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Still unsure about embarking on solo female travel for the first time? This post is for you.
In the following travel destination recommendations for first-time solo travel for a woman, you’ll find more than local tips and advice on lodging, restaurants and transportation. You’ll also find inspiration from women over 40 who did it, who started travelling alone and found that the world is theirs to be discovered solo or not.
Many of the proposed destinations might already be on your travel radar for reasons such as familiarity and safety factors while other ones might surprise you and entice you to get out of your comfort zone.
Women who travel solo are fascinating.
To travel alone as a woman is for many of us mid-lifers an option we hadn’t before considered.
Here are the top solo female travel destinations detailed on this post
Table of contents
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London is recommended by Jill Bowdery from Reading The Book Travel
London, United Kingdom is the perfect city destination for solo woman travellers over 40.
A major transport hub with direct flights all across the globe, London is easily accessible and, with English (naturally) as the native language, communication is relatively straightforward. The young scene in London is lively and exuberant, but the best of the city really only becomes accessible with a few more years of experience and income under your belt.
London has it all: splendid green parks which are a joy to wander; more historic buildings than you could possibly imagine, and a cultural and foodie scene which equals or surpasses any city the world over. London is made for exploring at your leisure, and as a solo traveller, you can lose yourself in world-class museums such as the National Gallery, Tate Gallery, Victoria and Albert Museum and many more. Admire the outside of Buckingham Palace or Kensington Palace before enjoying a leisurely afternoon tea at the Ritz or Savoy hotel; don’t be shy to enjoy the finer things in life solo, confident women go far in London!
Check out the shopping in stores such as Harrods, Selfridges and Fortnum & Mason.
Even if you can’t afford to buy, half the fun is in looking! More affordable shops are everywhere too, with every conceivable brand represented; or check out markets such as Borough Market or Kensington Market for bargain deals.
Then spend an evening at the theatre enjoying the best the West End has to offer.
Check out the ticket office in Leicester Square, where you can often snap up a last-minute bargain, especially on those single seats! I’ve attended the theatre alone in London many times and it is the perfect night out for a solo traveller. If your tastes are more Tchaikovsky than Sondheim, why not pay a visit to the Royal Opera House for world-class opera and ballet? Again, you can get great seats by travelling solo. Or visit the Globe on London’s South Bank for Shakespeare in the most authentic possible setting. Whatever your tastes, London has the theatre for you.
The city centre has hundreds of hotels to suit most budgets.
The Guoman Royal Horseguards Hotel (5*) has an enviable position on the Thames Embankment and close to Trafalgar Square and Theatreland. If you are on a tighter budget, I recommend looking further out of the city but close to a Tube (subway) station. Trains run into the small hours, are safe for solo travellers (although it is wise never to be alone in a carriage), and a short commute can dramatically reduce the nightly cost.
Like all big cities, London has its risks for women travelling alone, but during daylight hours you have nothing to fear. At night, stick to busy areas and employ the same common sense you would use in any big city. London really is the perfect destination for the 40+ woman travelling solo. Why not give it a try?
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Scotland is recommended by Nicole Labarge
Scotland is the perfect place to visit for first-time solo female travellers.
I studied abroad in Edinburgh and Scotland still holds a special place in my heart even after visiting 115 countries. Scottish people are known for being friendly, polite and helpful if you need directions or assistance. It is a progressive country that fights for women’s rights and the current first minister Nicola Sturgeon, a woman, runs the Scottish Parliament. Scotland is known for its gorgeous lakes, lush green hills, idyllic Outlander locations and hair coos (cows).
If you don’t want to drive, it is fairly easy to get around with local and tour buses in Scotland and visit the stunning landscapes of the Highlands including Glen Coe, Loch Ness, Urquhart Castle or Eilean Donan Castle – the most famous castle in the world.
There is so much to do in Scotland whether you are into gorgeous beaches, beautiful architecture or road tripping to see the breathtaking landscapes. Scotland has something for everyone, especially women travelling solo.
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Dublin is recommended by Linda Malys Yore from Linda On The Run
Dublin Ireland is an ideal city for first-time solo female travellers.
I speak from experience because I *was* a 66-year-old solo female traveller during my Dublin visit! This was my first solo trip and I was overwhelmed and frightened at the prospect. I had nothing to worry about though because Dublin is safe, friendly, has great restaurants and pubs and an abundance of attractions to visit.
I chose to stay in an AirBnB within Dublin’s city walls. That was definitely a good decision for me as everything I wanted to do was within walking distance! There were plenty of locals and tourists out and about all hours of the day and evening, and even when there weren’t so many, I always felt very safe. When I needed directions there was always a welcoming face to assist me.
There are loads of hotels, and hostels to choose from if you are not into an AirBnB.
And if walking a lot like I did doesn’t interest you, Dublin has great transportation options, like the Hop On, Hop Off Dublin Pass which provides bus transportation around Dublin, DART, the electric rail system, and Luas, the light rail tram. Getting around Dublin is super easy.
The attractions around Dublin are diverse.
