As a Solo Female Traveler, Here’s Where to Go

These are the best destinations for women traveling solo, plus tips for how to go.

A young woman walking under an arch framing the Taj Mahal in Agra in the background

Several tour companies cater to female travelers, offering all-women trips and tailored itineraries everywhere from India to Iceland.

Photo by Stefano Benanti/Shutterstock

In recent years, more women have sought solo adventures than ever before: In 2019, an estimated 32 million American women traveled alone, according to the U.S. Travel Association, and Google searches for “solo female travel” increased by an astounding 131 percent over the year prior. More recently, Kayak reported that solo ventures were up by 36 percent in 2023, and Condor Ferries found that 84 percent of solo-travel bookings were made by women from 2020 to 2021. While today a greater number of women are taking solo trips—thanks in large part to shifting societal expectations regarding gender roles, as well as increased financial freedom—there’s no question that women face unique risks when traveling alone. Here are some of the best destinations for women traveling solo and tips for how to go safely.

The best destinations for solo female travelers

It can be hard to distill an entire country’s level of safety into a single chart, let alone compare the entire world. But when you’re setting out on a solo adventure, it’s important to pull as much data together as possible. Luckily, the annual Women Peace and Security Index reveals global trends of women’s equality based on three “basic dimensions”: inclusion (economic, social, political); justice (formal laws and discriminatory norms); and security (how it protects against violence at familial, community, and societal levels).

The annual ranking, produced by the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security in partnership with the Peace Research Institute of Oslo, uses reputable data sourced from national statistical offices, U.N. organizations, and international surveys such as Gallup. With this information, the report ranks countries based on how their governments and populations treat women—those who live in the country and those who travel to it. In short, the report offers an intensive look into countries, tackling the mini questions that fall into the umbrella query “Is it safe to go there?”

The top countries for women’s equality

The Women Peace and Security Index was published in early February, ranking 167 countries based on women’s equality. According to the report’s findings, Denmark was the top-ranking country, with particularly high ratings in financial inclusion and women’s perception of community safety. Switzerland followed closely in second, with similar findings for women’s perception of community safety and economic opportunity.

Singapore ranked the highest for women’s perception of community safety, but despite landing in the top spot for the safest country for women, didn’t rank on the overall list of destinations that exhibit women’s equality—potentially due to its low ranking for legal discrimination against women (such as laws or regulations that limit women’s ability to participate in society and the economy).

Here are the top 10 countries for women’s equality, according to the 2023 Women Peace and Security Index:

  1. Denmark
  2. Switzerland
  3. Sweden
  4. Finland
  5. Luxembourg
  6. Iceland
  7. Norway
  8. Austria
  9. Netherlands
  10. New Zealand

The best cities for solo female travelers

Tourlane, a trip-planning and -booking service, released its list of the top cities for female solo travelers to visit in 2020, inspired by some of the findings from the 2019–20 Women Peace and Security Index. The ranking, which includes 50 international cities, was curated by Tourlane’s female travel experts based on eight categories: female representation in local business, gender equality in society, legal equality, and safety, as well as the price of female-friendly accommodation, a taxi ride, a data plan, and the local mobile internet speed.
On Tourlane’s list, Ljubljana, Slovenia, came in first place. The capital city scored 9.73 out of 10 points in the justice category, referring to the destination’s “low number of laws that limit or differentiate women from men.” It also received high women’s equality and safety rankings. Singapore landed in second place, but the city-state in Southeast Asia received the highest safety score of any destination on the list (a perfect 10 out of 10), making Singapore a clear choice for women who are interested in traveling solo but haven’t yet done so due to safety concerns.
Here are Tourlane’s 10 best cities for solo female travelers:

  1. Ljubljana, Slovenia
  2. Singapore
  3. Vilnius, Lithuania
  4. Tallinn, Estonia
  5. Sydney, Australia
  6. Vienna, Austria
  7. Hanoi, Vietnam
  8. Stockholm, Sweden
  9. Copenhagen, Denmark
  10. Barcelona, Spain

Tips for women traveling solo

 Woman wearing backpack in desert faces range of mountains in distance, with cloudy sky

Solo travel teaches you to rely on your instincts and gives you the opportunity to wholly pursue your own interests.

Photo by Joshua Resnick/Shutterstock

Book with a female-only tour company

Here’s a fun fact: According to a 2022/2023 study completed by Solo Traveler (a publication covering, as the name suggests, all things solo travel), 9 out of 10 solo travelers prefer to take tours all or some of the time. Solo women travelers make up one of the fastest-growing demographics in the travel market, and as such, an increasing number of tour companies are catering to female travelers with all-women trips and tailored itineraries. Women-owned and women-operated companies like AdventureWomen specialize in everything from mother-daughter treks in Costa Rica to all-female safaris in Botswana; others, such as Wild Women Expeditions, offer women-only outdoor expeditions—canoeing, cycling, hiking, and surfing trips—everywhere from the Galápagos to Mongolia.

Geographic Expeditions is introducing its first women-only itinerary on September 1, 2024, focused on Namibia, Africa. The country leads Africa in gender-equality efforts, according to the World Economic Forum, even surpassing some European countries and the United States. This particular journey will bring women together to experience a visit to the women-founded AfriCat Foundation (and a leopard safari across the savanna), a scenic flight over the Skeleton Coast, black rhino tracking with a female ranger from the Save the Rhino Trust, and more.

