The 7 Best Places in India for Solo Travellers

solo traveller in India
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Solo travel is an adventure like no other. It’s a chance to discover more about yourself while meeting like-minded people from all over the world. Whether you’re seeking spirituality or adventure, traveling to escape the crowds, or wanting to try new things that your inner lone wolf is yet to explore, a solo trip to India is a remedy for your mind, body, and soul.

As a country so big it’s nicknamed the ‘subcontinent of Asia,’ each state is different from the next, with a host of experiences waiting for you. India has earned a dubious rep when it comes to the safety of solo travel, but as long as you keep your wits about you and know where you’re going, there’s no reason to feel unsafe.  

Our guide explores seven of the best places in India for solo travelers from quiet beach towns to bustling cities and everything in between. These destinations will make you want to get planning. Let’s get into it.

Hampi

best places for solo travellers in India
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First on our list is the town of Hampi in eastern Karnataka. Rich in history, architecture, and religion, you’ll experience an initial cultural shock here but soon be put at ease once by this humble village and temple town. Hampi was one of the biggest and wealthiest cities in the world during the Vijayanagara Empire and remnants of its affluent past can be witnessed all over.

Historically, Hampi had as many as 2,000 spectacular monuments and was the center of the ruby and diamond trade in India. The invasion in 1565 by Muslim sultans from the south of India led Hampi to endure months of riots and looting before it was eventually abandoned. While its commercial reputation had gone forever, its magnificence could not be destroyed. Hampi is a UNESCO world heritage site and the town is still punctuated by ruined temple complexes and monument forms the Vijayanagara Empire.

Its sprawling landscape of enormous boulders, fascinating rock formations, and amazing ancient ruins make it an unmissable destination for any traveler, but the slow pace and endless excitement make it especially enriching for independent trips. Your eyes will never get bored, and there’s something to do every day. Tour the temples, take a dip in the river that runs through and sample the local cuisines. It is the perfect slow spot to ease into India as a solo backpacker. 

Rishikesh

best places for solo travellers in India
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One of the most famous destinations in India and also the Yoga Capital of the world is Rishikesh. It has attracted solo travelers for its spiritual vibe and adrenaline-pumping activities. It first came to western prominence when the Beatles visited Maharishi Mahesh Yogi Ashram and famously fell out with the guru, inspiring John Lennon’s song “Sexy Sade”. 

Still, Rishikesh is much more than its star-studded history and holds religious and cultural importance to the region. Nestled in the Himalayan foothills, beside the Holy River Ganges, Rishikesh is a place of spirituality, yoga, adventure, and art. If you’re looking for your own Eat, Pray, Love escapade, here is a good place to start.

There are several meditation retreats at ashram centers across the city. And the setting itself will put you in complete ‘zen mode.’ Envision overlooking the Ganges Ghats with a million stars lighting up the sky above you. This is what you can expect during a visit to Rishikesh.

It is also one of the best places in India for solo wanderers born for adventures like trekking, cliff jumping, river rafting, kayaking, rock climbing, and bungee jumping. The cultural diversity helps draw visitors from all walks of life too. 

Goa

Goa
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The bohemian state of Goa is a solo backpackers’ heaven. With towns filled with hostels and a constant flow of traveling hippies, you’ll never feel lonely on your travels. This coastal region is brimming with the best beaches in India and sea-lovers, surfers waves, sunbathers, and those who simply want to sip on a chilled Kingfisher while boogying under the stars will feel right at home.

As a solo backpacker in India, Goa is arguably the best place to start, not only as you can expect to leave with a whole new squad of friends and travel buddies to tackle the rest of the country with you afterward. Overflowing with art, music, and love, it’s a stepping stone to absorbing Indian culture, as well as learning about a host of other cultures from the international residents who call Goa home. 

Though it’s the party center of India, Goa is profoundly spiritual. With Ayurvedic practices and centers dotted around the state and a variety of yoga courses and meditation on offer. The way of life is Goa is centered around experiencing a ‘Santulan’ or ‘balanced’ lifestyle. But that also means letting your hair down and embracing the all-night beach parties and jungle raves. 

Be sure to also check out the Portuguese and French colonies across the region and enjoy a fresh outlook on life in this laid-back beach haven. 

Pondicherry

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Pondicherry is the French capital of India and a solo travel hot spot. The serene sunsets over the sea and lively vibe of the city will lift up the weariest of backpackers. Walk around the cobbled streets of the French colonies and experience a backward culture shock of confusion between old France and new India.

The town is safe and easy to get around, and it boasts a great culinary scene with a fusion of South Indian and French influences. There is no place quite like Pondicherry in the country. Still, you can easily see most of the main sites in a single day, making it a great stop-off if you’re on the move. 

If you do have more time, relax, slow down, and find meaning and purpose in the simple things in life. This coastal city has a slow pace and popular ways to unwind include yoga and meditation to pottery, reclining on the beach, and wandering the well-preserved French Quarter with its tree-lined streets, colonial villas, and upscale boutiques.

As a land that welcomes everyone, Auroville in Pondicherry also offers spiritual cleansing. Across all creeds, politics, and nationalities, the town is universally visited by men and women from all over the world and is considered one of the safest places in India.