You can learn Irish history by visiting Kilmainham Gaol, or the General Post Office. I had a blast the day I toured the Guinness Storehouse, spent time in the uber-popular trendy Temple Temple Bar district and found the Molly Malone statue. My favourite was touring Trinity College, its Long Room Library, and seeing the historic Book of Kells.
Restaurants and pubs are everywhere.
All are clean, some are cheap. Grocery stores and markets dot the urban landscape. I’m vegan and between eating out and making meals in my Air B&B there’s no worry about quality options.
Dublin has a myriad of shopping options for you. A stroll down O’Connell or Grafton Streets will provide you will more options than you can imagine! And if you long for green space, St. Stephen’s Green or Merrion Square are places to look into. I cannot wait to return to Dublin. It is such a wonderful city with so much to offer to the solo female traveller.
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Paris is recommended by Suzanne Wolko from Phila Travel Girl
For women who travel solo for the first time, it’s important to set expectations for Paris – it is a city. Yes, I know you want it to be that romantic city of the movies, television and books but it’s a vibrant city that continues to evolve around its storied history and iconic attractions. It’s very easy to navigate by foot, metro (download CityMapper app), local boat on the Seine or Uber (note taxis are notoriously expensive).
For safety, wear a cross-body bag.
Don’t carry your passport (take a photo and keep in your email drafts folder) and watch out for those asking “do you speak English” or try to put bracelets on you at Sacre Coeur. Food can be tricky for a first timer – look at the posted menus first before being seated. Many restaurants will have English menus if you ask.
Local cafes favourites are “Buvette”, “Miznon” and “Holy Belly”. ”Breakfast in America” serves U.S. foods. Takeaway shop “Paul” has sandwiches and quiche. My favourite secret lunch spot is the cafeteria in the Galleries Lafayette department store before ascending to their rooftop for the views of the Opera and the Eiffel Tower.
Skip the line tickets for attractions are worth it to save time.
The Opera tour is understated elegance, the Eiffel Tower tour ticket is to the 2nd level (buy the ticket to the top inside), the VIP Evening tour of the Louvre showcases highlights and Musee D’Orsay is an architectural gem housing the Impressionists. The Street Art tour of Paris gives you a glimpse into the pulse of the city from emerging and established artists.
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Nice is recommended by Maureen of Life On The Mediterranean
Nice, France is perfect for first-time solo female travellers because it’s extremely easy to navigate.
The airport bus will whisk you to the center of town in 20 minutes for a mere $7. Old Town is a great, safe area to discover Nice’s historical roots and you can climb up to the Chateau for a magnificent view of the city, the mountains and the Mediterranean Sea. It’s a very friendly city where you can easily manoeuver in English. Everyone speaks some degree of English.
Shop the unique vendors on the Cours Saleya for local specialities.
Then take the Hop on/Hop off bus to get your bearings of Nice and the neighbouring town of Villefrance-sur-mer. There are tons of cafes and bars where you can sit and make conversation with locals and other tourists, and on Sunday morning there’s an open Coffee Meetup where usually 50 people show up just to chat and catch up – expats and locals alike.
There are a variety of venues you can go to listen to live music and share a table with others. Or pop over to the Quiz Nights at the Blue Whale or Ma Nolan’s where surely a team needs an extra member.
There is no shortage of private and public beaches to linger at.
Rent a lounge chair and umbrella at one of the private beaches and be catered to all day long by the attentive staff. Sometimes, it’s just nice to be alone, but know you are not alone.
Nice is an extremely safe place nowadays and you’ll frequently see police moving about. The best places to stay are either in or near Old Town or in a yummy hotel right on the Promenade des Anglais fronting the Mediterranean Sea. It’s a fantastic city to discover.
I’ve been quite intrigued by all the interest surrounding solo female travel as of lately. It’s a hot topic and we are part of it.
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Brussels is recommended by Bernadette Jackson from A Packed Life
Brussels is an understandably cosmopolitan city as a home of the European Parliament. As such, it’s an easy city in which to be a visitor and a fine option for first time solo female travellers.
First up, there is absolutely loads to see and do; it’s an engrossing city to wander, with a compact centre. The UNESCO World Heritage Site of Grand Place has buildings to investigate on each side of the square. Wander a little further from Grand Place, and there’s plenty of opportunity to people watch over lunch, dinner or a drink. The bar Au Bon Vieux Temps has stained glass setting out the ancient guilds of the city.
A La Bécasse across the street has a truly friendly wait staff team, ensuring you’ll never feel lonely.
There are communal tables at Le Pain Quotidien, or you can sit in the arcade and enjoy the buzz of visitors as you dine. I’ll quickly mention the options for waffles, lots of Belgian chocolate, frites and the beautiful array of Belgian beers. If you want a focus to a city walk, take the Comic Strip self-guided tour to spot TinTin and his fellow illustrated Belgians depicted on walls across the city. Like me, you may find yourself joining an unofficial group along the way.
You can take a chocolate tasting tour or even a chocolate making workshop: a fine way to laugh with new friends.
