Unforgettable Solo Trips for People Over 50

Wide Angle View of the Village Riomaggiore in Cinque Terre National Park, Liguria Italy


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Wide Angle View of the Village Riomaggiore in Cinque Terre National Park, Liguria Italy

Flying Solo

Don't fight the urge to travel in retirement if it means traveling alone. The best trips for solo travelers over the age of 50 provide opportunities to safely go on exciting adventures while meeting new people. Wondering what interesting destinations to add to your bucket list? We've pulled together unforgettable, wallet-friendly trips, domestic and international, that'll inspire you to hit the road or hop on a plane, train, or boat — or simply explore local attractions — to see the world in a whole new way. Are you looking at other destinations worth sharing? Tell us in the comments.

Related: Bucket-List Spots Around the World Every Traveler Should See at Least Once

San Miguel Mission in Downtown Santa Fe, New Mexico

Get Inspired in Santa Fe, New Mexico

With its warm, dry climate and copious outdoor adventures, rich cultural history, and vibrant arts and culture scene, it's no wonder Santa Fe — the oldest state capital in the U.S. — is such a hit with the 50-plus crowd. Single travelers can immerse themselves in the community by visiting the historic plaza, which dates back to the early 1600s and hosts a wide range of events, from markets to concerts. History buffs can tour the San Miguel Mission, various museums focused on the region’s Native American traditions, and the nearby Puye Cliff Dwellings, once home to more than a thousand Pueblo people. The Spanish colonial adobe city in the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains is also more saturated with art galleries and museums than almost anywhere else in the world — all within walking distance or a short drive from the town square.

Related: Travel Discounts for Seniors

Horse and Carriage in Charleston Downtown District, South Carolina

Discover Charleston, South Carolina

Deemed the region's best city, Charleston is oozing with history and hospitality — from charming buildings and walkways to friendly locals. Solo senior travelers, even those with limited mobility, will find it easy to get around and connect with others through the Southern city's varied group tours, from ghostly graveyard walks to food tours to history lessons via horse-drawn carriage, boat, or bus. For a city so closely tied to the American Revolution and Civil War, it's also surprisingly contemporary; its restaurant and boutique hotel scene is reinventing itself constantly, making it a popular spot for weekend exploring. It's also loaded with free and cheap fun.

Related: Ways to Save Money When Traveling Solo

Washington Monument Being Reflecting on the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool in Washington, D.C. at Dawn
Sean Pavone/istockphoto

Visit the Nation's Capital

Considering its cultural, architectural, and historical landmarks, every American should visit Washington at least once. Entrance to noteworthy museums such as the National Museum of Natural History and National Air and Space Museum is free, and visiting iconic memorials along the National Mall and many other free activities can give budget-conscious travelers a big bang for their buck. For an inexpensive, flexible, and relatively easy way to navigate the city's many attractions, go on a hop-on, hop-off sightseeing tour — even a night tour of the capital city’s illuminated monuments and memorials. You might meet a potential travel buddy or a new friend along the way.

Holland America Cruise Ship MS Noordam Sailing Into Skagway, Alaska at Dawn

Embark on an Alaskan Cruise

For a vacation within the U.S., a cruise through Alaska's ruggedly beautiful wilderness can be as relaxing or as active as you'd like. Midsize cruises through Alaska’s Inside Passage — a coastal waterway boasting wildlife and lush scenery — can access ports that aren't open to larger ships. Sail through Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve for unrivaled views of Alaska's massive glaciers, fjords, and cascading waterfalls. Adventurous types can fill their itineraries with excursions: skiing, mountain biking, ice-fishing, whitewater rafting, helicopter tours, and train rides through majestic mountain ranges and charming Alaskan towns.

Among the many benefits of membership with AARP are discounts on cruises as well as savings on scores of senior products and services. Expedia even hosts a dedicated AARP Travel Center.

