Best countries for women to go on their first solo trip

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One of the most common questions that gets asked in our Solo Female Travelers community is “Where do you recommend to go for my first solo trip?“.

This is a very valid question but one that is not easy to answer; There isn’t one size fits all because your ideal destination depends on where you are, what you like to do when you travel, how long you have, what your budget is, and so much more.

However, our Solo Female Travel survey results revealed that there are some countries which are unanimously recommended by women who travel solo.

These countries all have some things in common that make them the perfect destination for women to go on their first-time solo trip:

  1. They are safe. Women traveling solo are most concerned about their safety so countries with a good safety track-record and gender equality are a good place to start. If you are unsure how safe a country is, check out our Solo Female Travel Safety Index which ranks all countries based on safety levels for solo female travelers.
  1. They are popular tourist destinations. Countries that are used to tourists are easier to explore on your own. They see an influx of visitors, have a well developed tourism infrastructure, they make it easier to meet fellow travelers, have more choices for day trips, tours, hostels, etc. and generally have a more tourist-friendly mentality with more English speaking businesses, menus, etc.
  1. Have a lot to offer. Countries with lots of different options for things to see or do are generally appealing destinations to everyone. If a country has the mountains, the sea, beaches, good food, great culture, lots of landmarks, etc. it is generally appealing to every kind of traveler so no matter what you like, they will have something for you.
  1. They are cheap. Affordability is one of the most important purchase decision factors for women traveling solo. Single supplements and the higher cost of not having a travel companion significantly increase the price of a solo trip, so many of the top destinations for first-time solo female travelers are countries which are seen as more affordable.

We bet you’ve already started thinking about what countries meet the above criteria.

Continue reading to find a list of the best countries for solo female travelers to visit on their first solo trip. We compiled the list not just based on our opinion, but on the recommendations of the 5,000 women who answered our Solo Female Travel Survey.

Your own country

The most commonly recommended destination for a first solo trip is your own country. Even women who are from countries traditionally seen as less safe for women to travel solo (Egypt, India, Morocco), still recommend their own country to fellow citizens.

This is because the greater the dissonance and cultural shock between one’s culture and the destination’s the higher the perceived danger, even if the destination we are about to visit is much safer than the place one lives in.

Taking a first solo trip is daunting; it requires courage, bravery and self-confidence, and those requirements are greater in a country where we don’t speak the language, where we will need a different currency, or where the food and traditions are not the ones we are accustomed to.

We fear the unknown and favor the familiar so we perceive our own country as a safer choice, even if we live in the most dangerous places when crime is concerned. Hence, the best country for a first time solo trip is our own.

What’s more, many experienced solo travelers will recommend beginners to start slow and easy by first taking solo day trips to a nearby destination and then upgrading to a weekend getaway and finally an overseas trip.

Competence builds confidence, and traveling in our own country reduces a lot of the unknowns making your first solo trip more manageable level.

Spain

Spain - Best country for first time solo travel

Spain is one of the best countries for solo female travelers to visit on their first solo trip. It is easy to get around, has great tourism infrastructure and it has been ranking as the second most visited country in the world for years. Being a popular destination also means you are bound to meet other travelers.

The country has something for everyone, from the history, architecture, food and beaches of Barcelona to the museums of Madrid, the culture of the south, the landscapes of the north, the many UNESCO sites, no matter what type of traveler you are, you will find your ideal trip in Spain.

Additionally, Spain is one of the most open-minded countries when it comes to attitudes towards women and has one of the lowest crime rates in the world. The country has a thriving LGBTQ+ community with wide acceptance, one of the most egalitarian societies with a population that is very used to tourism and who relies on it for about 12% of the GDP.

Spain is also one of the most affordable countries in Western Europe and can cater to all budgets. You can find hostels, public transportation and eat at markets and affordable restaurants or have a luxurious holiday and pamper yourself.

Our take: If you live in Europe, Spain is a no brainer for a first solo trip and Barcelona is our favorite destination. Hop on a low cost flight and have a great first solo trip.

Australia

Australia - Best country for first time solo travel

At the other end of the world from Spain you find Australia, another country with a lot to offer any traveler and a population of English speakers known for being friendly.

The high perceived level of safety, the fair treatment of women and minimal risk of harassment and the fact that the country ranks high on many people’s bucket list all work in favor of Australia.

However, for most people except for Kiwis and Pacific Islanders, Australia is a far away destination that requires a long-haul flight, good logistics planning and high travel budget.

As one of the largest countries in the world, Australia is not easy to get around, but most visitors tend to stay in the cities where the public transportation system is quite good or rent a car to explore at their own pace.

Our take: While our members recommend it as an ideal first-time solo travel destination, we feel it is probably one for more experienced solo travelers with no affordability limitations and longer holiday time.