Spend some time exploring the neighbourhoods of the city too. I loved beautiful Saint Gilles, said to be the place where the world meets in Brussels. The is the Art Nouveau centre of the city, with Horta’s museum and a whole lot of fine architecture to enjoy. Have lunch in one of the bars near the marketplace, and you’ll see Brussels life all around: lost gloves returned, news discussed and joys celebrated. It made me feel welcomed, rather than alone.
Also in Saint Gilles, check out the Porte de Hal, Brussels’ last remaining city gate.
It’s now a museum of the armoury and the city guilds, with a brilliant battlement walk to see the city from on high. Back in the centre of Brussels, I enjoyed staying in an apartment with kitchen facilities. It gave me the chance to recharge on nights that I ran out of energy by dinner time. Like most large cities, there are plenty of small supermarkets to stock your fridge, and seeing how people eat at home is one of the joys of travel.
For practicalities, you should note that the Brussels metro is fast, easy to navigate, and I always felt completely safe. I was entirely happy eating alone or popping into a bar for a coffee and walking back to the apartment in the late evening.
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Florence & Pisa
Florence and Pisa are recommended by Suzanne Jones of The Travel Bunny
Pisa and Florence are popular Italian destinations for tourists and travellers and were the perfect cities for my first foray into solo travel.
My first solo trip happened in my forties and, yes, I’ll admit to being a little nervous. But I needn’t have been, that first Italy trip started a love of solo travel which is a fabulous way to see a destination. I flew into Pisa and took the one-hour train journey to Florence to start my trip.
There’s so much going on in Florence with its art, history and food that I didn’t feel bored, lonely or unsafe at any point during my stay and it was good to explore at my own pace. I didn’t book in at a hotel but stayed at a small B&B, Joanna I B&B, about half an hour’s walk from the city centre. It was more personal than a hotel and easier to chat with other guests at breakfast where I got some great tips on what to see in the city.
The guy at reception was incredibly helpful and advised what to see and do in the time I had available with some good local information. Without him, I’d never have seen the sunset over the city from Piazzale Michelangelo which is magical. Lots of people gather for the sunset with musicians, ice creams stalls and there was a friendly air about the place as we all waited together for the sun to set.
Florence is an easy place to navigate on foot which I feel is one of the best ways to explore a city. The main sights are all in fairly close proximity and are surrounded by a good choice of restaurants and bars, some with street tables where a spot of people watching will keep you entertained whilst you eat.
After my time exploring Florence I took the train back to Pisa.
I spent a day marvelling at the field of Miracles and the Leaning Tower of Pisa which is just half an hour’s walk from Centrale train station. Like Florence, Pisa is easy to get around on foot and the city is geared up for all kinds of visitors from families and couples to solo travellers.
I don’t speak Italian but had no problems because English was widely spoken. If you’re thinking of taking your first solo trip then a few days exploring Florence and Pisa are perfect cities to test the water.
Check out Suzanne’s travel photos on Instagram
Porto & Lisbon
Lisbon- Porto are recommended by Brianne Miers from A Traveling Life
Even though I’ve only been to Portugal twice, both trips include some of my fondest travel memories. I think the country is the perfect destination for solo female travellers of all ages, and I frequently recommend it to women who might be new to solo travel.
To start, Portugal is very easy to get to from major cities in North America and Europe, English is widely spoken, and it is relatively affordable compared to other Western European countries. It’s also compact and easy to navigate by public transportation or car, so you can cover a lot of in a short amount of time. And, of course, it’s hard not to have a good time in a country that makes such good wine and pastries.
Lisbon is a wonderful city to explore on foot – you can walk to most of the main attractions, and if you get tired, just find a spot at a sidewalk cafe and people watch, or hop on one of the yellow trams. For dinner, Time Out Market is a fun spot, where you can sample food and drink from 40 vendors, and it’s entertaining to take a late-night stroll through Bairro Alto, which is always packed with partiers in the streets.
There are lots of day trips you can take from Lisbon too – you can head along the coast to Belem, where you’ll find the Tower of Belem and Jeronimos Monastery, and if you want to do some sunbathing, just head further out to the resort town of Cascais. Sintra is another great day trip and one of my favourite places in Portugal – it’s only 45 minutes away by train, and you can spend the day wandering through massive castles and estates perched high in the hills.
On my second trip to Portugal, I took the train about two hours north of Lisbon to Porto, which makes for a lovely weekend trip. It’s a small city, so you can take your time sightseeing, enjoying the local cuisine, checking out the street art, and of course, and drinking lots of port!
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Germany is recommended by Cate Brubaker from International Desserts Blog
Germany is ideal for the first-time female solo traveller because the public transportation system is easy to navigate, many Germans speak English, and there’s just so much to do, see, and eat!
If you’re looking for a hip big-city experience, try Berlin in the east, Hamburg in the north and Munich in the south. If you lean more towards the outdoors, I recommend the Bavarian Alps, the Black Forest, the Harz Mountains or the beautiful Baltic Sea beaches in the north. Into historic castles or cute little cobblestoned towns? There are too many options to mention here but a few of my favourites are Burg Eltz (castle), Schloss Wernigerode (castle and town), Freiburg (college town) or Lübeck (the Hanseatic city in the north).
