- Norwich, Oxford, and Perth named best three cities for a Gen Z solo staycation
- Oxford, Perth, and Manchester crowned top destinations for exploring, relaxing, and socialising.
- 43% of Gen Z have been solo travelling in the UK before (just 26% have opted for foreign solo travel)
- The biggest benefits of solo travel according to Gen Z are seeing new sights, learning to be more independent, making new friends, and learning new cultures.
- 79% are interested in going solo travelling this year – 47% would like to and 32% are actively planning to
- The biggest barriers for Gen Z and solo travel are not enough money, not enough time, and safety fears
Both the solo travel and staycation market are booming with 43% of Gen Z having already solo travelled in the UK. Our latest survey shows that there’s no need to jet off to faraway destinations to “find yourself”—you can do it right here in the UK.
With a whole host of activities that’ll broaden your horizons and your friend circle without the cost and concerns of a solo trip abroad, we’ve calculated the best destinations based on everything from sightseeing spots to happening social scenes to ensure you find the perfect destination to satisfy your ONEderlust without needing to head off overseas.
Find out which cities Gen Z rate around the country and exactly who’s up for a solo adventure below.
Best ONEderlust cities
Meet the UK ONEderlust Index—your one-stop shop to discover the top 10 staycation cities in the UK and why we rate them. From safety scores to the number of museums per kilometre, each city has been ranked to reveal the cities where you’re sure to have a good time in the UK.
Most tourist-friendly solo destinations
Looking for the perfect tour or love a pic with a landmark? Look no further than this list of destinations sure to get you in the mood for a museum or two. It’s probably no surprise that Oxford came out top here, with Cambridge close behind. Both cities are packed with history, beautiful buildings and plenty to talk about on a walking tour.
Don’t be lulled into the cities with the greater choice—whilst Oxford’s 21 museums may pale in comparison to London’s 470, Oxford actually boasts almost double the number of museums per square km than the capital. Who wants to spend all day travelling across a city anyway?
Most relaxing solo destinations
Embracing your ONEderlust is the perfect excuse to escape the real world and switch off for a few days. Relaxing is the main reason why 80% of Gen Z go on holiday, so we’ve curated a list of top destinations for a bit of peace and tranquillity by looking at cities with the best air quality, most parks and plenty of spas for an entirely serene solo staycation.
You might be curious to hear that Perth topped the tables, but you’ll completely understand once you visit. With an air quality rating of 5.4 (compared to London’s 9.6) and nearly a park for every square kilometre, you must book your train tickets to Perth for the ultimate relaxing solo staycation.
Most social solo destinations
Solo travel isn’t about being on your own all of the time. In fact, it’s the perfect way to meet new people and make friends in faraway places. That’s why we’ve rated these next cities on Meetup groups, bars, clubs and Couchsurfing hosts per square kilometre to come up with the perfect party city.
Anyone who’s visited Manchester won’t be surprised to see it at the top of the list.
With a whopping 1.83 bars or clubs (twice as many as Edinburgh) and over 25 Couchsurfing hosts per square km (FIVE times more than Birmingham), you know you’re in for a good trip.
What do Gen Z think about solo travel?
Half of Gen Z are already into solo staycations
We found 43% of young people have already solo travelled in the UK and that number is likely to rise, with 79% saying they’re interested in a solo travel trip this year. Not to mention, two-thirds of young people are looking for ways to cut down on the cost of their holiday, making a solo staycation the perfect option.
However, many respondents made it clear that ONEderlust is high on their list of travel priorities, with 86% saying they would prefer a solo trip to travelling with their flatmates and 62% even preferring it to a holiday with their significant other.
Young women are holding back from solo travel due to safety concerns
Gen Z women are twice as likely to cite ‘safety fears’ as a barrier to solo travel, with 37% admitting they’d love to solo travel but haven’t done so yet.
Google searches for ‘is solo travel safe’ are up 27% in the last year, whilst Gen Z women admit that some of their biggest barriers to solo travel are safety concerns and anxiety.