Thailand

Thailand - Best country for first time solo travel

Thailand is unanimously recommended as one of the best destinations for a solo trip; it is a very tourist-friendly country where tourism represents 20% of the GDP, where harassment and assault are very low, safety is high and locals are known to be very hospitable.

As one of the most popular backpacker destinations, Thailand is also very affordable. No matter your budget you can have a great time. You can stay at a really cheap hostel and eat street food for less than $25 a day or opt for a high-end resort and get pampered like royalty.

Because this is one of the most popular countries for solo travelers in general and Bangkok regularly ranks as the world’s most visited cities, meeting others is almost guaranteed so you are sure to never feel lonely.

The country’s appeal doesn’t end there. Its rich history, its many beaches and the many postcard-perfect spots that have been made famous by movies and full moon parties all contribute to positioning Thailand as a wishlist destination for many.

Our take: Thailand is a great place to get started solo traveling. While it is not as organized and easy to get around as some of the Western countries on this list, the friendliness of the locals, the thriving solo travel scene and its affordability make it an amazing destination if you can let go and go with the flow.

UK

UK - Best country for first time solo travel

The UK comes highly rated as a great destination for first time solo female travelers in our survey. English is the main language spoken by everyone which facilitates most things for tourists, and infrastructure is very good, with train service covering the country and cheap low-cost flights.

London contributes to the UK’s high position on the list of the best countries for your first solo trip as a woman. The city is one of the most popular cities in the world and makes for a great way to dip your toes into the world of solo travel.

It has enough to keep you busy for days, it’s remarkably easy to get around and has something for everyone. It is also very cosmopolitan and the English are know to be quite friendly.

Since there are so many tourists in London and the city is so multi-cultural, it is easy to meet people. Just pop into a pub, order a drink and you’ll find yourself striking a conversation with someone.

On the flip side, London and other parts of the UK, are not the safest in Europe yet the country remains one of the most widely recommended because of how easy it is to navigate alone.

Our take: The UK gets generally recommended as a great choice for women to go on their first solo trip because it is easy to get around, a popular tourism destination and a place where English is the main language.

Italy

Italy - Best country for first time solo travel

Italy is one of the most popular countries for anyone and solo female travelers also consider it one of the best places to go for your first solo trip.

It has great food, countless UNESCO sites and a rich cultural heritage, and no matter what you like to do on your trips, Italy can offer you that.

The country is full of incredible places that fill anyone’s imagination but particularly women’s. Books like Eat, Pray, Love or the recent discovery on Instagram of emblematic places such as Cinque Terre that have become tourism case study have propelled Italy to the top of the list for solo female travelers, either on their first solo trip or their next one.

Italy is perceived as a friendly country, one that is easy to get around in by car or train and one that can fill days with exploration; it is romantic and it has a “Je ne sais quoi” that attracts women from the world over.

Our solo female travel survey revealed that no other country was as unanimously loved as a first time solo travel destination and as a bucket list country.

Europeans can hop on a low-cost flight and simply go for the the weekend and the country’s many airports make it easy for anyone to visit.

However, not everyone would agree that Italy is safe for women traveling solo and there are safer parts than other. Tourism hot spots such as Rome, Venice, Florence or Milan are generally safe bets and while the occasional theft may occur, their tourism machine is well-oiled. Here is a two week itinerary suggestion for the main cities / sights.

Our take: Italy continues to capture the imagination of solo female travelers with fantastic food, romance, love stories and incredible culture. Take normal precautions and enjoy.

Japan

Japan - Best country for first time solo travel

Japan is one of the most mystical, mythical and exotic countries for solo female travelers. It is an incredibly safe country where crime is practically unheard of and this makes it a very appealing destination for women traveling solo for the first time.

The country is diverse and largely undiscovered outside of the two main cities of Tokyo and Kyoto. There are mountains, archipelagos, incredible food, rich heritage and fascinating cultural elements that attract the most curious travelers.

Women can wander the streets safely without any risk of harassment, theft or scam. Japanese people are kind and extremely polite and one always feels welcome as a tourist, despite the language barriers.

On the flip side, Japan is one of the most expensive countries to travel to and around and while it is very connected, the subway in Tokyo is known for being a maze travelers get lost it.

These, and the guaranteed cultural shock that almost any traveler experiences, makes it a highly recommended destination for first time solo travelers but also one that isn’t as easy as other places on this list.

Our take: Japan is a country that is adored by many. If safety is your biggest concern, Japan and and Singapore are the best choices for a first time solo trip.

Singapore

Singapore - Best country for first time solo travel

Singapore continues to rank as one of the most expensive countries in the world but it is also one of the safest along with Japan. Crime in Singapore is non-existent, attitudes towards women are the same as towards men and theft, scams or harassment are something I have never seen in 10 years living here.

