Traveling alone can be incredibly daunting ― especially for women. From single supplement fees to concerns for personal safety, it sometimes feels like solo exploring as a woman is more of a burden than a blessing. But, despite the discouraging hurdles, taking the leap can be an extremely rewarding and life-changing experience. That’s why we’ve decided to highlight the world’s best cities for women to explore on their own. Read on to discover seven places where you can feel safe, empowered, and free.
From its iconic yellow trams and historic buildings to its breathtaking vistas and renowned food scene, Lisbon is a solo traveler’s dream. Female travelers will especially appreciate its navigability, affordability, and safety — compared to other countries in Western Europe, Portugal is relatively inexpensive and boasts one of the lowest violent crime rates on the continent. The capital city is also extremely walkable, making it ideal for strolling alone through the old neighborhoods in search of stunning views and hidden gems. Get lost wandering Alfama, where you’ll find colorful houses, tessellated tiles, and winding streets lined with markets and museums. Spend a day café-hopping to drink in Lisbon’s famous coffee culture, then enjoy a meal at a restaurant with live music to experience fado music alongside traditional Portuguese cuisine. Soak in the beauty of this vibrant city ― and don’t forget your camera!
Known for its thriving foodie and coffee culture, friendly inhabitants, and lively arts scene, Melbourne is a haven for solo travelers. Although sometimes overshadowed by the more touristy Sydney, Melbourne offers opportunities to delve deeper into Australia’s art and culture. Explore the vibrant Northside, eat your way through the city’s local and fusion cuisines, and wander Degraves Street in search of what some argue is the world’s best coffee. If you’d like to discover the city’s deservedly famous creative side, admire local artists’ graffiti and murals that decorate Hosier Lane, or pick up a handmade memento at the Rose Street Artists’ Market in Fitzroy. Women traveling alone will be relieved to know that the city is one of the safest in Australia, which boosts its popularity among backpackers. As a result, Melbourne has an abundance of hostels where you can stay for cheap and make friends while on the road. But no matter where your Melbourne journey takes you, you’re sure to have an epic solo adventure Down Under!
As the capital city of Peru, Lima is a bustling metropolis. Located in the desert between the Pacific Ocean and the Andes Mountains, the city features stunning architecture, lively nightlife, and some of the best food the country has to offer. As an added bonus, Peru ranks as one of the safest countries in South America, according to the Global Peace Index. Start by exploring the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Old Lima ― nicknamed the City of the Kings ― where you’ll find an abundance of historic buildings and monuments that date back to when the city was the seat of Spanish rule in South America. While there, visit the famous Cathedral, or take a tour of the Church and Convent of San Francisco, where you can wonder at the colonial architecture, or venture into the gloom of 19th-century catacombs. If you’d rather absorb the city’s contemporary culture, head to the coastal area of Miraflores to bike or surf alongside delicious restaurants and invigorating nightlife. Spend an afternoon in Parque Kennedy ― a coastal park and hotspot for people to get together ― where you can find local food vendors, watch street performers, and even make friends with locals! With all this and more, it’s easy to see why Lima should be your next solo travel destination.
If you’re planning a solo trip to the African continent, be sure to include Arusha on your itinerary. This lush sub-Saharan city is a bustling cultural hub and the gateway to some of Tanzania’s best outdoor experiences. The city is also considered safe for solo travelers, although (as with most other destinations) it’s essential to be cautious when going out at night. Sample the city’s downtown food scene, starting with ugali — porridge made from maize flour and served with meat or vegetables — as it’s both a staple and a local favorite. Pick up some crafted treasures at the Cultural Heritage Center, or stop by the National Natural History Museum to learn about the fossils unearthed in Tanzania ― many of which have unlocked secrets about human evolution. If you plan on going on a safari to explore the Serengeti, consider joining a small tour group; expenses are shared, and it’s a great way to meet new people while you’re traveling alone. For daring outdoor adventurers, a hike up Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest peak, is a great challenge and life-changing experience ― especially alone. And though a completely solo summit isn’t possible (because you’re legally required to ascend with a guide), groups are often comprised of other solo travelers, so it won’t take long to build lasting bonds with your fellow hikers.
From the immensity of its mountains and fjords to the quaint charm of its cobbled streets and colorful wooden houses, Bergen is as varied as it is beautiful. So, if you’re looking for a solo adventure that has a little bit of everything, make this Norwegian city your next stop. As one of the happiest and safest countries in the world, Norway is an ideal destination for women traveling alone. Delve into the city’s culture by visiting its many museums and art galleries, or get some fresh air by hiking up Mount Fløyen to take in the view ― and take the cable car back down. The city also boasts a lively food scene, so don’t skip that coffee or skoleboller (a sweet roll filled with custard and topped with icing and grated coconut). Want to venture outside the city? Take the famous train from Bergen to Oslo, or head north to experience the fjords and catch a glimpse of the Aurora Borealis. If solitude is what you’re after, you’re sure to find it in the vast Norwegian wilderness!
Chiang Mai, Thailand
This city in northern Thailand boasts delicious (and affordable) food, ancient temples, and incredible natural scenery. And with its low crime rates and friendly people, Chiang Mai is an excellent place for women traveling alone. Meander around the Old Town, snap photos of the bustling city center, and head to the Warorot Market to grab some northern Thai-style grilled sausage (sai oua) or a bite of cap moo (crispy pork skin). Be sure to visit Chiang Mai City Arts and Cultural Center as well, where you can learn more about Thai culture and history through videos, photographs, and other protected artifacts. If you want to take some time alone to reflect, head to one of Chiang Mai’s many temples, such as the gorgeous and peaceful Wat Phra Singh or Wat Mahawan. On the flip side, you may want to meet others and experience Chiang Mai’s social scene — so, dance the night away at Warm Up Café, or have a nightcap at North Gate Jazz Co-Op. After traveling alone in Chiang Mai, you’ll see why so many expats choose to stay for good!
With its glaciers, volcanoes, ice caves, and sea cliffs, Iceland features some of the most stunning and otherworldly landscapes in the world. With extremely friendly locals and a low crime rate, Iceland is a perfect choice for women traveling alone, so, if you’ve always dreamed of exploring this rugged northern wonderland, consider Reykjavik as a place to start. The capital is home to a vibrant art and music scene, so be sure to check out the wide array of weekly entertainment ― including live music, opera, theatre, drag shows, stand-up comedy (in English!), and more — and make some friends while enjoying the nightlife. If you want to travel a bit farther afield, the Ring Road makes the country very easy to navigate, so you can relax in the famous Blue Lagoon, explore the rural Westfjords, or wander the lava sands of Reynisfjara beach.
All that’s left for you to do is pick a destination and let your solo adventure begin!
Planning a solitary trip? Discover the 10 friendliest places to travel alone, or read stories from other women who have embarked on solo journeys.