Hipster (hip-ster) — noun: usually a young person who is trendy, stylish or progressive in an unconventional way; someone who is hip. Fit the description? Itching to travel solo? It might also be the best time for a change of scene and to reassess your priorities. We round up cities that are solo-traveller friendly and can inspire you in myriad ways
HAVANA: More than cuban rum and cigars
There’s a life-sized bronze of Ernest Hemingway at El Floridita, a historic Havana restaurant and bar where the Hemingway Daiquiri was created for the prolific author. This 200-year-old bar is one of many Havana establishments with a fascinating story. There’s clearly more to Havana than Cuban rum and cigars. It’s why you should get there before the city’s inherent old-world charm begins to diminish. The 1950s limousines haven’t disappeared and neither have the period buildings with the occasional crack. Havana’s reputation as one of the safest for solo travellers is also one reason why homestays have been an integral part of the Havana experience even before the Airbnb wave.
Also read: 10 dream places to visit in 2020
CAPE TOWN: Cricket & wine on the table top
There are few cities in Africa that can rival Cape Town’s wide range of solo traveller options. There’s no better way to explore the city than on a bicycle. If marine life is your thing, find peace at the Two Oceans Aquarium that is a testimony to the region’s amazing marine diversity. Cape town is home to one of the world’s most scenic cricket grounds. Cape Town’s instantly recognisable landmark — the Table Mountain, provides a dramatic backdrop and Devil’s Peak is not far away. Hipsters love their wine and many of them hop on to the Franschhoek Wine Tram that makes stops at some of the area’s emblematic wine estates. You can sample some of South Africa’s finest wines and discuss the flavour profiles with your tram mates.
PRAGUE: Lager was invented here
There are few cities even in Europe that can match Prague’s photogenic appeal. Historic castles, imposing church spires and cobbled streets, Prague has it all. The city has its share of tourist traps and hyped ‘Good for the gram’ spots, you can still find charming alcoves beyond the beaten track. And then there’s the beer. The lager was invented here. Prague’s beer trails crisscross some of the city’s most atmospheric drinking holes and are always teeming with fellow solo travellers from across the universe.
AMSTERDAM: Stop look go... at the red light
The original bike culture city, and one that is proud of its liberal social places. Amsterdam’s city’s all-night clubs, relaxed drug policies and legendary red light district might figure on some traveller wish lists but Amsterdam’s charm goes beyond entertainment options that are often forbidden in other cities. The city’s canals and tiny, winding streets are picture perfect while spending an afternoon at the city’s Albert Cuyp outdoor market can be rewarding, too. It’s also a solo cyclist’s paradise, there’s no better way to explore the city.
LUANG PRABANG: Monks sell dreams here
No longer one of the best kept secrets in South East Asia, Laos’ solo traveller hub has gradually acquired cult status. Many visitors stay at least a week, making it a point to crawl out of bed at 5:30 am at least once to witness the alms giving tradition. About 200 Buddhist monks congregate in the main street and walk through the adjoining streets as locals shower the monks with rice, fruits and traditional sweets. Luang Prabang’s attractions include the Wat (temple) Xieng Thong, one of the finest examples of Lao temple architecture with its two-tiered roof and precious mosaics. You can cover the city on bicycle and keep making stops at cafes for your fill of chilled Laotian coffee.
PARIS: fall in love, at the first sight
There are few cities that possess the all-round appeal of the French capital. It’s equally popular with tourists posing with the Mona Lisa or shopping along Champs-Élysée and diehard romantics who find enough sparks to rekindle their romance. Paris was the solo destination of choice even before solo travel became a thing. Solo dining is hardly uncommon; the city’s countless cafes are a great place to start your day, enjoy gourmet delights and strike up interesting conversation. Whether you’re seeking knowledge at the museums or a fun night in town, you won’t be disappointed. There are few cities that can rival Paris’ ability to spark creative inspiration.
AUSTIN: World’s live music capital
Most American cities have taken decades to build their carefully cultivated, larger than life images; not Austin. Austin’s emergence on all America’s ‘hip lists’ — from entertainment to cuisine, is clearly a 21st century phenomenon fuelled largely by lifestyle TV shows and blogs. Of all the monikers this city has embraced, nothing rings truer than ‘Live Music capital of the World’. The city’s Red River district comes to life every evening. With over 250 live music venues, you are never out of options. My favourites include Saxon Pub and Emo’s one of the catalysts for Austin’s booming punk rock scene in the 1990s. Another popular pit-stop for solo travellers is Hope Outdoor Gallery ,one of America’s largest outdoor galleries, a platform for muralists and graffiti artists. And then, there are the food trucks that have made it a genuine gourmet destination.
CHIANG MAI: Take a ride in a ‘red car’
Songthaews are dime a dozen in Chiang Mai, the best option to get from Point A to B. Tourists know them as ‘red cars’, it’s where you’re most likely to run in to hipsters from across the world. While Koh Samui and Krabi might attract beach bums, Chiang Mai is Thailand’s ultimate hipster haven. It’s tough not to fall for the city’s multiple charms and deep-rooted culture. Chiang Mai is an important centre for Buddhism in Thailand with its 300-plus temples. The Wua-Lai Walking Street offers a wide range of handmade products by local artisans and the city’s very own hipsters. And then there’s the Nimman neighbourhood close to the city’s university where coffee snobs converge at popular establishments like Ristr8to, an award-winning café.