Pacific Coast Highway, Highway 1, at the Southern End of Big Sur, California
Doug Meek/shutterstock

Traverse California's Pacific Coast Highway

A scenic road trip can be an excellent, budget-friendly way to explore stretches of the U.S. you've never seen. From San Francisco to San Diego, California's Pacific Coast Highway — or California Highway 1 — provides a glimpse of some of America's most dramatic coastal vistas. Take in Bay views and the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco before heading south to San Diego, winding slowly through surf towns with fresh seafood, state parks touting a range of outdoor activities, the rugged mountains and cliffs of Big Sur (between San Simeon and Carmel), vineyards, kitschy roadside attractions, and more.

Pier at a Beach in Key West, Florida During Sunset

Relax in the Florida Keys

For travelers who want to relish a slower-paced vacation, Key West calls. Renowned for its laid-back attitude, pastel-colored houses, and coral reefs, the southernmost city in the continental U.S. is a slice of the Caribbean. Because of its proximity to Havana, it's also a tropical paradise with delicious Cuban-inspired cuisine. Be sure to sample the island's beachfront eateries and take a day trip to Dry Tortugas National Park.

Toroweap Point, Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona at Sunrise

Explore the U.S. National Parks

From scenic drives through forests and wildflowers in the Great Smoky Mountains to ranger-led nature walks amid Yellowstone's geysers to canoeing through the Grand Canyon, the marvels of U.S. national parks are accessible to travelers with a range of interests and physical abilities. Seniors (ages 62-plus) can buy a lifetime senior pass for $80 (or annual pass for $20) and visit more than 2,000 federal recreation sites, including national parks, wildlife refuges, forests, and grasslands. After an inspirational and wallet-friendly trip to one or many national parks across the country, you'll return home with a newfound respect for nature and the world around you.

Related: Money-Saving Tips for Visiting National Parks

Train on the Canadian Pacific Railway Moving Along Bow River in the Canadian Rockies, Banff National Park

Ride a Train Through the Canadian Rockies

Admire the stunning natural landscape of the Canadian Rockies from the comfort of a train car. A rail journey from Banff to Vancouver (or vice versa) through western Canada's snowcapped mountain region via the top-of-the-line Rocky Mountaineer features gourmet meals, plush seating, and glass-domed observation cars and open-air vestibules for unobstructed views of the region's dramatic peaks and glacier-fed turquoise lakes. Meals and overnight hotel accommodations are included, and travelers can customize their trips, which run April through October, by booking optional sightseeing tours and cruises to enjoy even more of the= scenery in and around national parks such as Jasper and Banff. 

Related: Spectacular Train Trips Across America and Beyond

Cruise Over the Rhein River Near the Medieval Town Cochem, Germany

Enjoy a Leisurely European River Cruise

For many travelers, river cruises offer leisurely sightseeing without all the time and effort that goes into planning (and executing) the perfect multi-country trip — and different views outside the window every day. On popular and affordable European river cruises along the Danube, Rhine, Seine, and Rhône using smaller, hassle-free vessels, the destination is truly the journey itself. The easygoing pace on deck reflects the meanders through picturesque landscapes, and passengers can partake in a variety of shore excursions while docked in historic cities. Bike rides through medieval towns, vineyard wine tastings, and tours of spectacular bankside castles are an intimate way to explore Europe.

Aurora Borealis in Lapland, Finland

Witness the Northern Lights

Seeing the kaleidoscopic northern lights known as the aurora borealis is an often elusive, potentially once-in-a-lifetime opportunity — considering appearances can be unpredictable, based on weather, darkness, and solar activity. But there are many exciting destinations for viewing the spectacular natural light show. From Alaska to Sweden, guided tours accommodate seekers of this remarkable natural phenomenon and other invigorating outdoor activities such as husky trekking in the Arctic wilderness and soaks in hot mineral springs.

Machu Picchu, Peru

Experience Machu Picchu in Peru

Retirement trips are the perfect excuse to visit some of the most amazing cultural sites around the world, and Machu Picchu — a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the Seven Wonders of the World — should be on every adventure traveler's bucket list. Join a guided group tour for help planning the trip and a chance to meet new people while visiting the awe-inspiring, ancient Incan citadel and temple set high in the Andes Mountains in Peru. There are many ways to reach the ruins, depending on your fitness level. Active retirees can hike along the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu or take a luxurious, scenic train ride from Cusco via a rail service such as the Pullman-style train Belmond Hiram Bingham.

