Perhaps you have a bucket list of places you’ve always wanted to travel at the ready but you just keep waiting for the right person to go with you. But if your friends are busy, you just broke up with your partner and you’re not feeling a family vacation, you don’t have to wait to embark on a new adventure – just go solo.
Traveling by yourself, even as a woman, is not as challenging or scary as you might think. There are plenty of benefits: You don’t have to adhere to anyone else’s schedule, budget or food preferences, so you can truly prioritize yourself. Solo travel means doing whatever you want whenever you want, while seeing the places that you most want to visit. Adventuring alone as a woman can empower you to see the world on your terms.
Whether you’re concerned about safety or seeking companionship, there are plenty of places around the globe to consider for your next solo trip. U.S. News has compiled this list of top solo travel destinations (and helpful tips) with expertise from women who have traversed the globe by themselves and loved it.
With a visit to Barcelona, immerse yourself in the local culture at your leisure, whether you want to dine at Michelin-starred restaurants or go cheer at a football (soccer) game. Writer Mona Gable says, “Barcelona is a place of wonder − medieval neighborhoods, sunny beaches, and world-class museums, not to mention Antoni Gaudí’s celebrated architecture.” She enjoyed exploring the Mediterranean port city, especially because of its walkability and easy-to-navigate transportation system with metro lines and buses. She also noted feeling safe on her own: “As a female traveler, I felt perfectly at ease wandering many neighborhoods alone, even at late hours, when Catalans famously dine out.”
Travel tip: Gable says it’s best to avoid touristy Las Ramblas – Barcelona’s main thoroughfare – except to see La Boqueria, the city’s legendary food market.
Botswana is well known for African wildlife safaris, where travelers might encounter elephants, zebras, rhinos, lions and cheetahs while glamping in luxury tents and dining on gourmet food. “Wildlife travel offers an outstanding combination of camaraderie, safety and autonomy,” says Darcie Smith, owner of Great Expeditions Travel. She recommends Botswana’s green season (November to March) for solo female travelers; at this time of year the single supplement surcharge is waived at many safari camps, which offers an excellent value and means you’re more likely to meet other solo travelers. It is also peak season for birding, and you’ll find plenty of opportunities to spot wildlife in the lush landscape.
Many camps will send someone to meet guests upon arrival to help you navigate airports or transfers. In Smith’s experience, camp guests are also escorted to their rooms at night, for an added wildlife safety element. “Solo female travelers can enjoy daily shared safari activities in intimate camps that encourage social gatherings with full independence to design the itinerary around what’s best for you,” she says.
Travel tip: Smith recommends making your social media accounts private when you travel so strangers can’t track your location as well as learning about the customs of your destination. “This will help avoid accidentally coming across as forward or flirtatious based on local standards,” she explains. “For example, while long eye contact may be considered a sign of self-confidence or being polite at home, it may come across as flirtatious in your new destination.”
Picture yourself indulging in pizza and gelato, visiting world-famous museums, touring picturesque wineries, and shopping at designer boutiques – all of that is at your fingertips in Italy, writer Martha McCully’s go-to travel destination. “Italians want to share their culture and it’s part of their personality to welcome you,” she says. “Plus, the food and wine are outrageously divine.”
The idea that traveling solo means you will be alone is a misconception, according to McCully. “It’s simply not true,” she says. “Book a group tour at your destination, or DM a friend from your past on Instagram, which is what I did in Bologna.” There are plenty of unique ways to meet fellow travelers in Italy; she recommends signing up for a cooking class in Bologna through Taste of Italy, a food tour by Curious Appetite or a painting class with Plein Air Tuscany. “The idea is you will be with like-minded travelers and someone else is doing all the organizing,” McCully explains.
Travel tip: McCully suggests sticking to your wellness routine while on the road to keep healthy habits. “I like to take my rituals with me,” she says. “When I ground myself with what I know makes me feel good physically and mentally, it’s like I’m living in another country, not just visiting.”
With glaciers, volcanoes, waterfalls and hot springs galore, the dramatic landscapes of Iceland make it a must-visit destination. The “Land of Fire and Ice” is also known for puffins, its Viking history and women’s empowerment, with the country’s reputation as a champion of gender equality.
“Iceland is a favorite destination for female solo travelers because it is easily one of the safest countries in the world,” says Jenny Ly, professional travel blogger at Go Wanderly. Iceland has one of the world’s lowest crime rates and no animal predators dangerous to humans – just prepare for challenging weather and exercise caution if you plan to do any driving. Ly’s itinerary recommendations include whale watching, with nearly a dozen types of whales navigating Icelandic waters; visiting Vatnajökull Glacier’s ice caves; and chasing the northern lights in the darker months (October to April).