The best way to get around Germany is to use public transportation.
You can fly into a wide range of cities from other locations in Europe, as well as the rest of the world. You can fly between cities in Germany but I prefer taking the train or bus. If you want to save money, book your tickets online several weeks in advance (websites should have information in English).
To get around town, buy an inexpensive transit day pass and take the metro, bus or street car. Or rent a bike — or walk! German cities are extremely bike-able and walkable. As far as where you stay, there are many options for hostels to luxury hotels. I typically opt for Airbnb or smaller family-run Pensionen and make reservations online.
Germany also has a wide range of dining options for all kinds of tastes, from meat-lovers to vegans.
A few things to try – Bratwurst with mustard, the local beer, afternoon Kaffee und Kuchen (coffee and cake), Schnitzel with Bratkartofeln (fried potatoes), and anything in any local bakery. A woman travelling alone won’t run out of new experiences in Germany!
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Switzerland is recommended by Arzo Nayel from Arzo Travels
Once a year, pack your bag and travel to Switzerland.
Okay, you don’t have to travel to Switzerland each year, but the country is great for your (first) female solo travel. I love travelling the small country by myself and I strongly suggest to try it out as well – especially if you are concerned about safety reasons when travelling solo.
The country is super safe – after months of travelling through Switzerland, I can say I never felt unsafe. The crime rate is quite low, I walked the streets in the evening by myself and never felt threatened. It is even safe to leave your items in the car without having to worry non-stop about being robbed (but of course, common sense and taking some precautions is always important).
Public transportation is pretty great – you never have to worry how to get from one place to the other. Especially as a woman solo traveller (regardless the age) this can be tricky in some countries, but no need to worry in Switzerland.
Staying in hotels, hostels, or Airbnb is normally also very safe – while the Swiss aren’t known for being experts of small-talks, they are friendly if you ask them for directions or help. For full disclosure, I should add that hotels can be very pricey if travelling alone (and when you can’t split costs) but it is still so worth it.
Because there is also a lot to do and see – the country has some of the most beautiful sceneries in the world that will make your first solo trip even more amazing. There are towns and villages that are beyond cute, stroll cities like Zurich or just hike the mountains (there are some less challenging hikes like the Ebenalp Mountain) – there is no shortage of fun activities.
And while it might not be very easy to make friends with Swiss, there are so many visitors from all around the world that it is easy to meet people and share your experiences!
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Eastern Europe Destinations
Budapest is recommended by Becky from Becky The Traveler
Budapest is one of those destinations I had heard great things about but it wasn’t until a cheap deal came up on Skyscanner that I booked the trip.
As a female solo traveller, I’m always on the lookout for last minute deals to explore new places.
Budapest is the perfect destination for a first-time solo traveller. It’s easy to get from the airport to the city via bus (or taxi if you prefer), always the biggest hurdle when you arrive in a new city! But once you’ve arrived in Budapest everything is within walking distance, some places a little further than others so you can jump on a tram.
When travelling solo I love wandering the streets and finding new places, cafes and restaurants.
Even at night, I felt perfectly safe, my highlight was finding a local bar with Hungarian’s enjoying an evening drink and I sat with them chatting (and smiling since my Hungarian is limited)
There are plenty of things to do on your Budapest trip, take in the historic sites, eat Hungarian food and wine, go caving, try the famous ruins bars or you can take some time to relax and enjoy the thermal baths. Budapest is well-known for its baths, although it can be a difficult decision to decide which are the best baths in Budapest. I opted for the Rudas Baths, slightly smaller than others but perfect as a solo-traveller. I even met up with 3 other solo ladies and spent nearly 2 hours in the baths!
The hostel I stayed at called Friends Hostel & Apartments was again great for solo travel.
I opted for the dorm room which allows the opportunity to meet and mingle with like-minded travellers. Overall, Budapest is a wonderful place to visit whether you are travelling solo or in a group. Once you’ve visited you’ll see why everyone recommends it as a great place to go.
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Plovdiv is recommended by Lindsay from The Neverending Wanderlust
Plovdiv, Bulgaria is an excellent choice for first-time solo female travellers over 40.
This small yet welcoming city has plenty to offer visitors and is a very safe place to go on a weekend getaway. With a population of only about 300k, Plovdiv is big enough to keep visitors entertained for a few days, while not feeling overwhelming. This city is so cool that it is being featured as the European Capital of Culture in 2019. The next 18mos should be a very exciting time to visit Plovdiv.
Tourists mostly congregate in the downtown, Old Town, and Kapana districts and there are plenty of shops, museums, old homes, bars, and restaurants to keep you busy. Definitely take the Free Walking Tour that is offered so you can get a feel for the city and the history.
A bit later, check out the Kapana district for dinner and drinks and you will be spoiled for choice – with Pavaj being one of the city’s most popular hotspots. Locals are quite accustomed to having foreign visitors and you will find most shops, restaurants, and bar owners have a decent (if not excellent) level of English.
