Latin America is the best destination of choice for solo travelers. With world-class culture, exceptional food, vibrant cities, and dramatic landscapes, there is plenty to inspire and explore.
However, no matter how experienced you are, the prospect of traveling alone can be daunting.
Navigating your way around the massive continent can be tricky, but good planning and following these tips can get the very best out of your journey. Whether it is your first time traveling alone or not, it is best to read on the ten things you didn’t know about being a solo traveler in Latin America.
1. Sociable Solo Dining
Attending a supper club is a way to share a table and some conversation with locals and like-minded tourists. They will take a little research to track down, but with food by local cooks in different locations, it is worth it. Depending on the destination, the name can differ. In Buenos Aires, look for Puertas cerradas. Casa Felix is an excellent place to start.
2. Discover Food Tours
Food tours are an ideal hands-on introduction to a new dining culture, all in the company of a local guide. For example, in Bogota, the guides from A Chef’s Tour take guests to 13 tastings across eight restaurants, offering the chance to try everything from roasted suckling pig or lechona to the liquor aguardiente.
3. Attend Cooking Classes
Cooking classes allow an interactive taste of local cuisine with a group of fellow gourmands. A world-renowned for its food scene, Lima, has creative young chefs leading a foodie renaissance (the exemplary sourdough from El Pan de la Chola is a case in point, paired with its best pizza and craft beer from La Pizza de la Chola).
SkyKitchen is a good introduction to more traditional fare, where you will learn how to cook a selection of classic Peruvian dishes, before feasting on your hard work on a terrace with spectacular views of the city.
4. Make Amigos with Group Activities
Book onto organized activities and get a chance to make new friends while exploring the local landscapes. Join gauchos group in Patagonia’s horse trek, traversing the Parque Nacional Los Glaciares’ iconic mountains before camping in a rural outpost with a traditional Argentine Asado. Saddle up after a book direct with Nibepo Aike.
Keep your usual hobbies like running or yoga and make friends doing what you love. Some offer free running groups in cities.
5. Soak Up the Culture Solo
Do not miss out on the solo globe-trotter on the culture. Look up local theatres, concert halls, and dance houses and treat yourself from Bohemian Teatro Pablo Tobon in Medellin to Buenos Aires’ decadent Teatro Colon, where some Fridays offer free tickets for dress rehearsals of major ballet productions.
Every city has its own scene of gigs, which are another window into local life. You can check websites like Vuenoz, Songkick, and Indie Hoy for listings across the continent.
When it is time for some downtime, there is nothing better than a solo trip to the movies. Colombia’s big part of life in cinemas and foreign-language films are often shown in their original language and subtitled in Spanish. Bogota’s indie film champion, Cine Tonala, with a cozy hip bar, screen, and Mexican restaurant spread over multiple floors of a beautifully restored 1930s mansion. After enjoying a well-curated line-up of modern art, visitors can catch cutting edge cinema at the Museo de Arte Moderno in Medellin, a contemporary architectural marvel.
6. Safe Sleeping
It is always a priority to find a safe place to lay down your head. Hostels are the best choice because these are cheap and it is easy to meet people. Aside from hostels, you can also rent a room on Airbnb where you can get your own space for a little more privacy. Renting your own space also benefits you from learning their local knowledge and expertise. Otherwise, book a homestay with a local family.
7. Learn the Language
As a solo traveler, getting to know the locals should be on your list. Learning their language is key to meeting new people. At the start of your trip, organize some lessons. That way, you will be more tuned to the local accent and have an immediate social circle with others.
8. Getting around Latin America
Latin America is well connected by domestic flights, but sometimes tickets can be expensive. If you are on a budget, then it is better to book a bus. In Andean countries, service can be pretty basic, but they are surprisingly comfortable in places like Argentina, Brazil, and Chile. Longer trips can be booked in advance online; ask for the highest tier – it is called leito, or coche-cama, and includes a fully reclining seat.
9. Car Rental
Several top sights are easier to visit with your own wheels, for example, the Atacama Desert. To cover the ground safely and independently as a solo traveler, try hiring a car. Chile has big-name rental companies operating throughout. Europcar.com is a reputable brand that can provide 24/7 roadside and a huge selection of pick-up and drop-off points. In addition to your driving license, you may also need an International Driving Permit when going here.
10. Safety for Solo Travel
Latin America is a safe place for solo travel, but one still needs to be vigilant at all times. Booking hostels in advance, taking note of the addresses, and researching your route means you will walk purposefully and would not need to hold your phone to avoid being a target of thieves.
Just in case your stuff gets snatched, take some simple precautions to ease the stressful situation. Make a photocopy of your passport, put some money in a separate account, and keep your card somewhere safe. Find out also the nearest embassy as you might need them for help in case of an emergency.