Travel tip: Ly encourages solo female travelers to not let the lack of a travel companion prevent them from exploring the world. “It can be both empowering and rewarding for women to travel solo, at least once in their life,” she says. “While traveling alone can be riskier than traveling with others, it can also be more fun and gratifying.” Her tip is to always be aware of your surroundings.
San Miguel de Allende, Mexico
While some women may shy away from traveling to Mexico due to safety concerns, travel blogger Jeanine Romo of lewildexplorer.com, who has ventured solo to many countries, recommends visiting the charming town of San Miguel de Allende. “I decided to go on my own and had such a wonderful time,” she says. “The people are friendly, the hospitality is amazing, and there are so many things to do if you love art, incredible food, and incredible architecture.” San Miguel de Allende is a great option for women travelers because the city center is easily walkable and Uber is available, which Romo says made her feel safe because she could always call a ride.
Travel tip: For women traveling by themselves, Romo advises doing research on transportation options (such as local buses, metro lines and ride-sharing app availability) before you arrive. “I like to know how walkable the city I’m visiting is,” says Romo. “This helps me feel so much more confident when navigating a new city.”
From pristine beaches on the North Island to snowy mountains on the South Island – and all kinds of geological wonders in between – the diversity of New Zealand is a major draw for tourists. Travelers can learn about the indigenous Māori culture, visit a sheep farm or go sailing in Auckland, among an abundance of other incredible things to do in this island nation.
Travel blogger Nina Ragusa of whereintheworldisnina.com enjoys visiting because of the welcoming culture, outdoor adventure and feeling of safety. “Traveling New Zealand as a solo woman is quite easy, and if it’s your first trip solo, this would be a good country to start in,” she says. Ragusa spent a month camping in a van by herself and said she never had to worry about her safety, even in more remote areas. “I went on hikes solo, some of them deep into the mountains for miles and miles, and was either alone or passing other tourists or friendly kiwis to wave hello to,” she says. Ragusa adds that New Zealand is not the cheapest travel destination, but her personal recommendation for saving money on longer trips here is to rent – or buy and later sell – a van to live in.
Travel tip: Ragusa recommends steering clear of the outskirts of the bigger cities (particularly if you do travel by van). She warns that, as in most urban destinations around the world, those parts of New Zealand are where you’re more likely to run into trouble.
El Calafate, Patagonia, Argentina
For an outdoor adventure in South America, Argentine Patagonia offers pristine ice hiking, backpacking, kayaking, trekking and wildlife viewing. Nicol Gillum-Thomas, an African-American solo female traveler whose mission is to encourage women to live life as an adventure, enjoyed her time in the town of El Calafate. “El Calafate, Argentina, was the destination that seemed the most off-putting in my imagination, but became the trip with the most adventure, awe-inspiring beauty and ease,” she says.
Travel tip: Gillum-Thomas recommends a stay at the América del Sur Hostel Calafate, saying she appreciated the clean accommodations and interesting guests.
If you dream of a getaway that includes picturesque beaches and crystal-clear water, Croatia is the perfect spot to explore. In Dubrovnik, the ancient city walls and medieval architecture of Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, set a particularly gorgeous scene when the sun goes down. Tamara Williams, owner of solo female travel-focused blog My Elated Odyssey, says the unmatched beauty of the surrounding sea and mountains is only one reason to plan a trip here.
“The locals are some of the nicest people I have ever met,” Williams says. “They truly made it feel like a second home. They spoke English well, so no need to worry about a language barrier.” She adds that this Balkan country is also considerably more affordable than destinations in Western Europe.
Travel tip: For solo female travelers, Williams suggests staying in the Lapad neighborhood or near Old Town. “Both are full of cafes, bars and shopping to keep you busy,” she says.
You can’t go wrong in Norway, with breathtaking fjords, fascinating wildlife, scenic railways, outdoor adventure and the chance to glimpse the northern lights. Jurga Rubinovaite, founder of the travel blog Full Suitcase, says you won’t want to miss Svalbard: a Norwegian archipelago located approximately 800 miles from the North Pole. “It is one of the most unique nature destinations in the world,” she says. “Despite being so far north in the Arctic, it’s extremely easy to visit and is also a great and safe destination for solo female travelers.”
The main town, Longyearbyen, is the focal point of activities in Svalbard, which range from hiking and boat tours in the summer to winter pursuits such as ice cave visits and snowmobiling. “Because of the presence of polar bears, everything you do in Svalbard requires booking a guided tour, so you are always in safe hands,” Rubinovaite explains. “Longyearbyen town itself is very lively and safe, with lots of accommodations, restaurants, shops, and a few museums, all within easy walking distance from each other.”