African Safari at Sunset in Kruger National Park, South Africa

Spot Wildlife on a South African Safari

Get up close and personal with wildlife on a bucket-list-worthy safari adventure in South Africa. With most days spent in all-terrain vehicles observing the "Big Five" roaming the boundless landscapes, excursions are often low impact and popular with budget-conscious boomers. Book a fully guided safari package through Kruger National Park, one of Africa’s largest game reserves, or another affordable day or multiday Cape Town safari adventure. Other attractions include vineyard tours, beach getaways, and a tram ride up Table Mountain.

Related: Places to Safely See Wild Animals Up Close

Wide Angle View of the Village Riomaggiore in Cinque Terre National Park, Liguria Italy

Find Your Bliss in Italy

Rent a villa to experience Tuscany for a month, hike through the centuries-old seaside villages of Cinque Terre, or wander Rome's world-renowned art museums and ancient ruins. People ages 50-plus traveling solo have their pick of beautiful Italian cities, coastal villages, and countryside towns. If going alone is overwhelming, companies specializing in international group trips and activities for singles 50 and over — such as Singles Travel International, U.K.-based Solos Holidays, and Tauck World Discovery — can help plan a getaway to Italy, and some offer room-sharing options and trips free of the single supplement fee.

The Alamo in San Antonio, Texas

Kick Your Heels Up in San Antonio

For those traveling within the U.S., Texas cities are affordable places to explore. In particular, San Antonio — not long ago ranked No. 16 among the best cheap vacation destinations by U.S. News & World Report — is a must-visit spot in the state. San Antonio's burgeoning restaurant scene, the Alamo historic site (the five area missions are Texas' only UNESCO World Heritage site), and the nearby Natural Bridge Caverns make it a unique place to explore on a budget. With its famed River Walk, San Antonio is also pedestrian friendly.

Aerial of the City Center in Prague, Czech Republic

Czech Out Prague

While there are many amazing places to visit in the Czech Republic, the capital city of Prague is the perfect, inexpensive European city for solo travelers, even for those new to going it alone, no matter the season. Excellent public transportation and Uber make getting around convenient; you can communicate in English in most places; and there are plenty of offbeat hostels for bumping into like-minded travelers. The beautiful, walkable city brims with history and art. Visit the "largest coherent castle complex in the world," the Prague Castle, and take in unique public art such as the bizarre sculpture of David Cerny. Then fill up on cheap hearty meals and beer after all the sightseeing.

Branson, MO

Tap Your Toe in Branson, Missouri

There were several reasons Branson, a vacation town deep in the Ozark, became a magnet for relocating seniors during the pandemic, including its affordability. But it doesn't hurt that it's a top destination for live music, especially in country and related genres, and that makes it magical for aficionados to visit. Between shoes, hit the links for a round of golf, cruise the lakes, explore the History of Fishing Museum, and just plain relax. Are you an Elvis fan? Visit in the spring for the annual Elvis festival (March 24-26, 2023). Coupons and discounts for shows, restaurants, and activities come with a Branson Premium Coupon Package and senior discounts on lodging are available at local resorts and hotels.

Related: Bucket-List Destinations for Music Lovers


Soak up Some Sun in Mazatlán, Mexico

There are 50 miles of beautiful beaches serving this storied town on the central Pacific coast as well as plenty of cheap, casual dining and historic attractions to explore, not to mention hiking, bird-watching, and all sorts of water sports. Free things to do in the area for a cheap beach vacation include exploring the Malecón boardwalk, one of the longest in the world, looking around Old Mazatlán, and stopping by the El Faro Lighthouse, one of the highest in the world — and now including a glass-bottom lookout. Mazatlán is practical, too: Budget hotels abound, with even three-star hotels well under $100 per night, and all-inclusive resorts can be had for less than $200 a night for a solo traveler. An international airport puts it all within easy reach.