Lovely locations, lovelier locals: 6 best places for female solo travel

best places for female solo travel
A woman jumps on the seashore of La Concha beach in San Sebastian, on May 9, 2021. Spain has lifted a state of emergency in place since October 2020 to fight the pandemic, allowing Spaniards to travel between regions for the first time in months. Source: AFP

Travelling solo as a woman may sound like a crazy idea but we’re all for it. 

Female solo travel has been on the rise. 

A prediction from forecasted a notable surge in solo travel interest for 2024, with 54% of women expressing plans to travel alone. 

Are we surprised? No. With more freedom and autonomy, women are going to schools and universities, earning way more than their mothers and taking on bigger roles than ever before.

So what’s stopping them from doing something else — i.e. female solo travel — that was previously seen as unladylike?

A lot still, unfortunately.

While this list of the best places for female solo travel are some of the safest cities, you can’t be too careful. You never know what might pop up. Source: AFP

Not everywhere has many best places for female solo travel 

Traveling solo is not always rainbows and sunshine. There are many things you should be aware of.

Even though you can choose the safest country in the world, it’s still important to be vigilant.

Being aware of your surroundings is paramount. Thieves and crooks tend to prey on those who are not paying attention. 

For example, if you are walking on a street, watch for cars or people following you. Mentally take note of parked cars and keep an eye on passengers. 

You don’t want to be caught unaware if someone pops out to grab or corner you.

Many women have made reports of having had their drinks spiked while travelling.

Some have experienced meetings with creepy lechers while couch surfing or being taken advantage of by tour guides. 

While these stories might dissuade you from visiting the best places for female solo travel, they also give us a better idea of what to prepare for and what to avoid. 

Here are some tips to keep in mind: 

  • Research your city thoroughly: Try and plan ahead by booking where you will stay so you do not end up stranded and have somewhere safe to retreat to. Find nearby landmarks and commit this to memory. Print a physical map because you never know when your phone will die. Research will also give you an indication of areas you should avoid. 
  • Dress appropriately: This is not to shame you into avoiding your favourite crop top, but it is good to be wary of where you wear what. Dress for the weather so you don’t feel uncomfortable — you don’t want to wear a wool long coat in Dubai during summer. And always, always be respectful of the culture of the country you are visiting — most Muslim and Hindu places, for example, require that women and men cover their heads and arms.
  • Always have internet access: There are so many travel packages available, and you can even buy a local sim of the country you are visiting. You can find your way around the city and call for help. Also, checking in with loved ones is good so they know you are ok. 
  • Make sure you only take alcohol from trusted sources, and there is no harm in politely declining a drink offered to you by a stranger. 
  • Be loud: If someone is making you uncomfortable, attract as much attention as you can to the situation. That way, the people around you cannot ignore what is happening, and the person making you uncomfortable will retreat. 
  • In that same vein, stay in crowded spaces. Avoid dark empty alleyways and be especially vigilant at night. 
  • Consider a travel safety kit with portable door locks and pepper spray (ensure that the latter is legal to carry in the country you are travelling to). 
  • Keep your precious jewellery to a minimum and only take the things you are okay with losing. Some even wear fake wedding rings for safety during their travels. 
  • Carry a “fake wallet”. This would basically contain expired cards and a few notes of cash, that way, someone stealing from you will be satisfied that they got away and you are safe and still have your essentials. 

Now that you’re all prepared with all these tips, it’s time to plan a trip to one of the best places for female solo travel. 

best places for female solo travel

Nights out or nights in? It’s all up to you in Spain. We highly recommend the former. Source: AFP

6 of the best places for female solo travel

1. Spain 

Spain is easily one of the best places for female solo travel. 

Why Spain? Not only does it have a Global Peace Index (GPI) of 1.649, but Forbes even listed it as the safest country for solo travellers. 

While you might run into pick-pockets (they’re notorious in Barcelona), the locals are often some of the friendliest Europeans you’ll ever meet.  

Many recommend the best time to tour this country is between March and May or September through November.

Other solo female travellers highly praise the main cities like Barcelona and Madrid for their world-class museums, great food and sights. 

If you would like to explore great architecture and heritage, check out Seville.

Granada is also a great city with scenic views and much to explore. A highlight is that this walkable city has multicultural references from its history. 

A city that is certainly off the beaten track is Pedraza, a medieval walled town that makes you feel as if you have walked into a fairytale. 

Pro tip: In some cities that are facing a deluge of overtourism, such as Barcelona, shop as locally as possible and avoid AirBnBs.

best places for female solo travel

Adventure seekers love Scotland for its picturesque landmarks such as Glen Coe and Loch Ness. (Source: AFP)

2. Scotland

While the UK’s GPI is 1.693, Scotland’s friendly locals will make you feel like you’re in a country with a GPI twice over. 