On another side of the world, Stellavision offers itineraries for self-identifying women focusing on size inclusivity. Founder Zoe Stella Shapiro teams with body-positive advocates—the first itinerary partner was Los Angeles–based creative Christina Winkelmann—to create robust experiences like private boating excursions, exclusive tastings with female vintners, and tours of ancient cave systems.
Of course, non–gender-specific companies are also building new itineraries to appeal to female travelers. Intrepid Travel offers a series of Women’s Expeditions in Morocco, Kenya, and India, among other destinations. REI Adventures leads similar women-only adventures, among them multiday treks along the Pacific Crest Trail in California or to Shenandoah, Zion, or Bryce Canyon.

Some tours are even designed to explore gender equality. As part of its Tracing Norway’s Super Women, luxury travel curator Up Norway brings travelers on a 10-day journey around the country, including Varanger (to learn about 17th-century witch trials) and the remote island of Fedje (to learn about women’s empowerment in whiskey today). Accommodations, too, focus on spotlighting women and include a stay at Camilla’s House, which is named after Norwegian writer Camilla Collett, who was once a former tenant—and is widely considered Norway’s first feminist.

Don’t overlook adventure travel opportunities

Adventure travel is on the rise among women-identifying travelers, according to the Washington Post, especially those over the age of 40. While movies, TV shows, and even Instagram give adventure travel a male-centric haze, more women are embarking on trips to far-flung places than ever before. A report titled “The Influence & Impact of Women in Adventure Travel” from the Adventure Travel Trade Association shares that women comprise 57 percent of people booking through global travel companies—and when the travel company is women-led, the percentage jumps to 64. (Additionally, 54 percent of the global tourism workforce identifies as women.) Plenty of tour operators offer adventurous journeys from women: Sisters Traveling Solo, which has already sold out its 2024 tours; Wild Women Expeditions, an operator with tours in 27 countries; and Adventure Women, founded in 1982.

Look to social media

If you’d rather travel on your own without the help of a tour operator, you can still turn to online resources such as the Solo Female Traveler Network for planning assistance. The Facebook group has more than 535,000 followers (and several “sister groups” that focus on topics like LGBTQ travel and adventure “over 40”) who share their top tips about travel experiences, both the good and the bad. To join the private Facebook group, you must fill out a questionnaire to verify you’ve read the rules—this ensures that the online community remains a safe space for female travelers to converse.

Besides the Solo Female Traveler Network, many private Facebook groups for female travelers seeking specific advice have cropped up on social media in recent years, among them Vegan Women Who Travel, Over 60 Women Travel Buddy Search Group, Wandering Moms, Women+ of Color Who Travel, and Latinas Who Travel.

The power of women in travel

In March 2021, AFAR’s Katherine LaGrave reported on women’s roles in the travel industry—and together, the statistics are staggering: “Today, 56 percent of leisure travelers are women, and over the past five years, they have steadily held this majority stake. Women make close to 85 percent of all travel decisions: where to go, when to fly, where to stay, what to see,” LaGrave writes. “Of affluent travelers with annual incomes upwards of $250,000, women also account for 54 percent, according to MMGY Global, an advertising agency specializing in travel, tourism, and hospitality. In total, women represent 60 percent of the wealth in the United States, and they notch 58 percent of all online sales. Importantly, women also live longer than men and outnumber them in a crucial travel bracket—retirees—making them an investment that yields greater, and longer, returns.” Still, that is not often reflected.

“Many women believe solo travel isn’t for them because of what they look like, or who they love, because most of the faces we see in travel media are that of older, white men,” says Beth Santos, founder and CEO of Wanderful, a membership-based women’s travel community that has grown to 45,000 members since Santos founded the group in 2008; Santos is also the author of the March 2023 book Wander Woman.

“Women [often don’t feel] ‘enough’: that their travels aren’t magical enough, or ambitious enough, or perfect enough, because of the picture-perfect photos that we see on social media,” Santos says of her work to build a community of women travelers. “I realized there is an important opportunity to talk realistically with women about the messages we’re being served about traveling alone, and to give women the tools to digest and analyze them more meaningfully.”

Why solo female travel is significant

In a January 2019 Vox article that explores the modern surge in solo female travel, writer Aditi Shrikant points out that because women have historically been portrayed as “fixtures of the home,” most early solo female travel wasn’t recorded or advertised. However, women have traveled on their own throughout history—in fact, the world’s earliest travel writings were produced by a woman named Egeria in 381 C.E. (The letters she wrote on her pilgrimage to Mount Sinai are regarded as the first existing travel memoir.)
“Even in modern travel writings, there is that sense a woman needs a reason to travel,” Shrikant writes. “Wild author Cheryl Strayed hiked the 1,100-mile Pacific Crest Trail only after a slew of debilitating life changes. Liz Gilbert’s famous quest in Eat, Pray, Love was prompted by her difficult divorce. These stories are inspiring but also uphold the status quo that women need a good, big reason to leave.”

Solo travel teaches you to rely on your instincts and gives you the opportunity to wholly pursue your interests. (You’d be surprised how much time you spend discussing what to do next when traveling with others.) Venturing into the world on your own will also push you beyond your comfort zone. That’s an experience every woman not only deserves to have but also is capable of having—which, in our humble opinion, is a “big enough” reason to leave.

This article originally appeared online in 2020; it was most recently updated on March 8, 2024, to include current information.

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