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More often than not when traveling solo, we tend to take short trips to just one destination, usually to an interesting city that’s relatively close by. And that’s great. But what if we had the chance to take a slightly longer trip, experiencing an entire region with several destinations for a change… which places would be best suited for this kind of travel? I tried with Andalusia in early January and after 10 days of traveling around this fascinating part of Southern Spain, I am happy to report that it is a great destination for solo travellers and very convenient for a round trip at that. Here’s why:
1. People in the south of Spain are incredibly friendly and helpful. And, aside from that, they are always up for a chat and their hospitality is unbeatable. I’ve experienced this over and over again in the past weeks. Whether it was the parents of the girl I stayed with in Granada inviting me to a big family gathering even though I do not speak Spanish (yet, hopefully) and they do not speak a lot of English, or the bus driver in Ronda helping me out when I did not, as I was supposed to, buy my ticket in advance. I encountered this friendliness in Seville as well, when I was standing in line in the pouring rain to see the annual Christmas parade, and a lovely lady and her young son invited me to share their umbrella with them. When I told them that I was doing this trip on account of my birthday, the mother, who also did not speak a lot of English, started rummaging around in her purse, looking for something she could give me – and that’s how I ended up tasting delicious Spanish Christmas chocolates. To name just a few examples. Of course this does not mean that you should blindly trust everyone you meet, but generally, people in Andalusia are very kind and welcoming.
2. It’s easy to get around. Even though renting a car is great when traveling to several destinations in a single trip, road trips are simply more fun when you’re going with someone else and car trouble is twice as stressful when you’re on your own. So taking public transportation is a good alternative for solo travellers. I found that the best way to get around Andalusia was by bus, as the tickets are quite cheap (e.g. Córdoba – Seville for around 10 Euros) and there are several buses a day driving to and from all the larger cities in the region. I used the bus company Alsa most of the time, but there are plenty of alternatives in the area as well. If you’re in a hurry, you might be able to get from A to B a bit quicker by train, although the tickets tend to be slightly more expensive. Alternatively, I was told by some Spanish friends that car sharing works very well in that area, although I did not try that myself while I was there.
3. Lots of interesting cities close to each other. In Andalusia there are numerous interesting cities to visit and despite their geographical proximity, each of them is very particular with its own distinct architecture and atmosphere. This makes Southern Spain a great destination for a round trip, as you’re able to see a lot of places and really see the region in a reasonable amount of time.
4. It’s cheap. Okay, I have to admit: coming from Denmark, you find that everything costs relatively little compared to what you’re used to. But Andalusia is really cheap. Especially in terms of food. Because of the (awesome) concept of tapas, eating out is extremely economical, which is also why eating out and generally spending lots of time out of the house is such a big part of the Andalusian culture. In most bars, cafés and restaurants you get a free tapa with every drink you order and after that, additional tapas cost you around 1,50 Euros a piece. As mentioned above, transportation is rather economical as well. One of the first things you’ll notice is that the airports are all quite close to the city centres and accordingly, the airport transfers are very cheap. The bus from the airport in Granada to the city centre costs about 3 Euros for example. In Malaga it’s even less. But also, as mentioned above, the bus tickets for trips between the major cities are very affordable, costing between 10 and 20 Euros mostly. Furthermore I noticed, that there’s a student discount for the entry to different sights in the bigger cities, such as at the Real Alcázar (the Royal Palace) in Seville, for instance.
5. It’s safe – thanks to the fact that Andalusians love their evenings. If you’re like me, you love seeing a place by night. But as a female solo traveller you have to be smart about where you go and how you get around after hours. In Andalusia, however, I felt perfectly safe walking around by myself in the evenings, because there are always people on the street – and not just party people, but thanks to the Spanish habit of very late dinners and eating out, the streets are full of families with children, grandparents and teenagers until midnight and beyond – even in January. Needless to say, as anywhere else, you still need to pay attention when traveling by yourself at night.
Bonus tip for solo travel #1: As mentioned in the post Travelling Solo Without Being Alone, staying with a local is a great way to meet people on your trip. You might want to look for hosts your own age or places that accommodate several travellers at once if you prefer not to be entirely alone on your round trip. There are several options for doing this. My favourite is booking through Airbnb, but there are also different ways, such as couch-surfing for example.
Bonus tip for solo travel #2: Bring a good book or a notebook and a pen with you, if you feel uncomfortable eating by yourself when traveling. Audiobooks or a good playlist come in handy when you’re waiting in line for sights like the Alhambra in Granada or for buses and trains between your destinations.
Bonus tip for solo travel #3: Dress like a local and keep your bag light. Not only is it a great safety feature, but it will also make you feel more comfortable while you’re out exploring.
Look out for the next post about cities to visit and the route to take on a round trip of Andalusia!
Now you: what are your favourite places for solo round trips? Where do you dream of traveling to?