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Four volumes of SUITCASE Magazine, with a new issue delivered to your door each quarter
The idea of travelling alone can be a disconcerting one, especially for a young female. Being lost in an unknown city with no one by your side is not an appealing thought, and nor is the prospect of looking like that girl who was stood up for dinner. Besides, there are only so many selfies one can take.
Between hour-long frantic commutes, hectic work schedules and the occasional (or extremely frequent) parties, we’re turning into experts on ignoring what we really want. Along with a healthy lifestyle, it’s important to feed ourselves with what we crave every so often (hint: not pizza), but essential “me” time.
There’s something about taking the time to relax, rejuvenate and reflect in an unfamiliar environment which is refreshing, and it doesn’t have to be a spa. Whether we decide to use the time off to learn a new language, acquaint ourselves with the tiny backstreets of a city, or even get to know some locals, we’re creating a different way to enjoy our own lives.
And so, SUITCASE presents a specially curated solo-travelling guide with recommendations and tips for each month of the year. For the sceptics, there are fail-safe getaways such as Italy and Finland, and for the brave, the depths of Ghana, Singapore and Australia.
Visiting Italy in January is an ideal time to escape the busy, touristy crowds. Perfect your photography skills when viewing the glistening city lights during the magical “blue hour” between sunset and night, but that’s after you’ve seen some of the world’s best and most fashionable museums. The Uffizi Gallery cannot be missed, and taking in the masterpieces of the Renaissnce can be breathtaking. For a fashion fix, head to the Museo Salvatore Ferragamo which displays more than 10,000 shoe models, and Gucci Museo which pays homage to the luxury Italian brand. Take a walk across Ponte Vecchio: the oldest of Florence’s six bridges, and relax, wine and dine in Santo Spirito for tasty, authentic Italian dishes. If you fancy something unique, visit Osteria De’Benci for their tasty strawberry risotto.
To stay, we recommend the Borghese Palace Art Hotel (from £95p/night) consisting of uniquely decorated rooms blending antique furniture, or the cosy Palazzo Galetti (from £80p/night), with each of the nine rooms featuring its own little terrace.
Spend the month of love admiring the scenery of Netherlands. For panoramic views of Rotterdam, take the Spido Harbour Tour or visit the renowned 800-metre long Erasmus Bridge. Wake up early to bright blue skies and hire a bike to cycle yourself to the famous Amsterdam Public Library where you can dig out a treasurable read before visiting traditional markets such as the Art Plein Spui for paintings, Westerstraat for clothes, and the Marqt farmers market for organic foods and herbs. There’s also the Pop Arts Festival, featuring puppet shows and quirky animations.
Ghana scores high points as a destination for solo travellers, mainly because of its extravagant castles, palaces and mansions. The Cape Coast Castle was a trading lodge in the 16th century and is now home to eye-opening guide tours on the history of West Africa, while the Prempeh ll Jubilee Museum, Kumasi, is your best place to explore Ashanti culture and history. As for the shopping, we’ll let the numbers do the talking. The Kejetia Market, in Kumasi too, has over 11,000 stalls from where you can pick the ripest fruits, freshest herbs and traditional clothing. If you’re searching for a little more peace, visit the Songor Lagoon where locals continue to work at the biggest salt mining area in the country.
Best for nature lovers with its many nature reserves and eco-tourism adventures, Belize is ideal to visit during April when the rain is not as heavy. Explore the historical facts of Ancient Mayan temples, from the Pre-Colombian civilization, and the superb Belize Barrier Reef where the more adventurous can participate in snorkelling to see aquatic species, including nautilus and tropical fish. Take a climb to the top the 140-feet tall Ca’ana (the tallest Mayan structure) for a view of the Belizean Jungle and visit the Belize Government House for an educational guide of the country.
To stay, we recommend the Ka’ana Boutique Resort and Spa (from £311 p/night), situated in the heart of the Mayan Jungle, or the Cotton Tree Lodge (from £85 p/night)which offers daily activities of trips to waterfalls and chocolate making workshops.
Rent a car and take a drive from Arizona’s lively capital city Phoenix to the Grand Canyon via the legendary Route 66 and admire the weather, red rocks of Sedona and impressive American landscapes along the way. A trip to college towns Scottsdale and Tempe will have you surrounded by youngsters training for the all important baseball season, and treatments at the Enchantment Resort’s Mii Amo Spa will leave you craving more. For spontaneous nightlife fun to tasty wings from Buffalo Wild Wings, fresh pancakes from Brandy’s Restaurant and Bakery and hip shopping districts – there’s no city as trendy as Flagstaff.
To stay, we recommend The Orchards Inn of Sedona (from £92p/night), with views of red-rocked landscapes, or the Montelucia Resort and Spa (from £243 p/night), located minutes away from restaurant, bars, and hiking trails.
With Helsinki chosen as the World Design Capital in 2012 because of an impressive array of Art Nouveau styled buildings and architecture, a getaway to Finland is the perfect go-to spot to discover and inspire your inner creativity. Museums range from the Arabia Museum and Gallery – a permanent exhibition on art ceramics and glass – to the Finnish Museum of Photography, which is devoted to the creatives of Finland. To relax and appreciate the beautiful nature surrounding you, travellers are encouraged to join in on either a ferry or rail trip, but be sure to hit your hotel when midnight strikes to see the spectacular June sun.
To stay, we recommend the Helka Hotel (from £101p/night), a refurbished 1920s building which features decor from Finnish design brands, or hotel Sokos (from £145 p/night) which locates next to shopping centre Kluuvi and Galleria Esplanad.