The best time to visit Plovdiv is either during the Spring or Autumn as there are regular festivals taking place.
The city is only a 2.5hr (by bus or train) from Sofia and there are a few Ryanair flights that fly directly to Plovdiv from other European cities. *If you fly directly into Plovdiv, you will need to take a taxi into the city as there is no public transport at this time. A good, reliable company to check out is TrueDrivers and they are quite accustomed to working with native-English speakers.
Definitely consider putting Plovdiv, Bulgaria on your must-see list when visiting the Balkans – you won’t be disappointed!
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Lithuania is recommended by Anita Sane from The Sane Travel
Why is Lithuania a perfect destination for a first female solo travel trip?
In a decision about a first solo trip, safety and the easiness of getting around are the first things that come to my mind. In this sense, Lithuania is a perfect solo travel destination for women. It’s safe and has a well developed public transport system. Its capital Vilnius is easily accessible by direct flights from many European countries. On top of that, it’s comparably cheap and some 80% of young people speak English there.
Talking about sights, one should know that the Old Town of Vilnius was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994, so you could enjoy its beauty wandering around cobbled streets and admiring the Cathedral Square with its iconic tower. Do not forget the gorgeous Christmas tree placed there in winter. It’s been listed among the most beautiful ones in the world for a few times.
The awesome Trakai castle on the lake is easily accessible by a bit more than half an hour train or bus ride from the capital. If you have more time, visit Kaunas, the future culture capital of Europe 2022, at the confluence of the two largest Lithuanian rivers – the Neman and the Neris. If you want to continue your trip to the other Baltic States, Lux Express buses will bring you to your next destination.
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Istanbul is recommended by Amanda Settle
Turkey is a country that defies description, and Istanbul is the city where east meets west, and history and culture are so complex and beautiful. I first travelled to Istanbul when I was 21 it started me out on a journey discovering the world.
Nearly 30 years later I returned and found it grown, developed and yet it still gave me the same sense of wonder.
A city with so much to see you can’t possibly do it justice in one weekend yet many do try. From the Topkapi Palace and Mosques of the Ottoman elite to the ancient sites of Constantinople and the elegant wooden houses along the Bosphorus. Every corner has a story to tell.
It’s a city for walking and a city for pedestrians, with an integrated transport system it couldn’t be easier for a traveller to get around. The Istanbulkart gives you access to the buses, trams, metro and boats. All of it efficient, clean and safe and incredibly cheap.
Just avoid the tram system around the Sultanahmet district during the height of the season as it gets too busy.
As you go around the bazaar you’ll find men trying to get your attention to sell you their goods, but away from the stalls, the Turkish I met were polite, interesting to chat to and generally very quiet reserved people. Above all I always felt safe in Istanbul, the walkways along the Bosphorus saw families and groups of people walking every day, they came from every walk of life and many different areas of Turkey. Not once did I feel unsafe or unwelcome.
The culture in Istanbul is as diverse as the architecture and the people, with a vibrant art and music scene, walking around Karaköy just over the Galata bridge you’ll find hip bars and restaurants on terraces with views across the city. Walk up Galata hill or take the vernacular and walk back down. You’ll find music shops, small boutiques, street art and cafes that all come alive after dark.
Turkey is an amazing place with all the conveniences of the modern world and just so much to see.
I stayed in Istanbul for 4 months have visited some tourist places in the south and hope to go back and see more of the country soon. In a city of 22 million people I never at any point felt unsafe as a woman travelling alone. I was there during Ramadan and the festival of Bayram, I was also there during the elections. As a woman in her 40’s I felt accepted and welcome everywhere in Turkey I have travelled.
Food in Turkey has been influenced by so many different cultures and the old spice routes. I never felt out of place as a woman sat alone eating, as a travel blogger I’ve always got a notebook and camera with me and found that Turkish women would approach me and chat wanting to know what I was doing and what I thought of their country
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Hong Kong is recommended by Julie Beckers of Not So Young Woman Abroad
Hong Kong is the perfect destination for the first time solo female traveller.
With one of the lowest crime rates in the world, Hong Kong is safe for women and one where the people are respectful, friendly and more than willing to help you out. English is widely spoken throughout Hong Kong and everywhere you go, you’ll be directed by signs in English and Cantonese, making it easy to find the things you want to see.
From the moment you arrive in Hong Kong, you’ll be greeted with the sights; sounds and smells of Asia, in a wonderful mix of East meets West. Neon lights intermingle with ancient Buddhist temples. Modern cafes and restaurants stand side by side with street markets and traditional food outlets. Beautiful gardens and parks are steps away from the bright lights of the shopping strips.
Hong Kong’s public transport system is cheap, easy to navigate and one of the cleanest I’ve seen in the world, making it easy to get around for solo female travellers. No trip to Hong Kong would be complete without taking a ride on the ferry on Victoria Harbor where you’ll soon understand why Hong Kong is such a popular world destination. Taking the MRT out to the new territories of Hong Kong is a must if you want to see how everyday people live in this great metropolis.
