-trodden regions such as Puglia, Basilicata, Umbria, or Le Marche, to see a more authentic glimpse of the country. Italian trains are very affordable, although not always punctual.

Read more: 6 cities in Italy to visit before everyone else does

If you like day hikes, stay in Cinque Terre for a few days and walk the easy coastal path between its five colourful villages. It may surprise you to learn that Italy has the second oldest population in the world, with 22.4% of people 65 or older. Thank that Mediterranean diet, and the relaxed attitude of its citizens.

  • 8-day Italy Real Food Adventure
  • 8-day Rome to Amalfi
  • 8-day Cinque Terre: Hike, Bike & Kayak

Explore all Intrepid trips in Italy

4. Argentina

A traveller on the Salinas Grandes, a large salt plain in Jujuy province, Argentina

Marie on the Salinas Grandes, a large salt plain in Jujuy province, Argentina

Argentina is huge. I spent 12 weeks there and still haven’t seen everything. You can hike around lakes and up mountains, ride a boat to a glacier, see penguins, taste wines, admire some of the biggest waterfalls in the world, visit museums and churches, and shop until you drop. If you’re fascinated by the tango, spend time in sophisticated Buenos Aires. Catch a free performance on the street, buy a ticket to a show, or even take a lesson. Some schools like DNI Tango match you with different solo partners if you come on your own.

Avoid expensive flights by taking night buses, which are affordable, safe, and comfortable. Or choose to spend your time in one region. Go to Patagonia , the Lake District, and Iguazú Falls for stunning landscapes. Or escape the crowds in the pretty cities of Córdoba and Salta. December to March is summer in Argentina, making it a great winter destination for North Americans.

  • 10-day Patagonia Trekking
  • 7-day Best of Argentina and Brazil

Read more: What it’s really like exploring Patagonia on a group tour

Performers doing the Los Viejitos, a traditional Mexican dance

The traditional Mexican folk dance of Los Viejitos

If you’re solo, head to Mexico ‘s Pacific Coast and the towns of the highlands such as Oaxaca or Guanajuato . These places offer a little more authenticity than the Caribbean coast, which often caters to package tourists and couples (with prices to match). Mexico City is also reinventing itself as quite the cultured capital, with an exploding food scene that I’m a big fan of. Due to its altitude, the city tends to be cool and pleasant to stroll around.

Colourful, sunny, and very affordable, Mexico is home to various indigenous groups with their own foods, customs, handicrafts, and archaeological sites (Aztec, Maya, Mixtec, Zapotec, and more). Mexico is also home to some of the friendliest people I’ve come across. Add to this a large number of North American expats, especially in winter, and it isn’t hard to meet people.

  • 15-day Mexico Unplugged
  • 9-day Mexico Real Food Adventure
  • 9-day Playa del Carmen to Mexico City

Read more: 5 reasons why Mexico is the ultimate solo travel destination

 A quiet street in Luang Prabang, Laos

A sleepy street in the centre of Luang Prabang

Get away from the hordes of tourists and full-moon parties and visit underrated Laos . The gracious and reserved Lao people, orange-robed monks, and ornate Buddhist temples are reminiscent of Thailand, but without the crowds.

The peaceful town of Luang Prabang in the north makes a visit here especially relaxing. Take a boat trip on the Mekong, visit small villages further afield, or go for a hike in the beautiful countryside. The climate is also cooler and more comfortable than in much of South East Asia.

Laos offers a distinct cuisine based on sticky rice (which you eat with your fingers). Try orlam (a thick soup with buffalo meat) or chicken skewers wrapped in lemongrass. You can eat for a couple of dollars at the street markets, but check out the Tamarind Café in Luang Prabang for something a little more upscale, and consider taking their cooking class.

  • 13-day Thailand & Laos Adventure
  • 30 -day South East Asia Loop

Read more: The best destinations in Laos, Southeast Asia’s unsung hero

A pretty temple in Kyoto, Japan

Kinkaku-ji temple in Kyoto, Japan

Where else do taxi drivers wear white gloves and meals can be ordered from a display of plastic food dishes? Japan feels different and exciting, but it’s so clean, safe, and well-organised that you’ll easily find your way around – even if you don’t know a single word of Japanese.

Most hotels charge per person, not per room, meaning that you’re not penalised for travelling solo. Add to this the famous Japanese politeness and the delicious food, and you have a winner. Tokyo and Kyoto are the two cities you absolutely can’t miss. But the speedy and ultra-punctual bullet trains make travelling around the country a breeze.

Read more: The ultimate guide to Japan in one week

In a country where respect for elders is a tenet of the culture, more than 26% of people are over 65, making Japan the country with the oldest population in the world. Worth a visit just for how young you’ll feel!

  • 12-day Japan Real Food Adventure
  • 13-day Japan: Land of the Rising Sun
  • 12-day Classic Japan

Read more: A local’s guide to Japan on a budget

Ready to take on that big, beautiful world? Intrepid has a wide range of trip themes and styles to suit all travellers. Check out Intrepid’s solo tours.

single older travellers

To read more about solo travel for the 50+ crowd, check out this author’s personal blog: bigtravelnut.com

Image Credits: All c/o Marie-France Roy (except Amalfi Coast c/o Intrepid Travel).

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Marie-France Roy

A long-time resident of Toronto, Marie-France is a freelance writer who’s been exploring the world mostly solo for 25 years (although not continuously). She’s especially fond of sunny destinations with good coffee. Her blog bigtravelnut.com focuses on affordable solo travel for the 40+ crowd.

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COMMENTS

  1. Solo Travel for Over 50s & 60s

    Intrepid adventures are for travelers with a yearning to get off the beaten track. Whether you're traveling solo, with a group of friends, or are aged 18 or 70, there is an Intrepid adventure to suit your interests and comfort level. Each Intrepid adventure has a physical and cultural grading to help you decide if the trip is right for you.