Travel tip: For women traveling alone, Rubinovaite advises thorough research in advance of your trip to this Arctic locale; staying in hotels, rather than private accommodations; and booking guided tours or looking for a travel buddy when venturing out to very remote places.
Head to Ireland for a memorable solo getaway complete with rolling emerald-green hills, fairytale castles and Irish coffee. Experienced traveler Kelie Fiala of the Vacations Planned blog ranks this European country at the top of her list for solo travel spots. “Many attractions in Ireland are wonderful for solo travelers because they offer peaceful spots to stop and enjoy the gorgeous views, but also provide plenty of opportunities to meet friendly people at cafes and other points of interest,” she says.
Fiala appreciates the nightlife and music scene of Ireland as much as the history and scenery. She suggests experiencing some of the country’s pubs, even if you’re a woman traveling alone, since you’ll almost always find live music and friendly people. “Even if you start out by yourself, you’ll easily find that you’re having great conversations in no time,” she says.
Travel tip: Fiala warns that for solo travelers, especially women, it’s best to be careful how much you drink and leave the situation if you ever feel uncomfortable. But she also encourages women to not be afraid to have a chat. “You could hear some great stories, and make a new friend,” she says.
Beautiful beaches, delicious food, friendly people, exotic animals and floating markets are just some of the incredible things that you can experience in Thailand. Loredana Gogoescu, head of content for Destguides.com, says she felt safe in Thailand as soon as she arrived. “Thai people are hospitable and kind,” she says. “Moreover, as a solo traveler, I was surprisingly never alone. I had to book a private room for myself at one point just to get a breather, as I was constantly meeting new people!”
Travel tip: If you’re apprehensive about exploring a new place on your own, especially if you’ve never traveled abroad before, Gogoescu recommends sorting out all the logistics like accommodations and transportation in advance so it’s easier to acclimate once you get there. She adds, “If you’re afraid of being alone, join different apps like Bumble and Facebook groups for the destination you’re traveling to, to see if you can match up with other solo female travelers who will be in the area at the same time as you.”
Nailah Hayward of TheresSoMuchToSee.com says the Netherlands is a superb option for first-time solo female travelers, based on ease of transportation, overall safety, the variety of things to do and other factors. “The Netherlands comes out high on all of these areas,” she says. “And after multiple visits to the country, traveling through big cities and small towns, I always felt extremely safe.” With the country’s extensive train system, in addition to local trams and bike lanes, navigating the Netherlands by yourself doesn’t pose too great a burden. Hayward also appreciates the ease of communicating with locals as an English speaker, since most people speak English in addition to Dutch.
“Whether you are into the arts scene, outdoor activities, luxury experiences, cultural exploration or culinary delights, the Netherlands has a huge variety of activities to dive into,” Hayward says. “All of these elements make the Netherlands a place that I enthusiastically recommend for solo women travelers.”
Travel tip: Don’t carry cash. Hayward says most transactions can be done electronically, so there’s no need for frequent trips to the ATM.
Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands
Luxury family travel influencer Irina Claire Bromberg suggests Grand Cayman in the Cayman Islands as a top spot for solo female travel, partially because of its high safety rating from the U.S. Department of State. There’s also no shortage of activities in this Caribbean destination, with Bromberg calling Stingray City a must. “The stingrays are peaceful and gentle,” she says. “They glide along the ocean floor and you’re free to observe and even play with them in their natural habitat.” She also recommends soaking up some sun at the renowned Seven Mile Beach.
Grand Cayman is also a foodie paradise, according to Bromberg. “The vibrant dishes are as tasty as they are exciting, representing the fascinating mix of cultures and traditions that make the island so unique,” she says. Her suggestions for food to try include the classic Cayman-style lobster, coconut shrimp and Johnny cakes.
Travel tip: Bromberg recommends checking the U.S. Department of State safety rating and other solo travelers’ experiences prior to booking a trip.
Chart your course for Istanbul, the only city in the world that straddles two continents, Europe and Asia. This anomaly is one of many features making the Turkish city stand out as a unique destination; you’ll get to experience its Byzantine architecture, Ottoman cuisine and landmarks like the Grand Bazaar on a trip here. Farihah Fuaad, a Muslim solo travel expert and founder of MuslimSoloTravel.com, says, “It offers the best of both worlds – East and West, Europe and Asia, modern and ancient – and lots of surprises.” This lively, fast-paced metropolis is also rich in history and culture, with remnants of bygone eras visible in the skyline of Istanbul, according to Fuuad.
For solo travelers, there are endless opportunities for memorable experiences. “Wherever you go in Istanbul, multiple surprises await you at the corner of every street, its cobblestone alleys, or within the maze-like structure in Grand Bazaar,” Fuaad says. The network of easy and convenient public transportation options also makes Istanbul a great choice for women traveling solo.
