A Solo Traveller's Guide to Germany

Cologne, Germany
Cologne, Germany | © ESB Professional / Shutterstock
Evelyn Smallwood

Travelling solo in Germany all by yourself is easy and fun. Train infrastructure is good, so there are no worries about being stranded alone somewhere, and the country is, in general, extremely safe for the lone adventurer. Here’s a list of tips for the independent traveler in Germany.

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Book a room in a hostel

Even if you’re too old for a hostel and you swore you’d never sleep in a bunk bed again, lone travellers on long-term trips will get a lot of social benefit from staying in a hostel. The good news is, though, not all hostels are grotty bed farms with biohazardous showers. Some are basically budget hotels which offer rooms with ensuite showers. Socialising on your own terms is encouraged, but the party vibe? Perhaps not so much.

Pack as little as possible

Having very little luggage means you don’t have to stress about watching two suitcases or rely on others to help you move and carry it. Europe is full of stairs and also shops selling everything you could ever need. If you can’t pick up your suitcase comfortably with one hand or lift it over your head, you’ve packed too much. Take advantage of luggage lockers at train stations if you must, but do whatever you can to be unburdened.

Bring something nice

Berlin is home to many unusual bars

Bring as little luggage as possible, sure, but bring one outfit that’s a little bit fancy. Travelling alone doesn’t mean you have to hide in schlubby clothes. Go to that cocktail bar dressed to kill and see what kind of adventure the city can offer.

Get out of the house

One of the delights of travelling alone is that you can sleep in until 10 if you want, however, still make sure you get your culture fill. Even if you lie in a little longer than planned, don’t worry that museum or historic site has been there for a long time and will be there at lunchtime too. Do make a special effort to eat at nice cafés and do the same things you would do when travelling with a buddy. There’s no shame in being alone and being out and about will mean you’ll be more likely to meet your new best friend.

Go to a festival

The Festival Party

There are a ton of music festivals in Germany covering everything from heavy metal to Wagner operas. Find one that plays the sort of music you like and go and find your tribe. Good public transport to remote places makes it easy to get around, and online forums posting camping or transport places means making friends before you get there is easily accomplished.

Join a tour

Germans love tours and increasingly museums, attractions and even neighbourhoods are offering tours in English. Join one, either officially or by just trailing along in the vicinity. Even if you don’t speak German, it’s amazing how much you can understand from gesture and intonation. At the very least, you can enjoy the weirdness of your tour group colleagues. It’s all about the stories to tell later, right?

Treat yourself

Woman wrapped in towel relaxes in a wood-paneled sauna

In Germany, the basic tasks of travelling are easy enough that they shouldn’t occupy too much of your day. Treat yourself to a day at the sauna, go to the movies at the fancy cinema with in-seat drinks service, linger for an inordinate amount of time around your favourite paintings or just people-watch or read in the park.

Make a plan. Or don’t.

Germany is a big country. Not as big as the US, Australia or Canada, but one of the biggest in Europe. Going from Berlin to Hamburg to Munich to Cologne in a week is possible, but would be exhausting unless you are the type of person re-energized by six-hour train journeys. One of the advantages of travelling alone is that you are agile enough to seep through the cracks of the regular tourist experience. Staying in one place for longer allows you to explore that even further.

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