Saturday, 18 Aug 2018

10 of the best destinations for solo female travellers

Travelling on your own is one of the most empowering, kick-ass ways of being your most authentic self, developing your independence and learning to trust your gut – not to mention giving you total freedom to do what you what and the chance to connect with new, incredible friends.

We’ve seen a 45% increase in bookings for female solo travellers over the last two years and we’ve uncovered the top 10 destinations that they’re flocking to. And there are some beauties!

Here is our list of the best destinations for female solo travel according to amazing solo female travellers who tell us why they loved travelling to these countries and their top tips.

1. Cuba

solo female travel destinations - cuba blue wall

By Justine Mfulama from Traveling by Faith

The people in Cuba are so friendly and accommodating. Even though a lot of Cubans may not speak English, the people are always willing to help you out with directions, travel tips or food recommendations. Despite travelling alone, I felt very welcomed and entertained.

My favourite part of Cuba was Trinidad. This beautiful town illustrates the beauty and authenticity of the island perfectly. Stunning nature, colourful houses and a vibrant nightlife is what you can expect.

Another must do is taking salsa classes. Music and dance is an important part of Cuba’s culture and runs through everybody’s DNA and the best way to experience the passion and enthusiasm that characterizes the Cuban people is by partaking in the fiery dance yourself.

Cuba is a great solo travel destination for women because it is safe. Contrary to what you might have heard, the people in Cuba are very respectful to tourists. They appreciate our business and enjoy sharing their love for their island with you.

Safety tips:

Cuba is generally very safe and keeping your valuables out of sight and being aware of your surroundings as you would travelling anywhere are the only precautions you should need to take.

Check out Justine’s tips about solo travel in Cuba.

Book hostels in Cuba

2. Nicaragua

solo female travel destinations - Nicaragua

@emthewild

By Hostelworld 

After only being explored by adventurous backpackers for far too long, Nicaragua is well and truly in the mainstream now as travellers to Central America venture further than Costa Rica and Guatemala. From its stunning colourful colonial cities to its volcanic landscapes, its national parks to its tropical climate, Nicaragua is an amazing place to explore nature, slow your pace right down and enjoy markets, beaches and stunning architecture.

For solo travellers, expect to bump into many other solo travellers along the way. There is a well-trodden trail that many travellers follow and it’s an opportunity for you to meet new friends. There is a network of great hostels for you to meet other people and so much to do that whether you’re on your own or with others you’ll never get bored.

Visit Omeetepe to go volcano boarding, swim in waterfalls or surf (heaven!) while Somoto Canyon has jawdropping natural scenery you can admire while plunging into pools, passing through white water rapids and abseiling down cliff faces. Leon and Granada are lively cities with amazing food, nightlife and historical sites. Little Corn Island is a haven for travellers wanting to chill on the beach, scuba dive, live off fresh seafood and dance the nights away at reggae bars.

Safety tips:

Nicaragua has a had a tragic past of civil war which has kept travellers away but the country has experienced immense recovery since the 1990s. Nicaragua has been stable and safe for tourism for a significant time now. However in 2018 the country has been experiencing political unrest so it’s important to monitor official safety advice before booking your trip. Catcalling is common in Nicaragua when you’re travelling by yourself and while it’s generally harmless it’s best to ignore this attention. Pickpocketing and tourist scams do exist but keeping your valuables out of site and staying alert as you would in any other country should help you avoid this.

Book hostels in Nicaragua

3. South Africa

solo female travel destinations - south africa - sea view

@romi.comyn

By Kristin from Be My Travel Muse

I love South Africa for two big reasons: the constantly changing landscape and the people. There’s hiking, deserts, incredible scuba diving, vibrant cities, and some of the most beautiful coastal towns I’ve ever seen – and of course safari possibilities. I also found the locals to be incredibly welcoming.

People from all backgrounds were truly warm and hospitable to me and I spent half of my time staying with people who invited me to be their guest even though I didn’t know a soul when I first arrived. It’s hard to think of a place more friendly and welcoming than that! Also, everyone pretty much stays in all the same places so you’ve got a built-in network when you arrive.

A road trip from Johannesburg to Cape Town or vice versa gives you some of the best of the country. I think it’s a mistake to only look at the garden route and Cape Town and then leave. My favourite spots were actually the Drakensberg, the wild coast and Johannesburg.

Safety tips:

South Africa has a reputation for being dangerous. In the big cities this is true and I can’t deny it, however if you use some simple common sense precautions like taking Uber taxis, avoid driving after dark and being aware of your surroundings you’ll avoid most of the problems that travellers encounter.

Check out Kristin’s Instagram and her e-book Conquering Mountains about solo female travel.

Book hostels in South Africa

4. Bulgaria

solo female travel destinations - Bulgaria - doorway

@chicawanderlust

By Lisa from Girl about the Globe

Bulgaria is great for solo females as it caters for all types of travellers. There are wineries, old towns, sandy beaches, hedonistic party towns and even ski resorts. It also has over 600 mineral springs. If you can’t speak Bulgarian then it can be a bit challenging to get around but I always believe that travelling solo can be a personal transformation so this country is perfect for that.

Zlatni Pyasatsi is one of the best sand beaches in Europe so make sure you don’t miss that off your itinerary and the old town in Plovdiv is a must-see. Experience true Bulgarian culture at a homestay in the Rhode Mountains, and make sure you see the Seven Rila Lakes too. There is so much nature here. Visit a winery and experience the crazy nightlife at Sunny Beach.

Safety tips:

Be mindful walking around the train and bus station in Sofia at night. Sunny Beach is a party destination which means that it attracts the pickpockets. Get a taxi home even if it’s just a short walk. Bulgaria is an amazing country, just make sure that you look after yourself and you’ll have an amazing time.

Book hostels in Bulgaria

5. Guatemala

@backpackingbroad

By Hostelworld 

Like Nicaragua, the secret is well and truly out about Guatemala. Lush mountain landscapes, volcanic mountains, limestone pools, vast lakes and laidback vibes, buzzing cities and friendly locals make this one of the most vibrant destinations for travellers in 2018.

Antigua is a gorgeous, brightly coloured colonial town with cobblestone streets, markets and amazing views of the Agua volcano. Semuc Champney is an extraordinary natural wonder with pools of green water carved from limestone where you can swim, hike or go caving. Lake Atitlan is a huge lake surrounded by gorgeous villages, cheap food and a cruisy, chilled vibe. Isla de Flores is the perfect jumping off point to visit Tikal, ancient Mayan ruins. This UNESCO world heritage area has over 4,000 Mayan ruins and is known as the ‘lost world’. It was also the filming location for A New Hope in the Star Wars franchise. If you’re energetic hiking a volcano is a definite must! You can climb to the top of Volcano Acatenango for incredible views.

Safety tips:

Guatemala is a country that has suffered from drug-related violence and it’s important to remain cautious while you’re travelling. Guatemala City is likely to be the place you’ll fly in to but it can be more dangerous than other areas of the country so use it as a stopover before carrying on with your trip. Be careful travelling by yourself at night, taking money out of ATMs and avoid travelling in unofficial taxis.

6. Sri Lanka

solo female travel destinations - sri lanka

@natnzin

By Zinara from NatnZin

It’s really hard to mention only one thing I love about Sri Lanka. It’s a tiny island but packs a hefty punch. Start from the capital city, Colombo, and within a few hours, you get to see pristine beaches, lush hills and architectural wonders. The natural landscapes continue to awe us.

While Sri Lanka needs a lifetime to be explored, there are a few key highlights every solo traveller needs to check out. Colombo will give you a glimpse into everyday life. Visit the secluded West Coast beaches Tangalle, Dikwella and Hiriketiya and explore the quaint mountain village Ella, a paradise for hikers. The Northern capital, Jaffna, has a culture of its own. For those who are history buffs, the ancient kingdoms of Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa have an endless list of places to see.

Sri Lankan people are also extremely helpful. While a lot of people will be surprised to hear that you are travelling on your own, they’ll also do anything to make you feel safe. Making friends with local women is an added advantage. Not only will you be offered advice and tips on where to go, you’ll also get invited to try a few homemade meals. Tourism is a booming industry today. While Sri Lankan society is highly patriarchal, people are now exposed to seeing foreign females travelling alone. Because of this, you’re less likely to be the centre of attention in public places.

Safety tips:

While Sri Lankans are extremely helpful, men can be a bit pushy. Shorts and tank tops are totally fine when you are travelling in a group or in touristy places like Ella and Arugam Bay but it’s better to dress modestly. When you are using public transport, always try and sit next to a woman. Avoid going out at night when you’re alone unless it’s a popular tourist spot. Wear earphones –  it’ll be very unlikely for random men to come and talk to you.

Book hostels in Sri Lanka

7. Macedonia

solo female travel destinations - Macedonia - umbrellas

@2balticnavigators

By Maggie Turansky from The World Was Here First.

Despite its diminutive size, Macedonia is a country packed to the brim with beautiful nature, cosmopolitan cities, quaint villages, and fascinating historical sites. Not only are there incredible cultural and historical sites to see but the country is also naturally stunning. Outside of the cities, there are beautiful canyons, sprawling mountains, and large blue lakes that just beg to explored.

While there are a handful places that are fairly cemented on the tourist trail, the majority of Macedonia is relatively undiscovered by foreign tourists. While this may be scary to some, the locals are always keen to show the best of their country to visitors.

Macedonia is a great option for solo female travellers for many reasons. For one, in the more popular cities of Ohrid and Skopje, there are a few great hostel options to choose from where you can meet other like-minded travellers and also connect with the locals who work there.

Macedonian natives are also incredibly friendly and very receptive to tourists  –  they love inviting people in to show them around the country they are so proud of. Macedonian hospitality cannot be beat and even if you’re travelling solo, it is doubtful that you will ever be alone.

Safety tips:

On the whole, Macedonia is a very safe destination for tourists and I wouldn’t advise any extra safety precautions that don’t apply to anywhere else in the world. As always, a bit of street smarts and common sense will get you out of most jams.

Many locals and hostel workers will also be there to help you out if you need it. A great example of this is when one hostel owner personally walked me down to the taxi stand and negotiated a price with the driver to ensure I wasn’t going to get ripped off while en route to the bus station.

Book hostels in Macedonia

8. Portugal

solo female travel destinations - portugal

@iamigerbase

By Sonja from Migrating Miss.

The word “vibrant” is often overused when talking about places to travel, but I truly fell in love with Portugal because it is such a vibrant and beautiful place – from the people to the cities, the culture, and the gorgeous scenery. Portugal really does feel like stepping into another world. I adore the buildings covered in painted tiles and the sunny cobblestone streets. Lisbon has awesome street art and the views from the different hills across the red-roofed city are stunning.

In Portugal everything seems a little understated, but that’s what I liked. The food is simple but delicious, the people go about their daily lives like normal and there isn’t a huge push to impress travellers. It’s as if Portugal is saying “this is me, take me as I am”, and what it is, is awesome!

As a solo traveller, you can easily and safely get around with public transport. Take day trips on your own to places like Sintra from Lisbon or join an organised day tour in places like the Duoro Valley from Porto to meet new people.

Portugal is also one of the more affordable European destinations, which means that if you’re travelling alone you can have more choice with your accommodation and book what suits you. If that’s a shared hostel room, or a private room then you have the option!

I felt safe in Portugal and loved that it’s the kind of place you can wander around and soak in the atmosphere alone and not feel out of place. Many people in Portugal speak English, or if not are at least willing to help you out, so you shouldn’t have too many communication problems. Of course it’s always polite and useful to learn some basic phrases.

Safety tips:

Stick to the usual rules of watching your belongings in public and being careful of pickpockets, but overall this isn’t a big problem in Portugal.

Book hostels in Portugal

9. Tanzania

solo female travel destinations - Tanzania

@samisfierce

By Stephanie Parker from Big World Small Pockets

With amazing wildlife, unique culture and some truly mind-blowing landscapes, there’s no question I loved travelling in Tanzania as a solo female backpacker. In fact, some of my favourite memories from my whole time in Africa come from my time in Tanzania, in particular scuba diving in the Indian Ocean, strolling the historic streets of Stone Town and continually gasping in amazement during a safari adventure in the Ngorongoro Crater.

The sheer diversity of this country – from the plains of the Serengeti, to the beaches of its coastline and even the soaring heights of Kilimanjaro – makes it an utterly unique place to travel in and if you’re a solo female who enjoys indigenous cultures, camping in the wilderness and lazing on some of the world’s best beaches, I can’t recommend it enough.

This is especially true if you’re adventuring alone because many of Tanzania’s top attractions will see you paired with other travellers (i.e joining safari groups, dive trips or hiking excursions) which means making friends and sharing the experience is a given. Zanzibar is an absolute must and I recommend allowing yourself at least six days on the island to really soak up the UNESCO historic capital of Stone Town before hitting the beach for some epic chill time!

You can fly direct to Zanzibar, or take the boat from Dar Es Salaam if you’re on a budget, and afterwards I’d suggest heading to Arusha, where you can pick up many last minute deals for Serengeti/Ngorongoro Crater trips or organise your ascent of Mount Kilimanjaro, the ceiling of Africa, which is every bit as breathtaking as it sounds.

Safety tips:

There is a risk of serious crime in Tanzania and theft is common. Be careful with your belongings on public transport and avoid being out after dark. There has been some civil unrest in the Pwani region so make sure to check official advice before venturing to this area.

Check out Stephanie’s Tanzania itinerary.

Book hostels in Tanzania

10. Romania

solo female travel destinations - Romania

@astaclivo

By Laura Carniel (Hostelworld)

I think Romania is a country has been underrated for a long time and is now starting to be recognised as cool place to visit. The fact that it’s still a little bit low key is why I loved it so much. Every time you travel to a well-known destination, you already have preconceptions  about what to expect and you might not live the experience to the fullest because you’ve already made an itinerary that ticks off a specific list of things to do.

I knew nothing about Bucharest before travelling there and it amazed me SO MUCH. The food was great and cheap, people were really friendly and willing to show their home to me,  the history is really interesting and there are a lot of nice spots to explore. I would definitely recommend it to anyone looking for a rich culture, nice weather, good food and everything on a budget. ?

In Bucharest I  especially loved the parliament building, the Romanian kitsch museum and exploring the city centre. The most magical experience I had was visiting the Romanian Athenaeum. The place is stunning and I could explore it almost by myself as there weren’t many tourists around. I also loved a place called Bazaar, the food was great and the prices were perfect for budget travellers.

Safety tips:

I felt very safe in the city, even during the night. Walking back to the hostel after a night out was not an issue at all, which gave me more freedom to plan what I would do there. I felt as comfortable in Bucharest as I did in cities like Paris, Rome and Lisbon. It’s  always good to use main streets on your route, catching ubers at night (which are really cheap there) and being aware of your surroundings.

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