My top 10 Safest International Countries for Female Solo Travel (in no particular order)
1) Scandinavia – Okay, so Scandinavia is not actually one country but a region within Europe!
I know, I know… but the cities I’ve listed within Scandinavia (below) are some of the safest, friendliest and easiest of all to visit as a solo female traveler, so guess what…you get a listing of four countries for one region!
Copenhagen, Stockholm, Oslo, Bergen are truly favorite traveling destinations of mine and totally perfect for a first-time solo traveler or a return solo travel visit! All of the cities mentioned are easily walkable, their food is unique and they have some of the most friendly, and beautiful people in the world. Ok, some of the happiest, blondest and tallest too…
2) Portugal – I just got back from one of the best female solo trips I’ve ever had! That’s saying a lot from someone who has traveled to 52 countries and counting…Lisbon, this is a city that is inexpensive relative to other major European cities. With the US dollar trading at an all-time high against the Euro, this is a great time to visit. English is spoken widely in the major cities, so while one should still strive to learn a few requisite Portuguese words, don’t worry about a major language barrier in Portugal. The people throughout this country are welcoming, helpful and incredibly kind to travelers and especially to female solo travelers. Do not hesitate to travel here! Note- If you love wine, don’t miss the Douro Valley.
3) Canada – Forget Route 66! Canada can be a great jumping off point for an American solo female traveler. Quebec and Montreal are both English/French speaking (albeit Canadian French which is different in slang and accent). Not far from the United States (depending on where you travel to), this is an international travel destination where the US dollar reigns!
Canada can provide a terrific international travel experience without breaking the bank or stressing you out, most especially if you are new to traveling solo. Cute bed and breakfasts in darling old stone houses, beautiful twinkling lights at night and great cuisine are perfect examples of experiences to be had while staying within the old city walls of Quebec and Montreal. No visa is required for travel to Canada and you can arrive to the country quickly. Traveling to Europe often involves landing in the middle of the night (US time), struggling with a new language and then trying to find your way into the city from the airport. When flying to Canada you don’t have to adjust to huge time difference changes or language barriers. Also, as a US citizen, being familiar with the political climate of our next door Northern neighbor can be reassuring for a newbie female solo traveler in comparison to other foreign countries.
4) Ireland – Another country where you don’t need to feel embarrassed by your lack of foreign language skills and where male residents are not likely to harass you, but instead welcome and assist you as a female solo traveler. I have found Dublin a great city to explore and stay in. The B&B’s I’ve tried are terrific and the stunning countryside can be enjoyed easily through day tours arranged from the city center tourist offices.
5) Netherlands – Amsterdam is such a friendly, liberal, bike friendly city and ideal for female solo travel. The country is renowned for its stance on human rights issues and overall tolerance. Being a solo female minority traveler raises no eyebrows here. It’s quite obviously a laid back city considering their “coffee shops”, but who cares if that’s not your thing! Walking through the Red Light District is even safe (albeit it overrated). Take time to enjoy great tourist destinations such as the Ann Frank and Van Gogh Museum. The Dutch are very friendly and wandering the canals areas of Amsterdam are so much fun!
6) Brussels – Rather small as countries go, this country showcases a picturesque destination for the female solo traveler. Bruges is a fairytale like town whose city center is closed off to car traffic. Bruges is located 2 hours and 35 minutes by fastest train from Paris, so you can come visit the quaint city and return back within a day. The only danger will be navigating the cobblestone streets to make your way back to leave. Think Venice, Italy crossed with Aix-en-Provence, France, crossed with Bergen, Norway. Picturesque cobblestone streets of brick houses adorned with window boxes filled with flowers, bicycles, canals, and of course… all the Belgian Frites you can eat!
7) Austria – Vienna’s beautiful architecture, gardens and historic sites make for a picturesque and safe destination to visit. The Viennese pastries and chocolates are to die for and please don’t forget to try the famed Sacher Torte pastry. Visit a traditional Viennese Kaffeehaus, place your pastry order along with some Viennese coffee and then sit back to relax and people-watch to your hearts delight. Visit the impressive Hofburg Palace, which was the center of the vast empire of the Habsburg dynasty. The Palace grounds house more than two dozen top museum collections, including the Imperial Apartments, Imperial Treasury, Museum of Ethnography and the Spanish Riding School. The famed white Lipizzaner Stallions are elegant performers if you get a chance to watch them at the famed Riding School.
Try to take time to visit the Austrian countryside to view remarkable castles and visit vineyards located not far from Vienna. If you can’t make it to visit the countryside, tasty Austrian wines can be sampled and sipped at reputable wine bars within Vienna.
8) Iceland – Okay, not the cheapest of places to visit, nor the most common, Iceland is a country of vast natural beauty inclusive of waterfalls, geysers and geothermal spas, where solo female travelers will feel quite safe. Iceland does not have the same safety concerns as other countries. Iceland has a ridiculously low crime rate. Weather might be the largest concern for planning travel but bring several changes of clothing and you will be fine. Iceland is never really as cold as everyone thinks, however, the weather can change several times a day, so be prepared.
The reward of traveling here will be the ability to view amazing natural scenery you will not experience elsewhere. There are an abundance of day tours from the capital city of Reykjavik, so renting a car is not necessary. Iceland is a country built on tourism and Icelanders speak impeccable English. Iceland is a mere 4-5 hour flight from the East coast, so this location can be traveled to for an easy weekend getaway. As well, Icelandair airlines allows you to make Reykjavik a stopover on your way to any other European country you might be flying to.
9) Switzerland – Geneva, Bern, Interlaken, Zurich. The Swiss climate is more than just snow and the Alps. Switzerland is rated as the 5th safest place by the Global Peace Index! Besides chocolate, watches, banking and skiing, Switzerland is a truly beautiful country to visit as a female solo traveler. Stunning scenery varies vastly from the major metropolitan cities, to the lake regions, to the mountainous regions. The Swiss are intensely polite and helpful to all travelers. Most speak excellent English however if you have a smattering of Italian, German or French vocabulary, you can survive just as well. One of the more expensive European countries, Switzerland offers various lodging choices but be aware that this is a county where a lower starred accommodation will be of better quality than elsewhere in Europe because the Swiss value their reputations. Ladies, best to look for smaller boutiques style hotels.
10) France – Paris! France is an amazing country, but I can’t fail the country of France by not discussing the city of Paris. This infamous city is a wonderful place for a fabulous and safe female solo adventure. The city is full of big name attractions as well as hidden gems. It is impossible to get lost in Paris unless you want to. Remember, you are here to experience another culture and country, so aimless wandering is A-Okay!
There is something to be said about being able to visit the most romantic city in the world and love it all on your own. Set your own timetable to visit the many sites and parks. Wander the streets gazing at the windows of the top fashion design houses. Have a glass of champagne at a sidewalk café watching the people stroll by. In France, people-watching is a favorite pastime.
Paris is THE city that allowed me to truly understand the charms of female solo travel and Paris is where I fell in love with travel all over again. And after exploring this city on my own, I was hooked on solo travel. The ability to do, see, eat, drink whatever you like, whenever you like, on your own timetable can be liberating.
And then there is the remaining beauty of France….even further afield from Paris are the charms of the South of France with such quaint towns of Aix-en-Provence, Dijon and the famed Cote D’azure coast. This is a country of many charms.