No matter if you are going on your first trip as a female solo traveller or have been worldtripping for a while, safety as a woman is a crucial factor in selecting a destination. So I gathered various ranking lists of the best female friendly countries out there but got so many replies from solo female travellers. Lists are all nice and well but real life experiences, realistic solo travel guides and personal stories are way better! Therefore, I am giving over the floor to kick ass ladies who have been travelling the world and can tell you about the best countries for women from first-hand experience.
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Photo credit: Photo by Mike Wilson (header) and Karl Magnuson (pin) on Unsplash
Safety During a Solo Travel Trip
One of your top priorities when you are a female solo traveller is, of course, safety. Some countries are safer than others but things can happen anywhere and anytime. So while you always have to be cautious, you shouldn’t leave in constant anxiety. Doing research, acting in accordance with your instincts and travelling smart are key. This includes packing well.
In plenty countries pepper spray or tazers are forbidden, so no need to pack that. Instead, you could pack an emergency personal alarm device. Wear sensible shoes in which you can run in and pack a padlock to keep your luggage safe.
[su_highlight background=”#ef7583″ color=”#ffffff”]24 Safety Tips for Solo Travelling Women[/su_highlight]
To get a clearer idea of what it feels like to travel a certain country solo as a woman, it is helpful to ask for first hand experiences in facebook groups, research on female travel blogs like the one you’re on. Generally, things aren’t as scary as the media or advice giving friends and family want to make you believe. But you have to be aware of local customs, expectations and where and when it is safe to walk around alone – especially at night.
According to Naomi from Probe Around The Globe , one of the best countries for women is Iran, hands down:
Iran is a bit of a controversial travel destination, especially for solo female travelers. But in my personal experience, Iran was one of the friendliest countries to travel to. Iranians are known to be very curious and welcoming of foreigners. They invite you to join their family for lunch or dinner and they welcome you in their homes to spend the night. Iran has one of the largest Couchsurfing communities and it is a perfect way to make new friends.
When I first travelled to Iran as a solo female traveler, I was anxious. I’m not going to lie. I was so nervous if it was safe and if I would feel awkward or people would stare at me. After two weeks of solo travel in Iran, I can only say that Iran was an amazing experience mainly due to the friendly people of Iran.
Travel around Iran as a woman is very easy. On Iranian buses, they have 2 seats together and 1 seat apart. The bus manager will go out of his way to make sure no women will sit next to a man that they are not related to. Help was everywhere. At the bus station to decipher the Farsi letters and numbers, in the mosque to guide you which entrance to take. The ladies at the entrance of monuments helped with the headscarf and explain all the information.
At the bazaar in Shiraz, a salesman abandoned his stall to show me around the bazaar and Shiraz. We went to an amazing viewpoint to see the whole of Shiraz and he gave me some insider tips on best tea houses and restaurants. Travel in Iran was a breeze, mainly because of all the help of all the friendly people in Iran.
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Katie from The Katie Show Blog declares Iceland as the best country for women:
Iceland is such a popular destination for solo female travelers and it is not unusual for people to see women walking around on their own, or perhaps they are just friendly people in general, but either way I certainly found it to be a solo female traveler friendly destination.
In all of my experiences I was met with warm and friendly smiling faces. Obviously, I don’t use warm in a literal sense, as most of our faces were cold, chapped and a little windburned! I found that people were quick to have a chat whether I was checking out at a souvenir store, visiting a museum or taking photos on my own around the city. The housekeeping staff where I stayed even left me a surprise Easter Egg as I was visiting over the Easter weekend. There was an overall sense of feeling very welcome – not just as a walking tourist dollar, but as a guest.
I particularly enjoyed defrosting in the local pools at the end of each day which was a suggestion I was given from a friendly local. Though they are usually a quiet place of relaxation, each time I went I ended up in a conversation with someone who lived there until our hands turned completely wrinkly. Everyone I spoke to was full of interest as to where I was from and always quick to share stories about life in Iceland. They were also generous in sharing travel tips for my visit and I got some good recommendations from my evening hot tub conversations. These are some of my favorite travel memories and, when it comes to friendly locals, I had a lot of good experiences in Iceland.
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Why Varsha from Varsha’s Travel 360 thinks Germany (especially the South is one of the best countries for women to visit):
I shifted to South Germany about 7 years back. The first thing I noticed was that there are police everywhere. They keep watch around public places and regularly patrol around residential area. This maintains secure feeling, especially if you are a woman.
I am not a late-night person but one day, when I was still new in Germany, it got quite late after mid-night, while hanging out for ‘All girls’ dinner’. I used to live in the outskirts of the main town and I never felt it as a remote place before that day. While returning, I was almost alone on the Metro. Then, I had to walk about 15 mins from metro station to home. There was absolutely no one on the streets and I felt fearsome quietness.
The tension was building in my mind as I started walking alone on the dark roads. About 3-4 min later, one patrolling police car passed by. They slowed down while passing me. Their presence made me little comfortable and I wanted them to stay around. But I just kept walking. After about next 5 min or so, another patrolling car passed by. Soon, my house was in sight. After I saw the second police car, I was so much relaxed. All the tension got dispersed in the air and only after that I felt light breeze of fresh air on my face. Before that, I was surrounded by thick clouds of worries and fears.