Manali

solo travellers in India
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If you find peace when you are high above sea level and like an adventure, we recommend heading north to the Himalayan mountain town of Manali. Not only are the views here a feast for the eyes, but you’ll feel the adrenaline running through your veins when you hear what action-packed activities are on offer. 

Skiing, whitewater rafting, hiking, and paragliding are all on the cards in this charming town. March through to July are the months to visit if you want to plunge into the watersports, while December to February is the best time to hit the slopes. 

Though it’s somewhat hard to get to on the difficult roads heading north and into the mountains, it’s all worth it. It’s a solo backpacker’s paradise because there is plenty of cheap accommodation, we’re talking 1 dollar a night, and due to the endless array of activities, Manali receives a constant flow of potential friends to experience the thrill with.

Along with adrenaline-filled activities, Manali is also ideal for a spiritual retreat. Several temples are tucked away in the valley, and one of the more popular pilgrimage sites is the ancient Hidimba Devi Temple, which previously served as a venue for the Dalai Lama’s teachings.

Delhi

Delhi
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If you’re ready to get to know Delhi at its core, Delhi opens up like a Pandora’s Box for the solo traveler. There is so much in store for those who wish to experience it independently. The list of things to do is endless, from world-famous heritage sites, cultural attractions, and serene gardens to delicious street food, fine dining, and nightclubs. Delhi is an excellent city for solo travelers, whether you like to explore the city’s monuments, eat delicious street food, visit museums, or party the night away at its clubs.

As the capital of India, the size can be daunting, and many travelers are fooled by horror stories that taint the vibrant city’s name. Of course, there are higher crime rates here than in other solo travel havens, as with any capital, but you shouldn’t feel unsafe as long as you exercise general safety precautions.

Things to keep in mind are where you’re staying, how you are getting around, and which areas to avoid. It’s always recommended to read reviews before booking anywhere to stay. Check if your hostel is in a safe neighborhood, the host is complemented and whether there is security or a doorman. 

How you get around can be exciting and every trip is more about the journey than the destination in India. But you’ll have to learn to deal with the hundreds of drivers that approach you at the airport and bus stations. Go with your gut and always pick a driver you think you can trust and take their details for the rest of your stay if you’re please with the service. If this doesn’t give you ease, you can also pre-book transport through your hostel or hotel.

Regardless of the rumors, Delhi is a city that will shock you with its beauty, kindness, and history. The food is some of the best in India, and there are local stalls at every corner just waiting for you to try. Just watch out for Delhi Belly and use your instincts to judge cleanliness.

Even though it’s one of the busiest cities, few backpackers have fully experienced Delhi longer than just when passing through. If you want to go against the grain and experience true India, the capital could be for you.

Kerala

Kerala
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The colorful coastal state, on India’s tropical Malabar shores, boasts almost 600 kilometers of the Arabian Sea coastline with palm-lined beaches and bustling canals being synonymous with its image. Kerala has been one of India’s most popular destinations for domestic and foreign tourists for decades thanks to its diverse landscape and wildlife sanctuaries. It’s also one of the best places in India for solo travelers when it comes to safety. 

The population is notoriously welcoming and diverse and the laid-back beaches, national parks, and tea gardens make it perfectly suited to a solo trip. Kerala also boasts the Western Ghats mountain range, where tea, coffee, and spice plantations punctuate the hillsides. The National Parks here, like Eravikulam, Wayanad, and Periyar, is home to monkeys, tigers, and even elephants. 

For such a small state, constituting just one percent of India’s size, Kerala is exceedingly varied and exciting. Pair an unhurried pace with enlightening scenery, great nightlife, iconic food, and surprising adventure, and you have the recipe for some true solo soul-searching.  

Is India safe for solo travel?

India is a great place to explore alone and brave travelers shouldn’t be put off. There are dangers that come with any trip and solo women won’t always feel comfortable with the unwanted stares and heckling that can come from locals. It’s also ill-advised to travel around at night if you’re alone, but it’s largely safe to use public transport by day and easy to meet like-minded travelers in hostels to join you on your travels. 

When is the best time to visit Goa?

Between November and March is the best time to visit Goa, when the party season, or “Goa Season” is in full swing and the weather is at its most settled. The average temperature hovers between 70 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit in December and it almost never rains after the monsoons have had their purge. Blue skies and gentle waves make for great beach conditions, while some beaches experience good swell if surfing is your thing. May is Goa’s hottest month with average daily highs of 95 degrees Fahrenheit while July is coldest at around 75 degrees Fahrenheit, but is when a sudden deluge can wreak havoc for locals and visitors. 

How do you plan a solo road trip in India?

India isn’t the best place to venture off the beaten track alone, especially as a woman, and the poor road quality makes for dangerous conditions if you want to embark on a road trip. Your best option is to find a driver or tour group to go with you, or just some friends you’ve met at a hostel, and plan your route well in advance, considering the weather, detours, stop-offs, and road closing times (yes this is a thing in India and roads being open depends heavily on the seasons). Keep an eye out for budget hotels on your way if you need to make stop-offs and don’t underestimate the cheap dining options on the road – Indian highway food is a great way to get a taste of the local culture. 

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Esmé is an English literature graduate and freelance writer. Originally from London, Esmé is lucky enough to call Bali home. Her travels have taken her from the far corners of the East to the islands of the Caribbean. When she's not writing, you'll find her lying on a beach somewhere, lost in a crime novel.