3 Great Destinations for First-Time Solo Female Travelers

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Even though I've never really labeled this blog as one for solo female travelers, the truth is that I AM a female, and I DO tend to travel solo roughly 90% of the time.

And as a frequent solo female traveler, I get all the usual questions. The questions about why I travel alone (it's because I haven't found an ideal travel companion yet, and am not about to let that stop me from traveling). The questions about how I pay for my trips (it's called budgeting, people). The questions about how I deal with loneliness on the road (it's a mixture of enjoying being alone, and having the nerve to go up and make friends with strangers). And then there are my favorite questions: the ones about safety.

But don't you get scared?” people ask me. “You're all alone and a girl. Don't you get scared?

New Zealand
Do I look scared to you?

The truth is that, no, I don't really get scared about traveling on my own, whether I'm off to London, San Francisco, or Istanbul. There have been very few times that I've felt uneasy while on the road, and not one time when I have actually felt scared for my safety (well, other than that one time I almost died on a mountain).

Yes, the world can be an intimidating place (and a downright scary one if you listen to the media), but you have to remember that most of that is just hype. Despite my media background (or perhaps because of it?), I've managed to retain a rather rosy outlook on the world. Sure, traveling can be dangerous. But it's no more dangerous than getting in your car and driving to the mall, ladies.


Traveling safely as a solo woman is as simple as using common sense. Don't go out on your own after dark if it makes you feel uneasy. Don't go anywhere with questionable strangers. Don't call unnecessary attention to yourself by acting stupid (this includes getting drunk and messy). Keep someone at home updated on your plans. And, most of all, listen to your gut instincts.

But, if you're still a bit uneasy and unsure if solo female travel is really for you, perhaps my best advice for you is to ease your way into it by choosing destinations that are extremely solo-female-travel-friendly.

Destinations like:


Even though nearby England is home to my favorite city in the world (London), it's Scotland you want to add to your itinerary if it's your first solo trip abroad as a woman. Not only is the country easily accessible and gorgeous, but it is also extremely safe and populated with friendly locals.


The pros:

  • English is the main language (assuming you can decipher a thick Scottish brogue)
  • Scotland is a safe country
  • Scottish people are extremely warm and welcoming
  • There are some great hostels all over the country that offer up safe ways to meet other travelers
  • Scotland is close to the rest of Europe — if you gain confidence here, you can easily take your solo show to the rest of the continent
  • Scotland is SO pretty — with all of its castles and glens, you'll feel like you stepped right into the setting of a fairy tale


The cons:

  • Scotland isn't the cheapest destination in the world (it's on the British pound, remember)
  • The weather in Scotland isn't always great, and it can change in an instant (tip: bring layers!)
  • The ideal way to get around Scotland is by car, which can be pricey when you're traveling solo (though there are also trains and buses between major cities)
  • If you visit outside of high season, many attractions (like castles) will be closed


New Zealand

New Zealand still remains my favorite country in the world, even after having visited at least 2 dozen others by this point. There's just something about it — a combination of a laid-back attitude, SO much to see/do, and some of the most breathtaking scenery anywhere in the world — that keeps drawing me back. It, too, would be a fantastic place to begin your solo travel adventures (just beware that you may never want to leave!).

New Zealand

The pros:

  • English is one of New Zealand's official languages, making communication a breeze
  • New Zealand is a very safe country
  • New Zealanders are laid-back and friendly
  • New Zealand is easy to get around (by train, bus, car, or plane — you don't necessarily need a car)
  • The country has a fantastic system of hostels — some of the best quality I've seen anywhere in the world
  • Lots of young solo travelers make their way to New Zealand, and there are established backpacker bus routes should you want to use them
  • New Zealand is tourist-friendly year-round, regardless of season
  • New Zealand is extremely diverse when it comes to landscapes — no matter what you're into (mountains, beaches, volcanoes), you'll find it here

New Zealand

The cons:

  • New Zealand can be pricey, especially when it comes to food and it's popular adventure sports
  • New Zealand is not convenient to get to from ANYwhere, unless you're coming from Australia

Hooker Valley Track at Mount Cook


Lastly, I'm going to suggest you consider Iceland. While not a “typical” tourist destination, Iceland is definitely an up-and-comer. Not only is it convenient to get to from both Europe and the U.S., but it also offers a ton of unique activities against some of the most dramatic backdrops I have ever seen in real life. The fact that Iceland is also a very safe destination makes it ideal for the adventurous solo female traveler.


