Travel

The Best Places for Women to Travel Solo

Three years ago, I sat on the wooden chair in the back of Randi Bjellands’ kitchen in Norway, waiting. And waiting. A gentleman walked in and sat down. She quickly emerged from the back room and greeted him in Norwegian with a plate of food.

I don’t speak—or understand—Norwegian, and couldn’t tell if she understood that I was hungry, too. Did she think I was sitting here waiting for a travel companion to join me? Did she not realize my feet were aching from winding up-and-down the San Francisco-like streets of the Nordnes neighborhood, in Bergen, trying to find Bjellands Kjøkken (Bjellands’ Kitchen) before she closed shop.

While the destination you choose should be somewhere you’ve always wanted to go, being in a safe location where it’s easy to navigate both the transportation and culture alleviates major worries and lets you focus on being present. And the more hotels, activities, and sights you’re able to find in a centralized, accessible area, the simpler it is to blend in, and allow yourself to experience those special travel moments that you’ll remember for a lifetime. Here, our list of the 8 best places in the world for women to travel alone.

Barcelona, Spain

Barcelona is an extremely walkable city, and you’re unlikely to get lost as long as you have a map of some kind. In the city, you can window shop along Las Ramblas, stroll down the beach boardwalk, and or wander through the Gaudi-designed Park Güell. And the dining options are great for a solo traveler too—you can eat al fresco at waterfront paella restaurants (people-watching is built-in entertainment) or opt for a counter seat at one of the city’s many incredible tapas bars.

Seattle

Thanks to the omnipresence of the Seattle’s coffee culture, a solo diner (or drinker) is commonplace in Seattle. Plus, the profileration of cafes means there’s a rest stop around every corner in between visits to Pike Place Market, the Space Needle, or the funky EMP Museum. The compact downtown area made it easy for me to zip between sights, restaurants, and shopping on foot—and anything that was slightly farther was accessible by the easy-to-use Link light rail, which just expanded to stations in Capitol Hill and the University of Washington this month.

Munich, Germany

The jolly German mentality shines in this Bavarian town, where on each of my visits, locals welcomed tourists with a grin, whether it was at a small ma-and-pop bakery or the touristy Olympiapark tower. The best way to immerse yourself in the Munich lifestyle? Grab a pint at a local biergarten or scour the aisles of the Christmas markets for a glühwein (hot mulled wine) stand. Since a mug requires a deposit, Germans hang around the stand, ready to chat (or give recommendations), while warming up over the traditional drink.

Dubrovnik, Croatia

The rise in Croatian tourism has improved the ease of travel, and the country’s low crime rating heightens the appeal. One look at the oceanfront medieval city of Dubrovnik, preserved by 6,365 feet of pristine walls, and all my worries vanished. The cobblestone streets guided me through artisanal shops and local eats, while a walk along the wall itself offered spectacular bird’s eye views of the Adriatic coastline. Other great solo activities: there’s a beach just a few minutes away from Old Town, with plenty of kayak and snorkeling tours offered along the way.

Austin, Texas

Austin’s festival culture makes it really easy to get pulled in multiple directions. But it’s also a great way to meet new people. As soon as I arrived, I wandered over to one of the many food truck trailer parks to line up for the indulgent Gourdough’s doughnuts truck, which still had a long line well after midnight. The next day, I juggled sessions at the ATX Television Festival and concerts at the X Games Austin. When you do need a little quiet time, head downtown for a walking tour, or find a spot to see the Congress Avenue Bridge bats soar.

Salzburg, Austria

With the Hohensalzburg castle atop the hill and the Salzach River running through town, the storybook allure of Mozart’s hometown is as inviting as it is charming. After recreating The Sound of Music by visiting the Mirabell Gardens and Nonnberg Abbey, relax with a coffee on the terrace of Cafe Tomaselli or a pint in the 1,400-seat outdoor garden of Austria’s biggest biergarten, Augustiner Bräu—I spent hours people-watching at both. Bikers should take note: while the entire city is walkable, Salzburg is also the country’s most bike-friendly city, with 106 miles of paths—which means you can pack way more into a day.

Taipei, Taiwan

The capital of Taiwan is an ideal mix of history and modernity: it’s one part traditional night markets (the perfect place to make a meal out of snacks while shopping for accessories and souvenirs) and temples, and the other part super high-tech buildings and malls. Taipei has the bustle of a major Asian metropolis, as well as important urban comforts. Street signage and public transportation all have names in English—and even though crime is low in the country, the 20-year-old metro system has “Safe Waiting Zone” boxes marked on the platforms, which are monitored closely by video feed, specifically to protect female passengers at night.

Saba, Caribbean

The Netherlands-owned five-square-mile island is only a 15-minute flight from St. Maarten. Within hours of my arrival, the tight-knit diving and hiking community made me feel right at home. Even though I’m scared of fish (seriously), they convinced me to try scuba diving, and I was so glad I did. The Dutch Caribbean island has the most translucent waters, where I spotted turtles and schools of fish among the untouched reefs. Another highlight: I challenged myself to summit the 2,877-foot peak, Mount Scenery—aptly named for the stunning views.

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