Women will find Singapore is one of the best destinations for a first time solo trip. It’s small, it’s easy to get around, it has fantastic infrastructure, great public transportation, lots to do.

Singapore is very multi-cultural and and it is a great introduction to your travels in the rest of Asia. You can spend time in Little India or Chinatown and have a taster for what to expect in those countries. You can also enjoy the beaches or the many man-made architectural wonders or venture into one of the tropical forests.

The reason why it does not come as highly recommended as other options on this list is because Singapore is very small and it never is a travel destination in itself but rather a stop over on a longer trip of Asia. It is also a far less popular country than the ones mentioned before (around 20 million people visit Singapore every year vs. 85 million visiting Spain).

Our take: If you are from a nearby Southeast Asian or South Asian country, Singapore is the perfect choice for a short first solo trip.

Indonesia

Bali - Best country for first time solo travel

Indonesia, and particularly Bali, have a reputation for being a top destination for women in general and for digital nomads.

The Island of Gods has a large number of expats who have chosen to set their base there because of the affordable costs of living, the openness towards foreigners and the largely safe environment.

For travelers, Bali is synonym with spirituality, yoga and wellness and nowhere else will you find a similar focus on fresh food, veganism and vegeterianism than in Bali. The proliferation of temples, organic cafes and retreats all complement the diverse range of options Bali has to offer, from waterfalls to beaches, mountains and active volcanoes.

Locals are friendly, they are devoted to tourism and very open-minded. Despite Bali it is part of largely Muslim Indonesia, 90% of the locals practice Balinese Hinduism, which differs from India’s Hinduism but shares the same spirituality.

Other elements that play in Bali’s favor as a first-time solo female travel destination are its affordability. Indonesia as a whole is very affordable and allows you travel for long periods of time without breaking the bank, this is why it is such a popular digital nomad destination Renting a scooter and eating local means you spend very little, and the wide range of accommodation options offer anything from $5 a night hostels to $500 luxury hotels.

Lastly, because Bali is such a popular travel destination for women and it has a thriving digital nomad community, it is easy to join local events or meet people, even if traveling alone.

Our take: Bali is a great place to get started solo traveling, especially if you are interested in spirituality, the beaches and nature. It is a bit less developed than other destinations on this list but the developed tourism infrastructure and the easiness to meet people make up for it.

Europe’s Nordic countries

Nordic countries - Best country for first time solo travel

We could separate Sweden, Iceland, Norway, Denmark and Finland but the truth is that they all have several elements in common that make them the perfect destination for solo female travelers and come highly recommended by solo female travelers.

Europe’s Nordic countries all rank at the top for gender equality, for female rights and for the rights of minorities. Iceland tops the ranking for gender equality followed by Norway, Finland and Sweden which also tops the ranking for the rights of LGBTQ+.

They are also all very developed and fair societies where welfare is widely available and valued and where the standard of living is high. Nordic countries all have incredibly high levels of safety and very low crime, risk of scams or of harassment making them the perfect countries for women traveling solo.

On the flip side, and unlike their neighbours in the south of Europe (Italy or Spain), the Nordics are all very expensive countries and so they tend to be less recommended for a first trip because they are not easily accessible to everyone.

Additionally, because of their geographical position, they enjoy very long, dark and harsh winters and, culturally, are reserved and quiet and not perceived as friendly as other countries on this list.

However, if you come from a country with a similar culture, you may not experience such a culture shock and if safety is a concern, you have a lot to explore with minimal to no risk across these 5 countries, not to mention that some of them such as Iceland, have become true bucket list destinations for many.

Our take: Nordic countries make for great first time solo travel destinations for women if budget is not an issue. Europeans can hop on a low-cost flight and visit the capital cities for the weekend and get started solo traveling with the peace of mind that safety provides.

New Zealand

New Zealand - Best country for first time solo travel

New Zealand is one of the most coveted destinations for travelers and has been a major bucket list item for years since the Lord of the Rings brought awareness to its vast and breathtaking landscapes. It’s remote and hard to reach location make it an item on the wish list that many dream of going to for years.

For solo female travelers, New Zealand is a great country for a first solo trip; it’s very safe, equal and respectful to women, it has good infrastructure and friendly locals, ingredients all women traveling solo value of a destination.

However, it is also expensive to get to and get around in, with road trips being the main form of exploration, and you will need a large budget to make the trip.

For this reason and because of its geographical location, New Zealand tends not to be the destination for a first solo trip, as it requires a lot of planning, driving alone and a wider range of skillsets not required if you explore other countries on this list.

Our take: New Zealand is a great destination for women to go on their first solo trip. However, it requires time and budget and tends to be a place to spend a longer time in unless you are from a nearby country in the Pacific or from Australia.

Still worried about safety? Join Empowerful – our Solo Female Travel Safety, Wellness, and Sexual Wellbeing Festival

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