Later on, I realized that late night life in Germany is pretty lively and is as safe as it can be during a bright day.
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This is what Karen from Wanderlustingk says on the Netherlands topping the best countries for women to travel to:
The Netherlands is one of the safest countries for women to travel in. As someone who has solo travelled in the Netherlands and has been living in the Netherlands for the last three years, I love that you rarely need to worry about walking down a street late at night by yourself. Similarly, street harassment is not a common issue in the Netherlands like in many other countries I’ve travelled in. When you walk past a construction site, you’re told to have a good morning (no wolf whistles!).
There’s plenty of hostels, including hostels for female travelers. I like this as it makes it easy to meet fellow travelers and go around with others (when I’m less comfortable doing something on my own). For women who prefer hotels, you’ll also find many options for hotels in various cities, including quieter residential neighborhoods.
More generally, the Netherlands is an easy country to navigate on your own as practically everyone speaks English, the public transportation is easy to deal with (besides tapping out), and it’s easy to get to Amsterdam from any of the neighboring countries. In many ways, the infrastructure makes the Netherlands a great place to travel in as you never have to worry about anything (besides train delays). I hope you consider visiting Amsterdam or any other place in the Netherlands.
United Arab Emirates
Meghna from Trailing Abroad is proud to declare that UAE ranks high as one of the best countries for women to explore despite many media portrayals:
Having lived in Dubai, UAE for over two decades, I can safely state that this is one of the friendliest and safest countries for women travellers. Expatriates make up more than 80 percent of the total population of the UAE and being a diverse and multi-cultural society, people are very respectful of each other. Strict enforcement of laws and zero tolerance of xenophobia have definitely made Dubai a safe haven for women.
While most people have pre conceived notions about religious tolerance and freedom of and for women in Dubai, it is noteworthy that for travellers of all nationalities Dubai is surprisingly welcoming and is a breeze of fresh air.
One of the most politically stable nations in the region, UAE is now the hub for major international events, exhibitions, music festivals and concerts. In fact, the nation even has a happiness centre with a duly appointed Minister of Happiness! The society has modernized considerably and subject to certain safeguards, women are free to dress up and enjoy the city the way they like. In all the years of my life spent in Dubai, not once have I encountered eve teasing, unfriendly remarks or awkward glances.
I definitely recommend all women to visit Dubai and experience the culture for themselves instead of being prejudiced and relying on certain personal opinions. For a memorable travel experience, it is always advisable to read a little about the laws of the country before your visit and to exercise certain general cautions as you would while travelling to any part of the world.
Are these the Absolute Best Countries for Women to Travel to?
Depening on who you ask and their personal travel experience, you get different results. Sure, there are more representative surveys that reveal the most women friendly countries (I compiled 5 of those). But ultimately, it comes down to individual stories, individual preferences and feelings. Some countries are objectively safer to travel to in general and others might be safe but incredibly sexist.
Before any female solo trip, it is therefore wise to catch up with women who have travelled to the destination you are looking at to get some first-hand tips. In the end, being a woman should not hold you back from travel! Don’t let people scare you. Don’t just trust the media’s fear mongering. Most of all, follow your gut, be prepped with the essential safety precautions for women travellers and then have a great time!
What were the best countries for women you have come across? Do you have a particular lovely story to share? We’d love to hear from you in the comments.
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Your Ultimate Guide to Travelling Alone
101 Ways to Travel Like a Local
Women Travelling Alone – 24 Crucial Safety Tips
Hello, Harassment – The Dark Side of Female Solo Travel
Highlights from Two Years of Solo Travels around the World (+ 20 Ultimate Bucketlist Ideas)
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Great collection and thank you for featuring my suggestion! I haven’t been to all of these so now I have some new ideas for my travel bucket list!
Annemarie Strehl says
Hi Katie, thanks you for your contribution! Happy Travels!
Ryan Biddulph says
My wife loved visiting the Netherlands solo. She raves about the place. She visited Holland when we first met; about 10 years ago. She only spent a few weeks there but fell in love with it quickly. Not just because of the coffee shops ;) I imagine Thailand would be solid for women solo travel too with its face-saving culture and great infrastructure for tourists.
I love to travel and explore new places – such a thrill. Great collection of experiences, thanks for sharing!
Annemarie Strehl says
Hi Laura Ann, I love that as well. The world is such a wonderland! Thank you for your kind comment.
karan tirki says
stunning your all pictures and article too really nice thanks for sharing and keep it up thanks a lot….!
Annemarie Strehl says
Hi Karan, thank you for your nice comment. I try to do my best.
There are a few things women travelers will want to be aware of about Dubai. Women have all the same legal rights as men and are free to dress as they please, although modest attire is encouraged out of deference to the local culture.
Hi Shedi, thanks for chiming in. However, I disagree on men and women being entirely equal when it comes to laws and regulations: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Women_in_the_United_Arab_Emirates
ALso while there might be laws forbidding gender discrimination, law enforcement is an entirely different matter. This isn’t exclusive to UAE.
Thanks for this article. As a black woman I have to think of safety, racism, availability of makeup and hair stuff for black Women etc. Knowing which countries to add to my list and which to remove helps.
Hi Sarah, thanks for your comment. Yeah, safety is important as a solo travelling woman, especially for black women. I don’t have content on that but I highly recommend these two black travel bloggers and their resources: