8 Must-Visit Destinations for Solo Travelers
When it comes to travel, we can't get enough. Wanderlust is in our genes. There's not a city in the world we don't want to visit at least once, and we're not going to let our gender hold us back. I've learned so much from traveling alone as a woman—I even met The One—but there are definitely some places we'd recommend more than others. While safety is certainly a priority, there are other poignant reasons the destinations listed below are especially female-friendly. Traveling on your own is one of the most liberating experiences (take it from someone who knows), but there are a few things you need to know before you use those frequent-flier miles.
Itching to book a ticket yet? These are the best places to travel to alone.
If you only visit one place alone as a female traveler, make it Stockholm. Scandinavia (Norway, Sweden, and Denmark) was ranked "the safest region in the world" by the 2015 Prosperity Index, with Sweden ranking fifth of all countries. It has also consistently earned the title of the safest city in Europe, but safety isn't the only reason to plan a visit: The Swedes are incredibly stylish, and their homegrown designer brands are globally renowned, from the luxury of Acne Studios to coveted high-street brands like H&M.
Post–shopping spree, rest your weary heels at one of the fine cafés and enjoy some of the world's best people-watching. There are plenty of historic attractions that are perfect for the sightseeing solo traveler, including the Royal Palace and the Vasa Museum—get a Stockholm Pass for free entry to over 60 attractions and convenient, safe public transport.
If you're a budding photographer, don't miss the perfectly preserved Gamla Stan, which translates to "the old town," located right in the heart of Stockholm. With its colorful baroque buildings, crooked cobblestone streets, gothic churches, hidden teahouses, and upscale boutiques, you'll need an extra memory card to capture the hundreds of photos you'll take.
Model and photographer Zanita Whittington, who now calls Stockholm home, made us push it to the top of our must-visit list. As she told Refinery29, "It's probably the most beautiful place in Stockholm, for sure—it's like a little slice of Swedish history come to life." We're sold.
With its quaint cobblestone streets and historic architecture, the French-speaking Québec province is a sight to behold and one of the best places to explore alone. The UNESCO World Heritage treasure was founded in the 17th century, and the historic district of Old Québec will transport you back in time with its horse-drawn carriages, street entertainers, and an open-air art gallery.
The best way to explore this charming region on foot, and according to the city's website, it's very safe. It also has the distinction of being the only fortified city in North America north of Mexico, so make sure you walk the three-mile-long wall, take the tour of the ancient gates and fortresses, and see the changing of the guard. And if you've had enough of going solo, meet some fellow travelers on one of Québec's guided tours. You'll learn so much about the history and culture while making new friends along the way.
As an Australian, I can vouch for the beauty and safety of Bali. My Down Under girlfriends regularly visit this picturesque country more than once a year, many of them traveling alone. In fact, Gritty Pretty's Eleanor Pendleton traveled there for some soul-fueled solitude at the award-winning eco-conscious wellness retreat Fivelements. This is the perfect place for any woman to unwind and get back in harmony with her mind, body, and soul.
While the island's incredible beauty will entrance you, it's the people who really make this place special—they're incredibly friendly, warm, and welcoming. If you want to be near the beach and take up surfing, be sure to stay at Uluwatu Surf Villas, where you can wake up to ocean views and daily yoga with free ice-cold coconut. Bali also has one of the best backpacking cultures for young people, which means you'll always find someone to hang out with.
Queenstown, New Zealand
Without a doubt, New Zealand is one of the most insanely beautiful countries in the world. This gorgeous island might not seem big on the map, but don't be fooled: What this country lacks in size it certainly more than makes up for in dynamic landscapes, adventure, culture, and mind-blowing experiences. While there are plenty of places we could recommend in New Zealand, Queenstown is one of our favorites—it's simply magnificent.
The bustling city attracts a plethora of travelers young and old keen to soak up its untouched beauty. Lake Wanaka, the nation's fourth-largest lake, is reason enough to visit, with activities from alpine treks to leisurely lakeside strolls. Solo female traveler Liz of Young Adventuress raves about Queenstown for its "profound beauty combined with jaw-dropping awe and excitement." She also mentioned how easy it is to meet new people, thanks to the city's Haka Tours and the Haka Lodge Queenstown, which, she wrote, "are more like luxury hostels." She even took the plunge and went paragliding. Adventure is out there, girls.
It's "in fair Verona where we lay our scene" and where two star-crossed famously lovers took their lives in the name of true love… As you might imagine from Shakespeare's writings, this quaint Italian city—a UNESCO World Heritage site—has incredible history, with preserved ancient Roman monuments like the Castel Vecchio bridge and the stunning Arena di Verona amphitheater, which was built in the first century and is still in use today.
Female travelers looking for some luxury during their stay in Verona should book a room at the Palazzo Victoria. The interiors are fit for a princess; in fact, they're so pretty you might not ever want to leave. And you have the best seat in the house for people-watching, with views of the famous Corso di Porta Borsari, all in the comfort and safety of your own bedroom. If you do get tired of lounging, hit up the hotel's decadent club, where the décor is just as good as the drinks.
If you need somewhere to completely unwind and enforce that digital detox, Mooréa is your destination. This little slice of French Polynesian heaven is every woman's dream. With a population of just 16,000, there's no one around to distract you from your mission of complete relaxation. You can literally snorkel, sunbathe, or swim in your own infinity pool—it'll be just you and the peaceful sounds of the sea.
If you want to take a break from all that relaxation, trek over to the impressive Mount Rotui and explore the untouched rainforest that overlooks Ōpūnohu Bay; it's Mother Nature in her purest form. There is so much to do, including hiking, parasailing, and skydiving, or head to the Moorea Dolphin Center, the only natural refuge where you can swim and play with dolphins.
We recommend renting a bike: You can cycle around the entire island in just one day. With expansive ocean views before you and majestic mountain views behind you, this is your chance to breathe in the good life and watch stress melt away each time you exhale. This is bliss.
Just the name conjures romantic imagery of sun-drenched afternoons spent reading a novel on the beach overlooking the stunning Cote d'Azur. The South of France is a sight to behold, and Marseille, the country's second-largest city, is one of the prettiest. Stroll down its enchanting side streets and 19th-century avenues, browse the souk-like markets, and soak up the atmosphere at Vieux Port. This gorgeous seaside city is bursting with character and history. Rent a bike to hit the seaside streets and breathe in all that fresh salty air. You're bound to discover a hidden cove along the way. And don't miss the Le Panier neighborhood set on a hill above the water.
Gone are the seedy undertones that once scarred its reputation. Since it was awarded the 2013 European Capital of Culture, there has been a huge increase in artistic and architectural development. According to The Daily Beast, "there's never been a better time to visit Marseille." In 2013, the city injected $860 million into the local infrastructure and boosted its cultural activities, which have seen a steady increase in tourists to the region every year. If you really want to step up your luxury—and safety—check into the stunning Jean-Philippe Nuel–designed five-star Intercontinental Hotel-Dieu with some of the best city views.
If you need a Lost in Translation moment, let Tokyo show you how. This incredibly vibrant and exciting city has to be seen to be believed. As the capital of Japan, it's also the country's most populated metropolis, which only makes visiting here all the more compelling. Tokyo also listed on the 2015 Safest Cities Index for the Asia-Pacific region, and the general crime rate in Japan is "well below" the United States national average, according to the U.S. Department of State.
Stephanie Rosenbloom wrote in The New York Times that it's "an ideal city for solo travel" because it's "not uncommon to sit opposite a sushi chef and talk" or enjoy your meal "alongside other solo diners." You also don't need to speak Japanese to get by, says Rosenbloom; she got by "using broken English and Japanese, friendly smiles and the Google Translate app on [her] iPhone."
Blend in with the bustling city streets, walk the famous Shibuya crossing, visit the anime shops, and check out the coolest street style in Harajuku. There's some of the best food you can eat in Tokyo, too. Plan your trip in early April for cherry blossom season and see thousands of flowering trees as far as the eye can see. It's truly magical.
Have you traveled alone as a woman? What destination would you recommend? Share your favorite places to visit and top tips for female solo travelers below.
This post was originally published on November 17, 2016, and has since been updated.