Is the fear of solo travel preventing you from seeing the world? Whether you’re seeking bright lights and big cities or peace and tranquility, you’ll find them in our countdown of the 10 best destinations for women travelling alone.
1. Best solo travel destination for culture vultures: Seville, Spain
Solo travellers visiting the siesta capital of Europe should start their adventure in Seville, where classic architecture and history meet the modern world in a hybrid unique to the region. “Imagine the excitement of Barcelona—the music, food, culture and art scene—but without the tourists,” says Waheeda Harris, a freelance travel journalist from Toronto. “It’s got amazing street life, flamenco music and a fascinating history. There’s plenty to take in and explore on your own.”
2. Best solo travel destination to find yourself: Ubud, Indonesia
“At the risk of getting all Eat, Pray, Love, Ubud in Bali is one of those magical places where you can forget whatever else is happening in your life and reconnect with yourself,” says Jennifer Weatherhead Harrington, editor-in-chief of Travel and Style magazine. “It’s such a spiritual hub that even if religion is not your thing, you can’t help but feel connected to what’s around you and take a moment to step back and completely shut off.”
3. Best solo travel destination to make new friends: Brussels, Belgium
One of the best parts of travelling alone is the opportunity to meet people. In Brussels, new friends are only as far away as the nearest coffee shop. The city is scattered with quaint eateries where you can purchase a treat and strike up an easy conversation with a total stranger. “Brussels is the head of the European Union, so it’s a very multicultural place, with languages spoken from around the world,” says Harris. Locals are eager to meet new people and offer insider tips to the hidden gems in the city. “They’ll tell you about things you won’t find in tourist guidebooks,” she says.
4. Best solo travel destination for the history buff: Boston, U.S.A.
Boston has earned a reputation for being one of the safest cities in America. The historic downtown core is densely-packed, so it’s easy to navigate, and benefits from a clean and reliable transit system.
“The city offers a variety of options in terms of monuments, markets and green spaces, so you won’t easily run out of things to do,” says Harris. Plan to walk the Freedom Trail and take in the historic sites, have lunch at Quincy Market and hit the cobblestone pavements of Beacon Hill.
5. Best solo travel destination for camaraderie: Dublin, Ireland
Quaint bed and breakfasts, charming folklore and scenic vistas are reasons enough to fall for the Emerald Isle. But if traipsing through the Irish countryside seems daunting, women travelling solo should consider focusing their stay on the capital city of Dublin. “It’s is hands-down one of the friendliest places I’ve been to,” says Ava Baccari, an editor at HELLO! Canada. While travelling alone, she recalls feeling safe and meeting plenty of kindred spirits along the way. “From conversations with the owner of the B&B where I stayed to the chatty bartenders at pubs, I remember not ever having a moment to myself,” she says. On the shy side? Sign up for one of Dublin’s many walking tours or a local pub crawl. You’ll meet new people and make plenty of memories, all over a few pints of Guinness.
6. Best solo travel destination for foodies: Tokyo, Japan
“Tokyo is the epitome of hospitality, with such a respect for food,” says Renée Suen, a Toronto-based food writer. Famous for its street food and eclectic menus (think sushi, ramen and fusion-style bento boxes—occasionally served by robots), Tokyo offers a plethora of options to satiate the palate. What’s more, eating alone is the norm, so you’ll never feel self-conscious as a solo diner. As a frequent solo traveller and a passionate foodie, Suen says Tokyo tops her list because, “in its highest forms, [the food offers] a ballet of bites that showcase the ingredients in their best light. It’s subtle, and perfect.”
7. Best solo travel destination for the arts lover: Reykjavík, Iceland
“Reykjavík may not be your first instinct as an arts lover, but it’s a place to push your boundaries,” says Weatherhead Harrington. The unique flavour of Icelandic art is often attributed to the country’s unique landscape and fascinating history, which, yes, includes Vikings. “The country is bursting with artistry in so many forms, from contemporary art galleries to music festivals—not to mention the fact that Icelandic architecture is also stunning.” Whether alone or in a group, visitors should also take the opportunity to bask in one of Iceland’s many relaxing geothermal spas. And who knows—while there, you may just brush shoulders with one of those Vikings.
8. Best solo travel destination for urban adventurers: New York City, U.S.A.
Lights on Broadway, food in Hell’s kitchen, blues in Harlem, solitude in Central Park… There’s a reason why New York City has been the backdrop to virtually every chick flick ever made, and those same reasons make it a great solo travel destination for women. Whether it’s shopping on Fifth Avenue for luxury brands or jogging alone the High Line (an elevated park built on a disused rail line in Manhattan’s West Side), you’ll never run out of things to do. Plus, it boasts a well-connected transit system, which makes bouncing through the neighbourhoods a breeze. Be sure to set aside time to walk from Manhattan to Brooklyn via Brooklyn Bridge. The views—and the pizza you’ll find on the other side—make it well worth the effort.
9. Best solo travel destination for romance: Florence, Italy
You’ll never feel lonely in Florence. The birthplace of the Italian Renaissance, it’s a city that boasts a rich history—and an undeniably romantic present. Take time at dusk to grab a glass of vino (or two) on one of the many outdoor terraces, revel in the sights around you—including the infamous Duomo that sits at the heart of the city—and lose yourself along the cobblestone paths. Romance heightens the senses as the sun sets and the city comes to life. La dolce vita, indeed!
10. Best solo travel destination for the thrill seeker: El Salvador
If you’re looking to shake things up with an adrenaline-filled adventure, Weatherhead Harrington suggests setting your sights on El Salvador. “The combination of incredible surfing and trekking around volcano craters and gorgeous lakes made me fall in love with the country,” she says.
Wary about travelling in Central America on your own? Don’t let the odd horror story deter you from a thrilling, once-in-a-lifetime experience. “If you have concerns, consider venturing into the country as part of a tour group, or hire a driver to get you from place to place.