I spent two weeks in Europe alone when I was 23. It was an adventure. I think I would have enjoyed myself more sitting at home in the sun reading, but looking back I’m really glad I got the experience.
I started in Athens with a friend, then we split up – she went to London to meet her family and I went to Nafplion/Mycenae. Getting through Athens, onto the right bus, off at the right stop, and finding my guest house was an intense challenge. (I know no Greek and haven’t really taken any American regional buses either.) I went up to the roof-deck of the guest house where I was staying and there were some British girls in their late teens – I was so excited to find people speaking English! Ended up spending a good deal of my time there with them, sharing our ideas on where we planned to visit in the area.
My original plan was to go to Crete, but I ended up scrapping that, as it was just too much to travel alone in a country where I couldn’t communicate. Especially given that the Greek overnight ferries are not exactly reliable. I ended up moving up my flight to London (where I was leaving Europe from) and going there. Where I had to walk the street at 1 AM looking for a hotel with a vacancy. That was it for London. I made a hostel reservation online for the next few days, sent out a “hey, who wants a visitor” to some friends in the UK, and took the noon train to Edinburgh. Which was awesome. Spent some time alone, some time with other single female travellers staying in my hostel. Took the train back down by way of friends in Leeds and Bath, then London.
My advice? I definitely think it’s worth doing BUT you’ll have a very different trip than if you go with others. I’m someone who enjoys going out / nightlife and did not get much of it. My fiance went to Europe with his step-brother around the same time, and our experiences were SO different. Meals can be a bit lonely after awhile. A major upside, though, is that travelling alone makes it so much easier to meet other travelers. Which is awesome.
Where you go matters a lot, I think. Being somewhere where you speak the language, or at least can muddle through is REALLY helpful. Greece felt extra lonely and was very hard to get around. I constantly felt like I was on the verge of getting really, really lost. I cannot recommend Edinburgh enough, though, as a place to visit alone. LOTS of single female travellers – I met a nurse from Australia on her way to an assignment in the shetlands. A grad student researching medicine in colonial Barbados. There’s tons of safe, fun hostels along the central road in the city, and you can walk to restaurants, museums, the castle, etc. There’s also a lot of fantastic scenery within a short drive. I didn’t have a car, but one of the girls I met and I took a bus tour that went up to Stirling Castle and some of the highlands. The train up from London was also gorgeous, if way more expensive than the bus. Just don’t pack for Crete. Even in July, Edinburgh is WAY colder.