Paella for one: travelling solo in Spain

Why Palma is the perfect place for solo travel, particularly for women travelling alone.

spanish chef serving paella

SJ is a regular travel contributor to YourLifeChoices. Her travel low point was buying a Beijing guidebook for her visit to Thailand in 2007. Thankfully her geography has improved since then.

Forced to flee – okay, I exaggerate – leave the UK to re-enter on my new visa I found myself eating fried Camembert and potatoes accompanied by red wine at a tapas bar alone on a Friday night.

So, maybe that's not a big deal to you, but I can't say I'm well versed when it comes to dining alone. In fact, up until the weekend, the whole concept gave me low-level anxiety.

Don't get me wrong, I'm no stranger to travelling on my own,. I often add a day or two before or after a trip with others to do what I want to do and it's not rare for me to make my own way to destinations. I also have no qualms about having breakfast, coffee, lunch or a drink alone, but dinner feels like a different ball game.

aerial view of la palma

Majorca is, as far as I can recall, the first time I have gone away entirely by myself with no plans to meet up with anyone. Not only did I thrive, but I can also thoroughly recommend Palma, Majorca, as a great place for solo travel and, especially, for women travelling on their own. Here's why.

Almost all the locals I encountered were friendly, welcoming and spoke English, which saved us all from my subpar Spanish. I also felt safe at all times walking around alone, even after dark. The streets are well lit and there are people out – even in the off season.

It’s an incredibly picturesque town, littered with palm trees. It's also a manageable size for a town. My hotel was an easy 10–15 minute stroll from the town centre along the pretty river that runs through it.

colourful houses in la palma

With an incredibly laid back atmosphere, it's one of those great destinations where you can do as much or as little as you feel like without feeling bad or uncultured. After researching the few articles I could find on Palma, the main attractions are as follows: the cathedral – you can't miss it and it's well worth the seven Euro to go inside, the marina, the waterfront and beach, and San Juan Gastronomic Market. The perfect mix of culture, beach, sun, shopping and food, Palma had me hook, line and sinker.

While there is plenty more to see and do, part of the joy of travelling alone is being able to do what you want when you want to. For me, this involved taking on the impressive cathedral from the waterfront, strolling up and having an early dinner of tapas and wine, followed by a relatively early night. Saturday's agenda included a sleep-in, leisurely breakfast gazing up in awe at the countless stained glass windows in the cathedral, and a visit to the somewhat underwhelming Arab Baths. I also caught some Spanish jazz along the waterfront, drank an Aperol spritz at a rooftop bar overlooking the marina, before retiring to watch a movie in my hotel room.

san juan gastronomico market

On my final day, the day of rest for some, I went for a long walk along the waterfront to the beach. Every man and his dog, not to mention woman and her bike, were making the most of the scenic route. It was a great way to start the day and see how the locals live. After checking out, I made my way to San Juan Gastronomico Market, where I was able to enjoy the requisite paella despite the fact there was only one of me – a rare feat in Spain!

Where have you travelled alone that you would recommend to other solo travellers?

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