There are lots of great things to see and do in Hong Kong, that won’t break the bank. Some of my favourites were my visit to Man Mo Temple, spending a morning in Kowloon Park and taking the ferry to Lamma Island for a hike and a peek at a traditional Chinese way of life.
Whether you stay for a day or a week, you’ll find Hong Kong a great place for your first solo female adventure.
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Seoul is recommended by Wendy Lee of Empty Nester Hit the Road
Seoul for the Solo Traveling Woman
I’ll never forget my first trip to Seoul, South Korea. Since I was travelling alone, I was both anxious and excited. I had learned about five words of the language, and as a tall, blonde, caucasian woman, I knew I would stand out. Five trips later I have fallen in love with Korea in general, but in particular with Seoul.
My first and foremost reason for loving this city is the endless options for things to see and do.
I’ve visited half a dozen museums, and most were free. I’ve wandered through Namdaemun Market for hours and still haven’t seen it all. I’ve visited all three palaces and several temples. And when I go back–because I’ll definitely be going back–there are many more things I want to do.
Next is the food. Many Americans have tried, and even like Korean food, but in the states, we really don’t get all the regional variations on this spicy cuisine. Each time I go I discover a new “favourite” dish.
And it certainly doesn’t hurt that this city can be affordable.
Three to four-star hotels are decently priced, historic sites are reasonable, public transportation is affordable and efficient, and finally, authentic Korean food can be cheap. For exceptionally cheap food, be sure to try out the street food stalls which are an essential part of any visit to Asia.
But finally, for women, it’s critical to address the issue of safety. Seoul is a very safe city. I have walked through dozens of neighbourhoods by myself early in the morning and at night, and always felt safe. Even petty crime is rare.
If you are a woman looking for your first solo travel destination, I highly recommend Seoul!
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The Philippines are recommended by Lisa Marquardt by TheHotFlashPacker
I found the Philippines a great location for the not-so-young solo female traveller.
First of all, it’s not crawling with 20-year-old backpackers – it’s a great mix of backpackers, flashpackers, luxury travellers, and travelling Filipinos. There’s a wide mix of nationalities but heavily skews towards Europeans. While it’s quite inexpensive to travel the Philippines, it’s not as cheap as some of its other Southeast Asian neighbours so this doesn’t attract the very young crowd. Expect hotels to run $20+, meals for $3 and up.
Transport is relatively easy, with inexpensive flights around the country as well as bus and shuttle buses between the main towns.
Of all the Southeast Asian countries, the Philippines may be the best for English spoken.
Due to its history with the US, English is widely spoken, often without an accent. I’ve been surprised to discover some of the call centre employees I speak to are based in the Philippines. I met and had good conversations with a number of locals, which is more difficult in other Asian countries.
Many places in the Philippines offer very inexpensive day tours to some of the best sites in the country. This is a great way to meet other travellers. I met one of my best friends and frequent travel partners on a day snorkelling trip to El Nido.
One of my favourite meals in the Philippines was in the northern town of Sagada. Sagada is famous for it’s hanging coffins in karst formations and caves, but it’s also famous for its French restaurant the Log House. Every Saturday they have a famous buffet, and here I was seated with the other singles, me and 5 men!
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Bali is recommended by Mo of Travelust 101
Bali was my first female solo travel destination in 2009.
I fell so in love with travelling and with Bali that, in 2013 I set out for an indefinite solo adventure to SE Asia, decided to create a new life abroad, and made Bali my new home!
I can go on and on about how amazing Bali is, but in particular, Bali is an optimal destination for women travelling solo for the first time. Here are just some of the highlights that make Bali a great travelling solo destination:
Transportation in Bali is super affordable and reliable.
Between a public shuttle service (Kura Kura), reputable taxi operator (Blue Bird) and cheap rides you can hire via apps (GoJek and Grab), finding transportation on this island have become so easy now, compared to when I first visited the island. Depending on where you are in Bali, you can even order food delivery with GoJek, so you don’t even need to go hunting for a restaurant. Just note that for day trips around the island (for example temple hopping), the best option may be to hire a private driver for the day.
Local People: My experience with the local people in Bali is that they are warm, welcoming, friendly and even helpful. I have never felt unsafe travelling alone in Bali. The only barrier I ever experienced was the language – but you have Google Translate to help you with that 😉
Food: I’m a foodie, so when I tell you that food is good in Bali, it’s GOOD!
From local cuisine (Nasi Goring, Nasi Campur, Mie Goring) to colourful smoothie bowls, everything in Bali is cheap, delicious and addictive. Local food can be purchased for as low as $.50, and insta-worthy smoothie bowls can run $3-5.
You will find so many solo travellers in Bali – if you are keen on finding meal buddies, just head to a local Warung where you will see big shared tables. Bon Appetit!
Cheap Accommodations: In Bali, a simple hotel room can be easily found for around $20, and “luxury” villas with pools can start as low as ~$70. If you are used to western-standard prices, you can live like a Queen in Bali! There are hostels and dorm rooms as well for the budget-conscious travellers.
Countless dorm options are available for less than $10/bed throughout Bali, particularly in popular destinations such as Ubud, Canggu, Seminyak, and Kuta. I have found that staying in “female-only” dorms provides more comfort and, opportunities to meet other girls travelling the region.