The pros:

  • While English is not the official language of Iceland, 99% of Icelanders speak it very fluently
  • Iceland is an extremely safe country (seriously, there's like zero crime)
  • Icelanders are welcoming and fun-loving
  • Iceland has one of the strongest tourism infrastructures I've ever seen
  • The country is ALL about day tours — sign up for a few from Reykjavik and you'll automatically have travel buddies
  • Iceland is easy to get to both from Europe and North America (it's only a 3-hour flight from the UK, and a 4-hour flight from Boston)
  • You can visit year-round and still find plenty to do (such as midnight golfing in the summer when there are nearly 24 hours of daylight, or hunting for the Northern Lights in the winter)
  • The landscape here is out of this world — so dramatic


The cons:

  • Iceland is expensive — on par with the UK and even Scandinavia
  • Outside of Reykjavik, there are few budget options for accommodation
  • Iceland is best explored by car if you're venturing outside of Reykjavik, which can get expensive when you're traveling solo (there aren't really bus or train services to the rest of the country)
  • Iceland is far north, meaning it gets very few hours of sunlight in the winter months (though tourism still operates during the dark months)



Of course, if none of these destinations sound appealing, there are plenty others out there that would be just as suitable. The important thing is that you get out there and travel. Don't let the fact that you're inexperienced or on your own or (God forbid) a female hold you back.

Traveling solo as a female doesn't have to be scary. In fact, it can be exactly the opposite — fun and liberating and life-changing. And hopefully this post will help convince you of that!

What other destinations would you add to this list?


Some great items for the female traveler:

*A caveat: Yes, these destinations are listed with an American, Canadian, or perhaps Australian woman in mind. This is simply because I myself am an American woman who travels solo, so it's what I know. And yes, I have been to all of these destinations as a solo traveler!

"It's a dangerous business, going out your door. You step onto the road, and, if you don't keep your feet, there's no telling where you might get swept off to." - JRR Tolkien

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94 Comments on “3 Great Destinations for First-Time Solo Female Travelers

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  1. Nothing wrong with any of these picks… never been to Iceland, but we love the idea of it. Now if only all these great destinations weren’t also so bloody expensive. Could you do a post on great 3rd world destinations for the first time solo traveler? 🙂

      It does suck that these destinations are all quite expensive, I agree!

      As for great 3rd world destinations for the first-time solo traveler, I’ll have to get back to you on that one once I’ve visited some more!

    Agree on these three destinations. Pros and Cons sound so true. Scotland is one of my favorite countries. You are so right about warm and welcoming Scottish people.

      I’m sure many more pros and cons could be listed, but I figured these were the major points that most women would be concerned with. Glad you agree with my list!

    Well, I’m a little biased because it’s where most of my travels have taken place, but I think Southeast Asia is a great place for solo female travelers! Perhaps not for first timers who are a bit apprehensive, considering the barriers in language, culture, etc. however there are tons of volunteer programs and even a bus network like the ones in NZ (in Laos it’s Stray) to help bridge the gap.

    Love this post, Amanda! It’s frustratingly true that there are some things women traveling alone simply can’t do with the same fearlessness that men can, but that shouldn’t stop us from doing all we can. For example, a male friend of mine traveling in Cambodia met a tuk tuk driver, hit it off with him, and went on a week long expedition into the jungle to his village. Sounds amazing, but I don’t think I’d be wise to take a random tuk tuk driver up on the same offer. But I surely would go to Cambodia solo and have my own amazing experiences!