There is also just so much to see. There are the great Lochs,  from the gorgeous Loch Lomond (just an hour’s drive from Glasgow) to the famed Loch Ness.

As if these lakes aren’t stunning enough, they’re also surrounded by mountains, valleys and dense forests, sprinkled with sheep and the odd home. 

Want some company amidst this beauty? Some of the budget-friendly tour guides here include Haggis Adventures and MacBackpackers

Whisky lovers can join one of the many tours that will take you through the Scotch regions, from the smooth spirits Speyside to the peaty creations on the Isle of Sky. 

The big cities like Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen have fun walking tours that let you explore the sights and potentially make a few friends. 

If you’d like to travel somewhere where the sheep outnumber the people, check out the Orkney Islands. 

There is a very low level of crime and a strong sense of community to be enjoyed here. The stunning backdrops from the islands will feed your soul. 

best places for female solo travel

In Chiang Mai, golden temples more than make up for your lack of company. Source: AFP

3. Thailand 

Although the country has a GPI of  2.061, slightly higher than the countries above, many have reported positive accounts of travelling through Thailand alone. 

In fact, what you should keep an eye out for in Thailand is the tap water (which could mess up your stomach) and petty crimes such as pickpocketing or bag-snatching in particularly crowded areas. 

If you follow the general precautions, Thailand can be a safe destination to explore on your own. 

The best part is no matter your budget — luxury or backpacker — the country has something for you and your interests. 

Chiang Mai is perhaps the safest destination in Thailand (even beating Singapore as the safest city in Southeast Asia). 

The northern Thai city has great food, museums, stores, and nightlife opportunities to check out.

Another safe Thai city is Phang Nga, which, near Phuket, is visited for its national parks, underwater caves, islets, and bay.

best places for female solo travel

Japan is one of the best places for female solo travellers, and many prefer to visit during cherry blossom season. Source: AFP

4. Japan 

Japan is known for many things – gorgeous cherry blossoms, great sushi and dons, fantastic architecture and bubbling onsens. Most of all, it’s extremely safe for travellers, especially solo females.

With one of the world’s lowest murder rates, strict gun laws and many kobans – small police boxes operated 24/7, dotted around city centres and residential areas – we’d like to repeat ourselves and say Japan is definitely one of the best places for female solo travel. 

So much so that if you lose your wallet while taking the train, you’ll most likely find it within the same day with local authorities’ assistance – with all your money and cards still intact!

Kyoto, in particular, stands out as the safest city in Japan for female solo travel. Here, you’ll find ancient temples, museums and parks — all scattered around the glittering Lake Biwa.

Tokyo, despite being home to a whopping population of 14 million people, is just as safe. 

It’s the most populous metropolitan city in the world with low crime rates, efficient public services and kind locals.

A woman is pictured by the sea in Wellington. Source: AFP

5. New Zealand

New Zealand typically sits on top of the Global Peace Index, being one of the safest countries in the world for female solo travel. 

The country boasts a stable government, a humble culture and most importantly, breathtaking views.

In fact, the crime rate is so low in New Zealand that the biggest risk a solo traveller would face is probably associated with the great outdoors

Wellington, the capital, has constantly been dubbed the safest city in the country – some even rank it among the safest cities in the world.

Solo female travellers will find that the local community is pleasant and welcoming, with a diverse, mixed culture and a relaxed way of living.

As there are still a few frequent cases of pickpocketing, always make sure to stick to well-lit areas at night.

best places for female solo travel

A woman poses for a photo under a gingko tree with autumnal foliage in the Gyeongbokgung Palace grounds in Seoul on November 2, 2023. Source: AFP

6. South Korea

The country boasts clean streets, friendly atmospheres and low crime rates.

Petty crime is rare in South Korea. In fact, it’s common for locals to leave their belongings like laptops and bags on the table in restaurants and cafes while they go to the bathroom. 

In cities like Seoul, women travelling solo will notice that most people pass by quickly, minding their own business.

This means no catcalling or harassment, which is rare for a woman travelling alone through a bustling city.

The city is also well-equipped with numerous CCTV cameras. You will find a camera on every street corner, on every public transport, and even in restaurants and convenience stores all over. 

Want a different vibe? Head to Jeju Island. Locals are friendly and helpful and theft, vandalism, and violence are virtually non-existent.

Coupled with an amazing island view with miles of sky and ocean around, it’s definitely one of the best places for female solo travel.