Activities: This one is difficult to keep short, as there are so many things to do on this one island alone! As Indonesia is known for some of the most incredible marine life in the world, I would highly recommend snorkelling or scuba diving while in Bali! Plus, group activities are great opportunities for meeting like-minded, adventurous travellers like yourself. I have made many friends from scuba diving around SE Asia.
Other things not to be missed in Bali include visiting temples, chasing waterfalls, catching sunsets, joining cooking classes, surfing, and relaxing on the various shades of beaches around Bali – you can find a whole spectrum of sand colours from white to black all around the island!
If you want to see a sample itinerary for Bali, check out this comprehensive guide highlighting the BEST of Bali.
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Kota Bharu is recommended by Vanessa Workman of The Island Drum
Kota Bharu’s rustic, old-school charm may not appeal to everyone, but for solo culture seekers, the Kelantan state capital is the real deal as far as a Malaysia travel experience is concerned. From unique local foods to numerous museums and historic sites, to the genuine warmth of the local people, Kota Bharu is as authentic as it gets.
The main bus station is located in the central hub of the city.
It’s a buzzy part of town with many people, both locals and non-locals, taking advantage of the excellent city bus services as well as the many nearby hotel options. The local buses have simple routes which consistently go from point A to point B. Taxis are also readily available. Local sites are easily reachable from this area on foot or via the local bus.
Women are very visible around the community of Kota Bharu, which can be a comfort to any solo female traveller to a new city. And for the most part many locals speak English, so don’t be shy to engage in conversation or ask questions. If one person doesn’t have the answer rest assured that they will do their best to find someone who may.
Dressing somewhat conservatively will also win you more brownie points in this predominantly Muslim city, so do consider your attire when mixing and mingling. Especially in local restaurants and on the streets. Be sincere and culturally sensitive and Kota Bharu will welcome you with open arms.
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Myanmar is recommended by Elisa from World in Paris
One of the first countries that I visited as a solo traveller, not long time ago, was Myanmar.
I loved the country for its beauty, its kind people and also because it is a safe place for women solo travellers with plenty of fun activities to do. For example, I loved exploring the temples of Bagan on my own, riding an electric bike. I picked the bike up very early in the morning because I wanted to see the sunrise from the temples and I never felt insecure to walk (and later ride) the dark streets of the town.
Also, I did some of the best hikes in the country, most of the times with a guided group.
One of my favourite hikes was the one from Kalaw to Inle which I did with 5 more people and a local guide. During this multi-day hike, we were sleeping with the locals and it was also a great opportunity to taste some local cuisine and have a glimpse of how people live in the area.
I even enjoyed life in Yangon, the capital, on my own and the city’s night market was definitely one of my favourite places to explore. The streets were occupied by many food stalls with interesting (sometimes weird) food but there were also small restaurants and eateries with communal tables to taste some great dishes for a few cents.
If you are a 40+ woman solo traveller looking for new ideas on destinations in Asia, I am sure you will love Myanmar!
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Siem Reap is recommended by Sandy of Tray Tables Away
A few years ago some girlfriends and I decided to visit Cambodia on the spur of the moment for some special birthday celebrations. I was flying on points so chose to travel separately to the others and they, in turn, had some hassles with their flights which meant they arrived a few days later than expected.
This meant I found myself in Siem Reap for a few days travelling alone for the first time.
I wasn’t really sure what to expect as I flew in from Bangkok but I knew it was the wet season or ‘green season’ as they call it there, and the view from the plane as we were descending showed a vast expanse of water, tributaries and sodden rice paddies.
One of the best things Cambodia is it is very cheap.
As a result, we had booked a very beautiful boutique hotel the likes of which we couldn’t necessarily afford in many countries and I was off to a great start when the Manager himself greeted me at the airport with a driver. He pointed out some of the sights on the drive to the hotel including the incredible Angkor park which is very close to town. They also surprised me with a birthday cake and what seems like the entire staff of the hotel singing.
I found the people of Cambodia to be some of the nicest, friendliest and most humble of any in the world. Given the tragic modern history of their country, this was quite a surprise.
Siem Reap is a relatively small city with a compact center full of funky bars, shops and restaurants. There are fabulous crafts and artefacts in the area and even some excellent fashion designers. It is a very clean, safe city and you can happily take yourself out to dinner in a tuk-tuk. There isn’t a better city to find yourself alone as a woman traveller and so much to see and do!
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Cape Town is recommended by Claudia of My Adventures Across The World
Cape Town is a fantastic destination for solo female travellers because it has A LOT to offer.
There are many things to do in Cape Town for all tastes and budget; enough to keep anyone solo traveller entertained for weeks at end. City dwellers will be charmed by Bo-Kaap, one of Cape Town historic neighbourhoods. Once a slave quarter, Bo-Kaap used to be inhabited mostly by the Malaysian / Muslim community. Nowadays it is more multicultural, though their presence of the Muslim community is still strong and mosques and call for prayers are easy to come across. The area is beautifully colourful: picture lovely cobbled streets and colourful houses.