      I haven’t been to Southeast Asia myself (yet), but I don’t really have an apprehensions about traveling there solo as a women. However, not sure if I would suggest it for someone’s very first trip abroad if they’re a bit scared about the whole travel thing!

      I love your example about the tuk tuk driver – it IS frustrating sometimes that our gender forces us to be wary of certain situations that would likely be amazing. But, you have to be smart to stay safe! And, like you said, you can still have an incredible time in Cambodia.

    I’d add communities such as CouchSurfing to your list of solo-traveler’s essentials and you’re basically all set 🙂

    I wouldn’t know first-hand about the first two, but can definitely vouch for Iceland and Icelanders. As far as costs are concerned, you can really do a lot and see heaps in Iceland without ruining your budget. And it’s coming from a Polish person, so go figure!
    When it comes to transportation and accommodation – Iceland has been made in order for people to hitch hike and camp out in tents in the summer time. Trust me, it won’t get better than waking up with sunrise on a small island on Myvatn lake, with nobody in sight and just nature around. Same goes for the fjords, horse farms etc.

    Exactly thanks to the fact that Iceland is so safe and Icelanders so friendly and helpful, it’s a place where even the least experienced traveller can allow themselves to go wild! (quite literally at that:) )

      Very good point about the camping and hitchhiking in Iceland! In fact, all of these countries are friendly to hitchhikers and campers! I didn’t include that in the post, however, because I’ve never tried it myself.

        I have done that for a month and believe me – no hostel/hotel could ever compare to that experience!

        It was beautiful, thrilling, exciting and veeery cheap! (yes, due to my lack of a proper sleeping bag – cold as well 🙂 )

    Thank you for writing this! I traveled solo a lot as a young(er) woman, and I also rarely felt unsafe, even in places like Honduras and the Philippines. There are certain things you need to be sensible about, but it would be such a pity for many women to miss out on seeing the world because they are afraid of doing it alone!

      I totally agree, Ariana! We make so many excuses for not traveling, and this is one of the worst ones, I think. Traveling alone is actually my preferred way to travel! It’s so liberating, and allows you to really learn and grow as a person.

    Great picks! My first ever solo experience was in London, but I don’t think it really counts as I had lived there in the past, so I knew my bearings pretty well. I still think most Western destinations are great for solo females.

      I didn’t suggest England/London on this list simply because I feel like London could be a bit overwhelming if it was your very first solo trip abroad. Yes, everyone speaks English, but it’s so huge and busy that it might be a bit much to handle!

        Speaking as a New Yorker (i.e., a denizen of a city that’s comparable in size to London), as well as someone who’s been to London seven times with most of those being solo trips, I don’t think London is too overwhelming at all. The Tube makes it very easy to get around, and for English speakers the language is a huge plus. So it’s very easy to ask for directions if you do need help; or to find what you need if you have to go to a pharmacy, for example. And as you know from experience, London is a great base for exploring a bunch of interesting areas that are relatively nearby, ranging from Oxford to Edinburgh. Basically, most of the advantages of Scotland, but much easier to get around.

          Fair enough! I mean, I LOVE London. But trying to look at the city from the perspective of someone who has never traveled before, it could be a bit intimidating! I’m picturing my mom trying to navigate the Tube, for example, and it’s just funny. She would be freaking out!

    I’m no solo female traveller – obviously! – but I was curious and I’m glad to see NZ make the list! I’d like to think my home country is friendly and welcoming to all types of travellers.