Travel tip: For first-time solo female travelers, Fuaad suggests taking time to adjust to being on your own: “Start small, by venturing to your next neighboring town or city first, or any city in your country first before you make the leap into solo traveling abroad.” She adds, “Don’t do things you’re not comfortable with. Listen to your gut feelings – they’re always right!”
For a tropical island escape, Bali is undeniably magical. Its natural beauty spans volcanoes, waterfalls and stunning beaches, as well as sprawling rice fields, diverse nightlife and breathtaking temples. Katie Caf, travel blogger at KatieCafTravel.com, who has been traveling solo full time for the past year and a half, says Bali is by far her favorite place to visit. “The Balinese people are very respectful towards female travelers, there’s no street harassment based on gender like you might find in other locations, and while no place is perfect, Bali just feels very safe as a woman,” Caf says. She adds that, although Indonesia is a conservative country, she found that women traveling there aren’t expected to cover up except in temples or other sacred religious sites.
Travel tip: Caf recommends that travelers always use ride-sharing apps like Uber, Gojek and Grab rather than hailing cabs off the street, since the apps’ tracking features make them much safer to use for solo female travelers in foreign countries. Some of these sites also allow you to share your route with chosen contacts for added safety.
Paris is one of the most iconic destinations in Europe for any traveler. Antoinette Harris, founder and owner of travel blog Frolic & Courage, considers the “City of Love” a superb option for women traveling solo due to its cuisine, cultural attractions and hands-on activities of all sorts. “I consider Paris the city of self-love because it has everything solo women travelers need to care for themselves and their interests,” Harris says.
With the flexibility of traveling on your own, you can plan the Paris trip of your dreams. Depending on what you’re interested in, you may choose to learn about French cooking, immerse yourself in the Louvre, attend an opera at the historic Palais Garnier or browse local shops, as Harris has done. “Uninhibited by the demands or requests of others, I was able to really take the time to focus on who I am, what I wanted and what sparks joy and life in my spirit,” she says. “Traveling to Paris taught me how to truly enjoy spending time solo.”
Travel tip: One of Harris’ top tips is to not bring more than you can carry, as you won’t always find someone to help you with your luggage if an escalator breaks and you have to take the stairs. “By keeping only the essentials, you’re able to move quickly to and from your destination without worrying too much about being a target for crime,” Harris says. She also recommends downloading an offline map you can reference even without internet connection and sharing your itinerary with family members or friends who could help in a sticky situation.
New York City
It’s hard to beat the allure of the twinkling lights of Times Square, award-winning Broadway shows and Lady Liberty. Melanie Musson, a travel expert with AutoInsurance.org, loves taking a solo trip to New York City, saying she doesn’t even have the chance to feel lonely because the hustle and bustle of the big city keeps her sufficiently distracted.
Musson says that, while there are risks for visitors in any city, the odds of anything scary happening to you in New York are low as long as you take appropriate precautions. “New York City prioritizes tourist safety because they know they’d lose this valuable industry if visitors had frequent bad experiences,” she explains, adding that you may be surprised how friendly the local residents are. “They’re usually happy to help you identify the right subway line to take or bus to catch. They’ll probably even give you tips on the best places to eat or things to see.”
Travel tip: Musson’s pre-trip tip is to check crime reports in the destination you’re heading to and stay within the safe areas. “Trust your gut and get out of the area if you don’t feel safe,” she cautions.
The city of Singapore is known for being clean, green and safe for travelers – as well as expensive. Singapore boasts impressive architecture, the iconic Singapore sling cocktail, street food markets and luxury shopping malls. Daina Cohen, editor at WorldlyKnown.com, says, “Singapore is a fantastic destination for solo women travelers because of its vibrant, yet safe culture and exciting sights.” On a solo trip to this Southeast Asian city, you can experience the unique blend of diverse cultures and cuisines, Cohen says, in addition to other benefits. “It’s easy to navigate with plenty of public transportation options, plus an excellent healthcare system, which makes it a great choice for those who want to travel solo,” Cohen notes. Tourists should research Singapore’s laws – such as a ban on chewing gum – before traveling there to avoid fines.
Travel tip: Cohen advises staying in a hostel (which often have options for women-only dorms) or renting an Airbnb for more privacy. You’ll also want to familiarize yourself with the city’s public transportation system prior to arrival.
Why Trust U.S. News Travel
Sharael Kolberg is a U.S. News & World Report contributor with a wealth of knowledge when it comes to solo travel for women. Her first trip by herself was to New Zealand when she was 19. Since then, she has traveled solo all over the U.S. and to countries such as Fiji, Argentina, Chile and Italy. Her favorite destination to travel alone is still her native California, which offers a diverse landscape from the city to the sea and the mountains and the desert.