The Best Solo Travel Destinations for Women in 2019
The online saves on Pinterest for “solo travel ideas” skyrocketed 593 percent over the last year—many of them by women. Were you one of them? Let us help: these are the best (and safest) travel destinations for solo female travelers right now.
Iceland made headlines last year when it announced a new law that made it illegal for businesses to pay women less than men—yet another checkmark in the long list of why the World Economic Forum named Iceland today's global leader in gender equality. Iceland is famous for its extremely low crime rates, too—earning it the coveted title of "safest country in the world" in 2018 (its 11th consecutive year) according to the Global Peace Index. Icelandair makes experiencing it on your own that much easier with its Build Your Own Iceland Trip package, which loops in your flights, hotel, and tours. For women traveling solo, the trip possibilities are limitless; whether you plan to take in those mind-boggling landscapes, soak in one of the country’s many thermal pools, or drive the Golden Circle, you’re bound to run out of time to see it all. Prefer not to go it completely alone? WHOA Travel (Women High on Adventure) is leading two Iceland tours in 2019 that include lava field hikes, ice climbs, and sauna dips.
Clocking in at number two on the Global Peace Index’s list of safest countries in the world, New Zealand is—dare we say it—every traveler’s dream. Between its incredible natural beauty, world-class beaches, vibrant cities, renowned vineyards, emerging food scene, and friendly locals, there’s not much New Zealand doesn’t have going for it (except, maybe, for the flight it takes to get there). Explore Auckland’s buzzy harbor, taste wine on Waiheke Island, skydive over Lake Wakatipu, immerse yourself in Maori culture, or tackle the Southern Alps during a 10-day all-women hiking trek with REI, which passes through legendary destinations like Mount Cook National Park and Queenstown.
America’s northerly neighbor has a reputation for kindness. After losing yourself along the hilly, cobbled streets of Quebec City, chowing down on poutine and more elevated French cuisine in Montreal, or exploring the sights and sounds of Vancouver or Toronto (two of the safest cities to travel alone in Canada), you'll understand why: life here is good. Want to really get out of your comfort zone? The sheer beauty of the Canadian Rockies has seduced many a solo traveler, who've taken up everything from snowshoeing on Lake Louise to trekking across the Wapta Icefields. Check out Explorer Chick's small-group, women-only tours through Banff National Park backcountry, which involve hiking past glacial lakes and waterfalls and bedding down in mountain huts.
One of the happiest and safest countries in the world, Switzerland makes it easy for solo gals to take it all in. The Swiss Travel pass works for every mode of public transportation (trains, buses, and boats), though we recommend taking the train for views of Switzerland’s famous alpine region and connections further afield. It doesn't get much easier to experience the charming streets of Zurich, hiking and wellness in the Alps, the beautiful region of Ticino, and more all in a single itinerary. Another one of the big reasons to go now: the current exchange rate is the best it’s been for U.S. travelers in a long time, at 1.00 Swiss Franc to 1.01 U.S. dollar.
Navigating the diverse (and English-speaking!) country of Australia might be one of the better solo trips you’ll ever take. Between exploring the wonders of the Outback, swimming and surfing along the Gold Coast, and bopping around town in Sydney, you'll understand why Australia ranks 10th on the World Happiness Index. Melbourne, considered Australia's creative capital, is especially suited to solo travelers. The city was named the world’s most livable city thanks to its abundance of green spaces, trendy cafés, mural-lined laneways, and easy-to-navigate neighborhoods. We especially love the City Circle Tram, which connects the city center’s major sights and is completely free to use for locals and visitors.
Adventure junkies with a heart for the outdoors will love Costa Rica, where it’s impossible to be bored on your own. From surfing and zip-lining to volcano hiking, wildlife spotting, and hot springs soaks, there’s no end to what you can get up to. "Costa Rica has a reputation for having some of the friendliest locals, making it an ideal place for solo travelers," says Erica Landerson, co-owner of the by-women-for-women tour operator AdventureWomen. "It’s also a fairly easy country to get around since the vast majority of people working in tourism speak English seamlessly." Mountain Travel Sobek is offering a 10-day Costa Rica tour just for women, where you can go whitewater rafting, take surfing lessons, and visit an active volcano.
For solo females, Bangkok might prove to be a little overwhelming, but Chiang Mai, farther north, is a much more laidback—and greener—alternative. Here, the noise of the city falls away to hundreds of Buddhist temples, which you can take in at your own pace (and without incessant throngs of tourists blocking your path). The city is also exceptionally safe and easy to navigate, full of walkable streets, markets, and hole-in-the-wall restaurants that make eating alone almost preferable. Also, not only are locals notoriously kind, but you'll also find them out at all hours (so you'll rarely find yourself walking alone at night.) Did we mention it’s affordable?
The whole of Scandinavia ranks among the safest places to travel in the world, but Copenhagen has a charm of its own. The city is littered with homestays and hostels in some of the best neighborhoods (Nyhavn, for example), while the major mode of transportation—the bicycle—means travelers move at their own pace and on their own time. You won’t feel the least bit lonely strolling along the city's wide canals, sipping Danish beer along the waterfront, or chowing down on smørrebrød at buzzy food halls like Torvehallerne.
If you’re hoping for some space to think and breathe on your solo adventure, it might be time to tackle Patagonia. "Patagonia is full of stunning nature, which is probably why it’s a popular location for solo travelers looking for self-discovery," says Landerson. Between the wildlife, the scenery, and the chances to get your heart pumping, you won’t have time to worry about what’s going on back home. Chile’s Torres del Paine National Park is perfect—it’s remote while still being well-known, and the chances are good you’ll pass other travelers (not to mention places to eat and stay) during hikes along the W trail, glaciers, and mountain peaks. Got some free time this October? AdventureWomen’s 10-day trek through Argentina and Chile will pass through El Calafate, Los Glaciares, Torres del Paine, and Santiago.
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