For those who are longing a fast Far-East experience, Singapore is one of the most recommended, English-speaking countries for any Westerner to visit. While it’s a great travel destination to visit all year around, a getaway in July offers the opportunity to join in on the Singapore Food Festival where the tasty fare is hard to resist. Check out the largest (216-feet) fountain in the world, the Fountain of Wealth, stop by the Suntec City Mall for a true Singaporean shopping experience, and visit Marina Bay Sands for its 150-metre infinity pool.
To stay, we recommend the trendy, boutique BIG hotel (from £66p/night) where Nexus Tablets are used to control the air conditioning of your room, or the funky-styled Klapsons (from £112 p/night) with its spacious rooms and a short walk away from Chinatown.
It’s almost impossible to oppose a trip to Costa Rica. Known for its ecotourism and ideal for the more adventurous with options to go surfing, caving, snorkeling, sport fishing, and even join in on canopy tours, you’re promised a holiday of action-packed, fun-filled activities. And when you fancy winding down to relax the muscles you’ve been using all day, services at luxurious day spas, such as Spa Uno, are ready to leave you feeling on cloud nine. The advantage of visiting in August? It’s less packed with other tourists and a lot cheaper.
To stay, we recommend the El Sabanero Eco Lodge (from £115 p/night) surrounded by beautiful palm trees with a soothing atmosphere, or Rancho Pacifico (from £231 p/night) where hiking trails and delicious cuisines are considered part of the hotel experience.
While it’s difficult to avoid rain in Ireland, a trip in September will relieve with you a few less showers. A city tour of Dublin will take you through the countryside and villages, including the vibrant Dun Laoghaire and historical suburb Clontarf where you’ll find a pretty rose garden situated in St Anne’s – one Dublin’s largest parks. There’s also the Dublin Writers Museum for literacy advocates, celebrating renowned writers such as Oscar Wilde and James Joyce. Don’t forget to take a stroll down Lower Baggot Street, where you will find yourself amongst Dublin’s best pubs. Visit the Bernard Shaw for cocktails and live music, especially in September where you’ll find yourself joining in cheering celebrations for Arthur’s Day – a commemoration of Dublin’s famed historical brewer. With free gigs dotted throughout Dublin’s most renowned pubs, Arthur’s Day offers a splendid glimpse of Ireland’s biggest artists, while holding the promise of catching surprise performances by international artists like of Mumford & Sons and Bobby Womack.
To stay, we recommend the historic The Shelbourne Dublin, A Renaissance Hotel (from £390p/night),where designer rooms boast an impeccable interior, or the Radisson Blu Royal (from £120p/night), where you can visit the Vintage Room to sip on aged whiskeys and wines.
When in need of a complete distraction, Hong Kong is your answer. The city’s vibrancy and large crowds of locals and tourists alike leaves you with little time to think of life outside travels. For a magnificent view of the Hong Kong island skyline, leave the crowds behind and follow locals up the winding path of the Morning Trail Peak Climb and watch the sprawling cityscape and harbor unfold beneath you. Then hop on the historic Peak Tram cable car and enjoy a vertical slide down side of the mountain to the waiting queues of tourists below. Once back in Central, wander through the skyscrapers to the Star Ferry and take its famous crossing to Kowloon, admiring the stunning view of the harbor as you go. Spend an afternoon exploring the old streets and architecture of Kowloon – stop for a foot massage and a taste of local dumplings.
To stay, we recommend sci-fi themed Hotel Mira (from £280p/night) with its futuristic appearance and feel, or The Royal Pacific Hotel & Towers (from £115p/night), which although has smaller rooms, provides enough space for any solo traveller to feel comfortable in. Alternatively, few hotels can beat the modern architecture of Langham Place, ideal for solitary travellers, and boasting one of the coolest rooftop pools in Asia.
Norway has you at its natural beauty. Art park Vigeland Sculpture features over 200 magnificent works made of iron, granite and bronze art; the Hardangerfjord and Sognefjord fjords (an elongated and narrow sea with land on the side) are two out of the three longest in the world, and the all-famous Northern Lights is at its brightest in November. Take a riverboat safari in Pasvik Valley, spend a day exploring and paddling at the Raftsundet Alps, or go on a two-hour walk of Tromsø with a professional artist and photographer as your guide.
To stay, we recommend the Herangtunet boutique hotel in Valdres (from £113p/night), designed to mirror the surrounding woods with its timber structure, or the Dalen Hotel (from £205p/night), situated next to Lake Bandak for peaceful morning walks.
Swap the cold for warm evenings and sunsets in one of Australia’s most popular cities, Sydney. Delve into Surry Hills market for the best boutiques, dance away in hidden nightlife hotspots The BackRoom and Beach Haus, and make sure you’re keeping an eye out for any outdoor cinema events taking place. For cocktails, Bondi Hardware is always a treat, as well as Bucket List where you can order a bucket of shrimps and a cider while chilling on a deck chair, perhaps making plans for a sunny New Years Eve, where fireworks will still be blazing.
To stay, we recommend Blue Sydney (from £161p/night), with views of the city skyline and harbor peeking from your hotel window, or The Kirketon (from £95.27p/night), located in the heart of Sydney’s vibrant district of restaurants, nightclubs and bars. Finally, if you want to hit the beach, Adina Apartment Hotel (from £250p/night) right on Bondi Beach is a great option.
Words by @unsahmalik
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