Travel & Leisure magazine came out with a curious list: “The Best Places for Women to Travel Solo.” As the piece notes, solo travel can be an amazing experience. The best part, in my opinion, is the ability to go exactly where you want for as long as you like, without compromise or guilt. Want to spend three days walking the beaches at Normandy without someone constantly gripping about boredom, or five in the same hammock on the same Central American beach without getting dragged to a golf course or ancient ruins? Solo might be the way to go. Traveling alone can also make it easier to connect with the local culture and people, as it pops the bubble naturally created by touring with a partner.
True, as T&L notes, women traveling alone should be mindful of their safety, so this list was created looking at safety rankings and accessibility. Interestingly, four of the 17 are in Scandinavia, including Stockholm, Sweden and Norway’s fiords. Another four are in the U.S. – Seattle, Austin, Washington, DC and a resort in the Berkshire Mountains of Massachusetts. Random, right? These are all great places to visit, but when it comes to solo travel destinations, the only list that matters is yours.
1. Iceland – Iceland tops the list for both safety and gender equality. It makes perfect sense that this would be a great place to travel as a solo female traveler.
2. London, England – A European vacation without a language barrier or culture shock. London offers plenty of history, culture, sites and entertainment all connected via the 250 miles of the London Underground.
Courtesy of The Dripalu Center for Yoga & Health
3. Kripalu Center in the Berkshires, Massachusetts – This 40-year-old nonprofit is technically a yoga and health retreat but ultimately serves as a focus on self-discovery. This 300-acre all-inclusive center offers a wide variety of activities, and their structured programs make this a good starting point for first-time single travelers.
4. Washington, D.C. – A huge selection of iconic memorials along with the 17 Smithsonian museums guarantee any traveler a busy trip.The manageable size of the city, though, paired with easily accessible public transportation makes D.C. a fantastic place for solo travel.
5. Norway’s Fjords – Just imagine taking a boat ride here and watching waterfalls tumble down the mountainsides surrounding you. Norway’s Fjords offer many different options for explorations, from boats to bikes, and this friendly country is welcoming to solo travelers.
6. Okinawa, Japan – Japan’s major cities are known for their hustle and bustle, but this small town offers a more laidback approach to learning about this fascinating culture.
7. Stockholm, Sweden – I love Scandinavia. I have a godfather who lives in Stockholm now, and I’ve visited him twice. It’s beautiful in the summer. There are islands upon islands surrounded by water. Stockholm is also the cleanest city I’ve ever seen.
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8. Melbourne, Australia – This Aussie city holds the title of the Most Livable City according to the Economist Intelligent Unit. The addition of the free tourist tram which reaches their major sites like Federation Square, Carlton Gardens or the Melbourne Star Observation Wheel, makes this trip a great fit for solo travelers.
9. Copenhagen, Denmark – This quirky city actually caters to parties of one. From the rooming situation to solo dining to far beyond, this city offers it’s best amenities in a way that welcomes the solo traveler unlike any other city.
10. Saba, Caribbean – This tiny island is just a 15-minute flight from St. Maarten, and its tight-knit community welcomes solo travelers with open arms. From pristine beaches, to fantastic scuba diving, to hiking, this five-square-mile island offers plenty to do.
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11. Taipei, Taiwan – The capital of Taiwan has the bustle of a major Asian metropolis, but with low crime and street signage and public transportation in English making it an ideal city to travel to when solo. Add in the history, temples, night markets, and high-tech buildings and malls, Taipei should certainly be on your travel list.
12. Salzburg, Austria – Mozart’s hometown is the country’s most bike-friendly city, with 106 miles of paths, which can allow you to easily visit the Mirabell Gardens and Nonnberg Abbey, drink a pint in the 1,400-seat outdoor garden of Austria’s biggest biergarten, Augustiner Bräu, or relax with a coffee on the terrace of Cafe Tomaselli.
13. Austin, Texas – Austin seems to be synonymous with festival culture now. There seems to aways be events happening and great food galore.
14. Dubrovnik, Croatia – You have to admit that Croatia looks amazing. This oceanfront medieval city is preserved by 6,365 feet of pristine walls, and their cobblestone streets are lined with artisanal shops and local eats. Croatia’s improved ease of travel and the country’s low crime rating has certainly started to draw more travelers.
15. Munich, Germany – Munich demonstrates the jolly German mentality where locals welcome tourists with a friendly smile. Of course, the best way to immerse yourself in the Munich lifestyle is to grab a pint at the local biergarten.
16. Seattle – Coffee-lovers definitely need to add Seattle to their “Must Travel” list. This town is known for their “coffee culture” which has ultimately led to a pretty commonplace solo diner (or drinker). The compact downtown area makes it easy to visit the sights, restaurants and shopping all on foot.
17. Barcelona, Spain – I’m a huge fan of Spain. I actually lived in Seville for half a year in the mid-1990s. This extremely walkable city offers a wide variety of activities including the Gaudi-designed Park Güell. Something everyone should see in their lifetime.