We also found Gen Z men are more likely to have gone solo travelling previously (67% of men vs 53% of women) whilst women are more likely to want to try it but haven’t yet (37% of women and 25% of men).
Women were almost twice as likely to cite ‘safety fears’ as a barrier to solo travel (49% of women vs 29% of men) as well as travel anxiety (49% of women vs 29% of men).
Solo travel has become a buzzword amongst Gen Z, with four in five interested in a solo vacation this year. However, women, unfortunately, feel more hesitant than others to take the plunge.
Keen solo staycationer, Olivia Stainer, says that solo staycations in the UK are the perfect solution for women who want to try solo travel in the comfort of their own country:
‘I’m a huge advocate for solo staycations, especially for adventuring. Find something that excites you, and for me, that’s climbing mountains and hiking, and create a UK trip around that.’
‘Solo staycations definitely feel a lot safer than going further afield—it feels a lot more homely, we all speak the same language, and you often don’t need to spend as long locating free wifi! Solo travel within the UK is a great option for people getting started with solo travel, who may not be that confident with planning and travelling alone yet.’
Why solo staycations are the answer to the CoL crisis
Gen Z are going into debt to fund their holidays, all in the name of mental health, but solo staycations may be the answer.
A fifth of young people claim they can no longer afford to go on holiday this year whilst three in five say they are finding ways to vacation on a smaller budget. This may be in a bid to boost their mental health, as 84% say vacationing is good for their mind.
Worryingly, a third are looking to money lenders to fund their holidays either through credit cards or Buy Now, Pay Later services.
But we think that solo staycations may be the answer for money-savvy students this summer.
How to solo staycation on a budget
We work with students every day to save them serious £££ on their travel and holidays, from trains and hotels to unforgettable days out, you can save on pretty much every part of your solo staycation.
How to get there
Whether you’re thinking trains, planes or buses, we’ve got savings with them all. If you’re looking for super cheap travel between cities, why not try 10% off your journey with Flixbus or 15% off with National Express? If you like the speed and convenience of a train, then don’t miss out on 20% off a railcard with Trainline to save on every single journey you make.
What to do there
We all know visiting a new destination can mean tons of new experiences and a chance to make memories — and now you can take the sting out of spending on them too. For instance, you can save £40 on the Merlin Annual Pass for access to theme parks and attractions across the UK. If you fancy learning more about the local area, then Viator’s 11% student discount on tours and experiences is a must.
Where to stay there
Hotels don’t need to break the bank, especially when you’re sticking to a student budget. That’s why we’ve uncovered exclusive savings on stays across the UK (and the world), especially for students. Don’t miss out on 31% off OYO Hotels as well as 12% off at Hotels.com which both have a whole host of UK stays available at the click of a button.
Methodology – for more information on the methodology/survey/index, contact the PR Manager – email@example.com
- For the survey, we surveyed 1000 UK 16-24 years olds in May 2023 using Insights provider, Prodege
- For the indexes, we researched and scraped an array of factors in every city in the UK which were then contextualised by land area using data collected from ONS, Statistics.GOV.SCOT and NISRA. The index factors were:
- Budget hotel costs (hotel prices from £X) – TripAdvisor
- Safety Index – Numbeo
- Number of tours / sights & landmarks / museums / spa & wellness centres / nature & parks / bar & clubs – TripAdvisor
- Air Quality Index (took an average number from previous 7 days from data collection date) – IQAir
- Number of social groups within 5 miles of a city – Meetup
- Number of hosts on CouchSurfing app accepting 1 guest within 10km of city – CouchSurfing
- Once we collated all of the above, we assigned each city a corresponding value and ranked the city per factor. The values were added together to create a final overall ranking, as well as rankings specifically around exploring, relaxing, and socialising,
- All cities names under ‘List of Cities’ on GOV.UK were analysed. Where two or more factors’ information was not available, we removed them from the index.
- All of the above data was correct as of 10th April 2023.