Another unmissable area is that of the V&A waterfront.
With a large state of the art shopping mall and a fabulous food court where all sorts of food are served for a real steal. It’s the kind of place where families love hanging out at weekends. Not far from there, right in front of the Clock Tower, ferries leave to go to Robben Island, the former prison where Nelson Mandela and other political prisoners served their time. It is a must visit, along with Kirstenbosch Garden (a gorgeous botanical garden).
But there’s more: Cape Town is surrounded by beautiful nature.
A visit is not complete without getting to Table Mountain. There is a cable car that goes all the way to the top, though real adventure seekers should join a group hike (recommended, vs. hiking solo) to get up there. The views of the city from there are stunning.
Other places to visit near Cape Town include beautiful Muizenberg Beach; and Cape Town Peninsula. For the latter, a good day trip is recommended. This typically stops at places such as Boulders’ Beach, where there’s a colony of penguins; at Cape Point National Park; and at Cape of Good Hope, where a short hike to the lighthouse reveals breathtaking views.
The best nightlife is around Long Street, which is packed with great bars, pubs and restaurants. The Royal Eatery has some of the best burgers in town, and it has a wide range of vegetarian and vegan options.
The Backpack Hostel is a great place to meet other travellers.
Located in the center of the city, it has dorms, private and family rooms. It’s the kind of place where it is nice to hang out and easy to meet other likeminded travellers, who enjoy hanging out at the bar.
Cape Town has a reputation for being an unsafe place as the sun goes down. Following locals’ advice, it is, however, possible to stay safe. The best thing to do is to use Uber to move around after sunset.
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North American Destinations
Quebec City is recommended by Megan Hamilton of Wander Toes
Though I have travelled a good bit in my life, my first solo-travel was at 45 years old.
I researched and debated a number of locations before deciding where to go for this adventurous step. For me, the perfect destination for my first solo travel was Quebec City, Canada. Being from the USA, Quebec City allowed me to spend more of my time away instead of getting there and back.
Quebec City is also incredibly safe, putting the minds of my loved ones (and ok, yeah, mine too) at ease. I also chose Quebec City because I love history and food, and the city gives plenty of opportunities to explore both.
With its cobbled streets and walled old town, Quebec City also feels very much like the European towns I have fallen in love with. Adding in that the city is strongly French-speaking, and this is as close to France as you can get in North America! In fact, I had more people attempt to strike up conversations with me in French in Quebec City than I have ever had in France. (But not to worry, everyone smoothly switched to English for me!)
Quebec City gave me a wonderful first experience solo-travelling.
I spent a week tucked in the shadow of the Chateau Frontenac, within walking distance of everything I wanted to see. I learned about parts of North American history I had never learned in school. I tried poutine and maple candy and ice wine and I did two different food tours focused on two different areas of the city.
Most fascinating? I spent a whole week setting my own priorities and visiting the places I wanted. I was incredibly freeing, and I highly recommend it!
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Taxco is recommended by Isabella Biava from Boundless Road
I am very used to travel alone.
However, I reckon that there are some destinations where I feel more comfortable being on my own than others. They are just more welcoming and make you feel safer to walk around, and more at ease, especially as a woman.
Among them, it’s Taxco, a beautiful town situated in the Mexican state of Guerrero at just 2 hours bus from Mexico City.
From the very first moment in town, I was so impressed by the friendliness of the local people.
When I arrived, my hostel was closed and the people in the shops around would go out of their way to help me out until we finally got in touch with the owner. I was so grateful. And then all along my stay, I have always found the kindest people who would give me directions and information without hesitation.
Taxco is mostly known for its ancient silver mining that is now not in use anymore but the silver craftsmanship tradition continues to these days, keeping Taxco among the top and most prestigious producer in all Mexico and probably the world.
Buying silver jewellery and house decorations are, therefore, the main reason one would think he should visit Taxco, but that is not totally true. The quirky town is a beautiful gem rich in historical buildings of the viceroyalty period, museums related to its history, art and traditions, delicious restaurants and bars, rooftop terraces and viewpoints overlooking the city.
The magic town Taxco stretches out over the slope of a mountain and you can admire it in all its splendour from the Mirador Cristo Rey, a humongous statue of Christ on top of the mountain in the middle of a terrace.
You can also enjoy stunning views of the city from The Parroquia de Guadalupe and Santuario de Ojeda.
I would walk around by myself up and down the winding steep roads in total bewilderment and feel totally safe. Also enjoyed having my meals from the many different rooftop terraces scattered around the city.
The hotel offer is huge and diverse and you can find either beautiful hostels where it would be easier to meet other solo fellow travellers and also offer the comfort of a private room, or cute boutique hotels of different range of price.
Not to forget that around Taxco there are beautiful natural attractions that are worth visiting, like Pozas Azules and the grutas de Cacalotenango, at an easy and safe reach by local “combi”.
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Have you been to any of these great destinations as a solo female traveller?
Please share your experiences, comments or questions below…
Please share your experiences, comments or questions below…