To travel solo into nature is enriching, grounding, and healthy.
As an urban dweller, I plan many of my trips to take me into nature. It is something I need.
However, as a student of history, as one who thrives on the people I meet on my journeys, urban travel is more common for me. Fortunately, connecting to nature is still possible. In fact, not surprisingly, it is on these urban trips that I seek out nature more deliberately.
From Hong Kong to New York City to London, I have sought out time to enter into nature, stop, breathe, and relax as I travel solo. Doing so, I get the best of both worlds, cultural travel and nature travel, as I go solo.
10 Great Cities for Nature
Finding nature in major cities is surprisingly easy. Massive parks, ravine systems, and waterfronts are there to transport you into nature and feed your soul despite the concrete, road systems, and frenzy nearby.
I have chosen the cities on this list to include the most popular destinations around the world for solo travelers that are also great nature cities. In addition, they are cities that you can fly into. These cities are both full of nature and near nature in a big way. Here are 10 suggestions to help you travel solo into nature.
- Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada When the sun is out, so are Vancouverites. Many get out in the rain as well. There are beaches surrounding the city which give you long horizons and great sunsets. Stanley Park is a famous nature getaway in the city. Across the Burrard Inlet, in North Vancouver, there are many hiking options accessible by public transit. Solo Travel Destination: Vancouver, Canada
- Sydney, New South Wales, Australia Sydney is a nature-lover's paradise. Sydney Harbour, with dozens of inlets, offers beaches, hiking paths, and parks everywhere. Just northwest of the city are the Blue Mountains. Go for the day or longer. Read Beyond Sydney: Bushwalking in the Blue Mountains and Affordable Sydney: 32 Free & Low-Cost Tips.
- Hong Kong Surprising to me, when I looked at Meetup.com to see if there was a group I'd be interested in joining for a bit while I was there, the more popular was a hiking group. I have never thought of Hong Kong for nature but it is very popular and all within a short distance by public transit. Meetup.com Got Me Hiking in Hong Kong – It Was #[email protected]&ing Hard!
- Split, Croatia Split offers many beaches and Biokovo Nature Park nearby. But by far the most popular nature destination is the Plitvice Lakes. Reaching them is a full day trip. To best enjoy them, go in the off season when there will be fewer people. See Plitvice Lakes, Croatia: Sprinklers and Waterfalls and Split, Croatia: A Perfect Port and More.
- Glasgow, Scotland Glasgow is a fun, energetic city. It is also the gateway to some great hiking on The West Highland Way. In the city itself, you can take a break from the history, pubs, and shops and stroll along the Kelvin Walkway on River Kelvin. Read Solo Travel Destination: The West Highland Way, Scotland and One Day in Glasgow: Pure Gallus.
- Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA With 300 days of sunshine per year, you can bet on good weather to enjoy New Mexico's stunning landscape. Near Albuquerque are Elena Gallegos Park, Cibola National Forest, and, with less nature but definitely interesting, Petroglyph National Monument. Read Solo Travel Destination: New Mexico Road Trip.
- Calgary, Alberta, Canada Calgary. Calgary! In the foothills of the Rockies, near Dinosaur Provincial Park in the Alberta Badlands, the city has so much to offer. And we have many posts to inspire you. Read Solo Travel Destination: Rocky Mountains, Facing Fear and Finding Spirit in the Canadian Badlands and Solo Travel Guide to Western Canada: British Columbia and Alberta.
- Reykjavik, Iceland Iceland is known for nothing if not nature. And the small city of Reykjavik is perfectly located to access much of it on day trips. From geysers to great mountain hikes to thermal spas, its all there. Read Solo Travel Destination: Reykjavik, Iceland and A Road Trip Through Iceland.
- Cape Town, South Africa As one of our readers wrote, “Cape Town has it all: beaches, mountains, harbors, gardens, adventure trips, wildlife, vineyards and wine, amazing food, culture, history, gorgeous weather, and amazing nightlife.” Read two accounts of Cape Town here: Solo Travel Destination: Cape Town, South Africa.
- Kapa'a, Hawaii, USA Kapa'a is a small town (the island's largest) on the island of Kauai and, wow, nature abounds! It's right on the ocean and there's a bike trail to take from there. If you have the patience for public transit or rent a car as I did, you'll have easy access to spectacular nature. Read Affordable Kauai: 32 Free and Low-Cost Tips, First Time In Kauai: A Photography Tour is a Great Way to Start, and Solo in Kauai: What I Spent.
For destinations that are 100% about nature, check out Safe and Easy Hiking Destinations for Solo Travelers.
To learn more about the value of spending time in nature, read ‘Forest Bathing': How Microdosing on Nature Can Help With Stress