Editor's Note: Those who choose to travel are strongly encouraged to check local government restrictions, rules, and safety measures related to COVID-19 and take personal comfort levels and health conditions into consideration before departure.
Solo travel can be intimidating. Whether you're heading to a city across the country or around the globe, traveling alone can bring up lots of concerns — from the awkwardness of dining solo to more serious issues of safety. But despite any nervousness or uncertainty, traveling solo can be one of the most freeing and rewarding experiences. It offers the ability to immerse yourself in the community and stumble upon those moments of international connection organically. Choosing the right destination is key, so we've rounded up some of the best destinations around the world for solo travel for women.
From walking the charming streets of Reykjavik to chasing the northern lights to driving the famous Ring Road, solo female travelers can feel at home in Iceland. And here's why: Iceland snagged the top spot on both the Institute for Economics and Peace’s Global Peace Index and the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap ranking last year, so safety and gender equality are prized in this beautiful destination.
Barcelona is an extremely walkable city, and you’re unlikely to get lost as long as you have a map of some kind. In the city, you can window shop along Las Ramblas, stroll down the beach boardwalk, and wander through the Gaudi-designed Park Güell. And the dining options are great for a solo traveler, too — you can eat al fresco at waterfront paella restaurants (people-watching is built-in entertainment) or opt for a counter seat at one of the city’s many incredible tapas bars.
Seattle, United States
Thanks to the omnipresence of Seattle’s coffee culture, a solo diner (or drinker) is commonplace in the city. Plus, the proliferation of cafes means there’s a rest stop around every corner to enjoy in between visits to Pike Place Market, the Space Needle, or funky Museum of Pop Culture. The compact downtown area makes it easy to zip between attractions, restaurants, and shops on foot — and anything that is slightly farther is accessible by the easy-to-use Link light rail.
The jolly German mentality shines in this Bavarian city, where you can find locals welcoming tourists with a grin, whether you're at a small mom-and-pop bakery or the touristy Olympiapark tower. The best way to immerse yourself in the Munich lifestyle? Grab a pint at a local biergarten and get to know the other travelers or locals around you.
The rise in Croatian tourism has improved the ease of travel, and the country’s low crime rate heightens the appeal. One look at the oceanfront medieval city of Dubrovnik, preserved by 6,365 feet of pristine walls, and all your worries will vanish. The cobblestone streets guide visitors through artisanal shops and local eats, while a walk along the wall itself offers spectacular bird’s-eye views of the Adriatic coastline. Other great solo activities include visiting the beach just a few minutes away from Old Town, with plenty of kayaking and snorkeling tours offered along the way.
Austin, United States
Austin’s festival culture makes it easy to get pulled in multiple directions, but it’s also a great way to meet new people. There's plenty to see and do, whether you're checking out live music or eating your way through Tex-Mex and BBQ restaurants and food trucks. When you need a little quiet time, head downtown for a walking tour, or find a spot to see the Congress Avenue Bridge bats soar.
With the Hohensalzburg Castle atop the hill and the Salzach River running through town, the storybook allure of Mozart’s hometown is as inviting as it is charming. After recreating "The Sound of Music" by visiting the Mirabell Gardens and Nonnberg Abbey, relax with a coffee on the terrace of Cafe Tomaselli or a pint in the 1,400-seat outdoor area of Austria’s biggest biergarten, Augustiner Bräu. Bikers should take note: While the entire city is walkable, Salzburg is also one of the country’s most bike-friendly cities, with over 100 miles of paths, which means you can pack way more into a day.
The capital of Taiwan offers an ideal mix of history and modernity: It’s one part traditional night markets (the perfect place to make a meal out of snacks while shopping for accessories and souvenirs) and temples, and another part high-tech buildings and malls. Taipei has the bustle of a major Asian metropolis, as well as important urban comforts. Street signage and public transportation all have names in English — and even though crime is low in the country, the metro system has “Safe Waiting Zone” boxes marked on the platforms, which are monitored closely by video feed, specifically to protect female passengers at night.
Copenhagen’s quirkiness caters toward parties of one. You can find centrally located hotels offering single rooms, providing the perfect jumping-off point for your Danish adventures. Must-visit spots include Nyhavn, the iconic canal lined with multicolored houses (opt for a tour for a closer look at the city's waterways), and Tivoli Gardens, a historic amusement park. Stop for a quick solo bite at the Torvehallerne KBH food hall.
This Australian metropolis is the second-most livable city in the world, according to the Economist Intelligence Unit. Throw in a free tourist tram that reaches the major sights — including the Queen Victoria Market, Carlton Gardens, and Federation Square — and Melbourne’s got simplicity and safety all rolled up in one.
Sweden's safe, accessible cities are ideal for solo travel for women. The cobblestone streets of Stockholm's Old Town, or Gamla Stan, are home to coffee shops, restaurants, stores, and even a castle, providing hours of endless adventures, while the modern areas surrounding it are easy to navigate through its string of metro stations, which also double as art exhibits.
For a taste of Japan without the overwhelming hustle, head to Naha, the capital of the Okinawa islands. The monorail is super accessible, linking the airport to the city center as well as the popular Shuri Castle (currently closed to visitors due to a 2019 fire). And within walking distance of the city center are the Naminoue city beach, Tsuboya pottery district, and Makishi Public Market, where the pull-up-a-chair stands are perfect for solo dining.
There’s no better time to think than while sailing through the soothing blue-and-green canvas of the Norwegian fjords. In Bergen, ride up the Fløibanen funicular or embark on a daylong journey on the Bergen Railway. Head to Gudvangen and take a cruise through Aurlandsfjord and Nærøyfjord. Equally impressive as the waterfalls-at-every-glance boat ride is the Flåm Railway trip, with views changing outside the window from seascapes to snow-capped mountains.
Washington, D.C., United States
The manageable size and easy layout of the nation’s capital make it an ideal stomping ground for solo travelers. In addition to exploring the memorials along the National Mall, take in the exhibits at the many Smithsonian museums (plus the zoo), all with free admission. The hundreds of stations of the Capital Bikeshare stretch into Arlington, Alexandria, and Montgomery County, as do the numerous stations of the D.C. Metro, making day trips into nearby areas accessible.
For European charm without the culture shock or language barrier, head to London. Visitors can spend their days roaming along the River Thames, winding through the four and a half acres of Harrods department store, and snacking in the 1,000-year-old Borough Market. After dark, grab a seat alongside locals at a pub or catch a show on the West End, then enjoy a late-night bite at nearby Chinatown. The endless sights and entertainment are easily connected via the 250 miles of the London Underground.
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