      This list can definitely apply to solo male travelers, too! 😉

      And yes, I think NZ is a great place for travelers of all sorts. There’s a reason it’s my favorite country in the world!!

    to be honest I never feel very safe in UK, don’t really know where it comes from (probably from the all kinds of agressive teenagers around) but that’s how it is. But I still do like returning there, I’m just extremely careful where I’m walking, esp. in the evenings. Germany is kind of similar too but again I do enjoy returning there. People tend to be afraid of Eastern Europe but I feel much safer there than in Western countries.
    I’d definitely add Scandinavia to your list! I’ve lived in Finland for 5 months and never encountered a single problem there. Even when I was walking alone in the middle of the night I was fine and everyone just minds their own business there. As far as I know other Scandinavian countries are the same, it’s just totally safe there! Iceland was kind of perfect too so I agree with your choice there 🙂
    As for Eastern Europe I’d add Prague, Vilnius, Kiev or Kraków too. Oh, and Caucasus, especially Georgia! Not only extremely beautiful but also much safer than everyone expects 🙂

      Thanks for adding to the list! I haven’t been to any Scandinavian countries yet, but I imagine they would all warrant a spot on this list from what I’ve heard.

      I agree about Eastern Europe to some extent, too, though I don’t know if I’d want to be roaming around some of the bigger cities at night on my own. But the smaller towns? Absolutely. However, in smaller places, the language barrier is much more of an issue.

        I guess it depends on the area you’re roaming at night as Eastern European cities, like any other cities around the world, have good and bad neighbourhoods. I think that as long as you stick to the center and/or tourist areas and use your common sense you’d be fine.
        I think it’s easier for me as I can more or less communicate everywhere in that part of the world with my Polish, Czech and basic Russian skills. Language barriere could be challenging but on the other hand going for a “harder” first time trip might work out much better for some people, they wouldn’t be afraid of travelling solo to less popular destinations in future

          Very true that tackling “harder” destinations could be perfect for some people. If you’re the type of person who needs challenge and excitement in your life, then diving into travel in a country where you don’t speak the language might be the perfect first solo trip! But that certainly wouldn’t be the case for everyone.

            I know, I know. I was just in the different sitution that most of the people as no matter which places I’d have gone to there’d have always been a language barriere. I went for my first solo trip to Austria before I was even 18 and it worked perfectly fine for me and I started travelling solo since then. now with time I just set my boundaries further and further 😉 But I know very well what had worked for me doesn’t have to work for most of the people. But I also think that a good preparation and a positive attitude can make a miracles before going to see the world as mostly the fear is the reason why people don’t travel

    I’d add South Africa where I felt “safe” and had a wonderful time. English spoken, great rate of exchange and gorgeous country and wildlife. Heck I’d rather travel overseas and take my chance with an elephant than go alone to LA.

      Haha amen on the LA comment! I haven’t been to South Africa myself yet, but it’s at the top of my list! I’ve only heard good things recently.

    My first “real” solo trip was to France. I went to Nice and Paris and felt safe in both. Paris in particular is so big population-wise that you’re never really alone when you’re out and about. The only thing I knew I had to keep an eye out for were the pickpockets, but I only encountered one or two questionable individuals. The catch here is the language and I spoke enough French to get by. About half the people I spoke to admitted to speaking at least a little English (some folks said they didn’t speak it, but I didn’t totally buy that) so it was relatively easy for me to communicate.

      Can you believe I’ve still never been to France?? It’s definitely on my list, and is probably a place I would feel fine traveling to alone. Though, I don’t speak ANY French, so I would really have to rely on friendly English-speaking locals to help me out!

        There is what I’d call a misconception about the French and whether they’re friendly or not. In my experience, if I tried to speak French first (before asking if they spoke English), I had no problems. In fact, I recall going to a restaurant once where I attempted to say “table for one please” in French and the maitre d’ said “right this way” or something like that in English. He could tell I was a tourist and responded accordingly. Loved that!

          Yeah, I think it’s often just a matter of whether you’re making an effort or not. If a local can see you’re trying to be something other than an ignorant tourist, I feel like they’re much more likely to warm up to you!

            I’ve been through Paris a lot on overnight layovers I 100% agree..as long as you make the first try in broken French people are generally receptive to helping you! Paris is my favorite place to travel solo that I’ve been to so far…I wandered the streets & took the subway there many times with no issues.

    I almost always travel alone also on my business trips & unfortunately I have never been to your three recommended places! I did have some issues in Morocco where I traveled frequently alone for a couple of years, but to your point, as long as you don’t draw unnecessary attention to yourself & use common sense, things tend to be okay.

      Well if you ever make it to Scotland, NZ, or Iceland, you’ll have to let me know what you think!

      Sorry to hear you had some issues in Morocco – you aren’t the first one to say that, though. It doesn’t sound like it’s as friendly to solo female travelers as the places on my list!

        Definitely not! Although I more felt un-comfortable than un-safe. Men would hiss at me in the old part of town & beep/yell/cat-call in other parts of town. The only time I ever really got scared was when they would follow me. I would definitely not recommend it for a solo female traveler!

        I will be sure to let you know if I get to Scotland, NZ, or Iceland any time soon! I think my next destination is China/Thailand early next year; have you traveled solo yet in Asia?

          I have NOT traveled solo yet in Asia. In fact, the only place I’ve been in Asia so far is China. But plenty of my female blogger friends LOVE Southeast Asia, and highly recommend the area for solo travelers. Because there are always so many young backpackers there, meeting people seems to be super easy.

          My first solo travel was to Japan for a little over two weeks. I had my first night stay and my last night stay; the rest was up to where the wind took me 🙂 it was awesome!! I highly recommend Japan!

          The people are so friendly and helpful anywhere in Japan.

          At one point on my trip, my husband had sent me a name of a town he thought I should visit, so I saw it on the map and arrived, only to find it was the most desolate place I’d been to in Japan. I got off the train and tried to ask for accommodations advice with my non-existent Japanese and once I had established with them, I had no place to stay, they began making phone calls and soon I was given walking directions to a place that could offer me a room for the night. My husband had given me the wrong name of the town, but in the end I was happy to have had this experience.

          One of the best parts about Japan, is that the hotel prices are what they are; there is no “jacking-up” the rate because there is a festival in town or because you just showed up.

    My first proper solo trip was in Ireland, and I loved it. The locals there are SO friendly and helpful towards solo female travelers.

      I was tempted to add Ireland to this list, as I think it’s probably very similar to Scotland in being a great place for solo travelers. But I didn’t include it because my own trip to Ireland wasn’t solo, so I couldn’t actually speak from experience.

    One of my first big vacations on my own was New Zealand and I always recommend it to first time solo travelers. While it isn’t the cheapest it is manageable if you are on vacation from work.

      None of these destinations are “cheap” by any means, but if it’s your first solo trip, I feel like you’re probably willing to spend a little more. NZ was one of my first solo trips, too (if going over there to study counts as a solo trip…).

    Three places I REALLY want to go! It’s a good thing you mentioned Scotland because I’m pretty sure I’m heading there solo next year. I am so excited! Iceland and New Zealand will have to wait, but hopefully not for too long. 😉

      These are probably 3 of my favorite countries I’ve visited thus far. Can you tell I’m a sucker for pretty landscapes? Haha.

      But really, they’re all great for solo female travelers!

      I agree with all the destinations in the article. I have spent time as a female solo hiker in all of them, I would like to mention a 3 day hike in Iceland from Landmanalager to Tosmork (spelling is probably incorrect. The huts were inexpensive, thermally heated, and the scenery stunning. You can book the huts at the tourist office in Reyjavik. Other countries I love to walk in are Switzerland and Germany (where I live). Both safe and beautiful scenery. Castles, rivers, mountains, forests. I can be totally alone in the forest for hours on end. The signposting of the trails is usually good. I’m about to head out to the Harz Mountains for a one week hike…..

        Hi Vivienne, Im going on a solo trip to Iceland from Oct 9-Oct 17 for my birthday. Do you have recommendations where to stay and how I can book the hiking trails.. do you know of any fun things to during my stay. Im extremely new to this trip planning. Any info would be greatly appreciated

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